Published January 1981 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd A Record of Progress The record of the 96th Congress leaves a positive imprint on the state of our nation, with accomplishments in the three major domestic areas of energy, the economy, and defense. Passage of the most far-reaching energy bills in the history of this country has put America on the road to energy independence. The capstone of the energy package was creation of an independent synthetic fuels corporation to finance the commercial development of alternative energy sources. On the economic front, Congress passed myriad bills to free businesses from unnecessary governmental restraints, including deregulation of the trucking, railroad, and banking industries. The Small Business Development Act of 1980, along with several other small business measures, could help to revive the economic lifeblood of this country. Also, Congress demonstrated its responsiveness to the economy by drafting a balanced budget last spring, but this year's recession pushed the budget into the red. In the area of defense, Congress put the country back on the track of building and improving its defense strength, instead of maintaining the status quo. Congress has provided for a 3 percent real growth in the nation's defense budget, as well as for the modernization of NATO equipment, improvements to the rapid deployment force, and development of the MX and cruise missiles. Military pay and benefits also were upgraded, and registration for the Selective Service was re-instated. Although this brief summary has been devoted to highlights of domestic legislation, numerous achievements were made in other fields. Normalization of relations with the People's Republic of China, for example, was a necessary step for our country to take in pursuit of international stability.