In my role as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, I have led an effort to raise the issue of fiscal responsibility in connection with congressional spending for Hurricane Katrina relief.

Last month House conservatives launched "Operation Offset," an aggressive effort to suggest budget cuts to offset the cost of this unprecedented public endeavor, and it was in this context that I spoke to the Young America's Foundation in Washington on Sept. 26. In my address, I reiterated my call for fiscal discipline in Katrina relief, and I repeated the challenge that I first leveled at the Republican Party in 2004, calling for the repeal of the prescription drug entitlement and the No Child Left Behind Act.

It was against this backdrop that I read Dana Milbank's Sept. 27 Washington Sketch column, "Deep Pockets, Small Government and the Man in the Middle." It said that my speech signaled that "fiscal hawks surrendered" and that our "caucus lost its nerve." That ignored the balance of my speech. Mr. Milbank used my comments expressing confidence in the "integrity and principle" of the Republican leadership in Congress to support the conclusion that House conservatives were in retreat. This conclusion is clearly refuted when these remarks are placed in the context of the address and by subsequent events.

I and other House conservatives have been advocating Operation Offset from the airwaves to the floor of Congress. We also have held numerous discussions with the White House and congressional leaders about the substance of our proposals. As the text of my remarks and the public record reflects, Mr. Milbank's column was inaccurate.


U.S. Representative (R-Ind.)