District Connection - 9/5/17
Over the last week, we’ve all seen the reports, footage, and updates from the historic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. Both the heartbreaking images of loss and the heartening showing of neighborly support have captured our attention. Our thoughts and prayers immediately went out to our neighbors to the west, and I’m sure many of you have already contributed to relief efforts directly. Natural disasters are very trying times for us as Americans, and this one has already been devastating to the people of Texas, but the ways in which we come together to support each other, care for each other, and see each other through these trying times underscores who we are. Events such as these are beyond our control, but how we respond is not, and I’m so grateful the American spirit of unity prevails.
While the storm has passed, the recovery has only just begun, and so many friends and neighbors are in need of our help. If you are interested in contributing in any way you are able, there are many resources available to help those displaced by the flooding. Below you’ll find many of these organizations and the ways in which you can reach them. In addition to the amazing work being done, sadly there are also those who seek to exploit the generosity of others during this times as well, so please use caution when deciding how, and to whom, you donate. If you are uncertain about the credibility of any organization, please feel free to reach out to my office and my team will gladly help you confirm it. Thank you for all you do to make our community a better place, and may we all remember those who are enduring great difficulty.
- American Red Cross. Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
- Forbes. Helping Out After Hurricane Harvey: Where, What & How To Donate
- ABC. How to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey
In addition to visiting Texas to spend time last week with residents, volunteers, and first responders who are working together to deal with the Hurricane Harvey flooding, President Trump flew to Springfield, Missouri, to deliver a speech about his vision for tax reform. As you all know, tax reform is a major priority for both the Trump Administration and legislators in both parties on Capitol Hill, and my expectation is that Congress will spend much of the fall working to develop and advance legislation to simplify our tax code and lower rates for families and businesses. As President Trump said during his speech last Wednesday, we have a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver real tax reform for every day, hardworking Americans.” I could not agree more with the President on this, and I look forward to the challenge of getting it done. Though overhauling our tax code will certainly be no small feat, I’m confident that we can succeed if we work together, and if you have not done so already, I hope that you will share your thoughts on this important issue with me in the coming weeks. Together, we can build a system of taxation worthy of our great nation!
- The White House. Remarks by President Trump on Tax Reform
- CBS News. Trump outlines tax overhaul goals
When a foreign national is convicted of a serious crime here in the United States, part of the judicial process can include repatriation of that individual back to his or her country of origin. Unfortunately, some heinous criminals are routinely refused re-entry by their home countries. The outcome is that they end up having to stay here in the U.S. and become the responsibility of the American taxpayer. That’s not right, and thanks to President Trump, this is a situation that is being remedied. Instead of allowing these nations to simply refuse to take back their citizens without recourse, the U.S. is putting four countries on notice – Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone – that if they continue refusing to repatriate their citizens, that we will impose strict visa restrictions on their diplomats and other visitors to the U.S. Basically, if these countries won't take back their criminals, the U.S. won't allow anyone from those countries to travel here.
This is a tremendous step forward for the U.S. in combatting recalcitrant nations, and I’m proud to say that I not only support the President in this endeavor, but I also joined with my Democrat colleague from Connecticut, Representative Joe Courtney, in cosponsoring H.R. 1499, which would streamline and strengthen the current Department of Homeland Security’s procedures in this area. This is a bipartisan issue that the Trump Administration has gotten absolutely right, and I’m happy to support it.
- CNN. US to sanction 4 countries for refusing deportations
- U.S. News and World Report. DHS seeks sanctions on countries that refuse deportations
I recently heard from many Seventh District residents who participated in my summer survey and shared with me some of their top legislative concerns and priorities. Certainly, a simple “check-box” survey is not adequate to allow folks the opportunity to fully express their thoughts, but it does help me to better understand our community’s concerns, as well as the issues that folks would like to see Congress take action on.
That said, I was interested to learn that the number one legislative priority for survey participants was financial matters (taxes, budgets, deficits, etc.). The good news is that Congress is working hard to push across the finish line a major tax reform proposal and a fiscally responsible budget that puts our annual deficits on a downward path. Additionally, I was pleased to hear that a majority of folks who took my survey are more optimistic about their family’s economic situation compared to just one year ago. That optimism is key to America’s success moving forward, and I thank you for that.
This Congress and Administration are committed to moving the needle towards success for all American families, and hearing directly from individuals like you who are engaged in our political process will only strengthen our democratic institutions. That said, if you haven’t already taken my summer survey and you would like to participate, you can do so by clicking here. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if there’s ever anything I can do to be of service to you – whether that’s assisting you with a problem that you are having with a federal agency, like a missing Social Security check, or if you have a question about a bill that is moving through Congress – my office is happy to assist you!
In the wake of World War II, in order to ensure a continued peace between the world’s most powerful nations and to make another world war impossible, the United States led the way in forming the United Nations. Its mission is to serve its member states – all 193 countries from every corner of the globe – by promoting peace and freedom. Of course, since its inception in 1945, the U.N. has grown substantially; in number of member states as well as in staff and function. The World Food Program, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization, and so much more are the responsibilities of the U.N., and by extension, the responsibilities of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council, including the United States.
While most of these UN organs function very well, there are those which could absolutely use reform, and that’s why I’m so proud that President Trump announced last week that he is planning a summit on September 18th to begin discussing reforming the international body. With the U.S. providing 22 percent of the U.N.’s general operating budget, nearly 2.5 times more than Japan, the next largest contributor, it’s clear that reform discussions must begin with President Trump and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. I look forward to learning more about what the U.S. and its allies at the U.N. can do to ensure that this critically important organization can thrive for years to come.
- Reuters. Trump to host Sept. 18 meeting of world leaders on U.N. reform
- Arab News. Trump at UN to push world leaders to back reform
As you may have heard, Congress is getting ready for a very busy September. Not only is Congress going to extend the authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration, address the issue of the debt limit, pass FY18 appropriation bills, a budget, and a continuing resolution, provide funding for Hurricane Harvey relief, and extend the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), to name a few, but I will also be holding four town hall meetings this month.
Many of you will be receiving this information in the mail soon, but please share it with your friends and neighbors in the Seventh District so that we can have a robust and free-flowing discussion about these critically important topics. As I've said many times before, I can only serve you to the best of my ability if I hear directly from you about your goals and priorities.
As we put Labor Day behind us and end another summer, Congress will be back in Washington, D.C., this week. The House is going to move an eight-bill appropriations package that complements the four-bill national security appropriations package that we passed during the last week of July. I expect a robust and fruitful debate and amendment process on this package, with every member of the House having their voice heard about what our nation’s funding priorities should be.
The House is also expected to consider an emergency funding measure to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. As all of America has seen, the destruction that this storm wrought on Texas is almost unimaginable to many of us, but for those folks living it, it’s all too real. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make sure that Texas receives the help it needs.
Member of Congress