Washington Watch - 3/28/16
The senseless terror attacks in Brussels last week are yet another sobering reminder of the very real impact violent extremism has on the Western world. These cowardly, despicable attacks on innocent people are absolutely unacceptable, and while sadly, nothing can be done to undo the damage, I was proud to see the House come together last week and pass H.Res. 658 on a powerful 409-0 vote. The resolution condemns these attacks in the strongest terms possible, and with a bipartisan, overwhelming, unanimous vote, the House sent an indelible message to the world: America stands in solidarity with Belgium.
While I was happy to see the House send this message, I’m a firm believer that actions speak louder than words. Just about every week, the House has passed legislation that would make America safer or strengthen our capability to combat extremism. Last week, for example, the House passed H.R. 4314, the “Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act of 2016,” which authorizes our nation to share our state-of-the-art border security technology with other nations around the world that are struggling to stem the flow of foreign fighters, something that ISIS-inspired attackers have taken advantage of in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Besides this important measure, the House has approved 57 different pieces of legislation from the Homeland Security Committee this Congress, most with the sole purpose of keeping American families safe. That said, while the House has been hard at work, I know that the job of keeping America safe is far from complete, and I commit to you to continue working hard in this most vital area of lawmaking.
- Speaker Paul Ryan. Our Prayers Are with Brussels, as Is Our Solidarity
- The Hill. House condemns Brussels attack
Last week was a big week for the FairTax. On Monday, I sent a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady urging him to consider the FairTax as part of the conversation on fundamental tax reform. The very next day I was asked to testify before the Tax Policy Subcommittee and present my plan, H.R. 25, the FairTax.
Click on the picture below to watch my testimony
Then on Wednesday, I was asked by the Chairman to participate in a roundtable discussion on tax reform with members of his tax reform task force in the Capitol, where I again discussed the merits of the FairTax and answered the many questions that my colleagues had. These are important developments for those of us who believe in the power of the FairTax and are committed to removing the heavy hand of the IRS from the lives of American families forever. I am grateful to the Chairman for taking the FairTax under serious consideration, and I look forward to continue making the case for it.
Appropriations season is upon us, and Members of Congress have been submitting their funding requests to the Appropriations Committee all month. It's a time when Members bring feedback from their districts to Congress and discuss the successes and failures of programs in their communities. A good example is the effort made by Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway. The Sheriff explained how a program most folks have never heard of is working to keep our community safe. It’s called the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program, and it supports 17 multi-jurisdictional drug task force agencies across the State of Georgia. The funding is also used to train law enforcement personnel and implement innovative new ideas to protect victims, prevent crime, and bring offenders to justice. It’s actually one of the most critical law enforcement programs in Georgia.
Through the partnership with local sheriffs, I am able to sort through which federal programs are working and which ones need to go away. If there’s anyone who knows what it takes to keep Gwinnett County safe, it’s Sheriff Conway, and the same is true in Forsyth County and across the country. I am grateful to all our local law enforcement for making our community a safe place to live, work, and raise a family.
As the ignominious six year anniversary of the passage of Obamacare came and went last week, the Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access held a hearing to examine the efficacy of the small business health insurance tax credit. The credit is a key part of Obamacare and was meant to provide an incentive for small businesses to provide health insurance to their employees and control health care costs. Unfortunately, the Government Accountability Office’s investigations have shown the credit isn’t being used by small businesses for a number of reasons, one of which is the sheer complexity of claiming the credit. The form used to claim the credit is 25 lines long and is supported by 7 individual worksheets. If you’re a small business owner trying to make your payroll, move your product, and take care of your employees; cutting through this bureaucratic red tape is only hurting your bottom line, not helping it.
I’m not in the blaming business; I’m in the solutions business. That’s why I’m so pleased that the subcommittee is investigating this situation and looking for ways to get the government out of the way and help small businesses better provide for their employees.
I want to draw your attention to a report recently released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO): Budgetary and Economic Outcomes Under Paths for Federal Revenues and Noninterest Spending Specified by Chairman Price, March 2016. The report compares the long-term outlook for federal debt and economic activity under current laws, the House Budget Committee’s FY2017 budget resolution, and certain other alternative paths for federal revenue and noninterest spending. Under the Budget Committee’s budget blueprint, CBO projected federal deficits would be $6.7 trillion lower over the next 10 years when compared to current laws, and federal debt held by the public would fall from 74% of GDP to 57% of GDP over the next decade and then to 22% of GDP by 2040. If current laws remain intact, CBO concluded that federal debt would climb from 74% of GDP to 86% of GDP by 2026 and reach 131% of GDP by 2040. Those are just a few of the highlights from the CBO report, and you can read more by clicking on the above link.
It’s clear to me that the current path of federal spending is unsustainable, and I hope that you will take a closer look at the House Budget Committee’s FY2017 budget resolution and conclude, as I have, that it represents the best path forward for our nation. I’ve included several links below that will provide you with lots of information about the Budget Committee’s budget blueprint, including the detailed committee report that was filed this week. And if you have additional questions about it after reviewing the below information, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
- A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America
- Summary and Key Facts
- Charts and Graphs
- Legislative Text
- Budget Resolution Committee Report
Last Wednesday evening many of you joined me for a telephone town hall meeting, and I’m grateful to you for sharing that time with me. It’s so important to keep those lines of communication open as America moves forward on some big decisions ranging from Supreme Court Justice nominees to how we defeat ISIS. Your input on the issues and challenges we face is invaluable and ensures a stronger voice in Washington for the Seventh District. If you were unable to participate last week, please know we do these events – both telephone and in-person town hall meetings – frequently, and I look forward to speaking with you then. In the meantime, if you have a question or issue with which I can be of assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (202) 225-4272.
Member of Congress