Washington Watch - 5/16/16
Last week the House passed 18 bills that address various facets of our nation’s opioid abuse epidemic, and I’m proud to say that this is an issue with which Republicans and Democrats have found common ground. Too many Americans are fighting an addiction to opioids, and tragically, tens of thousands are dying every year from opioid overdoses. This is an entirely preventable and treatable problem, but it’s one that we all have to work together to combat. While we still have some differences between the House and Senate opioid bills, I expect the House and Senate to work together in the coming weeks to produce a bill that will go to the President’s desk.
- Wall Street Journal. House passes bills to combat opioid abuse in the U.S.
- USA Today. House passes package of bills to fight opioid addiction
If you know me, you know that the FairTax is one of my favorite subjects to talk about. Fortunately, I got the opportunity to discuss with my colleagues in the House why the FairTax is the kind of tax reform America deserves on two separate occasions this week. On Thursday, I appeared before the Ways and Means Tax Policy Subcommittee to educate my colleagues of the benefit of the FairTax. The following day I took to the House floor to explain H.R. 25 further. The FairTax is the only bill in Congress that takes the IRS out of your life forever and wipes away the federal tax that hurts struggling American families the most—the payroll tax. It’s time we #PassTheFairTax.
Click on the picture below to watch my testimony before the Ways and Means Committee.
Click on the picture below to watch me speak on the House floor in favor of H.R. 25, the FairTax.
During the course of any week, month, or year, there are many things upon which we pause to reflect, but none more precious than freedom. It’s that shared love of liberty that bonds the U.S. so tightly with our friends in Israel, who just last Thursday celebrated their 68th Independence Day as a nation. Our countries share not only a love for freedom, but a reverence for what it takes to attain and keep it. Our stories are unique, yet bound together by this commitment, and we are each made stronger through our partnership. As Americans, we certainly understand the joy and patriotism felt in a celebration of your liberty, and I’d like to again wish the people of Israel a Happy Independence Day!
- Times of Israel. UN envoys wish Israel all the best at 68
Last Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held an important hearing with health care experts from across the political spectrum to explore better ways to increase patient choices and develop innovative health plan options. With recent news that the nation’s largest health insurer – United Healthcare – will only offer insurance next year in a handful of states due to losses from the Affordable Care Act equaling roughly $640 million for 2016, on top of loses of $475 million 2015, it makes perfect sense for Congress to look at ways in which we can solve the problem of limited patient choice and increasing patient costs. We can all agree – regardless of our political affiliation – that insurers fleeing the marketplace because of their inability to sustain financial losses is bad for Americans. Anything we can do at the federal level to stop that is worth our time and investment.
- CNN. UnitedHealthcare to exit most Obamacare exchanges
- The Fiscal Times. Get Ready for Huge Obamacare Premium Hikes in 2017
- Wall Street Journal. Health Insurers Struggle to Offset New Costs
It is of the utmost importance that we ensure that all who have served our nation—man or woman—are properly honored for their service in defense of our fundamental freedoms and liberties, and an important bill that helps our nation fulfill this vital commitment cleared the Senate last week after initially passing the House with my support just two months ago.
The bill is H.R. 4336, the “Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act,” and it restores the rights of the many Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, to have their ashes inurned in Arlington National Cemetery. These brave women served our nation in World War II. They conducted test flights, helped in training exercises, and assisted with other non-combat flight roles at a time when their nation desperately needed their support.
Late last year, the Pentagon reviewed its regulations and determined that these women would no longer be allowed to have Arlington National Cemetery be their final resting place due to a technicality in the law. While I appreciate the Pentagon’s commitment to the letter of the law, I am even more committed to ensuring these brave women are properly honored for their actions, and I hope everyone will join me in calling on President Obama to recognize the contributions of WASPs in WWII and make this legislation the law of the land.
Thank you to all of you who contacted me about this bill and worked to make it a reality. I always say that together we can make a difference, and this is one more example of how our partnership matters.
- Christian Science Monitor. Bill to restore burial rights for female WWII pilots flies through Congress
- NBC News. Obama gets bill to allow female pilots’ ashes at Arlington
In what was a big victory for American taxpayers and folks who believe in the separation of powers under our Constitution, a federal court sided with the House of Representatives in a lawsuit against the Obama Administration for spending taxpayer dollars without Congressional approval. At issue in the case is a decision by the Obama Administration to provide billions of dollars to insurance companies that offer reduced deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance levels to people who purchase Obamacare insurance plans. Recognizing the inherent unfairness of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) “Offset Program” payments to insurers, which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated could cost taxpayers $170 billion over the next 10 years, Congress refused to appropriate funding to implement it. Despite the fact that neither the ACA nor the Constitution permits such action, the Obama Administration decided to take money from another account to make Offset Program payments to insurance companies, and that was wrong. While I’m disappointed that the House was forced to turn to a federal court to uphold its Article I power, I’m pleased with the decision in the case.
- The Hill. Judge rules for House GOP in ObamaCare suit
- The Washington Post. Judge strikes down Obama health law insurance subsidy in victory for House GOP
This week, the House is expected to consider the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bill authorizes our nation’s defense activities for the year – everything from military personnel benefits to overseas combat operations – and I’m pleased to say that this bill almost always receives wide bipartisan support. We’ll have the opportunity to vote on dozens of amendments to the bill and debate all the most critical issues facing our military men and women. I look forward to continuing the long tradition of bipartisan support for our nation’s military.
I also expect the House to consider a bill that reprograms existing federal funds for the benefit of Zika preparedness. We all know how important it is to be prepared to combat Zika transmission as we enter the hot summer months when mosquito-borne diseases are more prevalent. This bill will certainly help us achieve that goal.
Finally, I expect that the House will begin moving forward on our first appropriations bill of the year: the FY17 Military Construction/Department of Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. This is one of the most bipartisan bills Congress passes every year. In fact, last year, this bill received over 400 votes in the House of Representatives. Coming together to support our military men and women and our nation’s veterans is something that everyone can and should support.
Member of Congress