- An Empty Chair at the Holidays
- 12 Bipartisan Accomplishments for the American People Worth Noting
- The Coming 115th Congress: Economic Growth and Job Creation
- The Horror of Aleppo, Syria
- A Final Presidential Nod to Iran
- Salute Picatinny Team Wins Prestigious DOD Award
An Empty Chair at the Holidays
As the holidays approach, we should be sure to take time to give thanks to the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen stationed overseas and at home, and their families. Many are separated from their loved ones at this time of year. Thousands of American families will have an empty chair at the holiday table. And some presents will remain wrapped for months. Most of us are not in their shoes and will never fully appreciate the sacrifices they make for our families, friends and country every day. But we must never forget.
12 Bipartisan Accomplishments for the American People Worth Noting
The end of every year is always a good time to take stock of your accomplishments over the past twelve months. In reviewing the 114thCongress, now closed, I am reminded that we achieved some pretty impressive goals for the American people. A partial list:
- The first real entitlement reform in nearly two decades – we strengthened Medicare, got rid of the infamous “Doc Fix” and extended the Children’s health insurance program;
- The first long-term highway bill in more than a decade;
- The biggest rewrite of our education laws in 15 years;
- The first permanent ban on taxing our internet access;
- New tough sanctions packages for both North Korea, and Iran;
- A strengthened Visa Waiver program to keep Americans safe;
- Permanent renewal of tax relief for small businesses and families;
- Reforms to fight human trafficking and expand services for its victims;
- A bill of rights for the survivors of sexual assault;
- Reforms to help our veterans, including the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act;
- Ground-breaking legislation to combat opiod addition and support long-term recovery;
- Landmark legislation to accelerate the development of cures for rare diseases, as well as the most significant mental health reform in more than a decade.
The Coming 115th Congress: Economic Growth and Job Creation
The economists at the Department of Labor will tell you that the last recession ended in 2009. But from my discussions with constituents all over my Congressional District that the economy has just been limping along ever since.
Job growth has been weak. Household income has seemed frozen. Business investment has barely budged. In all this time, the economy has never grown by more than 3 percent in a single year. In fact, according to one report, only 7 percent of American county economies have fully recovered to their pre-recession levels.
One likely contributor to this sluggish economic pace is the growing federal regulatory burden. Of course, sensible regulations can be compatible with a strong economy, and it is the federal government’s responsibility to establish clear rules that all Americans can live by.
But bad or unnecessary regulations can slow the economy down significantly and evidence suggests that red tape is holding back the recovery.
The fact is that the federal government has taken very few outdated regulations off the books, while constantly adding new ones: 3,408 in 2015 alone.
The American people now spend $1.89 trillion every year just to comply with Washington’s rules. That works out to about $15,000 per household!
Clearly, it is time for serious and fundamental reform. Every step in the process needs to be reexamined: whether to regulate, how to regulate, and follow-up review of regulations.
Agencies should write regulations only when necessary, make them minimally intrusive, stay within the legal mandate, and avoid creating barriers for new and small businesses.
And it is time for Congress to take greater responsibility for federal regulations. Old laws that delegate broad and vague authority to regulatory agencies need to be revisited. Current regulations should be reviewed for possible reform or repeal.
Congressional approval should be required for major new regulations. Congress should also consider a first-ever regulatory budget that would place limits on the amount of regulatory costs federal agencies can impose each year.
Regulations are just another tax on our economy and citizens ---agencies should not be able to level such new taxes at will and without restraint.
Another key component of a pro-growth agenda that delivers job creation is a 21st century tax code built for growth – the growth of families’ paychecks, the growth of American businesses, and the growth of our nation’s economy.
Reform starts with unprecedented simplicity and fairness for taxpayers, which means most Americans will be able to file their taxes on a simple form.
With a simpler, fairer tax code, Americans need a simpler, fairer taxcollector. We also need to redesign the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) into an agency with a singular focus: Service First.
The new Congress, teamed with a new Administration in the White House, has a great deal to do to spur our economy and promote growth and job opportunities here in America.
I am anxious to get started!
For more information on the agenda for the 115th Congress, read about a #BetterWay here.
The Horror of Syria
Evacuations of civilians finally began this week from the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo - the scene of months of deprivation and suffering for the desperate residents. They have lived under siege in a shrinking patch of land controlled by Syrian opposition groups. The residents who are now leaving the city survived brutal bombardment by forces loyal to the regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad, Iranian-backed militias and the Russian air force. More than 1,000 people are thought to have been killed in Assad’s latest campaign in Aleppo, while tens of thousands more have been displaced. The U.N. says it has received reports that pro-government forces entering former rebel enclaves executed civilians, including 11 women and 13 children.
The siege of Aleppo is part of a larger civil war, undeniably the worst humanitarian catastrophe in decades, due in large part to the failure of the Obama Administration to strongly oppose and remove Assad.
The House of Representatives recently approved new comprehensive legislation to impose new sanctions on Syrian human rights abusers and those who facilitate the regime’s atrocities. It would also encourage negotiations to bring about a lasting political solution by suspending sanctions if parties are engaged in meaningful negotiations and the violence against civilians have ceased. Additionally, the bill would authorize the State Department to support organizations that are collecting evidence for eventual prosecution of those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity in Syria, a recommendation from the late Elie Wiesel.
For more information on the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act (HR 5732), visit here.
A Final Presidential Nod to Iran
In a troubling final nod to the mullahs in Iran, President Obama has allowed a bill extending U.S. sanctions against Iran for 10 years to become law without his signature. The White House announcement this week represents an apparent reversal by the Administration, after it said previously the President would likely sign the act passed by Congress last month extending some sanctions on Tehran and also making it easier to reimpose others lifted under the 2015 Iran Nuclear agreement.
I strongly supported extension of these important sanctions. Renewing the Iran Sanctions Act, first passed in 1996 and renewed several times since, is critical to maintaining pressure on Iran to abide by the deal and to pushing back on Tehran's other dangerous behavior. The Iranian regime continues to finance global terrorism, test-fire ballistic missiles, abuse its own people, and, as recently as last month, violate the nuclear agreement.
Make no mistake, the Iran Sanctions Extension Act ensures the U.S. retains its ability to hold the Teheran regime accountable.
To learn more about the Iran Sanctions Extension Act, click here.
Salute: Picatinny Team Wins Prestigious DOD Award
Congratulations! The Department of Defense has honored one of Picatinny Arsenal’s major tenants, the Program Executive Office (PEO) Ammunition, for excellence in acquisition. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Frank Kendall announced that the Project Manager Maneuver Ammunition (PM MAS) had won the prestigious “David Packard Excellence in Acquisition” Award. “As our most prestigious acquisition team award, the David Packard Award recognizes organizations that have demonstrated exemplary performance and innovation in acquiring and delivering products and capabilities for the Warfighter,” he said. Since 2008, PM MAS’s Product Director Non-Standard Ammunition (NSA) has delivered over 1 billion rounds of munitions to 23 countries on five continents. Of course, the largest demand for NSA has been in the Central Command area of responsibility, specifically to Afghanistan and Iraq in support of counter ISIS and Taliban campaigns. This is the fifth time PEO Ammunition has won the Packard Award, and the third time for PM MAS.