- The Lessons of Pearl Harbor
- The House Appropriations Committee has a new Chairman
- Helping Patients, Families by Encouraging ‘Cures’
- Giving Veterans More Healthcare Options
- National Security Bills Advance
- “A Hope for Public Memory in Cuba”
- Salute: Those Who Saved the Great Swamp and Others Who Documented the fight!
The Lessons of Pearl Harbor
The days before the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that killed 3,000 Americans, December 7, is an appropriate time to recall a few of the lessons of this unprovoked act of aggression:
- We can never allow vague warnings, bureaucratic breakdowns or a “failure of imagination” to allow us to be caught by surprise;
- The men and women who wear our nation’s uniform are always serving in danger no matter the location of their duty station;
- We must always provide our military and intelligence personnel all the resources, tools and equipment they need to defend themselves and carry out their missions to protect us;
Of course, many “lessons learned” can and should be drawn from this audacious assault in 1941. But for me, the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack serves as another reminder that the first duty of Congress under our Constitution is to “provide for the common defence.”
That’s a responsibility I take very seriously.
The House Appropriations Committee has a new Chairman
I want to offer my thanks to the House Leadership, the Republican Steering Committee and the House Republican Conference for allowing me to Chair the House Committee on Appropriations.
Next year, Congress has a unique opportunity to transform the size, scope and direction of government, consistent with the principles of fiscal responsibility, and the Appropriations Committee will be key to that transformation!
Of course, we will exercise rigorous oversight in order to make every dollar count.
My commitment to every Member of the House is to restore our role under the Constitution’s Article One, Section 9 – power of the purse – and to put Members of Congress back in charge of funding decisions.
Of course, the citizens of New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District have given me the high honor of representing them in Congress. I am proud to have the opportunity to work on behalf of 54 remarkable communities and the State of New Jersey and I look forward to serving them in this new role.
As always, I am ready to get to work!
Helping Patients, Families by Encouraging ‘Cures’
This week the House took on the fight against thousands of diseases that impact the lives of millions of our families, friends, neighbors and coworkers. By a strong bipartisan vote, the House passed the 21stCentury Cures Act, legislation designed to change the way we do medical research and development in this country. This bill lays the groundwork for medical breakthroughs that will help countless Americans suffering from what today are considered incurable diseases.
Did you know that there are 10,000 known diseases—7,000 of which are rare—but there are only treatments for 500 of them?
Diseases do not discriminate, and just about everyone knows somebody who has been stricken with a serious debilitating or deadly illness. Innovation and technological advances that increase productivity and our quality of life can also deliver more hope to patients and their families. We can all agree that America must renew and update our health care research system and maintain our global leadership in medical innovation.
Today, it takes 15 years for a new drug to move from the laboratory to the local pharmacy. That’s unacceptable and one of the reasons why this week’s House passage of the Cures Act is so important.
The “Cures” bill modernizes clinical trials to expedite the development of new drugs and devices for such diseases as Alzheimer’s, juvenile diabetes, heart disease, juvenile arthritis, and various cancers. The measure also removes regulatory uncertainty in the development of new medical applications, and breaks down barriers to facilitate increased research collaboration. In addition, the package provides new incentives for the development of drugs for rare diseases.
I was pleased to vote for H.R. 6 when it passed the House on Wednesday by a strong bipartisan vote of 392-26. The bill now must be approved by the Senate before President Obama has the opportunity to sign it into law.
Three things you need to know about the 21st Century Cure Act:
1. Cuts Red Tape: This measure will allow scientists to focus on discovery rather than bureaucracy.
2. Increases Accountability: The resources provided for National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Cures Act will be subject to Congressional oversight. This gives Congress the opportunity to review programs and prioritize spending where it is needed most.
3. Protects Jobs: New Jersey is known as “America’s Medicine Chest” and the reforms in H.R. 6 will increase U.S. competitiveness in the biomedical field, helping to beat back competition from other countries, like China, and keep more of our public and private efforts focused on life-saving and life-changing research.
In short, 21st Century Cures Act is a win for everyone. The package will accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery of life-saving therapies in a safe and effective way. The measure will support biomedical research and harness medical innovation to turn discoveries in a lab into the treatments and cures that change patients’ lives.
Giving Veterans More Healthcare Options
When veterans leave the military and enter the private workforce, they should not be denied opportunities given to non-veteran employees. It’s important that we honor our veterans by ensuring that they have access to the best healthcare options for themselves and their families.
An individual becomes eligible for TRICARE because he or she is a retired service member or a currently serving member of the Reserves or National Guard. However, veterans are excluded from making Health Savings Account (HAS) contributions themselves, along with their current, private-sector employers even if the employer makes contributions to the HSAs of other employees. These HSA contributions are disallowed by law solely because these individuals are covered by TRICARE. Currently, there is no way for these individuals to opt out of TRICARE and become eligible for HSA contributions.
To eliminate this inequality, the House this week passed the Veterans TRICARE Choice Act which allows TRICARE-eligible veterans the ability to freeze and unfreeze their TRICARE eligibility, permitting these current and former service members to become eligible for HSA contributions.
Today, veterans have to opt out of TRICARE permanently to access other health care options. This legislation correctly gives our veterans the ability to choose the best healthcare options for themselves and their families.
Read more about, H.R. 5458, the TRICARE Choice Act, here.
Looking out for veterans, this week the House also passed:
- H.R. 5047 - Protecting Veterans’ Educational Choice Act of 2016
- H.R. 3286 - HIRE Vets Act
- H.R. 5600 - No Hero Left Untreated Act
National Security Bills Advance
Each year, the Congress and the President must approve three separate major pieces of legislation to ensure that our military and intelligence agencies receive the funding they require to carry out their missions. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Intelligence Authorization Act each spell out how the military and intelligence agencies are permitted to operate. The Defense Appropriations Act, which is drafted by the Committee I chair, provides the actual funding for their operations.
This week, with my support, the House Passed the Intelligence Authorization Act and the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2017.
The NDAA supports $619 billion for national defense. In addition to matching the President’s original Budget Request of $610 billion, the NDAA also authorizes the $5.8 billion supplemental request for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Europe. It also provides an additional $3.2 billion for Readiness Stabilization Funding to stop the drawdown of the military, which is actually worsening the readiness crisis.
This legislation provides us the opportunity to make real progress on increasing the capabilities and agility of our Armed Forces. The measure:
- reforms the way the Pentagon buys weapons to get cutting-edge capabilities in the hands of our troops faster.
- stops the shrinking of the military, and allows the services to grow again so that they can better meet their demanding deployment schedule.
- modifies the military health care system to provide more options and better access without raising costs on retirees or those currently in the force,
- provides a 2.1 percent pay hike, an increase larger than the President proposed.
Our work continues on the Defense Appropriations bill for FY 2017.
For additional details on the National Defense Authorization Act, click here.
“A Hope for Public Memory in Cuba”
Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize Winner, wrote “Gulag" in 2003, which should be required reading for all who cherish freedom and liberty. This week she marked the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro by writing “A Hope for Public Memory in Cuba” in the Washington Post. Read it here.
Salute: To all those who “Saved the Great Swamp” and the filmmakers who documented the 1960s’ “Battle Against the Jetport”once planned for Morris County. Read William Westhoven’s Morris County Daily Record preview of the new film, "Saving the Swamp: Battle to Defeat the Jetport,” scheduled for a premiere screening tomorrow at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown.