e-News 6/9/17

e-News 6/9/17

  • 5 Reasons: We Need the Financial CHOICE Act
  • Modernizing Veterans’ Health Records   
  • Joint Base McGuire to Get Tankers First!
  • Salute: To the United States Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF)


5 Reasons: We Need the Financial CHOICE Act

In the early 2000s, changes to federal housing policies encouraged banks to help people buy houses when they really couldn’t afford them. The banks were issuing bad mortgages, bundling them together and selling them like they were high quality investments.

But there was a big problem with that: these investments were not high quality.  They were made up of very high risk mortgages. When people stopped paying their mortgages, the housing market crashed in 2007 and the recession soon followed

In response to that housing collapse and financial crisis, Congress rushed to pass Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) under the guise of “consumer protection.” But instead of addressing the root causes of the crisis, such as the government’s efforts to expand housing affordability and implied guarantees to bailout large financial institutions, Dodd-Frank empowered the very regulatory establishment that created the environment that led to the financial crisis in the first place.

Fact: Dodd-Frank includes more regulations than all other bill passed during the Obama Administration combined, including Obamacare.

With so much red tape, Dodd-Frank has made life harder for employers, business owners and families across this country.  

The bailouts? The poor lending practices? Dodd-Frank was supposed to make those all a thing of the past. The goal was to protect Americans from bailouts, financial fraud, and abusive banking.

But instead of being tough on Wall Street, Dodd-Frank put many on Main Street out of business. Community banks and credit unions don’t have the resources to navigate the regulations. It’s gotten so bad that we’re losing an average of one community bank or credit union every single day. And without competition, big banks are even bigger than they were before.

Dodd-Frank also created a brand new agency, called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has a virtually unlimited money supply and pumps out regulations that hurt consumers -- without any Congressional oversight.

We’ve had the slowest, weakest economic recovery in 70 years. Dodd-Frank has made having access to banking services more difficult, as fewer and fewer banks offer free checking and the minimum balances to open an account continue to grow.

The House voted to pass the Financial CHOICE Act this week.  Here are four reasons why it’s necessary:

1. The CHOICE Act reins in Dodd-Frank.

No one argues that Wall Street needs some regulation. While the Dodd-Frank Act may have had good intentions, it overreached and in practice hurt “Main Street” and consumers while providing more protections for Wall Street.

2. The CHOICE Act delivers relief to “Main Street”

Small, community banks give the majority of small business loans in this country.  These smaller banks are the engine of job creation in America. Since Dodd-Frank was enacted, these banks have struggled. Many community banks have gone under. That has hit Main Street hard, since families and small businesses can’t get the loans they need to get off the ground. The CHOICE Act will give regulatory relief to banks that keep 10% in cash reserves, which delivers relief while protecting consumers.

3. The CHOICE Act cuts the deficit by $24 billion.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the CHOICE Act will cut the deficit by $24 billion over the next 10 years. The CHOICE Act delivers on our promise to protect taxpayer money, reduce the size of government, and cut our deficit.

4. The CHOICE Act Repeals the Obama Administration’s Fiduciary Rule

Because I am extremely concerned that Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule will restrict access to quality investment advice for millions of Americans and add onerous regulations to the already burdensome regulatory system our financial planners must navigate, I have cosponsored and voted for legislation, the Protecting American Families’ Retirement Advice Act, to delay its implementation.  The CHOICE Act substantially repeals this ill-considered set of regulations.

5. The CHOICE Act Asserts Congressional (taxpayer) oversight of the CFPB

While the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) established by Dodd-Frank sounds great in theory, in reality it is an agency that is unchecked, unconstitutional, and unaccountable. Bureaucrats in Washington should not have the ability to collect consumer information without their knowledge and unilaterally determine what financial products and services Americans can utilize. The CHOICE Act restructures this agency under the Consumer Law Enforcement Agency and makes it accountable to Congressional oversight and our normal annual appropriations process. 

Learn more about the Financial CHOICE Act here.

Read the Financial Choice Act here.

Modernizing Veterans’ Health Records  

It was a long time in coming but our new Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Dr. David Shulkin, made the right decision this week when he opted to adopt an existing commercial solution to modernize the VA’s electronic health records (EHR) system.  Further, because time is of the essence, he opted to have the VA follow the same course adopted by the Department of Defense (DOD) with its electronic health records system. 

I have personally discussed the mismatch between the DOD medical records system and the VA system with the last several secretaries of Defense and VA.  To avoid interruptions in veterans care or expensive redundancy, my Appropriations Committee has demanded that the VA and DOD use an identical or at least compatible or interoperable network. 

The VA announced this week that it will adopt the same EHR system as DOD, now known as MHS GENESIS, which at its core consists of Cerner Millennium.  This action will ultimately result in all patient data residing in one common system and enable seamless care between the Departments without the manual and electronic exchange and reconciliation of data between two separate systems.

For the sake of the veterans, I wish that the VA and DOD had proceeded years ago when Congress urged action.  However, our troops deserve a seamless transition from military health care to the VA and they should wait no longer!

Read my full statement here.

Appropriations Committee Oversight Underway

As we continue to develop funding bills for the next fiscal year, my House Committee on Appropriations conducted another week of oversight and budget hearings this week. 

  • The Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee examined the National Science Foundation budget and took testimony from Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot.
  • The Transportation and Housing Subcommittee welcomed Secretary Ben Carson for a hearing and the Interior Subcommittee questions Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
  • The Homeland Security panel held a hearing on the budget proposal for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Thomas Homan, the Acting Director of CBP was the prime witness.
  • The Agriculture Subcommittee heard from the Acting Chairman of the Commodities Future Trading Commission.

You can view my statement to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta at the Labor-HHS Subcommittee on Tuesday here.

Joint Base McGuire to Get Tankers First!

In January, the Secretary of the Air Force announced Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL), New Jersey, and Travis AFB, California, as “preferred alternatives” for KC-46A Main Operating Base 4, with 24 aircraft assigned to each base.  The Air Force informed me this week that Air Mobility Command (AMC) has decided to sequence the aircraft to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst with first aircraft arrival in FY2021, and to Travis Air Force Base with first aircraft arriving FY2023.  This schedule is dependent on the delivery of the new KC-46 aircraft to the Air Force by Boeing. 

AMC made the decision based on JBMDL’s proximity to vital refueling routes to and from Europe.  Additionally, the base will host the regional maintenance facility as well as a key maintenance training facility, thus benefitting from earlier aircraft delivery. 

The Air Force’s decision to base new KC-46 tankers in New Jersey is an endorsement of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst as one of the nation’s premier air mobility installations.  Fielding the KC-46 to the Joint Base first recognizes its importance to maintaining the critically important ‘air bridge’ from the continental U.S. to Europe, but also the Middle East, Africa and beyond.  I can’t think of a better base to host this new tanker.    

As immediate past Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, for years I advocated for basing the KC-46 tanker at JBMDL with senior Air Force leaders, including various Chiefs of Staff of the Air Force.  The message over the years has been simple: McGuire has the location, the facilities, the experience and the workforce to ensure that the Air Force maintains its ‘global reach.’  Nothing is more important for the warfighter!

The final basing decision is expected in the summer of 2018.  The first new tankers are expected to arrive at JBMDL in Fiscal Year 2021.

To learn more about the decision to station KC-46s at our Joint Base, click here.

Salute: To the United States Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF)which annually raises money to pay for the higher education of the children of Marines.  Starting with a single child in 1962, the Foundation has dispensed more than 37,000 scholarships and $110 million in scholarship support for the children of Marines over the last half-century.  Every day they celebrate the notion that the best way to honor Marines was by educating their children.  I was truly honored to receive the Semper Fidelis Award from the MCSF.  Supporting our Marines and their families —past and present—has been, and will remain, a number one priority for me.   The award was presented by the Secretary of Homeland Security, GEN John Kelley (USMC ret.).