Sunday, October 1, 2017

More Statements on Tax Reform From House Representatives

Lynn Jenkins (R-KS, 2nd)

“This framework will serve as an outline as Congress takes an important step to reform our broken tax code and replace it with a simpler and fairer code. One that lowers rates for individuals and families so they save time and money doing their taxes and keep more of their hard-earned money. A tax code that helps jumpstart our economy and creates more opportunities for all Americans.

Mike Johnson (R-LA, 4th)

“Our federal tax code is more than 60 times longer than the Bible, and it contains none of the Good News. It has been over 30 years since we updated the tax system, and it is well past time for reform. The Republican plan will create more jobs, fairer taxes and bigger paychecks for working-class Americans and small businesses. We must unleash the free market and get our economy back on track. Passing meaningful tax reform is a crucial first step in completing that mission.”

Sam Johnson on Tax Reform Blueprint
Sam Johnson (R-TX, 3rd)

America’s current tax code is complicated and broken, and right now we have an opportunity to fundamentally reform it for the 21st Century. Not only does Washington have a much-needed chance to make the code simpler – which I strongly believe is necessary, but it’s an opportunity to enable businesses so they are better able to compete in the global economy. Even more important, tax reform should reward hardworking American families. This blueprint is a first step. We must get tax reform right, and I look forward to working with my fellow Ways and Means colleagues on behalf of America’s taxpayers.

Rep. Kelly Praises Introduction of Unified Framework for Tax Reform
Mike Kelly (R-PA, 3rd)

“Today is a day to celebrate. With this framework, pro-growth tax reform is no longer just a lofty ambition but a concrete plan that is closer to realization than at any point in over three decades. This is a total win for America in every measurable way. For hardworking families and individuals, this means more take-home pay. For American companies, it means no longer having to pay the world’s highest tax rate but, instead, being able to create new jobs, increase wages, and compete globally on a level playing field. For everyone, it means a much stronger American economy supported by a fairer, simpler, more understandable tax code.

Ro Khanna (D-CA, 17th)

“The tax reform proposal released today by the White House and congressional Republicans clearly demonstrates that they think it’s better to serve the interests of the very wealthy than everyday people. Shareholders and corporate executives do not need any more favors handed to them. Instead, Congress should commit to a reform plan that encourages economic gains by making the tax code fair for working families. I am also disappointed to see that Trump’s tax plan does away with the state and local tax deduction, which places a greater burden on the residents of California.

Daniel Kildee (D-MA, 5th)

“Unfortunately, the Republican plan gives the biggest breaks to the wealthiest Americans. Their plan ends the estate tax, giving a $269 billion tax break to just a few billionaire families, including the Trump and DeVos families. In the same breath, Republicans want middle class families to pay more by increasing state and local tax burdens.

NY lawmakers decry Trump’s proposed loss of tax deductions
Pete King (R-NY, 2nd)

“It’s clear people on Long Island would definitely lose under this tax reform,” said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who has joined other New York lawmakers in lobbying Republican leaders and the president on the issue. “That deduction is really essential.”

Read even more statements on these pages

House Passes Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act

Washington, D.C. - October 1, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3823, the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act. This bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Teaching Health Centers program, as well as provides disaster relief for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

LaMalfa said: “With funding expiring on September 30th, it was important to extend authorization for the FAA and prevent nationwide employee furloughs and project halts. In addition, contained in the bill is reauthorization for the Teaching Health Centers program which is particularly important in rural areas, like Northern California, where doctor shortages are a real problem. This program has been an effective tool to address that.

This legislation also increases availability of flood insurance in high risk areas and provides a tax break to our neighbors in the South, who have been severely impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in recent months. This is a timely and important bill, and I hope the Senate will put it on the President’s desk as quickly as possible.”

H.R. 3823, the Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act does the following:

  • Reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration and several aviation programs through March 31, 2018.
  • Reauthorizes Teaching Health Centers and Graduate Medical Education program.
  • Allows for emergency tax relief for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
  • Requires that federally-backed mortgages must have flood insurance if they are in flood hazard areas and reinforces that private flood insurance counts as valid flood insurance as long as that policy is state-approved.
  • Trump Administration’s Refugee Ceiling for FY 2018

    Washington, D.C. - October 1, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) met with Department of State Secretary Rex Tillerson and Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke regarding the Trump Administration’s refugee ceiling for Fiscal Year 2018. Chairman Goodlatte and Subcommittee Chairman Labrador issued the statements below on today’s meeting and the Trump Administration’s plans to set the refugee ceiling at 45,000 for the coming year.

    Chairman Goodlatte: “For generations, the United States has been a safe haven for those around the world fleeing persecution in their home countries. The Trump Administration’s refugee ceiling for the coming year maintains our nation’s generosity toward those in need, and importantly, ensures limited resources are used wisely and our citizens are protected in light of ongoing terrorist threats. Administration officials have indicated that many immigration officers processing refugee applications have been diverted to handle the large asylum backlog that occurred under the Obama Administration. The Trump Administration is acting responsibly to continue both of these humanitarian programs by reducing the asylum backlog and also committing itself to resettle tens of thousands of refugees in the United States.

    “While I welcome the Trump Administration’s plans for refugee resettlement for the coming year, it is imperative that Congress reform our nation’s refugee program by passing the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act. This bill provides tools to curb fraud, strengthen national security, and enhance public safety. I urge the House and Senate to take up this bill and send it to the President’s desk so that our nation’s generosity toward refugees continues and bad actors are prevented from gaming the system.”

    Subcommittee Chairman Labrador: “I welcome the Trump Administration’s decision to reduce the annual refugee ceiling to a more manageable level. While the Obama Administration increased the refugee ceiling at a time when security threats from abroad were growing, President Trump is exercising smart leadership by putting the safety of the American people first. America has a proud tradition of helping refugees who, through no fault of their own, are fleeing war and persecution and wish to become contributing members of our society. However, there are already documented cases of terrorists infiltrating the refugee program, and ISIS is vowing to exploit it further. Reforming America’s refugee program is a critical issue, and the time for action is now. I have introduced legislation, the Refugee Program Integrity Act, which enhances refugee screening, curbs fraud, and gives states and communities a voice in refugee settlement decisions. The House Judiciary Committee approved by bill in June and I am hopeful it will get a floor vote soon.”

    In June, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act (H.R. 2826). This bill, authored by Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Raúl Labrador and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, reforms the refugee program by curbing fraud and strengthening public safety and national security. It also provides state and local governments the power to decide if refugees are to be resettled within their communities and gives Congress, not the President, the authority to set the overall refugee ceiling for each year. A summary of the bill can be found here.


    Washington, D.C. - October 1, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- On Wednesday, September 27, 2017, U.S. Representatives David Kustoff (R-TN), Mike Thompson (D-CA) and David P. McKinley (R-W. VA) led 228 bipartisan members of Congress in sending a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma urging the administration to withdraw its harmful proposal to levy cuts on certain hospitals participating in the 340B Drug Pricing Program (340B program).

    “For 25 years, the 340B program has expanded vital health services to our rural and low-income communities in West Tennessee,” said Kustoff. “CMS’s proposed rule change would slash funding and strip safety net hospitals of the ability to serve those who need medical care the most. We must responsibly address rising prescription drug costs without putting the most vulnerable patients at risk. I hope this overwhelming, bipartisan opposition to the 340B rule change demonstrates the significance of supporting rural and safety net hospitals.”

    On July 13, 2017, CMS released the outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) proposed rule for 2018. The rule would dramatically cut the reimbursement rate for Medicare Part B drugs purchased by certain hospitals covered under the 340B program. These cuts jeopardize care for millions by directly reducing revenue to safety net hospitals that care for vulnerable patents in underserved and rural communities, without addressing the underlying price of the drugs.

    Since 1992, the 340B program has leveraged mandated discounts offered by drug manufacturers to help hospitals and other covered entities provide discounted drugs and lifesaving services to their patients. CMS’ proposed rule will eliminate funding that hospitals use to support the unreimbursed cost of care for those who need it the most.

    Click here for full text of the letter.

    Internet in Every American Home

    Washington, D.C. - October 1, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Robin Kelly, ranking member of the IT subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, joined the Democratic Caucus’ push to ensure that every American home has Internet access. An estimated 9 percent of all Illinoisans and 56 percent of rural Illinoisans, lack broadband Internet access.

    “Access to the Internet opens new doors of opportunity for Americans. From attending college and learning new farming techniques to keeping up with the news, family and friends, the Internet is a vital source of information that should be accessible to all American families. But too many, Illinoisans and Illinois small businesses are locked out of these opportunities and the 21st century economy because they don’t have quality, high-speed Internet access,” said Congresswoman Kelly. “It’s time to bridge the digital divide, especially for rural and underserved communities.”

    Today, Congressional Democrats unveiled their plan to invest billions in bringing quality, high-speed Internet access to more than 34 million Americans. Two-thirds of those living without high-speed Internet live in rural communities. Our plan also includes funding to modernize the nation’s aging 9-1-1 system.

    “I support this initiative because a Will County small business should be able to sell their products to consumers all over the world,” added Congresswoman Kelly. “A student in Windsor Park should be able to complete her homework assignment at home, instead of going to school early or trying to find a library with Internet access.”

    Congresswoman Kelly has worked extensively to bring Internet access and Internet-based opportunities to the Second Congressional District.

    In March, she led the effort to bring WiFi connectivity to Pembroke Township and Hopkins Park. The project was completed using only companies from Illinois and thanks to a strong partnership with local and county leaders and businesses. In May 2016, she effectively worked to close the WiFi “hole” in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood.

    “While the majority of Americans without quality, high-speed Internet access live in rural communities, the challenge of closing the digital divide exist in all communities and neighborhoods, urban, suburban and rural,” noted Congresswoman Kelly.

    Additionally, the Congresswoman is working to modernize government technologies, ensure mobile-friendly government websites and empower communities to recruit and retain high-tech businesses, incubators and career training programs.


    Washington, D.C. - October 1, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) is continuing to push the federal government to protect American financial markets from communist China. Twice in the past year, Congressman Jones has sounded the alarm with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about the proposed takeover of the Chicago Stock Exchange (CHX) by a Chinese firm – Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group (CCEG). On August 9th, 2017, the SEC put the deal on hold pending further review. Last week, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) and 17 of his congressional colleagues wrote to the leaders of the commission to thank them for their delay of the proposed takeover, and to again ask them to ultimately block it.

    “Stopping this deal is just common sense,” said Congressman Jones. “Why would America ever give communist Chinese a key piece of our financial markets?”

    The letter specifically states, “…this transaction would expose our markets to new vulnerabilities as a result of potential undue and unnecessary state influence from the Chinese government. Public trust in the integrity and security of our financial markets is the bedrock of our national security, and it will be impossible for the SEC to fully monitor Chinese government involvement or manipulation over the Chicago Exchange.”

    Congressman Jones has consistently fought against the efforts of communist China to buy strategic American businesses. In 2013, Congressman Jones fought the Chinese purchase of Smithfield Foods, Inc., the world’s largest pork producer and processer. Despite his efforts, the merger was finalized and was the largest-ever acquisition of an American corporation by a Chinese company.

    Bill Johnson Introduces the POWER Act

    Washington, D.C. - October 1, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Marietta) released the following statement after introducing H.R. 3846, the Providing Opportunities with Energy Revenues (POWER) Counties Act:

    “There is little doubt that Eastern and Southeastern Ohio are at the center of America’s energy renaissance. Energy development is having a positive impact on virtually every sector of our economy, including education. Our students are learning about the many job opportunities that have arrived – and will continue to arrive – resulting from the oil and gas boom. Schools are expanding their programs to help prepare students for new and exciting careers here at home, where they have been raised and educated.

    “As it stands now, the federal government, and some states, receive revenue in the form of royalties and permit fees from energy companies that develop energy on federally owned land, such as the Wayne National Forest. However, Ohio counties do not directly receive any of this revenue. This is wrong, and the POWER Act, which I introduced today, would remedy this. My legislation calls for 20% of this revenue to be redirected back to the counties where those federal lands are located, where the funding can be used to support education initiatives and infrastructure improvements. This is a simple issue of fairness, and there would be no additional expense to the taxpayer.

    “I am hopeful the House of Representatives will soon debate this bill and pass it. Because you – the hardworking taxpayers - deserve to share the benefits derived from energy development on local lands.”


    Source: House Representative Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA, 50th)

    Washington, D.C. - September 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-50) sent a letter to President Trump requesting a presidential pardon for former Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean who were sentenced to federal prison in 2006 for assault against the drug smuggler they were apprehending in the performance of their jobs. While President Bush commuted their 10-year sentence in 2009, these agents remain convicted felons adversely affecting their employment opportunities and quality of life.

    “These agents were in process of apprehending an illegal alien smuggling over 700 pounds of drugs into our country,” said Congressman Hunter. “In the course of a struggle, and in what appeared to be the suspect brandishing a weapon, these agents fired their guns and hit him in the backside as he escaped back into Mexico. Rather than reward these agents for their $1 million seizure, a U.S. Attorney offered the drug smuggler immunity in exchange for testimony to prosecute and convict them. President Bush’s actions got Ramos and Compean out of prison and I’m calling on President Trump to take the next step and give these agents their lives back.”

    Congressman Hunter’s letter comes after President Trump exercised his authority earlier this year to pardon former Arizona Sherriff Joe Arpaio. Both Ramos and Compean were veterans of the U.S. Border Patrol with unblemished service records and Agent Ramos had previously been nominated for Border Patrol Agent of the Year. Conversely, the drug smuggler, Mr. Aldrete-Davila, was captured again after this incident and pleaded guilty to multiple drug charges, including possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

    Congressman Hunter's letter to President Trump can be viewed here.