Greetings to our Constituents, fellow Floridians, and all Americans. It is time again for my weekly update report to you all. It has been another whirlwind week and there are some very deep concerns I have on several points.
First of all, the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform voted to bring Contempt of Congress charges against United States Attorney General Eric Holder. When this resolution is brought before the full House of Representatives, I will vote YES to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt.
Operation Fast and Furious has been a dark blight which must be resolved, as United States Border Patrol agents and hundreds of Mexican citizens have lost their lives as a result. This is not something to disregard. The Department of Justice under Eric Holder has not been truthful or forthcoming, not only with the United States Congress, but the American people, and with the parents of slain Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry.
Operation Fast and Furious is either the result of abject ineptness or complicity, or both. No matter which, both are egregious and leadership must be held responsible and accountable.
For President Barack Obama to claim “Executive Privilege” demonstrates that this administration has been misleading Americans about its knowledge and involvement from day one. The invoking of “Executive Privilege” now begs the question, “What part did the administration play in this Operation Fast and Furious?”
Meanwhile, the United States House of Representatives is focusing on its tasks at hand – addressing the issues of economic, energy and national security while ensuring we have an accountable government. We continue to pass job and economic policy legislation that unfortunately continues to pile even higher on the desk of United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
Which leads me to my second point of concern, the Supreme Court of the United States decision on healthcare which will most likely come next week.
It is not only the individual mandate that must go, there are at least 10 more reasons to support full repeal of this Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA);
1. Employer mandate
2. 18-20 new and higher taxes
3. The Independent Payment Advisory Board
4. State mandates
5. MEDICARE payment cuts
6. Higher health costs
7. Conscience Mandate forcing religious institutions to pay for contraception and abortion
8. Government control over the doctor-patient relationship
9. A true budget-buster cost of $1.76 trillion over 10 years!
10. More than 150 new boards, agencies, and programs.
This was the “signature” policy of President Barack Obama, rather than debt and deficit reduction and small business growth.
I will be voting for full repeal, again, as well as promoting development of free market healthcare reforms to protect our American citizens and reduce their healthcare cost burden.
Lastly, the United States Senate is debating and amending the Farm Bill. However, when one considers that 80 percent of this piece of legislation is dedicated to Food Stamps (Electronic Benefit Transfer or EBT), it seems this bill should be re-titled the “Food Stamp Reauthorization Bill.” In the past ten years, (2002-2012), food stamp spending per year has increased from $20.6 billion to $75.6 billion. The United States Senate bill will increase it again to around $80 billion per year.
Since January 2009, food stamp recipients in America have grown from 32 million to 46 million, a 45 percent increase. While this is happening, we are being asked to slash another $500 to $600 billion from the United States military.
Now, tell me where you think the priority lies in this administration? Clearly, it’s not about America’s economic or national security.
The focus appears to be on creating and expanding a socialist-style bureaucratic nanny-state designed for economic dependence, not economic freedom.
As a final note, for those in the black community who hoped this administration would bring about change for all, please take a few minutes to view our Conservative Black Forum on urban economic empowerment, and answer one simple question, are you better off now?
Steadfast and Loyal,
Lands Package — On Tuesday, the United States House of Representatives approved H.R. 2578, the Conservation and Economic Growth Act, by a vote of 232-188, I VOTED YES. The bill would incorporate 14 bills approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources. The bipartisan package would remove federal red tape to responsible, local economic development and job growth. In addition, the bill would encourage tourism and recreation, promote responsible use of our public lands and resources, protect the environment, secure federal lands along the U.S. border, and would promote the development of clean, renewable hydropower.
Energy Package — On Thursday, the United States House of Representatives approved H.R. 4480, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, by a vote of 248-163, I VOTED YES. The legislation combines seven bills that would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, as well as spur economic growth and job creation. H.R. 4480 is aimed at increasing production on federal lands and protecting American refineries by reducing unnecessary red tape and burdensome Obama Administration regulations. According to the CBO, enacting the bill would reduce direct spending by $385 million over the 2013-2022 period and would not affect revenues. In addition, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost $189 million over the 2013-2017 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.
Agriculture Appropriations — Next week, the United States House of Representatives is expected to consider the Fiscal Year 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill. As reported, the bill would provide $19.4 billion in discretionary funding for programs funded through the bill. The funding in the bill is a reduction of $365 million below last year’s level and a cut of $1.7 billion below the President’s budget request. The Agriculture Appropriations bill funds several government programs and services, including food safety, animal and plant health, rural development and farm services, and nutrition programs.
THUD Appropriations — Also next week, the House of Representatives will likely begin consideration of the Fiscal Year 2013 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill. The legislation was reported out of the Appropriations Committee on June 19 and provides funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies. In total, the THUD Appropriations bill provides $51.6 billion in discretionary spending, which is a reduction of $3.9 billion below last year’s level and $1.9 billion below the President’s budget request.
Transportation funding — In addition, the House of Representatives may consider legislation relating to the authority to appropriate funds from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for federal highway and surface transportation programs. On March 29, 2012, the House passed H.R. 4281, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, which extended surface transportation program authority for three months through June 30, 2012.
Student Loan program — Also next week, the House of Representatives may consider legislation to maintain undergraduate student loan interest rates of 3.4 percent. Currently, the rates are set to double on June 30, 2012. On April 27, 2012, despite a veto threat from the President, House Republicans approved a bill to prevent the interest rates on new student loan from increasing to 6.8 percent. The bill would have offset the expense of extending current rates by repealing a slush fund included in Democrats’ federal government takeover of healthcare law.
Contempt of Congress — Lastly, the House of Representatives will likely consider a resolution holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. The resolution was reported out of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform by a vote of 23-17. If a majority on the House of Representatives approves a resolution of contempt, it would be referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia for enforcement of the subpoena.
Healthcare—The House of Representatives will be prepared to respond to the Supreme Court of the United States decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
SIGN UP FOR ALL CONGRESSMAN ALLEN WEST’S EMAILS AT: west.house.gov