Why I voted...
S. 2040 – Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act – YES (Passed)
On September 28, 2016 I, along with 347 of my House colleagues voted in favor of this important bill. S. 2040 will allow victims of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, or their families, to sue foreign governments that aided or funded the attacks. This bill is an important step to bringing accountability to the Saudi government who has been hiding behind their sovereign immunity that is given to countries under the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that are not on the United States’ states sponsors of terrorism list.
Furthermore, I have introduced, and passed by the full House my State Sponsors of Terrorism Review and Enhancement Act that will make it more difficult for Presidents to unilaterally remove countries from the state sponsors of terrorism list so we may hold states that engage in sponsoring terrorism accountable.
H.R. 3537 – Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control2040 Act – Yes (Passed)
On September 26, 2016, I voted against this bill that will arbitrarily add 20 synthetic drugs to the Controlled Substances Act. The federal government’s war on drugs has been a failure, costing more than $1 trillion since 1971. H.R. 3537 expands this counterproductive effort by adding 22 synthetic substances to the list of federal Schedule I narcotics. Schedule I drugs carry more severe penalties than other drugs and face significant practical barriers to research. The House should have held more committee hearings examining these particular substances before taking action.
H.R. 5931 – Prohibit Cash Payments to the Government of Iran – YES (Passed)
On September 22, 2016 I voted in favor of H.R. 5931—I am also an original cosponsor of this bill. As its name suggests it will stop the Administration from paying out cash ransoms to the government of Iran as it tries to implement the JCPOA—its terrible nuclear deal.
The President announced that the United States would pay Iran $1.7 billion to settle a dispute over an aborted arms sale that had dragged on since the radicals that rule Iran seized power in 1979. The White House rejected concerns that this settlement amounted to a ransom for the release of the American hostages and refused to answer questions from Congress.
When news broke that the United States secretly paid Iran—the first part of this settlement—$400 million in cash —just as the hostages were released, it became clear that the President had rejected the advice of his own Justice Department and ignored a longstanding U.S. policy not to release prisoners or pay ransom in exchange for the return of Americans held hostage abroad. Even the State Department now admits this payment was “leverage” for the release of American hostages. Now we find out that the whole $1.7 billion was sent to Iran—the world’s leading state sponsor of terror—in cash.
The goal of our longstanding “no concessions” policy is to remove a key incentive for hostage takers to target Americans and deny terrorists and their sponsors the resources they need to conduct attacks. Not surprisingly, Iran has since taken several more Americans hostage and continues to fund terrorist groups that threaten U.S. interests and destabilize the Middle East.
H.R. 2285 – Prevent Trafficking in Cultural Property Act – Yes (Passed)
On September 22, 2016, I voted, along with 414 of my House colleagues to pass this bill. H.R. 2285 will direct federal agencies to improve their enforcement of policies to prevent trafficking in cultural property and prevent stolen or illicit cultural property from financing terrorist and criminal networks.
H.R. 5320 – Social Security Must Avert Identity Loss Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On September 22, 2016 I, along with 413 of my House colleagues voted in favor of this bill that will restrict the inclusion of social security account numbers on documents sent by mail by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA would have to halt the printing of numbers “as soon as practicable.” Complete Social Security numbers could only be printed on letters if the SSA determines that it’s necessary.
Social Security would have to submit reports twice a year to Congress for the next six years on the titles of mailings that included full Social Security numbers and the date the documents were last updated. The reports would also include a projected date for removing all nonessential Social Security numbers from mailings. This bill is an important step in reducing fraud and identity theft.
H.R. 5719 – Empowering Employees through Stock Ownership Act – YES (Passed)
On September 22, 2016 I, along with 286 of my House colleagues voted in favor of this bill that will allow employees at private companies to defer tax payments when they exercise their stock options or gain equity interest under certain conditions. This bill will help startup companies and increase the economy and create jobs.
At many startup companies, employees are offered stock options or equity ownership to compensate for lower compensation and to share ownership in the company. Currently, if employees exercise these options, they are required to pay taxes immediately but sometimes lack the resources to do so. That means they may miss out on a potential financial opportunity. This is a barrier for some individuals to join a start-up, which means both the company and individual lose, and so does our economy.
H.R. 5719 resolves this barrier by allowing employees seven years or before the stock becomes tradeable on an established market to pay the taxes when they exercise options. H.R. 5719 will help startup companies attract and keep talented employees, and provide skilled individuals another key incentive to join these promising businesses.
H.R. 6014 – Federal Aviation Administration reimbursable agreements Act – Yes (Passed)
On September 21, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill along with 424 of my House colleagues. H.R. 6014 will allow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to enter into agreements with state or local agencies to reimburse expenses for airport facility construction or alteration projects that require notice to the FAA.
Under current law, the FAA is generally allowed to enter into various contracts, leases, and cooperative agreements with other Federal agencies and States as necessary to carry out the functions of the FAA Administrator and the Administration. My legislation will ensure the agency is working in greater collaboration with these entities by specifically authorizing the FAA to enter into so-called “Reimbursable Agreements” with States when conducting airport improvement and expansion projects. This bill will reduce costly federal barriers and regulations while saving the taxpayer money.
H.R. 6007 – Commercial Space Act – YES (Passed)
On September 21, 2016 I, along with 424 of my House colleagues voted in favor of this bill. H.R. 6007 directs the DOT if it decides that constructing or altering a structure may result in interference with space navigation facilities and equipment, to study the extent of any adverse impact that may result on the safe and efficient use of space, facilities, or equipment.
In conducting such a study, DOT shall consider the impact on launch and reentry for launch and reentry vehicles arriving or departing from a commercial launch site or reentry site.
H.R. 5461 – Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act – YES (Passed)
On September 21, 2016 I, along with 281 of my House colleagues voted in favor of this bill. H.R. 5461 will require the Secretary of the Treasury to submit a report to Congress on the estimated total assets under direct or indirect control by certain senior Iranian leaders and other figures. This will allow people to know exactly who they are doing business with if they decide to engage in business with Iranians who until the JCPOA were sanctioned by the United States government.
H.R. 5351 – Preventing Detainees from transferring from Gitmo Act – YES (Passed)
On September 15, 2016 I am a cosponsor of this bill and voted in favor of its passage along with 243 of my House colleagues. H.R. 5351 will bar all federal agencies from using funds to transfer or release detainees held at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until Jan. 1, 2017, or the date the fiscal 2017 defense authorization is enacted, whichever is earlier as the same provisions exist in the defense authorization passed by the House.
It has been proven that former inmates at GITMO have returned to the fight against the United States and our allies. We need to make sure the President cannot circumvent U.S. law and transfer more detainees without first coming to Congress so we can analyze the potential consequences such an action could have on U.S. national security. The Administration needs to stop picking and choosing which laws it follows, and until the President stops that I will work with my colleagues to make sure he does not have the funds to implement his own agenda over the laws and objections of American citizens.
H.R. 5587 – Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act – YES (Passed)
On September 13, 2016 I, along with 404 of my colleagues in the House, voted to pass H.R. 5587. Introduced by Rep. Thompson (R-PA), this bill reauthorized federal career and technical education (CTE) programs, including $7 billion in grants for the Carl D. Perkins Center and Technical Education Act through FY22. In addition to reauthorizing the program, the Government Accountability Office would be required to study the effectiveness of CTE programs in helping students complete programs associated with high-skill and high-wage careers. Authorization for this program was last completed in 2006 and was long overdue for a reauthorization that reflected the challenges today’s youth face in pursuing CTE careers.
H.R. 3590 – Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act – Yes (Passed)
On September 13, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill along with 260 of my House colleagues. H.R. 3590 will repeal the increase in the income threshold used in determining the deduction for medical care.
Obamacare made out-of-pocket medical expenses tax deductible if they exceeded 10 percent of an individual’s adjusted gross income (AGI) for those younger than 65. Before the law was enacted, the threshold was 7.5 percent of AGI. For individuals age 65 and older that increase is scheduled to occur in 2017.
The bill would permanently restore the 7.5 percent threshold for all tax filers in 2016. This deduction is extremely important for low and middle income Americans who have already spent thousands in out-of-pocket medical costs, and they can’t afford another shock to their wallets.
H.R. 5424 – Investment Advisers Modernization Act – YES (Passed)
On September 9, 2016 I, along with 260 Members of Congress, passed the Investment Advisers Modernization Act. In October of 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a reporting rule subjecting certain advisers to additional and burdensome requirements. This bill would limit the disclosure requirements for advisers of private funds, in addition to increasing frequency of data disclosure if they advise large hedge funds with at least $1.5 billion in assets under management or large liquidity funds with at least $1 billion, combined, under management. This bill provides a balanced approach for investors, advisors, and the SEC in addressing the demands of the over-reaching Dodd-Frank Act.
H.R. 2357 – Accelerating Access to Capital Act – YES (Passed)
On September 9, 2016 I, along with 260 Members of Congress, passed the Investment Advisers Modernization Act. In October of 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a reporting rule subjecting certain advisers to additional and burdensome requirements. This bill would limit the disclosure requirements for advisers of private funds, in addition to increasing frequency of data disclosure if they advise large hedge funds with at least $1.5 billion in assets under management or large liquidity funds with at least $1 billion, combined, under management. This bill provides a balanced approach for investors, advisors, and the SEC in addressing the demands of the over-reaching Dodd-Frank Act.
H.R. 5063 – Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016 – Yes (Passed)
On September 7, 2016, I voted to pass the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016, which prevents federal agencies from requiring payments to “charitable organizations,” of their choosing, as part of civil litigation settlements. Requiring payments or donations to third party organizations is a coercive and corrupt practice, but has unfortunately become common place in agencies such as the Justice Department.
H.R. 5578 – Survivors Bill of Rights Act – YES (Passed)
On September 6, 2016 I, along with 398 Members of the House, voted pass this bill and extend rights to sexual assault survivors under the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, to include:
Receive a medical forensic examination - at no charge
Preserve their rape kit for 20 years or until the maximum statute of limitations expires
Receive notification at least 60 days before a kit is scheduled to be destroyed, with an option for further preservation
Be informed of a DNA profile match and other results
Every sexual assault survivors has an unalienable right to seek justice and should NEVER be victimized a second time because of a system that does not ensure their rights are being protected under the law.
H.R. 5631 – Iran Accountability Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On July 14, 2016 - I along with 245 of my House colleagues stood up to hold Iran accountable by passing this legislation. Under this bill the president would be required to impose sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its affiliates, on entities that support Tehran-based Mahan Air, on entities that support the country’s ballistic missile program, and on individuals involved in human rights abuses. Some sanctions against Iran were lifted as part of the January implementation of the terribly negotiated deal by the Obama administration known as the JCPOA.
The plan was finalized in July 2015 by Iran, the U.S., the U.K., China, France, Russia, Germany, and the European Union. Iran agreed to eliminate or reduce its uranium stockpile and enrichment activities in exchange for sanctions relief from the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations Security Council.
The bill would declare that it’s U.S. policy “to continue to impose pressure on the Government of Iran for its role as the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, its ongoing human rights abuses against the citizens of Iran and other peoples, and its unjust detention of United States citizens.”
Since the JCPOA was reached the Iranian regime has only grown more emboldened. Today, Iran is considered the leading state sponsor of terrorism. It’s repressing the Iranian people at home, while propping up the murderous Assad regime abroad. And under the president’s nuclear deal, Iran has actually accelerated its illicit ballistic missiles program. We cannot stand by and watch as Iran develops the vehicle to launch a nuclear warhead at the United States.
H.R. 5119 – No 2H20 from Iran Act – YES (Passed)
On July 13, 2016 I voted in favor of this legislation in order to block American taxpayer money from going to Iran, a regime who currently is the world’s leader in sponsoring terrorism. It is ridiculous to think that the Obama administration would think that rewarding Iran for illicit nuclear program would be a good idea. Under H.R. 5119 federal departments and agencies would be barred from using any funding to purchase heavy water from Iran or to issue a license to purchase heavy water from Iran.
Heavy water is used in some nuclear reactors to slow down the fissile process. It also is used to make plutonium and develop medicines. In April, the administration said it reached an $8.6 million deal to buy 32 tons of heavy water from Iran, contending that purchasing the heavy water will keep it out of the international market. Others oppose the move because it would send funding to the Iranian government.
Sending millions of dollars, which is a substantial amount of the Department of Energy’s budget for this program, to the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism defies logic and leaves our country less safe.
H.R. 4768 – Separation of Powers Restoration Act – Yes (Passed)
On July 12, 2016, I voted to restore the intent of the Founding Fathers and three co-equal branches of government. In the 1984 Supreme Court decision in Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, the justices made a decision that altered the fundamental manner in which the government was intended to work. The justices held that agencies should be given deference in determining whether or not it is within their jurisdiction to implement laws by enacting final rules and without requesting clarifying language from Congress – more commonly referred to as Chevron deference. As a result, agencies have grown in scope and size and have adopted the practice of legislating, rather than implementing laws passed by Congress. Under H.R. 4768, courts would be required to review challenges to federal agency actions without deferring to or considering the agencies’ interpretations of laws and regulations, thus beginning a return to the constitutional system of checks and balances.
H.R. 5658 – TALENT Act – YES (Passed)
On July 12, 2016 I, along with 408 Members of the House, voted to make permanent the Presidential Innovation Fellows Program. This program was designed to attract the brightest and most innovative private-sector minds to collaborate with federal agencies to develop technologies that will save taxpayers money, fuel job creation, and build upon a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation within the federal government.
H.R. 5606 – Anti-terrorism Information Sharing Is Strength Act – Yes (Passed)
On July 11, 2016, I along with 176 of my House colleagues voted against this bill. Contrary to the bill’s title, H.R. 5606 is not about anti-terrorism.
The bill improperly extends an anti-terrorism statute, the Patriot Act, to the investigation of domestic, non-terrorism crimes. Section 314 of the Patriot Act encourages the government to share information on terrorism and money laundering with financial institutions. It also encourages such information sharing among financial institutions. Treasury regulations, however, have flipped Section 314 on its head; the department has applied the section to require financial institutions to share information with the government.
If H.R. 5606 becomes law, this section of the Patriot Act will become substantially more powerful and susceptible to abuse, because the Treasury may require financial institutions to share information on countless private transactions that have no connection to terrorism
H.R. 5606 violates our Fourth Amendment-secured right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, the government may not conduct unreasonable searches and seizures. With limited exception, a search or seizure is unreasonable if it occurs without probable cause and a warrant.
Section 314 of the Patriot Act attempts to sidestep this constitutional protection by treating a domestic criminal investigation like a foreign terrorism investigation, and H.R. 5606 extends the applicability to a much wider range of criminal investigations. In short, if the regulations issued under the bill are consistent with current regulations, H.R. 5606 will permit the government to demand information on any American from any financial institution merely upon reasonable suspicion.
H.R. 4361 – Federal Information Systems Safeguards Act – YES (Passed)
On July 7, 2016 I, along with 240 Members, passed the Federal Information Systems Safeguards Act. This bill grants additional authorities to heads of agencies allowing them to more easily fire or demote Senior Executive Service employees who are bad actors. In addition, H.R. 4361 prohibits agencies from issuing rules during the transitional period following a presidential election and the subsequent swearing in of the next Administration.
H.R. 2646 – Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act – Yes (Passed)
On July 6, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill along with 421 of my House colleagues. H.R. 2646 Medicaid coverage of mental health services would be expanded and a new assistant secretary for mental health and substance use would be created in the Health and Human Services Department (HHS). The bill would direct the department to issue regulations regarding when a health-care provider can disclose the protected health records of a patient with severe mental illness.
The bill also contains provisions that would support the treatment of eating disorders, require strategic planning, offer fellowships to students and require Government Accountability Office studies on discrimination against people with mental illness. The measure would also bar the use of federal mental health funds for any lobbying activities.
Mental health disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S., yet access to mental health care treatment is severely lacking. As a result, behavioral health patients often turn to emergency departments for care, putting added strain on emergency services and delaying treatment for the patient
H.R. 2646 would make more psychiatric hospital beds available, integrate and connect physical and mental health care providers and provide resources to communities for suicide prevention. In addition, it would allow more patients to be treated in our healthcare system instead of being incarcerated, expand crisis intervention team training for law enforcement and allow families to work with doctors and mental health professionals as part of the care delivery team.
S. 1252 – Global Food Security Act – YES (Passed)
On July 6, 2016 I, along with 368 of my House colleagues voted in favor of this legislation. I came to Congress on the promise of cutting wasteful government spending. There are plenty of examples of the government playing loose with taxpayer money, but none more so than how we spend our foreign aid dollars. Through my work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I have come to appreciate the good that can be accomplished from well administered aid programs such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
When foreign assistance has a clear mission, buy-in from the aid-recipient country, and explicit metrics for implementation, the United States will be able to transition aid-recipient nations into strong trading partners. One of the greatest examples of this successful transition is South Korea. It is time for a paradigm shift in the manner in which the United States administers foreign aid. This change will not happen overnight, but can be accomplished through small, incremental changes to the system. This is why I support Senate bill, S. 1252, the Global Food Security Act of 2016 (GFSA).
This legislation will ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.
The Global Food Security Act is the culmination of nearly three years of hard work and collaboration between the House Foreign Affairs and the House Agriculture committees as well as their Senate counterparts. The GFSA is a step in the right direction to reset our foreign aid and make it as effective as possible. It authorizes the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) program, which has not been updated in 30 years.
The GFSA will, for the first time, place limits on disaster aid and will establish monitoring and reporting requirements that will enable Congress to assess the full scope of U.S. investments in international food security. Furthermore, S.1252 will reassert Congress’s authority and rein in the Executive branch by establishing clear goals and objectives that align international food security and disaster assistance with broader U.S. national security, economic, and humanitarian interests. Recent experiences have shown that the U.S. being able to deliver effective emergency disaster assistance in places like Syria, would help bring an end to refugees attempting the dangerous journey to Europe.
Beyond authorizing IDA, the Global Food Security Act directs the President to develop a global food security strategy to promote food security, resilience, and nutrition. This strategy will require the United States to work with recipient-nations so they can help themselves and not rely on the United States. This will move us away from throwing money at various problems around the world, as we have done for nearly six decades, and eventually move recipient-nations of U.S.-aid to prosperous trading partners.
I remain committed to closing off the flow of wasteful government spending and reining in an overreaching Executive branch. Retooling how we spend our foreign aid dollars, making sure we have a clear mission, and implementing proper oversight, is the right thing to do for the long-term health and stability of our nation. The Global Food Security Act of 2016 is a good first step in accomplishing these goals.
H.R. 1270 – Restoring Access to Medication Act – Yes (Passed)
On July 6, 2016, I supported this legislation which will empower the American people as they make the best health decisions for themselves instead of having Obamacare make those decisions for them. H.R. 1270 will repeal the portions of Obamacare that limit payments for medications from health savings accounts, medical savings accounts, and health flexible spending arrangements to only prescription drugs or insulin (thus allowing distributions from such accounts for over-the-counter drugs). This legislation will also increase the amount an individual or family can put away into their health savings accounts.
H.R. 4855 – Fix Crowdfunding Act– YES (Passed)
On July 5, 2016 I, along with 393 of my House colleagues voted in favor of this bill that will amend provisions in the securities laws relating to regulation of crowdfunding, raise the dollar amount limit, and clarify other requirements and exclusions for funding portals.
H.R. 4855 will facilitate the pooling of investor resources into vehicles that invest in businesses to help them grow and create jobs.
H.R. 4854 – Supporting Americas Innovators Act – Yes (Passed)
On July 5, 2016, I along with 387 of my House colleagues voted to pass this bill would increase the maximum number of investors a venture capital fund could have and still qualify for an exemption under the Investment Company Act of 1940. From 100 to 500 persons.
The bill enhances angel investors’ ability to provide critical funding to small businesses and entrepreneurs in need of investment capital.
H.R. 5325 – Fiscal Year 2017 Continuing Resolution – YES (Passed)
On September 28, 2016, I joined 341 of my House colleagues in putting aside partisan politics in order to ensure funding for the military, improve care for veterans and responsibly respond to the Zika Virus. This short-term funding measure, H.R. 5325, ensures the government stays open through December 9. While this legislation does not contain all of the reforms I wished to see, it does contain vital funding and includes my language prohibiting the closure of Guantanamo Bay Naval Station.
Provides over $1 billion in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus.
Continues polices contained in existing appropriations law, including pro-life riders
· Provides flexibility, as provided in previous years, for Customs and Border Patrol and ICE to meet border security needs
· Permits the Bureau of Land Management to process applications for permits to drill
Includes $400 million in specific offsets from accounts including ACA exchange funds for U.S. territories and unused Ebola funds
Beyond the continuing current funding levels, H.R. 5325 includes the FY17 MilCon/VA Conference Report as passed by the House on June 23, 2016
- The FY17 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill provides $82.5 billion in discretionary funding
- Military construction is funded at $7.9 billion to fund military family housing, Guard and Reserve facilities, and military bases in the U.S. and around the world
$74.4 billion is provided for the VA
- $52.8 billion for VA medical services which includes critical funding for mental health, suicide prevention, traumatic brain injury, services for homeless veterans, and rural health initiatives
- $260 million for the modernization of electronic health records and restricts certain funds until the VA certifies interoperability with DOD
- Provides $156 million for the Board of Veterans Appeals to process the claims and appeals backlog, an increase of $46 million to fund 242 new staff handling claims
- Prevents the closure of Guantanamo Bay Naval Station and prohibits funding for a facility for detainees in the U.S.
- Requires reports on providing additional services and care for female veterans, how the VA is providing services to veterans with opioid addiction, and a review of the VA’s prescription practices and addiction treatment protocols
- $900 million for VA construction and ensures congressional oversight over reprogramming of funds and requires non-VA entities to manage large-scale projects
- Increases oversight and accountability of the VA and added significant new whistleblower protections
- Also funds the American Battle Monuments Commission, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Armed Forces Retirement Home
Again, while this bill does not contain everything I wanted, it does provide funding for our veterans, responsible funding for the Zika crisis, ensures the screening of refugees, increase border security, and contains my language to prevent the closure of the Guantanamo Bay Naval station.
Conference Report for H.R. 2577 - Fiscal year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act and Zika Response and Preparedness Act – YES (Passed)
On June 23, 2016, I, along with 238 of House colleagues, voted in favor of this important bill. This bill will responsibly fund a response to the Zika crisis. Further it contained language from the Zika Vector Control Act which passed the House with my support in May. This bill will repeal Environmental Protection Act (EPA) requirements that require permitting under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the application of EPA approved pesticides. The federal regulatory structure around insecticide use makes it more costly and time consuming for local communities to implement mosquito control strategies.
Beyond funding a solution to the Zika crisis The Conference Report would provide $74.859 billion in net discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, $7.726 billion for military construction. The Conference Report would also provide $66.385 billion in advance appropriations for veterans’ health benefits for FY 2018to ensure veterans’ healthcare does not face interruptions. This bill will also address the Veteran’s claims backlog. It has been a personal mission of mine, since being elected, to reduce the claims backlog. Veterans should not have to wait years to receive the benefits and care they have earned. The continued inability to reduce the backlog is unacceptable, and I look forward to continuing to find opportunities to eliminate veterans’ wait times.
I am also proud to announce that this bill contained my bill language prohibiting funds to be used to close or realign the Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. This is an initiative I have been working on with various committee to ensure that President Obama does not circumvent Congress and give Guantanamo Bay back to the Castro brothers in his ill-advised attempts to normalize relations with Cuba.
H.R. 5471 – Countering Terrorist Radicalization Act – YES (Passed)
On June 16, 2016 I, along with 401 of my House colleagues, voted in favor of this common-sense bill. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)would be required to incorporate statements and intelligence from former violent extremists into its efforts to counter terrorist recruitment. The bill also would authorize DHS to train personnel how to counter violent extremism and would formally establish the department’s Counterterrorism Advisory Board. This bill incorporates three counterterrorism bills the House passed during the past four months in the hopes to force the Senate to take up the measure in order to help combat terrible terrorists such as the despicable act carried out in Orlando. We must secure our nation from terrorism and prevent radicalization here at home so the American people can be safe and live without fear.
H.R. 5293 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017 – Yes (Passed)
On June 16, 2016, I voted to pass I, along with 281 of my House colleagues, voted in favor of this bill to fund the Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2017. Within the defense appropriations bill I was able to insert language into the bill that will prevent man-portable-air-defense systems (MANPADs) to combatants within Syria, Iraq, or Ukraine. This bill fully fund our men and women in uniform and provide them with the much needed pay raise they deserve. Fully funding the Department of Defense is critical for our military to meet the ever increasing challenges America faces in a dangerous world. This will also address our readiness shortfalls, which hinder the operations and maintenance of our ships, aircraft, ground vehicles and other vital equipment. I also tried to insert language into this bill which would prevent the placement of combat troops in Libya or Syria without an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). We need to have an updated AUMF that restores congressional oversight over US military engagements. Unfortunately, that language was not added to the final bill. Congress’ primary Constitutional duty is to provide for the common defense of our great nation. As a member of Congress, I take this responsibility very seriously. To protect and defend the freedoms and liberties we all enjoy, we must have a well-trained, sophisticated, and capable fighting force. Today’s vote ensures that America has the fighting force we need to provide a strong national defense and to meet the current and evolving threats we face around the world.
H.R. 5053 – Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act – YES (Passed)
On June 14, 2016, I voted to pass H.R. 5053, which prohibits the IRS from forcing tax exempt organizations to release the name of their donors. The IRS has demonstrated multiple times in recent years that it is inclined to use its clout to target and treat conservative-leaning non-profits in an unfair manner that is not consistent with how it treats liberal-leaning organizations. This bill takes a step in the right direction towards protecting individuals and organizations from politically motivated actions being taken against them.
H.R. 5325 – Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017– Yes (Passed)
On June 10, 2016, I voted to appropriate funds for the Legislative Branch. In addition to providing funds for the House and the Library of Congress (LOC), America’s premier public library, H.R. 5325 increased funding for Capitol Police, prohibited a cost of living increase for Members of Congress, directed unspent office funds towards deficit reduction, prohibited bonuses to contractors behind schedule or over budget, and instructed the LOC to maintain the legal term for illegal aliens as used in title 8 of the US Code.
H.R. 5278 – Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act – NO (Passed)
On June 9, 2016, I voted with 126 of my colleagues in a bipartisan manner in opposition of H.R. 5278. While Puerto Rico’s finances need to be addressed, this can and should be done between the Puerto Rican government and their creditors. Congress does not need to step in on this issue. Congress instead should focus on our own financial mismanagement so that we are not the mirror image of Puerto Rico in five years. The island is a welfare state that is over-regulated, has unsustainable spending, and welfare programs that pay better than private sector jobs. The island has a population of 3.5 million; 40 percent are on food stamps and roughly 40 percent are not even in the workforce. Setting up an oversight board will not fix the underlying problems that led to this crisis.
H.R. 3826 – Mount Hood Cooper Spur Land Exchange Clarification Act – Yes (Passed)
On June 8, 2016, I voted to amend the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which reduces the amount of land the US Forest Service (USFS) would be authorized to convey to the Mount Hood ski area in Oregon from 120 acres to 107 acres. This change is a result of an agreement reached between the USFS and Mount Hood ski resort and simply codifies the change in law.
H.Con.Res 129 – Expressing support for all Holocaust victims, and urging Germany to reaffirm its commitment to address the health and welfare of the victims – YES (Passed)
On June 7, 2016, I, along with 362 of my colleagues, voted in favor of this legislation. This legislation urges the working group established by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany to recognize the imperative to fund immediately and fully the medical, mental health, and long-term care needs of surviving Holocaust victims, with full transparency and accountability, to ensure all funds for Holocaust victims from the Federal Republic of Germany are administered efficiently, fairly, and without delay. Furthermore it urges Germany to ensure each Holocaust victim receives all of the prescribed medical care, home care, mental health care, and other vital services necessary to live in dignity and to provide additional financial resources to address the unique needs of Holocaust victims
H.R. 5055 – Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017 – No (Failed)
On May 26, 2016, I voted against H.R. 5055, which increased spending, provided energy subsidies that pick winners and losers, and funded unauthorized programs. This bill would have shackled the American taxpayer with an exorbitant tab, increasing the ever expanding national debt. I offered an amendment which would have decreased the size and scope of the Department of Energy and decreased federal spending, but it was unfortunately not adopted. It would have been reckless of me to have supported such a fiscally irresponsible bill, and I hope future appropriations bills will prove to be more well thought out.
H.R. 5233 – Clarifying Congressional Intent in Providing for DC Home Rule Act of 2016 – Yes (Passed)
On May 25, 2016, I voted to pass H.R. 5233, which clarifies Congressional intent that the District of Columbia (DC) has no authority to change the federal government’s role in DC’s budget process. In 2012, DC unconstitutionally attempted to unilaterally remove the federal government’s role in its budget process by passing the Local Budget Autonomy Act. H.R. 5233 repeals the Local Budget Authority Act (LBAA) and restores the Constitutional balance to DC and the federal government.
H.R. 897 – Zika Vector Control Act – YES (Passed)
On May 24, 2016, I voted in favor of the Zika Control Act. Currently, the federal regulatory structure around insecticide use makes it more costly and time consuming for local communities to implement mosquito control strategies. This bill amends the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Roedenticide Act (FIFRA) to clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters. The bill temporarily exempts a discharge to waters involving the application of a pesticide authorized for sale, distribution, or use under FIFRA, where the pesticide is used in compliance with pesticide label requirements. Under the bill, the safe use of pesticides will continue to be regulated under FIFRA, as it has been for decades. This bill is vitally important to controlling the spread of Zika and I encourage families to take the proper precautions listed on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Zika website.
H.R. 4974 – Military Construction and Veteran’s Affairs Appropriations Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On May 19, 2016, I voted to pass H.R. 4974, providing appropriations for Veterans Affairs in the upcoming 2017 Fiscal Year. This bill provided over $63 billion in advance appropriations to ensure veterans’ healthcare does not face interruptions, as well as an additional $850 million for medical services. H.R. 4974 also provides $7.8 billion for mental health programs, over $600 million for prosthetic research.
I am also proud to announce the House passed measure increased the amounts appropriated to the general operating expenses to reduce the VA claims backlog by $118 million – totaling over $2.8 billion. A further $156 million was appropriated to the Board of Veteran Appeals to increase staff by 242 full-time employees. It has been a personal mission of mine, since being elected, to reduce the claims backlog. Veterans should not have to wait years to receive the benefits and care they have earned. The continued inability to reduce the backlog is unacceptable, and I look forward to continuing to find opportunities to eliminate veterans’ wait times.
H.R. 4909 – National Defense Authorization Act – YES (Passed)
On May 18, 2016, I voted in favor of H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY17. This bill will strengthen our national security and ensure that our military maintains a readiness level unparalleled around the world. This bill touches every aspect of our national defense and the men and woman who have answered the call to protect our great country. With the dangers we are facing around the world, it is vital that our armed forces have all they need to complete the missions they are assigned. This authorization completely funds the overseas deployment of our troops in harm’s way through the first part of next year. By doing this we will be giving the next Commander in Chief the opportunity to implement a comprehensive strategy for the war against ISIS and time to request the resources required to carry out that strategy. Furthermore, this authorization contained my Guantanamo Bay Naval Station lease modification bill language that would prohibit the President from ceding back any portion of the naval station to the Castro brothers without first coming to Congress for approval. I also offered an amendment that was adopted into H.R. 4909 that will prevent the transfer of man-portable air defense systems to any actor in Syria. In addition to funding our military, this bill reforms the Pentagon’s acquisition process to create a system that is not only streamlined but cost efficient. This reform is long overdue and will enable the latest equipment to be delivered to our troops quickly, while cutting wasteful spending. Lastly and most importantly, this bill provides a much needed and well deserved pay raise for our troops and their families. The pay raise is fully offset. With the sacrifices our troops and their families make to defend us and provide the blanket of freedom we all enjoy, this pay raise is the least we can do.
H.R. 5243 – Zika Appropriation Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On May 18, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill. The bill provides a total of $622.1 million to the federal agencies to fight the Zika virus and prevent it from spreading. It is imperative we protect our most vulnerable from the risks of this virus. This bill takes a thoughtful, strategic approach on fighting the Zika virus. It directs funds where they are needed most urgently and where they can do the most good, while paying for every dime. The legislation contains fiscal year 2016 funding for agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, prioritizing mosquito control and vaccine development. The funding is fully offset by rescissions of existing funds, including unobligated resources left over from the 2014 Ebola outbreak. In addition, the legislation includes strong controls and limits on spending to ensure all funding goes toward fighting the Zika virus. Combined with the $589 million already redirected for Zika purposes, this bill will bring the total fiscal year 2016 funding to address the virus to $1.2 billion.
S. 524 – Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
Florida is currently in the midst of a heroin epidemic that needs to be addressed. I am working hard with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this scourge that is claiming thousands of lives. S. 524 will authorize the Attorney General to award grants to address opioid abuse and heroin use. These grants could to providing medication, offering treatment alternatives to prison, and expanding programs to prevent overdose deaths and improper prescriptions. On May 13, 2016, I, along with 299 of my colleagues, voted in favor of this bill.
H.R 4586 – Lali’s Law – YES (Passed)
On May 12, 2016, I voted in favor of H.R. 4586, which amends the Public Health Service Act to authorize grants to States for developing standing orders and educating health care professionals regarding the dispensing of opioid overdose reversal medication without person-specific prescriptions. Lali’s Law will increase access to the life-saving antidote naloxone throughout the United States. Lali’s Law is named after Alex Laliberte, a Buffalo Grove, Ill. resident and Stevenson High School graduate, who passed away seven years ago from a drug overdose. This bipartisan bill is aimed helping others get a second chance at recovery and saving their families from heartbreak. Florida is on the front lines of a heroin and opioid prescription abuse epidemic that needs to be stopped. I will continue to work to make sure that states are empowered to address this scourge.
H.R. 1818 – Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act – YES (Passed)
On May 12, 2016, I voted to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a program to streamline state requirements and procedures to assist veterans who completed military EMT training to meet state EMT certification, licensure, and other requirements. The men and women who bravely served our nation should not have to jump through miles of red tape to continue stateside, the work they did while serving.
H.R. 5046 – Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act – YES (Passed)
On May 12, 2016, I, along with 412 of my colleagues, voted in favor of this bill. The bill creates a comprehensive opioid reduction program at the Department of Justice (DOJ), which would provide vital training and resources for first responders and law enforcement, aid in criminal investigations for the unlawful distribution of opioids, and expand drug courts which are currently being overwhelmed with cases. Florida is in the midst of a heroin epidemic that must be addressed. I am working hard with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this scourge that is claiming thousands of lives. Besides the cost on human life, the heroin epidemic is imposing an estimated $55 billion in societal costs annually. This bill is an important step forward in our fight against heroin and opioid addiction.
H.R. 4843 – Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act – YES (Passed)
On May 11, 2016, I voted to pass H.R. 4843, which amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to maintain information about the best practices relating providing safe care for infants born addicted to illegal substances their mother’s had been taking. I believe we owe it to the most vulnerable among us to take every step possible to ensure they have the best chance of a healthy, happy life.
H.R. 5052 – Opioid Program Evaluation (OPEN) Act – YES (Passed)
On May 10, 2016, I voted to pass the Opioid Program Evaluation (OPEN) Act, which directs the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to evaluate the effectiveness of grant programs that provide grants for addressing problems related to opioid abuse. The opioid epidemic in the United States has reached a critical level, leaving thousands of Americans highly addicted to a debilitating drug. I am proud to have stood with my colleagues in pushing for a reevaluation of the approach our nation is taking to address the issue and help our affected neighbors heal.
H.R 4901 – Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Reauthorization Act – YES (Passed)
On April 29, 2016, I voted to continue my support of the DC scholarship program that has provided low-income children stuck in failing schools the opportunity to attend better performing schools. No child should be stuck in a bad school just because of their family’s financial circumstances.
H.R. 2901 – Flood Insurance Market Parity and Modernization Act – YES (Passed)
On April 28, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill because it allows homeowners to finally obtain private flood insurance from qualified firms to satisfy the federal requirements for properties within flood zones. This is a commonsense move to allow for more private industry participation in a market that has been almost completely dominated by the federal government.
H.J.Res 88 – Disapproving of the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary rule – YES (Passed)
On April 28, 2016, I voted in favor of this resolution expressing Congress’s disapproval of the DOL fiduciary rule. Under this final rule there would be new standards as to whether a person is a fiduciary based on rendering investment advice and would give regulators unprecedented power, threatening the ability of middle class investors to seek investment advice. This resolution is the first step in the Congressional Review Act process in order to nullify the president’s rule.
S. 1890 – Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On April 27, 2016, I, along with 409 of my House colleagues voted in favor of this bill that would empower owners of stolen or misappropriated trade secrets to sue for damages or injunctive relief in federal court. Currently, owners of misappropriated or stolen trade secrets must rely on federal law enforcement or bring suit in certain state courts.
If the misappropriation was willful and malicious, this bill would allow the owner of the trade secret to obtain three times the normal damages. In exceptional cases, courts could allow use of the trade secret to continue and require royalties be paid to the owner. The courts could also issue orders to seize property to prevent the use or spread of a stolen secret. A trade secret is any kind of financial, business, economic, scientific, technical or engineering information that the owner has taken reasonable measures to keep secret and that has economic value tied to its not being readily known to others. In order for the American economy to grow and be robust we must ensure the protection of our trade secrets.
H.R. 4498 – Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act – YES (Passed)
On April 27, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill, which allows small businesses to access investment capital thought certain private investors. Currently, the Securities Exchange Commission has multiple requirements that discourage certain investors to engage with small startups. Eliminating these opens up investment for our most talented entrepreneurs.
H.R. 699 – Email Privacy Act – YES (Passed)
On April 27, 2016, I was proud to stand with my colleagues in the House in protecting the private emails of American citizens. H.R. 699 will require the federal government to obtain a warrant prior to accessing email or other digital communications.
H.R. 4923 – American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On April 27, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill because it establishes a process for U.S. businesses to submit petitions to suspend duties on certain imports through the U.S. International Trade Commission. This is hugely important for manufacturing because many parts and materials required to complete product can only be imported. By limiting certain tariffs and duties the cost of manufacturing a product is lowered as well as the final price to the American consumer.
H.R. 4820 – Combating Terrorist Recruitment Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On April 26, 2016, I voted in favor of this common sense legislation which requires the Homeland Security Department to incorporate, to the extent practicable, the testimonials of former or estranged violent extremists or their associates, including friends and family in order to counter terrorist recruitment efforts. The United States must counter the massive amounts of propaganda extremist groups such as ISIL use in order to recruit more jihadis. ISIL and other terrorist organizations use misinformation to dupe people into buying into their cause and joining the fight against freedom, it is imperative that the United States counter this misinformation campaign. One such way to do so would to send out real world testimonials of former terrorists and their families portraying the reality of joining groups such as ISIL.
H.R. 3724 – Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On April 21, 2016, I voted to pass H.R. 3724, which prevents the IRS from rehiring any former IRS employee who was fired for significant prior performance or conduct issues. It is simply bad business to rehire employees who have proven they were poor performing employees.
H.R. 4890 – banning bonuses to IRS employees until IRS implements a comprehensive customer service strategy – YES (Passed)
On April 21, 2016, I voted in favor of passing H.R. 4890, which bans the IRS from issuing bonuses to employees until it develops, and submits to Congress, a comprehensive customer service strategy. If Americans are expected to pay their taxes in a timely, correct manner, they rely on the assistance from IRS employees. Unfortunately, the IRS is notorious for poor customer service, leaving millions of Americans frustrated annually. The GAO has made recommendations to the IRS on how it can improve its customer service, and it is a shame that Congress had to step in to force the IRS to seriously consider the GAO’s recommendations.
H.R. 4885 – IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On April 20, 2016, I voted in favor of H.R. 4885. Under current law, the IRS has authority to allocate money from its user-fee account without any Congressional approval. In fiscal year 2015 the IRS deliberately diverted resources away from taxpayer services and towards other agency functions, including implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This bill repeals the law allowing the IRS to spend user fees collected by the agency without Congressional approval.
H.R. 1206 – No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act – YES (Passed)
On April 20, 2016, the House passed, with my support, this common-sense piece of legislation which prohibits the IRS from hiring new employees unless the Secretary certifies that no IRS employee has seriously delinquent taxes. It simply does not make sense that those employed by the IRS should be held to a different standard than any other taxpaying American.
H.R. 2666 – No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act – YES (Passed)
On April 15, 2016, I voted to would prohibit the FCC from regulating the rates charged for broadband Internet access service. The FCC’s overreach via its Net Neutrality vote is bad public policy, wrong for business, wrong for innovation, and wrong for the American people.
H.R. 3340 – Financial Stability Oversight Council Reform Act – YES (Passed)
On April 14, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill which increases transparency, accountability, and Congressional oversight by placing the budgets of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) and the Office of Financial Research (OFR) on the annual appropriations process. In addition to placing those budgets on the annual appropriations process, the bill would require FSOC to submit quarterly financial reports, and provide a public notice and comment period of at least 90 days before issuing any report, rule, or regulation. We need to do everything we can to rein in the executive agencies and this is another way of doing just that.
H.R. 4676 – Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On April 12, 2016, I voted with my colleagues to pass H.R. 4676, which establishes a penalty for anyone who knowingly defrauds veterans of their benefits. Recent investigations into concerns veterans were being targeted to defraud them of their benefits have been substantiated. This is unacceptable, and I am proud to have had the opportunity to stand up for veterans by voting to hold those who would seek to take advantage of the men and women who wore the uniform and defended our nation accountable.
H.R. 1567 – Global Food Security Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On April 12, 2016, I supported H.R. 1567. The bill is a reflection of almost 2 years of work between the Agriculture committee and Foreign Affairs committee. This legislation is an important step in getting back to regular order and how we properly authorize a program – a program which has been on autopilot for 7 years -- before funds are appropriated. This important program needs to be reexamined by Congress and duly authorized so that changes that need to be made can be made. We must stop the terrible pattern of just appropriating money for programs because the reauthorization is too difficult to work out. This legislation is a good example of how Congress should work—making tough decisions and stopping the cycle of throwing good money after bad. H.R. 1567 authorizes previously unauthorized money that is no higher than what has been appropriated in the last two fiscal years. Furthermore through the hard work of both the Agriculture and Foreign Affairs Committees we have been able to eliminate duplicative spending, waste, strengthen Congressional oversight while instituting no new spending, and most importantly begin weening these nations off of U.S. foreign aid by including the private sector, promoting economic growth, and opening markets for U.S. trade and investment instead of just aid.
H. Res. 658 – Condeming the terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 22, 2016 – YES (Passed)
On March 23, 2016, I voted in favor of this resolution that puts the House on record as condemning the attacks in Brussels, and extends our sympathies to those affected by this tragedy. And it reaffirms our support for the people of Belgium in their time of national anguish. We must do more than just express our sympathies though and must be ready to act to destroy ISIS and the scourge of terrorism that has taken so many innocent lives.
H.R. 4742 – Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act – YES (Passed)
On March 22, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill which authorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support entrepreneurship by women scientists under H.R. 4742. The bill would direct NSF to encourage its programs to recruit women “to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world. Women have made many important contributions in science, and must be encouraged to break through into other fields and move past the laboratory and into the commercial world. The bipartisan Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act authorizes the National Science Foundation to use its entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world. The bill encourages the National Science Foundation to tackle the problem that only 26 percent of women who attain degrees in STEM fields work in STEM jobs.
H.R. 4314 – Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act – YES (Passed)
On March 21, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill which expresses the sense of Congress that: (1) the U.S. government must ensure that capacity-building assistance to combat terrorist travel is coordinated among departments and agencies as well as with foreign implementing partners, and (2) such assistance should be prioritized for the highest-risk countries for travel by terrorists and foreign fighters. The Counterterrorism Screening and Assistance Act would establish international border security standards to close security gaps that currently exist that allow terrorists and foreign fighters to travel internationally. The horrific terror attack in Paris that killed over 100 people showed us just how easy it is for terrorists to move undetected across borders. It's essential that the United States works with the international community to monitor and stop the movement of terrorists abroad.
H. Res. 639 – Authorizing the Speaker to appear on behalf of the House of Representatives in the matter of United States v. Texas – YES (Passed)
On March 17, I voted in favor of passing H.Res. 639, on March 17, 2016, because the President has taken it upon himself to circumvent the U.S. Constitution and enact laws via executive fiat. I am a strong support of Article I of the Constitution, which states all legislative powers are reserved to Congress, not the Executive. If Congress wants to keep the Constitution enact, it must fight back to preserve the separation of powers and ensure equality amongst the three branches.
H.R. 4596 – Small Business Broadband Deployment Act – YES (Passed)
On March 16, 2016, I voted with my colleagues to pass H.R. 4596, which exempts small broadband providers from having to expend their limited resources in order to meet the enhanced transparency requirements under the FCC’s open Internet rules. Business who provide services to no more than 250,000 simply do not have the resources to meet the requirements and would be facing the unfair burden of complying with the overly burdensome regulations or going out of business. I am proud to stand up for small businesses and will continue to combat the FCC’s overreaching regulations.
S. 2426 – Taiwan Observer status for the International Criminal Police Organization – YES (Passed)
On March 14, 2016, I supported the House measure that will direct the Department of State to: (1) develop a strategy to obtain observer status for Taiwan in the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and at other related activities, meetings, and mechanisms; and (2) instruct INTERPOL Washington to request observer status for Taiwan in INTERPOL and urge INTERPOL members to support Taiwan's observer status and participation. Taiwan has proven a great ally and friend and we as a nation must support them as China aggressively expands its influence in the Pacific. Taiwan, a great friend of the United States, is needlessly at risk because it is excluded from INTERPOL, Regianing access to INTERPOL’s law enforcement infrastructure will ensure that Taiwan can quickly obtain, and share, the latest intelligence on criminals and global criminal activites---which helps everyone’s security.
H. Con. Res. 75 – Declaration against those committing atrocities against Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities – YES (Passed)
On March 14, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill which I am a cosponsor of. This bill which declares:
the atrocities perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide;
all governments, including the United States, and international organizations, including the United Nations (U.N.), should call ISIL atrocities war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide;
U.N. member states should coordinate on measures to prevent further war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Iraq and Syria, and to punish those responsible for these ongoing crimes, including by the collection of evidence and, if necessary, the establishment of appropriate tribunals;
the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Lebanese Republic, the Republic of Turkey, and the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq are to be commended for, and supported in, their efforts to shelter those fleeing violence from ISIL and other combatants until they can safely return to their homes in Iraq and Syria; and
the protracted Syrian civil war and the indiscriminate violence of the Assad regime have contributed to ISIL's growth.
Only recently did the Obama Administration acknowledge that ISIS was perpetrating a genocide. It is very concerning to think it took an act of Congress and significant pressure from not only myself but other Member of Congress for the Obama Administration open its eyes and declare that ISIS is currently perpetrating a genocide. We should not be surprised by the Obama Administrations incompetent foreign policy, but the amount of time it took for them to make this common sense declaration is appalling.
H. Con. Res. 121 – Condemning the war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Syrian Government – YES (Passed)
On March 14, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill which builds upon a bill I authored that was passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee by unanimous consent H. Res 346. H. Con. Res. 121 Condemns the use of unlawful violence against civilian populations by the government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict, and urges the United States and its partners to work toward the cessation of such attacks. Urges the Administration to establish additional mechanisms for the protection of civilians and to ensure access to humanitarian aid for vulnerable populations. Urges the United States to support efforts to collect and analyze documentation related to ongoing violations of human rights in Syria that can be used to support future prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict. Urges: (1) the President to direct the U.S. representative to the United Nations to promote the establishment of a Syrian war crimes tribunal; and (2) other nations to apprehend and deliver into tribunal custody any persons indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide in Syria. My bill H. Res 346 condemns the Assad regime for its use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs against its own citizens and will be a strong declaration that the United States will not stand idly by as atrocities are perpetrated by “governments”.
H.R. 4557 – Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act – YES (Passed)
On March 3, 2016, I voted in favor this bill which extends compliance dates for any rule addressing national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants from the manufacturing of brick and clay products. The added 60 days after final litigation is essential for all parties to weigh in on the rule and allow for full and transparent vetting before it goes into effect. Although this administration is opposed to an extension, I believe that a full review of these rules is critical for stakeholders to adapt to a changing regulatory environment.
H.R. 3716 – Ensuring Removal of Terminated Providers from Medicaid and CHIP Act – YES (Passed)
On March 2, 2016, I voted in favor of this important legislation which will codify reforms suggested by the IG making it more difficult fraud to occur within Medicaid. Specifically this bill amends titles XIX (Medicaid) and XXI (Children's Health Insurance Program [CHIP]) of the Social Security Act to prohibit federal payment under Medicaid for nonemergency services furnished by providers whose participation in Medicaid, Medicare, or CHIP has been terminated. Under current law, a state must exclude from Medicaid participation any provider that has been terminated under any state's Medicaid program or under Medicare. The bill maintains those requirements and further requires a state to exclude from Medicaid participation any provider that has been terminated under CHIP. Furthermore, a state must exclude from CHIP participation any provider that has been terminated under Medicaid or Medicare. One of the most important changes this bill makes is to create a system to track these fraudsters across state lines so they cannot just move to a different state and begin their cycle of fraud and abuse all over again.
H.R. 2406 – Sportsmens Heritage and Recreation Enhancement Act – YES (Passed)
On February 26, 2016, I voted in favor the Sportsman Heritage and Recreation Enhancement (SHARE) Act. This comprehensive bill included many stand alone pieces of legislation meant to address current issues within the sportsman community while making sound, responsible use of our natural resources. Specifically, this bill exempts ammunition from the Toxic Substances Control Act, allows for recreational shooting on certain public lands with target ranges, allows for lawful possession of firearms at water resources development sites, prohibits individuals from taking migratory game birds at any baited area, allows for the transportation of bows across National Park Service lands, and ensures the rights of federally recognized Indian tribes.
I have heard from hunters and fishermen for years on some of these issue and am glad to see this legislative package pass the House.
H.R. 3624 – Fraudulent Joinder Prevention Act – YES (Passed)
On February 25, 2016, I voted in favor of H.R. 3624, because the bill makes necessary amendments to procedures under which federal courts must consider a motion to remand a federal court case that was removed from a state case back to a state court. Under current standards, some attorneys are taking advantage of the law in order to keep a case in a preferred jurisdiction that is favorable to the plaintiff by fraudulently joining a defendant from the preferred state to the cases, regardless of how legitimate the joinder is or is not. Eliminating this loophole will keep those attorneys who abuse the system honest, while protecting innocent individuals and businesses who are fraudulently being added to cases they have no business being a part of.
H.R. 4402 – Foreign Fighter Review Act – YES (Passed)
On February 23, 2016, I voted in favor of H.R. 4402 which directs the President, through the Department of Homeland Security, to initiate a review of known instances since 2011 in which a person has traveled or attempted to travel to a conflict zone in Iraq or Syria from the United States to join or provide material support or resources to a terrorist organization. This bill will provide law enforcement the information necessary to stop Foreign Fighters from traveling overseas to fight with ISIS and then returning to the Homeland. Since 2011, there have been over 250 cases of Americans attempting to or succeeding in traveling to Syria or Iraq in order to support terrorist groups. More than 85% of them succeeded. Allowing these fighters to make it to a war zone gives them the ability to gain experience and knowledge that can be used against us. This bill will help law enforcement learn how to identify these people before they leave the country in the first place.
H.R. 4408 – National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel Act – YES (Passed)
On February 23, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill in order to force the President to transmit to Congress a national strategy to combat terrorist travel. Currently the United States lacks a coherent national strategy for keeping terrorists from infiltrating our country and crisscrossing the globe undetected. The initial national strategy and updates shall:
- include an accounting and description of all federal government programs, projects, and activities to constrain travel by terrorists and foreign fighters;
- identify specific security vulnerabilities within the United States and abroad that may be exploited by such persons;
- delineate goals for closing those vulnerabilities and enhancing the federal government's ability to constrain such travel; and
- describe actions and the means needed to achieve such goals.
We, as a nation, must adapt to the changing tactics of terrorists in the 21st Century. This bill is a step forward in that battle.
H.R. 757 – North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enforcement Act – YES (Passed)
On February 12, 2016, I voted in favor of this important bill in order to send a clear message to North Korea. Their behavior will not be tolerated. This legislation requires the President to investigate any credible information of sanctionable activities involving North Korea and to designate and apply sanctions with respect to any person (including entities) knowingly engaging in or contributing to activities in North Korea, through export or import, which involve weapons of mass destruction, significant arms or related materiel, significant luxury goods, money laundering, censorship, or human rights abuses. In order for the US to remain a global leader, this government must play an active role in securing stability in the Pacific region. This bill helps aid that effort.
H.R. 2017 – Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act – YES (Passed)
On February 12, 2016, I voted in favor of passing the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2015 because it made revisions to the federal menu labeling requirements to give restaurants and retail food establishments increased flexibility in disclosing the nutritional information of menu items. Without the certainty these revisions provided, the vagueness and confusion over the regulations would have left businesses confused and burdened with meeting unclear, unattainable federal demands. With everything government has done to restrict and burden businesses, it is time we reverse that trend.
H.R. 3442 – Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act – YES (Passed)
On February 11, 2016, I voted in favor of a bill that would require the Secretary of Treasury to appear before Congress within 21 days of a debt limit breach. The Secretary will be required to present a report on the state of the public debt, including:
- the historical levels of the debt, current amount and composition of the debt, and future projections of the debt;
- the drivers and composition of future debt;
- how, if the debt limit is raised, the United States will meet debt obligations;
- proposals of the president to reduce the public debt;
- the impact an increased debt limit will have on future government spending, debt service, and the position of the United States dollar as the international reserve currency.
This is another commonsense measure that keeps the administration accountable for their management of the public debt, while ensuring Congress’s role in addressing possible solutions.
H.R. 3293 – Scientific Research in the National Interest Act – YES (Passed)
On February 10, 2016, I voted in favor of this bill in order to bring more transparency to the scientific grant process within the National Science Foundation (NSF). In January of 2015, the NSF expressed a need for increased transparency, and established a policy requiring clear, understandable explanations of each research grant awarded, including an explanation of how the grant advances the national interest. This legislation would codify similar requirements. This bill would require the NSF to make a determination that every research grant or cooperative agreement is in the national interest and is worthy of federal funding. Such determination would be required to demonstrate how a project would advance several goals, including: promotion of the progress of science for the United States; increased economic competitiveness; advancement of the health and welfare of the American public; development of a globally competitive STEM workforce; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement in the sciences; increased partnerships between academia and industry; or the support of national defense.
H.R. 4470 – Safe Drinking Water Act – YES (Passed)
On February 10, 2016, I voted in favor of HR 4470 which would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act by requiring states and administrators to notify the public if lead levels in drinking water exceed certain levels. If the states fail to act, the law would require EPA to issue a public notice within 24 hours. This is a commonsense bill and a first step in addressing the issues surrounding the situation in Flint, Michigan. My colleagues in the House will continue to monitor the problems in Flint, and act when appropriate. One thing is certain, the officials in charge must be held accountable for their lack of oversight.
H.R. 766 – Financial Institution Customer Protection Act – YES (Passed)
On February 4, 2016, I voted in favor of a measure limiting the Department of Justice’s ability to unilaterally force banks into terminating accounts of businesses that they deem as “high risk.” No single agency should have the ability to make actions like this. If such measures are appropriate, due process under the law must be followed in a completely transparent manner. Whenever the federal government oversteps its bounds behind closed doors, I will be sure to fight for the small businesses that are negatively affected. I am glad Republican leadership brought this measure to the floor and look forward to the Senate following suit.
H.R. 1675 – Encouraging Employee Ownership Act – YES (Passed)
On February 3, 2016, I voted in favor of a bill that reduces burdensome regulations on small businesses. H.R. 1675 reduces the reporting requirements for companies offering employees’ compensation plans, provides safe harbor for research investment funds, allows additional Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) exemptions for emerging growth companies, and requires the SEC to review all regulations it administers every 5 years. This package is aimed specifically at the complaints that have arisen from business owners across the country. Too often, the SEC has treated small and medium-sized businesses the same as large corporations. Those actions limit growth and impede job creation. That is why I was happy to vote for a measure reversing course.
H.R. 3662 - Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act - YES (Passed)
On February 2, 2016, I voted in favor, along with 245 other Member of Congress from both sides of the aisle in order to re-impose sanctions on Iran—who has continually flouted international agreements in their pursuit of destructive power. I recently penned a letter to President Obama, with over 105 other Member of Congress signing on, imploring him to rethink his deal with Iran in light of their recent ballistic missile tests and re-impose sanctions. Instead it appears the Obama administration is determined to continue to make terrible foreign policy decision and cow-toe to pariahs such as Ayotollah Khomenei. Iran is cashing in on a $100 billion jackpot, even as it tests ballistic missiles, seizes American sailors and continues its support for terrorism. President Obama must keep his promise to ‘fully enforce’ sanctions on Iran’s illicit programs and confront its dangerous acts.
H.R. 3762 – To Overide the President’s Veto of the 2016 Budget Reconciliation Act – YES (Failed)
On February 2, 2016, I voted in favor of overriding the President’s veto to demonstrate that the will of the American people is to repeal his disastrous health law, more commonly known as Obamacare. I urge you to take a look at the Why I Voted for H.R. 3762 to learn more about the merits of this legislation. Unfortunately the 241-186 votes to override the veto fell short of the two-thirds needed. This vote did demonstrate that with a different Chief Executive in the Oval Office we can repeal and replace Obamacare. I will continue to fight to uphold the will of my constituents and to mitigate the disastrous effects of Obamacare.
H.R. 3662 – Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act – YES (Passed)
On February 2, 2016, I voted in favor of re-imposing sanctions on Iran—who has continually flouted international agreements in their pursuit of destructive power. I recently penned a letter to President Obama, with over 105 other Member of Congress signing on, imploring him to rethink his deal with Iran in light of their recent ballistic missile tests and re-impose sanctions. Instead it appears the Obama administration is determined to continue to make terrible foreign policy decision and cow-toe to pariahs such as Ayotollah Khomenei. Iran is cashing in on a $100 billion jackpot, even as it tests ballistic missiles, seizes American sailors and continues its support for terrorism. President Obama must keep his promise to ‘fully enforce’ sanctions on Iran’s illicit programs and confront its dangerous acts.
H.R. 3700 – Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act – YES (Passed)
On February 2, 2016, I voted for this legislation that modifies and modernizes America’s housing assistance programs. This bill makes substantive and efficient free-market reforms to the programs and processes at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Services. These reforms include revising income calculations, improving inspection processes and limiting eligibility based on assets. It also makes changes to rules for mortgage insurance for condominiums and to programs for the homeless and veterans. By removing outdated procedures and regulations, this legislation adopts a supply side approach to the housing market leading to greater opportunities for American families.
S.J.Res. 22 – Disapproval of the Administration’s Waters of the US Rule – YES (Passed)
On January 13, 2016, I voted in favor of this resolution that would prohibit the EPA and US Army Corps from implementing their rule that redefines the scope of waters protected under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act – more popularly known as “Waters of the US.” This rule, published on the Federal Register on April 21, 2014, will inflict additional burdens on the agriculture, construction, and manufacturing sectors at a time when these industries are still attempting to expand and hire labor. I have been an early champion on this issue, providing appropriations language both this year and last year limiting the EPA and US Army Corps ability to alter this rule. Once both the House and Senate pass this resolution it will be presented to the President.
H.R.757 - North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2015 – YES (Passed)
On January 12, 2016, I voted in favor of H.R. 757 due to North Korea’s nuclear test on January 6. We must send a clear message to North Korea and her partners that the United States will not tolerate their aggressive behavior. I voted in favor of this legislation which requires the President to investigate any credible information of sanctionable activities involving North Korea and to designate and apply sanctions with respect to any person (including entities) knowingly engaging in or contributing to activities in North Korea, through export or import, which involve weapons of mass destruction, significant arms or related materiel, significant luxury goods, money laundering, censorship, or human rights abuses.
H.R. 1644 – Supporting Transparent Regulatory and Environmental Actions in Mining (STREAM) Act – YES (Passed)
On January 12, 2016, I voted in favor of the STREAM Act. H.R. 1644 amends the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 to direct the Department of the Interior to make any draft, proposed, supplemental, final, or emergency rule or analyses available to the public online and in the Federal Register 90 days prior to publication. The bill also requires the Department to enter into an arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the effectiveness of the “Surface Coal Mining…; Stream Buffer Zones…” Final Rule (48 Fed. Reg. 30312), published in June of 1983. In addition, H.R. 1644 prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from issuing any further rules relating to stream buffer zones, until one year after the Secretary has submitted to Congress the results of the study.
H.R. 598 – Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act – YES (Passed)
On January 11, 2016, I voted in favor of is important legislation that shines a light on the details and costs of federal agency programs. We in Congress must ensure that federal agencies are being responsible stewards of our constituents’ tax dollars and this bill peals back another layer in order to increase transparency for the average citizen. Once signed into law, the Office of Management and Budget must publish the following in an online database: (1) total administrative cost and expenditures for a federal program, (2) list of that program’s activities, (3) number of beneficiaries served, (4) the specific statute that authorizes the program, (5) information on the Inspector General and Government Accountability Office auditor, and (6) a number of full-time federal and contract employees who administer the program. This is a common sense bill that should be signed by the president without a second thought.
H.R. 1927 – Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015 – YES (Passed)
On January 8, 2016, I voted in favor of the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015. This bill will revolutionize class action litigation and help prioritize and expedite specific cases where all litigants share the same injury. Too many law firms are taking advantage of class action lawsuits, sometimes even earning money by representing individuals who have n ot actu ally been impacted by the defendant. With this rampant abuse, action was required to ensure all players act in a fair and transparent manner. That is why I and the rest of my colleagues voted to pass this bill.
H.R. 1155 – Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act – YES (Passed)
On January 7, 2016, I voted in favor of a vital piece of government reform legislation. The SCRUB Act establishes a commission that will review all major rules and make recommendations to agencies and Congress on which rules are too costly, ineffective, outdated, or duplicative and should be repealed. This is a common sense measure that should already be in practice at federal agencies, however due to red tape and bureaucratic barriers, the Congress had to pass this in order to for the hand of the executive branch.
H.R. 712 – Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act – YES (Passed)
On January 7, 2016, I voted in favor of H.R. 712, which will put an end to “sue and settle” lawsuits that result in back door deals being made between federal agencies and special interest groups. If an agency is going to issue a rule that impacts Americans, then all Americans deserve to know what the rule is prior to it being finalized. H.R. 712 will increase transparency and ensure special interest groups can no longer dictate government regulations.
H.R. 3762 – Obamacare Repeal Budget Reconciliation Act – YES (Passed)
On January 6, I voted in favor of the final measure that repeals major provisions of Obamacare. That bill was then sent to the President’s desk. This measure had already passed the Senate where it was amended to expanded the scope of the House-passed reconciliation bill. This important legislation repeals the Obamacare coverage subsidies, credits, and the Medicaid expansion in 2018, and repeals the majority of the taxes in 2016. The measure defends life and promotes access to care by ending for one year taxpayer funding to abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, and investing in access to care through community health centers. Most importantly, this will mark the first time that President Obama will have to veto a repeal of his disastrous law and defend why he refuses to listen to the will of the people as expressed through Congress. It is ridiculous that President Obama refuses to realize his law is driving up the cost of health care, while driving down the quality. We must stop empowering the Executive branch’s bureaucracy and return control to the patients and doctors.
H.R. 2029 Amendment (a) - End of Year Omnibus Spending Act – NO (Passed)
On December 17, 2015, I voted against the final text to the 1.1 trillion government spending package. Although there were many provisions included in the final bill that I supported, like a repeal of Country of Origin Labeling, which is needed to stop both Canada and Mexico from taking retaliatory trade measures against our domestic producers, I could not support a bill that did little or nothing to address the Syrian Refugee crisis, our border protection system, funding to Planned Parenthood, or abusive EPA regulations. This massive package spends more than what the Federal government spent last year, and is not a serious step forward when thinking about fiscal discipline. For all these reasons, I voted against the Omnibus spending bill.
H.R. 2029 Amendment (b) - Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act – YES (Passed)
On December 17, 2015, I voted to support this amendment to the end year appropriations package which made important tax policies permanent. For years, Congress has passed yearlong patches that extended expiring tax statutes like Bonus Depreciation and Section 179 financing. Passing this at the end of every year has created an environment of uncertainty for businesses and individuals. Now that these provisions have been made permanent, industry can invest with certainty and low-income individuals will be able to count on provisions within the tax code that make life more manageable. I am relieved that we in Congress have finally made a commonsense decision to make these provisions permanent.
H.R. 4239 – Tracking Foreign Fighters in Terrorist Safe Havens Act – YES (Passed)
On December 16, 2015, I voted in favor of this bill which requires the Director of National Intelligence to submit reports to Congress every 180 days for two years regarding foreign fighter flows to and from terrorist safe havens abroad. The reports must include, with respect to each terrorist safe haven, the total number of: (1) foreign fighters who have traveled or are suspected of having traveled to the terrorist safe haven since 2011, including their countries of origin; (2) U.S. Citizens present in the terrorist safe haven; and (3) foreign fighters who have left the terrorist safe haven or whose whereabouts are unknown.
H.R. 2297 – Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act – YES (Passed)
On December 16, 2015, I voted in favor of this common-sense legislation in order to prevent Hezbollah and associated entities from gaining access to international financial institutions and to prevent them from accessing other financial means. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that must be prevented from carrying out its activities.
H.R. 644 – Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act – YES (Passed)
On December 11, 2015, I voted in favor of a variety of reasons but most notably it would permanently ban state and local taxes on Internet access. The measure would expand trade enforcement programs at several federal agencies and formally authorize the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the first time since it was created in 2002. The bill would also put in place effective tools to strengthen trade enforcement at the border and facilitate the efficient movement of legitimate trade and travel. H.R. 644 will help modernize the nation’s customs system and ensure it is ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century global economy. Even more, this measure promotes legitimate trade facilitation and works to preserve one of America’s most important economic assets: intellectual property, helping to prevent counterfeit and illicit goods from entering our nation. Another reason I voted in favor of this bipartisan legislation is because it places further controls upon the administration to ensure that any trade deals it negotiates will not supersede the immigration laws currently on the books.
H.R. 158 – Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Ravel Prevention Act – YES (Passed)
On December 8, 2015, I voted to support this bill which amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to include terrorism risk as a factor the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shall consider under the electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA) in determining an alien's eligibility to travel to the United States. It is imperative that we secure our borders and that includes protecting from terrorists slipping into the country through the refugee program--which this bill helps accomplish. You may also be interested to know that I have introduced legislation, H.R. 4078 the Give States A Chance Act of 2015, that will empower states' governors to decide whether or not they will accept refugees and will give the governors greater oversight over the refugees that are placed within their states' borders.
S. 1170 - Breast Cancer Research Stamp Reauthorization Act – YES (Passed)
On December 1, 2015, I voted in favor S. 1170 which allows the U.S. Postal Service to issue a special postage stamp for first-class mail that costs more than the regular first-class stamp to raise funds for breast cancer research. Furthermore, the bill stipulates that all money raised must go to breast cancer research. This is a common sense piece of legislation that will hopefully lead to the eradication of this terrible disease at no cost to the taxpayer.|
H.R. 4038 – American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act – YES (Passed)
On November 19, 2015, I voted in favor of this bill which strengthens the vetting process for all Syrian and Iraqi refugees receiving admission to the United States. H.R. 4038 puts in place the most robust national-security vetting process in history for any refugee population, and it gives the American people the assurances needed that we will do everything possible to prevent terrorists from reaching our nation. The refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civil war is a tragedy. America is the most generous country in the world and we want to help individuals who desire a life of freedom and liberty. However, our generosity cannot come at the expense of the security of our nation. Furthermore, in an effort to empower governors across the United States I introduced the Give States a Chance Act of 2015 (H.R. 4078). My bill protects state governors’ right to refuse Syrian refugees in their states if they have not been properly notified, if they impose a security threat, or if the proposed location is not appropriate. Additionally, it will require the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Department of Homeland Security, and National Intelligence-- in consultation with the Attorney General - to certify to Congress that any and all refugees placed from the conflict in Syria have been thoroughly vetted and do not pose a security threat to the United States.
H.R. 3189 – Fed Oversight Reform and Modernization Act – YES (Passed)
On November 18, 2015, I voted in favor of bringing a new level of transparency and oversight to the Federal Reserve system. The Fed Oversight Reform and Modernization (FORM) Act brings many new disclosure requirements to the Fed, including: 1) a new monetary policy rule that informs direct Fed activities; 2) an elimination of the permanent voting seat for the New York District Fed President; 3) a new requirement for the Chairman of the Fed to testify on a quarterly basis; 4) a requirement for the Fed to disclose all salary and benefit information on its upper level employees; and 5) a cost-benefit analysis to be conducted on all regulations. The Fed operates as an independent agency but still has a huge amount of power when it comes to our domestic and international monetary policy. This bill is a good first step in reining in the Federal Reserve system to ensure that agency is not overstepping its original mission.
H.R. 1737 – Reforming CFPB Indirect Auto Financing Guidance Act – YES (Passed)
On November 18, 2015, I voted in favor of reforming the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to ensure this bureaucracy cannot create new rules affecting businesses and customers in the automobile finance industry. Specifically, this bill nullifies a 2013 rule by the CFPB which ties the hands of automobile dealers in offering favorable financing terms to customers. This financial flexibility is considered as discriminatory by the CFPB. This bill stops the CFPB’s rule and requires the bureau to ensure added transparency in their future rulemaking process. Bureaus like the CFPB are disincentives to the private market place, and get in the way of small town businesses serving their neighbors. I supported this bill and will continue to fight for local businesses and the average citizen when big government tries to inject itself.
H.R. 1210 – Portfolio Lending and Mortgage Access Act – YES (Passed)
On November 18, 2015, I voted in favor of H.R. 1210, which amends the Truth in Lending Act’s Qualified Mortgage Rule by providing creditors protection from legal action for failure to comply with federally mandated mortgage terms if the creditor holds the mortgage in its own portfolio. This legislation is sorely needed due to the onerous rules making is harder for Americans to buy homes. Community banks and credit unions face burdensome requirements that prevent them from providing mortgage loans. This legislation would help remedy the situation and that is why I voted in favor of it.
H.R. 511 – Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act – YES (Passed)
On November 17, 2015, I voted in favor of passing H.R. 511 because it correctly excludes tribal governments and any enterprises operated by a tribe on tribal land from regulation under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. This bill provides parity between tribal, state, local, and federal government entities and reinstates the original standard by which the NLRB did not exert their jurisdiction over tribal-owned businesses. We must remember, that although tribal governments exist within our national territory, they must be allowed operate in an independent fashion.
H.R. 1694 – Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment Act – YES (Passed)
On November 17, 2015, I voted in favor of H.R. 1694, which makes veteran owned small businesses eligible for the 10 percent of federally funded transportation contracts set aside for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises. We must work to ensure veterans have every opportunity at home after serving our country abroad. This bill rewards our heroes for their service and sacrifice, and that is why I voted in favor of it.
H.R. 1384 – Honor Americans Guard-Reserve Retirees Act – YES (Passed)
On November 16, 2015, I voted in favor of this bill which would confer honorary veteran status on those individuals who are entitles under chapter 1223 of title 10, U.S.C., to retired pay for non-regular service or who would be entitles to retired pay, but for age. H.R. 1384 would ensure that those who receive the honorary recognition as veterans conferred in the bill would not be entitled to any benefit under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs solely by reason of such recognition. This bill will show those who are willing to serve this country that we honor them. The National Guard is an invaluable component of our national military strategy and needs to be honored. I am proud to have supported the passage of this bill that will ensure those who are called to serve this great nation receive the proper recognition.
H.R 1338 – Dignified Interment of Our Veterans Act – YES (Passed)
On November 16, 2015, I cosponsored and voted in favor of passing H.R. 1338, because it directed the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study related to the interment of unclaimed remains of veterans. This is an unfortunate issue prevalent in the State of Florida, and I am happy to have been able to support action that will ensure no veteran goes unclaimed and all receive a honorable burial.
H.R. 4038- The SAFE Act - YES (Passed)
I voted for the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act (HR 4038). This bill strengthens the vetting process for all Syrian and Iraqi refugees receiving admission to the United States. It also puts in place the most robust national-security vetting process in history for any refugee population, and it gives the American people the assurances needed that we will do everything possible to prevent terrorists from reaching our nation. The refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civil war is a tragedy. America is the most generous country in the world and we want to help individuals who desire a life of freedom and liberty. However, our generosity cannot come at the expense of the security of our nation.
Additionally, I introduced my own legislation to affirm a Governor's right to refuse refugees in their own state. This legislation is known as the Give States a Chance Act (H.R. 4078). A Governor has the right to know if the Federal Government is going to settle refugees in their state, and should have the right to refuse them if they believe the refugee poses a security threat.
H.R. 22 – Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 - NO (Passed)
I voted against H.R. 22 because I believe we needed a focused transportation bill that prioritized our infrastructure needs. I am in favor of supporting a bill that focuses on repairing and improving our bridges, roads, the transportation system as a whole and the everyday lives of Americans across the country. By sticking to that main objective, we will strengthen our economy and make us more competitive in the global economy. We can all agree that our nation’s transportation infrastructure is crumbling and in need of major repairs. Unfortunately, the bill before us today still continues the practice of using the Highway Trust Fund for projects that are not related to the user fees that go into the fund.
We need a bill that purely addresses surface transportation, not one that diverts money for things like historical preservation and landscaping. With a nation soon to be over 20 trillion dollars in debt, we need to prioritize funding and put tax dollars towards our critical needs. I offered an amendment that would have not allowed funding for new non-motorized trails and paths. This would have saved $154 million dollars while maintaining all existing trails and paths. We need to keep our federal spending focused and cut spending on non-essential items.
Finally, the bill voted on today has other things added to it that have nothing to do with the original bill; most notably the attachment of the Export Import bank into this bill. What does Export-Import bank have to do with a surface transportation bill? Nothing. I also have a hard time supporting a bill - which has been plagued by short-term extensions in the past – that is only funded for three of the six years of its life. This is a major priority for the country and should be funded fully.
The health of our nation’s infrastructure is vital to the safety of all Americans, vital to our economy, our global competitiveness, and making our country strong. I believe in rebuilding America. This bill should focus just on that and nothing else.
H.R. 1735 – NDAA Conference Report - YES (Passed)
On November, 5 2015, I voted for versions of the NDAA—they were virtually identical except the most recent version was brought into line with the Budget deal meaning it was $5 billion less than the previously passed NDAA. The majority of the savings were found in personnel accounts, anticipated fuel savings and other areas. One area of the savings I did not agree with was the almost $170 million cut from the National Guard. While I would rather of not cut any money from the National Guard the final amount was still about $240 million over the President’s request.
America’s safety is priority number one. We owe a lot to the brave men and women- and their families - who provide that safety by selflessly serving our country. This defense authorization gives the men and women of our armed forces the tools they need to do their jobs at the highest level. It also takes steps to address current international threats. The threats we face are numerous and I want to thank each and every one who wears our nation’s uniform and stands watch over all of us. The freedoms we enjoy are paid for by their sacrifice. Once this overwhelming bipartisan bill reaches the president, he needs to sign it into law as soon as it hits his desk and not veto it like he did the last version. The President must stop playing games with our military.
Details of Defense Authorization:
- Troop pay increase of 1.3%
- Establishes retirement plan for the 83% of service men and women who are currently not eligible for one. Also provides more flexible options to the service members.
- Ensures that post commanders can permit members of the Armed Forces to carry firearms at DOD installations, reserve centers, and recruiting centers.
- Requires DOD to submit a strategy to counter threats posed by Iran (Subject to Congressional Approval)
- Reforms the DOD’s acquisition system in order to improve efficiency, accountability, simplifies the chain of command, and streamlines the bureaucracy
- Prohibits the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to the US and limits transfers to other countries
- Establishes a legal prohibition against torture that includes our intelligence agencies
- Requires the president to establish an integrated deterrence policy to counter the growing threat from China and Russia gaining an asymmetric advantage over the space capabilities of the US—If the report is not provided on time by the president then it would limit the obligation of $10 million for the Executive Office of the President.
- Provides greater protections against sexual assault
H.R. 597 – Reform Export and Expand the American Economy Act - YES (Passed)
On October 27, 2015, I voted against the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) because it is a relic of a bygone era and is a symbol of corporate welfare today – plain and simple. The bank was set up in the 1930s to guarantee loans and provide direct financing at subsidized interest rates to international companies so they can purchase products and services from the United States. A small handful of American companies benefit from this bank. Two-thirds of the Ex-Im bank’s money goes to around ten companies. Almost half goes to one company. The corporations who use Ex-Im have enough capital to self-fund their own ventures. Hard working American taxpayers should not be the backstop for international business loans. I believe the private sector, not the federal government, should be in the business of providing loans to international companies wanting to do business with the US.
H.R. 3762 - Restoring Americans Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act - YES (Passed)
On October 23, 2015, I voted in favor in order to repeal certain provisions of Obamacare and place a moratorium of federal funding for Planned Parenthood. This legislation eliminated various provisions within Obamacare and scales back an intrusive health care law. It will eliminate the medical device tax, the individual and employer mandates, the oppressive “Cadillac Tax”, and Obamacare’s one billion dollar a year slush fund. This bill also, and I believe more importantly stops - for one year - taxpayer money from being used to pay abortion providers like Planned Parenthood while allocating additional resources for community health centers across the country for women’s health care. This will most assuredly reach the President’s desk and he will have to defend his veto of legislation that corrects and improves his deeply flawed health care law. A one size fits all law that is driving up the cost of care, stands in-between patients and their doctors, and is destroying access to quality healthcare. He must defend a law that levies taxes and oppressive mandates on individuals, families and small business owners.
H.R. 10 – SOAR Act - YES (Passed)
On October 21, 2015, I voted in favor of this measure which improves and expands quality educational opportunities to student in D.C. through public, charter, and non-public schools. School choice provides students from low-income families the chance to attend a quality school that best meets their academic needs. Since its inception in 2004, D.C. has witnessed an increase in student graduation rates, as well as enrollment into two year and four year collegiate programs, among those benefiting from SOAR compared to those who have not. This is a good program that exemplifies the successes of school choice and should be a template for education nationwide.
H.R. 3493 – Securing the Cities Act of 2015 - YES (Passed)
On October 20, 2015, I, along with 410 of my House colleagues voted in favor of this bill. It requires the Director for Domestic Nuclear Detection to establish the Securing the Cities program to enhance the ability of the United States to detect and prevent terrorist attacks and other high consequence events utilizing nuclear or other radiological materials that pose a high risk to homeland security in high-risk urban areas. This is a common sense bill that will allow local, state, and federal authorities to work together to make sure no such terrorist act occurs.
H.R. 538 – Native American Energy Act – YES (Passed)
On October 8, 2015, I voted to pass the Native American Energy Act. Current laws which require the approval of the Secretary of the Interior for a tribe or individual to execute a lease agreement on land the United States holds in trust, including with respect to energy development, trigger NEPA reviews. Often, these reviews include lengthy appraisals, expensive applications for permits to drill, and numerous other layers of bureaucratic review among numerous agencies. Each additional step opens the door for federal interference or litigation to slow or stop permitting of natural resource development on Indian lands. H.R. 538 streamlines this process allowing for tribes to make decisions that they deem to be in their best interest in an expeditious manner.
H.R. 3192 – Homebuyers Assistance Act – YES (Passed)
On October 7, 2015, I voted to pass the Homebuyers Assistance Act, which places a four month legal hold for individuals in violation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s mortgage disclosure rule as long as they made a good-faith effort to be in compliance. This delay is needed to ensure stakeholders have an appropriate amount of time to better understand and implement the rule which significantly increased the volume of disclosures lenders must provide, as well as the necessity for business decisions at all stages of transaction. Many of these changes were difficult to understand and implement.
H. Res. 461 –Establishing a Select Investigative Panel of the Committee on Energy and Commerce – YES (Passed)
On October 7, 2015, I voted in favor of establishing a select committee on fetal tissue procurement processes, federal funding for abortions – at all stages of pregnancy – and matters relating to children born-alive following an attempted abortion. I believe this committee is necessary to ensure the proper attention is given to investigate immoral practices that threaten or end the life of the unborn. All too often, as time passes new issues arise that distract from crucial issues needing to be addressed, and it is past time Congress take serious action to protect innocent lives from being cut short.
H.R. 3457 – Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act - YES (Passed)
On October 1, 2015, I voted in favor of this bill to force Iran to pay retributions to the families it has helped terrorize before and sanctions can be lifted against it. Iran is a pariah, the JCPOA was a mistake, and I cannot abide anymore concessions from President Obama to Iran. This bill will hopefully force Iran to pay for their disgusting behavior of financing and supporting terrorism against the United States. While in an ideal world Iran would be punished more gravely this bill is a step in the right direction. The only people who voted against this bill were the democrats—it is ridiculous to think they do not believe Iran should pay for its reprehensible actions of the past. I will continue to work to make sure Iran is held accountable.
H.R. 3495 - Women’s Public Health and Safety Act – YES (Passed)
On September 30, 2015, I voted once again to defend the sanctity of life by supporting the passage of H.R. 3495. In the past, when states have sought to end their Medicaid contracts with organizations that provide elective abortion services, they have been blocked from doing so by the Center for Medicaid and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the grounds that CMS asserts that states that break their contracts would be in violation of the “free choice of qualified provider” provision in Medicaid. This is simply unacceptable. If states choose not allocate their Medicaid funds to support organizations that provide services, then the federal government should respect their decision.
H.R. 2835 – Border Jobs for Veterans Act – YES (Passed)
On September 28, 2015, I vote to pass H.R. 2835, which would direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to coordinate with the Department of Defense, to create an enhanced recruitment program for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers intended for members of the Armed Forces who are in the process of separating from the military. Members of the Armed Forces have a unique skill set well qualifying them for service as CBP officers, and I firmly believe we should encourage their employment at the DHS following their separation.
H.R. 2786 - Cross–Border Rail Security Act – YES (Passed)
On September 28, 2015, I, along with 411 of my House colleagues voted in favor of this bill. It is a common sense bill that directs the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to report to Congress:
- The number of high-risk rail shipments annually entering the United States;
- The status of radiation detection units at each rail crossing on the northern and southern land borders of the United States;
- An assessment of whether additional radiation detection equipment is necessary to ensure that all high-risk cross-border rail shipments are examined with appropriate equipment; and
- A plan for ensuring that all relevant CBP personnel receive adequate training and guidance on the proper use of CBP's Automated Targeting System for such shipments, the use of appropriate radiation detection equipment for shipment examination, and requirements for recording examination results.
This bill will ensure accountability within the CBP and will help make America’s borders safer.
H.R. 348 - Responsibly and Professionally Invigorating Development Act of 2015 (RAPID Act) – YES (Passed)
On September 25, 2015, I voted in favor of passing the RAPID Act of 2015. If enacted, the reforms outlined within this bill to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) provide for an expedited review of construction projects paid for with federal funds or that requires federal permitting or approval by streamlining the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its review process. The current NEPA review process for major construction projects are too inflexible, costly and drawn out, which reduces the ability of private organizations and local communities from developing and completing projects, which spur economic growth.
H.R. 758 – Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act – YES (Passed)
On September 17, 2015, I voted to pass H.R. 758, the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA). LARA restores mandatory sanctions for attorneys who file frivolous lawsuits in violation of Rule 11, which provides the standards judges must use to determine if a lawsuit is frivolous. Furthermore, LARA eliminates the “safe harbor” provision that allows parties to avoid sanctions by withdrawing frivolous lawsuits within 21 days following a motion for sanction is filed. Together, the changes in LARA will improve attorney accountability and protect individuals and businesses from unnecessarily drawn-out and expensive lawsuits.
H.R. 3134 – Defund Planned Parenthood Act – YES (Passed)
On September 18, 2015, I voted to pass the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, which places an immediate, one-year moratorium on all federal funding to Planned Parenthood and its affiliates while Congress conducts a full and complete investigation into the organization’s questionable actions regarding the procurement of fetal tissue. I was an original cosponsor of H.R. 3134, and when it comes to the issue of abortion and defending innocent unborn children, my vote will always err on the side of life. I personally believe that life begins at conception, and the life of all unborn children should be protected.
H.R. 3504 – Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act- YES (Passed)
On September 18, 2015, I voted to support the passage of H.R. 3504, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. This bill provides for criminal penalties for medical personnel who violate the Born-Alive Infants Protections Act of 2002, by making it a federal crime to fail to provide standard medical care to children born alive during an abortion. I cannot begin to fathom the heartlessness of men and women who willingly allow an infant that was born alive during a failed abortion procedure to die without attempting to save them, and I remain committed to ensuring their right to life is defended here in Congress.
H.R. 1214 – National Forest Small Tracts Act Amendments Act of 2015 – YES (Passed)
On September 16, 2015, I voted to pass the National Forest Small Tracts Act Amendments Act of 2015 (The Small Tracts Act). H.R. 1214 grants the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to sell certain small parcels of land without specific congressional authorization. In granting the Secretary this small authority, the Department will be able to be more efficient and expedite the sale process.
S. 1359 E- Warranty Act – YES (Passed)
I voted in favor of this bill in order to make warranties for consumer products available online. Currently the FTC rules regarding this are unclear as to whether or not providing warranty information online satisfies the requirements laid out by the FTC. This measure would make this option clear and provide relief to businesses, increase consumer access to warranty information, and advance environmental benefits by reducing waste.
H. Res 411 Finding that the President has not complied with section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 - YES (Passed)
I voted in favor of this resolution because the President did not comply with the law that he signed regarding the Iran nuclear deal. He negotiated a bad deal and now is forcing it upon us. He signed a law stating that all materials regarding the deal would be transmitted to Congress for us to review—he then failed to transmit all of the details of the deal.
HR 3461 To approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed at Vienna on July 14, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran - NO (Failed)
I voted against this legislation because the deal that was negotiated by president Obama does not make America safer and allows Iran to pursue their nuclear agenda. I cannot in good conscience support this nuclear agreement with Iran that threatens our national security. For the last three years, I have listened to the experts on my Foreign Affairs Committee. The takeaway is that this is not a good deal for the Middle East, the United States, or the world. I have also listened to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle - who support this deal- say that this prevents Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. This thinking is naïve. Whether it is in a year or ten years, the Iranian regime will have a bomb – that is their main objective.The sanctions placed on Iran were working and should have remained in place. Now they will have relief from those sanctions and an infusion of 150 billion dollars. This alone ensures the region will become more unstable and the Iran we face in the future will be stronger and better equipped.It angers me that the Obama Administration negotiated from a position of weakness and gave up the farm for a promise from a theocratic regime. The anytime inspections of their facilities are out, the embargos on arms and ballistic missiles are being removed, there is no guarantee that their nefarious actions around the world will cease, and four Americans are still being held against their will. Those are just a few of the red flags waving in our face.
HR 3460 To suspend until January 21, 2017, the authority of the President to waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of sanctions pursuant to an agreement related to the nuclear program of Iran - YES (Passed)
I voted in favor of this bill in order to limit President Obama’s ability to lift sanctions on the Iranian regime. President Obama negotiated a bad deal and is forcing it on to the American public. The deal he negotiated is not good for America, or our allies. I will continue to work to keep sanctions on Iran and to help make the world a safer place.
H. R. 1994 - VA Accountability Act – YES (Passed)
On July 29, 2015, I voted in favor of the Veterans Affairs Accountability Act. The legislation provides the Secretary of Veterans Affairs flexibility to remove VA employees for performance or misconduct adds protections for whistleblowers and increases accountability and performance measures for VA Senior Executive Service (SES) employees. The passage of the VA Accountability Act will provide the Secretary of Veterans Affairs the tools needed to address misconduct of employees and mismanagement of individual facilities in an expedited manner. It will also provide security to those individuals who witness problem areas within the VA system and report it without fear of losing their job.
H. R. 427 - Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2015 – YES (Passed)
On July 28, 2015, I voted in favor of H.R. 427. This bill would require congressional approval for all federal regulations that have an economic impact of $100 million dollars annually. With thousands of federal regulations being issued every year, many of them are choking off the economic potential of America. Some regulation is necessary to set the boundaries for business and safety. However, overregulation snuffs out the fires of the entrepreneurial spirit and suffocates job creation - which in turn hurts our economy. With so many regulations being implemented every day, week, and year, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over businesses large and small.
H. R. 675 - Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015 – YES (Passed)
On July 28, 2015, I voted in favor of H.R. 675. This bill directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the rates of veterans' disability compensation, additional compensation for dependents, the clothing allowance for certain disabled veterans, and dependency and indemnity compensation for surviving spouses and children at the same percentage as the increase in benefits provided under title II of the Social Security Act. Veterans and their dependents deserve to be treated with the upmost respect and receive the benefits they have earned and deserve.
H.R. 6 – 21st Century Cures Act – YES (Passed)
On July 10, 2015, I voted in favor of this important legislation to secure funding for the NIH, streamline the FDA bureaucracy, stimulate job growth, and ensure America’s competitiveness against countries such as China. Places like the Sid Martin Progress Park- the number one biotech incubator for start-up companies - in conjunction with The University of Florida are at the forefront of innovation and cutting edge medical research. Passage of the 21st Century Cures Act will enable their important work to change the lives of millions here at home and around the world. This bill reforms procedures at the NIH that will reduce the amount of paperwork and red tape scientists have had to endure—allowing the scientists to focus on discovery and not bureaucracy. H.R. 6 shifts resources to help younger scientists to have more opportunities and also it focuses on accelerating biomedical research. Finally this bill helps incentivize research on rare diseases. The CBO estimates that his bill will reduce the deficit by $500 million over the first decade while also reforming some entitlement programs that could yield billions in savings further down the line. It is imperative that America invest in its future and this is exactly what H.R. 6 does.
H.R. 5 – Student Success Act – NO (Passed)
On July 8, 2015, after close review of this bill - and the amendments that were made to it - I voted against the Student Success Act. This bill does not go far enough. With future generations in mind, along with doing what is best for the country, I voted against the bill that could have done more to curb the Administration’s expansive agenda with our nation’s schools. We need to reform the system, save money, increase state and local control of education, and get rid of Common Core. Additionally, three of my amendments which would have brought more parental control and financial responsibility were not included in the bill.
H.R. 91 – Veterans ID Card Act of 2015 – YES (Passed)
On July 7, 215, I voted in favor of passing H.R. 91 because it recognized the service of veterans who are neither entitled to military retired pay nor enrolled in the VA system of patient enrollment but have served this country honorably. These servicemen and women should not have to carry their DD-214 form or other official document in they are a veteran.
H.R. 805 – DOTCOM Act – YES (Passed)
On June 23, 2015, I voted with 378 of my colleagues to pass the DOTCOM Act. Following the Administrations announcement that it intends to end its contract with ICANN through the NTIA, serious concerns were raised regarding the Administrations authority to end the contract without Congressional approval, as well as concerns regarding potential censorship. The DOTCOM Act prohibits the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information from relinquishing the responsibility of the NTIA over internet DNS functions until the Comptroller General submits a report to Congress regarding the role of the NTIA, national security concerns, and a definition of “multistakeholder model” among other requests.
H.R. 1190 – Protecting Seniors Access to Medicare Act – YES (Passed)
On June 23, 2015, I voted in favor of H.R. 1190 in order to repeal Medicare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) IPAB was created by the ACA, and is tasked to develop proposals to “reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.” IPAB action is triggered if the projected five-year average growth in per capita Medicare program spending exceeds a specified target. The concerns with how the IPAB is structured and the amount of power an unelected board of 15 government bureaucrats would have over the Medicare system is of great concern. Individuals and their doctors should be making personal medical decisions, not the federal government. Removing IPAB from Obamacare is the right thing to do. This bill will give seniors peace of mind that they will have continued access to Medicare and not have to worry about the decisions being made by 15 unelected government bureaucrats, who are unaccountable to the public.
H.R. 160 – Protect Medical Innovation Act – YES (Passed)
On June 18, 2015, I voted in favor of H.R. 160 in order to repeal the excise tax on medical device manufacturers and importers—commonly referred to as the medical device tax. This tax was put in place by Obamacare and would be disastrous for our district and the country as a whole. It would place an undue burden on those who are producing medical devices and subsequently could force them to leave our country for places that do not punish them for being innovators. This bill is especially important for our district as we are home to some of the leading medical device manufactures and researchers in the world.
H. Con. Res. 55 – Requiring the House to vote on a War Powers Resolution - YES (Failed)
On June 17, 2015, I voted for a War Powers debate to occur in Congress. Under Article 1 of the Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war. Our Founders knew that concentrating too much power in one branch of the government – especially the Executive – would undermine our Constitutional Republic. For too long, this body has neglected one of its most significant duties – having an open debate about whether to send our men and women into harm’s way. Unfortunately, this vote was unsuccessful, but I will continue to fight for a transparent federal government that maintains robust oversight over an expanding Executive.
H.R. 2596 – Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 - NO (Passed)
On June 16, 2015, I voted against the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY2016. In recent decades, intelligence analysis – which is the true purpose of the intelligence community – has taken a backseat to paramilitary action. Not only do these actions encroach on the responsibilities of the Armed Forces, but they undermine and weaken the ability of the intelligence community to fulfill its main responsibility of analysis. The CIA’s weaponized drone program is just one example that creates numerous issues with mission creep, legal ambiguity, and ineffective strategy. I simply cannot support legislation that authorizes such irresponsible and secretive action by the U.S. Government.
H Res. 233 – US Citizens as Iranian Prisoners – YES (Passed)
On June 15, 2015, I voted in favor of H. Res. 233 Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Iran should immediately release the three United States citizens that it holds, as well as provide all known information on any United States citizens that have disappeared within its borders. It is ridiculous that Iran has not released our American citizens and even more ludicrous that the president did not make their release an important part of the Iran Nuclear deal he negotiated. I will continue to press for their freedom and to hold the Administration accountable for their terrible foreign policies.
H.R. 2685 – Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2016 – YES (Passed)
On June 11, 2015, I voted to fund the H.R. 2685 in order to fund critical national security needs, military operations abroad, and health and quality of life programs for the men and women of the Armed Services and their families. The bill fully funds the authorized 2.3 percent pay raise for the military, instead of the 1.3 percent requested by the President. Furthermore, I authored and subsequently passed into the bill amendmentsto block the training of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary militia “Azov Battalion,” and to prevent the transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles—otherwise known as Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS)—to Iraq or Ukraine. My amendments were voice voted and accepted and my other initiative was included in the underlying text of the bill which would block the transfer of MANPADS to the Syrian theater. The important bill reflects important initiatives I started almost 2 years ago and will make sure that American arms do not fall into the wrong hands.
H.R. 1599 - The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act - YES (Passed)
There has been a lot of misinformation about GMO’s over the years when in reality these foods have been instrumental in feeding hundreds of millions around the world. By 2050, the world will experience a 70 percent increase in demand for food – requiring a doubling of current levels of food production. Where will that food come from? GMO are firmly rooted in science with roughly 90 percent of scientists saying the consumption of GMO food is safe. These foods have increased yields per acre, increased the nutritional value of crops, helped our environment by reducing the spraying of pesticides, and reduced emissions of greenhouse gases by reducing the need to plow and fertilize the land. I believe everyone has the right to know where their food comes from. Keep in mind that, as opposition groups have created a GMO boogieman, before any modified food gets to market, it has been through the most rigorous reviewed processes and has been scrutinized by the FDA, the EPA, research universities, etc. This bill is a good bill that sets a uniform standard and provides all Americans with better access to accurate information about their food. I know there were concerns about pre-empting states rights with this legislation, however, under the Constitution the 'the Commerce Clause' gives authority to act in this manner. Otherwise, we'll have a pathwork of different standards across the nation which will make it impossible for companies in states to engage in interstate commerce. For these reasons, I voted in favor of the legislation.
Additional information for H.R. 1599:
- It gives consumers better access to accurate information about their food. There are currently no government standards for food to be labeled as non-GMO or “GMO-free”. HR 1599 would establish a national, uniform non-GM standard so consumers who want to purchase food without GM ingredients can be confident in what they are getting.
- Its ‘Non-GMO’ labeling program would be modeled after the popular USDA Organic program. Under USDA’s Organics Program, companies volunteer to meet a uniform, USDA standard so they can put “organic” on their label. HR 1599 would establish a similar program for food that doesn’t contain GMO’s. HR 1599 will ensure that non-GMO foods are treated with the same care and attention as organics.
- It affirms the FDA’s established authority on food safety issues. For more than 100 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been the preeminent authority for food safety and labeling in the United States. HR 1599 would ensure that FDA maintains that important role at the top of the food safety regulatory pyramid, and not have it usurped by the actions of individual states.
- It preserves a unified national system for food, food safety and food labeling, while preventing a patchwork of state labeling standards from misleading consumers. America has thrived by having a national food system with unfettered commerce between states due to federal standards. Once states begin establishing their own unique food labeling standards, consumers and businesses in every state will be impacted because food purchased in one state may not meet another states standards. Additionally, the sheer number of different GMO labeling standards and exemptions being debated and implemented in states would only serve to confuse consumers. For example, Maine would label cheese as GM, while Vermont or Connecticut would exempt it. HR 1599 will ensure that America’s integrated food system stays intact while ensuring one national standard for food labeling, keeping consumers informed.
- It stands firmly with science. There is a greater scientific consensus on the safety of GMO foods than there is on climate change, according to a recent Pew Research Service study. Nearly 90 percent of scientists say that consuming GMO food is safe. Every major scientific and health organization, -- including the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, and the World Health Organization -- has concluded they are safe as any other food. Again, not a single peer reviewed study has found a link between GMOs and health issues. HR 1599 will ensure that GMO’s are treated as the safe and nutritious food they are.
- It helps support technological advances that are good for the environment. Globally, GM crops have reduced pesticide spraying (1996-2011) by 9%, or 975 million pounds. Because GMO crops require less plowing and less fertilizer, they help reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. In 2013, this was the equivalent of removing 11.9 million cars from the road. HR 1599 will ensure that biotechnology and science can be used to help our environment.
- It protects critical technology that can help address hunger, nutrition and allergies. By 2050, the world will experience a 70 percent increase in demand for food – requiring a doubling of current levels of food production. GMOs are an important tool in meeting this demand through greater yields without further straining limited supplies of land and water. In addition, GMOs are being used to tackle vitamin deficiencies in the developing world. Roughly 500,000 children go blind every year because of a deficiency in Vitamin A, with half of them dying as a result. Researchers have now developed Golden Rice (a GMO) which contains the nutrients needed to reverse this deficiency. In addition, scientists are now studying ways to develop crops with fewer allergens such as disabling the protein that causes allergic reactions in people with peanut allergies. HR 1599 ensures that GMO’s are not unfairly maligned and that scientific breakthroughs can continue.
H.R. 2042 – Ratepayer Protection Act – YES (Passed)
On June 24, 2015, I voted in favor of the Ratepayer Protection Act due to the EPA’s overreach when regulating emissions from our electric power plants in Florida. The EPA proposed a rule in June, 2014 that would require states to submit complex plans to meet EPA-imposed reduction levels. These levels do not take into account the steps Florida has already taken to reduce emissions. Not allowing for those reductions to be counted will put extreme pressure on our state’s energy providers and increase prices for anyone who uses electricity. This bill would prohibit a state from being required to adopt or submit a plan if it has an adverse effect on the state’s ratepayers or on the reliability of the state’s electricity system. This is a needed piece of legislation that would protect Floridians from increased electricity costs.
H.R. 2393 – Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act of 2015 – YES (Passed)
On June 10, 2015, I voted in favor of the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Amendments Act of 2015. This needed legislation saves the US economy from potential disastrous trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico. On May 18, 2015, the World Trade Organization rejected the United State’s appeal and found for the fourth and final time that the U.S. COOL requirements for beef and pork are discriminatory. This ruling begins the process to determine the level of retaliatory tariffs that can now be imposed on U.S. Industry. Canada and Mexico are looking to impose tariffs to the tune of $2 billion combined. H.R. 2393 repeals the COOL mandatory marketing program and removes the specter of retaliation. This change in the law does not in anyway affect the food inspection that the USDA does to all meat products sold within the US.
H.R. 2289 – Commodity End-User Relief Act – YES (Passed)
On June 9, 2015 I voted in favor of the Commodity End-User Relief Act. This bill changes the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to ensure farmers, ranchers, and energy providers who use certain financial tools to mitigate risk are not include in the same regulatory regime as Wall Street. For Florida’s Third District, agricultural is the largest sector of the economy and a majority of the energy is produced by co-operatives and municipals. This bill specifically assists those two industries, industries that US citizens depend on for food on their table and electricity in their homes.
H.R. 2578 – Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Act for 2016 – YES (Passed)
June 3, 2015, I voted to fund the Department of Justice below the President’s requested budget. This bill prioritizes law enforcement, national security, and public safety. Some of the provisions I was happy to support include: a ban on federal funds from being used to pay for an abortion, a prohibition on a Fast and Furious-type gun walking program, a prohibition on intruding on Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights, a prohibition on implementing the UN Arms Trade Treaty, a prohibition on the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S., a prohibition on encroaching on states’ rights, a prohibition on implementing the President’s illegal amnesty, and a prohibition on the bulk collection of Americans’ data. It is the primary function of Congress to make annual appropriations to fund the many portions of the government. With this responsibility Congress must take accounting of every agency and look for ways to save taxpayer dollars from wasteful spending. I feel that this appropriations bill accomplishes that object.
H.R. 2353 – Highway and Transportation Funding Act – YES (Passed)
On May 19, 2015, I voted in favor of the Highway and Transportation Funding Act. This bill simply extends the limitation date on Highway Trust Fund dollars that can be used on construction projects until July 31, 2015. Real reforms must take place before that date comes. The trust fund is crucial for states like Florida, who’s residents rely heavily on transportation infrastructure in their everyday lives. I am committed to work with my colleagues so that when July 31 approaches there will be a valid path forward in funding the highly important road and interstate projects across the country.
HR 1732 – Regulatory Integrity Protection Act – YES (Passed)
On May 12, 2015, I voted in favor of the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act. This bill would prohibit the EPA and US Army Corps from implementing their rule that redefines the scope of waters protected under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act – more popularly known as “Waters of the US.” This rule, published on the Federal Register on April 21, 2014, will inflict additional burdens on the agriculture, construction, and manufacturing sectors at a time when these industries are still attempting to expand and hire labor. I have been an early champion on this issue, providing appropriations language both this year and last year limiting the EPA and US Army Corps ability to alter this rule. I applaud the leadership for bringing this to the floor, and urge the Senate to act in order to ensure industry in America is allowed to grow.
H.R. 1190 Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act- YES (Passed)
The IPAB was created under the Affordable Care Act. I have said time and again, Obamacare needs to be replaced with a more patient centered form of healthcare. Individuals and their doctors should be making personal medical decisions, not the federal government. Removing IPAB from Obamacare is the right thing to do. This bill will give seniors peace of mind that they will have continued access to Medicare and not have to worry about the decisions being made by 15 unelected government bureaucrats, who are unaccountable to the public. For this reason, I voted in favor of the legislation.
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA/ Fast-Track)/ Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)- NO (Passed)
I voted against both Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). The TAA did not pass and because of that opposition TPA, which did pass, will not go to the President’s desk for signature because it did not match the version that was passed in the Senate. I voted against TPA because President Obama has shown his inability to be a capable leader over the past 6 years. His foreign policy is a failure and he has repeatedly shown himself to be untrustworthy consistently trying to buck congressional oversight and drive through politically driven measures. I could not in good conscience give him more authority in negotiating international trade deals—international trade deals which are not available to the public for scrutiny.
Furthermore, I voted against TPA because the provisions contained within did not go far enough to ensuring that trade deals being currently negotiated, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will truly benefit America. For instance, there were not strong enough provisions guaranteeing that currency manipulation would be addressed. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiated in the 90’s has largely failed to improve the American economy. It is my fear, especially under the leadership of President Obama that the TPP will end up costing America. Taking our time to address these concerns among others in crafting a TPA will not hurt the United States as we already have trade agreements with nearly 80% of the countries already involved in the TPP negotiations. Specifically, taking our time to make sure that President Obama does not further harm the international standing, security, and economy of the United States is a good thing. I will continue to work to hold this administration accountable.
*The following week, TPA was brought up again due to TAA not passing along with it. During this vote, I intended to vote against TPA. Unfortunately, there were some procedural issues that led to confusion on the Floor as it was brought up under the title, H.R. 2146 - Defending Public Safety Employees Retirement Act. I did correct the official record following the error, and formally informed the Speaker of my intent to vote against TPA. My position has not changed and I will continue to stand against the TAA, TPA and TPP.
H. Res. 295 –Congressional Resolution supporting the use of body cameras in local law enforcement agencies - YES (Passed)
On June 10, 2015, I supported this resolution because it reiterates our appreciation and support for law enforcement, while encouraging agencies to protect themselves and American citizens by wearing body cameras. The relationship between law enforcement and the citizens they serve has become strained recently and it is paramount that we work together to improve that vital relationship.
H.R. 1335 - Mangnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Reauthorization – YES (Passed)
On June 1, 2015, I voted in favor of H.R. 1335. After over three years of hearings and research, H.R. 1335 made commons-sense changes to the MSA that will benefit fishing populations and fishing industries; including permitting the Regional Fishery Management Councils to consider changes in an ecosystem and the economic needs of the fishing communities. This bill also requires that the Scientific and Statistical Committees (SSCs) develop scientific advice provided to the councils in a transparent manner and to allow for public involvement in the process. Additionally, this bill directs the Secretary of Commerce to publish a plan for implementing and conducting the cooperative research and management program in order to identify and describe critical regional fishery management and research needs, as well as take into consideration that in the hiring to collect information regarding marine recreational fishing, to give preference to individuals who are students studying water resource issues.
H.R. 880 – American Research and Competitiveness Act – YES (Passed)
On May 20, 2015, I voted in favor of HR 880 because it would reform and make permanent the alternative simplified research credit permanent and increase the rate from 14 percent to 20 percent. A taxpayer would be allowed to receive a 20-percent credit for qualified research expenses that exceed 50 percent of the average qualified research expenses from the three previous years. This bill adds certainty to the economy so businesses and individuals can make the critical long term investments in research that drive our economy. This bill will not only increase American innovation, maintain American security and strength, but will also increase jobs andensure that America continues to be the land of innovation and great inventions.
H.R. 1806 – America COMPETES Act – YES (Passed)
On May 20, 2015, I voted in favor of HR 1806 because it authorized federal research and science programs at the Energy Department, National Science Foundation, NIST among other science/research agencies within the United States government. Funding these research and science programs are crucial to not only the national defense but to advancing America and maintain America’s super power status in the 21st century. Areas of study such as high-energy physics research, nuclear physics, fusion energy research and advanced scientific computing. This is how federal dollars should be spent. Federal programs and money need to be wisely invested in America’s future and this bill does that. Furthermore, this bill will encourage R&D investments and entrepreneurship that will support new industries which are critical to creating jobs and helping the American economy.
S. 178 – Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act – YES (Passed)
On May 19, 2015, I voted for the JVTA to further combat the scourge of human trafficking. This bill creates a fund to aid trafficking victims, which will be paid for by fines imposed on criminals. The bill will also provide block grants for child advocacy centers, as well as for state and local governments with significant trafficking activity. Additionally, the JVTA will criminalize commercial sex advertisements, encourage states to enact safe harbor laws for minor victims, and improve training for law enforcement. While only one step, this legislation is much needed as we continue the fight against human trafficking.
H.R. 1382: Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment Act: YES (Passed)
On May 18th, I voted with my colleagues to pass the BRAVE Act, which rewards contractors with high rates of hiring full-time veteran employees. This bill will encourage businesses to continuing supporting our veterans once they return home and enter back into the civilian workforce. After all that our veterans have sacrificed for our country, we owe them this and much more.
H.R. 1313 – Service Disabled Veteran Employment Act – YES (Passes)
On May 18, 2015, I voted alongside 402 of my colleagues to swiftly pass H.R. 1313, which will treat surviving spouses of 100% service-disabled veterans who acquire the ownership interest in a small business in the same manner the veterans would have been for the purpose of determining eligibility for VA service-disabled small business contracting goals.
H.R. 1735 – National Defense Authorization Act – YES (Passed)
On My 15, 2015, I voted in favor of H.R. 1735. This Act authorizes $611.8 billion in spending for national defense. The reasons I voted for this are manifold among them are: It improves pay and benefits for our troops and their families; initiates landmark reforms to the DoD’s broken acquisition system which will lead to great savings down the line; calls for greater protection of our troops from sexual assault; reinforces the mission to defeat ISIL; in light of last year’s unlawful transfer of Taliban leaders for Sgt. Bergdahl it imposes greater restriction on transferring terrorists and requires the DoD to report to Congress on the recidivism of released detainees. Furthermore, this NDAA improves our missile defense capabilities and strengthens our cyber defenses. I also submitted an amendment to block the transfer of Man-Portable-Air-Defense-Systems (MANPADS) to forces engaged in the Syrian conflict in order to make sure these very powerful arms do not fall into the wrong hands—unfortunately this provision was not included. I will continue to work to make sure American arms do not fall into the wrong hands. Ultimately this bill achieves Congress’s Constitutional duty for providing for the common defense and seeks to protect us against some of the Administration’s disastrous foreign policies that have led to emboldened actions by not only terrorist groups, by states such as Russia.
H.R. 36 - Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act - YES (Passed)
On May 13, 2015, I voted in favor of passing H.R. 36, which protects the life of unborn children through the implementation of tighter restrictions on abortion procedures performed at 20 weeks or more following conception. This historic vote comes on the two year anniversary of Kermit Gosnell’s conviction for violating Pennsylvania State law prohibiting abortions beyond 24 weeks, violations of informed consent laws, and for the most heinous of his actions, the confirmed murders of three infants who were born alive during attempted abortion procedures. It takes a truly evil person to knowingly and willingly take the life of a child. H.R. 36 is one step closer to outlawing taking the life of children who can feel pain and through scientific achievements, survive outside of their mother’s womb at earlier stages of their development. Under H.R. 36, if an abortion is attempted and the child is born alive, any practitioner present must provide care to save the life of the child, including transportation to a hospital immediately.
H.R. 2048 – USA FREEDOM Act - NO (Passed)
On May 13, 2015, I voted against H.R. 2048. This legislation, as originally written, was meant to rein in the rampant collection of meta data by the National Security Agency (NSA). I was a proud original cosponsor of this legislation because I want to reform the NSA and stop the unconstitutional collection of data on our citizens. However, this version before us was much weaker and would actually solidify bulk collection. Given the U.S. Appeals Court’s ruling that bulk collection is illegal, I find this version of the bill to be particularly troubling. Congress should work to end all forms of surveillance, thus protecting all Americans’ Fourth Amendment right.
H.J.Res.43 - Disapproving of DC Council ruling on Reproductive Health - Yes (Passed)
On April 30, 2015, I voted in favor of disapproving the action of the District of Columbia Council in approving the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014, because the RHNDA will infringe upon the rights of religious institutions, faith-based employers, and pro-life organization, by forcing them to make employment decisions that may not be in accordance with their religious and moral convictions.
H.R. 2029 - MilCon/VA Appropriations Act - YES (Passed)
On April 30, 2015, I voted in favor of passing H.R. 2029, the MilCon/VA Appropriations Act, 2016. H.R. 2029 approved funding levels for FY16, including an increase of nearly $4 billion dollars over FY15 appropriated levels for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Other items included were $620 million for medical and prosthetic research. Nearly $2.7 for VBA general operating expenses – intended in part to hire over 700 full-time employees to process claims. Over $94 billion in mandatory funding for benefits and pension programs. All while rescinding $101 million from FY16 discretionary appropriations to implement limits on employee bonuses. Additionally, the bill prohibits the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the continental United States, prohibits funding for contracts where the contractor has not complied with federal contractor E-Verify requirements; prohibits funding for first class travel of federal agency employees. HR 2029 also provides funding for NATO security investments—at a time of increased tensions with Russia and China this funding is crucial to providing for the security of the United States and her allies. Finally this bill provides funds to maintain, update, and build our Military bases and to build and maintain housing for the families of those who are serving the United States.
H.R. 1731 – National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act – YES (Passed)
On April 23, 2015, I voted for H.R. 1731 to help protect American citizens and businesses from cyber attacks. Much like H.R. 1560, which passed the House on April 22, this bill encourages the voluntary sharing of cyber threat information among private entities, while also ensuring that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to protect the nation from these dangerous threats. It also preserves civil liberty and privacy protections. These cybersecurity bills are evidence of something I have always believed – it is possible to balance security and liberty without sacrificing one or the other.
H.R. 1560 – Protecting Cyber Networks Act – YES (Passed)
On April 22, 2015, I voted to strengthen our defense against the ever-growing threat of cyber attacks. H.R. 1560 will encourage voluntary sharing of information and facilitate a public-private relationship that will improve our nation’s cybersecurity. I was happy to support this legislation to protect American citizens and businesses, while also preserving the privacy and personal liberties of all Americans.
H.R. 1195 - Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act – YES (Passed)
On April 22, 2015, I voted to create a Small Business Advisory Board, the Credit Union Advisory Council and the Community Bank Advisory Council within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). These steps are necessary in order ensure the CFPB does not further burden the economy, specifically our small businesses and community credit institutions. As we have already seen, this government bureaucracy has acted without considering the effects of new regulations – many of these actions have increased compliance costs on portions of the economy that had nothing to do with the recession. Although I support further reforms to the CFPB, I believe this is a step toward protecting a portion of the economy that is essential to rural America.
H.R. 1105 – The Death Tax Repeal Act – YES (Passed)
April 16, 2015, I voted in favor of the Death Tax Repeal Act. I have been a long-tim champion of a full and total repeal of the federal estate tax and applaud the leadership for bringing this important piece of legislation to the floor. The estate tax is a double and potentially triple tax on transfers of accumulated wealth – penalizing savings and investment. That is fundamentally unfair. For years, the estate tax has been devastating to family businesses and farms. Individuals and businesses spend too much time and money planning for the estate tax, rather than focusing on growing businesses and efficiently allocating capital within the economy. I am glad to see this measure passed and hope that the Senate will act in order to put this bill on the President’s desk.
H.R. 622 – the State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act – YES (Passed)
On April 16, 2015, I voted to permanently extend the itemized deduction for State and local sales tax. This provision is so important to citizens in states like Florida because we have no state income tax. In the past this provision expired at the end of each year, leaving taxpayers in Florida without a way to claim taxes they paid at the state level on their federal returns. When signed into law, this bill would permanently extend this provision – giving citizens in our state certainty when April 15th comes each year.
HR 650 – Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act – YES (Passed)
On April 14, 2015, I voted to restrict the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) ability to reduce credit access to individuals buying manufactured housing in rural areas. Recently, the CFPB implemented a Dodd-Frank-mandated rule to expand the scope of Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act requirements to include money mortgage loans and home equity lines of credit. In addition, Dodd-Frank mandated that the CFPB amend the test for determining whether a loan is “high cost” under HOEPA. CFPB issued a rule to lower the threshold for “high cost” loans. Specifically, this bill clarifies the definitions of “mortgage originator” and a “high-cost mortgage” as the definitions relate to manufactured housing. This was a technical correction that will help everyday Americans.
H.R. 216 – Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act of 2015 – Yes (Passed):
I voted in favor of passing H.R. 216 because it puts the VA on a path toward fiscal stability and responsibility. This bill establishes a Future Years Veterans Program to be submitted to Congress reflecting the estimated expenditures and proposed appropriations in the president’s budget, covering the current fiscal year (FY) and the four succeeding FY years, as well as a five year plan outlining how the VA intents to ensure it is meeting the needs of veterans. A review of the VA’s strategy for meeting its goals is to be conducted every four years by an Independent Veterans Review Panel. The panel’s recommendations are to be reported to the House and Senate veterans committees. Additionally, a chief strategy officer will serve as the principal advisor to the Secretary on long-term strategies and policy implications.
H.R. 2 – Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act – Yes (Passed):
On March 26, 2015, I voted to permanently solve the issue of the Sustainable Growth Rate, ensuring Medicare doctors and their patients will no longer face cuts that undermine the care given to our seniors. Since 2003, Congress has passed seventeen patched to the Medicare system - known as a “Doc Fix” - which has cost the American people over $169 billion and has done nothing to solve this problem. In fact, Congress has simply “kicked-the-can" each time this problem presented itself instead of owning up to the promises we have made to our doctors and seniors. This legislation finally does just that - it fixes the reimbursement to doctors, extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program for children most in need, and makes structural entitlement changes to Medicare saving future billions in taxpayer dollars.
H Res. - The House Republican Budget Proposal – Yes (Passed):
On March 25, 2015, I voted in favor of the Republican budget proposal. This resolution lays out the blueprint for spending by balancing our budget in less than 10-years while cutting $5.5 trillion over that time. It is important to highlight that unlike the President’s alternative the budget that I voted for does not increase taxes, and repeals Obamacare. Although this budget is not perfect, it is a firm step in the right direction toward fiscal sanity.
H.R. 216 – Department of Veterans Affairs Budget Planning Reform Act of 2015 – Yes (Passed):
I voted in favor of passing H.R. 216 because it puts the VA on a path toward fiscal stability and responsibility. This bill establishes a Future Years Veterans Program to be submitted to Congress reflecting the estimated expenditures and proposed appropriations in the president’s budget, covering the current fiscal year (FY) and the four succeeding FY years, as well as a five year plan outlining how the VA intents to ensure it is meeting the needs of veterans. A review of the VA’s strategy for meeting its goals is to be conducted every four years by an Independent Veterans Review Panel. The panel’s recommendations are to be reported to the House and Senate veterans committees. Additionally, a chief strategy officer will serve as the principal advisor to the Secretary on long-term strategies and policy implications.
S.J.Res. 8 – Yes (Passed):
The NLRB’s new rule for union representation cases significantly reduce the period between the filing of a petition a union election. This rule accelerated the process providing unions with an unfair advantage. It also permitted the release of personal employee information than an employer must disclose to unions, including an employee’s telephone number, email address, home address, work location, shift, and classification. If the rule were allowed to stand, it would serve as a severe privacy violation for employees and not allow the appropriate amount of consideration by the NLRB, employers, and employees regarding a union election.
HR. 294 - Long-Term Care Veterans Choice Act – Yes (Passed):
H.R. 294 authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to enter into contracts for the placement of veterans in non-Department medical foster homes for certain veterans who are unable to live independently.
H.R. 33 - Making Further Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2015 – YES (passed)
On February 27, 2015, I voted for the short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until March 6, 2015. I also voted for a motion to request a Conference with the Senate on DHS funding. This one week CR will ensure that our national security and borders are protected while the House and Senate negotiate DHS funding for FY2015. An injunction from a federal judge is currently preventing the President from implementing his executive amnesty, so none of the funds in this CR may be used for the President’s amnesty. Unfortunately Senate Democrats refused to put aside their political agenda and once again prevented the Senate from funding Homeland Security the right way. I look forward to funding DHS while blocking executive amnesty – just as the American people want.
H.R. 240 – Department of the Homeland Security Appropriations for FY2015 – No (Passed):
On March 3, 2015, I voted against the Senate’s version of H.R. 240. This version stripped the House’s language that barred the President from using funds for his unconstitutional executive amnesty. Therefore, I could not support it. Once again, Senate Democrats put their partisan agenda above the separation of powers and blocked the House bill from passing. I hope Democrats remember this vote as the vote that gave the Executive Branch the power to legislate. Perhaps not while they have an ally in the White house, but one day the roles will be reversed and Democrats will regret this vote. This President – with the help of his Democratic allies – has set the precedent for all future presidents to ignore or change ANY law they do not like. It will be a sad day when I and many of my brave colleagues who have continued to defend the Constitution are able to say ‘I told you so’.
‘Clean’ DHS Funding Bill: NO (Passed)
While I am in favor of funding the Department of Homeland Security, I could not vote in favor of this legislation without the proper safeguards to protect against the President’s illegal executive amnesty. I was in favor of the short term spending bills because they would have fallen within the timeframe of the court order that currently prevents the President from using funds for his illegal executive order. However, this legislation did not contain the proper provisions to stop the President, and therefore I voted No. I am in favor of strong national security, however, advancing the President’s policy of non-border enforcement flies in the face of the very security we must uphold. I will continue to vote against the President’s executive amnesty and fight to ensure it is defunded.
H.R. 596 ACA Repeal: YES (Passed)
I cosponsored and voted in favor of H.R. 596 which will repeal the disastrous Affordable Care Act. H.R. 596 will allow Congress to work towards replacing the ACA with healthcare legislation that will truly benefit Americans and not burden them with over-regulation and crippling taxes. H.R. 596 is a great repeal bill because it besides just repealing the ACA it directs the relevant committees to bring forth a viable option that will put our healthcare system on a good track while not burdening Americans and the economy. It is my hope that any sort of replacement will expand access to health care without putting more of the federal government in charge; and will improve the healthcare delivery structure, and return power back to the states and local communities. H.R. 596 will give Congress the chance to meet these goals and avert the consequences of the ACA and implement reforms that are constitutional and beneficial to the American economy.
H.R. 719 – TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act: YES (Passed)
On February 10, 2015 I voted in favor of H.R. 719. This bill requires the DHS Inspector General to analyze and certify that TSA criminal investigators meet certain criteria. This legislation will being transparency and accountability to those employees who receive premium pay as criminal investigators.
H.R. 720 – Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act: YES (Passed)
On February 10, 2015 I voted in favor of H.R. 720. This bill requires DHS to ensure that all airports have strategies in place for responding to security incidents or acts of terrorism, like the one carried out in 2013 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Additionally, DHS must report back to Congress on what plans are in place at the airports, which will bring much-needed safety oversight.
H.R. 7 - No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015: Yes (Passed House)
Current law does not allow federal funds to be used for abortion services directly. However, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Americans have been presented with new challenges in the fight for life. To address the issues arising from the ACA, this bill prohibits any abortion service conducted by a federal, or District of Columbia, health care facility or employee – including elective abortions in federal prisons. H.R. 7 prohibits federal funds from being used for any health benefits coverage that includes abortion coverage. This bill then goes a step further by prohibiting tax deductions for abortion related medical expenses. H.R. 7 also requires insurance providers who receive federal subsidies through participation in the health care exchanges to disclose to consumers whether or not they will be subject to a surcharge which will go towards providing abortion services. This bill takes huge strides in the fight to protect the lives of thousands of unborn children, and I was proud to support its passage.
Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2015 - H.R. 469: Yes (Passed)
On January 27, 2015, I had the privilege of voting with 409 of my colleagues to pass H.R. 469. This legislation amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to requiring grant applications to include a state plan to address how the state will identify and respond to cases involving children who are sex trafficking victims.
To improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking - H.R. 246: Yes (Passed)
On the same day the House voted to strengthen the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, it also passed H.R. 246, which also strengthened the Mission Children’s Assistant Act. H.R. 246 authorizes use of fund to support the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s operation of a cyber-tip line to provide online users and electronic service providers an effective means of reporting Internet-related child sex trafficking and child prostitution.
H.R. 185 – Regulatory Accountability Act: YES (Passed)
On January 13, 2015 I voted to ease the amount of rules and regulations that burden American businesses and workers. This bill will ensure that federal agencies are doing their homework before imposing additional regulations on Americans – by weighing potential economic impact and receiving more feedback from the public. With nearly 4,000 regulations created each year, this legislation is long overdue. I urge the President to think strongly about the economy and the interests of the middle class once this bill reaches his desk.
H.R. 240 – Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act: YES (Passed)
On January 14, 2015 I voted to protect our homeland while also defunding the President’s unconstitutional executive amnesty. Along with securing our border, reforming the Secret Service, and increasing cybersecurity defense, this bill prohibits funds for any of the President’s unilateral executive action for illegal immigrants – deferred action (DACA), amnesty, and work permits. It also states that the President must abide by the Constitution and stop putting the interests of illegal immigrants over the interests of American workers and lawful immigrants. I hope the President chooses national security over his political agenda and signs this very important appropriations bill into law.
H.R. 50 – Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act: YES (passed)
On February 4, 2015 I voted for H.R. 50. This bill will provide Congress and the public with more information about federal mandates and their associated costs. It will enable more transparency on the potential costs and harm mandates can have on states and localities, as well as the private sector. I am happy to support this legislation as a means to reduce government regulation and overreach.
H.R. 527 – Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act: YES (Passed)
On February 5, 2015 I voted for H.R. 527, which will ensure that federal agencies adequately analyze proposed rules for their potential impact on small business. This commonsense bill will continue the House’s efforts to reduce the burden that over-regulation has on businesses and the overall economy. I will always support legislation that gets the government out of private business.
Keystone XL Pipeline- YES (Passed)
I voted in favor of advancing the Keystone Pipeline. Once again, Democrats in the Senate have tried stalling tactics to delay this important energy security bill. We need to produce more domestically and also spur development in a close ally like Canada to keep prices down, strengthen our national energy security, and create jobs.
H.R. 22 - Hire More Heroes Act of 2015 – Yes (Passed)
I voted in favor of this act because it is a common-sense protection from the job-killing Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). It will exempt employees who receive health coverage from the DOD, including TRICARE, or the VA from being classified as an eligible employee of an applicable large employer for purposes of the employer mandate under PPACA. This bill will increase employment opportunities for our veterans and will help protect companies from burdensome fees associated with the PPACA.
H.R. 30 - Save American Workers Act of 2015 – Yes (Passed)
I cosponsored and voted in favor of this legislation because the PPACA mandated that a full work week was 30 hours, which is 10 hours less than the norm in most industries. I do not believe the federal government should be mandating the length of time one needs to work to be considered a full time employee; but I had to support this legislation because too many people at home in the 3rd district and across the country were having their work schedules cut to below 30 hours in order for companies to comply with the stiff penalties associated with the PPACA. Again, this comes back to the short-sightedness of the PPACA and this bill will correct one of the disastrous consequenes of it.
H.R. 26 – Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act – Yes (Passed)
On January 7, 2015, I voted to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program for six years. While I hope that one day this program will not be necessary, it is paramount to protecting American companies and workers. If we remove this backstop for American businesses, insurance companies may raise prices or even refuse to provide terrorism insurance altogether, which could have detrimental effects on many American companies and workers. I am pleased that this bill increases the threshold that triggers federal assistance and also reduces the government’s share over the long-term. I know this bill will provide certainty to American businesses and I look forward to working to one day find alternatives to this program.
H. Res. 5 - Adopting rules for the One Hundred Fourteenth Congress – No (Passed)
I voted against this Congress’s Rules package because they did not include my amendment which would have made it necessary that all legislation be available to be read and analyzed at least 72 hours before it could be considered on the floor. However, I did agree with a few parts of the package such as directing the CBO and the JCT to move to a dynamic scoring system. Which means that the CBO and JCT will take into account macroeconomic effects of major legislation providing law makers and the American public with a more complete picture of the cost and impact of legislation on the economy. Ultimately I would have liked to see the rules package contain more reforms on how spending legislation is brought to the floor and include more oversight.
Speaker of the House -
On January 6th, I voted against John Boehner for Speaker of the House. When I first ran for Congress, I believed that there was a lack of leadership in Washington. Two years later, I still have not changed my mind. Going into January, I believed we needed an alternative to the status quo. My constituents desired a change and a choice in the Speaker's Race. As I travel around North Florida, constituents tell me that they want a change in the status quo and want stronger voices to challenge policies coming from the Obama Administration.
As we entered January - with no choices available - I decided to offer my name to give Members of Congress a choice in the race. Subsequently, Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas, and my Florida colleague Daniel Webster were also nominated to run. The American people wanted a change and a choice, and three of us stood up to give it to them. 25 Members of Congress ended up voting against the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. This is the most opposition a sitting speaker has faced in roughly 100 years. They stood up to echo the sentiment and frustration of their constituents knowing the possible consequence that followed should our efforts have fallen short. They recognized that they were elected to do what was right, not what was easy. Members of Congress made a principled stand on behalf of the constituents that elected them, and they should be commended.
H.R. 83 – Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act – Yes (Passed)
On December 11, 2014, I voted in favor of the government funding agreement that included 11 of the 12 regular appropriations bill – all of which were either passed by the full House or were considered within their primary committees. Additionally, it kept funding static for the Department of Homeland Security until February 27, 2015, when the President’s executive order goes into effect. Although there were items included within this bill that I would not like to see funded, this is a much better approach than the alternative – a short-term continuing resolution (CR). Simply put, another CR simply kicks the can down the road and I did not come to Washington to rubber stamp old policies and funding levels. I want to see this Congress move forward and adopt conservative principles to “right the ship” of government. I look forward to the opportunity that this bill gives the 114th Congress, an opportunity to honestly address the President’s executive overreach. We completely eliminated funding for Race to the Top/Common Core. We cut the budgets for the EPA, Obamacare’s IPAB, IRS, and eliminated funding for the President’s “Green Climate Fund.” We prohibit funding to Central American countries that don’t address the DACA situation, prohibit funding to Libya until they cooperate with our Benghazi investigation, as well as prohibit funding for the collection and storing of warrantless surveillance on American citizens. We also prohibit funds for any type of Fast and Furious program and held strong on no tax dollars going to abortion services, and no money for Obamacare. In addition, we provided $58.7 billion in advanced funding for VA medical program and $2.534 billion for operating expenses for reducing claims backlog. We also gave our troops a much needed pay increase.
H.R. 4681 – Intelligence Authorization for FY 2015 – No (Passed)
On December 10, 2014, I voted against the Intelligence Authorization for 2015. Not only was this bill rushed to the House floor with very little time for debate and review, it also made no real efforts to curb warrantless spying on Americans. While the intelligence community provides a great service to this country, no person or agency should have unrestrained power to spy on or collect information on American citizens. I will continue to fight to preserve liberty, which should not have to be sacrificed in the name of security.
S. 2244 – Terrorism Risk Insurance Act – Yes (Passed)
On December 10, 2014, I voted to extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance program for six years. While I hope that one day this program will not be necessary, it is more important to protect the American people and American businesses. If we remove this backstop for coverage, insurance companies might raise prices or even refuse to provide terrorism insurance altogether, which could have detrimental effects on many American companies and workers. I am pleased that this bill increases the threshold that triggers federal assistance and also reduces the government’s share over the long-term.
H.R. 5759 – Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act – Yes (Passed)
On December 4, 2014, I voted in favor of the bill I introduced that restores congressional power and stops President Obama’s executive order on immigration. Any executive action seeking to exempt entire categories of persons is in obvious violation of the law – in this case granting amnesty to roughly 5 million illegal aliens. Making such sweeping changes is a job for Congress and Congress alone. I will continue to cast votes that limit executive overreach and bring balance back to the federal government.
H.R. 5682 – To Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline – Yes (Passed)
On November 14, 2014, I voted in favor of a measure approving the TransCanada’s application for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Simply put, this is a jobs bill that would create over 40,000 American jobs. The regulatory agencies have dragged their feet long enough. With a bipartisan vote of 252-161, there is no reason why this bill should not pass the Senate and have the President’s signature.
NDAA FY15 (passed)
I voted against the $577.1 billion NDAA for FY 15. Last May I supported the House version of the NDAA because it increased troop pay by 1.8% as opposed to this version’s increase of just 1%. This version also included provisions that would authorize the training and equipping of Syrian rebels. I firmly oppose the training and equipping of the Syrian rebels because the weapons we provide can easily fall into the hands of terrorist organizations such as al-Nusra and ISIL. As has been shown in the past no amount of careful training and vetting by U.S. military has been able to prevent “green on blue attacks” by Afghan soldiers and police on U.S. troops. This newer version of the NDAA that passed the house also did not contain my amendments that were included in the House version that would prevent the use of drones against American citizens unless they were found to be an imminent threat to the United States of America. Unfortunately this version of the NDAA did not maintain the promises that have been made to our soldiers in terms of pay and benefits and continues further embroils our Armed Services in conflicts around the globe without the appropriate authorization for use of force. I will work hard to make sure that we take care of those who have answered the call to join military and their families and to provide for the common defense of our great nation. Additionally, this thousand page legislation was brought out at the last minute and, in my opinion, Members were not given ample time to properly read through the text before the vote.
H.R. 3202 – The Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act: YES (passed)
On July 28, 2014, I voted for H.R. 3202, which requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to prepare a comprehensive security assessment of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The TWIC program was established to ensure secure access control to port facilities and vessels by collecting biometric information of all transportation workers with unescorted access to secure areas. Given the importance of national security, especially at ports and vessels in Florida, this was an easy vote for me. I am glad to see this bill pass with a unanimous vote.
H.R. 3107 – The Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act: NO (passed)
On July 28, 2014, I voted against H.R. 3107, which would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish cybersecurity occupation classifications, assess the cybersecurity workforce, and develop a strategy to address identified gaps in the cybersecurity workforce. While this bill may be well intentioned, it does not offer any reasonable solutions. DHS has been plagued with waste and disorganization since its inception after 9/11/01. Spending more taxpayer dollars and creating more bureaucracy are not viable solutions to these problems; therefore, I voted against this bill.
H.Res. 676 - Providing for authority to initiate litigation for actions by the President or other executive branch officials inconsistent with their duties under the Constitution of the United States: YES (passed)
On July 30, 2014, I voted in favor of H.Res. 676 in order to hold President Obama accountable to the Constitution and the rule of law. The Constitution clearly defines the roles of the three branches of government and leaves no room for encroachment from one branch into the others. However, the executive branch under the Obama Administration has grown exponentially and has made many attempts to legislate without Congress, despite the requirement that the executive branch must faithfully execute the laws passed by the legislative branch. By rewriting laws and choosing which ones he will enforce, the President is doing exactly what the framers were fighting against. Therefore, we must hold him accountable and restore the separation of powers. I look forward to a healthy constitutional debate in court and hope for yet another decision that defends the Constitution – following the decision against President Obama's unconstitutional recess appointments and Obamacare's unconstitutional violation of Hobby Lobby's freedom of religion.
H.R. 5230 – Making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014: YES (passed)
On August 1, 2014, I voted in support of H.R. 5230, which will strengthen border security and seek to end the current crisis on our southern border. This final bill was much stronger than the original supplemental because all the funding is paid for, it deploys the National Guard, and it redirects foreign aid from Central America to help fund the border. In addition, this legislation amends the trafficking law that prevented DHS from deporting non-Mexican/Canadian children, allows border agents to access federal land, and provides additional border agents and immigration judges to streamline the processing and removal of illegal immigrants. By delaying August recess and voting well into the night, this passage of this legislation is a strong message that the House is committed to ending the crisis on our porous southern border and doing so in a smart, fiscally responsible manner.
H.R. 5272 - To prohibit certain actions with respect to deferred action for aliens not lawfully present in the United States, and for other purposes: YES (passed)
On August 1, 2014, I voted in favor of H.R. 5272, which prohibits any expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or authorization of new deferred action programs for any class of aliens not in lawful immigration status after July 30, 2014. This bill also prohibits the government, unless authorized by law, from authorizing any alien to work in the U.S. if they do not have lawful status. DACA was instituted by President Obama despite the fact that it has never existed in law. This program goes beyond prosecutorial discretion, which applies only to individual cases and not to entire classes of people. In order to express the will of the American people, DACA and similar programs must go through proper congressional debate and lawmaking procedure. One swipe of a pen by one man is hardly the will of the people, nor is it in line with the Constitution. I urge Senator Reid to call the Senate back in session to pass this bill, as well as the border supplemental. Our national security depends on it.
S. 1044 - World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013: Yes (Passed)
On June 23, 2014, I voted in favor of passing S. 1044, the World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013. S. 1044 directs the Secretary of the Interior to install a plaque or an inscription with the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the United States on June 6, 1944, the morning of D-Day, at the World War II memorial in the District of Columbia. I supported this bill because the men who took part in the Normandy landings faced overwhelming odds and many would not return home safely. President Roosevelt understood the gravity of the situation and united the nation in prayer. He asked God to protect the soldiers and give them strength to persevere. For those that would perish, he asked that God would welcome them into his kingdom. This prayer played a momentous role for many Americans on D-Day and rightfully deserves its place in history. On June 30, 2014, President Obama signed S. 1044 into law.
H.R. 3136: Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2014: Yes (Passed)
I voted to pass H.R. 3136, which amends the student assistance provision of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to direct the Secretary of Education to select institutions of higher education (IHEs) for voluntary participation in Competency-Based Education Demonstration Programs. Participating schools will be eligible to continue to receive federal student aid and will have the ability to offer competency-based education rather than standard credit hour requirements for student graduation. Today’s graduates are leaving college with higher student loan debt than any other generation. In allowing students to earn a degree based on competency, students will have the opportunity to spend less time in school, enter into the workforce more quickly, and reduce their overall incurred debt.
H.R. 4984 - Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act: Yes (Passed)
On July 24, 2014, I voted to pass the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. This bill requires institutions of higher education (IHEs) to provide annual counseling to student borrowers under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program beginning at or prior to the student's acceptance of the loan. An explanation that the borrower is not required to accept the full amount of the loan, information on the annual and aggregate limits on their loan, information regarding the borrower’s anticipated monthly payment, and an explanation of the grace period are just a few of the new requirements IHEs must meet. This bill also directs the Secretary to maintain a consumer tested online counseling tool to help students understand their rights and obligations in borrowing Direct Loans and receiving Pell Grants. Students should enter into loan agreements fully understanding what their repayment obligations are, ways to budget for their repayment, and how a default will impact their credit score; H.R. 4984 accomplishes this.
H.R. 10 - Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act: Yes (Passed)
On May 9, 2014, I voted with 359 of my colleagues to pass H.R. 10. This bill reauthorizes the charter school program under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and allows the Secretary of Education to carry out a charter school program which supports charter school setup and replication, assists in accessing credit to acquire and renovate facilities and carry out national activities to support charter school development, dissemination of best practices and evaluation of their impact. Public charter schools are publicly-funded elementary or secondary schools that can offer an alternative to students that are educationally disadvantaged, living in low-performing public school districts. I believe every child deserves an exemplary education and this provides them that opportunity.
H.R. 3230 - Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014: Yes (Passed)
The most recent scandals pertaining to the Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA) has proven that there is a severe institutional inadequacy in the service provided to our nation’s veterans by the VA. This act provided immediate relief to veterans who have been waiting to receive care for extended periods of time. This provision also applies to future veterans who experience delays while the VHA/VA makes the necessary programmatic and supervisory changes that will reduce the backlog and prevent future ones. H.R. 3230 passed the House, with my support, by a vote of 420 – 5 and was signed into law by the President on August 1, 2014. Below are just a few of the highlights from this act.
Establishes a Commission on Access to Care – VA Secretary and other agency heads will be required to implement Commission recommendation.
This was an issue because previously in March 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that billing officials experienced “lengthy delays” in the processing of their claims. This behavior on behalf of the VA leaves non-VA entities hesitant to provide care and hinders access to care for veterans.
- Veterans Choice Card - $10 billion in the bill is meant to ensure the veterans who had/are experiencing lengthy delays in care are able to go to non-VA entities to obtain care.
- If veterans meet the requirements, they may seek care for up to 60 days through a non-VA entity. This covers primary, specialty, and other medical services. It may be extended, but the Secretary must approve the request first.
- Addresses “prompt payment rule” – VA transfers the authority to pay for hospital care, medical service, and other health care furnished through non-VA providers from Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) to the Chief Business Office of the VHA and VA
- Inspector General (IG) is required to submit the top 5 occupations where there are staffing shortages and begin direct recruiting for those positions.
- Increases graduate residency positions at the VA to 1, 5000.
- Authorizes Secretary to carry out major medical facility leases, but also requires the Secretary to comply with Office of Management and Budget’s budgetary treatment of lease-purchase agreements as well as the Anti-Deficiency Act, which has not been getting done in recent years.
- Requires an independent assessment of hospital care and medical services.
- Extends until 2017 the pilot program on the effectiveness of providing assisted living services to veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
- Increases accountability for mobile medical units (MMUs) by standardizing requirements for operations and requiring an annual report to Congress. Requires increased access for veterans in rural communities.
- Extends the Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH) pilot program for two additional years (for veterans 40+ miles from the nearest facility)
- Health Care services provided related to military sexual trauma (MST)
- Previously care excluded Guard and Reserve who were assaulted while serving on inactive duty for training. This bill now makes them eligible for care.
- Directs the VA-DOD Joint Executive Committee to submit an assessment of processes and procedures on transitioning care from DOD to VA – includes assessment on treatment of services available to men vs women who experience MST
- Post 9/11 GI Bill & Scholarships
- Requires public institutions of higher learning to charge no more than in-state-tuition rate in order to receive GI Bill payments
- Expands the Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship to include surviving spouses. Previously, only children of a deceased service member would qualify.
- Makes improvement to the “Our Doctors” website
- Requires additional information on the doctors at the VA so veterans know who their doctor is, where they graduated from, where they did their residency, and other information deemed of importance by the Secretary
H.R. 4899 Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act: YES (Passed)
This bill will responsibly develop our domestic oil and natural gas resources. By expanding our domestic energy production, we will be addressing our rising energy costs and helping create good-paying American jobs. This in turn will strengthen our economy and improve our energy security. This bill increases offshore production by requiring the Administration to move forward with new offshore energy production in areas containing the most oil and natural gas resources: requires the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales that have been delayed or cancelled by the Obama Administration and implements a fair, equitable revenue sharing program for all coastal states. Increases onshore energy production by streamlining government red-tape and regulations: reforms the leasing process for onshore oil and natural gas projects on federal lands to eliminate unnecessary delays; reforms the process for energy permitting; sets clear rules for the development of U.S. oil shale resources; gives the Secretary of the Interior the authority to conduct Internet-based auctions for onshore leases; and ensures that oil and natural gas resources in the National Petroleum Reserve‐Alaska are developed and transported in a timely, efficient manner. For these reasons, I voted in favor of the bill.
Leadership Elections for the U.S. House of Representatives Republican Caucus
In the recent Leadership elections to replace Majority Leader Eric Cantor, I voted in favor of Congressman Labrador. I also voted in favor of Congressman Scalise for Majority Whip. I selected these two because of their conservative record and willingness to hold officials accountable.
H.R. 4870 - The FY 2015 Defense Appropriations Bill: YES (Passed)
The bill funds key readiness programs, authorizes salaries and pay raises for military personnel, maintains 100% of troop housing costs, and provides medical care for our soldiers, their families, and retirees. I am also proud of an amendment I introduced and subsequently passed that would prevent the United States from providing any Man-Portable Air-Defense Systems (MANPADS) to rebels fighting in Syria. With so many combatants involved in that conflict, sending rebels easily concealed shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles could come back to hurt us. Distributing these weapons to Syrian rebels only increases the chances that these weapons will end up in the wrong hands and be used against Americans in the region. We've seen an influx of fighters and weapons flow from Syria to Iraq as the situation worsens. At a time when we are trying to get our personnel out of Iraq safely, why would we provide weapons that could be used against them?
In addition to this amendment, I was also in favor of these amendments:
1. Lee (D-CA) amendment that would prohibit funds to implement the 2002 AUMF against Iraq. For far too long Congress has not exercised its Constituionally mandated authority to declare war and direct how the United States conducts and funds that war. This amendment will make sure no funds can be used for combat operations in Iraq without first getting consent from Congress.
2. Walorski (R-IN) amendment that prohibits any funds being used to transfer or release detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Yemen. We need to make sure the President cannot circumvent U.S. law and transfer more detainees without first coming to Congress so we can analyze the potential consequences such an action could have on U.S. national security. The Administration needs to stop picking and choosing which laws it follows, and until the President stops that I will work with my colleagues to make sure he does not have the funds to implement his own agenda over the laws and objections of American citizens.
H.R. 4870 will ensure that our soldiers and American interests are protected. I hope the President heeds what was passed in the House and will start working with Congress instead of against it and the Constitution.
H.R. 4681 – Intelligence Authorization for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015: NO (Passed)
On May 30, 2014 I voted not to support H.R. 4681. While the intelligence community plays a vital role in our national security, it desperately needs oversight and transparency. Unfortunately, this intelligence authorization bill simply maintains the status quo and makes no efforts for reform. As we have seen repeatedly, the intelligence community has struggled to balance national security and personal liberty. I look forward to legislation that protects both, instead of favoring the former over the latter.
H.R. 4660, Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act: YES (Passed)
In the early morning of May 30, 2014 the House brought its third appropriations bill to the floor. During consideration I voted for an additional $1.3 billion in spending reductions to the final product. Although there were areas in which the bill could have been improved further, the final product was one that invested in our nation's security, our economic engine, and scientific research and development. Specifically, the legislation funds such agencies as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Marshals Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Science Foundation, and the Census Bureau. Again, this is an example of Congress setting spending priorities that will place our nation on a more fiscally responsible path. Furthermore, the CJS bill continues its initiatives to offer incentives to US companies to bring jobs back to America and it also urges U.S. trade agencies to more aggressively monitor and take action against China’s state-owned companies that are manipulating the market and hindering job creation in the United States. I will continue to fight for more cost savings measures while in Congress that will result in a higher pay out to the United States at a reduced cost.
Other amendments I voted for would prohibit funds from being used by the Department of Justice (DOJ), to prevent states from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana is a states’ rights issue and should be left to them. Also, I voted to prohibit funds from DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs-State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance from going to Sanctuary Cities. If cities are going to circumvent U.S. Immigration laws, they will not be able to do it on the U.S. taxpayers’ dime.
USA FREEDOM Act: NO (Passed)
This legislation, as originally intended, was to rein in the rampant collection of meta data by the National Security Agency. I was proudly an original cosponsor of this legislation because I want to reform the NSA and stop the unconstitutional collection of data on our citizens. However, after multiple revisions and Administration input this legislation was weakened in most areas, and in fact may do more harm than good. The language went from forceful to vague, and given past history with the NSA I cannot, in good conscience, allow a bill with such abiguity get signed into law. That simply gives license for rampant abuse. Restrictions on the NSA need to be stronger, not weakened. For this reason, I voted no.
The National Defense Authorization Act: YES (Passed)
This legislation was the authorization for the salary for our men and women in uniform, their equipment and munitions, and ensures military readiness. It also prohibits the Administration’s proposed rate increase to TRICARE, and blocks National Guard reductions. I voted for this legislation to give our troops the proper care they need, protect veteran’s benefits, and to protect the outstanding job our Florida National Guard does. I also introduced an amendment that was included in the legislation that prohibits drone strikes against American citizens. Additionally, the legislation was $45 billion less than the President’s budget request and $30 billion less than last year’s request.
I also helped introduce the following amendments:
1. Yoho/Holt Drone Amendment: transfers all armed drone authority to DOD to stop CIA paramilitary operations and ensure proper accountability and oversight.
2. Lee/Broun AUMF Amendment: gives Congress authority to review and reauthorize activities carried out by the Administration under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) and repeal those it does not wish to reauthorize.
3. Conyers/Amash MANPADS Amendment to prohibit funds for the transfer of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) to anyone involved in the Syrian conflict.
Additionally, I introduced legislation with Congresswoman Barbara Lee that would get rid of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and allow Congress to vote on each provision of the policy separately. This would get rid of the authority used to justify the indefinite detention of American citizens, while ensuring that terror suspects do not receive habeas corpus or any other rights earned by an American citizen.
This is also a reason I voted against Congressman Smith’s amendment regarding AUMF authority. While I agree we need to get rid of the AUMF authority, we need to ensure proper mechanisms are in place to ensure that terrorists do not receive our rights or are allowed to be transferred to prisons in the United States. The legislation I introduced with Congresswoman Lee gets rid of indefinite detention for American citizens while ensuring we are still able to properly combat terrorists.
H.R. 2548 Electrify Africa: YES (Passed)
This legislation encourages private sector involvement in Africa's electrification process. It counters the Administration's goal of green energy initiatives abroad by allowing the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to support coal-fueled plants overseas. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that this legislation will save the U.S taxpayer $86 million in the next five years. Lack of electricity is one of the largest trade barriers the United States has with the African continent, rather than continuing the perpetual cycle of direct aid we should shift focus to allow private companies to invest in these countries. By encouraging trade, not aid, we create a mutually beneficial relationship to both economies. This legislation also increases oversight on OPIC and other aid and investment agencies. This legislation also combats the Administration's overseas green energy agenda. In fact, certain groups urged a NO vote on this legislation in the name of "climate justice."
H.R. 2203 To provide for the award of a gold medal on behalf of Congress to Jack Nicklaus, in recognition of his service to the Nation in promoting excellence, good sportsmanship, and philanthropy, as amended: NO (passed)
On May 20, 2014, I voted alongside ten of my colleagues against the passage of H.R. 2203. While I recognize and respect Mr. Nicklaus’ contributions to the sport of golf, our national debt exceeds $17 trillion and I do not believe this is the time to authorize this project.
H.R. 3530 – Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA): YES (Passed)
On May 20, 2014, I voted in favor of the JVTA. This comprehensive bill will create more resources for trafficking victims, improve law enforcement and prosecution of traffickers, and reduce the demand for trafficking by harshening laws and penalties. This is one of five bipartisan bills passed by the House of Representatives that will improve the fight to end human trafficking. I am a proud cosponsor of all of these bills and I look forward to seeing their swift movement through the Senate and Oval Office.
H.R. 4225 – Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act: YES (Passed)
On May 20, 2014, I voted for the SAVE Act. This bill seeks to close Internet marketplaces that host advertisements for the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children. It will do this by making it unlawful for websites to knowingly distribute advertising that offers commercial sex acts. This much needed legislation targets websites like backpage.com that openly advertise commercial sex. These advertisements, much like human trafficking in general, are outrageous and completely unacceptable. I applaud the House's efforts to put an end to modern day slavery and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass all of these bills immediately.
H.R. 627 - National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act: NO (Passed)
On April 29, 2014, I voted alongside thirteen of my colleagues against the passage of H.R. 627. Although well intentioned, the National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act offers no assurances that the upfront costs incurred by taxpayers would be recouped through the sale of the commemorative coins. At a time when the national debt exceeds $17 trillion, now is not the time to take unnecessary gambles with American’s money.
H.R. 863 - To establish the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Women’s History Museum Act of 2013 NO (Passed)
On May 7, 2014, I voted against passing H.R. 863. I want to be clear that my decision to vote against the commission was not one based on gender. I am fully supportive of recognizing the great women in America who have made major contributions to the betterment of our society, but this bill sets the stage for an incredibly costly project that Americans simply cannot afford to fund at this time.
H.Res. 565: Calling on Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., to appoint a special counsel to investigate the targeting of conservative non-profit groups by the Internal Revenue Service (Jordan, R-OH): YES (Passed)
On May 7, 2014 I voted to support H.Res. 565, which pushes for a fair and unbiased investigation into IRS targeting of conservative groups. After findings by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that the IRS had indeed singled out "Tea Party" and "Patriot" applicants for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status, along with admissions and apologies from IRS officials, time is past due for an independent investigation.
Given the close and questionable relationships between many Department of Justice officials and the Administration, AG Holder must turn to an outside special counsel in order for a truly balanced investigation to take place. I hope AG Holder listens to the people's House in ensuring transparency.
H.Res. 574: Resolution Recommending that the House of Representatives find Lois G. Lerner, Former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Issa, R-CA): YES (Passed)
On May 7, 2014 I voted in favor of H.Res. 574, which recommends that Lois Lerner be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena to testify on IRS targeting. After making a voluntary statement at a May 22, 2013 hearing, Ms. Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment privilege. Therefore, her subsequent refusal to testify has left the House with no choice but to hold this contempt vote. This all could have been avoided if Ms. Lerner had simply fulfilled her constitutional duty to the American people and relayed her knowledge of IRS targeting. Regardless of political affiliation or seniority, no one is above congressional oversight and accountability to the American people. This resolution is proof of that.
H.R. 4487 – Legislative Branch Appropriations Act: YES (Passed)
On May 1, 2014, I voted for H.R. 4487, which will fund the legislative branch through FY 2015. This bill will provide funding for Congress, as well as support agencies, visitor services, and Capitol operations. Since Congress has sole responsibility for funding the federal government, it is important that we set an example of fiscal responsibility. In a time when our debt is spiraling out of control, all areas of the government must commit to making tough decisions, including the legislature. I am pleased that the funding level for FY 2015 - $3.3 billion - is the same as it was in FY 2014 and 3.7% below the President's request. This sets a strong example that Members of the House are committed to making fiscally responsible decisions.
HR 4152, Support for the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act: NO (Passed)
I voted against the $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine because I believe we are too in debt and guaranteeing loans is not the best way to solve the crisis over in Ukraine. It is also important to note that we would be on the line for that money if Ukraine defaulted. There are better ways to spend those funds. And simply throwing money at the problem is not the way to go – what we need are real solutions.
HR 4118, Suspending the Individual Mandate Penalty Law Equals Fairness Act: YES (Passed)
On March 5, 2014 I voted in favor of HR 4118. This Act amends the Internal Revenue Code to delay until 2015 the imposition of the monthly penalty amount on individual taxpayers for failure to purchase minimum essential health care coverage. The Affordable Care Act was rushed through Congress and is having disastrous consequences for the American taxpayer, the tax imposed on folks who do not meet the minimum essential coverage is just one of many of those consequences.
H. Res. 488, Supporting the People of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democracy, a reduction in violent crime and calling for an end to recent violence: YES (Passed)
I was an original cosponsor of H. Res. 488 and believe it is important that the people of Venezuela who are struggling against their government know that we stand behind them as they peacefully protest for a better life. H. Res. 488 Supports the people of Venezuela in their pursuit of freedom of expression and assembly to promote democratic principles in Venezuela. I deplore the violence and political intimidation perpetrated against opposition leaders and protesters in Venezuela and the growing use of politically motivated criminal charges to intimidate the political opposition.
H.R. 357, the GI Bill Tuition Fairness: YES (Passed)
I voted for HR 357 because under current the law, veterans looking to attend a public institution outside of their state of legal residence could have to cover the balance of tuition and fees from a source other than G.I. Bill benefits and this bill will rectify that. It will allow veterans to attend schools where they are not a resident and to apply their GI benefits. According to the College Board, the average non-resident tuition rate at public 4-year schools is $21,706 while resident rates average $8,655. That is an average 250% increase over in-state tuition rates and in many states, the increase is about 300% for non-residents. This bill will reduce what is often a $24,000 yearly tuition and fee bill to under $9,000 on average. Because of the nature of military service, veterans often have a difficult time establishing residency for purposes of obtaining in-State tuition rates. H.R. 357 will expand education opportunities for veterans by allowing them to attend the state-run higher-education institution of their choice at the in-state tuition rate. It would do this by requiring public schools to charge in-state tuition rates to all veterans in order for the school to be eligible to receive G.I. Bill education payments. This requirement would take effect Aug. 1, 2014. G.I. Bill students enrolling before Aug. 1, 2014, at schools that choose not to charge veterans in-state tuition could still apply their benefits toward tuition at those institutions. This is a great step in helping our veterans who have sacrificed the most for our nation achieve a great education and lead productive fruitful civilian lives.
H.R. 1791, the Medical Preparedness Allowable Use Act: YES (Passed)
I voted in favor of HR 1791 which amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the use of Urban Area Security Initiative and State Homeland Security Grant Program funding for enhancing medical preparedness, medical surge capacity, and mass prophylaxis capabilities, including the development and maintenance of an initial pharmaceutical stockpile, including medical kits, and diagnostics sufficient to protect first responders, their families, immediate victims, and vulnerable populations from a chemical or biological event. It is important that we protect first responders and ensure our stockpiles in the case of an attack or terrible disaster so civilians can be helped.
S. 540 Debt Ceiling Suspension: NO: (Passed)
This legislation suspends the debt ceiling until March 15, 2016. I voted against this legislation because it does nothing to tackle the underlying problem we face, our massive debt. Raising or suspending the debt ceiling epitomizes the “kicking the can down the road” mentality that has gotten us to trillions in debt in the first place. I came to Congress to stop that type of legislating. Rather than continually raising our borrowing authority, we should limit the amount we spend in the first place. Even worse, this legislation suspends the debt limit. This is tantamount to handing the Executive Branch a blank check. By not binding the Executive to a limit, and instead simply a date, Congress authorized the Treasury to borrow as much as needed to finance all government spending during the period of suspension. This means that taxpayers will not know for sure how much more borrowing Congress authorized. This type of spending is absolutely wrong, and for these reasons I voted no.
S. 25 Military COLA Fix: YES (Passed)
This legislation restored the 1% back to Military COLAs that were changed as a result of the Murray/Ryan Budget. It also instituted important reforms to ensure future viability of the retirement program. While I voted in favor of the budget, I was not pleased with the change to Military COLAs. Therefore, I cosponsored 3 different pieces of legislation to restore the 1% and repeal the change. I am pleased that the hard work of my colleagues paid off and that Congress voted to restore the 1% back to the veterans who deserve it.
H.R. 2166 - The Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act: YES (Passed)
Directs the Secretary of Interior to implement a process to expedite access to federal lands for Good Samaritan individuals or organizations during search and recovery missions. These Good Samaritans would be acting for private purposes outside of the federal government. They would not have to obtain liability insurance as long as they release the federal government from all liability. By reducing the government roadblocks to search and rescue teams, this commonsense bill will encourage more Good Samaritan assistance throughout the country.
H.R. 7 – No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act: YES (Passed)
On January 28, 2014 I voted with my colleagues, in a bipartisan effort, to pass H.R. 7. I believe that life begins at conception and each child is equally deserving of our support and protection. Current law does not allow federal funds to be used for abortion services directly, however, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Americans have been presented with new challenges in the fight for life. To address the issues arising from the ACA, this bill prohibits any abortion service conducted by a federal, or District of Columbia, health care facility or employee – including elective abortions in federal prisons. H.R. 7 prohibits federal funds from being used for any health benefits coverage that includes abortion coverage. This bill then goes a step further by prohibiting tax deductions for abortion related medical expenses. In addition, H.R. 7 requires insurance providers who receive federal subsidies through participation in the health care exchanges to report to consumers whether or not they will be subject to a surcharge to cover abortion service until the time of purchase. Every child deserves the chance to live, and I will do all I can to see they are not robbed of that opportunity.
H.R. 3008 – Land conveyance in Los Padres National Forest, California: YES (Passed)
On January 27, 2014, I voted in favor of H.R. 3008 which gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority to exchange, or convey, approximately five acres within the Los Padres National Forest in California to the White Lotus Foundation. Currently, a short access road that loops into U.S. Forest Service land is the only road that allows White Lotus and the public access from San Marcos Pass Road. There is no other reasonable alternative location for an access road and without this space the White Lotus Foundation will be forced to cease its operations.
H.R. 2642 – Agricultural Act of 2014: YES (Passed)
On January 29, 2014 I voted in favor of H.R. 2642 the Agriculture Act of 2014. This bill effectively stopped the yearly extensions of Nancy Pelosi-era farm and food policy that resulted from a lack of action within Congress. Specifically, the legislation ended the direct payment program to farmers, saves roughly $4 billion from conservation programs by consolidating 23 overlapping programs into 13, saves $8 billion through closing loopholes within the SNAP program, and establishes a pilot program allowing states to engage able-bodied adults in mandatory work programs in order to receive SNAP benefits. It also included two of my amendments that stopped taxpayer funds from going to SNAP recruitment and advertising as well as ends SNAP enrollment for violent crimminals. Although there were provisions included that I did not fully agree with, this bill was a step in the right direction bringing transparency and accountability to many federal programs while supplying certainty to our farmers, ranchers, and consumers. A nation is not truly a nation unless it can supply its citizens with food. The Agriculture Act of 2014 helps make that a reality.
H.R. 3547 the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (Passed)
On January 15, 2014 I voted in favor of HR 3547, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. This bill reduces spending while ensuring that there will not be another government shutdown over the coarse of the current fiscal year. Specifically, HR 3547 reduces discretionary spending by $21 billion, while providing sequester relief for our servicemen and women. The bill provides a 1% raise to our military personnel, fixes the scheduled reduced increase in pensions for medically discharged military personnel and survivor benefit recipients, and funds a comprehensive plan to eliminate the VA backlog by the end of 2015. Additionally, the legislation eliminates nearly all funding for the Independent Payment Advisory Board within Affordable Care Act, includes funds to combat citrus greening decimating Florida’s citrus industry, reduces staff at the Environmental Protection Agency to the lowest levels since 1989, and cuts spending at the Department of Labor by $449 million. While this legislation is far from perfect, it takes a necessary step in bringing order back to Congress. Legislating by crisis through Continuing Resolutions was not the intention of our Founding Fathers, and not the proper way for our government to function. Doing so gives more authority to the President and the executive branch. Rather, the intention is for the people, through their elected representatives in Congress, to have the power to decide how we invest in our nation. This legislation ensures that.
HR 3811 – Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act: YES (Passed)
I voted for the Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act which requires HHS to notify individuals if their personal information has been stolen or unlawfully accessed through a healthcare exchange. This notification must occur no later than two business days after discovery by the Secretary. With new reports coming out almost every day of security breaches within the ACA enrollment website this was a commonsense piece of legislation that will require the Administration to notify those whose sensitive information has been compromised. Americans have already been forced to enroll into a flawed health care system via an even more flawed enrollment website, the last thing Americans should worry about is if sensitive information has been compromised. Even though I do not agree with the ACA it is imperative we protect Americans from the severe failings of the ACA website.
HR 3362 – Exchange Information Disclosure Act: YES (Passed)
With this vote, I voted to ensure transparency regarding enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. H.R. 3362, the Exchange Information Disclosure Act, requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide the American people and Congress weekly reports on the status of HealthCare.gov. These reports will provide key metrics regarding HealthCare.gov, including unique website visits, accounts created, qualified health plan selection, number of Americans who have fully enrolled in an exchange plan by paying their first month’s premium as well as the age of the enrollees, and Medicaid enrollment. This information is important for numerous reasons: it will allow policymakers and the public to assess the law’s progress, it will allow state insurance commissioners to better understand and predict future enrollment trends and prices, and it will hold the administration accountable, rather than allowing information to be released piecemeal, on a delayed basis, or not at all. It is imperative that we know these numbers so we can assess whether or not the required 7 million people have enrolled of which 2.7 million need to be young healthy adults so the risk pools will be properly balanced. If these numbers are not hit then the American taxpayer will be burdened even further with increased costs.
H.R. 2279: The Reducing Excessive Deadline and Obligations Act: YES (Passed)
The House, with my support, passed H.R. 2279, the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act. This bill combines the text of its namesake, as well as H.R. 2226, the Federal and State Partnership for Environmental Protection Act, and H.R 2318, the Federal Facility Accountability Act. These bills amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act to reduce the EPA's regulations on states and allow states to manage hazardous waste within their territory and work jointly with the EPA during cleanup. This legislation also ensures that the federal government will not be immune from state laws and regulations while operating a facility within the state. This legislation is a step in the right direction for returning environmental regulation back to the states, which is why I strongly support it.
H. RES 441- The NDAA: NO (Passed)
On December 12, 2013 I voted against H. Res 441, Providing for concurrence by the House in the Senate Amendments to H.R. 3304 the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal year 2014. I am a firm proponent of securing our nation and providing for those who have sacrificed the most for us—which is one of the reasons I voted for Rep. Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Murray’s (D-WA) Bipartisan Budget Act which increased the military’s budget and averted across-the-board cuts to our nation’s defense and military. I could not vote for H. Res 441 because none of the amendments addressed any of the serious problems I was sent to Washington to fix and Members were not able to offer amendments to it as it was brought up under a restricted rule. One section that was extremely alarming to me was Sec. 1061(a) which authorizes the Secretary of Defense to “establish a center to be known as the ‘Conflict Records Research Center.'" The main purpose of the center, according to the bill text, was to create a “digital research database,” one with the capability to “translate” and facilitate research on “records captured from countries, organizations and individuals, now or once hostile to the United States.” This to me is another massive data collection on American citizens that completely ignores our protected Constitutional rights. For these and other reasons I did not vote for H. Res 441. There is a way for us to be strong on national defense, while respecting our Constitutional rights. I look forward to voting in favor of legislation that does that.
H J RES 59 “Bipartisan Budget Agreement Act”: YES (Passed)
This legislation was a step in the right direction in getting Congress to do its job and return to the regular budgeting process. Although this resolution was not a perfect solution, it still was a good faith effort to address the nation's automatic spending issues and the devastating affect of sequestration on our military readiness. Furthermore, instead of relying on Continuing Resolutions that take power away from the legislative branch, we now have an opportunity to pass funding bills with real reforms – restoring balance to the branches of government. There were multiple provisions included in this measure that I did not agree with, such as the decreased rate in pension growth for retired military under the age of 62. And while I am in favor of Congress finally addressing mandatory spending, I believe there are ways to tackle fraudulent payments in order to offset any decrease in military pensions. That is why I am an original cosponsor of legislation to stop fraudulent payments in the Child Tax Credit program and use the billions saved to restore any decrease in military pensions. Additionally, a number of my colleagues and I are working to ensure that disabled working age veterans are not affected by any decrease as well. Finally, I am working on my own legislation to state that any decrease in pension benefts to military men and women should also be applied to Members of Congress and the Administration. We have a duty to live by the laws that we pass. This budget bill, while not perfect, finally allows Congress to restore funding to the way our Founders intended---with a watchful eye to ensure that money is spent wisely. Years of automatic spending has increased our debt to trillions. This legislation finally puts a stop to that.
H.R. 3309 – the Innovation Act: NO (Passed)
This legislation seeks to put a stop to frivolous patent suits by requiring heightened pleading standards and disclosure of more initial information, including investor and financial data. While legislation to curb patent trolls is necessary, this bill is overly broad and would end up hurting those it should be protecting: universities, small businesses, and independent inventors. The federal government should find ways to encourage and protect innovation, not hamper it.
H.R. 2061 – the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2013: YES (Passed)
This legislation seeks to create government-wide standards for financial data provided by government agencies. It also requires that reports and an updated website (USASpending.gov) are maintained in order to keep the public informed about agency spending. Lastly, H.R. 2061 would require the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to oversee and create strategies that will enhance transparency, as well as detect and reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in federal spending. This legislation is long overdue and is a first step in bringing the oversight to federal spending that American taxpayers deserve.
H.R. 2728 – Protecting States' Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act: YES (Passed)
This legislation prohibits the Department of the Interior from enforcing federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing if a state already regulates the industry. If there are no state standards present, the baseline federal standards take effect within the state. This is common sense legislation allowing for the people, with a unique knowledge of their respective states, to decide the level of regulation required of entities engaged in hydraulic fracturing.
H.R. 1900 – Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act: YES (Passed)
This piece of legislation directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to make a decision on a requested pipeline project within 12 months of the initial proposal. Due to the massive amounts of red-tape and multiple agencies overseeing these proposals, it is necessary to have concrete time limits in order to force government action.
H.R. 3350 Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013: YES (Passed)
This legislation permits a health insurance issuer that has current health insurance coverage in the individual market as of January 1, 2013, to continue offering such coverage for sale during 2014 outside of a health care exchange established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Treats such coverage as a grandfathered health plan for purposes of an individual meeting the requirement to maintain minimum essential health coverage. I voted for this legislation because over 300,000 Floridians have lost their health care plans due to the disastrous Affordable Care Act. The President made a promise to the American people that they would be able to keep their plan, and now many Americans are asking why they were misled. This legislation would help those citizens in keeping the health plan of their choice and helps protect these individuals from the effects of the ACA for another year. While we are still working to protect all Americans from this terrible law, I am happy that this legislation would help many.
H.R. 982 – Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013: YES (Passed)
This legislation seeks to prevent fraud by requiring transparency in the asbestos trust system. This bill will require federal asbestos trusts to submit quarterly reports to the federal bankruptcy courts. The reports will include the claimant’s name, the basis for the claim against the trust, payments made by the trust, and the basis for those payments. This minimal information requirement does not include any confidential medical history. Requiring this type of information, which is already public in other court proceedings, will increase transparency of the trusts, reduce fraud, and ensure that all asbestos victims are recovering their fair share. Right now, there is no accountability in the system and there have been occasions where the same claimant has received multiple awards from various trusts. By bringing transparency to the process, we can ensure those who deserve awards get them and keep con artists and abusers out of the system.
H.R. 2655 – the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA): YES (Passed)
This legislation seeks to restore “teeth” to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by requiring courts to impose sanctions on parties, law firms, or attorneys that file frivolous lawsuits. Restoring mandatory sanctions for Rule 11 violations will deter frivolous suits from being filed. This bill will protect and save money for many small businesses that are constantly the victim of frivolous lawsuits.
HR 3080 – Water Resources Reform and Development Act: YES (Passed)
This legislation included strong reforms to cut red-tape and streamline government processes in water development projects. The legislation is fully offset by deauthorizing past inactive projects and prevents future backlogs by automatically sun-setting projects that are not acted upon. It also breaks down barriers which prevent private sector investment in order to save tax dollars. This is great reform-minded, cost-saving, legislation that is important to JAXPORT. Florida's ports have contributed $96 billion to our state's economy and employs thousands of individuals. I am happy to support legislation like this that is both fiscally responsible and important to Florida. Additionally, this legislation saved $12 billion by deauthorizing past inactive projects.
HR 2374 – Retail Investor Protection Act: YES (Passed)
Prohibits the Department of Labor (DoL) from prescribing any regulation to amend the definition of “fiduciary” under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) until 60 days after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issues a final rule relating to standards of conduct for brokers and dealers (“broker-dealers”) pursuant to section 913 of the Dodd-Frank Act. This legislation eliminates dual rules from different agencies. Not only are these conflicting rules redundant, but they are confusing and hurt stability in the industry.
HR 992 – Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act: YES (Passed)
This legislation repeals most of Section 716 of the Dodd Frank Act, allowing covered depository institutions to trade swaps. This bill helps streamline the derivatives market that is so important to risk mitigation in other industries.
HR 2775 – Extend the Debt Ceiling and reopen the government, establishes conference on the House and Senate Budgets: NO (Passed)
This legislation provided federal government appropriations until January and pushed the debt ceiling deadline to February. While I am happy the federal government reopened as a consequence of this legislation passing, nothing in this bill leads me to believe that we will not be back in this same place a few months from now. For years, Congress has raised the debt ceiling with little care as to why our tab was so high in the first place. Until we get substantive spending reforms on the front end, we will continue to borrow ourselves deeper and deeper into debt. With over $17 trillion dollars in debt, we need to take our spending seriously and reform for the benefit of future generations.
HR 3205 – Promoting Adoption and Legal Guardianship for Children in Foster Care: YES (Passed)
This legislation ensures that States are still able to receive awards if foster caseloads decline. This legislation also requires States to improve their reporting of State savings made as a result of changes made in the program's 2008 reauthorization that included federal funding for adoption assistance. This bill also extends Family Connect Grants through FY 2016 by requiring payments to be offset by reforming the collection of unemployment insurance overpayments. According to the CBO, the reforms in this bill would reduce the deficit by $24 million over the next ten years.
H J RES 73 – National Institute of Health shutdown appropriations: YES (Passed)
The joint resolution provides immediate funding for the National Institutes of Health at the same level and under the same conditions as the current fiscal year. Funds are available until another appropriations bill (such as regular bill or CR) is enacted for these operations or December 15, 2013. This bill prevented patients hoping to enroll for treatment in cutting-edge research studies at the NIH's Clinical Center hospital will have to seek care elsewhere during the shutdown. Some estimates say that each week of the shutdown would force the agency's renowned research hospital to turn away about 200 patients, 30 of them children, who want to enroll in studies of experimental treatments. Many patients seeking care at the NIH Clinical Center have exhausted all other options. The Clinical Center also houses the Undiagnosed Diseases Program to provide answers to patients with mysterious conditions that have long eluded a diagnosis. Outside of the NIH hospital, laboratory experiments ranging from creating better flu vaccines to finding the cause of autism also were suspended as scientists were sent home.
HR 3230 – Pay our Guard and Reserve Act: YES (Passed)
The Pay Our Guard and Reserve Act provides funding for the pay and allowances of military personnel in the reserve component who are in inactive status. Funds are available until another appropriations bill (such as a regular bill or CR) is enacted for these operations or January 1, 2015. Our National Guard and Reserves are ready to answer the call of duty at a moment's notice. They should not be put in the middle of fiscal disagreements between the House and Senate. I voted in favor of this legislation to ensure they continued to get paid during a government shutdown.
H J RES 72– Honoring Our Promise to America’s Veterans: YES (Passed)
The joint resolution provides for the immediate availability of mandatory funds generally controlled through the annual Appropriations process for the Department of Veterans Affairs, namely for veterans disability payments, the GI Bill, education training, and VA home loans under the same conditions as in effect at the end of the just completed fiscal year. In addition, discretionary funds for Departmental management are also provided. Funds are available until another appropriation (such as regular bill or CR) is enacted for these operations or December 15, 2013. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country; the least we can do is ensure they receive disability payments and other benefits while the government is shutdown. They have more than earned that right.
H Con Res 58 – Allowing for religious services to the military during the shutdown: YES (Passed)
Expresses the sense of Congress that there is a need for the continued availability of religious services for members of the Armed Forces and their families during a lapse in appropriations. Specifically, H.Con.Res.58 1) recognizes that the performance of religious services are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution; 2) urges the Secretary of Defense to permit the performance of religious services on DoD property during a lapse in appropriations as it would otherwise; and 3) urges the Secretary of Defense to permit military chaplains and others hired to perform chaplain duties, including contract personnel, to continue operating during a lapse in appropriations as they would otherwise.
H J RES 77 – FDA Appropriation Bill: YES (Passed)
Provides immediate funding for the Food and Drug Administration at the same rate and under the same conditions as in effect at the end of the just completed fiscal year. Funds are available until another appropriation bill (such as regular bill or CR) is enacted for these operations or December 15, 2013. This legislation ensures drugs and other approval items can continue to be monitored and tested during the government shutdown.
H J RES 91 – Death gratuities and survivor benefits for deceased military service members' families: YES (Passed)
Provides for the immediate availability of money in the Treasury for death gratuities and related benefits for survivors of deceased military service members of the Department of Defense. Funds are to be made available through the end of Fiscal Year 2014. Fallen heroes’ families can, and should, receive what is owed to them. Just because the government is shutdown they should not have been made to suffer any more than they already have.
H J RES 76 – National Nuclear Security Administration Appropriations: YES (Passed)
Provides immediate funding for certain activities of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) at the same rate and under the same conditions as in effect at the end of the just completed fiscal year. Funds are available until another appropriations bill (such as a regular bill or CR) is enacted for these operations or December 15, 2013. For the safety of our nation, nuclear arms inspectors need to be able to continue to do their job despite a government lapse in appropriations. This legislation also ensures that our nuclear silos are protected.
HR 2848: Dept of State Operations and Embassy Security Act: YES (Passed)
This legislation cut $1.4 billion or 9% from FY12 and FY13 levels. $15.6 billion for FY14, lower than the required sequester level and is a step in the right direction fiscally. This bill makes sure that our embassies are protected and frivolous spending is not.
HR 1961: Extending the exemption from fire-retardant materials requirement: YES (Passed)
The bill reinstates an exemption from the requirement that vessels with staterooms for at least 50 overnight passengers be constructed of fire-retardant materials. The exemption that expired in 2008 would be extended through 2028. This exemption only applies to vessels that were in operation before January 1, 1968.
HR 1412: Improving Job Opportunities for Veterans Act: YES
This Department of Veterans Affairs appropriations bill H.R. 1412 reduces the share on-the-job (OTJ) employers must pay of the full wage paid to veterans in on-the-job training programs from 85 percent to 75 percent. Representatives from State Approving Agencies relayed to the Veteran's Committee that employers were reluctant to offer OJT programs because of the final 85 percent training wage requirement and suggested that if the percentage was lowered more employers would offer OJT opportunities for veterans. CBO estimates that it will decrease direct spending by $14 million over the 2014-2018 period and by $12 million over the 2014-2023 period. I am in favor of any legislation that would help our considerable veteran population find employment.
H J RES 90 – FAA Appropriations Bill: YES
Provides immediate funding for the Federal Aviation Administration at the same rate and under the same conditions as the current fiscal year. The FAA’s operations, including aviation safety inspectors and other personnel, are being impacted by the government shutdown. This legislation ensures that these national security functions continue to operate.
H J RES 84 – Head Start Appropriations Bill: YES
This bill provides immediate funding for the Head Start program at current fiscal levels. On October 1, 2013, a lapse in federal funding resulted in a federal government shutdown, which impacted Head Start services. Approximately 57,000 infants, toddlers, and children participating in Early Head Start and Head Start programs have been affected. I voted for this legislation at current levels because these children should not be put in the middle of fiscal debates in Congress.
HR 3273 – Deficit Reduction and Economic Growth Working Group Act: YES
Establishes the Bicameral Working Group on Deficit Reduction and Economic Growth, comprised of 20 Members of Congress, to recommend to the House of Representatives and Senate overall levels of discretionary spending, including for FY2014, changes in the statutory limit on the public debt, and reforms in direct spending programs. I am in favor of anyone wanting to come to the negotiation table to resolve the government shutdown as well as discuss spending reductions.
H J RES 70 – National Park Service shutdown appropriations: YES
Funding for the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are contained in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. On October 1, 2013, a lapse in federal funding resulted in a federal government shutdown. This legislation would keep our national sites open for public use. This legislation would have prevented WWII Veterans from being denied entry to the memorial built in their honor. WWII Veterans have paid the price of admission for the WWII Memorial thousands of times over. It is only right that they have access to it.
H J RES 85 – FEMA Appropriations Bill: YES
This bill provides immediate funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the same rate and under the same conditions as in effect at the end of the just completed fiscal year. Funds are available until another appropriation bill (such as a regular bill or CR) is enacted for these operations or December 15, 2013. On October 1, 2013, a lapse in federal funding resulted in a federal government shutdown, including aspects of FEMA. As Hurricane Karen approached the Gulf Coast, there was an increased focus on the need to ensure that FEMA had the resources available to respond. FEMA plays an integral role in our homeland security, especially in the State of Florida, and should never be used as a political tool.
H J RES 75 – SNAP bill: YES
Provides immediate funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program at current fiscal levels. On October 1, 2013, a lapse in federal funding resulted in a federal government shutdown. Funding for women in need and infants should not be a political tool in the overall budget debate.
HR 3223 – Compensation for furloughed Federal employees: YES
This bill allows furloughed federal employees to be compensated at their standard rate of compensation as soon as practicable after the shutdown is over. Federal employees should not be held responsible for the budget and fiscal debates taking place in Congress. These employees want to work, but can't through no fault of their own. This legislation would ensure they are paid their normal salary.
H J RES 89 – Paying salaries for “excepted” employees during the shutdown: YES
H.J.Res. 89 provides a direct appropriation for federal employees deemed “essential” during any period in FY 2014 in which interim or full year appropriations bills are not in effect. The authority for making these payments shall last until enactment of a Continuing Resolution or regular appropriations bill providing for such payments or December 15, 2013. Federal workers, just like private sector workers, should be paid for the work they do. These workers should not be punished for failure of Congress to reach an appropriations agreement.
H J RES 79 – Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: YES
H.J.Res. 79 provides immediate funding for border security programs at the Department of Homeland Security at the same level as the current fiscal year. Funds are available until another appropriations bill (such as a regular bill or CR) is enacted for these operations or December 15, 2013. Our nation's security should never be used as a political tool nor should it be put on hold simply because Congress and the Administration have failed to lead.
H J RES 80 – Bureau of Indian Affairs Appropriations: YES
H.J.Res. 80 provides immediate funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and Indian Health Service at the current fiscal level. Funds are available until another appropriation (such as regular bill or CR) is enacted for these operations or December 15, 2013. Many agreements with Native Americans require federal cooperation. Those agreements should not be upended because of the fiscal debate in Congress.
HR 3210: Military pay in the event of a Gov’t Shutdown: YES
On September 30, 2013 the Congress passed and President Obama subsequently signed into law H.R. 3210. This bill ensures that members of our Armed Forces (including reserve components), civilian personnel of the Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard, and contractors of the Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard will continue to be paid in the event of a lapse in appropriations during fiscal year 2014. The last thing our military should worry about is their paycheck. I voted for this legislation to ensure that those who put themselves in harms way for the protection of our great nation continue to get paid.
H RES 354: Agreeing to Senate Amendments to HR 527 – Helium Stewardship Act: YES
The legislation authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to continue to sell crude helium from the Federal Helium Reserve, and directs an auction to establish a market price for helium. The intent of the legislation is to authorize the program so that the drawdown of helium can continue with the purpose of closing the reserve and getting the federal government out of the helium business.
HR 3095: Rulemaking process for testing commercial drivers: YES
Requires that any Secretary of Transportation proposed requirements relating to sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea, for operators of commercial vehicles be adopted pursuant to a formal rulemaking proceeding
HR 2600: Land Sales Full Disclosure Act: YES
The bill provides an exemption from the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act for residential condominium units. This legislation removes certain registration and disclosure requirements that should not be applied to condominiums in the first place. For these reasons, I voted in favor of the bill.
HR 1526: Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act: YES
Seeks to address the decline in timber revenue to local counties that has resulted from overregulation, lawsuits and a lack of active forest management. The legislation also seeks to address forest management plans that have led to dense forests, which increase the likelihood for a wildfire. Regulatory and legal impediments have caused a decline in timber production and endangered the health of our national forests.
H J RES 59: 1ST CR – Includes a Full Repeal of the Affordable Care Act: YES
H J RES 59: 2nd CR – Full year defund and delay of the Affordable Care Act, Repeal of the Medical Device Tax: YES
H J RES 59: 3rd CR – Year Delay of the Individual Mandate: YES, No Affordable Care Act Loophole for Members of Congress: YES
H J RES 59: 4th CR- Year Delay of the Individual Mandate, No Affordable Care Act Loophole for Members of Congress, Request to go to Conference: YES
I voted for each of these Continuing Resolutions to keep the government running and protect the American people from an unprecedented health care mandate that costs jobs and increases taxes. As we've seen with the Affordable Care Act roll out, this legislation is poorly constructed and written. The final Continuing Resolution included a delay of the individual mandate tax that would not prevent anyone from purchasing health insurance who wants it, it would simply bar the IRS from penalizing those who do not for a year With all the problems we have seen, a one year delay is a reasonable solution that even proponents of the legislation should support. A one year delay in the individual mandate tax is a similar delay that President Obama proposed for businesses, and I believe that every day Americans deserve that same break.
HR 3102: Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act: YES
This bill ensures that work requirements for able-bodied adults without children are enforced, not waived; eliminates the ability of individuals to be deemed “categorically eligible” when they don’t meet the income or asset requirements for public assistance; prevents the gaming of the system through the “heat-and-eat loophole” whereby food stamp benefits are increased above what individuals are entitled to receive; prevents taxpayer funded advocacy campaign designed to sell people on enrolling in the food stamp program; empowers states to voluntarily engage able-bodied parents in work and job training as part of receiving food stamps; and prevents lottery winners, traditional college students, the deceased, illegal immigrants and those convicted of drug offenses from accessing benefits. I am in favor of reforms that make nutrition benefits solvent for those who truly need it. These reforms, similar to benefit requirements instituted by President Clinton, ensures that the program will be there as a safety net for deserving individuals. Those who would try to game the system or find loopholes take away funds from many who actually need it. I am in favor of commonsense reforms such as this.
HR 761: National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act: YES
This legislation provides for more efficient development of “strategic and critical minerals,” including rare earth elements, by requiring a number of actions to streamline the permitting process for mineral exploration and mining projects. The bill requires coordination among agencies; eliminates duplicative analysis; requires timely filing of lawsuits; and sets the total permitting review process at 30 months. I am in favor of cutting red-tape and regulatory reform that will streamline government processes. This legislation accomplishes these goals.
S 793: Organization of American States Revitalization and Reform Act: YES
The Organization of American States (OAS) was founded in 1948, it served as the sole multilateral body serving in the Western Hemisphere. Today, however, there are a number of other regional organizations with competing interests that do not represent the same values recognized by the OAS. This legislation was drafted to improve transparency and save tax dollars. The legislation states as findings that a “purpose of the Organization of American States is to promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for the principle of nonintervention.” While I am not in favor of the Organization of American States, I voted for this legislation because it put a legal cap on the amount the United States can pay the organization for dues and fees.
HR 2449: South Korean Nuclear Energy Cooperation: YES
The agreement allows U.S. companies to export commercial nuclear materials, technologies, and services to the Republic of Korea and establishes nonproliferation conditions and controls. While this bill would end up costing under $500,000 it extends the current agreement while we work on a new trade agreement. This is a commonsense agreement that allows our two nations to share technology and advance ourselves through scientific cooperation. The money spent is just for licensing.
HR 3092: E. Clay Shaw, Jr. Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act: YES
This bill strengthens current law to help prevent the abduction and sexual exploitation of children. Authorizes $40 million for each of the fiscal years from 2014 through 2018. This legislation aims to improve resources in order to prevent child abductions and recover missing children.
HR 2775: No Subsidies Without Verification Act: YES
The bill seeks to reverse HHS regulations that said the administration wouldn’t require verification of the income of all subsidy applicants in 2014, and would instead seek additional documentation from a statistically significant sample of applicants. Health and Human Services Department must establish a program to verify household income and other qualification requirements. This bill added no cost and will end up cutting down on fraud and waste in the Affordable Care Act. It is ridiculous to think the Administration would just give away subsidies without any form of verification—this bill will fix that.
S 459: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Boundary Modification: YES
Amends the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Establishment Act of 1999 to modify the boundary of the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota by including in the Historic Site a visitor facility and administrative site located on a specified parcel of land that consists of: (1) approximately 25 acres of land within the Buffalo Gap National Grassland in Jackson County, South Dakota, and (2) approximately 3.65 acres of land at the Delta 1 Launch Control Facility for the construction and use of a parking lot and for other administrative uses.
S 304: Natchez Trace Parkway Land Conveyance Act: YES
Requires the Secretary of the Interior to convey to Mississippi all interest of the United States in two parcels of identified land totaling approximately 67 acres. This legislation gives management and ownership of federal land back to the state which allows for direct local oversight. For these reasons, I voted in favor of the legislation.
S 130: Powell Shooting Range Land Conveyance Act: YES
Requires the Secretary of the Interior to convey certain federal land to the Powell Recreation District in the State of Wyoming. It must be used as a shooting range and for any other public purpose consistent with the uses allowed under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act. This bill rightly returns federal land to the Powell Recreation District, which has used this land since 1980. The land will be utilized for the public benefit as a shooting range and other public purposes. Additionally, the District will be required to pay all survey and administrative costs stemming from the transfer and will be required to release the U.S. from all claims and liabilities on the land, which will both save money for taxpayers.
HR 2747: Streamlining Claims Processing for Federal Contractor Employees Act: YES
The bill transfers certain functions from the Government Accountability Office to the Department of Labor relating to the processing of claims for the payment of workers who were not paid appropriate wages under certain provisions. The GAO has been responsible for handling claims adjustments to correct wages for employees whose pay did not meet these standards. The GAO no longer provides this service throughout other areas of the federal government, and has requested that the authority be transferred to the Labor Department. This bill rightly transfers authority of wage claims of public works contractors to the DOL instead of the GAO. This will reduce bureaucracies and redundancies while ensuring efficiency and timely compensation for workers.
HR 1155: National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act: YES
Insurance agents and brokers licensed in their home states would be able to sell insurance in other states without applying for additional licenses. It would establish the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers, or NARAB, a private, nonprofit corporation that would serve as a national insurance licensing clearinghouse. This legislation streamlines the existing process and allows transparency and oversight within the industry.
HR 2844: Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act: YES
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to consolidate the reporting obligations of the Federal Communications Commission in order to improve congressional oversight and reduce reporting burdens. It consolidates 20 currently required reports into one comprehensive report every 2 years. By requiring the FCC to consolidate and submit reports to Congress, the oversight process will become more efficient and more transparent.
HR 2052: Global Investment in America Jobs Act: NO
To direct the Secretary of Commerce, in coordination with the heads of other relevant Federal departments and agencies, to conduct an interagency review of and report to Congress on ways to increase the global competitiveness of the United States in attracting foreign direct investment. The study called forth within this bill seems wasteful. Everyone knows that our tax code along with rules and regulations is making the US economy less competitive within the global market and for this reason I voted NO.
HR 2009 Keep IRS OFF Your Health Care: YES
The IRS has a role in nearly 50 different aspects of Obamacare. Their involvement is so extensive that they have established an office within the IRS just to implement Obamacare. This legislation prevents the IRS from implementing any portion of Obamacare. With recent revelations about the IRS, we cannot trust nor should they be involved in any aspect of our healthcare.
HR 2711 Citizen Empowerment Act: YES
Sadly, a citizen in our country is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency than by an actual court. In these proceedings American citizens have fewer rights than in a courtroom. This legislation ensures that individuals have the right to record their meetings and telephone conversations with federal regulatory officials engaged in enforcement activities.
HR 2579 Government Employee Accountability Act: YES
Even when a senior official is under investigation for serious misconduct, agencies are hampered with what they are able to discipline them. Government employees should be treated the same under the law as everyone else. This bill allows agencies to place employees on unpaid leave when they are investigation for certain serious offenses.
HR 1541 Common Sense in Compensation Act: YES
Federal agencies award significant annual bonuses to virtually all of their senior managers. This bill places limits on the size of bonuses as well as limits the number of senior agency employees who may receive bonuses in any given year.
HR 2565 Stop Targeting Our Politics IRS Act: YES
This legislation would provide for the termination of any employee who use their official position for political purposes.
HR 313 Government Spending Accountability Act: YES
This legislation places limits on federal conferences and requires agency head approval for them.
HR 2768 Taxpayer Bill of Rights: YES
This legislation amends authorizing law that creates the position of IRS Commissioner to make clear that it is the duty of the Commissioner to ensure that IRS employees are familiar and act in accord with certain privacy laws.
HR 1660 Government Customer Service Improvement Act: YES
Government is one of the few areas where personnel reviews are not lined to actual level of service provided. This legislation requires agencies to adopt customer service standards and to use customer service feedback in agency and personnel reviews.
HR 2667, the Authority for Mandate Delay Act: YES AND H.R. 2668, the Fairness for American Families Act: YES
I voted for these bills because the President unconstitutionally decided not to implement certain parts of the Affordable Care Act. Congress must reassert its Congressional authority and show the President it is the Legislative branch that passes laws, not the Executive. The reason I voted for these bills is because the House of Representatives has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act close to 40 times. Until we have a Senate that is willing to vote with the will of the people in mind, we need to take every opportunity to delay implementation of this disastrous legislation. The House of Representatives is working on legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare with a market-based solution. I voted for these pieces of legislation to push back the employer and individual mandate to save American families from the effects of this job-killing bill.
HR 1582 the Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2013 YES
This legislation prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing final rules that have an estimated cost (direct or indirect) of more than $1 billion if the Secretary of Energy determines the rule will cause significant adverse effects to the economy. I voted for this legislation because the Environmental Protection Agency has consistently overstepped its bounds in promulgating its rules and regulations. And opportunity to stop the job-killing regulations from the agency is one I will take. For example, the Utility MACT rule is estimated by the agency to cost up to $9.6 billion annually. We need to stop these economy-killing regulations.
HR 367 The Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) YES
This legislation forces Congressional approval of any rule that would have an economic impact of more than $100 million. I voted for this legislation because we have ceded too much authority to the Executive branch. It is time that Congress asserts authority and forces Congressional approval of these rules and regulations.
The Department of Defense Appropriations Bill YES
This legislation decreases current defense spending by 5.1 billion dollars. It also reduced hundreds of millions from the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund and the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund and puts that money towards deficit reduction. It also prohibits funds from being used to operate any drone in the United States in contravention of the 4th Amendment as well as prohibits funds from being used to collect an enrollment fee for the TRICARE for Life Program. Additionally, the legislation requires Congressional Approval for any activities done by the U.S. Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement and cuts $600 million dollars in funding to Pakistan. In order to maintain our readiness and support the brave men and women who fight for our freedoms, the legislation allows a 1.8% pay raise and allocates $33.6 billion for health and family programs in the military. I was also in favor of a $10 million dollar increase for the National Guard State Partnership program which was offset by an $11 million dollar cut to extraneous programs. Finally, I was proud to introduce an amendment that would prohibit funds to be used for military action in Syria absent a declaration of war by Congress as well as cosponsor an amendment that would prohibit military actions in Egypt. I also voted in favor of Congressman Amash’s amendment to end authority for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. I voted in favor of this legislation because it finds a balance between cutting spending, maintaining our military readiness, thanking those who have fought for our freedoms, and protecting our civil liberties. I was happy to see so many of my colleagues vote in favor of reasserting Congressional oversight on activities in the Executive Branch.
H.R. 2218, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2013 YES
This bill replaces the job-killing EPA proposal to regulate coal-ash as a hazardous waste with a state-oriented regulatory program. I voted in favor of this legislation because I am in favor of stopping the EPA’s overreach into rules and regulations that should come from the states. Each state best knows the environment within its borders and we should trust state agencies to adopt the rules that best fit them.
H.R. 5, Student Success Act YES
This legislation is an important first step in shifting education policy away from the federal government and back to the states where it belongs. The bill repeals the one-size-fits-all Adequate Yearly Progress and gives back to states the power to develop their own accountability systems. It repeals federally mandated interventions, and gives states and localities the flexibility they need to develop their own strategies for their own schools. It also stops President Obama from forcing states to adopt “Common Core” standards and allows states to set their own funding levels for elementary and secondary education. It also eliminates more than 70 programs and gives the Secretary of Education a year to eliminate the jobs that were associated with those programs. I voted in favor of this legislation because I believe the federal government should remove itself entirely from the education system. This legislation shifts numerous programs back to the states and eradicates duplicative programs.
H.R. 1171 FOR VETS Act of 2013 YES
This legislation allows certain organizations that serve veterans the ability to receive excess and surplus federal property, including office supplies and furniture.
The Energy and Water Appropriations Bill (H. Res. 288) YES
This legislation appropriated $30 billion dollars which is $700 million less than 2013 levels post-sequester and $2.9 billion less than the 2013 pre-sequester level. This bill contained needed funds for the Army Corp of Engineers to finish projects such as harbor maintenance and other projects affecting interstate rivers. Anyone in North Florida knows how important JAXPORT is to the economy. Ports and harbors in the United States literally bring millions of dollars into the economy.
If we properly maintain and bring JAXPORT fully online, we in North Florida have the potential to bring the rest of the country out of a recession. This legislation also provides funds for nuclear energy and the nuclear petroleum reserve, which despite the President’s objections, I believe to be important sources of energy for the United States.
H.R 1797 Pain-Capable Unborn Protections Act YES
This legislation prohibits abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, with exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Recently, studies have shown that after 20 weeks of fertilization unborn children are able to feel pain. I believe that all life deserves liberty, and voted in favor of this legislation for that reason.
H.R. 1613 The Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act YES
This legislation enacts terms of an agreement signed by the Obama Administration and Mexico to govern how to explore, develop, and share revenue from oil and natural gas resources among the maritime border in the Gulf of Mexico. This legislation is an important step in opening new areas for oil exploration, lowering gas prices, and creating American jobs. For these reasons, I voted yes on this legislation.
H.R. 2231 Offshore Energy and Jobs Act YES
This legislation would require the Obama Administration to move forward with new offshore energy production in areas containing the most natural gas resources. These areas include locations off the coast of South Carolina, Virginia, Southern California, as well as other high-energy producing sites. Additionally, I voted in favor of an amendment that ensures that states rights are respected and are not usurped in this legislation. I truly believe if done wisely, energy production can reduce our reliance on oil from the Middle East, create American jobs, and lower gas prices. I voted in favor of this legislation for these reasons.
H.R. 1341 Financial Competitive Act YES
This legislation requires the Financial Stability Oversight Council to conduct a study of the consequences of implementing different derivatives credit valuation adjustment capital requirements in United States and foreign jurisdictions under Basel III. The report must include an assessment of negative consequences that different standards between the U.S. and foreign jurisdictions could have on U.S. financial institutions, the potential for driving derivatives business to foreign jurisdictions.
H.R. 1564 Audit Integrity and Job Protection Act YES
This bill amends the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to prohibit the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board from requiring that public companies use different auditors on a rotating basis or from requiring that companies use specific auditors. I voted yes on this legislation because the federal government should not force a private company to comply with mandates on who should audit them. These decisions are best left to the companies themselves, not the federal government. Additionally, recent studies have questioned the effectiveness of rotating auditors. For these reasons, I voted in favor of the legislation.
H.R. 2217 The Homeland Security Appropriations Act YES
This legislation provided $38.9 billion dollars in discretionary funding that included funds for Customs and Border Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as the Coast Guard and Secret Service. I voted for this legislation after strong provisions were added that restricts “Fast and Furious” type programs and includes extensive reporting requirements for DHS’s procurement and usage of ammunition. Additionally, I voted in favor of an amendment that would prohibit funds from being used for ammunition until reports to Congress are made regarding past ammunition purchases. This legislation also prohibits any funds from being used for the planning, testing, or developing of a national identification card. I voted in favor of this legislation because many brave men and women serve both on our borders and seas to ensure that our country is protected. A nation is only sovereign if it can control its borders. This legislation provides the funding to do so and includes the largest totals for Border Patrol officers in history. Before we move forward with immigration reform we must secure our borders and enforce the laws on the books. This appropriations bill provides the necessary funds to do that.
H.R. 2216 The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act YES
This legislation provides a spending level of $73.3 billion, which includes $55.6 billion in appropriations for VA medical programs and $43.6 billion to support veteran medical treatment, including funding for traumatic brain injury. I voted for this legislation because it provides funding for much needed veterans programs and treatment. I believe we should do what we can for those who sacrificed greatly for our country. As the proud father, brother, and son of military members, I understand the unique challenges that veterans face. With over 120, 000 veterans in the 3rd District of Florida, I am honored to represent so many heroes. I applaud our veterans for their service, and will do what I can to ensure they receive the proper treatment they need for serving their country so nobly. As I travel throughout the district, one major problem I hear from our veterans is the egregious backlog in benefits claims. Forcing a veteran to wait years for service is an outrage. In this legislation, $155 million dollars is included to address the backlog. Additionally, this legislation imposed a 25% pay cut to senior officials at the Department of Veteran Affairs if the backlog is not reduced by 40% by July 1st, 2014. For these reasons, I voted for this legislation.
H.R. 1911 Smarter Solutions for Students Act YES
This bill brings student loan interest rates back to market-based rates by linking the base rate to the 10-year Treasury note. These interest rates would be variable and reset once a year to reflect the current 10-year Treasury note. I voted for this legislation because Congress should not be in the business of setting interest rates for student loans, we need to bring it to a market-based rated. This bill is a step in the right direction by getting politics out of the equation.
H.R. 3 Northern Route Approval Act
This bill declares that no Presidential permit is required to build the XL pipeline and that the State Department’s environmental impact statement satisfies permitting requirements. I voted for this legislation because the XL Pipeline would provide not only provide much needed jobs to our economy but reduce our reliance on oil from unstable regions.
H.R. 1073 Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act
Amends current law by expanding the federal penalties and prison times for convictions involving violence or hijacking against U.S. ships and maritime platforms involving weapons of mass destruction. The bill also prohibits hijacking a ship or maritime platform in an attempt to coerce a government action, or to use a ship to discharge hazardous substances. With a daughter serving in the Coast Guard, I am keenly aware of the dangers that exist on the high seas, and I am in favor of adding stronger penalties to protect our ships and maritime platforms to try to prevent against hijacking or coercive action.
H.R. 258 Stolen Valor Act
This legislation amends the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 to narrow its application to those who fraudulently misrepresent their status as a decorated serviceman or servicewoman in the U.S. Armed Forces in order to profit from the fraudulent claim. I voted for this legislation because it both protects the sanctity of the honors bestowed to our servicemen and women as well as satisfies First Amendment concerns raised by the original bill.
H.R. 324 To Grant the Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the First Special Force, in recognition of its superior service during WWII: YES
This bill creates two gold medals in honor of the First Special Service Force. One would be given to the First Special Service Association in Helena, Montana and the other to the Smithsonian Institution. I am favor of honoring the sacrifice of those who bravely fought in WWII.
H.R 1344 Helping Heroes Fly Act: YES
This legislation directs the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and implement a process to ease travel or provide expedited passenger screening for severely injured or disabled Members of the Armed Forces and veterans. I am in favor of this legislation because allowing our disabled veterans an expedited trip through security at the airport is the least we can do for all they have sacrificed for their country.
H.R. 45 To Repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: YES
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is, in my opinion, one of the single biggest hindrances to job creation I’ve seen in my lifetime. I am in favor of affordable access to healthcare but a socialized system that forces citizens to purchase healthcare is unacceptable. Additionally, the taxes involved in the legislation have stifled businesses’ ability to expand and hire new employees. Businesses small and large are holding on to their capital rather than growing their companies because they do not know the costs that will ultimately be associated with this bill. There are better ways to provide access to healthcare that lower prices and offer a free-market solution. We should explore those avenues rather than force citizens into a one-payer system.
H.R. 1062 SEC Regulatory Accountability Act: YES
Currently the Securities and Exchange Commission is not required to conduct cost-benefit analyses before issuing rules and regulations. This had led to costly rules that hurt our economy and hinder job creation. As a Co-Chairman of the Freshman Regulatory Working Group, I am in favor of legislation that either eliminates or prevents costly rules from unelected agencies. We need to stop this Administration from circumventing the legislative process and legislating by regulation.
H.R. 384 Homes for Heroes Act: YES
This bill establishes a position of Special Assistant for Veteran’s Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This is done by transferring an existing position within HUD because after the transfer the old position is eliminated. While I am not generally in favor of the creation of new positions within the Federal government, I voted in favor of this bill because of the inclusion of a provision that eliminated the outdated position rather than creating another federal job. Additionally, this new position tackles an important subject to North Florida and we must find a way to makes sure our nation’s veterans are not without a roof over their head. Their sacrifices have earned them the comfort of having a warm bed and roof at night.
H.R. 573 To Amend Public Law 93-435 with respect to the Northern Mariana Islands, providing parity with Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa: YES
This legislation provides the Northern Mariana Islands with the same ownership and jurisdiction over offshore submerged lands as has been provided to other U.S. territories. The Constitution is very clear; Congress shall have the Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting Territory or other Property belonging to the United States, and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States or of any particular State.”
H.R. 767 To Amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to modify the Pilot Project offices of the Federal Permit Streamlining Pilot Project
This legislation amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to authorize certain Bureau of Land Management Act offices to serve as pilot offices for federal permit streamlining. I am in favor of this legislation because the federal permitting process has become an excuse for the Administration to drag their feet on projects they don’t agree with by slowing the permitting process. You only need to look at XL to see evidence of this type of tactic. Job creation should not fall victim to bureaucratic red-tape.
H.R. 1580 To Affirm the policy of the United States regarding Internet governance: YES
This legislation states that it is the policy of the United States to “preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet.” It also states that the Internet should remain stable, secure, and free from government control and that we need to be aggressive in opposition of international regulation of the Internet. I am in favor of this bill because the Internet must remain free and open. That model has led to the breeding ground of innovation it is today and we should keep the Internet free of government control.
H.R. 180 The National Blue Alert Act of 2013: YES
The National Blue Alert Act would set up a communications network that will issue “blue alerts” throughout the nation relating to the serious injury or death of a law enforcement officer (including federal officers) in the same fashion as the current “Amber Alert” system. Its purpose is to quickly disseminate information on suspects who seriously injure or kill local, state, and federal law enforcement officers. This allows local law enforcement agencies to get out pertinent information as quickly as possible. I consulted with local law enforcement in North Florida and due to our proximity to the state border, information on a suspect that is disseminated may be lost upon reaching the border. By allowing a national alert similar to “Amber Alert,” local law enforcement can spread information that is needed in real time.
H.R. 807 Full Faith and Credit Act: YES
Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 grants Congress the power to pay debts owed by the United States and the 14th Amendment states that the validity of the public debt of the United States shall not be questioned. This legislation, allows the Treasury Department the ability to pay interest in order to prevent against sovereign default which may call the validity of the public debt into question. I am in favor of this legislation because it forces a prioritization of our debt payments in the event the debt ceiling is reached and takes away any ability the President may think he has to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling on Constitutional grounds.
H.R. 1406 The Working Families Flexibility Act: YES
This legislation amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to allow private-sector employees the option to receive compensatory time instead of cash wages for overtime work. The option to choose comp time or cash wages for overtime work has been available to public-sector employees for almost 30 years. The legislation allows employers to offer employees the option of choosing to be paid at the overtime rate of 1.5 times the regular wage rate or to receive 1.5 hours of comp time for every hour of overtime worked. I am in favor of the legislation because it gets rid of an outdated rule that prevents the private sector from choosing which payment method best suits them. If an employee wishes to receive compensatory time instead of pay they, and their employer, should have the option to discuss that.
H.R. 507 The Pascua Yaqui Tribe Land Trust Act: YES
This bill transfers two 10-acre parcels into a trust for the benefit of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona. This transfer shall take effect when the Tucson Unified School District relinquishes all right, title, and interest to one of the parcels, and the Secretary approves the records the lease agreements between the Tribe and the School District. I voted for this legislation because these leases are for the construction and operation of a regional transportation facility located on the restricted Indian land of the Tribe.
H.R. 588 Vietnam Veterans Donor Acknowledgement Act: YES
This bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to allow the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. to acknowledge donor contributions to the visitor center by displaying, inside the visitor center, an appropriate statement acknowledging the contribution. I voted for this legislation because not only is it important to acknowledge our veterans, its important to allow the memorial the ability to gather private funds. By allowing donor acknowledgement, the Memorial Fund has one more tool to entice private donor participation into the program. Additionally, this legislation has no cost to taxpayers and any credit or acknowledgement will be borne by the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Fund.
H.R. 291 Black Hills Cemetery Act: YES
This legislation directs the Secretary of Agriculture to convey certain local communities in South Dakota for the purposes of managing and maintaining community cemeteries. I voted for this legislation because the federal government not only has too much control, it owns too much land. Local communities know best how to manage their areas and I am in favor of legislation that allows more local control.
H.R. 1765 The Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013: YES
This legislation allows the Secretary of Transportation to transfer money from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program account to the FAA’s Operation’s account. I voted for this legislation because the American people should not fall victim to a manufactured crisis aimed at scoring political points. This legislation keeps FAA spending reductions but makes them in a smarter way, and gives flexibility to protect travelers from unnecessary delays and ensures their safety.
H.R. 527 The Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act: YES
This bill authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to continue to sell crude helium from the Federal Helium Reserve, until the Reserve only contains a minimal amount of helium for government use. I voted for this legislation because I do not believe the federal government should continue to limit access to crude helium to private companies who wish to purchase it. This legislation opens the Federal Helium Reserve up to the free market as well as ensures that excess funds go to reducing the deficit.
H.R. 678 The Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act: YES
This bill reduces administrative costs and regulatory red-tape to jumpstart development on existing pipelines and canals. I voted in favor of this legislation because our current regulatory climate is stifling development of much needed energy projects. If we were to streamline our regulatory permitting process we could have development of energy in a variety of sectors that will give consumers more choices and bring the cost of energy down.
H.R. 1033 American Battlefield Protection Program: NO
This legislation expands the American Battlefield Protection Program to include battlefields from the Revolutionary War, as well as the War of 1812. Under this program, the Secretary of the Interior provides grants to entities to pay the federal share of the cost of acquiring interests in eligible sites. While I am in favor of preserving past, the National Park Service could not possibly endure the additional costs that this legislation would incur. Additionally, according to the CBO this legislation would cost $46 million in the 2014-2018 timeframe, with additional costs after that. In this fiscal climate, the federal government should become smaller not use taxpayer dollars to become even larger.
H.R. 254 The Bonneville Unit Clean Hydropower Facilitation Act: YES
Due to a 2004 “use of facilities” cost allocation formula, any hydropower developer must pay $106 million over 50 years as part of installing any hydropower infrastructure at the Diamond Fork system in Utah. This would be in addition to capital costs at the facilities, which would be paid solely by the developer. Because of this, this area is expected to remain undeveloped for the foreseeable future. This legislation eliminates onerous requirements and therefore encourages private entities to develop hydropower resources in the Diamond Fork area. I voted for this legislation because I am in favor of private involvement in developing this energy over the federal government standing in the way. We should encourage more private sector development into energy.
H.R. 624 The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA): NO
This legislation creates a process for the federal government to share classified and unclassified cyber threat information with the private sector, and allows private companies to share cyber threat information with each other and with the government. Security, in any form, should not come at the cost of our Constitutional protections. While the goal of this legislation is well-intentioned, I believe the potential for violations of privacy are too great with the legislation as drafted. Private companies already have the ability to report cyberattack information with the government and they can do it in a way that does not relieve them of liability should they reveal private information about a customer. This bill would take away a citizen’s ability to hold a company liable for such an action. We should protect our Constitutional rights, not make it easier to circumvent them.
H.R. 1163 Federal Information Security Amendments Act of 2013: YES
This legislation directs Federal agencies to develop and oversee the implementation of policies and guidelines for information security. It also codifies federal government-wide security standards and outlines protocols for federal agencies regarding attacks, maintenance of security networks, and the evaluation of potential risks. With hundreds of hacker attempts each day, the federal government should take the steps necessary to protect its network and outline a strategy to prevent against future threats and attacks. An attack on a federal network to gain sensitive or classified data is an attack on our sovereignty and we should do what we can to protect it.
H.R. 967 Advancing America’s Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2013: YES
This bill seeks to improve interagency coordination and planning through collaboration with technical policy experts. The legislation also requires the creation and periodic updating of a strategic plan for the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development program, as well as the examination of ways to enhance the trustworthiness of cloud computing environments. I voted for this legislation because in order for the Federal government to be truly effective in combating cyber attacks we need to facilitate interagency coordination to codify security standards and ensure efficiency. Proper coordination with agencies will get rid of costly duplication, which wastes taxpayer dollars and resources.
H.R. 756 Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2013: NO
This legislation amends the Cybersecurity Research and Development Act to establish and make publically available a cybersecurity research database to track current and completed cybersecurity research and development projects across the Federal government and funding information. It also creates a university-industry taskforce as well as requires research on the science of cybersecurity. While I believe protecting our nation from cyber attacks is important, a federal mandate to research the science of cybersecurity and the creation of an assessment on the cybersecurity workforce needs of the Federal is not the right approach. Additionally, this legislation is expected to cost taxpayers $504 million dollars from 2014-2018.
H.R. 1246 District of Columbia CFO Vacancy Act: This legislation passed by voice vote
This bill authorizes the Treasurer of the District of Columbia to serve as the Chief Financial Officer of DC, in acting capacity, when there is a vacancy because the CFO has died, resigned, or is otherwise unable to perform the duties of the office. Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution grants Congress exclusive legislation in “all Cases whatsoever” over the District of Columbia. This legislation provides commonsense reforms to the structure of the District of Columbia’s local governance.
H.R. 882 Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2013: YES
This legislation states that it is the policy of the United States that no government contracts or grants should be given to companies with seriously delinquent federal tax debts. I voted in favor of this legislation because we should not reward companies that engage in criminal behavior. Companies that try to avoid paying taxes should be punished, not given grants or government contracts.
H.R. 249 The Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act: YES
This legislation states that a federal employee with serious delinquent tax debt is ineligible for employment with the federal government. I voted in favor of this legislation because federal employees are not above the law and should not be employed by a federal government they are attempting to defraud.
HR 1162 GAO Improvement Act: YES
This legislation grants the Comptroller General the authority to obtain records from governmental departments and agencies that they determine are necessary to conduct audits, evaluations, and investigate the federal government’s functions. Additionally, it allows the Comptroller General the ability to administer oaths to witnesses when investigating fraud or attempts to defraud the United States. I voted for this legislation because as the main office tasked with auditing the government, the Comptroller General can, and should, have the tools it needs to effectively do its job. It is terrible necessity to have to have this role, but history has shown egregious waste and fraud that has occurred at various departments. Our federal government should be transparent, efficient, and proper stewards of American tax dollars. H.R. 1162 gives the Comptroller General and the Government Accountability Office the tools to ensure it.
H.Con.Res. 25 FY2014 Budget Resolution: YES
The FY2014 Budget Resolution sets recommended spending revenue, deficit, and debt levels over the 2014-2013 period. I voted in favor of this legislation because it not only reduces spending relative to current policy by 10%, it also reduces projected deficit spending over ten years by 79%. It also repeals Obamacare and does not provide funding for it over the 10 year budget window. Additionally, it reduces the deficit by $4.6 trillion dollars relative to the current baseline. The resolution also balances the budget within 10 years. I voted for this budget because we need to reign in rampant government spending and put a stop to the job-killing debt and deficits our country faces. This budget framework is an important step in balancing our budget and cutting federal spending.
HR 933 The Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veteran’s Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013: YES
This legislation provided funding for the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2013. I voted for this legislation because it provides financial stability to the Department of Defense and ensures that we are able to protect our men and women who fight for our freedoms overseas. This legislation ensures that our military men and women are able to put food on the table and funds TRICARE and prohibits new enrollment fees. It also puts into law provisions on how these funds cannot be used. For example, the bill prohibits funds to transfer or house any Guantanamo detainee in the United States, prohibits funding for ACORN or any of its subsidiaries or successors, prohibits the sale of any F-22 to any foreign government, denies funds for any project named after a Member of Congress, prohibits funds for first class travel, includes a Pakistan funding limitation, as well as prohibits funds from being used to violate the War Powers Resolution. It also includes language to allow the Department of Defense flexibility in implementing Sequestration to ensure that national security or defense is not compromised while maintaining the overall cuts to spending.
S.47 The Violence Against Women Act: NO (Passed)
This legislation would reauthorize approximately 25 Violence Against Women Act federal grant programs at around $670 million a year from FY2014-FY2018. These grants are administered primarily through the Department of Justice as well as the Centers for Disease Control in the Department of Health and Human Services. Domestic violence against women, or anyone else, are terrible crimes and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And to that end, Florida has 42 domestic violence centers that receive funding from the Governor’s office and the Florida Department of Children and Families. Last year, anti-domestic violence programs were funded at the state level at $6.5 million for rape prevention and sexual assault services, $29 million for domestic violence programs, and $1.5 million to pay for relocation services for victims of sexual battery. The state of Florida also has the DELTA program and the Governor’s Initiative, which are aimed at reducing domestic violence at the state level. These programs are administered and paid for at the local level where they can be tailored to be most successful. Every state has statutes that punish domestic violence and many areas have specialized courts that hold offenders accountable and offer services to victims. Not only are some of the federal programs reauthorized in VAWA duplicative of state initiatives, they are duplicative of programs that already exist within the Department of Justice or other federal agencies. Victims of domestic violence should have the most direct and effective means to protect themselves from further violence. By creating duplicative federal programs, we hurt efficiency and effectiveness, and therefore the goal of helping the people that need it.
HR 592 “The Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2013”: YES (Passed)
The legislation would amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance on terms equal to other eligible private nonprofit facilities, and for other purposes. The legislation further amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to include houses of worship as private nonprofit facilities eligible for disaster relief. I voted yes for this legislation because in the case of Everson V. Board of Education, the Supreme Court held that religious institutions are entitled to receive “general government services” made available on the basis of neutral criteria. The legislation does not provide relief to build churches, it simply allows them the same eligibility as other facilities regarding disaster assistance. The Court found that state power is no more to be used to handicap religions, than to favor them. In fact, to not to allow this eligibility would be to single out churches for adverse treatment, which is itself unlawful.
HR 803 “Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills” Act: YES
This legislation empowers employers, reigns in bureaucracy, and provides American workers with a more effective network of job training services. The legislation also empowers state governors to consolidate additional employment and training programs and services at the state level to improve administrative efficiency, further eliminate waste, and improve support for workers. I voted in favor of this legislation because it streamlines and reforms government jobs programs to eliminate waste while also freeing burdens at the state level.
HR 890 “Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act of 2013”: YES
This legislation prohibits waivers relating to work requirements in welfare programs. As you know, Congress reformed welfare in the 1990’s to include work requirements to fix a system that had long suffered from fraud, waste, and abuse. Recently, the President attempted to circumvent Congress and waive these requirements. Congress had to reassert its proper role and stop this illegal circumvention of current law. The legislation also reauthorized Temporary Assistance for Needy Families at current levels until December 31st, 2013. While it is regrettable for the need for welfare programs, with unemployment at an all time high here in Florida, I understand the need for temporary assistance. However, the program should be both temporary and assistance. It should never replace a paycheck or be open-ended. I’m happy that Congress reasserted current law and stopped the President from attempting to undo the needed reform to these programs.
HR 1035 “To require a study of voluntary community-based flood insurance options and how such options could be incorporated into the national flood insurance program.”: YES
This bill will require a study of voluntary community-based flood insurance options and how such options could be incorporated into the national flood insurance program. The bill also requires the FEMA Administrator to conduct a study to assess options, methods, and strategies for making available voluntary community-based flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. I voted in favor of this legislation because it allows for a voluntary study to look at the feasibility of allowing communities to band together to purchase flood insurance. By allowing communities to do this we lower costs for consumers.
HR 338 “Stop Tobacco Smuggling in the Territories Act of 2013”: YES
This bill extends current federal criminal law prohibitions against contraband cigarettes and smokeless tobacco within the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands, and Guam. Current law prohibits the shipment, possession, sale, distribution, or purchase of10,000 or more contraband cigarettes or 500 single consumer cans of smokeless tobacco in the previously mentioned areas. I voted for this legislation because it extends current law to American Samoa, the Mariana Islands, and Guam. Article IV Section 3 Clause 2 of the Constitution clearly states that, “Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and noting in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or any particular state.” Bringing American Samoa, the Mariana Islands, and Guam in line with current federal law is only fair to the people of those respective areas.
HR 668 “To Amend section 1105 (a) of title 31, United States Code, to require that annual budget submissions of the President to Congress provide and estimate of the cost per taxpayer of the deficit and for other purposes.”: YES
I voted in favor of this legislation because it is a straightforward budget transparency bill that codifies Congress’ Constitutional role in providing proper oversight over the Executive Branch. Congress should not cede its role as stewards of the American taxdollar and forcing the President to be more open and transparent regarding the effects of his budget proposals is not only in line with our Constitutional duty, it is a responsible action on behalf of the American taxpayer.
H. Res. 77 “Academic Competition Resolution of 2013”: YES
This bill would establish an academic competition in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics which shall be held each year among students in each Congressional district. The bill allows Member offices, if they so choose, to seek guidance from outside experts in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for the purposes of establishing criteria for the selection of competition judges and for the judgment of competition submissions. It also allows some funds from the Members Representational Account to be used to promote the competition for students. I voted for this legislation because this this allows Congress to show the importance of legislation at the local level. By allowing local experts to judge and consult on competitions such as this, we connect local communities with experts in fields that are woefully lacking interested students.
HR 667 To Redesignate the Dryden Flight Research Center as the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center and Western Aeronautical Test Range as the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range: YES
The redesignation of federal buildings, under current law, must be done by Congress. It would be unlawful to redesignate the Dryden Flight Research Center without the consent of Congress.
H. Res. 65 “Condemning the Government of North Korea for its flagrant and repeated violations of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, for its repeated provacations that threaten international peace and stability, and for its February 12, 2013 test of a nuclear device.”: YES
I voted for this legislation because it sends a clear signal of solidarity to the South Koreans and the innocent North Koreans who want freedom from the oppressive regime that holds them captive. This resolution accomplishes a strong signal of support that goes a long way in urging action by the innocent North Koreans who wish to stand up to their brutal government.
HR 273 “To eliminate the 2013 statutory pay adjustment for Federal employees.” : YES
This bill prevents President Obama’s Executive Order, which provides federal employees with a .5 percent pay raise from going into effect. I voted in favor of this legislation because the federal government needs to be vigilant over every dollar we spend. There is no doubt there are plenty of hardworking federal employees but just as families across America have had to tighten their budgets, so too should the federal government. This bill alone would save $11 billion dollars over 10 years.
HR 267: “Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013”: YES
This bill increases the threshold by which small hydroelectric power projects can receive exemption from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing requirements from 5,000 to 10,000 kilowatts. I voted in favor of this legislation because 75% of our renewable energy in America comes from hydropower yet the approval process is unnecessarily slow and cumbersome. This bill streamlines the permitting process for these projects which help get low-cost power to citizens faster and more efficiently.
HR 444 “Require a Plan Act”: YES
This legislation requires the President to submit a supplemental budget proposal that provides an estimate of the earliest fiscal year in which his budget provides a balance. I voted in favor of this legislation because Congress in keeping with both our oversight function and as stewards of the American tax dollar, can and should, request that the President present a plan to balance the budget. This legislation grants no appropriation power to the President and simply supplements current law, Section 1105 (a) of title 31, that requires the President to submit a budget proposal to Congress. It is within the purview of Congress to provide oversight to the President regarding his duties under current law.
HR 297 “Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013”: NO This legislation authorizes federal funding for pediatric graduate medical residency programs for five years. While this bill has a great intent, the $1.2 billion dollar cost is not offset by cuts to other areas in the federal government. Even the Department of Health and Human Services was able to identify areas of this program in which spending could be cut in a manner that would better align Graduate Medical Education payments with patient care costs. Indeed, even the President’s own budget proposals called for a significant cut in the program. Reauthorizing expensive programs without regard to ways to streamline or rid itself of wasteful spending is both irresponsible and, in the end, hurts the very programs they are designed to fund.
HR 307 “Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013”: YES
This bill amends the National Health Service Act by reauthorizing funding for agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that support activities related to public health readiness and medical emergencies to respond against public pandemics. The legislation also authorizes programs designed to foster development of chemical, biological, radioactive, and nuclear medical countermeasures to strengthen the nation’s preparedness infrastructure. I voted in favor of this legislation because coordination and response to a biological, radioactive, or nuclear attack must be done at the federal level. These types of attacks do not stop at state lines and coordination of response can only be done at the federal level. Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution grants Congress the authority to provide for the common defense and general welfare. I can think of no greater example of this clause than coordinating a strategy to defend against chemical, biological, radioactive, or nuclear attacks against our homeland.
HR 325 “No Budget, No Pay”: NO
This legislation was a step in the right direction in getting Congress to do its job and produce a budget. However, included in this legislation was an extension of the current debt ceiling which I simply do not support.
HR 219 Sandy Recovery and Improvement Act: YES
I voted in favor of HR 219 because the bill improves FEMA efficiency and streamlines hurricane recovery efforts by getting rid of costly FEMA regulations that delay rebuilding efforts, hinder debris removal, and drive up project costs. By streamlining and eliminating waste, it is expected to save hundreds of millions of dollars in hurricane clean-up costs. Here, in Florida, we know just how costly and devastating hurricanes can be. An efficient FEMA recovery process is beneficial for all involved.
HR 41 “To Temporarily increase the borrowing authority of FEMA for carrying out the flood insurance program.”: NO
I voted against HR 41 because I do not believe the federal government should be involved in or subsidize the property insurance industry. As history has shown, the Federal government is terrible at managing money. As it is, the program already owes taxpayers 18 billion in borrowed funds from its last bailout. The NFIP is insolvent and voting to raise the borrowing limit on an insolvent program just prolongs fiscal irresponsibility and leaves taxpayers on the hook.