The only thing worse for health care in America than Obamacare has been its implementation, which clearly ignores the rule of law.
In a 6-3 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court last week upheld controversial subsidies offered by the Obama Administration’s Internal Revenue Service to individuals purchasing insurance on federally-maintained health care exchanges.
While this ruling is a deep disappointment to those who, like me, have seen the devastating impact of this train wreck of a law first-hand, we cannot lose hope that we will prevail in repealing and replacing it with real reforms.
To that end, I joined the Republican Study Committee’s Health Care Task Force earlier this year in introducing H.R. 2653, the American Health Care Reform Act, to fully repeal Obamacare and create patient-centered reforms while bringing the free market back into our health care system.
Among the reforms in the proposal are provisions that would:
• provide the same tax benefits to those purchasing health care coverage on the individual market as those with employer-sponsored coverage;
• expand federal support for high-risk pools and expand portability to increase insurance access for those with pre-existing conditions;
• allow for the purchase of health insurance across state lines; and
• give small businesses the ability to pool together to negotiate better rates.
With these commonsense, market-oriented reforms, we can empower all Americans to have access to quality health care coverage without expanding the role of government in our lives. In contrast, Obamacare empowers government bureaucrats to drive up cost, take away choice, and eliminate innovation in the system.
As the only pharmacist in Congress, I pledge to redouble my efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Last week, the United States House of Representatives unanimously passed my legislation, H.R. 1615, the DHS FOIA Efficiency Act of 2015.
In what is supposed to be the most transparent administration in history, DHS has an unacceptable record when it comes to FOIA requests. It boasts the largest backlog of any federal agency, was given a D+ for its handling of them by an independent watchdog and last year the backlog more than doubled.
I recently discovered that President Obama’s executive actions on immigration could have created a surge in FOIA requests at DHS exacerbating the backlog. The outrageous increase is partly thanks to supporters of amnesty, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, publicly encouraging those who would like to take advantage of the President’s executive orders to request their immigration records through the FOIA process — whether they are here legally or not.
After my inquiries, Karen Neuman, DHS chief privacy and FOIA officer, admitted that “the FOIA backlog has more than doubled in part because we’ve received an enormous increase in the number of requests for Fiscal Year 2014.” Neuman additionally confirmed that a “significant number of requests are requested for immigration records.” It is likely that most of these requests seek immigration records to prepare for President Obama’s amnesty programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability.
FOIA requests from illegal immigrants taking advantage of unconstitutional programs should never stand in the way of transparency for the American people. My legislation provides the desperately needed reforms to improve the FOIA process, eliminate duplication and significantly reduce the backlog at DHS while increasing transparency and accountability.
From our nation’s Capitol
Monday, June 22: It was quite a busy weekend with many activities including giving the opening remarks and welcome at the Smart Living Expo and Health Fair at the Savannah Civic Center. Sponsored by the City of Savannah as well as a number of area businesses including St. Joseph’s/Candler Smart Senior, the event offered free health screenings, community programs, resources and services and much more to help our citizens live smarter and healthier.
I was also fortunate to be able to attend the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District change of command as we bid farewell to Col. Tom Tinkner, who has done an outstanding job during his years of service, and welcome Col. Marvin Griffin, who I am sure will continue the fine work of this vital mission.
Finally, I had the honor and privilege of being the commencement speaker at the South University School of Pharmacy Hooding and Convocation Ceremony held at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.
Tuesday, June 23: My day begins with a trip to the Pentagon where, for the sixth time since 2004, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield is receiving first place in the Army’s Community of Excellence award. This competition measures and recognizes the best performing installations and communities in the Army and Fort Stewart-Hunter AAF is certainly deserving of this recognition.
Joining me at the ceremony is Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson, Pembroke Mayor Mary Warnell and State Rep. Al Williams from Midway.
Afterwards, I head back to my office at the Capitol where I have the opportunity to catch up with my friend and former state House colleague Rep. Al Williams.
Next, we have our weekly staff briefing before I head to the House chamber to present my first bill I am sponsoring, H.R. 1615, the DHS FOIA Efficiency Act of 2015. When a member presents a bill on the House floor it is referred to as “managing the floor” as the primary author controls the debate on the bill. While I have participated in these procedures before by speaking in favor and in opposition to a bill, this is my first experience managing the floor.
Fortunately, there is no opposition to my bill and the process goes smoothly, although I am surprised that the minority party asks for a recorded vote on my bill instead of accepting a voice vote. Because of this, my bill is placed on the House Calendar for a recorded vote on Thursday.
Afterwards, I head to our weekly Whip Team meeting where we discuss our agenda for the week, before heading back to the House chamber for our first and only votes of the day.
Wednesday, June 24: After a Republican Conference meeting, I head to the Education and the Workforce Committee where we are holding a hearing today on the Child Nutrition Assistance program.
Afterwards, I head to an Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the Office of Personnel (OPM) data breach. This is the second hearing in as many weeks on this subject as we try to get to the bottom of how millions of federal employees’ personal information has been hacked and exposed. A link to my questions can be found here.
After a meeting with David Barron, founder of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), I head to the House floor for our first vote series of the day. Next, I head back to my office to meet with Andy Clark, who I have worked with in the past while he was with Armstrong State University. Andy is now with Valdosta State University and brings me up to date on issues affecting this fine institution.
Afterwards, I head back to the House chamber for our second and last series of votes for the day before heading to a members only meeting of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Later, I have the chance to meet with representatives from the Pulp and Paper industry, including the CEO of International Paper, Mark Sutton.
Thursday, June 25: Currently, I am sleeping in my office at night and I pay dues to use the Capitol Gym to exercise and shower in the mornings. There are more than 80 members who do this, and it very much reminds me of my days in college living in a dormitory.
This morning we are greeted with sad news as we learn that one of our gym attendants, Wilbert Clark, has passed. We could always count on Wilbert to have a smile on his face and he will be sorely missed by all of his gym friends. Rest in peace, my friend.
In recognition of National Men’s Health Month, Members of Congress as well as staff are invited to participate in a workout in a nearby park led by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). A former MMA fighter, Markwayne is a tremendous athlete and does a great job in leading our morning workouts.
After a meeting of the freshman class, I head to a Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing where we hear of the latest news regarding the IRS and the missing emails of former director Lois Lerner. Next, I head back to my office where I meet with incoming 3rd ID commander Brig. Gen. Jim Rainey, who will be taking command at Fort Stewart on Aug. 1. BG Rainey is currently serving at Fort Benning and will be deploying to Afghanistan on July 20. He will take command of the 3rd ID while he is deployed and will be returning stateside in November.
While heading to the House chamber for our first series of votes of the day I receive the news that the Supreme Court has ruled against the plaintiff in the King vs. Burwell case. While I am extremely disappointed in the ruling and feel that the justices got it wrong, my resolve to repeal and replace Obamacare is now only stronger.
After voting, I head to a Committee on Homeland Security meeting where we are marking up numerous bills, followed by a meeting with representatives from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, including Julia McCollough and her son Charlie from St. Marys. I also have the chance to welcome to our office Laura Anderson of WTKS 1290 in Savannah along with her husband and sister who are visiting today.
Our second and final vote series of the day is a momentous one for me as my first bill, H.R. 1615, passes unanimously. Needless to say, I am very proud and thankful for my colleagues’ support.
Afterwards, I participate in a colloquy with Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Chairman of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, to discuss the Savannah Bar Pilots and their lease agreement with the National Park Service on Cockspur Island. A link to this colloquy can be found here.
Although we were scheduled to be in session tomorrow, we were informed earlier this week that we would be out tomorrow so members from South Carolina could pay their respects at the funerals in Charleston. I fly back home to the First District to attend the annual Glynn County Republican Party banquet before heading back home to Pooler to end a truly whirlwind week.