Congratulations to Representative Kevin Brady who was chosen last week to succeed Representative Paul Ryan as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. We are proud to have not only a Texan, but a Harris County Representative leading one of the most powerful committees in Congress.
USA Today, November 4 – Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas was chosen Wednesday to succeed Rep. Paul Ryan as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, beating out Ohio Rep. Pat Tiberi for the post.
The committee perch is one of the most coveted in the House, and it puts the Texas Republican at the center of looming battles in Congress over tax reform, highway funding, and other high-profile issues.
In a statement Wednesday, Brady said he would use the committee gavel to advance “a pro-growth agenda to get this country back on track. This includes taking real steps toward fixing this broken tax code, reforming welfare, saving Social Security and Medicare for the long term and enlarging America’s economic freedom to trade.”
Via The Hill
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) won a hotly contested race to be the next chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, succeeding former Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who stepped down last week after he was elected Speaker.
The influential Steering Committee, which has the power to award committee gavels, elected Brady over Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), who had touted his strong fundraising abilities in his bid to leapfrog the more-senior Brady.
Ryan wielded enormous clout in the meeting because he controls five votes in the process, and he sided with Brady.
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) told reporters after the vote that the new Speaker told the Steering Committee that he thought “Kevin was the guy for it.”
Brady is the second-most senior member of the panel; Tiberi is fourth. Both held subcommittee gavels on the panel.
The vote took place in a closed-door meeting after the two candidates made presentations to the roughly 30-member Steering panel. The selections must be ratified by the full House conference on Thursday.
In a related move, Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) was chosen to fill a vacancy on the panel. He was one of 15 lawmakers who asked to replace Ryan as a member on Ways and Means.
The Ways and Means Committee is regarded as one of the most powerful panels on Capitol Hill, with jurisdiction over taxes, trade, healthcare and Social Security.
Brady, a former Texas state legislator first elected to Congress in 1996, had been the front-runner to succeed Ryan. Brady had run against Ryan for the chairmanship in 2014, when he was defeated.
He was the preferred candidate of conservatives, and he shares a house in D.C. with two members on the Steering panel, Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.). Three Texas colleagues also had votes on the Steering Committee, giving Brady a definite edge.
The Texan told reporters ahead of the vote that his message to colleagues was that he would work to advance tax reform, replace ObamaCare and expand global trade as chairman of the panel.
One of Brady’s initial tasks will be to deal with a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade deal. Text for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is expected to be released as early as Thursday afternoon.
Brady said he would like to move quickly to get the TPP passed by early next year, rather than wait until a lame-duck session.
In recent days, Tiberi made an aggressive play for the gavel. His allies argued that his ties to K Street and his fundraising efforts would be a major asset given Ryan’s remarks that he wouldn’t spend weekends on the road raising cash for the party.
Texas already holds six gavels in the House, a fact that some thought could help Tiberi and hurt Brady.
A close friend of fellow Ohio Republican John Boehner, Tiberi leaned on the former Speaker’s vast network of allies and aides during his race. But some conservatives viewed Tiberi as too cozy with the former Boehner, whom they pressured to resign earlier this fall.
Just before the vote, Tiberi said he had no regrets about his decision to challenge Brady.
“I always feel good — I’m a glass half-full guy,” he said. “I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think I was the best candidate.”
Tiberi said he believes he and Brady are pretty similar on policy but that he better understands what it is like to represent a swing district given his initial experience in Washington. He noted that his “ruby-red” district was once more of a swing district itself.
“I get what swing-district members go through, the flak they go through and taking tough votes,” he said.
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested after the vote that the committee wouldn’t work by a top-down approach.
“Everybody that’s on Ways and Means is going to be [involved]. We’ve talked about doing some bold things. Ways and Means is a key element,” he said. “Who’s ever on that committee is going to be very busy.”
He declined to say whether he voted for Brady or Tiberi. “I like everyone,” McCarthy said.
Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), the Republican whip, hailed Brady’s work ethic and his policy chops.
“His passion for lower tax rates, for wanting to do real healthcare reform, to really get the economic growth that you can achieve as chairman of that committee — I think he’s going to do a great job,” Scalise said. “He’s a respected conservative who believes in growth and getting the economy going again.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the fourth-ranking GOP leader, said both candidates were “excellent,” but declined to say how she voted.
“I think it was a thoughtful discussion, and ultimately we made a great choice,” she said.
Via The Courier
To the editor:
After reading two letters in The Courier, I wonder who William Berntsen and Tom Curry have in mind for replacing Congressman Kevin Brady. Who is running against Brady that these men support? They imply that Brady is trying to “trick” and “fool” them with his voting record. Give me a break.
Brady’s voting record is an open book and there are no tricks or fooling anyone when it comes to his conservative voting record.
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on party lines to defund Planned Parenthood. Brady voted for H.R. 3134, the “Defund Planned Parenthood Act” and H.R. 3504, “Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act.” Brady got elected as a pro-life candidate and has kept his promise to his constituents. That’s why he gets re-elected by informed voters who know his record. Berntsen and Curry need to get the facts before they try to influence others.
May Stephens Etie
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — For Rep. Kevin Brady, the “sequester” just isn’t enough.
“I actually believe we ought to be looking broader and bolder” than the sequester, Washington shorthand for spending limits put in place by a 2011 budget deal, Brady, a Texas Republican, told MarketWatch in a phone interview this week.
With Congress and the White House hurtling toward a new confrontation over spending as the end of the fiscal year approaches on Sept. 30, Brady says Washington ought to “think bigger” than just caps on discretionary spending. Yet congressional Republicans and the Obama administration are still tussling over the caps as they’re now written, with the White House demanding they be lifted for domestic and defense spending and Republicans arguing for defense relief only. The government could temporarily shut down if the two sides can’t agree.
The vice chairman of the congressional Joint Economic Committee, Brady is also calling on the White House to negotiate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling — something the Obama administration has said it won’t do. “The sooner the White House sits down with Republicans and begins this discussion, I think the more certainty it’ll create going forward,” Brady said. This week, the Congressional Budget Office said the U.S. would hit the debt limit in mid-November or early December.
Also read: The next debt-ceiling battle may get pushed back to Thanksgiving.
Here is a condensed and edited interview with Brady, who also leads the House Ways and Means Committee’s subcommittee on health.
MarketWatch: The markets have seesawed in recent days and they’ve spooked investors. Are you planning to introduce any market-related legislation when you come back or do you think Congress is going to stay hands-off?
Brady: As related to the current stock market challenges? In a sense [we’re] already engaged. I think most experts have long predicted that at some point there’d be a fundamental shift in China’s economy, from sort of driving global growth to a much-slower economy. This is driven by massive overbuilding in China and the debt that goes with it. While the impact will be felt first in the developing countries, certainly U.S. investors are worried.
But here’s my point: America’s problem isn’t China. America’s problem is America. We have a business climate that just doesn’t attract the business investment or release the business investment that’s needed to get people back to work and get wages moving upward. Here we are six years after the recovery officially began, we’re still holding our breath from month to month on the jobs report. We should be just in a normal recovery, 5.7 million jobs ahead of where we’re at. A family of four ought to have an extra $1,001 per month back in their family budget at this point in the recovery.
As a country, we’ve got our fiscal policies wrong, especially allowing this uncompetitive tax code to go unchanged. We’ve got excessive regulation creating headwinds for new investments. I would argue our monetary policy and interest rates have been too low, too long, which really I think hurts savers and seniors. At this point, because the Fed has not been able to really establish clear forward communications to the market, they’re actually making it tougher for us to move forward by not normalizing.
MarketWatch: One thing that’s coming up very quickly is the end of the fiscal year. Congress hasn’t approved spending bills for next year. How worried should the markets and regular Americans be about another government shutdown come Oct. 1?
Brady: If we’re smart about getting our financial house in order in Washington and growing this economy, we will not flirt with any default or a government shutdown — but actually reach agreement on both how we’re going to fund the government for next year with the fiscal discipline, and tied to the debt ceiling, real spending caps going forward. I’m convinced we can do that. It won’t be easy in a very flammable political dynamic in Washington right now, especially leading into the presidential year, but I’m convinced we can do it.
MarketWatch: When you say spending caps going forward, do you mean keeping the sequester caps?
Brady: I actually believe we ought to be looking broader and bolder than that. Part of the weaknesses of the sequester caps is they really don’t go after wasteful spending. It just says across the board cuts [that are] especially harmful to our military. It ignores our largest programs, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, key programs like that that we need to address; both parties need to address to make them sustainable.
I’ve introduced legislation, the MAP act — it stands for Maximizing America’s Prosperity — that creates spending caps for all of government spending, of the spending that we control. It slowly, gradually reduces the size of the government relative to potential GDP. I’m convinced there is a bipartisan way to shrink the size of the government in a way that not simply balances the budget — we actually grow the economy because our government’s right-sized. We ought to think bigger than simply discretionary spending caps.
MarketWatch: How about on the debt ceiling? The White House wants a clean debt ceiling increase. Are you suggesting there be some conditions before Congress raises the debt ceiling?
Brady: I think the White House is dreaming that in a budget that still is overspending by nearly half a trillion dollars a year, that we don’t need serious spending discipline going forward. Certainly Republicans feel that way, the American public feels that this debt level is dangerously high. So the sooner the White House sits down with Republicans and begins this discussion, I think the more certainty it’ll create going forward.
MarketWatch: You’ve said you want to target some of the Affordable Care Act’s taxes in a bill when Congress returns. Are you any closer to deciding on what’s going to be included in the tax package you’re working on?
Brady: The short answer is no. We’re still noodling through the different options, looking at the space we’ve got in September and October as we’ve got the [continuing resolution] coming up and the highway bill and some major decisions on how we fund our military going forward. We’ve had discussions during August, but [we’re] not ready to announce anything yet.
MarketWatch: Finally, you’ve also said you want to start working on Medicare reforms. That’s quite a big goal. What are you aiming to get done this fall?
Brady: It is ambitious, granted, to make Medicare sustainable for the long term. But we’ve taken the first big step in solving how we pay our doctors, based on quality rather than the quantity of procedures, a significant move forward.
We’ve already begun to act on step two, which is really reforming the way Medicare reimburses others in the process, including medical treatments and evaluations leading into the hospital; inpatient care as well as outpatient care; and then post-acute care: nursing homes, long-term acute care hospitals, rehab hospitals, all those. We’re convinced that we can increase quality and make it more affordable, save dollars in the long run by focusing less on cost controls, mandates from [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] and micromanaging every moment of the health-care day, and instead relying upon competition, quality and more freedom for providers to practice in return for greater risks and rewards on their part.
What we’re hopeful for is that we can pull a package together this fall. Hopefully there is room to bring it to the House floor and to the Senate before the presidential election season overpowers everybody.
Step three is going to be probably the bigger challenge, which is really personalizing Medicare, including combining part A and B with an out-of-pocket cap and what I’d call personalized Medicare, or a “premium support” option.
THE WOODLANDS — U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands emphasized three main points to a crowd gathered in the Performing Arts Center at Lone Star College-Montgomery during a town hall meeting Tuesday.
“This war on terrorism is real,” Brady said, addressing the threat of IS to national security. “Islamic State is the best financed, best militarized, most social media adept terrorist organization we have ever faced, and they are all over the globe.”
Brady added that cutting back on military funding is putting Americans abroad and stateside at risk, but insisted on making changes once he gets back to Washington D.C.
“When we go back in September, I don’t care what it takes, we are going to fully fund our military and back them 100 percent,” he said.
A few residents addressed their own concerns about national security, asking Brady his thoughts on the nuclear agreement with Iran, which would free up $150 billion of Iran’s assets, which was the Congressman’s second point.
“This is bad,” Brady said. “This is bad for our security and certainly for Israel. This is a death sentence.”
Brady told attendees that three key questions should be drawn from the agreement.
“Does this stop Iran from nuclear capabilities for the long term? No. Does it stop the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East? The answer is the same, in the short run, certainly not. Will this make America safer, and will it make our ally Israel more superior? The answer there, clearly, is no,” he said.
Brady’s final point was focused on the deficit and jobs.
According to Brady, “the biggest challenge our country faces is we have a government living far beyond its means.”
Brady said that spending cuts and job creation are what the U.S. needs to recover, albeit a slow process.
“This is the slowest economic recovery in half a century,” Brady said. “A family of four in Texas today is missing $1000 per month from their family paycheck.”
Brady said free trade answers the question of who has the power to decide what products are on the shelves and their cost.
He added that when the House meets again next month, they’ll vote to lift the decades-long ban on crude oil exports and limits on natural gas.
“If America sells just a normal amount (of energy) around the world, jobs will grow and Texas will create 120,000 new jobs,” he said.
Brady also reiterated the importance of healthcare to the crowd, saying that other pressing issues will not leave the pertinent topic overlooked.
Congressman Brady also urged attendees to call his office if they had any questions or concerns about any of the issues addressed during the meeting.
A Texas lawmaker says if President Obama were to try to revamp immigration law on his own, it would change the course of November’s midterm elections and effectively hand-deliver control of the Senate to Republicans.
In an interview with The Daily Signal on immigration, Rep. Kevin Brady, the Republican deputy whip, said he would fight Obama’s proposed action—which the president is reportedly considering delaying until after the midterms to avoid political blowback.
“We’ll fight it on constitutional grounds, we’ll fight it through the law that’s sitting in the Senate and we’ll fight it in the courts if need be,” said Brady, alluding to the Senate’s failure to pass its $2.7 billion border bill before August recess.
Obama declared in late June that he would act unilaterally to reform the nation’s immigration system after Speaker John Boehner said the House wouldn’t act on comprehensive immigration reform this year.
The president originally hinted he would reveal his plan by the end of the summer.
But mindful of the potential electoral peril for Democratic Senate candidates, Obama “hasn’t made a decision on the timing,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday.
What’s Under Consideration
The possibilities for Obama’s plan reportedly include not only deferring deportation for millions of illegal immigrants but also providing new green cards for high-tech workers and for the relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
More than a year ago, the Senate passed its own comprehensive bill to clear the way for millions of illegal immigrants to gain a pathway to citizenship.
But since a humanitarian crisis involving millions of illegal immigrants, including unaccompanied children, erupted this summer, Republicans have said they will not pursue comprehensive reform until the Obama administration shows it can secure the border.
A month ago, House Republicans passed a $694 million border funding bill, that, among other things, tweaks a 2008 human-trafficking law to allow for quick return of the unaccompanied minors to their home countries.
In a separate bill—which Brady cosponsored—the House voted to stop Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which the president implemented in 2012.
Focus on Border Security
Brady, who has served his Southeast Texas district in Congress since 1997, says the House border funding bill represents the only solution worth considering right now.
“The solution … not to manage the problem, but to stop it, was passed by the House before we left [for recess], and it’s sitting in the Senate,” Brady said. “It’s a smart solution: securing the border, deterring families from sending kids on a dangerous journey and reuniting them back in Central America.”
Brady, who also serves as chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, wants any decision on legalization to be made after improvements in border security.
“I think there is a need to address this [immigration reform] sooner rather than later,” Brady said.
“The status quo on the border just isn’t acceptable. It’s going to take a step-by-step solution, starting with securing the border. [Only when] we can do that with confidence, steps two and three—which are addressing the workforce needs of the country and resolving what we do with those living here illegally today—can follow.”
Unlike some of his conservative colleagues, Brady downplayed talk that Republicans would call for Obama’s impeachment or another government shutdown if the president uses executive action.
Brady said a unilateral move by Obama would show the president is focused on securing his legacy.
“What I see here, not knowing exactly what the president will do, is that his proposed action contradicts his own insistence for several years that only Congress has the power to change immigration law,” Brady said. “That leads me to believe this is a very cynical political move.”
Congressman Kevin Brady is a senior leader of the House Ways & Means Committee that oversees Social Security and Medicare. He has a plan to preserve Social Security and Medicare for every generation – once and for all.
A week of political outrage was unleashed today as lawmakers threw a maelstrom of questions at Steven Miller, the former Internal Revenue Service acting commissioner who resigned two days ago by request of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
Several Republicans slammed Miller on anecdote after anecdote of constituents who told them of their own experiences to obtain a nonprofit status for their organization and the scrutiny that they underwent. Many lawmakers said there citizens whose organization’s status is still pending.
“Is this still America?” asked Texas Rep. Kevin Brady. “Is this government so drunk on power that it would turn its full force, full might, to harm, intimidate, and threat an average American that only wants her voice and their voices heard?”
The Republican from The Woodlands asked Miller who within the IRS was responsible for what organizations were scrutinized more than other organizations.
Miller said he couldn’t speak to specific cases but throughout the hearing iterated that it the additional consideration of the groups was not because of any “political or partisan viewpoint” but was a way to handle an overload of applications. Miller admitted there was a list.
Treasure Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George, whose report uncovered the process in the IRS’s tax exempt office. George said there was no evidence of political motivations but that there was evidence of mismanagement.
Tensions have run high for the past week, when the IRS first confessed it had exercised extra scrutiny of Tea Party organizations in the past.
“I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people who engaged in the practices described in the treasury inspector general’s report,” Miller said Friday. “I think that what happened here was that foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their workload selection. The listing described in the report, while intolerable was a mistake and not an act of partisanship.”
Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett said he defends the Tea Party’s right “to be as wrong as it wants to be” but insisted the real issue is the tax code’s lack of clarity on what amount of political activity tax-exempt nonprofits can engage in. He questioned what he said was the Republican’s “exploitation” of the incident.
Doggett, a liberal from Austin, was often ridiculed by Tea Party activists during their rise in 2010.
Rep. Kenny Marchant demanded that he be provided a list of constituents whose organizations were applied for and denied or whose application remains pending.
Miller said told Marchant, a Carrollton Republican, that would be possible but with privacy complaints some information would be redacted.