Via The Item
Priorities reveal everything. HR 1 is reserved each session of Congress by the majority party for the biggest change they champion for America.
Last session, HR1 by House Republicans was reserved for the first major tax reform in more than three decades. President Trump signed the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act which jump-started the economy, lowered unemployment to historically good rates, and let families and local businesses keep more of what they earn.
Under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, HR1 is dedicated to a massive transfer of election control to Washington.
The Democrats’ bill passed the House last week. It features near-complete federal control of state and local elections, unconstitutional limits on free speech (even the liberal ACLU opposed it as unconstitutional), and taxpayer subsidies for political attack ads and hiring campaign gunslingers.
Can you imagine your tax dollars transferred directly into a nasty political campaign for a candidate you don’t support? They also create a new voucher system where Americans get tax dollars to use for campaign contributions. So instead of your tax dollars going to education, to cure cancer, to support our troops, or secure our nation, they instead pad the campaign coffers of the members of Congress who supported HR1.
In the end, HR1 simply rigs the system for one political party over another. I opposed it, as well as an amendment Democrats proposed that lowers the voting age to 16 as San Francisco is considering. Our young people have bright futures, no doubt, but the current age of 18 seems about right.
Freshmen Democrats, alarmed at being required to vote on Republican amendments – like those condemning anti-Semitism and requiring undocumented immigrants trying to buy firearms illegally to be reported to law enforcement – are urging Speaker Pelosi to impose a ‘gag rule’ on House Republicans. They want to block House floor votes on minority motions, a right granted the minority party for over 100 years.
This is an outrageous and unprecedented attempt to silence the voices of the minority party. When Speaker Pelosi recently accepted the Speaker’s gavel she famously pledged a ‘new dawn of transparency” in the House. Let’s see if she keeps that pledge or bows to the increasingly dangerous demands of her proudly socialist freshmen class.
While too much time is being wasted in Congress on the rush to impeach President Trump, Republicans in the House are focused on real priorities – like infrastructure.
Because of tax reform, the U.S and Texas economies are booming. That requires even more roads, modern ports, expanded rail and waterways, more pipelines, the latest telecommunications infrastructure, and investments in smart technology. Our Ways & Means Committee focused on this priority in a congressional hearing last week – the same week news reports show Montgomery County commuters pay over $10,000 a year in commuting costs.
The key question is how to finance it. Democrats and Republicans must work together. A good place to start is making sure we streamline permits and cut unnecessary red tape that can delay crucial projects for years and drive up costs by millions of dollars.
In a Fox News interview yesterday, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) explained to Outnumbered host Harris Faulkner that Republicans don’t care what Democrats call the wall as long as the project is financed and constructed. The representative then declared that Democrats are more than welcome to call it whatever they wish including a “gender-neutral palisade.”
“I think it’s a mistake to go for a quick, hasty deal when really there’s so much at stake here,” Brady said referencing the ongoing government shutdown over Trump’s proposed “steel slated” wall.
He also explained his personal connection the border wall.
“I am from the Houston region, and we are unfortunately a hotbed for sex trafficking, for drugs, for those gangs from Central America. We pay the price when that border isn’t secure. Everyone knows it. We need more resources,” Brady explained.
He believes the problem with calling Trump’s wall a “wall,” is that Democrats don’t want President Trump to fulfill his campaign promise of “building the wall.” The Left also sees the wall as a symbol of division and bigotry.
“I know the Democrats are hung up on calling it a wall, but I don’t care if they call it a ‘gender-neutral palisade’ or ‘a linear monument to climate change.’ The truth is we need more resources for border security,” Brady said bluntly.
WATCH 📺 I know the Democrats are hung up on calling it a wall, but I don't care if they call it a gender-neutral palisade or a linear monument to climate change, in truth @realDonaldTrump is right -we need more resources for #bordersecurity #buildthewall https://t.co/Z3YWuyyWem
— Rep. Kevin Brady (@RepKevinBrady) January 4, 2019
.@RepKevinBrady: “I think it’s a mistake to go for a quick hasty fix when there is so much at stake here. I’m from the Houston region and we are… a hotbed for sex trafficking, for drugs, for those gangs from Central America — we pay the price when that border isn’t secure.”
— Evan Rosenfeld (@Evan_Rosenfeld) January 4, 2019
Given Sen. Chuck Schumer’s previous comments about the need for a wall and his support of the Secure Fence Act, President Trump may very well have a point.
When President Trump was elected, he promised to build a wall to protect Americans and to prevent foreign citizens from entering the country illegally. Despite the president’s efforts, Democrats have continued to refuse to adequately fund the wall, thereby resulting in a partial government shutdown.
Democrats have provided several reasons why they oppose the wall. However, when viewed in the proper context, these reasons appear to be insincere and motivated by the sheer desire to punish President Trump.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) recently explained why Democrats currently oppose Trump’s wall. First, he says, the wall is not effective compared to other security measures. Second, there is no plan to build it. Third, there is no plan to deal with eminent domain. Finally, President Trump promised that Mexico would pay for it, not the United States.
Schumer’s first point is perplexing, given several comments that he made in 2009. As Ryan Saavedra noted on Twitter recently, Schumer said then that illegal immigration is wrong and that constructing a border wall would provide a “significant barrier to illegal immigration.”
Schumer said: “[t]he American people need to know that, because of our efforts in Congress, our border is far more secure today than it was when we began debating comprehensive immigration reform in 2005. This progress includes … construction of 630 miles of border fence that create a significant barrier to illegal immigration on our southern land border.”
Chuck Schumer in 2009:
-Americans don’t like illegal immigration
-“Illegal immigration is wrong”
-People illegally in the U.S. are “illegal aliens,” not “undocumented”
-Border fence made the southern border “far more secure…created a significant barrier to illegal immigration” pic.twitter.com/zoVyEgdrTC
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 28, 2018
Why would Schumer take such a drastically different approach in 2019?
Equally surprising about Schumer’s opposition to the wall is the fact that he, then-Senator Hillary Clinton and then-Senator Barack Obama all voted in favor of the Secure Fence Act in 2006, which authorized approximately 700 miles of fencing between the border of the United States and Mexico. While the fence was a “smaller” project relative to Trump’s wall, Schumer supported it. Could Schumer’s opposition to the wall have more to do with who is in office and less to do with the wall itself?
Schumer’s second point is also somewhat silly. Trump he is seeking $5 billion, which the Department of Homeland Security estimates would build 215 miles’ worth of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Vox.
Additionally, while eminent domain could come up during construction, many legal experts opine that the government would have the upper hand in acquiring land for public use (assuming the border wall would be considered for public use), as opposed to property, which could present different challenges. Schumer’s question regarding eminent domain raises a broader question of whether congressional funding should be contingent on the success or failure of any potential legal challenge that could be raised. That certainly hasn’t stopped Democrats before—see, for example, Obamacare.
Finally, the fact that President Trump initially promised Mexico would pay for the wall is not a reason to deny funding. If this were a legitimate reason, Schumer and other Senate Democrats would have a hard time explaining why they recently offered $1.6 billion for border security (which Trump could use to fund the wall).
In other words, if congressional Democrats continue to reject the wall because Trump has not yet fulfilled this promise, why would they offer any money whatsoever? Shouldn’t the safety and security of the American public be worth more than the president’s campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall?
According to recent polling from Quinnipiac, public support for the border wall has reached an all-time high of 43 percent among the general public, a five-point increase from August. Eighty-six percent of Republicans support it. Senate Democrats continue to “come up” with nonpolitical reasons for their refusal to adequately fund the wall. But it appears President Trump is right: “[t]he Democrats don’t want to let us have strong borders, only for one reason. You know why? Because I want it.”
Given Schumer’s previous comments about the need for a wall, his support of the Secure Fence Act, and the manner in which many congressional Democrats have treated the president since he was elected, President Trump may very well have a point.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act being signed into law. This historic reform of America’s tax code, the first in thirty-one years, has re-vitalized the American economy – creating jobs, increasing wages, and encouraging investment.
Just one-year out, the positive changes our new tax code created for American families and small businesses are undeniable. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has changed the trajectory of the economy for the better.
Before President Trump signed these historic reforms into law, growth was slow and wages were stagnant. American families saw too much of their hard-earned money being swept away by the federal government. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated GDP growth would be stuck hovering around the slow-growth levels that were the “new normal” developed under the Obama administration.
Refusing to accept the status quo, Republicans took action and created a tax code that put families and local businesses first, not Washington special interests. And one year out, that “new normal” is now a thing of the past. In the third quarter of 2018, the American economy grew at a rate of 3.5%. America is on track for an annual growth rate near 3% for this year, a first since 2005.
At the same time, Main Street optimism has reached historic levels. Without the burden of an uncompetitive tax code, American small businesses have been able to hire more workers, increase wages, and re-invest in their businesses.
The good news doesn’t stop there:
- Wages are up 3.1 percent, their fastest pace in nearly a decade.
- Consumer confidence hit an 18-year high this year.
- Unemployment remains at its lowest level in nearly 50 years.
- There are over 7 million job openings.
- State and local governments are investing more in their communities due to increased revenue.
As Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has said, “the best is still yet to come.” This tax code was built for the long term, and House Republicans are committed to building on its successes so that our workers and small businesses can continue to reap the benefits of this strong economy in the years to come.
Americans are living longer. From 1960 to 2016, the average American life expectancy increased by nine years. Despite the increase in life expectancy, workers are retiring at the same age as they did in 1960. Yet, the landscape of retirement plans has changed, as the private sector has moved away from lifetime income annuities and pensions, called “defined benefit” plans. They now offer employer-sponsored 401(k) plans instead.
A majority of employer-sponsored plans are set up as defined contribution (DC) plans, meaning that unlike defined benefit plans where the benefit is defined (usually a percentage of current income) a defined contribution (DC) plan defines the contribution that can be made to the plan subject to IRS limits. An employee can only withdraw what has accumulated in the plan and since typically the money is invested in the stock market, payments are not guaranteed for both participant and survivor as under traditional pensions and annuities.
Unfortunately, these stiffer plans mean retirees must make their retirement savings last longer or risk outliving their savings. However, the House Ways and Means Committee is looking to change this bleak financial outlook.
Brady retirement provisions
Many plan sponsors avoid lifetime annuity offerings in their retirement plans in fear of lawsuits. Under the current law, plan participants who select a lifetime-income option that could later be discontinued by the plan sponsor can suffer from “surrender fees,” taxes or early distribution fees.
To avoid the risk associated with plan discontinuation, plan sponsors choose to offer only DC plans that are easily rolled into an IRA. Without lifetime annuity options, many 401(k) participants are left to manage their saving, and more importantly their distributions, on their own.
The Affordable Care Act was hastily written by Democrats behind closed doors and stuffed with special interest giveaways that drove up health care costs for millions of working Americans.It’s been a disaster since its partisan and unpopular inception, and this recent ruling on its unconstitutionality is not surprising.
Should the courts uphold this decision both parties should start over, working together to make health care truly affordable, making sure patients can see local doctors and be treated at local hospitals, and ensuring that patient protections like pre-existing conditions, no lifetime limits, and allowing children to stay on their parents plans until age 26 are preserved.
As we head into the holiday season, American workers are experiencing wages that are rising at their fastest pace in a decade, unemployment at its lowest level in 50 years and the creation of nearly 2.3 million jobs this year alone.The Republican pro-growth agenda of lowering taxes and cutting regulations is having a real impact on communities right here in Texas and across the country. Let’s keep this momentum going.
In addition, state revenue is beating expectations as the new fiscal year begins and these gains are the results of our growing economy, spurred by the Republican tax cuts. It is my hope these states experiencing this boon will pass on these new revenues to the local taxpayers via lower taxes, rather than keeping them in the government coffers. Without question, the American people do a better job of spending their own money than any politician can.
The House Ways and Means Committee, which I lead, is working to pass crucial disaster tax relief for the families in 14 states and territories struggling to recover from devastating natural disasters. It is irresponsible to wait until next year and it is my hope that Republicans and Democrats come together this week to help those trying to rebuild. This legislation also delivers bipartisan relief from some of Obamacare’s most egregious taxes, expands and enhances retirement and education savings, and reforms the IRS into a taxpayer first agency.
The Obama Administration Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule expanded federal control over 60 percent of our country’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands that were previously non-jurisdictional. This was an astounding departure from longstanding interpretation of the Clean Water Act. Due to ongoing litigation, roughly half the country is under the guidance of the Obama-era 2015 rule while the other half is under the previous rule. This inconsistent regulatory patchwork creates uncertainty and hinders projects that can benefit both the environment and the economy.
I applaud the Trump Administrations revised definition of WOTUS. The proposed definition would establish national consistency and would rebalance the relationship between the federal government and states in managing land and water resources.
Amid all the turmoil and busyness of our world, I’m always grateful for a season to celebrate the Christmas Story. What an amazing testimony of God’s love for his creation – sending His Son to be born and live among us, with an amazing plan of sacrifice and redemption before Him.
As you’re celebrating the birth of Christ with your family and friends, please remember the men and women serving our nation overseas and the many families with empty seats around the table this year.
My family and I wish all of you a blessed Christmas.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican Members of the House Ways and Means Committee have introduced a series of health care bills. These initiatives aim to cut excessive red tape and administrative burdens, increase access to care in rural areas, and improve the integrity of the Medicare program. This effort is part of the Ways and Means Medicare Red Tape Relief Project.
Upon introduction of this legislation, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) released the following statement:
“Throughout the 115th Congress, lowering costs and giving families and individuals a choice again over their health care has been a priority of our Committee. We advanced policies that put patients and doctors back in the driver seat and repealed and delayed some of Obamacare’s most harmful taxes—including the individual mandate. We were also able to extend, or make permanent with needed reforms, numerous expiring Medicare payment policies, increasing certainty for America’s seniors.
“As we wrap up this year of historic achievements, these policies we are introducing will build on these successes and continue to create a more convenient health care system for families and providers. By focusing on increasing access – especially in our rural areas – and cutting excessive and burdensome red tape, we can continue to lower costs and make Medicare a more accountable and effective program.”
Background: Bills introduced from Committee Republicans include:
H.R. 7248, the Reducing Administrative Burden and Becoming Increasingly Transparent Act, introduced by Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX). This bill gives Medicare providers a dependable vehicle to submit comments to CMS every year on how to reduce administrative burden in each Medicare payment system. It also gives post-acute care providers a new platform to weigh in on the development of a unified post-acute care payment system, while ensuring that all post-acute care providers are afforded the opportunity to directly engage with CMS.
H.R. 7253, the Remove Extraneous Measures that Obstruct Value and Efficiency (REMOVE) Act, introduced by Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO). This bill codifies all measure removal factors for hospital and post-acute care quality measures, including the newest measure removal factor #8 that weighs the benefits of a measure against the costs of reporting the measure. Additionally, the bill codifies principles for meaningful measures that the Secretary should take into account when selecting quality measures within the Medicare program, including that measures are meaningful to patients and providers, address high-impact measure areas that safeguard public health, are outcome-based where possible, and minimize the level of burden for providers.
H.R. 7247, the Incentivizing Shared Risk in Medicare Advantage, introduced by Chairman Brady and Energy and Commerce Member Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL). This bill clarifies that a Medicare Advantage organization may establish a waiver process to exempt physicians that engage in financial risk arrangements with the plan. Additionally it expresses support for these types of private sector driven arrangements.
H.R. 7249, the Better Prior Authorization Notification Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY). This bill requires notification to providers and beneficiaries that will be impacted by prior authorization.
H.R. 7250, the Prior Authorization Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Energy and Commerce Member Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY). This bill requires a study on the feasibility of existing technologies that can help streamline and reduce the burden of prior authorization requests in MA.
H.R. 741, the Rural Hospital Regulatory Relief Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS). This bill permanently extends the application by CMS of an instruction against the enforcement of certain physician supervision requirements with respect to outpatient therapeutic services in critical access hospitals and small rural hospitals.
H.R. 5507, the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act, introduced by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE). This bill repeals the 96-hour physician-certification requirement for inpatient critical access hospital services under Medicare. Under current law, as a condition for Medicare payment for such services, a physician must certify that a patient may reasonably be expected to be discharged or transferred to a hospital within 96 hours after admission to the critical access hospital.
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Kevin Brady told FOX Business on Wednesday that he is working closely with President Donald Trump and the Senate to pass a second round of tax cuts, a task he says can be completed by the November elections.
A key goal, according to Brady, is making temporary cuts for individuals under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent. “You have to start with permanence,” he told Stuart Varney on the “Varney & Co.” program. “Because you can’t overestimate the importance for growth and for certainty there.”
Furthermore, according to Brady, lawmakers are considering ways to make the tax code more supportive of families as well as growth.
“No one ever regrets saving early,” he said. “Most Americans simply regret saving way too late. So if we can get them in that savings mode earlier… it’s going to help them.”
He said Republicans are also looking at ways to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.
“America just fell out of the top 10 countries in the world for innovation,” he said. “I want Congress to keep looking at how do we encourage more innovation here in the United States so we can win sort of that innovation race we’re in with other countries.”
Brady added that Republicans are also thinking about making the $11 million estate tax exclusion permanent.