Washington update: Latest on ‘A Better Way’ agenda

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Howdy Texans!

Over the past week, I had the opportunity to attend several meetings and speak to a host of different groups all across the district. In addition to highlighting some of these events, we will discuss the recent confirmation that Obamacare premiums will be increasing next year, as well as the news that some of our veterans were being forced to repay their bonuses. We will again spotlight legislation that I have been working on and further examine the House Republicans’ “A Better Way” agenda.

Around the District

Last week, I visited TriNet, in Austin, which provides human resources solutions to small businesses. We discussed tax reform, health care implementation policies, and labor related policies. I also toured the Texas Advanced Computer Center to see their work on building a next-generation power grid. Additionally, I had the opportunity to speak to with students in a communications class at Texas A&M University.  It is an honor to represent a district that is home to so many outstanding institutions of higher education and so many civically engaged students.

Obamacare Premium Increases

If you have not heard by now, Obamacare premiums will increase by double digits next year, including a 25 percent surge here in Texas. And if another spike in premiums was not bad enough, many Americans will face the reality of having even fewer insurers to choose from.  As co-ops collapse and providers continue to abandon the marketplace, it is estimated that one in five consumers will only be able to get an Obamacare plan from a single insurance provider. One provider leaves no choices for consumers to get a health plan that best fits their needs.

Congress must replace Obamacare with a system that empowers consumers with choice, improves access to care, and lowers the cost of health care. As Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, I am proud of the work we did drafting and introducing the American Health Care Reform Act. This bill is a market-driven, patient-focused health care alternative. This health care reform bill has more cosponsors than any other bill in Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare. To learn more about the American Health Care Reform Act, visit RSC.Flores.house.gov.

Veteran Bonuses

Like many Americans, I was outraged to learn that our nation’s veterans were being forced to repay bonuses received for their service to our country. When I learned  of this misguided bureaucratic decision, I immediately asked Defense Secretary Carter to stop these collections. Our veterans should not be responsible for mismanagement and errors in the recruiting process over a decade ago. Forcing service members to repay money – given to them years ago for their service and sacrifice – is inexcusable. I was pleased to see that the Department of Defense’s collection efforts were suspended last week. Going forward, we must work to ensure that our veterans are never again put in a similar situation. Congress will look to address this issue in the NDAA defense bill conference report later this year by including House-passed language that will create a statute of limitations on collections. I am committed to ensuring that promises made to our veterans are kept. The service and sacrifice of our veterans should always be honored and defended.

The Food and Fuel Consumer Protection Act

Federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have notoriously been abusing their power through overreaching federal regulations over the past eight years.  One of the EPA’s more harmful regulations is known as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  This government mandate forces more ethanol into the market than our current infrastructure can handle. It is unsustainable and increases food and fuel costs on hardworking American families, while damaging small engines and recreational vehicle and older vehicle engines. In fact, studies show that the RFS may actually cause higher emissions that negatively impact the environment more than conventional fuels.

This year, I introduced the Food and Fuel Consumer Protection Act, which is a bi-partisan, common-sense solution to limit the negative impacts of the RFS on hardworking American families. This bill limits the RFS mandate by capping the maximum volume of ethanol blended into the transportation fuel supply at 9.7 percent, which is the level that our nation’s cars, trucks, boats, and other small engines can safely accommodate. This bill is a great step forward to helping protect American households and businesses from harmful regulations that stifle economic growth and prosperity.

A Better Way – Reducing Poverty

The most recent U.S. Census Bureau report stated that over 43 million Americans live in poverty. Despite the federal government spending trillions on a wide range of ineffective or inefficient programs over the past five decades, millions of people continue to experience economic hardship and distress.

Our “A Better Way” agenda includes proposals that would reduce poverty by working to lift more Americans out of impoverished conditions and afford them an opportunity to pursue the American Dream. Many of the priorities of the Republican Study Committee’s Empowerment Initiative were integrated in the reducing poverty portion of the “A Better Way” agenda. We believe that we can improve more lives by implementing work requirements, incentivizing strong families, allowing portability in housing assistance, and combating fraud and unaccountability so programs better serve those who need them. As Chairman of the RSC, I was pleased to see that RSC members had so much input on a majority of the ideas incorporated within the “A Better Way” agenda.

Our plan to reduce poverty emphasizes rewarding work, tailoring benefits to people’s needs, and encouraging people to plan and save for the future. When it comes to results, success should not be measured by the number of people presently enrolled in welfare programs, but by the number of people who are able to permanently leave those programs because they have achieved a better life. This agenda will reduce the cycle of poverty and improve upward mobility. To learn more about the initiatives to reduce poverty in our “A Better Way” agenda, visit better.gop.

In Closing

As always, I encourage each of you to continue praying for our country during these challenging times, and for our military personnel and first responders who protect us each day.

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