Over the last several weeks, the House has been working diligently on behalf of hardworking American families. We have passed bills to prevent and roll back Obamacare tax increases, stop executive overreach at the Department of Justice, hold the Veterans Administration (VA) accountable, halt the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, and stop ransom payments to Iran.
Halting Obamacare Tax Increases
Countless Americans continue to struggle with high out-of-pocket medical costs under Obamacare. Despite much higher than predicted costs, the Obama administration is looking to have additional Americans pay more in medical taxes in 2017. The House has worked to provide relief by passing legislation that stops the administration from expanding an Obamacare tax increase on hardworking American families. The bipartisan passage of the Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act prevents the looming tax increase our seniors face and repeals the previous increase for all Americans. As problems with Obamacare continue to mount, Americans should not be stuck paying more in taxes to fund Obamacare¹s failures. I, along with my fellow House Conservatives, remain committed to implementing patient-centered heath care reform which lowers costs, expands access, increases competition, and encourages innovation.
Stopping Settlement Slush Funds
The Department of Justice and other federal agencies have been circumventing Congress¹ budget authority by requiring defendants to donate money to third-party special interest groups as part of the settlement process. These settlement slush funds are being sent to political advocacy organizations to fund the administration¹s liberal agenda. Not only is this clearly an abuse of power, it is also unconstitutional. The House passed, with bipartisan support, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act, which puts an end to this executive overreach and preserves Congress¹ power of the purse. Settlement agreements from the federal government should be directed to victims and to the U.S. Treasury; they should not go to third-party special interest groups to fuel political agendas. This bill helps curb the administration¹s efforts to expand the power of the Executive Branch.
Holding the VA Accountable
It is imperative that the VA put the care of our nation¹s veterans first. Our veterans deserve to know that their health care and benefits are in competent hands. Sadly, there have been a host of recent instances and scandals revealing mismanagement and misconduct by VA employees, who continue to avoid being held accountable for their actions. This is inexcusable and has led to poor performance from the VA both in health care and the processing of benefits. The House has passed the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, which provides the VA Secretary with the authority to discipline employees for performance or misconduct, strengthens whistleblower protections, and reforms the disability benefits appeals process for veterans. We have an obligation to our nation¹s veterans to ensure that the VA is put on a path to success. With passage of this important bill we are improving accountability and moving closer to creating a VA for the 21st century.
Halting Guantanamo Bay Transfers
Given the ever-increasing global threats arising from President Obama¹s failed foreign policies, his continuing efforts to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo Bay is irresponsible and endangers American families. We should not be gambling with the risk of having detainees transferred to American soil or released only to have them return to the battlefield. In order to protect hardworking American families, the House has passed a bill which halts any transfers out of Guantanamo Bay for the remainder of President Obama¹s term. It is time the president stop putting his faulty campaign promises ahead of the safety of our nation.
Stopping Ransom Payments to Iran
The United States should never send untraceable cash payments to any foreign nation especially Iran, the world¹s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The president and his administration still have a lot of questions to answer for their dangerous precedent of paying a ransom to Iran earlier this year. While they continue to spin the secretive cash payment as coincidental and as leverage for the release of hostages, more Americans have been imprisoned by Iran. The House has passed the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act, which protects the lives of hardworking American families and prevents the further funding of terrorism by stopping cash payments to Iran. House Conservatives remain committed to holding this administration accountable for its failed and misguided foreign policies.
A Better Way National Security
House Conservatives have put forth an agenda to restore confidence in America. Our ³A Better Way² agenda tackles our nation¹s six big challenges: National Security, Tax Reform, the Economy, Health Care, Poverty, and Restoring Constitutional Authority. Over the next several newsletters we will be highlighting these portions of this bold agenda. Now, more than ever, the state of our national security is the top issue on the minds of most Americans. The rise of the Islamic State and attacks on Americans motivated by radical Islam make it clear that this is an enemy that knows no limits. The national security portion of the ³A Better Way² agenda spells out how to protect the homeland, defeat terrorists, and confront emerging threats worldwide. It emphasizes that we must take the fight to the terrorists and ensures our military has the resources necessary to meet this critical challenge. It protects our homeland by securing our borders and ending the wave of illegal immigrants entering our country. It is also important that we work to counter new threats on the horizon, and it is critical to strengthen tools for local law enforcement. Lastly, we must restore American influence, advance free enterprise, and expand the community of free nations. Since the unveiling of our “A Better Way” agenda at the beginning of this summer, the House has passed numerous bills to strengthen the safety and security of our nation, including the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act and the bill to halt transfers out of Guantanamo Bay discussed above. I remain committed to strengthening America¹s national security and confronting the foreign and domestic threats of the 21st century. To learn more about the national security portion of our “A Better Way” agenda, please visit better.gop.
In the week ahead, Congress will be working on legislation to fund the federal government starting October 1st and the House will continue to provide deliverables from our “A Better Way” agenda to help hardworking American families and restore confidence in America. 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.
U.S. Rep. Bill Flores serves Texas’ District 17.