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Legislative Update

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In December, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and since then over 175 companies have announced pay raises, bonuses, additional benefits or new investments in the American economy. Over 3 million workers are seeing the effects of tax reform in their paychecks, including the employees of Charlie Bravo Aviation right here in Georgetown, Texas.

Here are just a few of the Texas companies that are reaping the benefits of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

  • Over half of the full-time non-salaried employees of the Amarillo National Bank are getting a $1,000 pay raise
  • American Airlines based out of Fort Worth will be doling out $1,000 bonuses due to tax reform
  • Dallas-based AT&T will be investing $1 billion into the United States’ economy in 2018 and will be handing out $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 AT&T U.S. employees
  • Comerica is providing $1,000 bonuses for its non-officer employees, plus it’s raising their minimum wage to $15.00
  • Texas’ own Insperity will pay out $17 million in bonuses to their employees
  • 34,000 employees at Waste Management will receive a $2,000 bonus
  • In addition to the bonuses and pay raises, beginning this February, 90% of Americans will take home more money in their paychecks. Despite what Democrats say, this money means a lot to families that are living paycheck to paycheck.

Recently, I joined my colleagues in introducing the Secure America’s Future Act. This bill addresses shortcomings along our southern border with 5,000 additional Border Patrol agents and authorizes border wall construction. This legislation also strengthens our interior enforcement efforts by increasing criminal penalties for deported criminals that return to the U.S., requiring the use of E-verify, and implements a biometric system at all ports of entry. It’s important that we address border security before addressing larger immigration reforms.

I also introduced the Justice Served Act in January. For the last decade, Congress has invested over $100 million a year to reduce the DNA backlog, but now funds are needed to prosecute these criminals based on results of DNA evidence. My bipartisan legislation will reform the Debbie Smith grant to allow funding to be used for prosecution purposes, hopefully getting dangerous criminals off the streets and giving peace of mind to the victims and their families.

​Unfortunately, in January the federal government shutdown for three days due to Senate democrats’ reckless decision to put illegal immigrants above our military and low-income children in need. The Schumer Shutdown was completely irresponsible. During a government shutdown, our military men and women go unpaid. It’s completely ridiculous that our troops work without pay while Congress continues to receive their salary, so I requested that my pay be withheld for the length of the government shutdown. Luckily, Senate democrats came to their senses and voted to fund the government through February 8th.

Legislative Update

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This week, the House and Senate passed the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the bill now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature. For 31 years, hard-working Americans have been waiting for a fairer, simpler tax code, and this bill delivers just that.

A few highlights:

  • Lowers individual tax rates to 0%, 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37% so people can keep more of their hard-earned money
  • Nearly doubles the standard deduction from $12,700 to $24,000 for a married couple and $6,350 to $12,000 for an individual
  • Still allows individuals to write-off state and local taxes up to $10,000 (just like current law)
  • Expands the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000
  • Eliminates Obamacare’s harmful individual mandate penalty tax

Immediately after Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, businesses started announcing bonuses, increased wages, and additional investments in the American economy. This legislation will create a new era of economic prosperity for our country and I’m proud to support it.

Earlier this month, the House passed the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which allows law-abiding concealed carry permit holders to carry across state lines. Just as our First Amendment rights don’t stop at state lines, our Second Amendment rights shouldn’t either. This bill also strengthened the National Criminal Background Check System by developing new agency requirements for reporting criminal activity. These new requirements will help ensure that criminals don’t get their hands on guns.

I recently learned of allegations of criminal behavior at the Temple VA Medical Center. These disturbing allegations included forcing veterans to complete construction work on supervisors’ homes, abuse of power, and mistreatment of our heroes. I instantly demanded answers from VA leadership about these claims. Central Texas VA Director Christopher Sandles and I are working arm-in-arm to right these wrongs and make sure this never happens again to our warriors.

I joined my colleagues in the House in introducing the CERTIFY Heroes Act, which will allow our men and women in uniform to use their tuition assistance program to participate in certification, licensing and credentialing programs so they can get well-paying jobs once their time in the service is complete. Not everyone wants or needs a four-year degree, so this legislation will open up the doors for our military to gain skills off the battlefield that will help them be successful.

As we approach the holidays, I’d like to wish you and your family, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Legislative Update

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This month, the House passed, and I supported, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This legislation will bring over 80,000 jobs to Texas and increase middle-class families’ after-tax income by $2,558 a year. By reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to four, and lowering middle-income families’ tax burden, this pro-growth legislation greatly simplifies our tax code. In fact, under the House’s tax plan, you could file your taxes on a post card.

Congress also fulfilled our promise to rebuild America’s military after 8 years of budget cuts have left our Armed Forces with aging equipment and a smaller force. The National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $699.6 billion for America’s Armed Forces to ensure that they have technologically advanced and lethal equipment to keep our country safe. For the men and women at Ft. Hood, this legislation means modernizing our heavy equipment so they are successful on the battlefield. This legislation also provided the largest pay raise for our troops in the last eight years.

Big news! The House unanimously passed my bill, the Veterans Transplant Coverage Act, to change current law so that veterans receiving an organ transplant from a non-veteran are able to receive VA care. This common sense legislation is headed to the Senate and will hopefully be signed by the President, so that our veterans receive the care they need and deserve.

I also introduced bipartisan legislation to support technical education and credentialing programs for our military men and women. This legislation will help prepare our Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Sailors for careers once their military service has ended.

Finally, as a result of my legislation, the POLICE Act, which passed Congress last year, the Department of Justice awarded $5.4 million to Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training program. This program provides top-notch training to our first responders, so they can effectively respond to active shooter emergency events.

Legislative Update

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I had the opportunity to travel with Speaker Ryan to see the devastation in Florida from Jacksonville to Miami and back to the Houston area. As Homeland Security Appropriations Chairman I’m charged with and given responsibility of funding the hurricane disaster relief. This process and my decisions continue to be extremely vital.

I also met with Killeen ISD students and administrators to discuss trade/vocational education and funding for our students at Fort Hood here in TX-31. In addition, I met with representatives from the National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association in Cedar Park who work to support Texas transportation. I had an opportunity to discuss current issues and needs with constituents from Round Rock, Cedar Park, and Georgetown who work hard to help out our kids through our local Head Start centers.

The House passed important pro-life legislation this week that I cosponsored. This legislation will ban abortions after 20 weeks.

I’ve also introduced the Securing Energy Infrastructure Act, which establishes a pilot program to evaluate vulnerabilities in US energy security. My fellow co-chair of the House Army Caucus, Rep. Ruppersberger from Maryland, introduced this bill together and it shows a bipartisan commitment to defending our nation from security threats. Recently, the House passed the 2018 House Budget. The House Budget will balance the budget in 10 years, and put our nation on a path for responsible spending, and it unlocks the opportunity for pro-growth tax reform.

This past week the House passed the supplemental funding package to bring relief to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It also helps those in California rebuild from the wildfires. There is still lots of work to do, but this is a first step help to communities in need.

Finally, the House passed legislation to name a border checkpoint after Javier Vega. Agent Vega made the ultimate sacrifice, protecting his family and upholding the law when attacked by two illegal aliens. I was proud to have worked with Rep. McCaul, Rep. Vela, Senator Cornyn, and Senator Cruz to get this important legislation passed. The Bill to rename a border checkpoint after him passed the House & the Senate this past week and is headed to the President’s desk!

Legislative Update

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The first six months of this Congress have been very busy. A few highlights include:

  • Most productive Congress in more than 30 years, House has passed 421 pieces of legislation this year
  • President has signed more legislation into law in first 6 months than any of the past five Presidents
  • House passed, President signed 14 bills overturning Obama era regulations, saving $3.7 Billion in regulatory costs

In just the past month, the House has been extremely busy, having passed all 12 appropriations bills out of committee and passing a combined national security funding bill by the entire House. Included in this bill is $1.6 billion for building a wall along our southern border.

The Make America Secure Appropriations Act provides funding for our defense programs, our veterans and includes my legislation providing for $1.6 billion for a wall along our southern borders.

It includes increased funding for the men and women of our military, giving them their largest pay increase since 2010, as well as increasing the number of troops and their readiness.  It also includes funding for specific projects I requested for Fort Hood including modernization of equipment and upgrades for living quarters, as well as supporting our veterans by increased funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs by 5 percent.

Additionally, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act that outlines the priorities for national security and our military. This bill includes many items important to Ft. Hood and the overall TX31 community. Including specific items I fought for including an accelerated time frame for equipment modernization in the Army. I was also able to secure increased troops for our Army, remanufactured and new Apache helicopters, and new unmanned aerial vehicles. This legislation also provides for a 2.4 percent raise for the men and women in our military, the largest pay raise for our military in the past eight years.

The House also passed and I supported a bill that tightens economic and political sanctions on Iran, North Korea & Russia. As we all know, the rogue regimes of these nation states continue to pose a growing threat to the United States.

The House also passed and I supported many bills that will lead to improvements at the VA.  Of note, a bill that will allow the VA Secretary more flexibility to remove low performing employees passed and has now been signed by President Trump.

I also supported and the house passed the Forever GI bill to expand benefits to the National Guard, Reservist and Purple Heart recipients.

Legislative Update

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June was a busy month in Washington, DC as House Republicans passed a number of bills important to Texas District 31 (TX-31). What is important to us in TX-31 was important to the country this month as we passed bills supporting our Military, our Veterans, protecting our Border, and expanding our children’s educational opportunities.

As the Representative of the largest heavy armored post in the free would, funding our military is of the utmost importance to me and our communities in Central Texas. Through Committee passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Defense Appropriations bills I was able to secure increased funding to modernize our combat vehicles, provide new Apache helicopters, and new unmanned aerial vehicles. These types of investments at Ft. Hood will allow our men and women to continue to be the most dominant force on the battlefield. Overall, these bills allow us to increase defense funding by almost 12 percent ($68.1 billion) over FY17. Additionally, we were able to increase soldier pay by 2.4 percent, the largest pay increase for our troops since 2010!

Veterans will always be a top priority so I was thankful to be part of a Veterans FIRST bill. The legislation provides a 5 percent increase in funding (totaling a more than 300 percent increase in VA funding since 2004) to provide the VA the ability to provide better care and services for our Veterans. In addition, we provide a 25 percent increase in funding for military construction (Family Housing, Barracks, Hospitals, Training Facilities).

With my support, the House passed, and the President signed into law the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protect Act. Creating an accountability system to encourage the VA to restructure their organization to develop a culture to help the Veteran first. This bill gives the Secretary of the VA more flexibility in removing and disciplining employees for poor performance and misconduct. When I called the FBI to investigate the Temple VA it was due to the lack of service our Veterans were receiving and overall employee failures. Following the investigation, reforms have been put into place, but this action by Congress and the President will allow for further reforms, and ultimately improved services and care our Veterans earned and so deserve.

This week I am also finalizing my Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill which provides $44.3 billion for homeland security programs. This is an increase of $1.9 billion (roughly a 5 percent increase) over FY17 levels. Through this bill, we are providing the resources to begin building a wall along our southern border, enhancing our existing border security infrastructure, hiring more border patrol agents, and funding detention operations to hold those awaiting deportation.

In a continued effort to further provide security for all Americans, I supported, and the House passed, two bills (HR. 3004, Kate’s Law and HR 3003, No Sanctuary for Criminals Act) that strengthen penalties against criminal illegal aliens and cut federal funding to those jurisdictions that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. These bills are another step in helping to keep all Americans safe.

Also, a bill I authored, the Protection of Children Act, passed out of the Judiciary Committee and should get a vote of the full House soon. This bill protects children from being trafficked across our borders by closing asylum loopholes in our immigration laws and strengthening placement standards when unaccompanied minors cross our border. For years the cartels and human traffickers have been exploiting our asylum laws, and my bill puts an end to that dangerous practice.

Last month we also stood up for greater educational opportunities for our students. Our region is one of the fastest growing in the nation, and one of the best places to find a job. However, as we continue to prosper, there are growing needs for qualified workers in trades and technical careers. I am a proud member of the CTE Caucus and a strong supporter of the House passed reauthorization of the Perkins act. This is legislation that encourages participation and broadens opportunities in the Career and Technical Education fields. There are many careers in the trades that pay very well, and are in need of qualified workers. I will continue to push for more outreach, and opportunities in CTE.

I look forward to continuing to fight for all Central Texans, including our military, their families, and our Veterans.

Legislative Update

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This past month in Washington has been busy.

The House passed the Financial CHOICE Act. This bill repeals many of the burdensome and costly regulations implemented under Dodd-Frank under President Obama.

This past month, President Trump released his Budget request for Fiscal Year 18 (FY18) which falls in line with our shared priorities of rebuilding our military, securing our border, and cutting the size of the federal government.

Congress is ultimately responsible for passing a budget. What the President proposes outlines his priorities, and Congress then takes his suggestions and develops the actual budget for the Federal government.

Congress is already working to develop the final budget and appropriations bills. In fact, I chaired a hearing on DHS appropriations, including the requests for Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Additionally, I held a hearing on the request by the United States Coast Guard. I have many more hearings scheduled in the coming days and weeks.

In the House, we passed a number of bills to combat human trafficking and child exploitation.
We also passed a number of bills that will support our Veterans and make improvements to the Veteran Affairs department. Additionally, the House passed regulatory relief legislation.

In recognition of Police Week, the House passed a number of bills to further protect and honor our law enforcement.

I also participated in a mark up for the Military Construction and VA appropriations bill. Additionally, we had a hearing on the Defense budget and the need to rebuild our military.

The House also passed a bill that allows Veterans continued access to tax credits and subsidies under the Republican American Healthcare Act.

Legislative Update

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This past month in Washington, DC was very busy with the repeal and replacement of Obamacare passing, and a bill to continue funding the government through the end of Fiscal Year ’17.

I supported, and the House passed, the American Health Care Act. This is the House version to repeal and replace Obamacare. It is the first step in ridding Americans of this disastrous, costly law.

There are many myths being reported about the American Health Care Act. First and foremost is the myth that pre-existing conditions will not be covered. That is not true. The bill explicitly maintains protections for pre-existing conditions.

The bill also repeals the Obamacare taxes, and the mandates. I look forward to continuing working with my colleagues and the Trump Administration, to make other important policy changes that will help reduce health care costs and improve the quality of care for all Americans.

Additionally, this month, the House passed a funding bill that will fund our government through the remainder of FY17. Notably, this bill provides a $20 billion increase for our military, provides a more than 2 percent raise for our soldiers, and includes the largest increase in border security funding in almost a decade.

This month, Congress also passed a couple of bills condemning the North Korean regime and calling for a review of the government’s actions to determine if they have reached the status of a state sponsor of terror based on the technical definition.

Also, the House passed a bill that will help Veterans stay on the Veterans Choice Program, giving them more flexibility in how they receive health care services.

In the coming weeks and months, I expect the House will take up the Financial CHOICE Act that will roll back many of the detrimental regulations implemented under Dodd-Frank. Also, I believe the House will begin tackling tax reform. Additionally, appropriations season is upon us, therefore the Appropriations committee will be busy developing, debating and passing funding bills for Fiscal Year ’18.