Mark's Weekly Update - 9-14-17
Remembering September 11
This week we paused to remember the victims who died and the heroes who served in the aftermath of September 11, 2001—the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history. May we never forget those who lost their lives and the men and women who answered the call to serve and protect our country from enemies each and every day since.
Recovering from Hurricane Irma
My staff and I have been continuing to monitor Hurricane Irma and the impacts over the coming days—the storm weakened significantly as it approached North Carolina, but the Western part of our district still experienced some flooding and power loss. As the days progress, we still want to encourage you to stay alert and prepared as we recover. Readync.org is a great resource for tips on how to plan moving forward.
For Duke Energy customers without power, you can report outages by texting OUT to 57801 OR calling 800-769-3766.
My office has also put together a page on my website that you can access here. It compiles resources from readync.org and NC.gov on how you and your family can prepare. We want to make sure we provide as much information as possible to help you make informed decisions. Thanks to the incredible team at NC Emergency Management for putting this information together.
Most importantly: please pray for everyone that has been impacted by both Hurricane Irma and Harvey as well. Please also remember to pray for the many first responders who will be putting themselves in harm’s way over the coming days to serve.
Visit from Swain County Officials
This week I was honored to join Secretary Ryan Zinke of the Department of Interior, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), and the Swain County Board of Commissioners for a special announcement of a promise finally kept.
As you may know, for the last 7 years, the federal government has owed Swain County $39.2 million as a part of the "Road to Nowhere" settlement (a dispute that has dated back to WWII), and as expected, the county has run into all kinds of problems getting their money that they deserve.
In June of this year, I introduced a bill to require the government to pay $35.2 million of the settlement, but we would be about $4 million short. Secretary Zinke had stepped up, agreed to cut through the red tape, and announced he would release the remaining $4 million from the Department of Interior--putting Swain County on track to get their full funding.
This was special to be a part of--now Swain County is on their way to getting the full allotment of money owed to them. I want to thank Secretary Zinke for his incredible willingness to work with us and the Swain County Board for the countless hours they poured into this issue. I'm thrilled to see this happen and am hopeful we can close the deal on the full funding soon!
Team Meadows Volunteers
Team Meadows was honored to recently volunteer at 'Heart with Hands' in Asheville! The items being packaged in the photos have been sent to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas. In the coming days, we anticipate doing something similar to help those suffering from Hurricane Irma.
Please continue to pray for everyone on the road to recovery from both storms.
My op-ed on Congress Playing Politics with Hurricane Relief
Early last week, I was pleased to vote in favor of a clean bill to provide $7.4 billion in relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey, and I cautioned that Congress would do well to avoid combining pork, add-on’s, or unrelated legislative items to the bill through the rest of the process. Unfortunately, Congress went in the other direction and chose to use the final version of the bill to combine aid for Harvey victims with a separate bill to raise the debt ceiling. For that reason, I voted against last weekend’s final bill to provide hurricane relief.
The hundreds of thousands of Hurricane Harvey victims that have been left broken are in need of help, and as I’ve said before, it’s on Congress to responsibly give it to them. However, disaster relief and the debt ceiling are two very important issues that I believe should be addressed separately—not combined for political convenience. While I’m glad the victims of this storm will receive the help they desperately need, I’m disappointed in the manner in which it was handled. Moving forward, additional votes for hurricane relief will certainly be forthcoming—and if that legislation is used solely to support the people who are suffering and not a leverage for some other measure, then I will gladly support it.
I wrote an op-ed in the Washington Examiner on this issue that you can read here.
Tour of TekTone Sound & Signal
TekTone Sound & Signal is the type of success story you love to see in Western North Carolina--thank you to the incredible staff there for welcoming me and giving me a tour of their new facilities! You can read the full story about my visit here.
Photo from the Macon County News