The House Passes the USMCA
Today, the House of Representatives passed the long-anticipated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The USMCA is a sorely needed modernization of NAFTA. It has been more than 25 years since the United States updated its trading relationship with Canada and Mexico. This agreement brings our trading rules into the 21st Century and will be a force multiplier for our already strong economy. American innovators will be empowered to sell goods and services globally, allowing for a more bolstered American economy. It opens Canada’s market for U.S. farmers and ranchers to sell American dairy, wheat, chicken, eggs, and turkey. Our services providers will be able to lock in access to Mexican and Canadian customers. And the agreement is enforceable, allowing us to challenge violations and stopping countries from blocking those challenges, holding Mexico and Canada accountable for these new rules. For the U.S., this means more jobs. It means more customers. And it gives American innovators the tools they need to succeed here in America as we compete with countries like China. As two of North Carolina’s largest markets for exports, Canada and Mexico combined provide $10 billion for the state and 73% of these exports come from small-to-medium-sized businesses. American and North Carolinian workers have a major victory in USMCA.
This week, in a radical departure from historical precedent, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump on purely partisan lines without a single member of the Republican party voting in favor of impeachment. This was the first time in American history that a vote to impeach a sitting president was solely along party lines.
Sadly, this partisan process has been rushed and unfair since the start and is just the latest attempt by the Left in their ongoing efforts to overturn the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Activists and Party Leaders on the Left called for impeachment on the day of the inauguration. Three months later, Chairwoman Maxine Waters (CA-43) stated that she would ‘fight every day’ until President Trump is impeached. Later in the President’s first year in office, Representatives Al Green (TX-9) and Brad Sherman (CA-30) introduced an impeachment resolution. And then, House Democrats pushed their “Russian Collusion” narrative for more than two years before it was disproved by the Mueller Investigation. Then, they pursued whistleblower allegations about the President’s phone call with Ukraine through hundreds of hours of hearings and thousands of pages of witness testimony. The conclusion: there is no evidence of any wrongdoing: quid pro quo, bribery, extortion, or abuse of power by the President. In fact, in the more than 3,000 pages of transcripts released from the investigations, the only reference to bribery was to describe the conduct of Vice President Biden. You may read the findings on the lack of evidence by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s report here.
This impeachment is about politics–not facts. It is an effort by Democrats to undo the 2016 election and to influence the 2020 election. Rep. Al Green even admitted: “I’m concerned that if we don’t impeach the president, he will get re-elected.” The American people see through this sham. According to even CNN, support for impeachment went down in December from 50% to 45% and even among Democrats from 90% to 77%. This partisan effort is dangerous, unconstitutional, and is an egregious abuse of power by House Democrats. It is a distraction from the real issues that are facing American families. Congress should focus its efforts in a bipartisan manner on addressing border security, lowering drug pricing, and driving down
healthcare costs. I stand with the facts and with President Trump.
My Interview on America’s Newsroom - watch here
My Remarks on the House Floor – watch here
OIG Report Reveals Disturbing Facts about FBI Trump-Russia Investigation
The Justice Department (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz released its report on the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) into the investigation of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. This week, Inspector General Horowitz testified before the Senate to answer questions on the report.
Among other disturbing items, the report revealed that (1) the DNC-funded Steele dossier, which was known by the FBI to be inaccurate, was central to the FISA warrant requests into Carter Page with the Trump Campaign, (2) IG Horowitz found no fewer than 17 instances of “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in its targeting of Carter Page, (3) the primary FBI attorney for the Trump-Russia investigation had altered evidence that was submitted to the FISA Court, (4) then-candidate Trump was spied on by the FBI during an intelligence briefing and the FBI did not inform their agency counterparts, and (5) executives at the FBI supported using the Steele dossier as a core part of its FISA request, even after being advised, “that Steele may have been hired by someone associated with a rival candidate or campaign.”
Again, this dossier was put together by a foreign intelligence operative, refuted by its own primary source, and funded by the opposing political party. The applications required approval from top leadership at the FBI, DOJ, and FISA Court, which included James Comey, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, and Rod Rosenstein.
Over the last two years, I have consistently called out the House Democrats’ intransigent behavior in their endless investigations of the President and been vocal about apparent abuse of the FISA process. This report spells out major abuses that took place: the FISA Court does not have a high enough standard to go above the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures of U.S. citizens without probable cause. You may find my statement on the report here.
President Trump Combating Anti-Semitism in the U.S.
Last week, President Trump signed an Executive Order to better protect Jewish Americans from anti-Semitic discrimination. This Executive Order states that anti-Semitic discrimination will be prosecuted by the Department of Justice under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Anti-Semitism is unacceptable. The President issued this Order because of the rising number of anti-Semitic incidents in schools, particularly on college campuses, that students are facing. I am grateful to President Trump for taking action on this issue to support and defend Jewish students in the United States. Anti-Semitism endangers millions of Americans, and we can never be complacent in our fight against it. If you are interested, you may find the Executive Order here and the fact sheet here.
President Trump Takes Historic Steps to Lower U.S. Prescription Drug Prices
This week, President Trump, along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that, if finalized, would allow for the importation of certain prescription drugs from Canada. In addition, the Administration is announcing the availability of a new draft guidance for industry that describes procedures drug manufacturers can follow to facilitate importation of prescription drugs, including biological products, that are FDA-approved, manufactured abroad, authorized for sale in any foreign country, and originally intended for sale in that foreign country. This is an important move to lower prescription drug prices. I applaud President Trump and Secretary Azar for moving forward with this bold but thoughtful plan to allow more competition in the marketplace. This proposal would ensure that any drug imported for sale to Americans abides by strict FDA health and safety standards. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump and Secretary Azar on bipartisan legislation to lower prescription drug prices.
Social Security Administration Combating Spam Phone Calls
There were 49 billion robocalls in 2019 alone. Many of these calls pose as the Social Security Administration (SSA) or other federal agencies. These scams – in which fraudulent callers mislead victims into making payments to avoid arrest for problems associated with their Social Security number or account – skyrocketed over the past year to become the #1 type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and SSA. To be more vigilant, I encourage you to read over SSA’s factsheet on spam and robocalls here.
Robocalls have grown to be a serious problem. To combat these calls, I am a proud cosponsor of several bills to address the issue: H.R. 2355, the ROBO Calls and Text Act of 2019, H.R.1304, which establishes a bounty program within the Federal Trade Commission to combat these spam calls, and S.151, the TRACED Act, which requires service providers to authenticate calls and block spam calls. This bill passed the House and the Senate.
USDA Extends Deadlines for Dairy Margin Coverage
Due to the prolonged and extensive impacts of weather events throughout the year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extended the deadline to December 20 for dairy producers to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program for the 2020 calendar year. The deadline had been December 13. USDA announced it is also continuing to accept applications for the Market Facilitation Program through December 20. This is an important move to allow farmers who have faced a difficult year to have more time to contact USDA. For more information, visit the DMC webpage, the MFP webpage or your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.
National Guard Benefit Changes
The Secretary of Defense determined that National Guard service members who served at the southwest border will be eligible for Post-9/11 benefits. These brave men and women have been serving our country by keeping our southern border safe, but were not receiving benefits. I applaud Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and the Trump Administration for prioritizing the security of our southern border and ensuring our men and women in uniform receive benefits they deserve for their brave service.
Congratulations Jerry VeHaun of Buncombe County
Mr. Jerry VeHaun was presented with the Congressional Record I gave in his honor on November 20, 2019. He is retiring after 47 years of dedicated service with Buncombe County Emergency Services. As director of Emergency Services, Mayor of Woodfin, and throughout various other community leadership roles, Mr. VeHaun has demonstrated incredible resolve to help those in greatest need in Buncombe County and beyond.
It was a privilege to recognize him on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. He will remain an inspiration to his community, friends, and family for his service. I encourage you to read the Congressional Record here, and view a tribute video to Mr. VeHaun here.
My Deputy Chief of Staff, Wayne King, Presenting Mr. VeHaun with his Congressional Record
Year in Review
In 2019, my staff assisted in 1,245 cases for constituents who had an issue with a federal agency. 271 of these cases were for veterans. My office corresponded with 92,098 pieces of mail and answered 8,230 phone calls from constituents. My staff coordinated 576 tours for 3,716 people. If you are a constituent of North Carolina’s 11th Congressional district, you may contact me here to share your views on an issue, or here if you are in need of assistance with a federal agency.
This year, I introduced 34 bills in the House of Representatives. 56 bills I supported passed the House, 8 bills passed the House and Senate, and 4 bills I support were signed into law by President Trump.
Drug Pricing - This week, legislation I cosponsored, H.R.965, the Creating and Restoring Equal Access To Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act, was signed into law by President Trump. This important bill would deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives from entering the marketplace. Patients are increasingly facing skyrocketing medication costs, and anti-competitive practices by some brand-name pharmaceutical companies are partially to blame. These companies block access to more affordable generic alternatives, hurting consumers and costing taxpayers billions. The bipartisan CREATES Act puts a stop to this abuse and encourages greater competition and consumer choice, which lowers prices while respecting the intellectual property of drug makers. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill saves taxpayers an estimated $3.7 billion on top of reducing sticker prices at the pharmacy counter. Passing the CREATES Act is another important step in a broader bipartisan effort to improve access to affordable medications through market-oriented reforms.
Low-Income Schools - Along with Representative G.K. Butterfield (NC-1), I introduced the Federal Electronic Equipment Donation (FEED) Act. This bill would allow federal agencies to transfer any excess electronic equipment directly to schools and educationally-related nonprofit organizations with special consideration to schools in low-income communities and small towns. Learning begins in the classroom, but classrooms in low-income and rural areas often lack the budget to help students have access to technology. There is a real digital divide for rural students who too often have fewer opportunities for exposure to technology. This bill seeks to lower the barriers for students to have access to technology so they can have the same opportunity to pursue careers in the future.
Veteran Suicide Prevention - This week, a bill that I cosponsored passed in the Senate and was signed into law. H.R.2333, the Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act. This bill requires the Government Accountability Office to report on the responsibilities, workload, training, and vacancy rates of suicide prevention coordinators at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veteran Suicide Prevention - I introduced H.R.5440, which provides financial assistance to organizations to help provide and coordinate preventative services to veterans at risk of PTSD. Covered services include outreach to identify veterans at risk of PTSD, baseline mental health assessments, screening, care referral, PTSD education, and peer support to families and communities. Finally, this bill provides critical support for families of veterans by authorizing the Veteran Affairs Family Caregiver program to act in a consultation role to families to share information about the rights, responsibilities, benefits, services, and treatment being received by a veteran with their family. If you, a loved one, or someone you know suffers from PTSD, help is available. Please reach out to your local VA or the National Center for PTSD by calling: 1-800-273-8255.
Veterans Benefits - I voted for H.R. 4183, the Identifying Barriers and Best Practices Study Act. This bill requires the Government Accountability Office review the Department of Veterans Affairs disability and pension benefits provided to members of the National Guard and Reserve from 2008 through 2018. GAO would also have to study common barriers that National Guard and Reserve members face when seeking VA benefits, such as issues related to documentation of their service-connected injuries. Groups claim it is harder for Guardsmen and reservists to claim benefits because it is harder for them to prove service-connected disabilities.
Veterans Benefits - I also supported H.R. 3530, the Improving Confidence in Veterans' Care Act. This bill directs the Veterans Affairs Department to oversee how its health-care professionals comply with licensing, certification, registration, and patient safety requirements. This measure passed the House of Representatives following reports by the media, the VA inspector general, and Government Accountability Office of patient harm caused by VA health-care professionals who lacked the appropriate credentials or had a history of malpractice, such as the incident that occurred at the Charles George Medical Center in Asheville this year. As a proud cosponsor of this bill, I urge the Senate to pass this bill so the President can sign it into law.
I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This Christmas, I am thankful for the men and women in uniform who protect our nation on a daily basis and may not have the opportunity to visit with their families this Holiday season. I pray we all have a sense of gratitude for our loved ones and those who sacrifice so much for our nation.
Need Help with a Federal Agency?
My staff is able to help constituents residing in the 11th District of North Carolina who are in need of assistance with federal agencies. You may see a full list of services my staff is able to provide here. If you would like help with an agency, you may place a request here, or contact my office in Hendersonville at (828) 693-5660.