Mark's Weekly Update - 1-29-18

f t # e
Washington, January 29, 2018 | Ben Williamson (202-225-6401) | comments

Government Shutdown Recap

Many of you were probably following the news last week as the government shut down for 3 days. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and a minority of Democrat Senators made the decision to block a spending bill from passing because they wanted a DACA (immigration) deal attached to the bill. Ultimately, that never happened and the government did re-open, but much occurred in between that I’d like to cover.

First off, I wanted to make sure to answer a question I received from many constituents during the shutdown: don't Republicans control the House, Senate, and White House? Why couldn’t you just open up the government if you want?

It's a good question--but there's a Senate rule that prevents us from doing that. Unless you have 60 votes for a bill in the Senate, Senate rules allow a minority of Senators to use what's called a "filibuster" to block a bill from passing. Republicans only have 51 votes, so Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats can basically block any bill they want to.

That's how we got to a shutdown--Senate Democrats chose to block a continuing resolution bill to keep the government open because they wanted an immigration deal (or DACA deal) attached to it. You can agree or disagree with their tactics, but that's exactly what they chose to do. I made my position clear before, during, and after the shutdown: I think blocking our military and federal workforce from getting paid and doing their jobs, in order to get an unrelated DACA deal, is wrong. Period.

Eventually, 31 Senate Democrats flipped and voted for the same CR, which opened the government again. There was no DACA deal inserted into the spending bill. I'm pleased my friends and colleagues on the left decided to end the shutdown and continue going about our business.

But let's be very clear about what occurred here: My Democrat colleagues, in both the House and Senate, went on record: they are willing to shut down the government, at the expense of a child health insurance program for low income families, American taxpayers, and our military service members, over their demands to prioritize unlawful immigrants. That's disappointing, to put it mildly.

Now, just as we've said all along, the immigration debate is continuing. I am committed to working with all of my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to deliver a solution that follows through on our promises: to secure the border, end chain migration, and end the diversity visa lottery program. At the end of the day, what chiefly matters is that Congress come together to implement the agenda the American people voted for.

I spoke with the team at Morning Joe about the issue, prior to when Congress passed the funding bill to reopen the government. You can watch the clip here.

Interviewing on Morning Joe

Why the Peter Strzok/Lisa Page Texts Matter

Recently, many of you have seen several things on the news about suspicious texts between then-FBI agents and former Mueller team members, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. To make matters worse, we’ve had reports that texts between the two of them have “gone missing,” suddenly been found, and more. It’s certainly been a very active and constantly changing news cycle.

But I’ve gotten several questions about the issue, mainly asking: Why does it matter? What’s important about it? Does it mean anything in particular?

This week, I wanted to help answer as many of those questions as I could. I’ve been researching the issue, along with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and other colleagues, and there are several concerning elements and connections between the FBI, the missing texts, and the 2016 Hillary Clinton investigation that warrant examination.

I put together a series of messages on Twitter, explaining the context around the Peter Strzok/Lisa Page text messages, and why they're connected to both the Hillary investigation and this so-called "Russian-collusion" investigation. You can find a bit more lengthy explanation on Facebook here. You can also read more from news articles on the explanation here and here.

March for Life

This week, hundreds of thousands of Americans came to Washington, D.C. to participate in one of my favorite events of every year—the annual “March for Life.”

The March for Life is such an incredible event that allows us to send a loud and clear message that the rights of the unborn must be protected, and to speak on behalf of the most vulnerable among us who cannot speak for themselves. It’s people like these marchers, who choose to stand up and speak out on this principle, that help give our pro-life movement the energy we need.

My main message to them: Keep marching. Keep fighting for the unborn. Keep speaking out for those who cannot speak for themselves. Most of the mainstream media may not cover it, but pro-life values are alive and well in America.

You can watch a speech that I gave on the House floor recognizing the march at this link here.

One other note on the same topic: the North Carolina Right to Life also had a March for Life recently, marching to Raleigh, NC on behalf of the unborn. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it, but I sent a video message to all the participants to let them know we’re cheering them on from Washington. You can watch that video here. Thank you so much to everyone who attended that march, as well! God bless you.

Speaking on the House floor, honoring the March for Life

My message to the NC Right to Life

Release the Memo

You may have seen quite a bit in the news recently about the classified “memo” that the House Intelligence Committee has put together, outlining surveillance abuses that have occurred at the FBI and Justice Department under President Obama and in years past.

This week, I viewed the classified report in the Capitol--and what I saw is absolutely shocking and appalling. This report needs to be released by a vote under House rules. Americans deserve the truth.

So far, I’m thrilled to report that the House Intelligence Committee seems to be working on a plan to do just that. There will be more updates to come, but it looks like there’s a real possibility this memo could be made public within weeks.

I spoke on the House floor calling on our leadership to “Release the Memo” last week, and you can watch that speech here.

Calling on Congress to ‘Release the Memo’ in a floor speech

Lenoir Business Visits

Recently back home in Western North Carolina, I had the opportunity to visit our local businesses in Lenoir to hear directly from our folks about how our district is doing, how business is faring, and what we can do better in the future. Debbie and I had a chance to visit Aiken Controls (you can watch a video of that visit here), Frye Art Studio, and more.

It was wonderful to see and catch up with everyone—you can see some of the highlights in the photos below. Thanks especially to Lenoir Mayor, Joe Gibbons, for his work in helping facilitate some of the visits!

I look forward to being back.

With Don and Sandra McDonald--owners of Highland Coffee House

Charlie Frye, owner of Frye Art Studio

Visiting Aiken Controls

Central Barber Shop, with Alan Hall

Charles Babb Jewelry Designs in Lenoir

Thanks to Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons

A familiar sight in the mountains! It was wonderful being home

Religious Freedom Day

Last week in the House of Representatives, we recognized “Religious Freedom Day,” honoring one of the founding principles of our country—the freedom of religion.

Our founding fathers wrote on this issue hundreds of times as our nation was in its earliest stages. One of my favorite quotes on the need to limit government intervention on this issue comes from James Madison. "The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate."

President Trump also gave a speech at the White House recognizing the day, saying “Faith is embedded in the history, spirit, and soul of our nation.” How true that is.

I’m grateful to live in a nation that honors this principle every day.

Religious Freedom Day

School Choice Week

This week in Congress we also recognized “School Choice Week.” I’ve spoken on this several times since Western North Carolinians sent me to Congress, but I’ll repeat it: I support the principle of school choice because I believe parents and families--not government bureaucrats--should be able to decide where their child attends school.

Fortunately, in Western North Carolina, we’re blessed with some of the best teachers in the country. This is also a week to honor them and thank them for all their tireless work they pour into our district’s young men and women. Thank you, WNC educators! You can see below for a few of my favorite photos with our district’s teachers.

School Choice Week

Thank you, WNC educators

Thank you, WNC educators

Thank you, WNC educators

f t # e

Stay Connected

Use the form below to sign up for my newsletter and get the latest news and updates directly to your inbox.