Washington Watch - 1/12/15


Last Tuesday marked the first day of the 114th Congress. We are already at work to advance our shared conservative principles and make America a better place to live, work, and do business. In fact, I'm proud to say that this new Congress has already sent its first bill to the President's desk for his signature. That bill, a reauthorization and reform of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, like so many others, was bogged down in the Senate last year under Harry Reid's leadership, but under new Republican leadership, we're already moving legislation forward for America.


On Tuesday, I introduced the FairTax with 57 cosponsors. That's an important number, because it represents more first day support for the FairTax than ever. Now, I don't want to lead you to believe President Obama has seen the light and intends to sign the FairTax into law--he doesn't. However, I can tell you with confidence that the FairTax has more members of Congress behind it than any other tax reform bill in Congress, and the support will only continue growing larger as we work together to move the FairTax forward. Former Governor Mike Huckabee, a rumored 2016 presidential candidate, has already begun campaigning on the FairTax, and reporters are taking note of the FairTax groundswell too. I can honestly say I have never been more excited about our opportunity to fix our broken tax code than I am this Congress, and I look forward to continuing our partnership in this critical effort.


Last Friday I was excited to join my colleagues in once again authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, by a vote of 266-153. I am particularly excited this time around because it will be the first time ever in my time serving you where the Senate is controlled by the pipeline's allies, and not its opponents. The bill has been designated as H.R. 3 in the House, and S. 1 in the Senate. The House and Senate reserve these low numbers for bills that are their most important priorities, and for Keystone, there is very good reason -- it will bring more jobs for American workers and lower energy prices, which helps keep more money in the wallets of all American families. Sadly, President Obama has already issued a veto threat for the Keystone bill, but I cannot be concerned with what the President says he will or will not do. I can only do the right thing in the House and hope to put a bill on his desk. In this new Congress, you can count on the House -- and now, for the first time in his presidency, a reinvigorated Republican Senate -- to keep the pressure on this Administration to agree to common-sense solutions as the law of the land.

On the very first day of the 114th Congress, the House unanimously passed H.R. 22, the "Hire More Heroes Act." This bill solves a serious problem created by Obamacare, and it does so while helping our nation's veterans at the same time. Obamacare mandates that any business with more than 50 employees provide health insurance or face harsh penalties. Unfortunately, the law makes no allowance for employees who get health care from another source, like our nation's veterans who already receive their health benefits from the Department of Defense health care program, TRICARE, or the Department of Veterans Affairs. By exempting veterans from the 50 employee limit calculation, H.R. 22 incentivizes businesses to hire more veterans and grow our economy in ways that aren't possible under the bureaucratic red tape of Obamacare.


On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 30, a bill that I was proud to cosponsor, with a bipartisan vote of 252-172. While I and many other Americans are pursuing the full repeal of Obamacare, until we can get that across the President's desk, I will continue supporting efforts to save American workers and small business owners from its overwhelming burdens. This bill repeals the ill-advised Obamacare regulation that redefines "full time" from the traditional 40 hour work week to a 30 hour work week. We all know that working only 30 hours per week is part-time work, but Obamacare disagrees. By restoring the 40 hour work week, we can insure that more American families have the hardest earned of benefits -- a full paycheck.

USA Today. Bill on full-time workweek sets up White House showdown
The Hill. Protect the full-time work week
U.S. News and World Report. Businesses push for 40-hour workweek in Obamacare definition


This week the House is expected to consider two bills to streamline our nation's bloated regulatory environment and help American businesses create more jobs and a revised appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security.

H.R. 37, the "Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act," is designed to help emerging companies gain access to capital through common-sense changes in the overly burdensome Dodd-Frank law.

H.R. 185, the "Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015," is a bipartisan bill that requires federal bureaucrats to adopt the least costly regulatory method available to effectively implement the law. This is such a common sense measure that it's hard to imagine anyone opposing it.

Finally, the House is expected to consider an appropriations bill that will fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through the end of the 2015 Fiscal Year. You may remember that in December 2014, the House and Senate passed a short-term DHS funding bill so that the Republican-led Congress could have an opportunity to address the issue of President Obama's unconstitutional abuse of power in unilaterally changing immigration law this year. We are looking at every opportunity to stop President Obama's unlawful actions, and I pleased to say that the amendments we will vote on this week are important steps towards that goal.

I hope that you have a great start to your new week.