Representatives of the people are embarking on a busy month of August, attending events and meeting with constituents during a lengthy in-district work period. In our final week in Washington, the House approved a number of bills during what we called “Stop Government Abuse Week.”
Among the stop abuse legislation is the Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Bill which prevents the IRS from implementing any portion of ObamaCare. The IRS has a role in nearly 50 different aspects of ObamaCare. Its involvement is so extensive that an office within the IRS has been established for the sole purpose of implementing ObamaCare.
We have passed the STOP IRS Act to provide for the dismissal of IRS employees who use their official positions for political purposes. We have all seen how the IRS targeted certain individuals and groups based on their beliefs. That should never have happened and must not be allowed to happen in the future.
The Government Spending Accountability Act aims to stop lavish taxpayer-funded federal conferences. Many Americans were sickened to learn that taxpayer money was wasted to produce a video of IRS employees learning dance moves to the “Cupid Shuffle.” It was equally sickening to find out that more taxpayer dollars were wasted on a video with a “Star Trek” theme and another that was a parody of “Gilligan’s Island.” We don’t need IRS employees dressed as Captain Kirk or the Skipper. The IRS has apologized for poor judgment and poor use of resources. Our bill will attempt to put an end to these irresponsible decisions made at taxpayer expense.
We passed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights which makes clear that it is the duty of the IRS Commissioner to ensure that Internal Revenue Service employees are familiar with and act in accordance with rights of taxpayers, including a right to privacy and confidentiality.
Approval of these and other bills reaffirm our commitment to restraining runaway government and re-empowering citizens. I certainly hope the Senate will take up these important bills, approve them, and send them to President Obama for his signature.
The House has provided our college and university students with interest rate peace of mind as it approved H.R. 1911 – the Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013 – and has sent it to President Obama for his signature. This bill moves most new student loans to a market-based interest rate. Interest rates will be set once a year and move with the market. But once a student takes out a loan, the interest rate will become fixed for the life of the loan. Approval of this bill by both the House and Senate gives students the certainty they want as they pursue their studies – and it puts an end to the student loan rate issue being a political football. This is a win-win for students and American taxpayers.
On another matter, I spoke about the excessive government regulations we are all forced to endure. And, I had some help from a furry friend named Casey the rabbit. Casey’s owner, Missouri magician Marty Hahne, was told by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that he needed a detailed plan – for the rabbit – that would be put into effect in the event of a tornado or other emergency. Fortunately, common sense has come to the USDA and implementation of this rule has been put on hold.
Despite the delay, this rule is a prime example of government regulation run amok. Sometimes, it’s easier to pull a rabbit out of a hat than it is to understand government regulations.
Back in Missouri, I attended a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Warrensburg to provide a legislative update and to discuss a number of important issues with dozens of citizens.
Warrensburg is home to the University of Central Missouri, where I earned my Master’s Degree, and higher education is a topic of great interest. We discussed student loan rates and how the House and Senate have come together to pass legislation to lower interest rates. I also praised the Missouri Innovation Campus, an initiative launched by UCM and its President Chuck Ambrose, that lets high school students earn college credit towards earning associate’s degrees and to graduate early from UCM. It is an idea that reduces costs and provides students with job-ready skills where those skills are needed.
We discussed sequestration and its impact on civilian employees working at nearby Whiteman Air Force Base. There is no doubt the sequester, which was created by the 2011 Budget Control Act that I voted against, is taking its toll on civilians who are coping with furloughs. I realize that a one-day-per-week furlough represents a 20 percent pay cut. This means less money for groceries and discretionary spending in the Warrensburg area – hurting the community’s economy. I have been fighting against cuts to the military all along and will continue to fight to restore the funding that is critical to our military and our national defense.
I had the opportunity to visit the IBM Information Technology Service Delivery Center in Columbia.
I was impressed with the exciting developments taking place at IBM. I want to work to bring job-searching students and IBM together to fill high-paying, quality positions for which the company has openings.
I’m spending August touring several parts of our Fourth District. I hope to see you at one of those stops in the coming weeks.
Have a great week.