On Thursday, Jan. 19, I supported a continuing resolution to fund the government through Feb. 19. This measure funds the government, reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), suspends several damaging Obamacare taxes, and funds our troops. Friday night, Senate Democrats proved that they are willing to hold the government hostage over illegal immigration and deny our troops funding unless they get their way, and they refused to pass the bill.

Playing politics with our military in this manner, by forcing a government shutdown, is shameful.

While the continual pattern of funding our government using short-term spending bills is damaging to our military, a complete government shutdown has far more serious ramifications. There is a devastating readiness crisis plaguing every corner of the military. We have planes that cannot fly, troops that cannot deploy, and we are literally running out of bombs. It is irresponsible and morally wrong to send our troops into harm’s way without adequate resources and training. One of the primary responsibilities of Congress is to provide for the common defense, and my Democrat colleagues who forced a shutdown failed the American people in this way.

Additionally, in refusing to vote for this funding bill, my Democratic colleagues in the Senate simultaneously failed to reauthorize CHIP, which helps 88,000 disadvantaged children in the Show Me State and 8.4 million children nationwide. They also failed to suspend several Obamacare taxes that raise health care costs for seniors, families and small businesses.

Senate rules require sixty votes in the Senate to pass this funding bill and re-open the government. I call on Senate Democrats to join us in a bi-partisan manner to fund the government and fulfill our obligations to the American people – they deserve better.

Religious Liberty and Freedom of Conscience

On Tuesday, the President declared Jan. 16, 2018 as Religious Freedom Day. America’s founding documents were crafted to protect, promote and ensure that people have the right to live, work, and worship in accordance to their faith, moral convictions, and conscience. The President’s proclamation builds on these principles, reinforcing the federal government’s commitment to protecting our country’s core value of religious freedom.

In addition to the President’s declaration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Office for Civil Rights on Thursday. I was honored to speak at the event where I shared the story of Cathy DeCarlo, a practicing nurse whose employer forced her to participate in an abortion. Cathy, like several other healthcare professionals I’ve met, lived through a nightmare that should never have happened. The new division at HHS will review complaints like Cathy’s and work for a resolution.

I have also been actively working on legislation, the Conscience Protection Act, H.R. 644, a bill that would create a private right of action for victims of discrimination, like Cathy. This bill would allow doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals facing discrimination to take their case to court. The Conscience Protection Act would also provide legal protections for churches, universities, and other institutions whose faith and mission promote and protect life, and which decline to provide or pay for abortions.

Helping Local Manufacturers

On Tuesday, I voted in favor of H.R. 4318, the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2018, which would increase the competitiveness of American manufacturers by temporarily reducing tariffs on nearly 1700 different components needed to make American products, that are not otherwise available in the United States.

American businesses are working hard to create jobs and provide value to the American people. I’m proud to support this common-sense bill to keep American manufacturers competitive on the global stage. Its massive reduction of tariffs would mean American companies can make things here at home and American jobs can flourish. This is just one more example of the pro-growth policies the House is advancing to help American families and businesses.

Meeting with Secretary of the Army

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to meet with Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark Esper. Dr. Esper is a Gulf War veteran, graduate of West Point, holds a MPA and PhD from Harvard, and was an executive in private business. He is ready to lead our Army! I enjoyed talking with him about the importance of funding stability for the Department of Defense and the importance of the Army in Missouri’s 4th District. He is looking forward to visiting Fort Leonard Wood (FLW).

Electronic Logging Device Update

I’ve heard from constituents throughout the district who are concerned with the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) requirements for truck drivers, particularly for those who haul livestock. I wanted to let you all know that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provided livestock haulers with a 90-day exemption from the ELD mandate until March 18, 2018. In 2015 it waived these drivers from the rule requiring 30 minute breaks for every eight consecutive hours of driving. This will be helpful when truckers are hauling cattle or other livestock to market and heat or cold precludes the driver from stopping for a period of time that could endanger the livestock. I’m glad this common sense exemption, which is important to us in the Heartland, was added.

Yours in service,

Vicky Hartzler

Member of Congress