The end of the partial government shutdown has resulted in our federal employees getting paid and federal agency operations returning to normal, at least for the time being. Serious negotiations are now underway with a special Conference Committee of House and Senate members to see if there can be an agreement to address the issues on our southern border before Feb. 15. Democrat leaders in the both the House and Senate refused to discuss solutions during the lapse of funding, but vowed to discuss border security once the government opened again. It is now time for them to stick to their promise. We must not squander this rare moment to not only secure the border, but to address comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken system. Too many people wait in line for years for the opportunity to come to America while others ignore our laws and come here illegally. We need to help the hardworking individuals who follow our laws to access the American Dream while also ensuring the border is secured from illegal drugs and human trafficking. I am in the midst of working with my colleagues on the Conference Committee to discuss how to move negotiations forward, and I will continue to do everything I can to address this important issue.
On Tuesday, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing about the Department of Defense’s role on the southern border. At this hearing, I spoke to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood about my time on the border and my very serious concerns about the war we’re waging there against cartels. Every day our children and loved ones are being killed by the opioid crisis – 90% of heroin in our country comes across the southern border. This must stop.
New Committee Role to Benefit Missouri
I am pleased to share with you that I have been named the Ranking Member (top Republican) on the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Service Committee (HASC). This subcommittee has jurisdiction over ammunition programs, most Army and Navy acquisition programs, Navy and Marine Corps aviation programs, the National Guard, and the Army and Air Force Reserves. It also authorizes procurement and research & development programs to ensure our soldiers and airmen are fully equipped with what they need to carry out their mission and keep our nation safe.
This jurisdiction is particularly well-suited to Missouri’s Fourth District, as Fort Leonard and Whiteman Air Force Base are located here which house many of the assets overseen by this committee including aircraft, helicopters, Army transport vehicles, and other vital capabilities to the warfighter. In addition, the 4th District is home to 15,000 active duty soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines and over 20,000 Guard and Reserve members. After having served as Chair of the HASC Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee in the previous two Congresses, I am honored to hold this new position and look forward to advocating for our men and women in uniform.
Honoring a MO Hero Who Gave His “Last Measure of Devotion” in Syria
It is with great sadness that I share with you the death of Scott Wirtz, a St. Louis native who was killed while serving his country. Scott enlisted in the military in 1997 and served in the U.S. Navy and as a Navy SEAL until 2005. He then continued to support the United States by coordinating the collection of human intelligence in Syria for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). While Scott was there supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, he and three other fellow American were killed in a terrorist attack in Manbij on Jan. 16.
My sincerest condolences, thoughts, and prayers go out the family and friends who are affected by Scott’s passing. The devotion he showed for his country is inspiring. The sacrifice he made for his country is heartbreaking. We are grateful for all that he gave, and we will never forget his memory.
Protecting Human Life
I am pleased to report that recently I introduced two bills aimed at protecting taxpayers from paying for abortion, while simultaneously working to ensure women get the health care they need. Abortion is not health care. My first bill would redirect taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood for one year to Federally Qualified Health Centers, which offer a broad range of women’s health services. My second bill would require all federally funded entities to certify that they will not perform or fund abortion. Taxpayers’ dollars should invest in women’s health care, not abortion; Federally Qualified Health Centers represent a wonderful way to do this. These health centers offer screening and prevention services, cancer screenings, prenatal services, and a full spectrum of other primary care services – without performing abortions. Additionally, there are over 13,500 Federally Qualified Health Centers nationwide, featuring 228 service sites in the Show Me State that serve over 527,000 Missourians. These clinics are the better way to invest taxpayer dollars.
Regulating Virtual Currencies
Cryptocurrency, as you probably know, is a form of digital money that can be transferred from person to person anonymously because of strong cryptography. Bitcoin is generally what people think of when they hear of cryptocurrency, as it was the first decentralized cryptocurrency to hit the financial scene. Some people like cryptocurrency because it guarantees a more secure transaction and costs less than other types of transactions, while some dislike it because it enables criminals to operate more stealthily on the dark market.
The House took up legislation this week to address certain aspects of this expanding world. H.R. 502 – the Fight Illicit Networks and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act, would have the General Accountability Office (GAO) study how online marketplaces and virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, facilitate sex and drug trafficking and how illicit proceeds are transferred to the U.S. banking system. H.R. 428 – the Homeland Security Assessment of Terrorists’ Use of Virtual Currencies Act, directs the Department of Homeland Security to assess the threat posed by individuals using virtual currencies to support terrorist activities. H.R. 56 – the Financial Technology Protection Act, provides the Treasury Department with additional tools to combat the use of financial technology and digital currencies for terrorism and other illegal activity.
It is imperative that regulations keep up with illegal activities to protect American citizens. This legislation is a step in the right direction.
Weekly Dose of Good News
I have great news: Pettis County won a grant from the Department of Homeland Security for eight new portable radios, totaling $40,076. These radios are part of the Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network, which allows agencies from across the state to communicate with each other across jurisdictional and discipline lines – a top priority for Missouri’s homeland security program. In addition to allowing Sheriff Bond and his deputies to communicate with each other from anywhere in the state, the radios will better equip school resource officers to stay in touch with law enforcement as well. This grant is a wonderful example of federal dollars helping local men and women better serve the American people. Fast communication is not a luxury for our law enforcement – it is an essential part of the job.
Yours in service,
Member of Congress