Issues

Strengthening Our Military and Supporting our Veterans

Strengthening Our Military

Today, our military has too many planes that cannot fly, too many ships that cannot sail, too many Soldiers who cannot deploy, while too many threats are gathering around the globe.

After nearly a decade of cuts by the previous administration, I am working alongside President Trump and my colleagues in Congress to restore America’s military might and give our troops the tools they need to be successful. In fact, we’re rebuilding our military like never before. With my support, President Trump signed into law legislation that:

  • Fully funds the Pentagon
  • Addresses our readiness crisis
  • Gave our troops their largest pay raise in 9 years

 

“I am very confident that what the Congress has now done, and the president is going to allocate to us in the budget, is what we need to bring us back to a position of primacy,” Secretary Mattis said earlier this year on defense funding.

Here at home in West Texas, I’ve worked alongside Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry to fully fund Dyess Air Force Base (including its new B-21 Bomber) and ensure the brave men and women stationed there have the support, training and resources they need to defend our great nation from threats at home and abroad.

 

Delivering on our Promises to Veterans

One of the most rewarding aspects of my Congressional career is serving on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and being selected to chair the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. Our veterans represent the very best of our nation—and while nothing can measure up to their sacrifice — we owe them the absolute best care possible. That’s why I’ve led efforts to expand and enhance the GI Bill, promote accountability at the VA, and give veterans more choice in their health care decisions.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee has passed over 70 bills to finally hold the VA accountable and increase access to care and expand education and employment opportunities for our veterans. Of those, more than two dozen have been signed into law, including my legislation to help service-disabled veterans receive faster and more efficient services.

We spend the necessary resources transforming our civilians into great freedom fighters; but when they return to civilian life, we must ensure they have the support and tools for a seamless, successful transition. Named in honor of Plainview native Bill Mulder, my legislation to accomplish this goal passed the House.

Without accountability, you get mediocrity; and for far too long, veterans have been receiving mediocre—at best—care from the VA. That’s why one of my top priorities was to finally hold the VA accountable for a growing pattern of misconduct, including secret waiting lists and egregiously-delayed care.

We’ve passed legislation to make it easier for senior leaders to discipline employees at the VA who are failing to live up to their responsibilities. I’ve also sponsored legislation to reform VA union rules and ensure employees use their time to care for veterans — and nothing else.

Holding the VA accountable for serving our veterans – not themselves – is not a Republican or Democrat ideal…it’s a basic expectation of every tax paying American! After their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield, these heroes should receive the best care when they return home.

Bills Introduced: 444
Bills Passed by the House of Representatives: 84
Bills Awaiting in the U.S. Senate: 43
Bills Signed Into Law by the President: 28

Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017
VET Protection Act (H.R. 1461)
VA Home Adaptation Bill (H.R. 3562)
Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William `Bill’ Mulder (Ret.) Transition
Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 5649)
VA MISSION Act
National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 5515)
Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017 (H.R. 299)
Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (“Forever GI Bill”) (H.R. 3218)
VALOR Act (H.R. 3949)
Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2288)

 

Standing with the President to Secure Our Border

From day one, I’ve made it clear that securing our southern border and stemming the tide of illegal immigration is paramount to protecting the American people and safeguarding our sovereignty as a nation.

We must close the biggest loopholes that are driving our immigration crisis – eliminating chain migration and cutting off the employment magnet for illegal immigrants by mandating the use of E-Verify.

The bottom line is this: Our nation needs to get serious and have the political courage necessary to ensure America’s borders are secured in a way that stops the drug traffickers, human smugglers, waves of illegal immigrants and, God forbid, terrorist infiltrators from taking advantage of vulnerable Americans.

 

Yes, we need a wall in strategic areas where the U.S. Border Patrol instructs us will be most effective. For other parts of the border, we need to leverage technology such as thermal imaging cameras, motion detectors and aerostats to help us manage a virtual wall that can direct our patrols to accurately intercept those illegally crossing into America.

We also need thousands more agents to better cover the vast expanse of our border. Even more importantly, we need to empower those agents to do their jobs and not be held back by rules and regulations that prevent them from carrying out their sworn duty. How can we ask them to risk their lives to protect us without equipping them to do so? It is disrespectful, demoralizing and dangerous.

Perhaps the most important reform we can make is in our own thinking — rather than talking about border security, we need a national commitment to get it done.

As your representative in Congress, I’ve been proud to support a number of bills that do just that:

Provisions to Fully Fund the President’s Request for a Border Wall (H.R. 3219) – Fully funds President Trump’s FY2018 $1.6 billion request
Kate’s Law (H.R. 3004) – Enhances penalties for individuals who unlawfully return to the United States
No Sanctuary for Criminals Act (H.R. 3003) – Strengthens the law to combat dangerous sanctuary policies that shield criminal unlawful immigrants from federal immigration enforcement
Securing America’s Future Act
The Legal Workforce Act
The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act
The Davis-Oliver Act – protects national security by improving the visa issuance process

Growing our Economy, Cutting Taxes, and Creating Jobs

Addressing Spending

Several active-duty and retired American military leaders have said the national debt is the single greatest threat to our nation — I couldn’t agree more. It currently stands at $21 trillion. We must seriously address the issue now for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

As the only freshman member appointed by the Speaker to the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform, I’m charged with working with Members on reforms to our funding process to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse, while ensuring important entities like our military can budget properly and efficiently.

Balancing our budget and reducing our country’s debilitating debt is THE challenge of the 21st Century. We, as members of this select committee, have a unique opportunity to help stave off a crisis, solve our debt problem, and pass along to our children a safe, free, and solvent America.

Additionally, as a member of the Budget Committee, I assisted in drafting and passing a budget for the federal government that cuts $200 billion in wasteful spending, the largest cut in twenty years.

It is past time Congress gets serious about addressing the root causes that are driving our debt and threatening our nation’s future.

West Texans, like all Americans, must balance their budget, make wise fiscal decisions, and live within their means — the federal government must do the same.

 

Reigning in Government Regulations

For too long, the American people suffered under a President who thought he was above the law and the constitution. Thankfully, President Trump shares a different view of presidential authority and responsibility.

Congress has a constitutional responsibility to hold the executive branch accountable for rushed regulations and a bloated bureaucracy. Many of the regulations created by the previous administration are downright harmful to our nation and our people.

In Congress, I am leading the fight to repeal many of these harmful, duplicative regulations that were rushed through at the last minute.

Using the Congressional Review Act, House Republicans repealed 16 harmful regulations—the most in history.

Additionally, President Trump signed an executive order that will require the repeal of two regulations for every new one created—an excellent idea if you ask me.

 

Results of a Strong Economy

Job openings are at a record high. Unemployment has dropped to record lows. There is record high small-business confidence. Wages and benefits are up, growing at their fastest rate in a decade. 90% of West Texans are seeing bigger paychecks.

These are just a few of the benchmarks our economy has reached since January 2017—and these aren’t just statistics. These are hard-working American families experiencing real prosperity after years of a stagnant economy.

The job-growing, free market reforms—including Tax Reform — Republicans continue to deliver resulted in the strongest economy our nation has seen in a generation.

Here at home in West Texas, the average increase in take-home pay due to tax reform is over $2,000 and businesses across the area have provided wage and benefit increases to their workers.

Make no mistake: This type of economic growth—the kind that lifts struggling industries, communities, and families out of the rut — is one of my top priorities as your representative. You can rest assured I will continue fighting to keep this momentum going.

 

Standing Up for Rural America – A Strong Voice for our Farmers, Ranchers, and Producers

West Texas is the food, fuel, and fiber capital of the world. As a champion for rural America, I will continue to fight for our hard-working families in Congress. In just my first term, I’ve delivered a #RecordOfResults for our region, including:

✔ Fighting for farmers and restoring cotton to the Farm Bill safety net

Our region is home to one-third of the world’s cotton production, but cotton was left out of the safety net in the 2014 Farm Bill. Earlier this year I, along with my fellow West Texan Mike Conaway, followed through on my commitment to restore cotton to Title I status, ensuring our farmers have the confidence and flexibility they need to continue clothing the world

As an appointee to the Farm Bill Conference Committee, I will urge my Senate and Democrat colleagues to reauthorize our critical farm policies. It is crucial that we give our producers the certainty and stability they need while addressing reforms to our welfare programs that encourage work and personal responsibility.

 

✔ Repealing Obama-era regulations

The Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency issued business-crippling regulations against the agriculture and energy producing industries by fiat and without input from these job creators. I have supported sensible, regulation-repealing bills like overturning the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) that defended state sovereignty and saved billions of dollars in taxpayer funds.

 

✔ Fighting for a More Fair Trade Market

For far too long, China has cheated on the global marketplace, setting up artificial barriers to trade and openly ripping off American intellectual property. At the same time, past administrations and Congresses have agreed to weak free trade deals that leave American producers and manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage. Working with this administration, I will support measures that break down unfair trade barriers, open markets to U.S. products, and ensure Texas agriculture and energy producers have a level playing field abroad to compete and win.

 

✔ Cutting red tape and bureaucracy for rural health care providers

If we are going to maintain the ability to feed our own people and fuel the American economy, we need to ensure our rural communities have access to quality healthcare. I’ve introduced legislation and Farm Bill language that passed the House and will permit rural hospitals to refinance their existing debt, allowing more hospitals to stay open and serve the patients who need them.

 

✔ Supporting small business and doubling the Death Tax exemption

Included within the Tax Reform legislation was a 20 percent tax deduction on small businesses for the first time in history.

Additionally, the Spurring Business in Communities Act, will make it easier for Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) to form and bring startup capital to under-licensed and underserved areas, including many of our communities in West Texas.

The death tax exemption levels are also doubled and job creators will be allowed to immediately write off the cost of new equipment, leaving more money to grow their businesses, increase employee wages, and expand benefits.

Due to these and other Republican policies, “small business optimism surged to a record in August as the tax cuts and deregulation efforts of President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress led to more sales, hiring and investment,” noted CNBC.

 

✔ Improving broadband coverage for rural communities

The House-passed 2018 farm bill authorizes substantial annual appropriations for rural broadband and requires USDA to establish forward-looking broadband standards. The bill also strengthens the suite of rural development initiatives to promote jobs and economic activity in rural America.

Additional House-passed legislation:

Medicare Reimbursement for Rural Hospitals (HR 1982 – Bipartisan Budget Act)
Healthcare Enhancement for America’s Rural Towns (HEART) (H.R. 4178)
Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act ( H.R.6079)
SALE Act of 2017- amending the Packers and Stockyards Act (H.R.4058)
Student Agriculture Protection Act of 2017 (H.R.1626)
Olive Oil Consumer Standards Act of 2018 ( H.R.5249)
America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018
Farm Bill Amendment #31 – streamlining the permitting process for rural broadband
Water Resources and Development Act (H.R. 8)

 

Defending the Constitution and our God-given Freedoms

Protecting Our Second Amendment

West Texans are unambiguous about our Second Amendment rights.

I believe government exists to serve “We the People” by protecting our fundamental rights and God-given freedoms.

As your representative in Congress, I am fighting daily to ensure ALL of our Constitutional freedoms are NOT infringed upon.

Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38)
STOP School Violence Act (H.R. 4909)
FIX NICS Act – to strengthen the background check system

“When the government fears the people there is liberty; when the people fear the government there is tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

Protecting Life

I believe life begins at conception and that unborn children have the constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. To me, there is no more important issue than defending the lives of unborn children. I have—and will continue to— support policies and initiatives that defend and protect life.

Some of these include legislation to outlaw abortions after twenty weeks, defund Planned Parenthood, and overturn an Obama rule that forced states to make federal dollars available to pro-abortion groups.

Others include:

Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection (H.R 36)
No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure (H.R. 7)
American Health Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 1628)
Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment (H.R. 3354)
Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 4712)
The Title X Abortion Funding Rule (H.J. Res 43)

Work Requirements for Able-Bodied Individuals

Today, we spend 16 times as much on welfare as in the 1960s, yet the poverty rate was the same in 1966 as it was in 2013. Welfare is the fastest growing part of government spending. With our economy growing at historic rates, unemployment at historic lows, and nearly 7 million open jobs, now is the time to pass real reform of the food stamp program.

Instead of trapping people in welfare, we need to encourage them to come off the sidelines and seize new opportunities. It will not only benefit them and their families, but it allows future growth and prosperity for our region and nation.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform Act of 2017 (H.R.2996) – amends the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to modify the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

As your representative, I’ll continue to bring our West Texas common-sense and work ethic to Washington.

Term Limits

Setting limits on the time politicians can serve in a particular office will not solve all the problems with Washington’s broken culture. However, I believe it will help achieve a much-needed, positive dynamic: more courage to solve the big problems for our country rather than congressional leaders planning their careers and protecting their longevity.

With roughly 75 percent of Americans supporting term limits for Congress, it is time to pass legislation that aligns with the will of the people and our founders.

Today, 97 percent of U.S. Representatives and 93 percent of U.S. Senators who run as incumbents are re-elected to their positions — European monarchs have more turnover. These figures represent the fulfillment of Washington’s fear. In 1819, only 1 percent of representatives in Congress had served over 16 years. Today, that number has risen to 20 percent.

The high percentage of career congressmen today should motivate productive change the same way a third term for Roosevelt did in 1941. Prudence dictates that the same limits the people put on the presidency should also be applied to Congress.

That is why I have introduced the only bipartisan term limits bill in the 115th Congress. This legislation would impose a 12-year limit on elected officials in Congress. To be clear, this is not a repudiation of any particular elected official, but rather a recalibration of our current system to reflect the intent of our founders and achieve better outcomes in our self-governance. In an era when faith in the system is waning, it is encouraging to see this 115th Congress take steps toward a more inclusive, competitive and indeed democratic electoral process.

In fact, my bipartisan bill has been fully endorsed by President Trump.