Summer Agenda, Windstorm Legislation, and When the IRS Isn't Targeting Conservatives...
Summer Agenda in Congress
The next four weeks will be busy in Washington. Starting this week, the House of Representatives will begin discussing appropriations for the 2014 fiscal year. This is how Congress pays the government’s bills each year. The appropriations bills follow the framework laid out in the annual budget process. You can read more about that process here. This year, I voted for the Path to Prosperity—Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan that reduces spending by $4.6 trillion and balances the budget in ten years. As we consider the appropriations bills this year, I’ll be very vocal about making sure we stay within the guidelines passed in the Path to Prosperity. Overall, there are 12 annual appropriations bills, the first that will come to the House floor deals with military construction and veterans’ affairs. Get the details here. After we finish the military appropriations bill, we’ll move to homeland security. You can read the details of that legislation here.
In addition to appropriations, we’ll also be working to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to give our troops the tools they need to protect our freedom. Additionally, we will reauthorize intelligence legislation to ensure American intelligence agencies have the resources they need to combat terrorism.
I’m also hopeful that we’ll take up the Farm Bill in the House this month. In May, my colleagues and I on the House Agriculture Committee passed a bill that reduces spending by nearly $40 billion over ten years. About half of the savings come from tightening eligibility standards and eliminating loopholes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It also improves efficiency by repealing or consolidating more than 100 programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I’m hopeful that we can pass a bill through the House of Representatives in the next month or so, and our colleagues in the Senate do the same. That will allow us to meet later this summer in a conference to work out the differences between our bills as soon as possible. I would like to see a farm bill signed into law by August so our farmers have the certainty they need to make business decisions for the upcoming planting seasons.
Texas Tech in Washington to Discuss Windstorm Legislation
This week, the Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Subcommittee on Technology will hold a hearing on Federal Efforts to Reduce the Impacts of Windstorms. Dr. Ernst Kiesling, of Texas Tech’s National Wind Institute, will be in Washington to provide his expert testimony on this issue. While we can’t prevent natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, we can reduce the casualties and damages from devastating storms like the ones that have torn through Oklahoma in recent weeks. I’ve introduced the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Reauthorization Act (NWIRP), which makes smart use of our taxpayer dollars and promotes research that helps save lives, reduce injuries and lessen damage from windstorms. The Science Committee hearing will allow my colleagues to discuss my proposals with experts like Dr. Kiesling, and get their testimony on how best to reduce the damage associated with large storms. I’m looking forward to discussing the legislation and moving it forward so that we have the resources we need to keep Americans safe during windstorms.
When the IRS Isn’t Targeting Conservatives…
…they’re demonstrating line dancing techniques, at a cost of $1,600. I wish that were a joke, but it isn’t. A report being released this week shows that this frivolous video was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wasteful spending by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Between 2010 and 2012, the IRS spent $50 million to hold at least 220 employee conferences. Conference attendees received excessive benefits, including baseball tickets and stays in presidential hotel suites. This is outrageous, and I’m angry that they’re wasting taxpayer dollars this way. This week, the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on their wasteful spending. The House of Representatives is also continuing to investigate the IRS’ unconstitutional targeting of conservative groups in the last election. You can read some testimony from those investigations here. You can also see a timeline that details what we know so far, and when it happened. A number of questions still remain—perhaps most importantly, who knew about this, and when did they know? Was there White House involvement? You deserve answers, and we’re working to get them for you.
I’m proud to announce the U.S. service academy appointees from our Congressional district. These students are the future leaders of our country, and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them through the nomination process. They will be a credit to our military and our nation. If you or a student you know is interested in attending a service academy, visit http://randy.house.gov/nominations to learn more.