Farm Bill Conference Work Begins, Obamacare Nightmares, and Preventing Homelessness Among Veterans
Farm Bill Conference Work Begins
On Wednesday, the House-Senate Farm Bill Conference will hold our first official meeting. At this meeting, we’ll lay out our priorities for the final legislation. This is the culmination of a long process that began in 2011, when we held our first hearings on the farm bill in the House Agriculture Committee. Over the past two years, I’ve talked to farmers and ranchers across the 19th District about how we can help them do the important work of growing food and fiber for our country.
Above anything else, our producers want certainty. They can’t predict the weather, they can’t make it rain, and they can’t prevent a drought, but they should be able to know what they can expect from our farm programs. So my first priority is putting together a five-year bill that can pass the House and Senate. It’s also important to me that we reform our programs and make them more responsive to market conditions. So our bill strengthens crop insurance, which only pays out when producers suffer a loss. That helps ensure we’re making the best use of our resources. I also want to be sure that we target our spending on nutrition assistance. So we’ve closed loopholes that were allowing food stamps to be given to individuals that don’t meet the eligibility standards. That means that as a taxpayer, you can be sure your hard-earned dollars are helping families that are truly in need. All told, our reforms to farm programs and nutrition assistance will save $60 billion over ten years. The Senate bill would only save about $24 billion, so we have to work out those differences. But I’ll be fighting for smart reforms that provide a safety net in times of need, and conserve taxpayer dollars.
Thanks to everyone who has shared stories with me about how Obamacare is affecting you. The rollout has been a mess, and you deserve answers about how the website ended up so flawed despite three years of preparation and $1 billion of your taxpayer dollars. This week, I sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting that—given the difficulty in obtaining insurance—the Administration delay the penalty for not purchasing a plan. The President has already granted businesses a year-long exemption from any fines—it’s only fair to extend that same exemption to American families.
And while the Obama Administration keeps promising to fix the website, the truth is that the problems go much deeper than healthcare.gov. The law itself is flawed. One constituent wrote me that she’s being forced off her plan, which cost $100 per month, and the cheapest option available to her now will be $250 per month. That’s not acceptable.
I know that many of you have your own stories about how Obamacare is affecting your health coverage. If you’d like to share those stories with me, you can email TX19Feedback@mail.house.gov.
Action Item: Preventing Homelessness Among Veterans
Those who sacrifice their lives to defend our freedoms deserve the best America has to offer. But all too often, we hear stories of veterans struggling to pay their medical bills and put a roof over their heads. That’s why I’m proud to support the Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2013. Our nation’s heroes shouldn’t be punished for the cost of care for their injuries. H.R. 1742 would divorce veterans’ housing payments from their medical benefits so that the cost of their health care doesn’t count against them when they apply for housing assistance. My vote today is an attempt to help the over 62,000 homeless veterans find homes – because even one homeless veteran is too many.