Blue Dog Coalition Recess Round Up -- September 2017
Blue Dog Leadership Responds to the U.S. National Debt Surpassing $20 Trillion. Earlier this month, U.S. national debt surpassed $20 trillion for the first time in our nation’s history, and it’s continuing to increase at an alarming rate. The co-chairs of the Blue Dog Coalition—Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)—issued a statement calling on Congress to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to our nation’s fiscal state.
Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA): Congressman Jim Costa announced September 7th that two of the State of California’s requests for federal emergency grants to help fight wildfires in Madera and Mariposa counties were approved. Both grants are Fire Management Assistance Grants, which are issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). One grant request is for assistance suppressing the Railroad Fire, which has been burning in Madera and Mariposa counties since August 29, 2017. The second request asks for a grant to help fight the Mission Fire, which has been burning in Madera County since September 3, 2017. The FEMA administrator responsible for approving Fire Management Assistance Grants submitted for the region determined the destruction threatened by each fire would constitute a “major disaster.”
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL): Rep. Charlie Crist authored a guest column regarding the urgent need for Congress to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program and address affordability issues in the wake of damaging Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Crist is a member of the House Financial Services Committee that oversees the NFIP and is a cosponsor of the SAFE NFIP Act, which would freeze interest payments on the program’s debt, incentivize better technology to map flood zones so we can be better informed and better prepared, and it would provide affordability assistance to low- and middle-income families.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX): Earlier this month, Rep. Henry Cuellar joined a group of moderate Democrats and Republicans to meet with President Trump and his staff to discuss issues including, tax reform, health care, infrastructure, and DACA. Rep. Cuellar then issued a statement after the meeting calling for bipartisan, fiscally-responsible tax reform.
Rep. Cuellar was also presented with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s annual Spirit of Enterprise Award, given in recognition of his support for pro-job, pro-growth policies in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I thank the Chamber for granting me this award,” Congressman Cuellar said. “I will continue to support pro-business, pro-growth policies at the federal level because I know that support for business means greater economic prosperity for our country. My district is home to major international trade ports and agricultural businesses, as well as thousands of local small businesses that provide jobs and support to our economy through free enterprise.”
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL): Rep. Stephanie Murphy and a bipartisan group of House members, which included several members of the Blue Dog Coalition, met with President Trump to discuss pressing policy questions facing the nation. During the meeting, Rep. Murphy spoke about the need to provide disaster relief to those who suffered in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and participated in a discussion about passing bipartisan legislation to enact comprehensive tax reform and a transportation infrastructure package, as well as to create a permanent legislative solution for the Dreamers currently living in the United States.
In addition to her meeting with the president, Rep. Murphy helped introduced H.R. 3632, the Protecting Affordable Childcare for Everyone (PACE) Act, a bipartisan bill that would make childcare more affordable for working and middle-class families. This legislation has gained significant momentum, and was recently endorsed by Bloomberg.
Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL): Rep. Brad Schneider, fellow Blue Dog Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) co-led a bipartisan letter with 46 Member signatures to Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi requesting a further delay or repeal of Section 9010 of the Affordable Care Act. This section of the ACA levies a tax, commonly referred to as the Health Insurance Tax (HIT), on health insurance premiums. The tax applies to fully-insured health insurance coverage and is passed on to consumers in the form of higher rates. Congress delayed the HIT through 2017 but the tax will return in 2018 and it will be larger than ever before.
Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR): This month, Rep. Kurt Schrader joined a group of moderates from both sides of the aisle for a bipartisan meeting at the White House to lobby the President on his bipartisan plan to stabilize the individual health care market and improve the Affordable Care Act which he unveiled over the summer with his bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.
Rep. Kurt Schrader took to the House floor this month to draw attention to the more than 130 active wildfires, including 26 in Oregon, that are destroying lands and communities across the western United States. Rep. Schrader has spearheaded a number of bipartisan bills to help prevent wildfires, including his Wildfire Disaster Funding Act to fix the current budgeting process for wildfires and his Electric Reliability and Forest Management Act, which streamlines the process for utility companies to more efficiently remove hazardous vegetation near transmission lines and passed through the House with overwhelming bipartisan support in June.
A former small business owner, Rep. Schrader also introduced the bipartisan Small Entity Regulatory Relief Opportunity Act (SERRO) with Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) to provide regulatory relief for small businesses and entities under the jurisdiction of Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules. Any entity that qualifies as a small business as defined by the Small Business Administration would be able to seek this regulatory relief.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ): Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema led a bipartisan letter calling for repeal of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT). The HIT is a direct tax on health insurance providers for the services they provide to individuals, families, and other beneficiaries. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this tax is passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation found the HIT will cost between 152,000 and 286,000 jobs by 2023, with 57 percent of those lost jobs represented in small businesses. Read the letter here.