Published on July 2nd, 2012 | by Allen West Republic0
Rep Allen West – Legislative Update and Weekly Wrap Up
Greetings to our Constituents, fellow Floridians, and indeed all Americans,
It is early Sunday morning on July 1st, and I am reflecting on the astonishing events of the last week. For me, the events center on a simple theme of individual freedom and sovereignty.
On a beautiful Saturday morning, just yesterday, I gathered with almost 500 Americans, 300 of whom were about to participate in the First Annual US Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn Memorial Frogman Swim. Aaron gave his life in service to this country as one of the Navy SEALs killed in the Chinook helicopter shot down in Afghanistan last year. I have come to know his father, Billy, and met the entire family. One thing you can certainly ascertain is that Aaron grew up in a loving Christian family who understood devotion to Duty, Honor, God, and Country.
Looking at the splendor of the Atlantic Ocean, I reflected upon the sacrifices made over all these years by individuals such as Aaron for the individual freedoms, liberty, and democracy which we enjoy here in America. The wholehearted willingness to lay down one’s life for another is truly amazing and is an essential part of the American experience, our exceptionalism.
Aaron was one of the best this country offers, a US Navy SEAL. He was part of a legacy which began not too far up the coast in Ft. Pierce, Florida, home of the Navy Frogman, Underwater Demolition Team. However, Aaron is part of a legacy that spans all the way back to the first men who answered the call to arms — those brave patriots at Lexington and Concord who fired the shot heard round the world.
It was those first “Minutemen” who stood ready to defend a new nation which embodied a fledgling idea of the sovereignty of the American individual… a sovereignty that emanates from our Creator, not from man or government.
And how those patriots would have shed tears upon hearing the decision coming from the Supreme Court of the United States of America this past week. This decision has set a precedent by collectively subjugating the individual rights of Americans to the subjective whims of the Federal Government. This decision has given the Federal Government unlimited taxing authority to unleash a new era of behavior modification by way of taxation. This decision has taken us back to exactly the point and reason for America’s founding — onerous taxation.
As we come upon the 236th anniversary of the document setting America apart from all other nations, the Declaration of Independence, consider the achievement of Thomas Jefferson all those years ago. Thomas Jefferson would create the longest running Constitutional Republic the world has ever known. He would set forth a concept that was foreign at the time, of rule by the consent of the governed, not by the monarch. His idea that our unalienable rights did not come from a single ruler but were embedded in each of us from our Creator wholeheartedly altered the relationship between God, leaders, and the people.
Yet, in a single moment five Supreme Court justices decided that Jefferson’s words had no meaning. These Justices decided that James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton had it all wrong.
Quite contrary to the serenity of the morning where we memorialized Aaron Vaughn.
I respect our concept of separation of powers and the three branches of government, but I have utmost respect for the fundamental premise in America of individual sovereignty and liberty.
My parting challenge to all who read this missive before this 4th of July — read the entire Declaration of Independence with your families. Read and understand that which Thomas Jefferson set forth here some 236 years ago.
Read the grievances which he listed from an invasive and intrusive King George III and England and find the similarities to today.
Read and understand the impeccable birthright of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that has been given to all who earn the title of American.
Read, and notice, that Thomas Jefferson stated pursuit of happiness, not guarantee!
Read, and read again if necessary to ensure that our children and grandchildren recognize the blessing of having been born in the greatest nation the world has ever known… a nation for which men and women have given their lives… a nation for which many have left other places in order to become a citizen within the laws of the land.
Read, my fellow Americans, and when you feel that swelling of pride within your hearts and the tears well in your eyes, then you are ready to do as 56 men did 236 years ago — pledge your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to restoring the legacy of this Constitutional Republic, these great United States of America!
Thanks to the five United States Supreme Court Justices who have reminded us, true Americans, of what tyranny looks like.
Contempt of Congress— On Thursday, the United States House of Representatives approved H. Res. 711, recommending that the House of Representatives find Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General, United States Department of Justice, in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, by a vote of 255-67, I VOTED YES. According to House Report 112-546,”The Department of Justice has refused to comply with congressional subpoenas related to Operation Fast and Furious, an Administration initiative that allowed around two thousand firearms to fall into the hands of drug cartels and may have led to the death of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. The consequences of the lack of judgment that permitted such an operation to occur are tragic.” The report continues, “The Department’s refusal to work with Congress to ensure that it has fully complied with the Committee’s efforts to compel the production of documents and information related to this controversy is inexcusable and cannot stand. Those responsible for allowing Fast and Furious to proceed and those who are preventing the truth about the operation from coming out must be held accountable for their actions. Having exhausted all available options in obtaining compliance, the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recommends that Congress find the Attorney General in contempt for his failure to comply with the subpoena issued to him.” The resolution will be referred to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for enforcement of the subpoena. In addition, the House approved H. Res. 706 by a vote of 258-95,I VOTED YES , authorizing the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to initiate or intervene in judicial proceedings in any Federal court of jurisdiction to seek declaratory judgments affirming the duty of Attorney General Holder to comply with any subpoena issued to him by the Committee, as part of its investigation into the “Fast and Furious” operation, and to seek appropriate ancillary relief, including injunctive relief.
THUD Appropriations — On Friday, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 5972, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013, by a vote of 261-163,I VOTED YES. The legislation would provide a total of $51.6 billion in discretionary budget authority for the agencies and programs funded through the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. Budget authority in the bill would be a reduction of $3.9 billion or 7 percent below last year’s spending level and $1.87 billion below the level requested by the President for Fiscal Year 2013. H.R. 5972 would contribute to an overall level of discretionary budget authority of $1.028 trillion for Fiscal Year 2013 as contained in House Continuing Resolution 112, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2013.
Transportation funding / Student Loans / Flood Insurance— Also on Friday, the House of Representatives approved the Conference Report to H.R. 4348, the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, by a vote of 373-52,I VOTED YES. The Conference Report accompanying H.R. 4348 would reauthorize federal surface transportation programs and extend the authority to appropriate funds from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for federal highway and surface transportation programs for two years, through September 30, 2014. The Conference Report would also extend current excise taxes used to provide funding for the HTF. The Conference Report would set the obligation limit for Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs at $39.69 billion for Fiscal Year 2013 and $40.25 billion for Fiscal Year 2014. The legislation would also authorize a total of $10.5 billion for Federal Transit Administration programs in Fiscal Year 2013 and $10.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2014. The Conference Report would include offsets to fully pay for the shortfall between transportation spending levels and HTF tax revenue. Under current law, surface transportation spending authority is set to expire on June 30, 2012. The bill would also include reforms to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) funding, which JCT estimates would reduce the deficit by a total of $9.394 billion over Fiscal Year 2012-2022 (including $8.817 billion from increased revenues and $650 million from reduced PBGC outlays). These reforms, which were not included in the United States Senate amendment to H.R. 4348, are designed to shore up PBGC’s financing in order to reduce the risk of a taxpayer-funded bailout. In addition, the Conference Report would prevent the interest rates on new subsidized Stafford loans from increasing to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012, SOMETHING WHICH BECAME AN ISSUE BECAUSE PRESIDENT OBAMA’S PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT NATIONALIZED COLLEGE EDUCATION LOANS AND SET THE RATE AT 6.8%… ANOTHER INSTANCE OF FINDING OUT WHAT WAS IN THE BILL AFTER WE PASS IT. Instead, interest rates for new subsidized Stafford loan borrowers will be maintained at the lower interest rate of 3.4 percent through June 30, 2013. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that reforms to the length of time interest accrual can be deferred will save $1.2 billion from the estimated $5.9 billion cost of extending the current interest rates. Lastly, the bill would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through September 30, 2017, and amend the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 to include a series of reforms to the NFIP that the CBO has estimated will generate a $2.7 billion increase in net income to the program over the next 10 years. For Floridians, the Conference Report also includes the RESTORE Act which ensures the restoration of the affected Gulf States from the Deepwater Horizon incident.