Greetings to our constituents, fellow Floridians, and all Americans, it has been quite an eventful week.
A real highlight of the week was meeting with local farmers and ranchers from Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties to discuss their concerns for the South Florida agriculture industry. The top issues were developing a legal workforce, the adverse effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexican produce dumping, agriculture research funding, invasive insects and other pests, and the invasive tax and regulatory environment emanating from Washington DC. I was joined by special guest Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) who is the Chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee. I encourage you to read more about the roundtable discussions here and look at photos here.
The week began with the AIPAC policy conference and of course the prevailing issue was the Israel-Iran relationship. Sunday, Israel received more than 100 rockets and missiles coming from Iranian-backed Islamic terrorists groups in the Gaza Strip. We heard President Obama give a quite firm speech before AIPAC last Sunday and the rhetoric of “having Israel’s back” and “not bluffing around” dominated the news waves. However, by the time Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was returning home, the rhetoric had changed to negotiations, giving more time for diplomatic solutions, and patience.
I would say Israel, and indeed the world, has been overly patient with Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed this same issue intensely some 16 years ago. Time is not on our side in contending with this issue, as Iran continues its march towards having a nuclear weapon capability. History has shown repeatedly that when one tries to compromise, appease, and negotiate with a madman it never ends up well. History remembers Churchill more favorably than Chamberlain. Further, the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) does not work with a radical regime that is based upon a theocratic-political totalitarian ideology.
The point by which we must take Iran seriously for its word is drawing closer. The ramifications are immense for our children and grandchildren. This cannot be cast aside as an election-cycle issue, as was the case with the Keystone XL Project.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was quite clear in stating that Israel is a sovereign state with every right to defend its people. There are precious few modern states such as Israel which share the same principles, dreams, and enemies with the United States. We must demonstrate a unified position that is unwavering and sends a poignant message, “there shall NEVER be another Holocaust event.”
On Saturday, I was standing by waiting to begin the Fort Lauderdale St. Patrick’s Day parade talking to my friends John Ropes and Police Chief Frank Adderly. One gentleman who was marching came up to me directly and stated, “Thanks for your service, but your politics suck.” Well, the three of us looked at each other and smiled and I replied that, “What I stand for is about America and its Constitution, and sir that does not suck.”
But I would like to share with all of you is something that definitely does suck.
This week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 227,000 jobs were added in the month of February, but the unemployment rate remained stagnant at 8.3 percent. While the announcement of these new jobs is positive, other aspects of the report demonstrate that Americans continue to suffer through a painfully tepid recovery made even slower by the President’s failed economic policies.
For instance, the labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of able Americans working or looking for work, was near a 30-year low in February. If the percentage of Americans in the work force were as high today as at the beginning of this recession, unemployment would actually be 11.2 percent. In addition, the number of unemployed Americans looking for work in the month of February increased by 48,000 from January. And unemployment is once again above 8 percent, now for the 37th month in a row, further extending the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression.
Compare that to what we, as Freshman class in the House of Representatives, have been able to accomplish. In just one year, my colleageues and I have:
· Passed a vote to repeal Obamacare
· Repealed the burdensome 1099 reporting provision from Obamacare
· Brought a vote for a Balanced Budget Amendment for a vote on the Floor of the House
· Put an end to endless spending on Continuing Resolutions (CR); Insisting that a CR be accompanied by significant cuts. This was a first for any modern Congress.
· Changed “PAYGO” to “CUTGO”: It is no longer acceptable to justify more spending with tax increases. If Congress wants to increase spending in one area, they must provide matching cuts to federal spending in another area.
· Authored bills that give more authority to the states instead of Washington bureaucrats. For example, including an option for states to add drug testing to their unemployment benefits programs.
· Eliminated Earmarks.
· Protected the doctor patient relationship by insisting on a two year Medicare “Doc fix.”
· Put a stop to the harmful “cap-and-trade” legislation, further protecting job creators and Americans.
· Fundamentally changed the conversation in Washington from one about “how much more can we spend?” to “how much more can we cut?”
We must continue to restore this Republic with pro-growth economic, monetary, tax, and regulatory policies, which will promote wholehearted private sector investment, ingenuity, and innovation. That means developing legislation which sets the conditions for growth, not regulatory constraints and tax policies which promote more uncertainty and lack of predictability for America’s job creators and hardworking American taxpayers. I am certaintly committed to making sure this happens for as long as I am honored enough to be your elected Representative from the great state of Florida.
Steadfast and Loyal,
-Tariffs on Chinese Imports- This past Tuesday, the House approved HR 4105 to apply the countervailing duty provisions of the Tariff Act of 1930 to nonmarket economy countries, and for the purposes by a vote of 370-39, I VOTED YES. The bill would allow for countervailing duties (CVD) to be charged on certain imports from a nonmarket economy (NME) country.
- Hydropower Development — On Wednesday, the House approved H.R. 2842, the Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act, by a vote of 265-154, I VOTED YES. H.R. 2842 would jumpstart hydropower development on Bureau of Reclamation canals and pipelines by reducing unnecessary and duplicative administrative and regulatory costs. The legislation would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to permit private entities to develop small hydropower units on all irrigation canals and conduits under the agency’s jurisdiction. Under current law, the bureau or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has jurisdiction over hydropower development at such facilities. H.R. 2842 would clarify that the jurisdiction for small hydropower development on all bureau irrigation canals and conduits lies solely with the bureau.
- JOBS Act — On Thursday, the House approved H.R. 3606, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, by a vote of 390-23, I VOTED YES. This legislation is a compilation of bipartisan House bills that will provide real solutions to encourage job growth by removing some regulations impeding small businesses and startups. These bipartisan measures will increase capital formation, spur the growth of startups and small businesses, and pave the way for more small-scale businesses to go public and create more jobs. According to the Office of the Majority Leader, “The JOBS Act represents an opportunity for both parties to work together and deliver results on areas of common ground that boost small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs. These measures have broad bipartisan support from Congress, President Obama, and successful entrepreneurs like Steve Case, the former Chair and Founder of AOL and a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Economic Competitiveness.” The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing Title I of H.R. 3606 would cost about $50 million over the 2012-2017 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.
This coming Week:
Constituent Work Week — I hope you’ll be able to attend one of our monthly town hall meetings, for details, clickhere.
Highlights of the Week:
- Monday, 5 March, met with COL(R) Lee Kichen and members of the VFW to discuss legislative priorities, recorded video for the South Florida Manufacturers Association recognition of excellence banquet, met with Rabbi Uri Pilichowski and his students for a Q&A session prior to AIPAC Conference, attended the AIPAC Policy Conference Gala and speech by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
- Tuesday, 6 March, attended HASC full committee hearing on FY 2013 NDA posture statement from Commanders, USSOUTHCOM and USNORTHCOM, met with AIPAC representatives to present perspective on issues facing Israel and discuss their legislative priorities, met with representatives from the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) reference Fiscal Year 2013 funding for Intracoastal Waterway, met with West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio on legislative priorities on economic development and transportation initiatives.
- Wednesday, 7 March, attended HASC full committee hearing on Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization (NDA) posture statement from Commanders, US CENTCOM, US SOCOM, and US TRANSCOM, met and spoke with Coral Springs Middle School 8th Grade Class- picture here, met with Broward County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman, participated in Small Business Committee legislation markup on Fiscal Year 2013 Views and Estimates and improvement to small business contracting programs, met with Jewish War Veterans to discuss legislative priorities, met with senior leadership of Allstate to discuss the upcoming Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act press conference to be held at Jupiter High School this week- more information on tomorrow’s event, click here, ended the day conducting a joint Special Order speech on the House floor with colleague Rep. Burgess (R-TX) on implementation of Flat Tax system. Watch the video from the House Floor here.
- Thursday, 8 March, participated in Small Business subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight, and Regulations covering government regulation impeding small energy producers and harming energy production and security, attended the promotion ceremony for Army Military Fellow Captain Dave Spanton who was promoted to Major, met and spoke to 5th Grade students from Calusa Elementary School in Boca Raton –they were more interested in the Capitol Hill Police and their M4 Carbines. Flew back home to South Florida.
- Friday, 9 March conducted 2 Agriculture roundtable forums with local farmers and ranchers from Palm Beach and Martin County and was accompanied by special guest Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), Chairman of Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. Read news articles on the event here and here.
- Saturday, 10 March, walked in the FortLauderdale St. Patrick’s Day parade for the second year along with my family, attended the Caps for Chemo BBQ fundraising dinner at the VFW Post 4141 in Delray Beach Fla.
- Sunday, 11 March, attended the wedding for our Congressional staff Legislative Director, Josh Grodin, to his fiancée Lauren. Mazel tov!