Several newsletters included here from over the last month.

This Week in Washington- Thursday, February 4, 2010

The President unveiled his $3.8 trillion budget earlier this week. It runs a deficit of over $1.6 trillion. Last year’s budget deficit was $1.4 trillion. Despite the recent talk about fiscal discipline, the numbers do not lie. We will now have the two largest budget deficits in American history, back to back. We cannot sustain this uncontrolled Washington spending.

Legislation:

Debt Limit/PAYGO: The House passed H.J.Res 45 by a vote of 233-187. The bill increases the statutory debt limit by $1.9 trillion, from $12.394 trillion to $14,294,000,000,000. The 15.3 percent increase is the third increase since February 2009, and the largest one-time debt limit increase in history. The national debt subject to the statutory limit is currently at $12.36 trillion or 85 percent of Gross Domestic Product. The current share of the debt is $40,053 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. I voted against allowing Washington to continue the cycle of borrow and spend.

In addition, the legislation included a Senate amendment that would institute new, permanent statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budgeting requirements for both the House and Senate, with a number of exceptions. In general, the PAYGO rule would require that bills providing tax relief or new direct spending must be offset by tax increases or mandatory spending reductions.

The legislation exempted certain direct spending increases and tax relief from PAYGO rules, including the “doc fix,” the AMT patch, extensions of 2001 and 2003 tax relief for individuals making less than $200,000 or $250,000 for joint filers, and an extension of the death tax at 2009 levels. The bill exempted discretionary spending and any spending designated as “emergency.” These exemptions undermine the whole point of having PAYGO legislation.

Small Business Expo: I held a Small Business Expo in Kansas City on Monday. Thank you to the over 150 small business owners, presenters and exhibiters who made this a wonderful event.

Next year, I want to invite all of the other 434 members of Congress so that they can hear from real small businesses about how Washington continues to stifle job creation with over-taxation, regulation and litigation.

The House will be is session again next week. Have a good weekend.

Sincerely,

Sam Graves

This Week in Washington- Friday, February 26, 2010

Washington was consumed by the healthcare summit this week. The President, along with Republican and Democratic Congressional leaders sat down at the Blair House to talk healthcare.

There was not much agreement or a new breakthrough. What was on display though was a fundamental difference on the role of government. The President and Nancy Pelosi believe that creating more government programs, boards and commissions and spending hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars is the answer. My colleagues including Representative Paul Ryan from Wisconsin and Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma made a very good argument that there are better solutions.

It is very likely that the Senate will now try to use a parliamentary trick called reconciliation to move this healthcare bill. It changes the rules required to pass legislation in the Senate. However, exactly what that bill will look like or when it will happen, we still do not know.

Legislation:

Health Anti-Trust Bill, H.R. 4626: The House passed legislation to remove the health insurance industry’s current federal anti-trust exemption by a vote of 406 – 19. Health insurers that were previously exempt from anti-trust laws will now bear legal responsibility for price fixing, dividing up territories among themselves and sabotaging their competitors in order to gain a monopoly in the marketplace. Such practices have been outlawed in other industries for decades. I voted for the bill.

PATRIOT Act Reauthorization: After running out of time on a long-term reauthorization bill, the House and Senate passed a one-year reauthorization of several expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act. I voted for it, because I believe it is important to give our law enforcement officials all the tools in the toolbox to protect us. It is clear that everyday, there are people out there planning to do harm to this country.

Intelligence Authorization, H.R. 2701: The House passed the Intelligence Authorization bill by a vote of 235 – 168. The bill authorizes the intelligence activities of the United States government. There was no outright prohibition on using intelligence funds to bring Guantanamo detainees into the U.S. and so I voted against the bill.

Native Hawaiian Bill, H.R. 2314: The House passed a bill to recognize and authorize the creation of a sovereign Native Hawaiian governing entity. The bill would establish a process for organizing the Native Hawaiian people into an entity that possesses authority over its members and adopts governing documents. The bill would immediately grant the native governing entity “inherent powers” preempting State regulation, taxation, and civil and possibly criminal jurisdiction for undefined “government activities” conducted by the entity.

If each Native Hawaiian eligible under this legislation were to apply to become a member of the new governing entity, it would be one of the nation’s largest Indian tribes. This bill would confer upon them exclusive benefits, discriminating against Hawaiian residents of other races. The bill passed 245-164 and I voted no.

Extensions, H.R. 4691: The House passed H.R. 4691, the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, by a voice vote. The bill extends a number of programs including federally funded unemployment benefits, COBRA insurance premium subsidies for unemployed workers, the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment adjustment, spending authority through the Highway Trust Fund, SBA loan fee waivers, and the Satellite Home Viewer Act. Under current law, these programs were set to expire on February 28, 2010.

The House will be is session again next week. Have a good weekend.

Sincerely,

Sam Graves

This Week in Washington- Friday, March 5, 2010

The latest unemployment numbers were released this morning. The unemployment rate is still 9.7 percent and we lost 36,000 jobs in February. Washington needs to understand that ramming through more regulations and big government programs is not the answer. We need to set the table for economic growth by cutting taxes, regulations, and litigation.

Legislation

·“Jobs” Bill: On Thursday, the House passed an amended version of H.R. 2847, the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act by a vote of 217-201. The bill contains a suspension of payroll taxes for employers that hire new workers that had been unemployed for the previous 60 days, a $1,000 tax credit for retaining employees, increased expensing of new equipment purchased by small businesses in 2010, and expanded tax credit bonds sold by local government and private entities and subsidized by the government. In addition, the legislation includes an extension of surface transportation programs through December 31, 2010, and includes a $19.5 billion transfer from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to compensate for the projected FY 2010 shortfall. This bill demonstrates how much Washington does not understand what is needed to create jobs. Giving a business a tax credit for hiring an employee will not create a single job. It is a gimmick that politicians can point to and say they are creating jobs. I voted against the bill.

·Keeping All Students Safe Act: This week, the House passed H.R. 4247, to require the Secretary of Education to issue regulations regarding “seclusion and restraint” practices for students in both public and private schools that receive federal funding. Numerous states already have their own regulations and standards in place. As a former state legislator, I know that education is the chief responsibility of the state and I believe Congress should defer to them on this issue. The House passed H.R. 4247 by a vote of 262-153 and I voted against it.

Small Business Committee

The Small Business Committee held a mark up of the Small Business Administration’s budget for FY 2011 this week.

I also wrote an op-ed on jump starting economic growth. You can view it here.

The House will be is session again next week. Have a good weekend.

Sincerely,

Sam Graves

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Comments
  1. Mrs. C says:

    “Numerous states already have their own regulations and standards in place. As a former state legislator, I know that education is the chief responsibility of the state and I believe Congress should defer to them on this issue. The House passed H.R. 4247 by a vote of 262-153 and I voted against it.”

    … and I’ll be voting against YOU the next time I see your name on a ballot. I’m a Clay County resident, and my autistic child was LOCKED IN A CLOSET by school staff on numerous occasions. Our local school outlines PADDLING PROCEDURES. If our state can’t get civil rights of children down straight, there is something seriously wrong with the “education” the children receive at public expense.

    • Mrs. C says:

      Andrew,

      Looked at your “about me” and couldn’t find contact info. Email me. I will send you a pdf link that does indeed outline paddling procedures from our local high school. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

      Seriously. Email me.

  2. gamom says:

    I seriously do not understand why any legislator would vote against HR 4247. The states often will not do anything or hold anyone accountable. It’s no wonder we are falling behind! Why would any person not want to protect children – is it because they don’t vote? There are Federal laws to protect children from sex abuse, working conditions, etc, and they should be protected in school too. It’s the Fed that funds schools, isn’t it?

    • ClayCoMOPolitics says:

      No, the Federal government does not primarily fund education. In the state of Missouri schools are funded by local taxes and state taxes. Fed spending only accounts for 9% of spending in the district I work. The state of Missouri is a donor state to the Federal Department of education. Meaning, we derive no benefit from it. Education should be left up to the states as constitutionally mandated.

  3. gamom says:

    I never said the Fed PRIMARILY funds education. The amount of funding from the FED doesn’t matter. They do fund IDEA, don’t know how much. The districts do have to follow civil rights laws and IDEA. And the sad truth is that 20 states in the u.S. allow ‘paddling’. How dumb is that. I happen to know this as fact – I live in one of those states. 30 states educate just fine without that type of punishment. But despite pleas from within my state the lawmakers and locals DO NOT WANT TO address this problem

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