Update from Hal
Dec 01 2017
As we enter the holiday season and approach the end of the year, Congress is busy finalizing work on the federal budget and reworking America's overcomplicated tax system.
At home in Eastern Kentucky, we've been working to address challenges and promote successful solutions, which attracted several celebrities and national leaders to recently visit the Fifth Congressional District.
Earlier this month, award winning actress Jennifer Garner, and Save the Children Senior Vice President, Mark Shriver, joined me in Clay County to observe some of the successful programs that are helping students improve their reading skills and preparing others for Kindergarten.
Mark Shriver and I penned a joint op-ed about the Clay County visit, which you can read at halrogers.house.gov.
In September, NASA Acting Administrator Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr. visited Morehead State University's Space Science Center and spoke to community members about advancements at NASA, the impressive work being done by local students and the region's growing aerospace industry. Click here to learn more.
Last month, I joined the Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation (SKED) to host federal prime and sub-contractors, as well as local employers for a Supplier Education and Economic Development (SEED) Defense Contracting Symposium in Corbin. The symposium was designed to help create new jobs in the region by educating local employers how to prepare for competitive federal contract work. Dyke Weatherington, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space, Strategic and Intelligence Systems, who is based in the Pentagon, attended the event to discuss the importance of supplying military needs for our warfighters. Prime federal contractors, like Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, attended the event as well, to meet with local employers and provide information about the requirements and certifications necessary for federal contracts, including HubZone and ISO certifications.
ON CAPITOL HILL
In Washington, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made an important announcement this week to combat the nation's drug abuse epidemic. The changes come just one month after President Trump declared the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency. The changes will streamline efforts to stop deadly overdoses in the Appalachian region:
- Establish a new DEA Field Division in Louisville, Kentucky;
- Over $12 million in grant funding to combat illegal manufacturing and distribution of meth, heroin and prescription opioids; and
- All U.S. Attorneys will designate an Opioid Coordinator to work closely with prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to optimize federal prosecutions in across the country.
I discussed these actions and a broad spectrum of opioid enforcement strategies with DEA's Acting Administrator, Robert Patterson, at an Appropriations Committee briefing on Thursday. I am confident in Mr. Patterson's expertise and look forward to increased collaboration in the future.
Earlier this month, the House passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) to create a fairer, simpler tax system that allows you to keep more of your hard-earned paycheck. In Kentucky, the average family will get to keep nearly $2,000 more of their paychecks each year and the child tax credit would increase by $600. The legislation is also expected to create nearly 13,000 new jobs in Kentucky alone. We hope to have a comprehensive bill ready for the President to sign before the end of the year. You can learn more about our tax reform plan at halrogers.house.gov.
The House has passed a number of important bills this Fall that I proudly voted for, including:
- The 2018 National Defense Appropriations Act, which provides nearly $700 billion to strengthen our military and a 2.4% pay raise for our troops.
- The CHAMPIONING HEALTHY KIDS Act, which extends the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years and extends Federally Qualified Health Centers for two years, as well as other critical public health programs.
- The Protecting Seniors' Access to Medicare Act of 2017, eliminating an unelected advisory board that could make drastic cuts to Medicare benefits with little to no Congressional oversight.
- The International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act to stop Fentanyl from entering the U.S. by providing U.S. Customs and Border Protection with enhanced, portable chemical screening devices to detect fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
- The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect the sanctity of life by restricting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy when unborn children are capable of feeling pain.
- The bipartisan Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017, requiring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop an official Firefighter Registry to track cancer rates, which will help us learn more about smoke inhalation and other factors impacting the health of our firefighters.
I recently cosponsored several bills that I am proud to support, including:
- The Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program (B-CROP) Act, which would award federal grants to vital rural broadband projects in combination with the current loan funding available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Utilities Service. B-CROP would complement the KentuckyWired project, by making local governments and other entities eligible for grant funding to extend the "last mile" of fiber optic cable into each community.
- House Resolution 613 to provide vocational, trade and credentialing programs for members of the U.S. military to provide a more seamless transition into civilian life as veterans.
- The bipartisan Restoring Enforcement Standards to Track Opioids Responsively and Effectively (RESTORE) Act, restoring the DEA's power to hold distributors, wholesalers and pharmacies responsible for their roles in the nation's deadly opioid epidemic.
- Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and I introduced the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Reform Act, which would refocus its mission to invest more in the poorest Appalachian communities and relocate the ARC's headquarters from Washington, D.C. to a service location in the Appalachian region.
If you would like to receive more frequent updates on what's happening in Washington, please send me an email, join my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or join me on Instagram. Thank you to everyone who has dropped by to share your opinion -- let's keep the dialogue going!