Update From Hal

Dear Friend,

After our first month into 2017, the 115th Congress is clearly taking great strides to make good on its promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, rein in job-killing regulations enforced by the Obama Administration, and renew America's pro-life efforts. 

In the coalfields of southern and eastern Kentucky, we've experienced, first-hand, the devastating impacts of overreaching regulations handed down by the federal government. According to Kentucky's final coal report for 2016, coal production stopped in three more counties in our region, including Clay, Laurel and Wolfe. More than 11,600 coal miners have been laid off from the last quarter of 2008 to the last quarter of 2016 and production has dramatically declined from 91 million tons to 16 million tons in Eastern Kentucky coal mines. The good news is the war on coal is over and we're working diligently to reverse the harmful policies from the last eight years. 

This week, the U.S. House and Senate both passed a resolution of disapproval to repeal the Stream Protection Rule, also known as the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, threatening one-third of the nation's remaining coal mining jobs. The Obama Administration published the rule in its final days, placing further restrictions on coal mining. As a cosponsor of the resolution, I spoke in support of this job-saving act on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution now heads to President Trump's desk for his signature. Click here to watch the video

More than 60% of Americans agree that the government should not fund abortion, yet half of the health insurance plans sold on Obamacare exchanges for 2017 cover abortion on demand. Life is a miraculous gift and it's time to restore our defense of the unborn. In January, I cosponsored a resolution of disapproval to overturn the Obama Administration's rule forcing states to provide funding to Planned Parenthood and other facilities that provide abortions. I also voted for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017 (H.R. 7), prohibiting taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions through government programs, like Medicaid. The bill passed the House last week and now heads to the Senate for consideration. 

Obamacare is collapsing and it's clearly unaffordable for hard-working Americans. Health insurance premiums are increasing by an average of 25% this year, while some states are experiencing increases as high as 116%. As we work for a better health care plan for all Americans, I continue to advocate for a piecemeal approach to include provisions that work, like protections for black lung benefits and widows' benefits in the law. In fact, I cosponsored House Resolution 26 to keep those protections in place for our coal miners and their widows. Meanwhile, we are working diligently on a comprehensive plan and a smooth transition to affordable health care. Read more >>>

Back at home, I recently had the honor of presenting three students at Somerset Christian Academy with Congressional Award Medals. The Congressional Award Program recognizes high school students for their personal achievements, initiative and voluntary service to others. I presented a silver medal to senior, John Garland and bronze medals to juniors Mary Katherine Grippe and Abigail Scott. Learn how they earned their medals by reading more here >>> 
All students ages 14 to 23 can participate in the program by signing up online at congressionalaward.org

To help afford new opportunities and a brighter future in southern and eastern Kentucky, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has already announced approximately $8 million in federal grants in our region this year, which will help further the work of SOAR - Shaping Our Appalachian Region. The Economic Diversification Awards are part of the POWER initiative to create jobs and spur diversity in the coalfields. Find out which projects received funding by clicking here.

On Thursday, I joined our nation's leaders in prayer at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. I invited new Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover to be my guest this year. Please continue to pray for our great nation.

The next SOAR Executive Board Meeting will be March 3, 2017 in Manchester.


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