Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin - 1/13/17
January 13, 2017
Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter, where I will be sharing updates on what Congress is considering on the House Floor, legislation I’ve introduced or cosponsored, as well as my take on issues and events of importance to the families of the 8th Congressional District.
This week, I led 106 House Democrats in an effort to reverse President-elect Trump's decision to institute a hiring freeze across the Federal government. Prior hiring freezes under Democratic and Republican administrations decreased efficiency, transparency, and accountability government-wide at the expense of public safety and American taxpayer dollars. A federal hiring freeze would continue to stretch thin our federal workforce. Devastating sequestration cuts, related furloughs, and even a 16-day government shutdown have already strained our federal workforce in recent years. President-elect Trump’s plan will merely increase the number of private contractors and negatively affect the traditional federal employees who keep our agencies running.
There is no question that we need to reduce costs within our government, but a hiring freeze will do the opposite. From protecting our national security to providing healthcare to veterans, Americans depend on federal employees each and every day. We should be strengthening the federal workforce by increasing efficiency and ensuring agencies are fulfilling their missions, rather than implementing a devastating hiring freeze that will increase backlogs, decrease the quality of service, and raise contracting costs. I am hopeful that our efforts will help protect our hard-working federal employees.
As a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I have had the opportunity to work closely on issues affecting our federal workforce, including our postal workers. In the 114th Congress, we got to the one yard line on a postal reform bill seeking to put the United States Postal Service on sound financial footing. After meeting with both Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders this week, I am reassured that this will be a top priority early on in this session of Congress. I look forward to reintroducing postal reform legislation on a bipartisan basis and will keep constituents and stakeholders updated as this process progresses.
Today, I joined my Democratic colleagues on the House Oversight Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee in introducing H.R. 530, the Safeguard our Elections and Combat Unlawful Interference in Our Democracy Act. The SECURE Act seeks to sanction any unlawful foreign interference in U.S. federal elections by requiring the Secretary of State to release publicly a list of foreign persons and entities, which have unlawfully interfered since January 1, 2015. Sanctions would include barring those on the list from entry to the U.S. and having their financial assets in the U.S. frozen. This legislation would require reports to Congress every four years on foreign interference in the previous election cycle. With many questions about foreign interference in the 2016 election, the SECURE Act will add a level of transparency and ensure that offenders are sanctioned going forward.
As the Senate held hearings on many of President-elect Trump’s cabinet appointments, the House held a vote related to his nominee for Secretary of Defense – retired four-star Marine Corps General James Mattis. Current law states that retired military officials must wait seven years before serving in the role of Defense Secretary. Yet, General Mattis retired in 2013. The House voted on a waiver for General Mattis, which passed by a vote of 268-151. I supported this waiver because President-elect Trump needs to be surrounded by experienced, thoughtful, and well-versed professionals and General Mattis is one of the few that President-elect Trump has shown an inclination to respect and trust. General Mattis has a few nicknames – one being the “warrior monk” for his devoted study of the military and war. I think his war time experience, the level of respect he enjoys from his troops, and his opposition to torture could make him a source of stability in the Trump Cabinet.
The Fiscal Year 2017 budget resolution was rushed through Congress this week as Republicans seek to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the budget reconciliation process. These reconciliation procedures require a simple majority in the Senate rather than the 60 votes typically needed and prevent a filibuster, which can hold up bills in the Senate. The budget resolution requires House and Senate Committees to report legislation by January 27 to repeal portions of the ACA. It is still up in the air whether a replacement plan will be introduced alongside these repeal efforts. We definitely have to do something to fix major flaws in the ACA, which has failed to reduce the rising costs of healthcare for most Americans. And as more and more health plans abandon the exchanges, for many families, it has limited access to the best hospitals and doctors in our area. However, repealing the ACA without meaningful efforts to offer a viable replacement plan is not the best path forward. Republicans tried to do the same reconciliation trick last year, but the legislation was vetoed by President Barack Obama. I opposed the measure in 2016 and did so again in 2017. Additionally, I am concerned about the Office of Management and Budget’s assessment of the budget resolution, which states that the budget would “lead to significantly larger deficits in each year and add more than $2 trillion in debt over the next decade.”
On Tuesday, January 24th at 7:00 PM, we will be hosting our first telephone town hall of the New Year. We will send more details about call in information as the date approaches. I look forward to answering as many questions as possible during the upcoming telephone town hall.
Thank you for keeping in touch with our office and for keeping me informed about the issues that are important to you and your family.
God bless you and God bless these United States of America.