Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin - 3/11/17
March 11, 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 reports on issues and events of importance to the families of the 8th Congressional District.
On Monday, President Trump issued an updated travel ban blocking citizens of Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, and Libya from entering the United States for 90 days. The Trump administration claims this action will protect our national security, despite an analysis by the Department of Homeland Security that found no significant evidence that banning citizens of these six nations will make our country safer. I believe the revised travel ban will also be found unconstitutional as it continues to target individuals based on their nationality and religion and it blatantly ignores countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who have hosted terrorist organizations that actually have attacked this country. Further, the updated travel ban is tantamount to a ban on Muslims, which President Trump has openly supported, as the Muslim population of several of these six countries is nearly 99%. After the first travel ban was issued, I joined 188 of my House colleagues in cosponsoring H.R. 724, the Statue of Liberty Values Act, which sought to nullify the President’s January 27 Executive Order. On Friday, we introduced H.R. 1503, the Statue of Liberty Values Act 2.0, which states that the revised Executive Order will have no effect or force of law and no funds or fees shall be used in its implementation. In addition to legislative action, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is planning to join the state of Washington in a legal challenge to the order seeking to secure an injunction against this unconstitutional Executive Order.
Following the announcement of President Trump’s new travel ban, House Republicans tried to quietly and quickly roll out the draft text of their “repeal and replace” healthcare legislation. With no hearings and little time for public input, they hastily scheduled markups for this week in the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees. Both Committees passed the legislation along party lines. It is troubling that such an important issue, making quality healthcare more affordable for all Americans, is being handled in the dark of night with very limited debate. After reviewing the bill, it appears to be a giveaway to insurance companies and special interests. According to the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, the Affordable Care Act replacement bill would provide huge tax breaks for people with annual incomes over a million dollars while most of its benefits would accrue to those making over $200,000 per year. The bill also threatens to eliminate much of the federal funding currently available to fight the opioid crisis. I am deeply concerned about the impact of this repeal bill on Medicaid and Medicare – programs that many people in 8th Congressional District rely upon. That is why I will vote against this bill when it reaches the House floor.
In addition to recently introducing H.R. 1001, the Veterans Federal Hiring Protection Act, this week I sent a letter to President Trump signed by 23 House Democrats calling for an exemption for our nation’s servicemen and women from the President’s misguided government-wide hiring freeze. Congress and the federal government must work together to improve the quality of care and employment opportunities for the men and women who dutifully served our country. A hiring freeze does the opposite by closing the doors of the federal government, our nation’s largest single employer of veterans, to our returning service members.
Our office not only heard from veterans affected by the hiring freeze, but also from returning Peace Corps and AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers who were left concerned that the non-competitive service eligibility they earned in service to our nation and the international community will be expended during the indefinite freeze. I introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1442, the Public Service Federal Eligibility Protection Act of 2017, which would simply extend non-competitive eligibility for these individuals by the amount of days that the hiring freeze is in place. From mentoring students in the City of Boston through the Boston Cares AmeriCorps VISTA program to improving medical education in Tanzania and Uganda under the Peace Corps Global Health Service Partnership, we are thankful for the service of Americans who choose to dedicate years of their lives to helping those in need in the United States and around the world. When these volunteers return home and consider their next chapter, continuing their public service by working in the federal government should be one option they can consider. I am proud to have the support of Congressman John Katko (R-NY-24), Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA-04), and Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03), as well as the endorsement of the House Peace Corps Caucus and the National Peace Corps Association.
While the House was in session and I spent most of the week in Washington, D.C., I was closely monitoring the developments related to the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. South Boston is a proud patriotic neighborhood that has always been deeply respectful of the men and women who have served our country in the military. The many memorials, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam and Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan memorials, all offer tribute to the profound veneration that the families of South Boston hold for our veterans.The decision to deny OUTVETS from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was wrong. It is discriminatory towards the LGBTQ community and it is a disheartening way to treat men and women who dutifully served our nation in the armed forces. As soon as I learned of the decision, I committed to again fighting for the inclusion of OUTVETS in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and said that I would have to decline the invitation to march if this is not resolved. On Thursday, I had the chance to meet in our Washington, D.C. office with a member of OUTVETS from South Boston. We discussed how we can ensure the St. Patrick’s Day Parade remains a welcoming venue and all of our local veterans are able to proudly march. After meeting last night with State Rep. Nick Collins, Councilor Mike Flaherty, Ed Flynn, and a group of South Boston veterans and following a meeting and multiple phone calls with OUTVETS representatives, it now appears that the St. Patrick's Day parade will include our LGBTQ veterans. At the meeting of South Boston veterans on Friday evening at the Fitzgerald Post in South Boston, a vote was taken by our young veterans (mostly Iraq and Afghanistan vets) to unanimously welcome OUTVETS to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade. I told the veterans that I was very proud of their courageous service and their unanimous vote to include their fellow veterans. I spoke later with Dee Dee Edmondson, legal counsel for OUTVETS, and was informed that they had received an invitation from Tim Duross, the parade organizer, and planned to announce their decision to march. I thanked the members of OUTVETS for their patience while we got this worked out and for their patriotic service to our nation.
Before heading to Washington, D.C. for votes, I sat down with John MacGillivray, Kyle Toto, and Mike Sweeney of WRKO’s Sound Off program to discuss the important work being done to support our nation’s veterans. The show will air on Saturday, March 11 between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM on WRKO AM 680 if you are interested in tuning in to hear the interview.
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.