Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin - 5/13/17

May 13, 2017

Link to Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin – 5/13/17

May 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 reports on issues and events of importance to the families of the 8th Congressional District. 

In the wake of the firing of Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) Director James Comey earlier this week, I am deeply concerned about the status of the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

I believe most Americans desire to get to the truth of this matter. Unfortunately, because Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and Trump advisor Paul Manafort have already been compromised and/or implicated in questionable Russian dealing, we will have to resort to extraordinary measures to empower investigators who are truly independent and outside the influence of the White House in order to get a thorough and honest assessment of the possible connections between the Russians and the Trump campaign as well as the true reasons behind Director Comey’s removal.

After consulting with our staff and the Congressional Research Service, I believe that the single best approach is to revive the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which establishes a series of steps that allow a three judge panel of the Circuit Court of Appeals to appoint a special independent prosecutor (Special Counsel) to conduct the Russia-Trump connection investigation. Congress must re-enact the Ethics in Government Act because it included a ‘sunset provision,’ which allowed the law to lapse in 1999. While there are several other methods available to appoint special prosecutors, all of them allow the White House or the Attorney General to influence the selection process or control or limit the investigation.

Given the lack of respect that the Trump administration has shown for the legal process, I think it would be far too easy for the administration to thwart the investigation. So those other methods would be a waste of time.

Admittedly, F.B.I. Director Comey’s actions in the closing days of the recent Presidential election constituted a deep failure in judgment. In fact, I am convinced that his letters to Congressional leaders 11 days before the election tipped the scales and ensured Mr. Trump’s election. The additional emails turned out to be of no consequence, but the damage was done. Still, in the midst of an F.B.I. investigation into Russian interference with the Presidential election, the timing of his removal raises profound questions regarding the ability and willingness of the Department of Justice to carry out its mission on behalf of the American people. That mission is to enforce the law and ensure the impartial administration of justice even when doing so may reach the highest levels of our Government.

The American people deserve answers and a comprehensive, transparent, and accountable investigation into reports that a foreign government deliberately interfered with our most sacred democratic institution. We also need to reassure all Americans that the rule of law is being followed, and that the President, Attorney General, and Deputy Attorney General are not trying to thwart justice. Congress must take the necessary steps to see that this investigation is pursued with all deliberate speed.

With severely limited debate, House Republican leadership rushed consideration of Trumpcare to the House Floor last week. While opposing the bill on multiple points, I raised strong concerns about the impact of this proposal on families in Massachusetts and across the country and what these changes will cost average families. While somewhat complicated to explain in detail, after reading the bill, here is what I think you need to know about Trumpcare: the Trumpcare bill doesn’t lower the cost of health care (which honestly, is the central problem with the Affordable Care Act – it is unsustainable – providers are dropping out of the exchanges at an alarming rate). Trumpcare, in essence, amounts to a ‘cost-shifting’ bill. Trumpcare shifts the cost of health care from the Federal government to the States. It shifts costs from a large group of healthy individuals to a smaller group of sicker citizens. It shifts the costs from younger populations to older citizens. And it shifts a significant additional cost onto the backs of our veterans. Notably, Trumpcare is NOT a credible attempt to improve access to affordable healthcare. Trumpcare would weaken pre-existing condition protections, causing premium increases for millions. This proposal would hurt retirees’ access to healthcare by weakening Medicare and by dramatically increasing costs for individuals over age 50. And Trumpcare does nothing to address the rising cost of prescription drugs.

Trumpcare replaces direct subsidies with year-end tax credits. I am extremely concerned about a provision that would prohibit nearly 7 million veterans from using those tax credits if they receive health care at private or specialty hospitals outside the VA system. For example, many veterans who are eligible for care at the VA and are also covered by private or employer plans frequently choose to have hip or knee replacement procedures performed by noted specialists outside the VA system. These procedures are very popular and can greatly improve the quality of life for older patients. However, they can also be expensive. Under Republican Trumpcare, any veterans who undergo these procedures outside of the VA system are ineligible for tax credits that are available to other citizens to help pay for their care. Moreover, in certain areas of the country due to travel distances from a VA facility and depending on wait times for particular specialists, our dedicated veterans need the option of seeking private care. It is wrong for us to penalize veterans simply because they serve their country and they are eligible for VA healthcare. Prior to the vote, House Republican leadership heard directly from the Paralyzed Veterans of America organization who pointed out the negative effect this legislation would have on our dedicated veterans. I am hopeful that we can find a bipartisan solution in the Senate to ensure veterans receive the quality care they have earned.

Here in Massachusetts, when our sons and daughters put on the uniform of our country, they take on a solemn and serious commitment on our behalf. In turn, we as a State and a Nation, have an equal obligation to take care of them when they come home. Friday’s ribbon cutting, marking the completion of the renovation at the New England Center and Home for Veterans, demonstrates that the Center, the City of Boston, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are in part, trying to deliver on our promise. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Baker, Mayor Walsh, Senate President Rosenberg, Speaker Bob DeLeo, and CEO Andy McCawley, the New England Center and Home for Veterans will continue to be an important resource for our local veterans for years to come. From supportive housing for veterans who have fallen on hard times to education and job training, the Center plays an important role in assisting with the transition to civilian life. The updates to the Center created 37 new permanent supportive housing units for veterans, including a dedicated floor for female veterans, as well as provided 180 beds of new transitional housing for veterans. In addition to housing resources, the Center will continue to provide multi-dimensional service and care through the Veterans Training School for education and employment services, in addition to offering spaces for clinical and social services. These resources are invaluable for returning servicemen and women and their families. Thanks to the hard work of the New England Center and Home for Veterans and funding from federal, state, local, as well as private and nonprofit partners, our local homeless veterans, who have fallen on hard times, will receive the resources they need and they will also get housing, educational, and medical opportunities to be on a path to long-term independent living. 

Earlier this week, I was honored to join President Fred Clark and Professor Brian Frederick at the celebration of the 2017 graduates of the Master of Public Administration program at Bridgewater State University and to accept the 2017 John Joseph Moakley Public Service Award. Congressman Moakley saw public service as a truly honorable profession whose noblest purpose is to help people in need. Since its founding in 1840, Bridgewater State has instilled in its student body and faculty a deep appreciation for advancing the public good, just as Congressman Moakley did in his daily life. I am certain that the Class of 2017 will continue to carry out this commitment to empowering the local community. I extend my congratulations to the Class of 2017 at Bridgewater State as well as to the many young people, who call the 8th Congressional District home, who will be receiving diplomas from institutions across the country later this month. 

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.