Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin - 6/03/17

Jun 3, 2017

Link to Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin - 6/03/17

June 3, 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. 

While the House was not in session this week, there was news coming out of Washington, D.C. President Trump announced that the United States would back out of the Paris Climate Agreement. President Trump risks irreparably damaging America’s future generations by abandoning the Paris Climate Agreement. The daunting challenges posed by global climate change cannot be effectively addressed by using a piecemeal country- or region-specific approach, but rather require a full spectrum response which grapples with the near-term challenges anticipated in the next 30 years while of course re-engineering the way we live so that we actually shift the sustainability curve over the next century, buying time, so to speak, for future generations to undo the environmental damage sustained thus far. I currently serve as the lead Democrat on the Subcommittee on National Security and climate change is increasingly acknowledged and discussed as a top national security priority. Without action, the effects of global climate change will exacerbate geopolitical instability and threaten to displace millions of people across the world. It would be a national embarrassment for the United States to stand down while we allow China and others to lead the fight against the greatest global threat facing the earth. We should not leave it to others to rescue us from the devastating impacts of severe weather and rising sea levels and the degradation of our environment. Massachusetts has taken a leadership role in responding to climate change and I strongly believe the United States must have a global leadership role as well. I have cosponsored H. Res. 85, which expresses the United States House of Representatives’ commitment to support the Paris Climate Agreement. I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House and the Senate to develop commonsense approaches to climate change at the federal level as well as collaborate with leaders at the state and local level.

As we marked Memorial Day earlier this week, cities and towns across the 8th Congressional District held moving tributes to honor the men and women who sacrificed so much to protect and defend our great nation. From the rededication of the Massachusetts Iraq and Afghanistan Fallen Heroes Memorial on the South Boston waterfront to the dedication of the Cohasset Healing Field, as well as the ceremonies in Braintree and Canton and at the Cedar Grove Cemetery and the South Boston Vietnam Memorial, we gathered throughout the Memorial Day weekend in memory of those we have lost. I am proud to see how local families, area veterans, and many others came together to honor our fallen heroes. In a meaningful way, their actions helped to carry the burden felt by Gold Star families every day. 

Over the Memorial Day weekend, in addition to honoring our fallen heroes and sharing my appreciation for active duty servicemen and women, I discussed the importance of living up to our ongoing duty to help our returning veterans’ transition back to healthy and productive civilian lives. With over 3.5 million service men and women serving since the First Gulf War and many serving repeat tours of duty, it is critically important to ensure we have the healthcare and support systems in place to help with the difficult transition to civilian life. We are seeing a nexus between repeat tours of duty and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury. On May 22nd, I held a roundtable review of Traumatic Brain Injury protocols with doctors and veterans stakeholders at the Jamaica Plain Campus of the VA Boston Healthcare System. Under the leadership of Director Vincent Ng and Doctor Michael Charness, the VA Boston Healthcare System is working on the development of countermeasures and protocols to deal with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD. They have developed an archive of brain scans for over 500,000 men and women at the Jamaica Plain VA so that they can track any changes or degradation of brain structure over time. This innovative research may allow us to develop new treatments and therapies to anticipate, prevent, and/or mitigate the long-term impact of Traumatic Brain Injury.

We have wonderful, dedicated doctors, nurses and staff at the VA; we just need to make sure that they have the systems in place to get this right. One way to do that is to continue to develop better tools to diagnose and treat Traumatic Brain Injury. From ensuring the VA has adequate funding to continue its important research to promoting public-private partnerships with local businesses that can help enhance diagnostic tools, we must work together at all levels of government, alongside our private and nonprofit partners, to help our veterans.

In response to the Trump Administration’s reluctance to disclose ethics waivers allowing former lobbyists and industry attorneys to bypass ethics rules and work in the White House and other executive branch agencies, this week, I introduced H.R. 2762, the White House Ethics Transparency Act of 2017. The Trump Administration’s brazen resistance to ethics transparency impedes necessary oversight by the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and decreases public confidence in the executive branch. While President Trump pledged to ‘drain the swamp,’ he has already flooded the White House and other federal agencies with former lobbyists, consultants, and industry attorneys whose previous work in the private sector presents serious conflict of interest concerns. Reports that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn performed lobbying and consulting activities on behalf of foreign governments prior to his tenure in the White House underscore the importance of requiring the Administration to publicly disclose its decisions to waive its own ethics rules for executive branch officials. The White House Ethics Transparency Act would do just that and ensure that the American people receive the full picture of precisely who is working behind closed doors in their government. I am pleased to have the support of 24 of my House Democratic colleagues as cosponsors of this legislation.

In addition to introducing the White House Ethics Transparency Act of 2017, I also recently led a letter to the Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney expressing concern over the Trump Administration’s refusal to publicly disclose ethics waivers for high-ranking officials. The letter, signed by 58 House Democrats, called for the Trump Administration to “immediately comply with OGE’s original request to deliver all copies of waivers issued to appointees by the original June 1 deadline.” While the Trump Administration released the text of some of these waivers this week, it is important that this action is not voluntary. Under the White House Ethics Transparency Act, the Trump and future Administrations will be required to promptly disclose waivers of executive branch ethics rules to the Office of Government Ethics as well as publicly post ethics waivers on the White House and OGE websites.  

I am deeply concerned about the impact of President Trump’s budget plan on families across Massachusetts. The deep cuts proposed in his plan will directly impact the budgets of local cities and towns as well as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. By cutting the budget of the National Institutes of Health from $31.8 billion to $26 billion, funding would be at risk for the many institutions across Massachusetts that depend on federal funding to conduct critical medical research. In addition, President Trump seeks to eliminate the Community Development Block grant program. These grants are used by local cities and towns to fund programs at community centers and local service organizations that help our seniors and young people enjoy healthy, productive lives. Communities along the shoreline in the 8th District will be affected by the elimination of Coastal Zone Management grants, which are used to fortify coastal communities, engage in port revitalization, and conduct coastal planning.  President Trump’s budget plan does not prioritize the security of transportation infrastructure. From a 26% cut to the Urban Area Security Initiative Allocations Program to a 50% cut to the Transit Security Grant Program, President Trump is putting an increased burden on states, cities, and towns to ensure the safety and security of transportation in local communities. In addition, Massachusetts has used federal funding from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program for a number of critical surface transportation projects. Rather than investing in updating our area roads, bridges, and ports, President Trump wants to eliminate funding for the program.

In response to President Trump’s budget plan, I have heard directly from families across the 8th Congressional District who worry about the impact these cuts would have on them. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle are hearing from their constituents as well, so I am hopeful we will be able to work on a bipartisan basis in Congress to include funding for these critical priorities as the budget process moves forward.

In the wake of the horrific terror attacks in recent weeks in Manchester, England, as well as in Kabul, Afghanistan, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and the people of England and Afghanistan. We stand with our allies and recommit ourselves to standing firm against those who attempt to threaten our democratic ideals.

On Monday, I will join Dan Rea in studio for a two hour “telephone town hall” on WBZ News Radio 1030’s Nightside with Dan Rea. With a number of pressing issues facing the 8th Congressional District and the country as a whole, Dan and I will open up the discussion covering current events and then I will take questions from callers. Dan will give priority to callers from the 8th District. Tune in from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM on Monday, June 5 on WBZ News Radio 1030. You can listen online at https://player.radio.com/listen/station/wbz-newsradio-1030. To ask a question on Monday evening, please call (617) 254-1030.

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.