Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin - 6/19/17

Jun 19, 2017

Link to Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin – 6/19/17

June 19, 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 Thursday, Members of the House and Senate from both sides of the aisle came together unified for a beloved American pastime. The Congressional Baseball Game is a wonderful tradition. Baseball brings Americans together across the country, no matter what team you root for. As we came together for the annual game, there was a special meaning to that unity. We continue to pray for the speedy recovery of Congressman Steve Scalise, the Capitol Police officers, as well as the other staff members injured in the horrific shooting in Alexandria, Virginia last week. In the wake of the shooting, we are reminded of how grateful we are for the Capitol Police. Their heroic actions, courage, and bravery likely saved a lot of lives during the shooting. The Capitol Police work diligently every day to protect the United States Capitol as well as Members of Congress, staff, and the many visitors to Washington, D.C.

While the House was in session last week, I introduced legislation to ensure that the Federal Government appropriately considers climate change in the development of national security strategies and policies. In the wake of President Trump’s announcement earlier this month that he would abandon the Paris Climate Agreement, just months after he rescinded President Obama’s “Climate Change and National Security” memorandum, H.R. 2908, the Climate Change National Security Strategy Act calls on the Federal Government to step up and lead the fight against the greatest global threat facing the earth. From outgoing Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and current Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, national security officials have widely recognized the risk climate change poses to human security, both in the United States and abroad. A comprehensive, coordinated strategy among stakeholders at all levels is critical if the United States is serious about strengthening our national security and mitigating risks posed by the impacts of climate change. Congress must swiftly take action to clearly demonstrate that President Trump’s recent abdication of leadership is unacceptable and risks irreparable damage to future generations. H.R. 2908, which has 34 cosponsors, restores the core directives on national security and climate change included in President Obama’s September 2016 memorandum. The legislation requires the Federal Government to consider the impacts of climate change in the development of relevant national security policies as well as requires the establishment of a “Climate and National Security Working Group” made up of intelligence, defense, security, and other agency officials authorized to examine and develop an action plan on climate change and national security.

In addition, I recently cosponsored a resolution alongside more than 170 Members of Congress urging President Trump to reverse his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and maintain the United States’ participation. H. Res. 390 also expresses strong support for the actions to combat climate change that are ongoing at the state and local level as well as by businesses and individuals. I will continue to take legislative action to ensure the Federal Government is taking climate change seriously.

On June 5, I sent a letter to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee requesting a bipartisan hearing to examine the long-term strategies of the Trump Administration in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the recent news that President Trump formally delegated his authority to determine troop levels in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria to Secretary of Defense Mattis, as well as reports that more than 4,000 additional servicemen and women will be deployed to Afghanistan, it is critical that Congress conduct robust oversight to determine the effectiveness of the strategies envisioned by President Trump and his Administration. With American servicemen and women being sent on to the battlefield overseas, it is critical that the Trump Administration is held accountable for a long-term strategy. The lack of transparency from the Trump Administration regarding their overall plan hinders Congress’ ability to determine whether deploying thousands of American troops is consistent with the original Authorization for the Use of Military Force granted 14 years ago. Initiating a major effort like this may require the Trump Administration to come back to Congress and explain its strategy and request a further authorization for that purpose consistent with the War Powers Act. I am hopeful that the Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on these important matters soon.

In response to the Trump Administration’s release of an opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel arguing that agencies could ignore requests from Members of Congress other than Republican Committee Chairmen, I joined Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings on a letter strongly objecting to this new policy and invoking the Seven Member Rule. This statute explicitly delegates authority for any seven members of the Oversight Committee to require any executive agency to “submit any information requested of it relating to any matter within the jurisdiction of the committee.” Using this rule, we requested documents from the General Services Administration related to the lease agreement for the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.  It is rare the rule gets used, but we had to go there in this case. We will continue to demand transparency and accountability from the Trump Administration as well as investigate potential conflicts of interest. 

Last week, the Financial Services Committee held a markup of flood insurance legislative proposals. During the markup, I emphasized the importance of the federal government providing funding for mitigation and resilience for local cities and towns. The beautiful coastal communities in the 8th Congressional District have worked hard to rally together to come up with money to build seawalls and other mitigation infrastructure. I told my colleagues that we must meet our local communities at least halfway because the infrastructure costs are considerable and will only increase if the prognoses for climate change are accurate.

The Committee passed H.R. 2868, the National Flood Insurance Program Policyholder Protection Act of 2017, with bipartisan support. I voted for this proposal which would result in a credit to homeowners with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies who invest in mitigation activities. The Committee also considered H.R. 2874, the 21st Century Flood Reform Act, which I opposed because I believe it will increase the cost of flood insurance for NFIP policyholders. The legislation eliminates grandfathering and instead of spreading risk, it puts all of the pressure on a small group of people. During the markup, I also discussed a new bipartisan approach introduced on the Senate side, S. 1368, the Sustainable, Affordable, Fair, and Efficient (SAFE) National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2017. This proposal reauthorizes the NFIP for six years, caps all premium rate hikes at 10%, and includes $500 million per year for six years for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant program. I think this bill takes a thoughtful approach and I look forward to reviewing it as well as other proposals to ensure we take action ahead of the reauthorization deadline of September 30, 2017.

During debate on the House Republican’s Dodd-Frank rollback bill, I spoke out in strong opposition to the so-called CHOICE Act. I believe this is the worst piece of legislation that I've seen since I've been a Member of Congress. The nearly 600-page bill destroys the good work we did to reform our financial system after the 2008 financial crisis. The legislation harms consumers, lets off bad actors, and hamstrings our financial regulators. I believe it will lead us to our next financial crisis. The idea that it is good for America if we destroy the only consumer protection entity in the United States Government is a sham. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau exists to defend average families; this bill would leave consumers defenseless by removing funding for the Bureau. This horrible bill repeals the fiduciary duty rule which requires that financial advisers put their clients’ best interest ahead of their own. And the CHOICE Act rolls back accountability and reporting standards for the credit rating agencies. We need to do more to remedy conflict of interests that remain in credit rating agencies’ business model. This legislation does the opposite. I called on my House colleagues to vote against this legislation and now that it passed the House along party lines, I call on my colleagues in the Senate to stop this legislation in its tracks.

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.