Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin - 7/14/17

Jul 14, 2017

Link to Congressman Lynch's Lunch Bucket Bulletin – 7/14/17

July 14, 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. 

The House was in session this week as we considered H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act, also known as the NDAA. H.R. 2810 authorizes the spending and budget for Fiscal Year 2018 for the Department of Defense as well as Overseas Contingency Operations and defense-related activities at the Department of Energy. The NDAA passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 344-81. I voted in favor of the bill because I strongly support its provisions which require the Secretary of Defense and the President to provide comprehensive strategies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. The NDAA takes important steps to close military readiness gaps and strengthen the cyber workforce. The legislation also raises military pay by 2.4%, which will help our dedicated service members and their families.

During floor consideration, we were able to successfully stop a number of amendments that would have harmed the climate change and environmental provisions in the bill. I voted against the Conaway amendment, which would have prohibited the Department of Defense from spending on biofuels. With climate change as a national security priority, the United States military should invest in renewable energy. I also voted against the Perry amendment, which attempted to strike reporting language on the risks of climate change to military installations. Even Secretary of Defense James Mattis agrees that climate change impacts our national security, which is why we successfully defeated the Perry amendment. Unfortunately, the Rules Committee did not approve my proposed amendment to include the language of H.R. 2908, the Climate Change National Security Strategy Act, in the NDAA. I will continue to push for floor consideration of this legislation so the Federal Government appropriately considers climate change in the development of national security strategies and policies.

The Gosar amendment to the NDAA would have abandoned the Davis-Bacon wage survey leading to wage cuts for thousands of blue collar workers. I voted against this attack on fair wages for American workers and I am pleased that we were able to stop this from passing. In addition, I voted against the discriminatory Hartzler amendment, which sought to limit access to healthcare for transgender service members. No veteran or active duty service member should ever be stripped of their access to healthcare. We were also able to stop this amendment from being added to the final NDAA.

In the midst of floor consideration for the NDAA, there were new developments in the ongoing investigations into President Trump, the Trump administration, and the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. The timing of the meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and another Kremlin operative raises one more red flag about the Trump campaign activities during the 2016 election. At a minimum, it demonstrates an effort by the Trump campaign to capitalize on illegal foreign surveillance. At worst, it demonstrates collusion with a foreign government to interfere with a democratic election. Either way it’s very bad. With ongoing questions about this and other developments, there have been calls for impeachment. Under our modern rules and statutes that were created after Nixon and Watergate, any successful impeachment proceeding must rely on the available evidence. I think that under section 1505 of Title 18, United States Code, President Trump’s interference and obstruction of an F.B.I. investigation for corrupt purposes, constitutes a crime which is impeachable if proven. Currently, Congress has empowered Special Counsel, Bob Mueller, to conduct a criminal investigation and it seems like, adding Donald Jr.’s meetings with the Russians, the evidence continues to pile up. This is important work, and there is a process that we must follow in order to withstand any challenges or appeals. There are no shortcuts around the Constitution. I look forward to reviewing the conclusions of the ongoing investigations by Special Counsel Mueller, as well as by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. However this comes out, we owe it to the American people to be accurate and thorough. While everyone is entitled to due process, no one should be above the law, period.

On the Senate side of Capitol Hill, Senate Republican leadership released an updated version of their Trumpcare proposal. As they attempt to rush it to the floor next week, it remains to be seen if it has the support to pass. Both the original Senate proposal and the updated version released this week make dramatic cuts to Medicaid. By gradually eliminating the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and according to the Congressional Budget Office, reducing Medicaid spending by $772 billion over the next decade, states would be underwater with the significant reduction in funding. Governor Baker has estimated that Massachusetts would lose $907 million in 2020, rising to $1.7 billion by 2024. If passed, the Senate’s cost-shifting from the Federal Government to the states will have a detrimental impact on families across Massachusetts. With Republican Senators on the conservative and moderate end of the spectrum expressing concerns with this version of the bill, it is possible that they may not have the votes to pass it. We should be seeking to improve aspects of the Affordable Care Act on a bipartisan basis, rather than repealing it without a viable replacement plan.

Ahead of floor consideration of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill, I met with officials from the FAA along with the leadership of the Quiet Skies Caucus earlier this week. During the meeting, I told the FAA that they are the least responsive agency in the Federal Government and that they need to do a better job engaging with local cities and towns. As I shared the concerns of families in the 8th Congressional District, the FAA officials confirmed a series of steps they are taking to help address the concerns of residents. From studying the systemic dispersal of flight patterns to try and alleviate noise levels to conducting noise initiatives and health surveys to better understand the effects of airplane noise on residents, they are examining options that may better distribute flight paths and reduce airplane noise. In addition, they committed to providing enhanced community outreach and they plan to create an online repository for resident complaints that would be available to the public. As Vice-Chair of the bipartisan Quiet Skies Caucus, I will offer a series of amendments to the upcoming FAA Reauthorization bill focused on reducing noise, improving quality of life for local communities under flight paths, and promoting a more responsive FAA. We will also seek to codify the proposals offered by the FAA earlier this week, so that they are not just promises, but legal obligations that the FAA be more engaged with the residents directly affected by airplane noise.

During the Financial Services Committee hearing on the impact of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary duty rule, I highlighted the importance of the fiduciary standard to ensure that the most vulnerable investors are given financial advice in their best interest. At the hearing, we were joined by advocates from AARP, who are working hard to hold people accountable and ensure that retirees get financial advice from advisors adhering to the fiduciary standard of putting the interest of clients before their own. While people may have thought this was already the law, before the implementation of this rule, there was no fiduciary duty to do so. While some on the Republican side are trying to the roll the rule back, I think it is important that we maintain the integrity of our financial markets with Americans investing in their retirement in a way that is protective of their best interests.

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.