The following is US Congressman Robert Pittenger’s (NC-09) weekly column:
National newscasts seem obsessed with drama and intrigue. While Americans are being fed a steady diet of overdone outrage, my House Republican colleagues and I have been hard at work, turning in a busy and productive first six months of 2017. Let’s take a look.
Did you know the U.S. House of Representatives has passed more than 150 bills this year? No, I didn’t hear that on the news, either. Did you know that President Trump has signed 43 bills into law?
Just before July 4th, we took action to crack down on “sanctuary cities” by passing the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which withholds certain federal grants from sanctuary cities and allows crime victims to sue sanctuary cities. We also passed Kate’s Law, named for Kate Steinle, who was murdered by an illegal immigrant shielded from federal custody by San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy. Kate’s Law increases penalties for deported felons who illegally return to the United States.
In June, President Trump signed legislation I co-sponsored to drain the swamp and restore accountability at the VA. On any given day, my dedicated staff is managing 400-500 active cases for local veterans who are unable to receive adequate or appropriate care at the VA. The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act makes it easier to fire incompetent employees, increases protections for whistleblowers, and streamlines the hiring process to help recruit experienced management.
Did you hear that Congress passed legislation to end taxpayer funded bailouts of Wall Street? The Financial CHOICE Act, which I co-sponsored, does what President Obama did not, bringing an end to taxpayer funded bailouts and imposing the toughest penalties ever for Wall Street fraud. The Financial CHOICE Act also lifts unnecessary regulations which have devastated community banks and credit unions. North Carolina lost 50 percent of our banks under Obama-era regulations, which in turn made it harder for small businesses to access the capital needed to grow and create jobs.
On thirteen additional occasions this year, the U.S. House of Representatives joined me in voting to repeal costly and unnecessary Obama-era regulations. Through these votes, we have supported the growth of small businesses and jobs, protected our Second Amendment rights, provided clarity for farmers, protected the unborn, made it easier for states to require drug testing to receive unemployment benefits, and given states more flexibility in education.
While national media has largely ignored our work in Congress, I am grateful for local media, including The Richmond Observer, which has provided coverage of our efforts to support the local community. This includes helping secure more than $1 billion in Hurricane Matthew disaster assistance, and ongoing efforts with HUD Secretary Ben Carson and House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen to secure additional funding for remaining needs. This year, President Trump signed my legislation to help improve National Weather Service radar coverage in our Congressional District, and a key House subcommittee approved my legislation to help Robeson County develop a much-needed community facility.
There is one major item the national media did not ignore. My House Republican colleagues and I fulfilled our promise and passed legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. Frankly, maintaining the status quo is not an option. 95 out of 100 North Carolina counties have only one Obamacare carrier, Blue Cross, which has seriously considered exiting the market. Nationwide, 38 counties are projected to have no Obamacare options next year. Aetna, United Healthcare, Humana, Anthem, and various Blue Cross plans have all exited Obamacare markets. The American Health Care Act ends Obamacare’s costly regulations, protects those with pre-existing conditions, makes the most significant reforms to Medicaid in 50 years, and restores your freedom to choose the health coverage best for you and your family.
This year, I have been hard at work with President Trump to drain the swamp, restore economic freedom, and protect our values at home and abroad. Even if the national media ignores our efforts, rest assured my colleagues and I are committed to Make America Great Again!
Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) is Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, and serves on the House Financial Services Committee, with a special focus on supporting small businesses, community banks, and credit unions.