My Legislative Report for 114th Congress, 2015 & 2016

To learn more about the bills I introduced during the 114th Congress (2015 & 2016) and to see the success of each bill, you can click on the bullets below.

 

Total Bills Introduced: 35



Bills Signed Into Law (3):

*These nine bills have been signed into law in whole or as part of larger bills.

1)      Medicare Identity Theft Prevention Act of 2015 (H.R. 380)

America’s seniors are some of the most vulnerable targets for identity theft, and that’s due to the fact that their Medicare cards include their Social Security numbers!  This is wrong, and as Chairman of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, it’s something I have been working on to fix!  My bill – signed into law on April 16th, 2015 as part of H.R. 2 – would protect America’s seniors from identity theft by ending Social Security numbers on Medicare cards once and for all!  On behalf of Collin County’s over 80,000 Medicare beneficiaries who I represent, I’m over the moon that this is finally going to happen!  

2)      Helping Veterans Save for Health Care Act of 2015 (H.R. 2514)

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a great tool to help individuals and families save and pay for health care expenses, and likewise an HSA is becoming increasingly popular.  Unfortunately the IRS has decreed that veterans can’t make and/or receive employer contributions to an HSA for three months after receiving health care services through the Veterans Administration (VA).  As a result, veterans and their families are being denied the use of this important health care savings tool.  I don’t think this choice is fair to our veterans and their families, which is why I reintroduced the Help Veterans Save for Health Care Act.  This bill – which was signed into law on July 31st,  2015 as part of H.R. 3236 – will allow U.S. veterans with service-connected disabilities to remain eligible for an HSA.

3)      Improving the Integrity of Disability Evidence Act (H.R. 1936)

Hardworking American taxpayers expect that honest medical information is used when Social Security makes disability decisions.  However that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to the disability program.  That is why I introduced this bill, which was signed into law on November 2nd, 2015 as part of H.R. 1314.  This legislation will ensure that dirty doctors – those barred from the Medicare program or who have been found guilty of fraud – can’t participate in the program.

4)      Disability FRAUD Prevention Act (H.R. 2359)

In response to major fraud cases in Puerto Rico, New York and West Virginia I’ve introduced tough-on-fraud legislation which was signed into law on November 2nd, 2015 as part of H.R. 1314.  This legislation is aimed at deterring fraud though stronger penalties. 

5)      No Amnesty Tax Refunds for Illegals Act (H.R. 1298)

At a February 11th, 2015 Ways and Means Oversight hearing with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, I exposed the President’s bogus claim he made in November 2014 that, among the requirements for getting his executive amnesty, illegals must be “willing to pay your fair share of taxes.”  In fact, the IRS Commissioner grudgingly confirmed that, as a result of the President’s executive amnesty, illegals could actually get as much as $24,000 from the IRS by retroactively claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable tax credit!  This is wrong and unfair to hardworking American taxpayers!  That is why, to STOP these amnesty “refunds” from going to illegals, I introduced H.R. 1298 earlier this year – and I’m thrilled to see my hard work paid off and that this common-sense bill is now law as part of the PATH Act.

6)      ITIN Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 2478)

Back in 2012, the Inspector General for the IRS issued a shocking report exposing the IRS’s troubling management of the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) program.   According to the IG, IRS managers were encouraging employees to ignore questionable applications and blatant fraud for the sake of fast-tracking ITINs.  (The IRS issues ITINs to individuals ineligible for Social Security numbers.) Originally put in place to allow individuals without Social Security Numbers to report their income and pay taxes in the U.S., the ITIN process has become a ticket for illegal immigrants to get cash benefits from the federal government such as the $1,000 refundable child tax credit.

In response, I called on the then-IRS Commissioner to resign as well as introduced the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) Reform Act that would protect the American taxpayer through commonsense anti-fraud reforms such as putting in place stronger safeguards with respect to the ITIN application process.  The PATH Act includes ITIN reforms inspired and modelled off of my bill.  According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, these reforms will save $3.4 billion!

7)      Refundable Child Tax Credit Eligibility Verification Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 2334)

The PATH Act includes one of two provisions included in my bill targeting fraud and abuse with the $1,000 refundable child tax credit.  The included provision would prohibit individuals committing fraud from being able to claim the child tax credit for 10 years.

8)      Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act of 2015 (H.R. 3086)

Many folks know that I spent nearly seven years of my life as Prisoner of War – those are years away from my family that I can’t get back…and the same can be said for individuals who have been locked up due to a wrongful conviction.  While I wish we could return to them the years these innocent individuals lost in imprisonment, Congress CAN ensure they don’t suffer the additional injustice of the IRS taxing their restitution.  These wrongfully convicted folks – and their families – have already suffered enough.   They are working hard to move forward with their lives and they deserve to do so without obstacle.  To provide this peace of mind and justice, my legislation – included in the PATH Act and now law – prohibits the IRS from taxing compensation awarded to people who have been imprisoned due to a wrongful conviction.  (This law is supported by FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform.)

9)      Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act of 2015 (H.R. 1475)

As a veteran who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, I can attest to the personal importance that our war memorials have for our veterans and military families as well as for future generations.   Our war memorials are an important physical reminder that the price of freedom is not free.  Fittingly, they also serve as places where all Americans can pay their respects to the brave men and women who fought on behalf of our Great Nation.  Sadly, the Korean War is often forgotten, and America’s memorial for this Forgotten War is incomplete.  That is why, on behalf of my fellow veterans who served during this time, I introduced the Korean War Veterans Memorial Wall of Remembrance Act.  This bill would permit a Wall of Remembrance to be added to the Korean War Veterans Memorial.  The Wall would list the names of all members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were killed in action during the Korean War, and would also list the number of all American POWs and MIAs from the Korean War.   I think you’ll be happy to know that this Wall of Remembrance is privately funded and the money has already been raised.  No taxpayer dollars would be spent on this addition. 



Bills Passed by the House (3):

1)      Social Security Disability Insurance and Unemployment Benefits Double Dip Elimination Act (H.R. 918)

This year I introduced the Social Security Disability Insurance and Unemployment Benefits Double Dip Elimination Act (H.R. 918).  This is common-sense legislation to ensure Social Security disability benefits are only for those who truly cannot work– including the nearly 8,000 Collin County folks I represent who are disabledUnfortunately, some individuals are abusing the system by “double-dipping” unemployment and disability benefits at the same time. With the disability program going broke next year, Congress should stop this double-dipping now. My bill – which passed the House on March 25th, 2015 as part of the Republican budget– does just that!

2)      Social Security Must Avert Identity Loss (MAIL) Act (H.R. 5320)

Social Security has made no bones about how important it is for Americans to safeguard their Social Security numbers.  Beneficiaries are warned time and again to protect their cards in order to avoid identity theft.  But commonsense safety measures should also be taken by Social Security.  Unfortunately, the Inspector General’s recent report found that this agency is including folks’ Social Security numbers on the documents it mails. That means any lost or stolen letter from Social Security endangers the security of a beneficiary’s identity.  As Chairman of Social Security, I’m working to stop this, which is why I introduced the Social Security MAIL Act.  This bill would require the agency to remove Social Security numbers from its mailed documents.  It's a commonsense solution to a problem that shouldn’t exist, and I will continue to work hard and see that this is signed into law. 

3)      To extend the waiver of limitations with respect to excluding from gross income amounts received by wrongfully incarcerated individuals. (H.R. 6438) 

In December of 2015, my Wrongful Convictions Tax Relief Act (H.R. 3086) was signed into law as part of the PATH Act.  This bill gave exonerees a one-year deadline to apply for retroactive tax relief.  However, despite our urging, the IRS took six months to release its guidance.  This negligent delay effectively cut in half the one-year deadline for folks to apply.  To right this wrong, H.R. 6438 would temporarily extend the deadline for these innocent folks to apply for tax relief on their restitution. 



Legislation Introduced (23):


 

1)      No More Tolls for Roads act (H.R. 1914)

I have been hearing loud and clear from my constituents about their rising frustrations over the rapid expansion of tolls in our area.  And with the North Texas area set to have the largest toll network in the country, it is clear that tolling has gone overboard.  The bottom line is that these tolls are a double tax.  Collin County drivers already pay both state and federal gas taxes for roads.  What’s more, Texas is the ONLY “donor state” in the country – meaning Texas’ taxpayers give more to the federal government than they get in return.  That’s why, to save North Texans’ hard-earned dollars, I introduced the No More Tolls for Roads Act.  My bill puts up a “stop sign” on future tolling by ending the federal government’s tolling authority.  My bill also sends a clear warning to President Obama that I will fight his pro-tolling agenda.  Enough is enough.  I’m proud to join our state legislators in Collin County who are leading this effort in Austin, and I look forward to working with our transportation leaders.  You deserve responsible transportation solutions that respect your pocketbooks.

2)      No Social Security Numbers and Benefits for Illegal Aliens Act (H.R. 1996)

I reintroduced this bill to combat the President’s executive amnesty, which a majority of Americans oppose – and for good reason!  Thanks to Obama’s executive amnesty, illegals can get work permits that will then enable them to get Social Security numbers as well as Social Security benefits.  That’s just plain wrong and unfair to the law abiding and hardworking American taxpayer.  I won’t stand for it, which is why I continue to oppose Obama’s executive amnesty every chance I get.  But I’m also fighting amnesty as Chairman of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee through this bill, which would prohibit Obama from handing out Social Security numbers to illegals.

3)      No Bonuses for Tax Delinquent IRS Employees Act (H.R. 1817)

As Americans across the country raced to file their tax returns, this year I reintroduced this two-page bill that does just as it sounds – it would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from handing out bonuses to employees who owe back taxes.  Last year we learned that the IRS gave over $1 million in bonuses and other rewards to more than 1,100 employees who owe back taxes.  It’s just outrageous that the IRS has the audacity to reward tax-owing employees – the very people hired to enforce our tax laws. What the IRS is doing is offensive to hardworking, law-abiding taxpayers.  I’m working to end this NOW.

4)      Wasteful EPA Programs Elimination Act of 2015 (H.R. 2111)

As a fiscal conservative, I believe Washington should be respectful of taxpayers’ dollars and live within its means.  That’s why, to save American taxpayers’ dollars, I introduced the Wasteful EPA Programs Elimination Act of 2015.  This bill would terminate or eliminate federal funding for 13 wasteful Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs, would close all EPA field offices, and require the EPA to lease or sell all underutilized properties.  American taxpayers certainly don’t need to be paying for the EPA’s empty and unused buildings and its wasteful programs. This bill would save taxpayers more than $7.5 BILLION and is supported by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

5)      Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act of 2015 (H.R. 976)

It’s no secret that I oppose ObamaCare.  And buried inside this bad law is a provision that permanently bans further construction of physician-owned hospitals (POH) and prevents existing ones from expanding – to the point where not a single hospital bed can be added.  To right this wrong, this bill repeals the ban on the development of physician-owned hospitals that had a provider agreement but missed the one-size-fits-all, arbitrary deadline for Medicare certification to proceed with physician’s investment.  Additionally, this bill removes the onerous requirements for expansion that only applies to POHs and not to non-physician-owned hospitals. Lastly, the bill would reinstate the ability of physicians to risk their own money in a financially distressed hospital to continue providing quality care and maintain jobs in their community.

6)      Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015 (H.R. 1425)

As a 29-year Air Force veteran who served this country during two wars and was held as a prisoner of war for nearly seven years, I consider military oaths to be a very serious matter. And during those nearly seven years as a POW in communist North Vietnam, I experienced firsthand what it’s like to live without religious freedom.  I believe people absolutely have the right to whatever religious beliefs they choose – including the choice of no religion.   What I don’t believe in is removing religion from the public.  The removal of religion violates religious freedom.  That is why I introduced the Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act.  This bill states that thatanychanges in military oaths would require the say of Congress so that the American people – including those who are taking the oaths – have a say.  This protects Americans’ right to religious freedom.   No changes should be made to oaths of honor without theknowledge and approval of the American people.

7)      Promoting Opportunity through Informed Choice Act (H.R. 1795)

As Chairman of the Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, I am working hard to ensure Social Security remains solvent and that Washington keeps its promise to Americans.  Many Americans rely on this program in their old age for retirement security.  But you may not know this: Social Security also helps Americans in the event they become disabled. While not all disability beneficiaries can return to work, experts believe over 10% could return to work if given the proper supports.  Unfortunately, in the most recent beneficiary survey, while 40% of beneficiaries said they were interested in working, less than one half of one percent left the rolls due to disincentives to work.  I think this is wrong!  To help these folks who can and want to work, this bill would develop simple online tools to help them in that process. 
   

8)      GRIDD Act of 2015 (H.R. 1800)

In 1979 Social Security began to use rules to help decide who should receive disability benefits.  A lot has changed since then, and yet believe it or not Social Security continues to use these same rules.  From 1979!  It’s time Social Security caught up, which is why I introduced the GRIDD Act.  This bill would require Social Security to update its rules.

9)      Promoting Opportunity for Disability Benefit Applicants Act (H.R. 2135)

Some folks who apply for disability benefits are denied, and they choose to cycle through the application process again.  On average, applicants currently wait 100 days for an initial decision regarding their claim, and research shows that this time out of the workforce makes it that much harder for denied applicants to get back to work. I believe we must do a better job of helping those individuals who can and want to work to do so.  This bill makes sure Social Security tells these individuals about services that can help them connect to jobs.

10)      Improving the Quality of Disability Decisions Act of 2015 (H.R. 2136)

As a continuation of my efforts to make Social Security’s disability programs work better, this bill requires the Social Security Administration (SSA) to review hearing decisions by Administrative Law Judges to ensure that the judges are following the law and Social Security’s regulation and policy. 

11)      Protecting Access, Competition, and Equity (PACE) Act (H.R. 2513) 

It’s no secret that I oppose Obamacare and have voted to defund and fully repeal this bad law at every turn.  There are many reasons I oppose it – and one of the local reasons is its effect on physician-owned hospitals (POHs).  In fact, a provision in Obamacare prohibits new POHs from opening and existing POHs from adding even just one bed to their hospitals.   This prohibition has no sound basis in policy – recent data shows that POHs are some of the highest-quality and cost-efficient hospitals in the country.  To address the unfair treatment of POHs – which in turn is hurting American families seeking convenient and affordable health care options – I introduced H.R. 2513.  This bill would allow high-quality POHs to expand. 

12)      Control Unlawful Fugitive Felons (CUFF) Act of 2015 (H.R. 2504)

Individuals running from the law or violating their parole or probation shouldn’t be supported with taxpayer dollars – but that’s exactly what’s going on right now because they are still able to get Social Security benefits!  I think this is outrageous, which is why I’ve introduced with Rep. Noem the Control Unlawful Fugitive Felons (CUFF) Act.  This bill would prevent felons who are fleeing the law or who are violating a condition of their probation or parole from getting Social Security benefits.  It’s a common-sense Law and Order bill that would help law enforcement – but more than that, it’s the right thing to do on behalf of hardworking American taxpayers!  I’m pleased my bill is receiving wide support from our local law enforcement, and I will continue to do what I can to support them in keeping our communities safe.

13)      Right of Way for American Drivers Act of 2015 (H.R. 2609)

It’s not news that North Texas is booming, and I’m sure it also comes as no surprise that most commuters drive – in fact, over 90% of Dallas commuters are drivers.  It’s also a fact that the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is broke and that Congress has repeatedly bailed out the HTF to the tune of $73 billion since 2008.  Yet every time commuters fill up at the pump, the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) diverts some of your gas tax dollars from the HTF towards  projects like buggy trails, landscaping, and bike paths rather than where they are needed most – roads and bridges.  At a time when drivers all across America are regularly stuck in traffic, it makes no sense to annually divert hundreds of millions of valuable gas tax dollars to these pet projects.  To right this wrong and respect taxpayer dollars, I introduced the Right-of-Way for American Drivers Act, which ends this gas tax diversion and ensures that this money stays within the HTF. 

14)      Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2015 (H.R. 2868) 

Right now hardworking Americans are struggling due to Obamacare, and it’s becoming harder for employers, especially small businesses, to provide their employees with affordable coverage.  I hear from folks all the time who have experienced sharp increases with out-of-pocket costs and premiums due to this bad law.  I also hear from small business owners who want to offer health insurance but simply can’t afford it.  That’s why I reintroduced the Small Business Health Fairness Act – a bill that would help Americans by enabling employers to provide affordable coverage to workers and their families.  It would do so by allowing these employers to band together through association health plans (AHPs) in order to purchase quality health care at a lower cost.

15)      Social Security Beneficiary 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act (H.R. 3516)

As a Constitutional conservative, I am a proud defender of YOUR 2nd Amendment rights.  President Obama, on the other hand, has made gun control a priority of his.  He has repeatedly tried to impose his radical gun control agenda on law-abiding Americans.  Thankfully, House Republicans have been able to head him off and STOP him.   But because he failed in Congress, he is now seeking to deny millions of folks their right to bear arms by going through Social Security.   This means that anyone who is a Social Security beneficiary who also happens to have someone they know and trust handle their Social Security checks for them would be prevented from buying a gun.  This is WRONG!  Old age or a disability does NOT make someone a threat to society.  All law-abiding citizens should have the right to own a firearm. Period. That’s why I blasted the President’s actions on the House Floor, and it’s why on September 16th I introduced this bill that would stop President Obama’s gun grab.

16)      Smithsonian Collections Space Authorization Act (H.R. 3702)

Many people may not know that I have been selected to serve on the world famous Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Board where I serve as the Regent for the National Air and Space Museum.  As part of that role, I introduced this bill is to provide for additional space that is needed for the protection and preservation of Americans’ national collections held by the Smithsonian Institution. 

17)      Retirement Choice Protection Act (H.R. 3922)

In response to the Obama Administration and its Department of Labor’s new proposed rule on fiduciary standards, I teamed up with Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) on the Ways and Means Committee to introduce this bill.  Our Retirement Choice Protection Act would provide a workable “best interest” standard that will help hardworking Americans and their ability to save for their retirements.

18)      K-1 Visa Program Suspension Act (H.R. 4274)

In response to the San Bernardino terrorist attack – the deadliest attack on U.S. soil since September 11th – I introduced the K-1 Visa Program Suspension Act.  This horrific attack exposed serious national security gaps associated with the K-1 fiancé visa program. The wife involved in the attack received multiple screenings before coming to the United States on a fiance visa, yet somehow law enforcement overlooked her support for violent jihad on social media.  My bill will put a halt on this program until Congress votes to resume it.  In the meantime, it will require the GAO to review the national security risks associated with the K-1 program and submit the findings to Congress.  We MUST protect our homeland!;

19)      Service Member Retirement Improvement Act (H.R. 4381))

Ensuring our troops and veterans receive fair treatment is top priority of mine, particularly as a 29-year Air Force veteran and POW for nearly seven years.  So when I learned that the IRS hurts America’s Guard and Reserve forces’ ability to save for their retirement because they also hold a civilian job, I wanted to do something about it.  That is why, on January 13th, I introduced the Service Member Retirement Improvement Act (H.R. 4381).  This bill would stop the IRS from hindering Guard or Reserve service members’ ability to save for their retirement.  Our service members shouldn’t be penalized when it comes to saving for their retirement just because they happen to serve our country.  This bill is supported by a wide range of military and veteran groups.  To read their letter of support, CLICK HERE.

20)      North Texas Reservoir Approval Act (H.R. 4466)

Water is an important issue for North Texans, and unfortunately our area’s water supply for the future is in great jeopardy due to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) stalling of the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir.  To avoid a lag in resources and ensure the construction of this critical water resource is not delayed any further, I introduced H.R. 4466. To learn more about this essential legislation for our community, check out my FAQ page HERE.

21)      To preserve Social Security for generations to come, reward work, and improve retirement security  (aka Social Security Reform Act) (H.R. 6489)

For years I've talked about the need to fix Social Security so that our children and grandchildren can count on it to be there for them just like it’s there for today’s seniors and individuals with disabilities.  Many folks don't know that, if the program is left as is, Social Security will not be able to pay full benefits by 2034 - in fact, all benefits would be cut by 21%.  To avoid this cut, we need to start coming up with a solution.  My commonsense plan is the start of a fact-based conversation about how we do just that.  To learn more about my Social Security proposal that would increase benefits for low income, long-term workers and make sure the program is permanently solvent - without raising taxes - CLICK HERE.

22)      Calling on the Department of Defense, other elements of the Federal Government, and foreign countries to intensify efforts to investigate, recover, and identify all missing and unaccounted-for personnel of the United States (H.RES. 871)

While I was blessed to return from Hanoi Hilton POW camp home to Freedom, many of my fellow compatriots did not.  In keeping with America’s promise to leave no man behind, and as a gift to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, I have vowed I will never stop fighting for the Defenders of our Freedom.  That is why, in honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, I introduced H.Res. 871.  This resolution calls on the United States government to intensify efforts to account for the 83,000 American service members who are still unaccounted for around the world.  My resolution also calls on foreign nations to fully assist in search and recovery efforts.

23)      Amendment requires the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to issue the final federal permit for the Lower Bois d'Arc Creek Reservoir Project no later than September 30, 2017 (H.AMDT. 1464 to H.R. 5303)

Similar to my North Texas Reservoir Approval Act (H.R. 4466), this amendment (included in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation, or WIIN Act - S. 612) would expedite the federal permitting process for the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir in North Texas.  Specifically, this amendment would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to finalize their review of the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir on an expedited basis.  These federal regulators have already spent nearly a decade reviewing the reservoir – a reservoir that is crucial if North Texas wishes to avoid local water deficits projected to hit in 2021.  Furthermore, the amendment sets forth an important benchmark that will require the Secretary of the Army to report back to Congress by June 30th, 2017 with an update on the reservoir’s permit review.