My Legislative Progress Report for 115th Congress, 2017 & 2018

As Collin County’s Congressional Representative in Washington, D.C., one of the duties and privileges I have is to introduce legislation on behalf of the constituents I represent.  To learn more about the bills I introduced so far during the 115th Congress (2017 & 2018) and to see the success of each bill, you can click on the bullets below.

 

Total Introduced: 31

 

BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW:


1)      Social Security Beneficiary 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act (H.J.Res. 40)

As a Constitutional conservative, I am a proud defender of YOUR 2nd Amendment rights.  Former President Obama, on the other hand, made gun control a priority of his.  He repeatedly tried to impose his radical gun control agenda on law-abiding Americans.  Thankfully, the American people and House Republicans were able to STOP him.   But because he failed in Congress, the former president sought to deny millions of folks their right to bear arms by going through Social Security.   In the final hours of his presidency, Obama finalized a Social Security Administration rule.  His rule would mean certain Social Security beneficiaries who also happen 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 on January 30th I introduced a resolution that would stop former President Obama’s gun grab.  I am pleased that on February 2nd, 2017, the House passed my resolution by a bipartisan vote of 235-180. 

2)      Social Security Must Avert Identity Loss (MAIL) Act (H.R. 1513) 
* H.R. 624 accomplished the intent of the Social Security MAIL Act

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. 



LEGISLATION PASSED BY THE HOUSE:

1)      Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R. 1101) 

Due to Obamacare, fewer and fewer American small businesses are offering health care coverage, and that’s a problem for American families.  Now, everyone knows that large employers are able to provide more affordable health benefits for their employees. That’s because they have strength in numbers and don’t have to adhere to costly rules and regulations that small businesses do. But this isn’t right. Small mom and pop businesses on Main Street shouldn’t be treated like second class citizens when it comes to being able to offer health insurance. Bottom-line: if it’s good enough for Wall Street, it’s good enough for Main Street. This bill would allow small businesses to band together for that same strength in numbers and free them from unfair regulations. It is one good step toward fixing our broken health care system. Americans want, need, and deserve quality, affordable health care — and you can rest assured this remains one of my top priorities.

2)      Veterans Equal Treatment Ensures Relief and Access Now (VETERAN) Act (H.R. 2372)

Our veterans have put their lives on the line to defend freedom and our individual liberties, and they are promised affordable access to health care through the VA when they return home.  However, some veterans choose to forgo this health care option.  That’s where my VETERANS Act comes into play.  This bill would provide veterans the certainty that they will continue to have access to health care if they decide the VA isn’t the best fit for their health care needs. 




LEGISLATION INTRODUCED:

1)      To extend the waiver of limitations with respect to excluding from gross income amounts received by wrongfully incarcerated individuals. (H.R. 885) 

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. 885 would temporarily extend the deadline for these innocent folks to apply for tax relief on their restitution. 

2)      Wasteful EPA Programs Elimination Act (H.R. 958)

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.  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.

3)      Patient Access to Higher Quality Health Care Act (H.R. 1156)  

I’m sure all Americans can agree that everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health care.  And I’m sure we also agree that competition in the marketplace is a good thing.  Unfortunately, Obamacare has been picking winners and losers when it comes to health care – and American families are paying the price due to this lack of competition.  You see, buried inside this bad law is a provision that permanently bans further construction of physician-owned hospitals (POH) and essentially prevents existing ones from expanding.  This is wrong.  Physician-owned hospitals are small in number, so there is plenty of room in the health care market.  It makes no sense to prohibit good hospitals from serving their communities.  My bill is about doing the right thing.  Americans want, need, and deserve quality, affordable health care options.

4)      Servicemember Retirement Improvement Act (H.R. 1317)

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 when they also hold a civilian job, I wanted to do something about it.  That is why I reintroduced the Servicemember Retirement Improvement Act. 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. 


5)      
No Bonuses for Tax Delinquent IRS Employees Act (H.R. 1599)


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.  In recent years, 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.


6)      
Safe Innovative Guide signs for the Nation (SIGN) Act (H.R. 2029)


Millions of Americans use roadways every day, and road signs play an important role in keeping folks safe.  It’s common sense that the clearer a sign appears, the sooner someone can read and react to it.   That’s why Texas and many other states started to update their road signs after the Clearview font received interim approval.  Unfortunately, last year the Federal Highway Administration in Washington revoked its interim approval of this more safety-friendly font.  As a result, states are no longer able to use Clearview font, despite the fact that it has been successfully used for over a decade. That’s why I introduced the SIGN Act, which would allow states the opportunity to use clearer font on their roadway signs in order to keep drivers safe. 


7)      
Savings Enhancement by Alleviating Leakage in 401(k) Savings (SEAL) Act (H.R. 2030)


The SEAL Act would provide an extended repayment period for individuals who take out loans from their 401(k)s and later leave their jobs. Individuals would have until the tax filing deadline instead of only 60 days. Moreover, this bill would allow workers who happen to take hardship withdrawals to continue saving for retirement.


8)      
Social Security Disability Insurance and Unemployment Benefits Double Dip Elimination Act (H.R. 2031)


This year I reintroduced the Social Security Disability Insurance and Unemployment Benefits Double Dip Elimination Act. This is commonsense 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 disabled. Unfortunately, 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.


9)      
Refundable Child Tax Credit Eligibility Verification Reform Act (H.R. 2149)

 

This bill would prevent illegal immigrants from getting the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit by requiring individuals to provide work-eligible Social Security numbers when claiming the credit.


10)     
Health Equity and Access for Returning Troops and Servicemembers (HEARTS) Act (H.R. 2243)

 

I know what it’s like to return home wounded after serving your country.  During my 29 years in the Air Force, I spent nearly seven years as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton.  I sustained injuries including a broken back, arm, and ribs as well as a dislocated shoulder.  The fact is that every American service member willingly makes a commitment to put life and limb on the line in defense of freedom.  In return, there is the promise that when they return home, they have access to quality, affordable health care.  Unfortunately, right now many of our most seriously injured military retirees eventually lose access to their traditional, affordable TRICARE and cannot regain it for years if they return to work.  This is wrong, which is why I introduced the HEARTS Act.  It is the least we can do for our troops and veterans who protect our Great Nation and the freedoms we hold dear.


11)     
Senior Citizens’ Freedom to Work Act (H.R. 3077)


This bill would eliminate a penalty on Social Security Old-Age (OASI) beneficiaries who choose to enter, remain in, or return to the labor force.  Specifically, the bill would eliminate the Retirement Earnings Test (RET) that affects younger seniors who choose to continue working after claiming Social Security benefits.   (In 2000, I had legislation signed into law that eliminated the RET for folks who are at or above their full retirement age.  H.R. 3077 finishes that work by eliminating this earnings penalty for all Social Security OASI beneficiaries.)  
 


12)     
Providing Choice for Social Security Retirees Act (H.R. 3112)


As a constitutional, free market conservative, one of the fundamental values I support is choice for the consumer.  And while Social Security is an earned benefit, that doesn’t mean it has to be one-size-fits all. Folks across the nation have widely varying career choices, health situations, and financial needs.  With this in mind, choice is important when it comes to claiming Social Security benefits.  Folks already have the option to claim their earned benefits either early, on time, or later on down the road.  But this bill goes one step further.  It allows folks who choose to delay claiming their benefits past full retirement age the additional option to claim part of their delayed retirement credit as a lump sum in advance – whatever works best for their needs. 


13)     
Social Security Online Tools Innovation Act (H.R. 3309)

We hear time and time again that one of the reasons beneficiaries don’t return to work is that the rules regarding work and benefits are really complex – these rules can even act as a disincentive.  Social Security needs to provide better information in an easy-to-access way so that individuals who can return to work have the information they need to do so.  This is a commonsense solution that would require the Social Security Administration to provide an online resource to help disability beneficiaries assess how returning to work may affect their benefit payments.


14)     
Promoting Opportunity for Disability Benefit Applicants Act (H.R. 3310)


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.


15)     
GRIDD Act (H.R. 3385)

 

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.


16)    
Improving the Quality of Disability Decisions Act (H.R. 3386)


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. 


17)     
Social Security Travel Reimbursement Reform Act (H.R. 3432)


As part of my efforts to protect the Social Security Trust Funds, H.R. 3432 would prevent the use of taxpayer funds to unnecessarily cover the travel expenses of claimant representatives. For decades, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has provided a video hearing system that eliminates the need for a claimant representative to travel to attend a hearing. The SSA spends approximately $5,000,000 per year from its budget to cover these claimant representative travel expenses that could instead be put towards processing claims and appeals.
 


18)    
EITC Eligibility Verification Act (H.R. 3483)


This bill would stop individuals who are not authorized to work in the U.S. from claiming the earned income tax credit (EITC). Specifically, it would require individuals claiming the EITC to provide a work-eligible Social Security number.


19)     
Social Security Debt Recovery Act (H.R. 3594)


As part of my efforts to protect Social Security’s solvency, H.R. 3594 would prohibit the discharge of debts owed to Social Security through bankruptcy proceedings. This is a bipartisan idea that both President Trump and former President Obama have included in their budget proposals.  It is estimated to save $128 million over 10 years.


20
)     Calling on the Department of Defense, other elements of the Federal Government, and foreign governments to intensify efforts to investigate, recover, and identify all missing and unaccounted-for personnel of the United States (H.Res. 129). 

While I was blessed to return home from the Hanoi Hilton POW camp to Freedom, many of my fellow compatriots did not.  In keeping with America’s promise to leave no man behind, I have vowed I will never stop fighting for the Defenders of our Freedom.  That is why, during the 44th Anniversary of "Operation Homecoming," I introduced H.Res. 129.  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 governments to fully assist in search and recovery efforts.

21)     Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of the Air Force as an independent military service and celebrating the Air Force for 70 years of serving and defending the United States.  (H.Res. 510) 


Resolutions Introduced as a Smithsonian Institute Regent:


1)    
Providing for the reappointment of Stephen M. Case as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. (H.J.Res. 78)


2)    
Providing for the appointment of Michael Govan as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. (H.J.Res 79)


3)    
Providing for the appointment of Roger W. Ferguson as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.  (H.J.Res 80)


4)   
Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (H.Res. 408)

For the past 50 years, the Folklife Festival has coincided with the celebration of our Great Nation’s independence.  The festival brings to life our American heritage and also allows folks to see and experience aspects of other cultures around the world.  This resolution honors the Smithsonian Folklife Festival for its educational outreach and efforts to bring folks with different backgrounds together.


5)   
Smithsonian National Zoological Park Central Parking Facility Authorization Act (H.R. 4009)


This bill would authorize the construction of a central parking facility at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. 



RECAP OF MY LEGISLATIVE SUCCESS IN THE 114TH CONGRESS


Click here for a recap of my legislative efforts and success in the 114th Congress (2015-2016)