Friday, March 17, 2017 WEBSITE | FORWARD TO A FRIEND | SHARE ON:
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This week President Trump issued his first budget request to Congress. Crafting a budget is about setting priorities, and during the last eight years, it seems the only priority in Washington was to spend beyond our means and far more than hardworking taxpayers can afford. That approach isn't sustainable for family budgets, and it is not sustainable for the federal government. President Trump has promised to begin getting our nation's fiscal house in order, and this budget shows that he intends to keep his promise.

No one will agree with every proposal outlined in this budget, and it is up to Congress to carefully review the details. That is precisely what we will do in the coming weeks. We look forward to working with the president to implement fiscally responsible policies that promote economic prosperity, keep workers safe and help ensure all Americans have access to an excellent education.

Holding the VA Accountable

The entire nation owes our military personnel and veterans a huge debt of gratitude, and ensuring that debt is properly repaid is one of my top priorities in Congress. Since the wait list manipulation scandal was brought to the public’s attention, Americans have become all too familiar with incompetence and misconduct at the federal agency charged with helping our veterans. It is critically important that we take care of those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country, and this week Congress continued its efforts to meet our responsibility to America’s veterans.

H.R. 1259, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, provides the Secretary of Veterans Affairs increased flexibility to remove, demote or suspend any VA employee, including Senior Executive Service employees, for performance or misconduct. It also provides improved protections for whistleblowers and ensures bad actors are held accountable. H.R. 1367 improves the authority of the VA Secretary to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation establishes staffing, recruitment and retention programs to enable the VA to recruit and retain the very best in the field.

H.R. 1181, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, prohibits the VA from considering any veteran who is assisted by a fiduciary as “mentally defective” without a magistrate or judicial authority ruling that the individual is a danger to themselves or others. Under current practice, if veterans are appointed a fiduciary from the VA, they are labeled as mentally incompetent in the VA’s system, and the department automatically sends the veteran’s name to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Criminal Background Check System. Inclusion on this list may prohibit the beneficiary from legally purchasing or owning a firearm.

Setting the Record Straight on Voluntary Employee Wellness Programs

Voluntary employee wellness plans have long helped lower health care costs for working families and promote the health and wellbeing of employees. Earlier this month I introduced H.R. 1313, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, to provide regulatory clarity so employers can have the certainty they need to continue offering their workers the option of participating in voluntary employee wellness programs. Unfortunately, critics of the bill are spreading false information to deny workers that option. Click here for some basic facts to help set the record straight.

Rest assured H.R. 1313 does not allow employers to force their employees to submit to genetic testing. Wellness programs have always been completely voluntary. They remain voluntary under H.R. 1313, offering employees a way to control their health care costs. These programs have been in place for years and typically involve health-risk assessments to help improve the health and well-being of those who choose to participate.

Additionally discrimination based on genetic information is illegal under existing federal law and would remain illegal under H.R. 1313. Under the bill, employers would still be required to follow anti-discrimination policies in the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.

What’s Coming Up

Next week the House will continue its efforts to provide relief to our nation’s broken health insurance markets by advancing the American Health Care Act through the legislative process. This patient-centered health care reform legislation has been debated by three committees in the House of Representatives, and a fourth committee is set to consider the legislation shortly. The House will also consider additional legislation to reform our nation’s health care system, including a bill to improve medical care access and choice for entrepreneurs with small businesses.

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