Speaker of the House

John Boehner

It’s Here!

2014/11/21

The Capitol Christmas Tree has finally arrived.  The 88-foot-tall spruce completed its 2,000 mile journey from Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest and is ready for trimming on the West Front Lawn of the Capitol.  To learn more about the tree and its journey check out posts here and here.  Don’t forget, you’re invited to attend the tree-lighting ceremony on Tuesday, December 2, and visit the tree, which will be lit nightly from dusk until 11 p.m. throughout the holiday season.  

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Capitol Dome Restoration Update

2014/11/21

Earlier this week, Stephen Ayers, the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) provided an update on the ongoing restoration project of the U.S. Capitol Dome.  NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reported from atop the Dome about the completed scaffolding and the progress made so far.  The next phase of this project is the exterior restoration: making the necessary repairs to the cast iron and stone shell of the Dome and removing 14 layers of paint, some of which date back 150 years.  This process will be carried out in sections, courtesy of the expansive scaffolding, and then the Dome will be entirely repainted.  The project is on budget and on time to be completed before the next inaugural ceremonies here on the West Front of the Capitol – a credit to the Architect and his team.

Last December, shortly before the project began, CBS’ 60 Minutes looked at the Dome’s history and future, with a cameo by Speaker Boehner talking about how humbling it is to work just steps from the Capitol Rotunda. 

While the scaffolding has covered up the Dome, the protective canopy and coverings over the artwork inside the building have allowed the Rotunda to stay open and accessible for the thousands of visitors, staff, and Members of Congress who walk through every day.  To learn more about the ongoing restoration and to see photos of the progress, visit http://www.aoc.gov/dome/project-updates.

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The Havel Bust, In The Sculptor’s Own Words

2014/11/21

On Wednesday, House leaders dedicated a bust of Václav Havel, the Czech playwright who led the Velvet Revolution and became president of his country after three stays in prison.  At the ceremony, Speaker Boehner paid tribute to Havel’s humility and “the great things ordinary people can achieve.”

Indeed, just as Havel’s story is compelling, so is that of Lubomir Janecka, the sculptor of the bust.   According to the Václav Havel Library Foundation, Janecka was born in Czechoslovakia, but because of his art, was forced into exile after years of harassment by the communist party.  He fled to the United States in 1984, and has lived here ever since.

What follows, in Janecka’s own moving words, is a description of the Capitol’s newest bust and the process behind its creation:   

I started working on the portrait of Vaclav Havel in the summer 2012. As I was reading his books and plays and going through hundreds of his photographs, I became interested in him not only as a politician but as a human being. I searched how to best express his personality, and in that process, I created several portraits, each from a different stage of his life. I covered the years of his youth spent in dissent, the time when he was repeatedly imprisoned, the Velvet Revolution, his presidency, as well as the last years of his life when he was fighting a serious illness.

I ended up with nine sketches in clay or plaster. All of them had a potential to be fully developed and become legitimate portraits of this extraordinary man, but I had to pick one. I chose the portrait from the time shortly after the Velvet Revolution. While working on its version for the Capitol, I realized that this was also the time when Vaclav Havel came to Washington DC to give the speech to the U.S. Congress. I called the portrait Vaclav Havel Victorious, and I hope that this is how American people remember him: full of life and full of hope – for his country and for the world.

Modeling of Havel’s bust is expressive. My goal was to capture his clear and open nature, unwavering firmness of his convictions, and his kindness to people.  The bust is cast in bronze and gilded with gold. I finished it with some patina applied over the gold. The whole bust should evoke an image of a nugget of gold.

The pedestal is made of magpie granite from Canada. When I was working on it, I used very little polishing. My approach to carving of the pedestal needed to correspond with my approach to modeling of the portrait. On the surface of the pedestal, I did not suppress the chisel marks completely because I wanted to preserve certain drama of the stone’s surface. The bust and pedestal together form a monolithic object. My goal was to create a sculpture that gives an impression of a living (not a static) artefact.

The bronze and the gold of the letters, Czech lion, and Czech coat of arms echo the bronze and the gold of the bust.

The Czech lion on the left side of the pedestal refers to the history of the Czech statehood. The double – tailed lion appears as a symbol of the Czech ruling dynasty already in the 13th century.

The coat of arms on the front of the pedestal is the current official symbol of the Czech Republic, which displays Czech lion, Moravian Eagle, and Silesian eagle – symbols of the three historical regions of Czech lands.

There are three small stones inserted into the granite. All three of them come from the Czech Republic.

Agate, placed by the quotation, comes from the region of Cesky raj (Czech Paradise). Agate was one of the native semiprecious stones that the Emperor Charles IV used to decorate the walls of the Chapel of Saint Wenceslas, the Czech Patron Saint, in the Saint Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle. The Prague Castle is a very strong symbol of the statehood and the independence of the Czech nation.

Vltavin, or moldavite, is a gemstone that can be found almost exclusively in the watershed of the Vltava River, and its name is derived from the name of the river. Vltava runs through Prague, and it is a legendary river to all Czechs. Vaclav Havel used to live in the house on the right bank of this river in Prague.

The third small stone is an ordinary rock from the garden of a summer house of Vaclav Havel at Hradecek. He spent a lot of time in this modest house already during his dissident years. He used to meet his friends there, he worked there and rested there. In December 2011, he peacefully passed away in this house.

I have inserted the three stones into the Vaclav Havel bust pedestal as a gentle reminder of his country and its people, who loved him and respected him, and who miss him now not only as a politician but as a good and courageous man.

Currently on display in National Statuary Hall, the bust will soon move to Freedom Foyer, joining Winston Churchill, Lajos Kossuth, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. 

NOTE: Photo of the sculptor courtesy of the Václav Havel Library Foundation. 

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Boehner: We Will Listen to the People & Protect the Constitution

2014/11/21

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today responded to President Obama’s unilateral action on immigration, saying that the president has not only refused to listen to the American people, but in doing so has sabotaged efforts to enact immigration legislation, punished those who have obeyed the law, and encouraged others to come here illegally, putting their lives at risk.  Boehner pledged that the House would take action to protect the rule of law and the Constitution in the face of what the president himself has described as the actions of an “emperor.”  Following are Boehner’s remarks:

“Our nation’s immigration system is broken, and I think we need to work together to fix it.  But fixing it starts with a commitment to working through the democratic process and enforcing the laws that the president is sworn faithfully to execute.

“All year long, I warned the president that by taking unilateral action on matters such as his health care law -- or by threatening action repeatedly on immigration -- he was making it impossible to build the trust necessary to work together.  As I warned the president: you can’t ask the elected representatives of the people to trust you to enforce the law if you’re constantly demonstrating that you can’t be trusted to enforce the law.  The president never listened. And with this action, he has refused to listen to the American people.

“The president has taken actions that he himself has said are those of a ‘king’ or an ‘emperor’ – not an American president.  And he’s doing this at a time when Americans want nothing more than both parties to focus on solving the biggest problems in our country, starting with our still-struggling economy.

“And the action by the president yesterday will only encourage more people to come here illegally, and putting their lives at risk.  We saw the humanitarian crisis at our border last summer, how horrific it was.  Well, next summer it could be worse.  And this action also punishes those who have obeyed the law and have waited their turn.

“With this action, the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek.  And, as I told the president yesterday, he’s damaging the presidency itself.

“President Obama has turned a deaf ear to the people that he was elected, and we were elected, to serve. But we will not do that.  In the days ahead, the People's House will rise to this challenge.  We will not stand idle as the president undermines the rule of law in our country and places lives at risk.  We’ll listen to the American people, we’ll work with our members, and we will work to protect the Constitution of the United States.”

A reminder on #immigration FROM President Obama, TO President Obama → pic.twitter.com/Yp4McLYpw8

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) November 21, 2014
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House Files Litigation Over President's Unilateral Actions on Health Care Law

2014/11/21

WASHINGTON, DC -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today announced that the House of Representatives – consistent with the House-passed resolution H.Res. 676 – has filed litigation over President Obama’s unilateral actions on his health care law:

“Time after time, the president has chosen to ignore the will of the American people and re-write federal law on his own without a vote of Congress.  That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work.   If this president can get away with making his own laws, future presidents will have the ability to as well.  The House has an obligation to stand up for the Constitution, and that is exactly why we are pursuing this course of action.”

NOTE:  On July 30, 2014, the House of Representatives passed a resolution authorizing the House of Representatives to initiate litigation to challenge President Obama’s decision to unilaterally change various provisions of the health care law.  The suit filed today against the Health & Human Services (HHS) and Treasury Secretaries – a copy of which can be downloaded here – will address two Executive Branch actions:  

  • Unlawfully Waiving the Employer Mandate.  The House is challenging the president’s unilateral decision to twice waive the health care law’s employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it without going through Congress.  The president’s actions delaying the employer mandate directly contradict the clear and plain language of the health care law. 
  • Illegally Transferring Funds to Insurance Companies.  The House is also challenging the administration’s unlawful giveaway of approximately $175 billion to insurance companies under ObamaCare.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the administration will pay approximately $3 billion to insurance companies in FY 2014, and is scheduled to make payments of some $175 billion over the next 10 years to insurance companies under an HHS-based, ObamaCare cost-sharing program even though Congress has never appropriated funds for the program.  The administration is instead unlawfully and unconstitutionally using funds from a separate Treasury Department account – authorized for other purposes – to pay insurance companies and thereby unilaterally altering the structure of the health care law.
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Speaker Boehner to President Obama: This is Not How American Democracy Works

2014/11/21

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement today regarding President Obama’s unilateral action on immigration:

“The American people want both parties to focus on solving problems together; they don’t support unilateral action from a president who is more interested in partisan politics than working with the people’s elected representatives. That is not how American democracy works. Not long ago, President Obama said the unilateral action he just announced was ‘not an option’ and claimed he’d already ‘done everything that I can on my own.’ He said it would lead to a ‘surge in more illegal immigration.’ He said he was ‘not a king’ and ‘not the emperor’ and that he was ‘bound by the Constitution.’  He said an action like this would exceed his authority and be ‘difficult to justify legally.’ He may have changed his position, but that doesn’t change the Constitution.

“By ignoring the will of the American people, President Obama has cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left.  His ‘my way or the highway’ approach makes it harder to build the trust with the American people that is necessary to get things done on behalf of the country. Republicans are left with the serious responsibility of upholding our oath of office. We will not shrink from this duty, because our allegiance lies with the American people.  We will listen to them, work with our members, and protect the Constitution.”

NOTE: Before he changed his position, President Obama said at least 22 times that he could not make his own law without Congress, ignore current laws, or expand his 2012 executive action. He said doing so “would be both unwise and unfair” and “could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration.” According to several surveys, a majority of Americans oppose his unilateral action. The administration has also gone to great lengths to hide the truth about its immigration policies from the American people.

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A Message Before The President's Immigration's Speech

2014/11/20

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Speaker Boehner has just released this short message ahead of the president’s immigration speech tonight:

“Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he’s acting on his own.  That’s just not how our democracy works.   The president has said before that ‘he’s not king’ and he’s ‘not an emperor,’ but he’s sure acting like one.  And he’s doing it a time when the American people want nothing more than for us to work together.”   Visit speaker.gov/email to sign up for more updates from Speaker Boehner. 

The president says he’s acting on his own. But that is just NOT how our democracy works. http://t.co/Lcxwb2pctb

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) November 20, 2014
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PHOTOS: From Playwright to President

2014/11/20

On Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner and other leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives held a bust dedication ceremony to honor the former Czech President Václav Havel.  In speaking about the Czech playwright who led a national revolution for freedom, Speaker Boehner noted, “you just can’t write a play like this."   

They were joined by Jan Hamáček, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, and Bohuslav Sobotka, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic.  The ceremony took place in National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol and also featured a musical performance by ZZ TOP bandleader and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Billy F Gibbons.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHG7gw4jlWg Read More

Servant Leadership

2014/11/20

Speaker Boehner welcomed House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings’ (R-WA) portrait into the House collection last night.  Hastings has served as the committee’s chairman since 2011.  When Hastings announced his retirement, Speaker Boehner said:

“For nearly two decades, Doc Hastings has served in the House with honor, humility and distinction.  In addition to being a skilled legislator and leader, he's the epitome of grace and class, and he's a very dear friend.  I'm grateful for Doc's service to our institution and our nation, and for his friendship and support throughout our many years together in the House.  I wish him the very best of luck, and thank him for all he's done for the House, his constituents and our country.”

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Harnessing Our Energy Boom to Boost Manufacturing & Create Jobs

2014/11/20

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement today praising House passage of the Promoting New Manufacturing Act (H.R. 4795), legislation introduced by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) that would help expedite the permitting process for new plants and factories:

“Thanks to our energy boom, we have the opportunity to unleash a new era of American manufacturing, put millions back to work, and become a nation of builders again.  To realize that opportunity, we need new plants and factories, but this infrastructure is often delayed by Washington’s lengthy and inefficient permitting process.  Steve Scalise’s bill will help promote more jobs and manufacturing by requiring a more efficient, timely, and transparent process.  It’s exactly the type of common-sense jobs bill we need to get the economy moving again, and Senate Democrats should pass it immediately.” 

NOTE:  In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute earlier this year, Speaker Boehner laid out his five-point, long-term vision for taking advantage of America’s energy boom to reset our economic foundation, including a focus on reining in red tape to make it easier to invest and create jobs. The full text of the speech is available here.

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House Condemns Iran Human Rights Violations

2014/11/19

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement after the House passed H. Res. 754, a resolution condemning Iran’s gross human rights violations:

“The Iranian government’s widespread – and well-documented - violations of the basic human rights of its citizens is nothing short of horrific.  Iranian women are subject to despicable attacks condoned, and even supported by, its rulers.  Executions are on the rise under President Rouhani, most recently claiming the life of a woman who killed her assailant in the course of a sexual assault.   And religious minorities and political activists continue to be subject to abuse and detention, despite civil liberty protections enshrined in numerous international treaties and covenants.  

“Formally condemning these actions is an important step on the part of the House, but it remains incumbent upon the president to use all the tools at his disposal, including sanctions, to hold accountable those responsible for these heinous acts.  It would also be a mistake for the administration to bypass Congress and strike a nuclear agreement that eases restrictions on a regime that has proven itself not only an enemy to many of its own people, but to America and our closest allies as well.”

NOTE: In September, Speaker Boehner cautioned the administration against striking a deal with Iran that would ease restrictions on its nuclear program, saying: “The country has a deplorable human rights record, and it still has American hostages.  Furthermore, there is no evidence that Iran intends to comply with honest transparency and accountability measures over its nuclear ambitions.”  Read the full statement here.

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Scenes From a Meeting With The Gershwin Prize Honoree

2014/11/19

 

A photo posted by Speaker John Boehner (@speakerboehner) on

Nov 11, 2014 at 2:11pm PST

Speaker Boehner today welcomed to his office Billy Joel, the sixth recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.  They were joined by Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. Awarded by the nation’s oldest cultural institution, the Gershwin Prize recognizes artists whose work has left a lasting impact on audiences and inspired generations of entertainers.  In July, when Joel was named this year’s honoree, Boehner said,

“A self-described 'Cold War kid' who came to be the legendary ‘Piano Man,’ Billy Joel’s songbook reads like a map of the human heart and the American experience.  His is the work of a storyteller who grew up on rock and roll and the Beatles, and got his start working at piano bars to help his mother out.  He took his influences and experiences on post-World War II Long Island, and along with Phil Ramone and a band of brilliant musicians, created some of the most enduring hits of the late 20th century.  … The man makes great music, and we are grateful for his contributions.”

At the end of their meeting, Boehner presented Joel with a letter marking his visit to the Capitol and congratulating him on receiving the Gershwin Prize.

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PHOTO: Fellow Speakers

2014/11/19

Speaker Boehner welcomed his counterpart from the Czech Republic to the U.S. Capitol earlier today.  Jan Hamáček, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, attended the Bust Dedication Ceremony honoring the former president Václav Havel.  The fellow speakers discussed the long, friendly relationship between the United States and the Czech Republic, and the importance of the Czech Republic’s role in the economic development of Eastern Europe.

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House Honors Vaclav Havel at Bust Dedication Ceremony

2014/11/19

WASHINGTON, DC – Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives today dedicated a bust of former Czech president Vaclav Havel during a ceremony at the United States Capitol.  The ceremony included remarks by Jan Hamáček, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, and Bohuslav Sobotka, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, as well as a musical performance by Billy F Gibbons of ZZ TOP. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) presided over today’s ceremony and made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery: “Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon and welcome to National Statuary Hall.   Today, pursuant to House Resolution 506, we will dedicate a bust of the late Vaclav Havel for permanent display here in the United States Capitol. 

“It is a poetic but also paradoxical honor for a man who, in his own words, lived ‘a paradoxical life.’  Here was a writer who exposed the communists using one weapon they could not match: the truth.  For this, he received three stays in prison, countless interrogations, and constant surveillance. 

“But he kept on writing, hiding pages of his manuscripts throughout his home.  Offered a chance to flee to the West, he’d refuse, saying, ‘I’m simply a Czech bumpkin through and through.’  Treated like a hero wherever he went, he’d beg off, saying, ‘I’m simply a playwright and it’s irrelevant whether I’m a dissident.’  When one of his friends joked that one day he’d lead a revolution and become president, he responded, ‘That would be the worst thing that could happen to me.’

“So can you imagine what Havel would have said if told his bust would not only stand in the United States Capitol, but go right alongside the likes of Lincoln, Churchill, and Washington?  You just can’t write a play like this.

“Today we celebrate the struggle on the part of Havel and so many others in his time.  In Poland, an electrician who climbed up on a crate in a shipyard, said to his fellow workers ‘you know me,’ and the Solidarity movement was born.  And in East Germany, there was a priest who opened the doors of his 800-year old church every Monday for meetings that started out with no more than a dozen people and turned into the epicenter of a national protest.

“It takes guts to do these things.  Especially when you don’t know how long it will take or how it will end.  These men and women proved that the thirst for liberty never dies and that, with drive and sacrifice, it can transform the fortunes of a whole continent. 

“With this ceremony, we give a curtain call to this cast of unwitting heroes and the playwright at the center of the drama.  And with this bust, we pay tribute to the great things ordinary people can achieve. 

“So let me thank all of you for being here, especially our honored guests from Havel’s family and native land.  None of this would have been possible without the partnership between the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation and the American Friends of the Czech Republic.  We’re particularly grateful to Fred Malek and Craig Stapleton, our former Ambassador to the Czech Republic.  Finally, let me welcome our nation’s 64th Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright.  Your presence means so much to us. Thank you.”

 

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Speaker Boehner Hails Signing of Child Care Reforms

2014/11/19

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement after President Obama signed S. 1086, a bipartisan measure to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, part of a package of solutions Republicans have offered to help working families:

“Affordable and reliable child care makes life and work easier for working families.  With these bipartisan reforms, we’re bringing this program into the 21st century to meet the needs of a changing workforce and give parents more choices.  This is another step in keeping our commitment to help get people back to work, lower costs at home, and restore opportunity for everyone.  I appreciate all the hard work on the part of Chairman Kline, Subcommittee Chairman Rokita, and the members of the Education and the Workforce Committee.”

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22 Times President Obama Said He Couldn’t Ignore or Create His Own Immigration Law

2014/11/19

22 times President Obama said he couldn’t do what he’s about to do → http://t.co/tNxxDHoc4B #immigration #amnesty

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) November 19, 2014

With the White House poised to grant executive amnesty any day now despite the American people’s staunch opposition, on Sunday President Obama was asked about the many, many statements he made in the past about his inability to unilaterally change or ignore immigration law. His response was astonishingly brazen: “Actually, my position hasn’t changed. When I was talking to the advocates, their interest was in me, through executive action, duplicating the legislation that was stalled in Congress.”

This is a flagrant untruth: “In fact, most of the questions that were posed to the president over the past several years were about the very thing that he is expected to announce within a matter of days,” reported The New York Times. “[T]he questions actually specifically addressed the sorts of actions that he is contemplating now,” The Washington Post’s Fact Checker agreed, awarding President Obama the rare “Upside-Down Pinocchio,” which signifies “a major-league flip-flop.” Even FactCheck.org piled on.

President Obama is once again trying to mislead Americans, but he can’t run from what he’s said over and over (and over) again. Not only are Americans not stupid – they can read:

  1. “I take the Constitution very seriously. The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with [the president] trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America.” (3/31/08)
  2. “We’ve got a government designed by the Founders so that there’d be checks and balances. You don’t want a president who’s too powerful or a Congress that’s too powerful or a court that’s too powerful. Everybody’s got their own role. Congress’s job is to pass legislation. The president can veto it or he can sign it. … I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We're not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress.” (5/19/08)
  3. “Comprehensive reform, that's how we're going to solve this problem. … Anybody who tells you it's going to be easy or that I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn't been paying attention to how this town works.” (5/5/10)
  4. “[T]here are those in the immigrants’ rights community who have argued passionately that we should simply provide those who are [here] illegally with legal status, or at least ignore the laws on the books and put an end to deportation until we have better laws. ... I believe such an indiscriminate approach would be both unwise and unfair. It would suggest to those thinking about coming here illegally that there will be no repercussions for such a decision. And this could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration. And it would also ignore the millions of people around the world who are waiting in line to come here legally. Ultimately, our nation, like all nations, has the right and obligation to control its borders and set laws for residency and citizenship.  And no matter how decent they are, no matter their reasons, the 11 million who broke these laws should be held accountable.” (7/1/10)
  5. “I do have an obligation to make sure that I am following some of the rules. I can't simply ignore laws that are out there. I've got to work to make sure that they are changed.” (10/14/10)
  6. I am president, I am not king. I can't do these things just by myself. We have a system of government that requires the Congress to work with the Executive Branch to make it happen. I'm committed to making it happen, but I've got to have some partners to do it. … The main thing we have to do to stop deportations is to change the laws. … [T]he most important thing that we can do is to change the law because the way the system works – again, I just want to repeat, I'm president, I'm not king. If Congress has laws on the books that says that people who are here who are not documented have to be deported, then I can exercise some flexibility in terms of where we deploy our resources, to focus on people who are really causing problems as a opposed to families who are just trying to work and support themselves. But there's a limit to the discretion that I can show because I am obliged to execute the law. That's what the Executive Branch means. I can't just make the laws up by myself. So the most important thing that we can do is focus on changing the underlying laws.” (10/25/10)
  7. “America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the President, am obligated to enforce the law. I don't have a choice about that. That's part of my job. But I can advocate for changes in the law so that we have a country that is both respectful of the law but also continues to be a great nation of immigrants. … With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed …. [W]e’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws. There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.” (3/28/11)
  8. “I can't solve this problem by myself. … [W]e're going to have to have bipartisan support in order to make it happen. … I can't do it by myself. We're going to have to change the laws in Congress, but I'm confident we can make it happen.” (4/20/11)
  9. “I know some here wish that I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself.  But that’s not how democracy works.  See, democracy is hard.  But it’s right. Changing our laws means doing the hard work of changing minds and changing votes, one by one.” (4/29/11)
  10. “Sometimes when I talk to immigration advocates, they wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that’s not how a democracy works. What we really need to do is to keep up the fight to pass genuine, comprehensive reform. That is the ultimate solution to this problem. That's what I’m committed to doing.” (5/10/11)
  11. “I swore an oath to uphold the laws on the books …. Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written.” (7/25/11)
  12. “So what we’ve tried to do is within the constraints of the laws on the books, we’ve tried to be as fair, humane, just as we can, recognizing, though, that the laws themselves need to be changed. … The most important thing for your viewers and listeners and readers to understand is that in order to change our laws, we’ve got to get it through the House of Representatives, which is currently controlled by Republicans, and we’ve got to get 60 votes in the Senate. … Administratively, we can't ignore the law. … I just have to continue to say this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true.  We are doing everything we can administratively.  But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce.  And I think there’s been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things.  It’s just not true. … We live in a democracy.  You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it.  And if all the attention is focused away from the legislative process, then that is going to lead to a constant dead-end. We have to recognize how the system works, and then apply pressure to those places where votes can be gotten and, ultimately, we can get this thing solved.” (9/28/11)

In June 2012, President Obama unilaterally granted deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), allowing “eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety … to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.” He then argued that he had already done everything he could legally do on his own:

  1. “Now, what I’ve always said is, as the head of the executive branch, there’s a limit to what I can do. Part of the reason that deportations went up was Congress put a whole lot of money into it, and when you have a lot of resources and a lot more agents involved, then there are going to be higher numbers. What we’ve said is, let’s make sure that you’re not misdirecting those resources. But we’re still going to, ultimately, have to change the laws in order to avoid some of the heartbreaking stories that you see coming up occasionally. And that’s why this continues to be a top priority of mine. … And we will continue to make sure that how we enforce is done as fairly and justly as possible. But until we have a law in place that provides a pathway for legalization and/or citizenship for the folks in question, we’re going to continue to be bound by the law. … And so part of the challenge as President is constantly saying, ‘what authorities do I have?’” (9/20/12)
  2. “We are a nation of immigrants. … But we're also a nation of laws. So what I've said is, we need to fix a broken immigration system. And I've done everything that I can on my own[.]” (10/16/12)
  3. I'm not a king. I am the head of the executive branch of government. I'm required to follow the law. And that's what we've done. But what I've also said is, let's make sure that we're applying the law in a way that takes into account people's humanity. That's the reason that we moved forward on deferred action. Within the confines of the law we said, we have some discretion in terms of how we apply this law.” (1/30/13)
  4. I’m not a king. You know, my job as the head of the executive branch ultimately is to carry out the law.  And, you know, when it comes to enforcement of our immigration laws, we’ve got some discretion. We can prioritize what we do. But we can’t simply ignore the law. When it comes to the dreamers, we were able to identify that group and say, ‘These folks are generally not a risk. They’re not involved in crime. … And so let’s prioritize our enforcement resources.’ But to sort through all the possible cases of everybody who might have a sympathetic story to tell is very difficult to do. This is why we need comprehensive immigration reform. To make sure that once and for all, in a way that is, you know, ratified by Congress, we can say that there is a pathway to citizenship for people who are staying out of trouble, who are trying to do the right thing, who’ve put down roots here. … My job is to carry out the law. And so Congress gives us a whole bunch of resources. They give us an order that we’ve got to go out there and enforce the laws that are on the books.  … If this was an issue that I could do unilaterally I would have done it a long time ago. … The way our system works is Congress has to pass legislation. I then get an opportunity to sign it and implement it.” (1/30/13)
  5. “This is something I’ve struggled with throughout my presidency. The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed. And Congress right now has not changed what I consider to be a broken immigration system. And what that means is that we have certain obligations to enforce the laws that are in place even if we think that in many cases the results may be tragic.” (2/14/13)
  6. “I think that it is very important for us to recognize that the way to solve this problem has to be legislative. I can do some things and have done some things that make a difference in the lives of people by determining how our enforcement should focus. … And we’ve been able to provide help through deferred action for young people …. But this is a problem that needs to be fixed legislatively.” (7/16/13)
  7. My job in the executive branch is supposed to be to carry out the laws that are passed. Congress has said ‘here is the law’ when it comes to those who are undocumented, and they've allocated a whole bunch of money for enforcement. And, what I have been able to do is to make a legal argument that I think is absolutely right, which is that given the resources that we have, we can't do everything that Congress has asked us to do. What we can do is then carve out the DREAM Act folks, saying young people who have basically grown up here are Americans that we should welcome. … But if we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that's not an option. … What I've said is there is a there's a path to get this done, and that's through Congress.” (9/17/13)
  8. [I]f, in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so. But we’re also a nation of laws. That’s part of our tradition. And so the easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws. And what I’m proposing is the harder path, which is to use our democratic processes to achieve the same goal that you want to achieve. … It is not simply a matter of us just saying we’re going to violate the law. That’s not our tradition. The great thing about this country is we have this wonderful process of democracy, and sometimes it is messy, and sometimes it is hard, but ultimately, justice and truth win out.” (11/25/13)
  9. “I am the Champion-in-Chief of comprehensive immigration reform. But what I’ve said in the past remains true, which is until Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do. What I’ve done is to use my prosecutorial discretion, because you can’t enforce the laws across the board for 11 or 12 million people, there aren’t the resources there.  What we’ve said is focus on folks who are engaged in criminal activity, focus on people who are engaged in gang activity. Do not focus on young people, who we’re calling DREAMers …. That already stretched my administrative capacity very far. But I was confident that that was the right thing to do. But at a certain point the reason that these deportations are taking place is, Congress said, ‘you have to enforce these laws.’ They fund the hiring of officials at the department that’s charged with enforcing.  And I cannot ignore those laws any more than I could ignore, you know, any of the other laws that are on the books. That’s why it’s so important for us to get comprehensive immigration reform done this year.” (3/6/14)
  10. “I think that I never have a green light [to push the limits of executive power].  I’m bound by the Constitution; I’m bound by separation of powers.  There are some things we can’t do. Congress has the power of the purse, for example. … Congress has to pass a budget and authorize spending. So I don’t have a green light. … My preference in all these instances is to work with Congress, because not only can Congress do more, but it’s going to be longer-lasting.” (8/6/14)

President Obama should listen to President Obama, drop his plan to “expand the authority of the executive branch into murky, uncharted territory,” and work with Congress rather than insisting on his stubborn, “my way or the highway” approach.

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Republican Steering Committee Recommends House Committee Chairs for 114th Congress

2014/11/18

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Republican Steering Committee today recommended the following lawmakers to serve as committee chairs in the 114th Congress:

Agriculture – Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX)Appropriations – Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)Armed Services – Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)Budget – Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)Education & the Workforce – Rep. John Kline (R-MN)Energy & Commerce – Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)Financial Services – Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)Foreign Affairs – Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)Homeland Security – Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)Judiciary – Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)Natural Resources – Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT)Oversight & Government Reform – Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)Science, Space, and Technology – Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)Small Business – Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH)Transportation & Infrastructure – Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA)Veterans’ Affairs – Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL)Ways & Means – Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Let me offer my heartfelt congratulations to my colleagues, all of whom have my utmost trust and confidence,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said.  “These lawmakers understand that we have big challenges ahead, and the opportunity to do some great things in the new American Congress.  I know they will set high standards of oversight, foster input and contributions from both the majority and the minority, and produce solutions worthy of the people we serve.”

Speaker Boehner has previously announced the following committee chair appointments:

Administration – Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI)Ethics – Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)Intelligence – Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)Rules – Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX)

These recommendations will be presented to the full House Republican Conference for ratification.

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Rep. Devin Nunes to Serve as Intelligence Committee Chairman in the 114th Congress

2014/11/18

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today announced that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) will chair the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the 114th Congress:

“Today we face a sophisticated and determined terrorist enemy that is intent on killing more and more Americans, not to mention innocents around the globe.  We also face rogue states like Iran and North Korea that continue to thumb their noses at the United States.  The world is becoming increasingly dangerous and the Intelligence Committee is vital to our efforts to protect the American people.  Over the past four years, Devin has been instrumental in ensuring that our intelligence professionals have the resources they need to keep America safe.  He has asked tough questions and conducted serious oversight to hold the Obama administration accountable.  I look forward to working with him as the next chairman of the Intelligence Committee.”

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Rep. Charlie Dent to Serve as Ethics Committee Chairman in the 114th Congress

2014/11/18

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today announced that Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) has agreed to serve as Chairman of the House Ethics Committee for the 114th Congress:

“Charlie Dent is the epitome of what an Ethics Committee chairman should be: he is thoughtful and well-respected on both sides of the aisle for his integrity and good judgment.  The American people expect the highest standards of conduct from their elected officials, and I’m confident that under Charlie’s leadership, the Ethics Committee will continue to ensure accountability and protect the public trust.”

 

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President Still Misleading Americans Over ObamaCare

2014/11/18

Is this a joke? RT @politico: Obama: We didn't mislead on health care http://t.co/vd5dpyw0La

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) November 17, 2014

Much attention has been paid to President Obama’s disowning of ObamaCare’s designer and architect, Jonathan Gruber, who, on numerous occasions, called Americans “stupid” and openly bragged about the number of ways in which he worked closely with the Obama administration to mislead and deceive the public about ObamaCare in order to get it passed.

The president referred to Gruber a couple days ago as just “some adviser who was never on our staff.” Video then surfaced of Obama mentioning Gruber by name in 2006 as one of the “brightest minds … I have stolen ideas from liberally.” Ultimately, the Obama administration and state governments paid Gruber nearly 6 million dollars to help write and sell ObamaCare and consult on health care.

When asked this week by a reporter if Gruber was correct in saying that President Obama misled Americans about ObamaCare, the president piled another untruth on top of untruths, saying, “No, I did not.” This is the same president who promised at least 36 times that if you liked your health care plan, you could keep it, even though – according to NBC Newshe knew that was not true. In 2009, the Associated Press reported that “White House officials suggest the president’s rhetoric shouldn’t be taken literally.” In 2010, the president admitted on camera that eight to nine million Americans “might have to change their coverage.”

President Obama also said premiums would fall by 3,000 percent, allowing employers to give raises. He said patients could keep their doctors. He said the individual mandate was not a tax. He said ObamaCare wouldn’t add to the deficit. He said it wouldn’t fund abortions. He said it wouldn’t benefit illegal immigrants. And on and on.

But insisting these misleading claims never crossed his lips wasn’t enough this week. President Obama also issued a challenge: “I would just advise every press outlet here, go back and pull up every clip, every story, and I think it's fair to say there was not a provision in the health care law that was not extensively debated and was fully transparent.”

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: the two-year delay of ObamaCare’s employer mandate was not part of the law and it was not “extensively debated” – it was unilaterally created by the White House. The provision making subsidies available through federal exchanges – the legality of which the Supreme Court will decide – was not part of the law and it was not “extensively debated.” It was unilaterally created by the Obama IRS, a fact confirmed by Gruber’s past statements about the very intentional decision to deny subsidies to states that do not establish their own exchanges.

Second, let’s go back and pull all those clips and stories celebrating the transparency of ObamaCare:

  • “Obama promised televised negotiations for the health care law, but that didn’t happen. Instead, his administration reached agreements behind closed doors with the drug industry and hospitals. In Congress, some of the committee bill writing sessions were open, but the most substantial negotiations took place privately, before bills came to committee or the House or Senate floor. We rated this Promise Broken.” (PolitiFact, 10/2/13)
  • “Throughout this year's negotiations, however, the big deals have been struck in secret. With tax increases and limits on what's covered among the possible ways of offsetting perhaps $1 trillion over a decade in expenses, neither the administration nor [the Democratic] Congress is willing to give up its right to do the most sensitive talking in private[.]” (McClatchy, 7/9/09)
  • “In cutting deals with hospitals and drug makers, President Barack Obama is giving a private inside track to special interests that's at odds with his promise to make policy in the open.” (Associated Press, 7/21/09)
  • Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Obama and his advisers have been quite active, sometimes negotiating deals with a degree of cold-eyed political realism potentially at odds with the president’s rhetoric. … Hospital industry lobbyists, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of alienating the White House, say they negotiated their $155 billion in concessions with Mr. Baucus and the administration in tandem.” (The New York Times, 8/13/09)
  • President Obama's top aides met frequently with lobbyists and health care industry heavyweights as his administration pieced together a national health care overhaul, according to White House visitor records …. The records do not identify the visitors' employers, say on whose behalf they were there or give any specifics of what was discussed.” (Associated Press, 11/25/09)
  • “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has set the stage for a major vote Monday morning at 1:00 AM …. That would … set up a late-night Christmas Eve vote on final passage. … [T]hey will have had less than 38 hours to understand a 383-page amendment that introduces several new concepts into the health care debate.” (The Daily Signal, 12/19/09)
  • “Looks like the Dem leadership’s plan to quickly pass health care reform by skipping House-Senate conference negotiations has further alienated House liberals …. A top House progressive … [is] claiming it will make it even tougher to improve the bill and slamming it for stifling real debate. … Rep Raul Grijalva, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, criticized the scheme and complained he hadn’t even been consulted yet: ‘...I and other progressives saw a conference as a means to improve the bill and have a real debate, and now with this behind-the-scenes approach, we’re concerned even more.’” (The Plum Line, 1/4/10)
  • “MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the leading academic defenders of health care reform, is taking heat for failing to disclose consistently that he was under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services while he was touting the Democrats' health proposals in the media.” (Fox News, 1/8/10)
  • “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” (Nancy Pelosi, 3/9/10)
  • “[T]he Caribou Coffee across the street from the White House has become a favorite meeting spot to conduct Obama administration business. … White House officials have met hundreds of times over the last 18 months with prominent K Street lobbyists …. [to discuss] front-burner issues like Wall Street regulation, health care rules, federal stimulus money, energy policy and climate control …. But because the discussions are not taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they are not subject to disclosure on the visitors’ log that the White House releases[.]” (The New York Times, 6/24/10)
  • “President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds — and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident. It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view — and out of Secret Service logs kept on visitors to the White House and later released to the public.” (Politico, 2/24/11)
  • “Republican congressional investigators got the brush-off this past week after pressing for details of meetings between White House officials and interest groups, including drug companies and hospitals that provided critical backing for Obama’s health insurance expansion.” (Associated Press, 3/12/11)
  • “[T]he [White House visitor] logs are missing the names of thousands of other visitors to the White House, including lobbyists, government employees, campaign donors, policy experts and friends of the first family, according to an investigation[.]” (Center for Public Integrity, 4/13/11)
  • “Eager to dismantle barriers to the legislation’s passage, Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina, a deputy chief of staff, had cut a quiet deal with pharmaceutical industry lobbyists[.]” (The Obamas by Jodi Kantor, 1/10/12)
  • Secrecy shrouds President Obama's $2 billion program to launch 24 new co-ops designed to compete with private insurance companies under the chief executive's landmark health care reform.” (Washington Examiner, 2/5/13)
  • “The head of the agency responsible for overseeing the troubled HealthCare.gov repeatedly refused to disclose how many people have enrolled in ObamaCare -- during a hearing where she did not deny that officials have that information.” (Fox News, 10/29/13)

The American people can see right through “the most transparent administration in history,” and House Republicans have led the effort to demand true transparency in ObamaCare. President Obama, on the other hand, is still set on misleading.

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Boehner Signs Child Care Reforms to Help Working Families

2014/11/18

Speaker Boehner today signed S. 1086, bipartisan legislation to improve and reauthorize the Child Care & Development Block Grant Act.  When this measure passed the House in September, Boehner said:

“The Child Care & Development Block Grant program has, for decades, helped millions of men and women meet the needs of work and family by providing low-income parents access to safe and affordable child care while they work or pursue education and job training opportunities.  The bill we passed today continues this vital initiative, maintaining parents’ ability to choose the environment that’s best for their children while making critical reforms to enhance the accountability and effectiveness of the program.“

The bill now goes to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

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Boehner: A Keystone Veto “Equivalent of Calling the American People ‘Stupid’”

2014/11/18

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) kept the focus on jobs in his weekly press conference with Republican leaders today, discussing the upcoming House vote on a manufacturing jobs bill and keeping the heat on President Obama and Senate Democrats to approve the Keystone pipeline.  Following are Boehner’s remarks:

“We’re back at work this week and continuing to make the American people’s priorities our priorities, and clearly that means a focus on jobs.  With another bill to promote manufacturing, the House this week will add to its total of jobs bills that are awaiting action in the United States Senate.

“Tonight, the Senate has an important opportunity to send a bill to build the Keystone pipeline to the president’s desk.  And let’s be clear about this: A Keystone pipeline veto would send the signal that this president has no interest in listening to the American people.

“Vetoing an overwhelmingly popular bill would be a clear indication that he doesn’t care about the American peoples’ priorities.  It would be [the] equivalent of calling the American people ‘stupid.’”

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Majority of Americans Oppose President Obama’s Executive Amnesty

2014/11/18

“This is the wrong way to govern. This is exactly what the American people said on Election Day they didn’t want,” Speaker Boehner said last week as President Obama vowed to follow through on his threat of executive amnesty.

Indeed, recent polls show that a strong majority of Americans oppose President Obama’s stubborn, “my way or the highway” approach:

  • Of 806 actual voters surveyed, only 20 percent support President Obama changing immigration policy on his own, while 74 percent say he should work with Congress. (The Polling Company, 11/4/14)
  • Of 2,118 likely voters surveyed, 67 percent said President Obama should work with Congress on immigration reform rather than taking executive action, including 49 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents, and 58 percent of those 18-29 years old. (Paragon Insights, 8/28/14)
  • Of those surveyed, 73 percent say President Obama should work with Congress on immigration reform rather than on his own using executive orders, including 54 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents, and 80 percent of those 18-24 years old. (IBD/TIPP, 9/2/14)
  • Of 1,000 likely voters surveyed, 62 percent “oppose the president granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants without the approval of Congress,” including 65 percent of independents. (Rasmussen Reports, 9/4/14)
  • Of 1,000 adults surveyed, 46 percent say President Obama should wait for Congress to pass immigration legislation rather than taking executive action, which only 42 percent support. (USA TODAY, 11/17/14)

So it’s fair to ask: Is President Obama listening?

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Rep. Candice Miller to Continue as House Administration Chairman

2014/11/17

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today announced that Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) will continue as chairman of the House Administration Committee in the 114th Congress.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today in making the people’s House less costly and more accountable without Candice Miller,” Speaker Boehner said.  “As Administration chairman, she consistently puts taxpayers first, even and especially when it means making tough calls and asking the institution to do more with less.  Chairman Miller should take much pride in what she and her team have accomplished and will accomplish on behalf of the American people.”

“I thank Speaker Boehner for his confidence in me and the opportunity to continue my service as the Chairman of the Committee on House Administration for the 114th Congress,” Chairman Miller said.  “Over the past two years, the Committee has worked to ensure that America continues to have open, free and fair elections.  Additionally, the Committee works to improve the way the House operates by saving taxpayer dollars, and improving communication with constituents by using low-cost digital tools. Over the next two years as Chairman I look forward to continuing our oversight over House operations and facilities, as well as making certain that this House remains open and accessible to the people we are here to serve.”

This year, under Chairman Miller’s stewardship, the House received another clean financial audit.  The House also continued holding the line on its own budget, putting us on track to save taxpayers $594 million

 

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House to Honor Vaclav Havel Wednesday in Ceremony Featuring Billy Gibbons

2014/11/17

The U.S. House of Representatives will honor the late Czech leader Václav Havel Wednesday with a bipartisan ceremony featuring a musical tribute performed by ZZ TOP bandleader and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Billy F Gibbons, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced today. 

“America admired Václav Havel, and he admired America – and his affection wasn’t limited to his appreciation of our country’s system of government.  He was also a fan of American music, including the blues – and nobody does the blues quite like Mr. Billy Gibbons,” said Speaker Boehner.  “We’re honored Billy will join us later this week as we unveil a bust of President Havel that will reside permanently in the United States Capitol.”

The Havel bust dedication ceremony will be held at 1:00pm ET on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 in National Statuary Hall, and can be seen live at speaker.gov/live.  The event coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which led to Havel’s election as president of the new – and free – Czech Republic.  A short time after the dedication, the bust will be added to the Capitol’s Freedom Foyer, joining Winston Churchill, Lajos Kossuth, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington.

Throughout the year, Speaker Boehner has been highlighting the freedom fighters whose sacrifices brought down the Iron Curtain.  Perhaps the most unlikely of all those heroes was Havel, the Czech playwright who was imprisoned three times for promoting democracy in defiance of the communist regime that ruled his country.  

“President Havel was fond of blues and rock music, and there is a very close relationship between Texas and my country,” said Ambassador Petr Gandalovič, the Czech ambassador to the United States.  “More than one million U.S. citizens claim their ancestry as being Czech or Czechoslovak.  Prime Minister Sobotka this week will travel to West, Texas, where a gift from the Czech Republic is helping to rebuild the community.  And the Czech Center Museum Houston is located in the same neighborhood Mr. Gibbons comes from.  I think President Havel would have appreciated Mr. Gibbons performing at this event.”

Billy Gibbons commented: “It’s quite an honor to have been called upon to participate in this tribute to a world leader who had an enduring affinity for the American art form known as the blues. We’ve always found audiences at our performance dates in the Czech Republic to be enthusiastic, knowledgeable and very much 'down with the sound.’  We can only conclude that this is a continuing reflection of President Havel’s leadership, good nature and enduring spirit."

Also performing at the ceremony will be the United States Army Band and Chorus and the United States Armed Forces Color Guard, Speaker Boehner announced. 

On March 11, 2014, the House unanimously approved H. Res. 506, which states “that to honor the life and legacy of Václav Havel, the House of Representatives Fine Arts Board shall provide for the display of an appropriate bust of Václav Havel in the House of Representatives wing of the United States Capitol.”

A preview of the ceremony, featuring a clip from Havel’s address to a joint meeting of Congress on February 21, 1990, can be seen here.

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Cold Open: ObamaCare Hype Machine Can’t Hide Higher Premiums

2014/11/17

Remember how the new HealthCare.gov wasn’t going to display premiums until the second week of November?  At the time, federal officials “downplayed” the possibility of more sticker shock.

Well lo and behold, the information has come out – in “a Friday data dump,” naturally – and what do you know?

  • ObamaCare costs to increase for many. A trove of data released Friday by the Obama administration shows premiums on the exchanges will tick up by mostly single digits next year, though changes vary widely by geography and plan.” (The Hill)
  • Cost of Coverage Under Affordable Care Act to Increase in 2015.  The Obama administration on Friday unveiled data showing that many Americans with health insurance bought under the Affordable Care Act could face substantial price increases next year — in some cases as much as 20 percent — unless they switch plans. … Experts said the wide swings in prices were likely to continue.” (The New York Times)
  • “…options usually will be costlier.  Twenty-five states using the federal enrollment portal on average have higher premiums this year for the most popular level of health insurance plans — called ‘silver’ plans — while nine states on average have lower prices this year for that level of coverage… New plans are typically slightly more expensive than existing ones, the analysis showed.” (The Washington Post)

The kicker: “In releasing the information,” the Post says, “federal health officials did not comment on the shift in prices.”  No, of course not.  Go ahead, pretend as if the word ‘affordable’ isn’t in the law’s title, or that the president didn’t promise that the typical family would see their costs go down by $2,500.  We’re “too stupid to know” the difference, right?

In this economy, there’s little comfort in trends or ‘modest’ or ‘slight’ increases.  Every ounce of sticker stock amplifies the squeeze middle class families are already feeling.  “It seems like the price of everything is going up” is a common refrain these days, right next to “where are the jobs?”  And things only stand to get worse if you lump in things like the president’s plan to make electricity prices “skyrocket.” 

Today – before this all sets in – Gallup reports that approval of ObamaCare has hit a new low.  That means it’s even less popular now than it was after “the lie of the year” came out.   

We’ll take on ObamaCare,” Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) says in this week’s Republican address, from making sure employers don’t face penalties for hiring veterans to restoring the 40-hour workweek.  Watch it here, and check out this piece about how our oversight efforts continue to expose the need to repeal this law in its entirety

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Weekly Address: More Jobs, Lower Costs, and Real Accountability

2014/11/16

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In this week’s Republican address, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) highlighted the steps Republicans are taking to help get people back to work, ease the squeeze on middle-class families, and make the federal government more accountable.   This week’s address followed a bipartisan vote in the House to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Hill: GOP lawmaker: Senate Dems, Obama need to pass Keystone” “Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R­Ohio) called on Senate Democrats to pass a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline — and urged President Obama to sign it — in the party's weekly radio address Saturday. … Wenstrup said that by passing the bill, the House GOP ‘have begun to make good on our vow to honor [the voters’] trust by focusing first on jobs and the economy.’ …House Republicans have wasted no time presenting their agenda beyond Keystone to the American people.   Wenstrup said that they will pursue changes to ObamaCare and seek to pass a bill they say would boost veteran hiring.  Both were priorities also mentioned one week ago by Speaker John Boehner in the first weekly address following the election.”

Newsmax: “Rep. Wenstrup: American Priorities Should Come First” “Americans deserve a government that put their priorities first, Ohio Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup said in Saturday's GOP address, promising that Republicans are taking steps to help people get back to work.  ‘You deserve a government that doesn’t just ‘hear you,’ but actually listens to you and puts your priorities first – that focuses on securing more jobs and a better future for our children,’ Wenstrup said. ‘This is what you can expect from the new Republican majority.’”

ABC News Radio: “Rep. Wenstrup on What to ‘Expect From The New Republican Majority’” “In this week’s GOP address, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) outlines steps Republicans are taking in Congress.  Wenstrup looks at specific cases, including the Keystone XL pipeline, the Hire More Heroes Act, and ObamaCare.  ‘You deserve a government that doesn’t just ‘hear you,’ but actually listens to you and puts your priorities first – that focuses on securing more jobs and a better future for our children,’ Wenstrup says.  ‘That’s what you can expect from the new Republican majority.’”

Breitbart: “GOP Hits Obama for Exec Amnesty, Gruber” “Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) slammed the Obama administration for its planned executive action on immigration and recent revelations regarding remarks made by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber during the GOP’s Weekly Address on Saturday.”

McClatchy: “Republicans came out swinging at Democrats in their weekly radio address Saturday, sharply criticizing President Barack Obama. … ‘Now, after the election, the president may have said ‘I hear you,’ but by the looks of things, it’s just the opposite,’ said Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio.”

CBS News: “Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, says MIT economist Jonathan Gruber's remarks demonstrate the all-too-common ‘arrogance’ of President Obama's administration and its allies.”

Investor’s Business Daily: “GOP: Obama claims he 'hears' Americans; But Republicans actually listen -- and act”

 

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Weekly Republican Address: Putting Jobs & The Economy First

2014/11/14

WASHINGTON, DC – Delivering the Weekly Republican Address, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) highlights the House’s vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and other steps Republicans are taking to help get people back to work and hold the Obama administration accountable. 

Key quote: “You deserve a government that doesn’t just ‘hear you,’ but actually listens to you and puts your priorities first – that focuses on securing more jobs and a better future for our children.  This is what you can expect from the new Republican majority.”

The audio of the weekly address is available here.  The video will be available tomorrow morning at 6:00 am ET on Speaker.gov and GOP.gov.

Remarks of Representative Brad Wenstrup of Ohio Weekly Republican Address Washington, DC November 15, 2014

Good morning, I’m Dr. Brad Wenstrup, and I have the honor of representing Ohio’s Second Congressional District.

In the days since the election, Republicans have begun to make good on our vow to honor your trust by focusing first on jobs and the economy.

On Friday, the House voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which will help lower energy costs and get people back to work.  We ask President Obama and Senate Democrats to finally give this project the green light that the American people have been waiting for.

We’ll also work to pass the Hire More Heroes Act, which will encourage businesses large and small to hire America’s veterans - the very Americans to which we owe our security and freedom. 

We’ll take on ObamaCare... and we’ll propose that Congress – not the bureaucrats – has the final say on all new major regulations.

This is just a start on getting some important things done in the months ahead. 

Now, after the election, the president may have said “I hear you,” but by the looks of things, it’s just the opposite.

On Monday, he proposed a new set of rules to regulate – of all things – the Internet, one of the few places innovation has thrived, even in a struggling economy.

Then he agreed with the Chinese government on rules that continue his misguided crusade against affordable, reliable energy.  In this economy, we need relief from the EPA’s grip, not more heavy-handed mandates that take away American jobs and squeeze middle-class families.

The president also continues to raise the possibility of taking unilateral action on executive amnesty.  We've warned him that such action would make it that much harder to pass immigration reform and find common ground.

Sadly, there’s even more.

We’ve now come to learn that one of ObamaCare’s architects said the law passed because Americans were “too stupid to know” what was happening.

This is the same arrogance we’ve seen time and time again from this administration and its allies. This is insulting to all of us.

They say one thing and do another.  They spend money we don’t have - with little to show for it but more debt and broken promises.  And they stay off course - even when hardworking people are stuck earning less and paying more for just about everything.  

Americans deserve far better.

You deserve a government that doesn’t just “hear you,” but actually listens to you and puts your priorities first – that focuses on securing more jobs and a better future for our children.

That’s what you can expect from the new Republican majority.

Thank you for listening, and God bless the United States of America.

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“You Really Can’t Quite Write A Play Like This”

2014/11/14

Throughout the year, Speaker Boehner has been highlighting the freedom fighters whose sacrifices brought down the Iron Curtain.  Perhaps the most unlikely of all those heroes was Václav Havel, the Czech playwright who was imprisoned three times for promoting democracy in defiance of the communist regime that ruled his country.  

This Wednesday, November 19, House leaders will dedicate a bust in Havel’s honor at a 1:00 pm ET ceremony in the United States Capitol.  This event coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which led to Havel’s election as the first president of the new – and free –Czech Republic.  You’ll be able to watch it all at speaker.gov/live

For now, here is a preview from Speaker Boehner featuring a clip from Havel’s address to a joint meeting of Congress on February 21, 1990. 

 

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A Job Well Done

2014/11/14

Last night, Speaker Boehner had the honor of accepting the portrait of Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) into the House collection.  Issa has served as the committee's top Republican since 2009. Boehner praised Issa for his stewardship of the committee, particularly his commitment to good government: 

“Six years ago, I gave Darrell a big job, and he has done it well. You know all the high-profile work, but there’s also the less-recognized work he has done to improve public oversight of the government. He’s seen through the DATA Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and there are more than 20 good government bills that maybe now we’ll have a chance of passing in the Senate. It can be tedious work, but the House is now considered a model of openness and transparency – and Darrell is a big part of the reason why. The whole House – and, quite frankly, the country – owes Chairman Issa a debt of gratitude."

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House Approves Keystone, Raises Pressure on the President to Act

2014/11/14

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WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement praising House passage of H.R. 5682, legislation introduced by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) that would immediately approve the Keystone pipeline:

“Thousands more Americans would be working today if President Obama had put their priorities ahead of his political interests and approved the Keystone pipeline.  Instead, he continues to block the project, and the new jobs, lower costs, and increased energy security it would provide.  The House has voted numerous times to end the Obama administration’s needless delays, only to see those bills blocked by the outgoing Democratic majority in the Senate.  The president doesn’t have any more elections to win, and he has no other excuse for standing in the way.  It’s time he start listening to the vast majority of Americans who support Keystone and help get more people back to work.”

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Boehner Selects Sessions to Continue as Rules Chairman

2014/11/14

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today announced that he has selected Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) to continue as Chairman of the House Committee on Rules in the 114th Congress:

“No one has worked harder to make the people’s House more open and accountable than Pete Sessions.  As Rules Chairman, he has seen to it that members of both parties have a genuine opportunity to contribute to the legislative process.  In this Congress, nearly 1,500 amendments have been offered on the House floor, nearly half of which were offered by the minority.  Greater openness and more scrutiny means better legislation, which is why Pete’s leadership will be even more vital in the months ahead as we work to address the people’s priorities.  Beyond all that, it remains a privilege to call Pete a friend and advisor.  He brings good cheer and resolve to his work, and enjoys the trust and confidence of his colleagues.”

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Rep. Brad Wenstrup to Deliver the Weekly Republican Address

2014/11/14

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has selected Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) to deliver the Weekly Republican Address on Saturday, November 15.  Wenstrup represents Ohio’s Second District, and his address will focus on Republicans’ commitment to honor the American people’s trust by focusing first on jobs and the economy. 

“Anytime you get the chance to address your countrymen, it’s a great honor, especially at such a critical time,” Rep. Wenstrup said. “Our country faces serious challenges right now, starting with the uncertainty families and small businesses are feeling in this struggling economy.  I’ll be talking about what we’re doing to help get people back to work, lower energy costs, and make government more accountable.”

Learn more about Rep. Wenstrup by going to http://wenstrup.house.gov, or by following him on Facebook and Twitter.

The Weekly Republican Address will be available starting tomorrow, Saturday, November 15, 2014, at 6:00 am ET on Speaker.gov and GOP.gov

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House Republicans Elect Leaders For The 114th Congress

2014/11/13

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Republicans – including newly elected and returning lawmakers – elected their leadership team for the 114th Congress.   House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement:

“Americans have entrusted Republicans with the responsibility of leading both the House and Senate.  We are humbled by this opportunity and take it seriously.  Together, our focus will continue to be listening to the people and making their priorities our priorities.  We have an opportunity to do some important things in the months ahead.  We have made clear that we’ll start with the jobs bills the outgoing Senate majority ignored for too long.  We’ve decided not to wait on one of them: the Keystone pipeline.  The House will vote tomorrow to build the Keystone pipeline, and we’re hopeful the Senate will approve it as well.  This is a vote to lower energy costs for families and create more American jobs.  Finding common ground won’t always be easy, but for the sake of America’s workers, we hope the president will sign this bipartisan bill without any further delay.”

NOTE: House Republicans today elected the following members of their leadership team for the 114th Congress:

Speaker of the House: Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) | @SpeakerBoehner Majority Leader: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) | @GOPLeader Majority Whip: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) | @SteveScalise Conference Chair: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) | @cathymcmorris NRCC Chairman: Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) | @repgregwalden Policy Committee Chairman: Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) | @RepLukeMesser Conference Vice-Chair: Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) | @RepLynnJenkins Conference Secretary: Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) | @virginiafoxx Sophomore Representative: Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO)| @RepAnnWagner Freshman Representative: Rep.-elect Mimi Walters (R-CA)

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House Oversight Efforts Expose Another ObamaCare Failure

2014/11/13

While the White House is busy attempting to clean up one mess about its deceptive tactics to enact the president’s health care law, a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, requested by the House Small Business Committee, brings even more bad news.  According to the committee, the GAO report finds enrollment for the state-operated Small Business Health Options Program [SHOP] “was significantly lower than expected, and, at its current pace, is unlikely to reach expectations by the end of 2014.”  Why the weak numbers?  On top of the technical issues that plagued many of the exchanges, “the primary incentive for many small businesses to enroll in SHOPs was to utilize the small business health care tax credit.  But the credit is so narrow, complex and temporary that it has been an insufficient incentive to enroll,” the committee explains.  

Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) says the report is just the latest evidence that the president’s health care law is wreaking havoc on small business owners and their employees:

“Obamacare’s SHOPs have been fraught with errors and high costs from the very beginning. … The administration touted the SHOP as a way for small companies and their employees to benefit from more health insurance competition and choice, and ultimately lower prices. Instead, we have seen that costs are increasing for nearly two-thirds of small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees and the majority of small business owners paid more per employee for health insurance in 2013 than in 2012.”

As Graves notes, a separate report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released in February found that an estimated 11 million small business employees will see higher premiums under the president’s health care law – taking another bite out of family budgets already strained by fewer hours and stubbornly flat wages.

The House will continue holding the administration accountable and exposing the president’s health care law for the disaster it is – but we won’t stop there.  Delivering Saturday’s Weekly Republican Address, Boehner said, “we’ll take on ObamaCare regulations that threaten the 40-hour workweek and the pay and peace of mind of so many Americans,” referring to a House vote in the coming year on legislation along the lines of the Save American Workers Act, one of the many common-sense, House-passed jobs bills blocked by the outgoing Senate Democratic majority. 

As Boehner has made clear many times, most recently in a joint op-ed with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), ObamaCare is a trainwreck for families and small businesses alike, and the goal remains to scrap the law in its entirety.

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Real ‘Stupidity’: Higher Costs that Hurt Middle-Class Families

2014/11/13

If there was ever any doubt that ObamaCare was rammed through Congress with a heavy dose of arrogance, duplicity, and contempt for the will of the American people, recent comments made by one of the law’s chief architects, Jonathan Gruber, put that to rest.  As National Journal reports:

“Appearing on an academic panel a year ago, this key Obamacare adviser argued that the law never would have passed if the administration had been honest about the fact that the so-called penalty for noncompliance with the mandate was actually a tax. ‘And, basically, call it ‘the stupidity of the American voter,’ or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass,’ Gruber said.”

This isn’t the first time Gruber acknowledged that the Obama administration deliberately misled Americans.  Last year, after a wave of cancellation notices upended the president’s promise that workers could keep the plans they liked and could afford, Gruber admitted, “you present the facts in a way that’s ultimately not 100 percent accurate for every person.”  There is one fact that remains ‘100 percent accurate’: ObamaCare is a disaster for the economy, a disaster for jobs and small businesses, and a disaster, especially, for middle-class families:

“Obamacare 2015: Higher Costs, Higher Penalties” “[A] number of low-priced Obamacare plans will raise their rates in 2015, making those options less affordable. On top of that, penalties for failing to secure a health-insurance plan will rise steeply next year, which could take a big bite out of some families’ pocketbooks. … That flat-rate penalty ‘will affect lower-income or middle-income households,’ [InsuranceQuotes.com’s Laura] Adams said. Some middle-class families ‘may be making enough that they don’t qualify for a subsidy, so they won’t get a break if they are getting health coverage. It’s a big penalty for the middle class for not having insurance.’” (MoneyWatch)

The American people are anything but ‘stupid.’  They’re the ones bearing the consequences of the president’s health care law and, unsurprisingly, they continue to oppose it.  That’s why Speaker Boehner made clear, in a joint op-ed with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last week: “We will honor the voters’ trust by focusing, first, on jobs and the economy,” including “renewing our commitment to repeal ObamaCare, which is hurting the job market along with Americans’ health care.”

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Same Bad Policy, Same Old Excuse

2014/11/12

According to presidential scholar Martha Joynt Kumar, as of July 2014, President Obama had done more than 800 interviews. At the same point in their presidencies, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton had done less than 300 and Ronald Reagan had done less than 400.

It’s fair to say, then, that Obama has probably defended his policies more than any other president in American history. And in the run-up to November, he reiterated that his policies were on the ballot, even if his name was not. But on Sunday, President Obama told CBS News:

“When you start governing, there is a tendency sometimes for me to start thinking, ‘As long as I get the policy right, then that's what should matter.’ … And I think that one thing that I do need to constantly remind myself and my team of is it's not enough just to build a better mousetrap. … We've got to sell it.”

President Obama has deployed this excuse at least five times before:

  • “[W]e probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. … And I think anybody who’s occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.” (The New York Times, 10/12/10)
  • “[O]ur attitude was we just had to get the policy right, and we did not always think about making sure we were advertising properly what was going on.” (CNN, 10/21/10)
  • “[O]ver the first two years I was so focused on policy and getting the policy right, that sometimes I forgot part of my job is explaining to the American people why we’re doing this policy and where we’re going. … And so I think that was something that I could have done better.” (ABC News, 7/22/11)
  • “The area in my presidency where I think my management and understanding of the presidency evolved most, and where I think we made the most mistakes, was less on the policy front and more on the communications front. ... I think I was so consumed with the problems in front of me that I didn’t step back and remember, what is the particular requirement of the president that no one else can do? And what the president can do, that nobody else can do, is tell a story to the American people about where we are and where we are going.” (Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President by Ron Suskind, 9/20/11)
  • “The mistake of my first term – couple of years – was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right. And that’s important. But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people …. It’s funny – when I ran everybody said, ‘well, he can give a good speech, but can he actually manage the job?’ And in my first two years, I think the notion was, ‘well, he’s been juggling and managing a lot of stuff, but where’s the story that tells us where he’s going?’ And I think that was a legitimate criticism. … I need to do a better job of that in my second term.” (CBS News, 7/12/12)

For someone who claims to be overly focused on getting the policy right, the president gets an awful lot wrong. From the economy to the mismanagement at the Veterans Administration (VA), to underestimating everything from the terrorist threat to the problems with ObamaCare, it’s been said that “overseas and at home, the administration seems besieged and befuddled” and “looks like they’re struggling to run the government.”

President Obama once said that “elections have consequences,” but instead of acknowledging that the American people want a course correction, he’s vowed to change nothing. He’s doubling down on his plans to grant amnesty by executive action, impose federal regulation on the Internet, and eliminate affordable, reliable energy. His chief of staff says Americans are only “going to see Washington working better if this president has his way.”

But that’s not what Americans want, and it’s not how our system of government works. “Finding common ground is going to be hard work,” Speaker Boehner said last week, “but it will be even harder if the president isn’t willing to work with us.”

Republicans are committed to getting our economy moving again and advancing real solutions. We hope President Obama will change his mind and join us.

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Speaker Boehner on President Obama’s China Announcement

2014/11/12

WASHINGTON, DC - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement on the president’s crusade against affordable energy:

“This announcement is yet another sign that the president intends to double down on his job-crushing policies no matter how devastating the impact for America’s heartland and the country as a whole.  And it is the latest example of the president’s crusade against affordable, reliable energy that is already hurting jobs and squeezing middle-class families.  Republicans have consistently passed legislation to rein in the EPA and stop these harmful policies from taking effect, and we will continue to make this a priority in the new Congress.”

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Giving Thanks for America's Veterans

2014/11/11

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“This is the time of year when we pause to pay tribute to America’s veterans – the ones who gave all a person can give so that we may live free.  As we consider their sacrifices, let us vow to live up to the promises that we’ve made to them and their families.  We cannot rest until our veterans have the 21st-century health care system they deserve.  It is the least a grateful nation can do.” -House Speaker John Boehner, November 2014

Here is a look at some of the work the House has done recently on behalf of America’s veterans and their families: 

VA Accountability.  In April, more than 60 veterans from the American Legion and Concerned Veterans for America joined with Republican leaders to call for reforms in the wake of reports that senior officials at VA facilities associated with mismanagement and preventable deaths continued to receive positive performance reviews, bonuses, and promotions.  Throughout the spring, Boehner highlighted stories from veterans in his district, including one in Fairfield, Ohio who said “a change has to be made.”  

Hire More Heroes Act.  In May, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) used the Weekly Republican Address to urge the Senate to pass H.R. 3474, the Hire More Heroes Act, which would encourage employers to hire more of America’s veterans.  Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have cited the measure as one of the House-passed jobs bills the new majority will take up in January.  

Access to Better Care.  In August, Speaker Boehner signed H.R. 3230, the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, which begins to address the problems at the VA by making sure veterans have timely access to care and making it easier to hold senior managers accountable.  A month later, Boehner sent a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald seeking action on a real, independent audit of the department’s health care system. 

Remembering Sacrifice.  Finally, perhaps one of Speaker Boehner’s most poignant meetings this year was with Roy Coleman, a member of the Greatest Generation from Springfield, Ohio.  During World War II, Roy was stationed in Anzio, Italy, where he lost most of his left leg in a shell accident.  “Many, of course, lost much more,” Boehner said later that week in a Memorial Day tribute.

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Boehner: Net Neutrality Hurts Private-Sector Job Creation

2014/11/10

WASHINGTON, DC - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement after President Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to impose new federal “net neutrality” regulations that would undermine a free and open Internet and hurt our economy:

“It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that the Obama administration continues to disregard the people’s will and push for more mandates on our economy.   An open, vibrant Internet is essential to a growing economy, and net neutrality is a textbook example of the kind of Washington regulations that destroy innovation and entrepreneurship.  Federal bureaucrats should not be in the business of regulating the Internet – not now, not ever.  In the new Congress, Republicans will continue our efforts to stop this misguided scheme to regulate the Internet, and we’ll work to encourage private-sector job creation, starting with many of the House-passed jobs bills that the outgoing Senate majority ignored.”

NOTE: In May, House GOP leaders sent a letter urging the FCC to drop consideration of federal net neutrality regulations.  To read the letter, click here.

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Weekly Address: Solutions To Get Our Economy Moving Again

2014/11/08

“This is a time for solutions to get our economy moving again,” Speaker Boehner says in this week’s Republican address, where he lays out the new majority’s commitment to focus on jobs, beginning with proposals to lower energy costs, boost veterans’ hiring, and protect the pay and peace of mind of hardworking Americans.

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The Hill: “Boehner: Build Keystone, change O-Care” “Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signaled the House would start off the next term with legislation approving the Keystone XL pipeline and making changes to the healthcare law. … ‘These types of common-sense solutions, so long ignored by the outgoing Senate majority, offer a good starting point,’ he said.  ‘They’ll help break the logjam here in Washington, and establish a foundation of certainty and stability that both parties can build on.’’ ABC News Radio: “Boehner Outlines Goals After Republicans Take Control of Senate” “Boehner quoted Scripture, saying that ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’ and adding that ‘Republicans are humbled by the trust the American people have placed in us.’ … Boehner says his party will focus on helping middle-class families, vote on numerous jobs bills passed by the House, work to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, advance the hiring of veterans and ‘take on ObamaCare regulations that threaten the 40-hour workweek and the pay and peace of mind of so many Americans.’” Business Insider: “Boehner: ‘To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected’” “Boehner said those priorities included curtailing President Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law, modernizing the healthcare system for veterans, and approving the Keystone XL pipeline.   ‘This is also a time to consider the line in Scripture that says, 'To whom much is given, much is expected,'" Boehner said.” Newsmax: “Republicans will honor the trust Americans showed with their votes in the Nov. 4 midterm election by focusing on jobs and the economy, as well as renewing efforts to advance proposals that the House passed but the Democrat-controlled Senate would not bring to a vote, House Speaker John Boehner said in Saturday's weekly GOP address.  … That will mean lawmakers will focus first on helping the nation's middle-class families who struggle to pay their bills and find well-paying jobs, Boehner said.  Further, the Republican-controlled Congress will start ‘by debating and voting on the many jobs bills the House has acted on with bipartisan support.’” VOA News: “In the Republican Party's address Saturday, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner also paid tribute to the nation's veterans, saying ‘as we consider their sacrifices, let us vow to live up to the promises that we've made to them and their families.’

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Weekly Republican Address: “Your Priorities Will Be Our Priorities”

2014/11/07

WASHINGTON, DC – Delivering the Weekly Republican Address, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says Republicans will honor Americans’ trust by focusing on jobs and the economy, beginning with a renewed effort to advance House-passed proposals that were never brought to a vote by the outgoing Senate majority – including the Keystone XL pipeline, the Hire More Heroes Act, and restoring the 40-hour workweek.

Key quote: “This is a time for solutions to get our economy moving again, and we are eager to get to work.  Your priorities will be our priorities.  That’s our pledge to you, the people we serve.”

The audio of the weekly address is available here.  The video will be available tomorrow morning at 6:00 am ET on Speaker.gov, Facebook, YouTube, and Google+

Remarks of House Speaker John Boehner Weekly Republican Address November 8, 2014 United States Capitol

This is the time of year when we pause to pay tribute to America’s veterans – the ones who gave all a person can give so that we may live free.

As we consider their sacrifices, let us vow to live up to the promises that we’ve made to them and their families. 

We cannot rest until our veterans have the 21st-century health care system they deserve. 

It is the least a grateful nation can do.

This is also a time to consider the line in Scripture that says, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” 

Republicans are humbled by the trust the American people have placed in us. 

We’ll honor that trust by listening to you, by making your priorities our priorities. 

That means focusing first on helping middle-class families still struggling to pay the bills and find good-paying jobs. 

We’ll start by debating and voting on the many jobs bills the House has acted on with bipartisan support.

We’ll work to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which will mean lower energy costs for families and more jobs for American workers. 

We’ll advance the Hire More Heroes Act, which will encourage employers to hire more of our nation’s veterans.

And we’ll take on ObamaCare regulations that threaten the 40-hour workweek and the pay and peace of mind of so many Americans.

These types of common-sense solutions, so long ignored by the outgoing Senate majority, offer a good starting point. 

They’ll help break the logjam here in Washington, and establish a foundation of certainty and stability that both parties can build on.

From there, more good ideas will follow, and with them, a chance to address some of the most pressing challenges that we face, whether it’s a broken tax code that’s driving jobs overseas, health care costs that continue to rise, or an education system that leaves too many of our young people unprepared for the future.

This is a time for solutions to get our economy moving again, and we’re eager to get to work. 

Your priorities will be our priorities.  That’s our pledge to you, the people we serve.

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Readout of the Speaker’s Meeting with President Obama & Congressional Leaders

2014/11/07

Readout from today’s meeting w/ Pres Obama & Congressional leaders re: #jobs, #immigration, #Iraq & more http://t.co/LjzTIEpaov

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) November 7, 2014

At the White House today, Speaker Boehner met with President Obama, Vice President Biden and the bicameral, bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate to discuss a range of topics, including the economy, immigration, and our efforts to degrade and destroy the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  

The Speaker made clear that the American people’s top priority remains jobs and the economy.  He reminded the president that there are more than 40 House-passed jobs bills that represent a great place to start on immediate, bipartisan action to help create more private-sector jobs.  He has previously said that building the Keystone pipeline, restoring the 40-hour work week, encouraging our businesses to hire more veterans, and supporting innovative charter schools are examples of the types of common-sense solutions that offer a good starting point in January.

The Speaker warned that unilateral action by the president on executive amnesty will erase any chances of doing immigration reform and will also make it harder for Congress and the White House to work together successfully on other areas where there might otherwise be common ground. 

Lastly, the Speaker welcomed President Obama’s decision regarding a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for the effort to defeat and destroy ISIL, but reminded him that historically the Commander-in-Chief has identified the need for the use of military force, written a new AUMF, sent it to Capitol Hill, and worked to build bipartisan support for its passage.  The Speaker urged the president to do so in this case, and said that if he does, House Republicans will be ready to work with him to get it approved.

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Boehner Marks Berlin Wall Anniversary In Letter to Merkel

2014/11/07

WASHINGTON, DC – As the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall nears, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has sent a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany conveying the House’s respect and appreciation for the sacrifices made by Germans seeking a better life.  “Here in the United States,” Boehner writes, “we are aware of the debt we owe to ordinary German citizens who longed for freedom and risked everything they had for it.”  Read the full letter here or below.

Dear Chancellor Merkel,

As the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall nears, I have been reflecting on how captivating those events were and what they all meant.

That night demonstrated for our children what the human spirit can achieve.  It showed them that the desire for liberty never dies.  This is the great thread that links all of us, no matter where we’re from, no matter how dire our situation.  Even here in the United States, we are aware of the debt we owe to ordinary German citizens who longed for freedom and risked everything they had for it.  You could retrace their steps to the peaceful protests in Leipzig, where you studied, or go all the way back to the uprisings of 1953, and strikes that included Templin, your hometown.

Not long after that, President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote a letter to the German chancellor, the last paragraph of which reads: “No one can foretell what the unfolding months will bring, but it can certainly be said that the workers of Berlin's Soviet Sector and the workers of East Germany, with the workers of Czechoslovakia, have started something that will have an important place on the pages of history.  May the concluding chapter of that history record the reemergence of freedom, of peace, and of happiness.”

What a story it turned out to be, and on this proud occasion for your country, allow me to express the gratitude and appreciation of the U.S. House of Representatives for the enduring friendship between our peoples.

Sincerely,

John A. Boehner

Throughout the year, Speaker Boehner has been marking the events that led up to the fall of the Berlin Wall:

June 4: 25 Years of Freedom in Poland “If 1989 was the year the world shook, the Polish elections of June 4th were the initial tremor.”

August 19: 25th Anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic “Another dent in the Iron Curtain was made when roughly 600 East Germans fled to the West.  ‘We didn’t feel like we were making history,’ one of the organizers said, but that they were.”

September 10: 25th Anniversary of the Opening of Hungary's Border “Thousands of East Germans who had been allowed into Hungary as tourists simply refused to go back.  Their courage led to a fear among government officials that Hungary would become ‘a nation of refugee camps.’”

October 9: 25th Anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution “The potential for a crackdown was very real.  In many homes, one parent stayed behind in case the worst came to pass.  But when the day came, and the crowd swelled to at least 70,000, the police stepped aside.”

·         November 4: 25th Anniversary of the Alexanderplatz Demonstration “There was no violence, only demands for the basic rights we are exercising today.  ‘We’re taking the liberty to which we’re entitled,’ one protester declared.”

The House’s commemoration of the Revolutions of 1989 will continue on Wednesday, November 19, when Speaker Boehner will dedicate a bust of Vaclav Havel, the first president of a free Czech Republic. 

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Speaker Boehner on the October 2014 Unemployment Report

2014/11/07

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement in response to the Department of Labor’s unemployment report for October 2014:

“While it’s welcome news that more people found work last month, wages remain stubbornly flat while costs continue to rise, squeezing middle class families and putting the American Dream further out of reach.  We’re listening, and we’ll continue making Americans’ priorities our priorities by advancing solutions to strengthen the economy, lower costs, and expand opportunity. 

“The House has acted on many common-sense, bipartisan jobs bills only to see them stalled in the Democratic-led Senate.  Those days are over.  January will bring the opportunity to start making a real difference in the lives of struggling families.  It is up to President Obama to start listening, and work with the new Congress to get things done.”

NOTE: Speaker Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) authored an op-ed earlier this week signaling Republicans’ continued focus on jobs and the economy in the new Congress, and highlighting several bills that represent a starting point for bipartisan action on the part of Congress and the White House. Read it here.  In addition, Speaker Boehner has put forth a five-point roadmap for harnessing America’s energy boom and resetting the foundation of our economy by fixing our tax code, solving our spending problem, reforming our legal system, reforming our regulatory system, and improving our children’s education.

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New Majority Will Continue Focus on Jobs & the Economy

2014/11/06

WASHINGTON, DC – At a press briefing today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) discussed House Republicans’ continuing focus on Americans’ top priorities, and urged President Obama to work with the new Congress on solutions to help strengthen the economy and help middle class families.  Following are Boehner’s remarks:

“I’m going to start by congratulating my friend Senator Mitch McConnell.  As you know, Mitch and I have worked very closely together over the last eight years and I don’t think I could ask for a better partner, or do I think the Senate could have a better Majority Leader than Mitch McConnell. 

 “I also want to express my gratitude to the people of Ohio’s Eighth Congressional District.  You know, my mission is the same today as it was in 1990 when I was first elected: to build a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government here in Washington, DC.  And right now I believe that means continuing to listen, to make the American people’s priorities our priorities, and to confront the big challenges that face middle-class families, starting with the economy.

“You’ve heard me talk many times about the many jobs bills that the outgoing Senate majority has ignored.  Those bills will offer the Congress, I think, a new start.  We can act on the Keystone pipeline, restore the 40-hour work week that was gutted by ObamaCare, and pass the Hire More Heroes Act that would encourage our businesses to hire more of our veterans. 

“And again, this is just a start.  I’ve been going around the country outlining my own personal vision for how we can reset America’s economic foundation.  The energy boom that’s going on in America is real, and I think it provides us with a very big opportunity.  But to maximize that opportunity, I believe that we need to do five things and that is:

  • Fix our broken tax code; 
  • Address the debt that’s hurting our economy and imprisoning the future of our kids and grandkids; 
  • Reform our legal system; 
  • Reshape our regulatory policy to make bureaucrats more accountable, and; 
  • Give parents more choices in a system that isn’t educating enough of America’s children.

“Now, finding common ground is going to be hard work – but it will be even harder if the president isn’t willing to work with us.  Yesterday, we heard him say that he may double down on his go-it-alone approach.  Listen I’ve told the president before, he needs to put politics aside and rebuild trust – and rebuilding trust not only with the American people, but with the American people’s representatives here in the United States Congress. 

“This is the best way to deliver solutions to get the economy going again and to keep the American Dream alive and well.  This will be the focus of our new majority, and I’m eager to get to work.”

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Boehner/McConnell Op-Ed: "Now We Can Get Congress Going"

2014/11/06

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Americans have entrusted Republicans with control of both the House and Senate. We are humbled by this opportunity to help struggling middle-class Americans who are clearly frustrated by an increasing lack of opportunity, the stagnation of wages, and a government that seems incapable of performing even basic tasks.

Looking ahead to the next Congress, we will honor the voters’ trust by focusing, first, on jobs and the economy. Among other things, that means a renewed effort to debate and vote on the many bills that passed the Republican-led House in recent years with bipartisan support, but were never even brought to a vote by the Democratic Senate majority. It also means renewing our commitment to repeal ObamaCare, which is hurting the job market along with Americans’ health care.

For years, the House did its job and produced a steady stream of bills that would remove barriers to job creation and lower energy costs for families. Many passed with bipartisan support—only to gather dust in a Democratic-controlled Senate that kept them from ever reaching the president’s desk. Senate Republicans also offered legislation that was denied consideration despite bipartisan support and benefits for American families and jobs.

These bills provide an obvious and potentially bipartisan starting point for the new Congress—and, for President Obama , a chance to begin the final years of his presidency by taking some steps toward a stronger economy.

We’ll also consider legislation to help protect and expand America’s emerging energy boom and to support innovative charter schools around the country.These bills include measures authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will mean lower energy costs for families and more jobs for American workers; the Hire More Heroes Act, legislation encouraging employers to hire more of our nation’s veterans; and a proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment, removing an arbitrary and destructive government barrier to more hours and better pay created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Enacting such measures early in the new session will signal that the logjam in Washington has been broken, and help to establish a foundation of certainty and stability that both parties can build upon.

At a time of growing anxiety for the American people, with household incomes stubbornly flat and the nation facing rising threats on multiple fronts, this is vital work.

Will these bills single-handedly turn around the economy? No. But taking up bipartisan bills aimed at helping the economy that have already passed the House is a sensible and obvious first step.

More good ideas aimed at helping the American middle class will follow. And as we work to persuade others of their merit, we won’t repeat the mistakes made when a different majority ran Congress in the first years of Barack Obama’s presidency, attempting to reshape large chunks of the nation’s economy with massive bills that few Americans have read and fewer understand.

Instead, we will restore an era in which committees in both the House and Senate conduct meaningful oversight of federal agencies and develop and debate legislation; and where members of the minority party in both chambers are given the opportunity to participate in the process of governing.

We will oversee a legislature in which “bigger” isn’t automatically equated with “better” when it comes to writing and passing bills.

Our priorities in the 114th Congress will be your priorities. That means addressing head-on many of the most pressing challenges facing the country, including:

• The insanely complex tax code that is driving American jobs overseas;

• Health costs that continue to rise under a hopelessly flawed law that Americans have never supported;

• A savage global terrorist threat that seeks to wage war on every American;

• An education system that denies choice to parents and denies a good education to too many children;

• Excessive regulations and frivolous lawsuits that are driving up costs for families and preventing the economy from growing;

• An antiquated government bureaucracy ill-equipped to serve a citizenry facing 21st-century challenges, from disease control to caring for veterans;

• A national debt that has Americans stealing from their children and grandchildren, robbing them of benefits that they will never see and leaving them with burdens that will be nearly impossible to repay.

January will bring the opportunity to begin anew. Republicans will return the focus to the issues at the top of your priority list. Your concerns will be our concerns. That’s our pledge.

The skeptics say nothing will be accomplished in the next two years. As elected servants of the people, we will make it our job to prove the skeptics wrong.

Mr. Boehner (R., Ohio), is the House speaker; Mr. McConnell (R., Ky.) is currently the Senate minority leader.

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House Oversight Committee Forces Disclosure of Thousands of Fast & Furious Docs

2014/11/05

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee made significant headway in its investigation of the Fast & Furious operation this week, forcing the Department of Justice, under the order of a federal judge, to turn over more than 64,000 previously withheld documents.  The documents, originally withheld under the administration’s frivolous assertion of executive privilege, provide further evidence that the administration has gone to great lengths to stonewall the congressional investigation into the botched gun running operation and deny Americans the answers they deserve – all in the name of protecting one of its own.  As Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) explains:

“When Eric Holder wants to know why he was the first Attorney General held in criminal contempt of Congress, he can read the judge’s order that compelled the production of 64,280 pages that he and President Obama illegitimately and illegally withheld from Congress.  Since these pages still do not represent the entire universe of the documents the House of Representatives is seeking related to the Justice Department’s cover-up of the botched gun-walking scandal that contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent, our court case will continue. … This production is nonetheless a victory for the legislative branch, a victory for transparency, and a victory for efforts to check Executive Branch power.”

The committee has already reviewed thousands of documents as part of its investigation (learn more here), and will continue to do so as part of its ongoing commitment to hold the administration accountable.  As Speaker Boehner has said: “we will not stop until we get the full truth on behalf of the people we serve.

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Statement by Speaker Boehner On Outlook For The 114th Congress

2014/11/05

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WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) this evening issued the following statement:

“We are humbled by the responsibility the American people have placed with us, but this is not a time for celebration.  It’s time for government to start getting results and implementing solutions to the challenges facing our country, starting with our still-struggling economy.

“Americans can expect the new Congress to debate and vote soon on the many common-sense jobs and energy bills that passed the Republican-led House in recent years with bipartisan support but were never even brought to a vote by the outgoing Senate majority, as well as solutions offered by Senate Republicans that were denied consideration.  I’ve also put forth a five-point roadmap for harnessing the emerging energy boom in America, resetting our economy and restoring the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.  It calls for fixing our tax code, solving our spending problem, reforming our legal system, reforming our regulatory system, and improving our education system. 

“Republicans have made these our priorities by listening to the people we take an oath to serve.  Our proposals provide an opportunity for President Obama to begin the last two years of his presidency by taking some bipartisan steps toward a stronger economy.  We hope he’ll work with us to enact them into law, and that he’ll disavow reports that he plans to react to the loss of the Senate with a ‘counterattack’ on the new majority.  This is a time for solutions to get our economy moving again, and we’re eager to get to work.”

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A Great Day for Democracy

2014/11/04

On this day 25 years ago, more than half a million people packed the streets of East Germany’s capital to rally for democracy.  The New York Times called it “another milestone in a mass movement that has filled the streets of East Germany virtually daily in numbers unknown in its 40-year history.”

25 yrs ago today: over 500,000 people demonstrated in Alexanderplatz in #Berlin. Only a few days later, the wall fell pic.twitter.com/4YioSVSz8t

— German Embassy (@GermanyinUSA) November 4, 2014

Much like the Peaceful Revolution in Leipzig just weeks before, there was no violence, only demands for the basic rights we are exercising today.  “We’re taking the liberty to which we’re entitled,” one protester declared.  The Times noted:

 

Most of the placards, and the statements from the 17 speakers that drew the loudest cheers, called for free speech, free elections, an end to the ‘leading role’ of the Communist Party and - a demand that prompted the most boisterous whoops - and a settling of accounts with the hated security police.”

By this point, the balance of power was tipping against the regime.  Thousands of East Germans were streaming into the West on ‘freedom trains.’  Things had gotten to the point where this demonstration was actually authorized by the ruling party, which sent representatives to speak in the hopes of holding on to power.  The only major security measure they took was to block the route to the Berlin Wall.  This was largely wishful thinking as the wall came down just days later. The wall began to fall much earlier of course – figuratively if not literally – and throughout the year on Speaker.gov, we’ve been remembering the freedom fighters whose sacrifices made it all possible.  The House’s celebration of the Revolutions of 1989 culminates on Wednesday, November 19, when we dedicate a bust of Vaclav Havel, the playwright turned dissident and first president of the Czech Republic. READ MORE: June 4: 25 Years of Freedom in Poland August 19: 25th Anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic September 10: 25th Anniversary of the Opening of Hungary's Border October 9: 25th Anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution

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FACT CHECK: Unsurprisingly, Liberals Wrong on House GOP Litigation

2014/10/29

On July 30, 2014, the House of Representatives passed a resolution authorizing the House to enter into litigation challenging President Obama’s decision to unilaterally change the health care law’s employer mandate.  The House action came after years of overreach by the Obama administration in which the president and his aides effectively made their own laws, without involving Congress, threatening the historic balance of power in our government and upending the Constitution. 

While the lawsuit will be filed soon, the liberal attacks that are designed to shield the Obama administration from true accountability will no doubt continue. 

Recently, two attorneys working for a left-wing advocacy group – one of whom testified before two House Committees opposing the House litigation – wrote an article that pointed to a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), claiming that this non-partisan research arm of the Congress had determined that the litigation against the Executive Branch is without legal basis.  This article mischaracterizes the legal theory behind the House litigation, and then uses this mischaracterization to draw inaccurate conclusions that the CRS report never attempts to make. 

The article implies that the CRS report was prepared in secret and then covered up and that House Democrats were “unaware” of its existence.  Is this accurate?

No.  CRS does not disclose the identity of members who request reports.  However, this report was included along with two other CRS reports from September 4th and used as part of a presentation entitled “Executive Non-Enforcement, Administrative Delays, and the Take Care Clause.”  This presentation was put on by the American Law Division of the CRS on September 11th as a part of its biannual Federal Law Update program, a series of lectures attended by Congressional staff and attorneys for CLE credit.  Everyone who attended this lecture – Republicans, Democrats, and non-partisan staffers –was given a summary of the report and instructions on how to obtain a full copy. 

What is the CRS report about?

It is helpful to first understand what the CRS report actually seeks to say.  The report analyzes two different types of administrative delays – those where an agency missed a statutory deadline for taking action, and those where an agency suspends enforcement of a provision of a law on the public at large.  The CRS report first discusses whether these administrative delays are reviewable in court, and second discusses whether procedures outlined in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) apply to these delays.  It is a report about regulatory process.

So is the article correct in claiming that the CRS report concludes that the Obama administration followed all the correct procedures in implementing the employer mandate delays?

It does no such thing.  The article claims that the CRS report offers two conclusions regarding the two instances where the administration delayed the employer mandate – the initial delay in July 2013, and the second delay in February 2014.  These were both examples of administrative delays where an agency suspends enforcement of a provision of law, rather than administrative delays from missing a statutory deadline. 

On the first delay in July 2013, the authors write that no rulemaking procedure was necessary because, quoting the CRS report, “where an agency fails to take a discrete action by a statutory deadline,...no rulemaking is required,” which leads to the authors’ first inaccurate conclusion.  First, the quote fails to include what the CRS report declares later in that same paragraph, that “an agency may be subject to a suit by a party seeking to compel the agency to take action.”  Second, this quote comes from the portion of the CRS report discussing administrative delays as a result of missed statutory deadlines, and therefore would not apply to the administration suspending the enforcement of the employer mandate.  When discussing the initial delay, the CRS report limits its analysis to required regulatory procedures, specifically noting that the report “does not opine on the legality of the IRS policy.”  What the report does say regarding the process is that a Court may find that formal rulemaking procedures are not necessary, but that sometimes a declaration of an enforcement policy does require notice and comment procedures.

This leads to the second inaccurate conclusion from the authors of this article, who claim that the CRS report concludes that the administration followed all the necessary procedures when implementing the second delay in February 2014.  “Having been asked whether the Obama administration had crossed all its t’s and dotted its i’s,” the authors write, “the CRS’ answer was unequivocal: yes it had.”  The report, however, makes no such judgment.  Remember that this report sought merely to describe what procedures, if any, would be required to enact an administrative delay.  It did not attempt to analyze the process taken by the administration and judge whether it was adequate.  The report simply states that notice and comment rulemaking may be required, and by implying otherwise, the authors falsely project their own pre-conceived judgments onto the report. 

If the administration followed the procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), is the legal basis of the House litigation undermined?

Not at all, and it is this assertion by the authors of the article that most misconstrues the report and the House’s legal theory.  The CRS report is a discussion of regulatory process.  The legal theory behind the House lawsuit, however, is not based on a violation of regulatory procedure.  When agencies implement new rules or regulations, the APA requires that certain rulemaking procedures are followed.  However, an agency is not able to do whatever it pleases simply because it follows a rulemaking procedure.  It cannot override or ignore the intent of Congress signified by clear language in a statute.  The President acted beyond the scope of his authority when he chose to not enforce the employer mandate because the terms of the mandate were laid out in clear, unambiguous language – you can’t get much clearer than a firm date.  The changes the administration seeks to enact cannot be promulgated through the regulatory process, regardless of whether APA procedures are followed.  The only way this could be done is through an act of Congress. 

When will the House file its litigation?

It will be filed soon, and the timing certainly won’t change simply just because two liberal advocates – one of whom testified before two House Committees opposing the House litigation – draw inaccurate conclusions from a CRS report.

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Speaker Boehner Condemns Obama Administration Rhetorical Attacks on Israel

2014/10/29

Pres Obama sets the tone for his admin. He either condones profanity & disrespect used against Israel or he does not: http://t.co/3fMPiBN30N

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) October 29, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement after senior officials in the Obama administration launched profanity-laced rhetorical attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the State of Israel:

“The strength of America’s leadership in the world is predicated on the universality of our values, including freedom, democracy, and economic opportunity, and our unwavering support for our friends and allies.  This unwavering support is not mere sentiment, but the bedrock of security alliances and security guarantees that have ensured peace and suppressed the desire for international arms races.  For the last six years, this long-standing and bipartisan framework has been tested by an Obama administration that has repeatedly chased after adversaries at the expense of core U.S. national security interests and the security, confidence, and trust of our allies.   

“Nowhere is the fundamental failure more apparent than in the disrespectful rhetoric used time and again by this administration with respect to the special relationship the United States has with the state of Israel.  The administration has tried to convince Congress and the American people that we should trust the president’s pursuit of a nuclear deal with the government of Iran while refusing to address substantive concerns about the regime’s sponsorship of terrorism and abysmal human rights record.  The administration scoffs at the enduring willingness of members of both parties to maintain commitments to our friends and allies, contending that those commitments are mere sentiment, while all the while the administration and the president himself are taken aback that friends and allies won’t support him when he ignores them and, in some cases, belittles them. 

“When the president discusses Israel and Iran, it is sometimes hard to tell who he thinks is America’s friend and who he thinks is America’s enemy.  The House of Representatives has no trouble drawing that distinction.  Over the last several months, I have watched the administration insult ally after ally.  I am tired of the administration’s apology tour.  The president sets the tone for his administration.  He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not.  It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people that can’t muster professionalism that it is time to move on.” 

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The Complete Five Points Roadmap

2014/10/29

“If we were to do these five things, along with the energy boom that’s underway, we could reset the economic foundation in America for the next two or three generations and beyond.  This is a big deal that requires real leadership.” – Speaker John Boehner

Point One: Fixing Our Tax Code

Navigating our tax code can feel like a full-time job, even though you’re the one who’s paying dearly.  By lowering rates for all Americans, simplifying the maze of loopholes and deductions, and making it possible for families to do their taxes on two sheets of paper, we can make our country a more attractive place to do business, and make it easier to do everything from buy a home to save for college and retirement.

Point Two: Solving Our Spending Problem

For 53 of the last 60 years, the federal government has spent more than it’s taken in – you wouldn’t do this in your home or business and we can’t do it as a country.  By addressing the drivers of our debt and putting our entitlement programs on a more sustainable path, we can secure our children’s ability to invest in their futures, pursue their aspirations, and have stability all the way through retirement.

Point Three: Reforming Our Legal System

Excessive litigation amounts to a stealth tax driving up the cost of all of our goods and services.  By boosting transparency in the judicial system, enacting real medical malpractice reform, and combating abusive patent litigation, we can better protect victims and consumers while giving confidence to manufacturers and small business owners that they can keep jobs and ideas here.

Point Four: Reforming Our Regulatory System

The way the federal government hands down regulations is coercive, combative, and expensive.  By making major rules contingent on congressional approval, streamlining the permitting process, and making agencies focus on lower costs, we can reshape federal regulatory policy so that it’s more practical and productive for workers and small business owners.

Point Five: Improving Our Education System

America’s ability to compete is tied to our ability to educate our young people.  By reforming the K-12 system, making college more affordable, and expanding charter school programs, we can eliminate the barriers that keep students from getting the best possible education and becoming the best-prepared workers.

Sign up for e-mail updates on the five points and much more at http://speaker.gov/email

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Five Points Roadmap: Improving Our Education System

2014/10/28

A broken tax code.  Unsustainable debt.  Excessive litigation.  Overregulation.  Dealing with these challenges would go a long way towards resetting the foundation of our economy.  Still, even if we were to do all four of these things, Speaker Boehner says, we still wouldn’t be close to maximizing our potential. America’s ability to compete is tied to our ability to educate our young people. That’s why the fifth – and perhaps most important – of his five points is improving our education system.

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BACKGROUND Less than half of America’s students are proficient in reading and math.  According to the results of the Nation’s Report Card, only 38 percent of 12th graders performed at or above proficient in reading and 26 percent performed at or above proficient in math.  These results were unchanged from 2009.  Similarly, the Governing Board estimates that only 39 percent of high school seniors are academically prepared for college in math and 38 percent are prepared in reading. Employers find graduates are ill-equipped for the demands of our labor market.  According to a report from the nation’s leading human resource officers, “employers … find graduates are generally ill-equipped to function adequately in today’s high technology work environment and they require considerable additional training … in basic competencies.”  72 percent of employers found new workers with a high school diploma deficient in writing, and 54 percent find them deficient in math.  “A lost generation of workers.”  Nearly 6 million young Americans are neither in school nor working.  “We risk really having this lost generation of workers,” Elisabeth Jacobs, senior director for policy and academic programs at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, said earlier this year.  “And what that means in terms of the economy's ability to innovate and compete, when you've kind of wasted the talents of some substantial portion of a generation … it's alarming.”

SOLUTIONS Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law H.R. 803, a workforce development law based on Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (R-NC) SKILLS Act.  This bill will help our workers develop the skills they need to take on good-paying jobs.  Closing that skills gap is important, but we also have to close the gap that keeps students from getting the best possible education and becoming the most prepared workers.

  • Reforming our K-12 education system.  The House has passed H.R. 5, which would eliminate barriers to progress by, among other things, (1) revamping teacher evaluations to ensure the best teachers stay in the classroom; (2) putting state and local education leaders in control of how money is used in the classroom; and (3) taking steps to give parents more options for their children’s education.
  • Making education more accessible and affordable.   From early childhood education to college, the cost of education continues to rise across the board.  In July, the House passed three bipartisan bills to address the cost of college: H.R. 3136H.R. 4983, and H.R. 4984.  The House has also passed H.R. 3393, which would make it easier for families to utilize tax credits to save and pay for college.
  • Expanding successful charter school programs. The House has passed H.R. 10, which would allow 42 states and the District and Columbia to apply for grants to build and expand charter schools.  Today there are more than 6,000 charter schools, serving more than 2.5 million students, with 1 million students on waitlists.  By modernizing the current Charter School Program, which has broad public and grassroots support, states would be able to create, expand and replicate innovative public charter schools to meet the growing demand.

These bills are among the dozens of House-passed initiatives stuck in the Democratic-run Senate.

The House has also consistently reauthorized the popular and successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a landmark school choice initiative that has allowed thousands of low-income families to choose the best learning environment for their children.

Five Points Roadmap

Introduction: America’s Energy Boom Point One: Fixing Our Tax Code Point Two: Solving Our Spending Problem Point Three: Reforming Our Legal System Point Four: Reforming Our Regulatory System Point Five: Improving Our Education System

 

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With New Video on IRS Scandal, House Committees Keep Heat on Obama Admin

2014/10/27

The House Oversight & Government Reform and Ways & Means Committees released a new video today highlighting the timeline of events surrounding the Obama administration’s unlawful targeting of conservative groups, and the House’s ongoing effort to hold the administration accountable.  Titled “Time for the truth and an end to IRS targeting once and for all,” the video underscores the House’s commitment to “work to fully expose what really happened at the IRS so we can ensure that no American is targeted for their beliefs by their own government,” says Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI).  Watch the full video here.

As the video notes, the House passed a resolution earlier this year holding former IRS Exempt Organizations Division Director Lois Lerner – a central figure in the targeting scandal - in contempt of Congress, and a second resolution calling on the Attorney General to appoint a special counsel to investigate the targeting of conservative groups.  The administration, for its part, has done nothing but deny and stonewall the House’s efforts – even going so far as to claim there was “not ‘even a smidgen of corruption’” in the scandal, when the facts uncovered by the committees clearly prove otherwise. 

“This new presentation should remind Americans that this is not over,” says Oversight & Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). “The House of Representatives continues our investigation, our demand for a credible criminal probe, and to protect the rights of all Americans to participate freely and openly in the political process.”

Visit gop.gov/IRS for a comprehensive list of reports, hearing transcripts, and other materials associated with the House’s investigation of the IRS targeting scandal to date, and follow @WaysandMeansGOP and @GOPoversight for more updates.

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What Is President Obama’s Plan to Reverse the Terrorists’ Momentum?

2014/10/27

With Ebola and the Islamic terrorist attacks in Canada and New York City dominating the headlines, America’s ongoing military action against ISIL in the Middle East cannot be forgotten. After all, more than 2,000 U.S. military personnel are already on the ground.

Last month, Speaker Boehner said, “If the goal is to destroy ISIS, as the president says it is, I don't believe the strategy that he outlined will accomplish that. … At the end of the day, I think it's going to take more than air strikes to drive them out of there.”

Everyone wants the president’s strategy to succeed, but as The Washington Post editorialized over the weekend under the headline “Mr. Obama’s half-hearted fight against the Islamic State,” concerns are mounting over his lack of leadership and resolve:

“An unlikely consensus is emerging across the ideological spectrum about the war against the Islamic State: President Obama’s strategy to ‘degrade and eventually destroy’ the terrorist entity is unworkable. It’s not just that, as some administration officials say, more time is needed to accomplish complex tasks such as training Iraqi and Syrian forces. It’s that the military means the president has authorized cannot accomplish his announced aims.”

Indeed, ISIL’s momentum is not being reversed:

  • “Iraqi forces are months away from being able to start waging any kind of sustained ground offensive against the Islamic State and any similar effort in Syria will take longer, officials at the U.S. military's Central Command said on Thursday.” (Reuters, 10/24/14)
  • “[The] Islamic State still generates tens of millions of dollars a month in illicit income despite a U.S.-led effort to cut the financing streams …. The slow progress on the financial front comes as …. More than 600 airstrikes by the U.S. and allies have yet to dislodge the militants from any major cities or areas in Syria and Iraq.” (Los Angeles Times, 10/23/14)
  • “The Syrian opposition force to be recruited by the U.S. military and its coalition partners will be trained to defend territory, rather than to seize it back from the Islamic State, according to senior U.S. and allied officials, some of whom are concerned that the approach is flawed.” (The Washington Post, 10/22/14)
  • “The Obama administration's strategy to train Syrian rebels to defend, but not seize, territory from Islamic State militants is facing stiff resistance from America's partners in the Syrian opposition. … On Thursday, the Syrian National Coalition, which is recognized by the United States as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, told Foreign Policy that the plan ‘just doesn't make sense strategically. The only way to defeat ISIS is to defeat ISIS. You cannot be reactive and wait for them to besiege liberated towns and villages,’ said Oubai Shahbandar, a senior advisor to the group.” (Foreign Policy, 10/23/14)
  • “The allied air campaign remains limited compared with past air wars because of a relative lack of targets in Syria and Iraq. … [W]ith relatively few Iraqi ground operations so far, the officials said the militants had not been forced out into the open as much as allied planners had hoped.” (The New York Times, 10/23/14)
  • “A defense official who did not want to be identified said Wednesday that the number [of ISIL fighters] killed was in excess of 350. As many as 9,000 ISIS fighters have streamed to the town [of Kobani] to take on 3,000 Kurdish fighters who are seeking to repel the ISIS advance. Defense officials have suggested that the number of ISIS fighters killed is not the only metric of progress, or even the primary one. ‘The effort there isn't just about warheads on foreheads,’ [Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John] Kirby said Wednesday. ‘I'm not diminishing the importance of taking fighters off the battlefield. But that's not ... the overarching goal here.’” (The Hill, 10/23/14)
  • Kobani may fall to Islamic State fighters even after U.S. airstrikes have focused on the Kurdish town in Syria, U.S. military officials said today [Thursday].” (Bloomberg, 10/23/14)
  • “At least one bundle of U.S. weapons airdropped in Syria appears to have fallen into the hands of ISIS, a dangerous misfire in the American mission to speed aid to Kurdish forces making their stand in Kobani.” (The Daily Beast, 10/21/14)
  • “A setback in Kobani would show the fragility of the American plan and hand the Islamic State an important victory. … The big missing piece in the American operation is Turkey, whose reluctance to assist Kobani’s Kurds highlights the enduring weaknesses in America’s strategy. The decision to resupply the Kurds was a desperation move; the Kurds were at risk and Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has refused to help despite repeated entreaties from Washington. … The failure to secure the full cooperation of an important ally leaves the success of the fight against the Islamic State increasingly open to question.” (The New York Times, 10/23/14)
  • “The Islamic State now controls the town [of Al-Zwaiha in Anbar province, Iraq], which straddles a strategic highway. The extremists’ domination of the entire province is one step closer.” (The Washington Post, 10/23/14)
  • “Dizzy, vomiting and struggling to breathe, 11 Iraqi police officers were rushed to a government hospital 50 miles north of the capital last month. The diagnosis: poisoning by chlorine gas. The perpetrators, according to the officers: Islamic State extremists.” (The Washington Post, 10/23/14)
  • “[There is strong evidence that] Islamic State fighters in Iraq are using advanced surface-to-air missile systems that pose a serious threat to aircraft flown by Iraq and the American-led coalition.” (The New York Times, 10/26/14)

Republicans are committed to the safety and security of American families, and will continue to advocate for nothing less than a comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIL and a strong, decisive foreign policy. As Speaker Boehner said, “These are barbarians. They intend to kill us. And if we don't destroy them first, we're going to pay the price.”

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Five Points Roadmap: Reforming Our Regulatory System

2014/10/27

Often cited as one of the biggest challenges facing manufacturers and small businesses, coercive, combative, and expensive federal regulations hurt our economy and make it harder to capitalize on our energy boom.  That’s why reforming our regulatory system is one of Speaker Boehner’s five points for resetting America’s economic foundation.

BACKGROUND

Despite the Obama administration’s pledges to rein in red tape, the number of regulations continues to increase.  In the first five years of the Obama administration, 157 major federal regulations were issued – more than 2.5 times the amount issued during the first five years of the previous administration.  Another 125 major regulations are in the works, many of which are tied to Dodd-Frank – a law that hurts small banks while failing to end ‘too big to fail’ as promised.

Worst of both worlds: we have more regulations and less scrutiny.  Looking at a recent seven-year period, the Government Accountability Office found that 35 percent of major rules were issued without the opportunity for public comment.  The GAO also found a lack of responsiveness: in the case of one ObamaCare regulation, 4,627 comments were received, but no responses were issued.

Overregulation makes it harder to capitalize on America’s emerging energy boom.  The oil and natural gas success story is a perfect example of failed federal regulatory policy:  oil and natural gas resources do not know federal versus state boundaries, but it takes 10 times as long for the federal government to issue a permit as it does the states.  As a result, oil and gas production is going up sharply on state lands and down on federal lands.

Regulatory costs are passed on directly to middle-class families.  American Action Forum research found that “36 regulations issued during the Obama Administration will increase consumer prices by more than $11,000.”  For example, regulations will increase the cost of household products – including fluorescent lamps, microwaves, air conditioners, and dishwashers – by up to $1,600.

Regulatory costs disproportionately hit small manufacturers. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, small manufacturers incur regulatory costs of $34,671 per employee per year – more than three times that of the average American company.

ObamaCare alone has small businesses drowning in red tape.  In its first four years, ObamaCare’s effect on small businesses amounts to $1.9 billion in regulatory costs and 11.3 million hours of compliance.  This amounts to a “regulatory tax” of 3 to 5 percent.  Again, this is just the cost of one law’s regulations.

SOLUTIONS

By implementing a system to review and eliminate excessive regulations, streamlining the permitting process, ensuring public and congressional input, and reining in the ‘sue and settle’ process, we can give the public more of a voice, small businesses more of a chance, and make America a more attractive place to invest.  The House has acted on examples of these common-sense policies to bring jobs home, including:

  • H.R. 367, the REINS Act, which would reshape federal regulatory policy by making approval of every major new rule contingent on an up-or-down vote in both houses of Congresses.   
  • H.R. 2122, which requires federal agencies to choose the lowest cost rulemaking alternative that meets statutory objectives.
  • H.R. 2641, which streamlines the regulatory process by, among other things, setting reasonable deadlines for bureaucratic reviews and establishing a 180-day statute of limitations for lawsuits challenging permitting decisions.  The bill also empowers agencies to manage environmental reviews efficiently, avoiding waste and duplication. 
  • H.R. 2804, which includes reforms requiring agencies to account for the costs of new regulations on small businesses and find flexible ways to reduce them.  This bill also addresses the problem of “sue and settle” regulations that are issued after agencies and special interest groups enter into legal settlements, thereby circumventing the legislative process.

These proposals are among the dozens of House-passed initiatives stuck in the Democratic-run Senate

Five Points Roadmap

Introduction: America’s Energy BoomPoint One: Fixing Our Tax CodePoint Two: Solving Our Spending ProblemPoint Three: Reforming Our Legal SystemPoint Four: Reforming Our Regulatory System Point Five: Improving Our Education System (Tuesday, October 28)

 

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The Lindy Claiborne Boggs Room

2014/10/24

Every day, visitors file through National Statuary Hall, which served as the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1807 – 1857.  What they may not realize is just off that hall, steps from a statue of Rosa Parks, is a room of great historical significance to women and all Americans.

It is H-235, which, on October 25, 1990, was renamed the “Lindy Claiborne Boggs Congressional Women’s Reading Room,” marking the first time a room in the Capitol was named for a woman.  The resolution passed by voice vote and was named in honor of the Congresswoman from Louisiana “as a testament to her unparalleled service.”

Today, the room is a gathering space for Congresswomen and has been witness to more than 200 years of history, as historians believe this room is one of the few that survived the fire of 1814.  Through its many years, this room has been inhabited by the Speaker’s Office, the Clerk of the House, and various committees.  It has hosted presidents and political figures, and most notably, it is where John Quincy Adams died after suffering from a stroke. 

How did the room come to its present designation?  Since 1917, more than 300 women have served in the United States Congress, but until 1962, they lacked a space close to the House Chamber.  After petitioning Speaker Sam Rayburn, they were granted control of H-235.  “We have few opportunities to be together informally,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said last year.  This room “provides an opportunity for women to meet together, which is a good thing.”

This is an important day in Congressional history and a chance to reflect on the storied career and legacy of Lindy Claiborne Boggs that lives on in this unique Capitol suite.

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Five Points Roadmap: Reforming Our Legal System

2014/10/24

Excessive litigation in the United States limits job creation, stymies innovation, and increases costs of goods and services.  It also tips the scales against victims and the small business owners at the heart of our economy.  That’s why reforming our legal system is one of Speaker Boehner’s five points for resetting America’s economic foundation.  BACKGROUND America’s high liability costs are to a great extent a result of the legal environment.  An Institute for Legal Reform study found that U.S. liability costs are more than 2.5 times the average level of Eurozone economies, and nearly half of those costs “are a result of its legal environment or factors statistically explained by the legal environment.”

These costs fall disproportionately on small businesses and are passed on to consumers.  Small businesses shell out more than $100 billion per year for liability costs.  They account for 81 percent of liability costs while taking in only 22 percent of business revenue.  In a bipartisan survey, roughly 7 out of 10 small business owners said that being sued – or just the potential for being sued – “translates to increased costs that would make businesses like theirs hold back on hiring, cut back on existing employees’ benefits, and pass costs on to their customers.”

Litigation costs stymie innovation and limit job growth.  A report from the Congressional Research Service notes that “faced with lower profit margins and uncertain but potentially significant risk, manufacturers may find that some R&D projects, features, and product improvements are simply not worth doing, even if beneficial to consumers.”  Excessive permitting and litigation often lead to a loss of income and jobs.  For example, an Energy & Commerce Committee policy paper detailed how, between 2005 and 2008, Shell Oil, among other companies, purchased leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off the coast of Alaska for oil exploration.  These leases have the potential to support approximately 63,500 jobs annually through 2050.  Because of bureaucratic permitting delays and litigation brought by environmental groups, these projects have yet to get underway.

Medical liability fears lead doctors to practice defensive medicine, which increases costs in the health care system.  One study found that defensive medicine costs $45.6 billion annually, “accounting for more than 80% of the $55.6 billion total yearly cost of the medical liability system.”  Ten percent of health care costs are attributed to “too much care in the form of defensive medicine and associated legal costs.” The system isn’t just costly, it’s inefficient: victims aren’t being compensated, lawyers are.  Because of excessive legal fees, victims generally receive less than half of their own settlements. In addition, “increasing litigation delays effectively reduce compensation as inflationary pressures reduce the value of damage awards.” SOLUTIONS

By boosting transparency and restoring fairness, enacting real medical malpractice reform, and addressing excessive regulations, we can reform our legal system to better protect victims and consumers while giving confidence to manufacturers and small business owners that they can keep jobs here.

Here are examples of solutions the House has acted on to date:

  • H.R. 982, which promotes transparency in the asbestos bankruptcy trust system, reduces fraud and enhances victims’ recoveries.  According to the House Judiciary Committee, the measure would “increase the ability of legitimate victims to obtain maximum recoveries for their injuries and illnesses.”
  • H.R. 2655, which reduces excessive litigation while preserving the right of citizens to file legitimate suits.  It also provides a path for victims of frivolous lawsuits to receive full compensation.
  • H.R. 2804, which includes reforms requiring greater transparency, rights for regulated entities and the public, judicial scrutiny, and flexibility to rein in existing consent decrees.
  • H.R. 3309, which combats abusive patent litigation. Among other things, the Innovation Act “requires plaintiffs to disclose who the owner of a patent is before litigation, so that it is clear who the real parties behind the litigation are.”

These bills are among the dozens of House-passed initiatives stuck in the Democratic-run Senate.

In the 112th Congress, the House passed H.R. 5, medical malpractice reform that sought to ensure patients could recover full economic damages while setting a statute of limitations and limiting attorney’s fees based on the establishment of a sliding scale.  Five Points Roadmap

Introduction: America’s Energy Boom Point One: Fixing Our Tax Code Point Two: Solving Our Spending Problem Point Three: Reforming Our Legal System Point Four: Reforming Our Regulatory System (Monday, October 27) Point Five: Improving Our Education System (Tuesday, October 28)

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Obama Administration Hiding the Truth about Immigration Actions

2014/10/23

After delaying his announcement until after the election, President Obama promised liberal activists he will go around Congress and grant amnesty by executive action “between the November elections and the end of the year.”

In response, Speaker Boehner denounced the president’s scheme to hide the truth from the public, saying, “The American people deserve honesty, transparency, and accountability.”

The Obama administration must disagree, however, because it’s clear from recent news reports that it is going to great lengths to keep the American people in the dark:

  • The federal government refuses to say whether prosecutors in Yuma, Arizona, have scaled back a years-old program that guarantees jail time for most immigrants caught crossing the border illegally and which law enforcement officials say is crucial to public safety. … Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot said … that he had been informed that federal prosecutors in Yuma are no longer going after first offenders. But the government has been completely silent on the issue. Public affairs officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have all refused to answer questions about whether the program has been scaled back. Brett Worsencroft, president of the Border Patrol union for Yuma Sector border agents, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office has in fact ended prosecutions of first-time offenders. … Getting rid of prosecutions for first-time offenders is a ‘free ticket into the U.S.’ for those who cross the border without legal status, he said.” (Associated Press, 9/19/14)
  • “An official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed that about 70 percent of immigrant families the Obama administration had released into the U.S. never showed up weeks later for follow up appointments. The ICE official made the disclosure in a confidential meeting at its Washington headquarters with immigration advocates …. The Associated Press obtained an audio recording of Wednesday's meeting and separately interviewed participants. … The AP reported in June that the administration would not say publicly how many immigrant families from Central America caught crossing into the U.S. it had released in recent months or how many of those subsequently reported back to the government after 15 days as directed. The AP noted that senior U.S. officials directly familiar with the issue, including at the Homeland Security Department and White House, had dodged the answer on at least seven occasions over two weeks, alternately saying that they did not know the figure or didn't have it immediately at hand. The Homeland Security Department's public affairs office during the same period did not answer roughly a dozen requests for the figures.” (Associated Press, 9/25/14)
  • “[León] Rodríguez’s agency [Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)] will be front and center once President Barack Obama announces the executive action he’ll take on immigration. … ‘We’re going to be ready,’ Rodríguez said. … Rodríguez declined to elaborate when he was asked by a reporter to give more details on what types of preparations he is making.” (NBC News, 10/21/14)
  • “The Homeland Security Department appears to be preparing for an increase in the number of immigrants living illegally in the country to apply for work permits after President Barack Obama announces his long-promised plans for executive actions on immigration reform later this year. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services … published a draft contract proposal to buy the card stock needed to make work permits and Permanent Resident Cards, more commonly known as green cards. … The contract calls for as many 34 million cards over five years. … The administration has repeatedly declined to say what options Obama was considering[.]” (Associated Press, 10/22/14)
  • “During the White House press briefing Wednesday, [President Obama’s spokesman Josh] Earnest laughed at CBS’ Major Garrett — among others — for questioning why green-colored paper is being ordered in possible preparation to give legal status to up to nine million illegal immigrants. … ‘Don’t be absurd with us,’ Garrett shot back. … Earnest ensued to refer the CBS News reporter to the Department of Homeland Security[.]” (The Daily Caller, 10/22/14)
  • “New records contradict the Obama administration's assurances to Congress and the public that the 2,200 people it freed from immigration jails last year to save money had only minor criminal records. The records … show immigration officials released some undocumented immigrants who had faced far more serious criminal charges, including people charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide.” (USA TODAY, 10/22/14)

As it actively undermines the safety and security of U.S. families, it’s understandable that the Obama administration would want to keep its actions a secret. But Americans have a right to know the truth – not to mention secure borders that actually mean something.

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Five Points Roadmap: Solving Our Spending Problem

2014/10/23

This is the third post in an in-depth series on Speaker Boehner’s five points for resetting America’s economic foundation.

We left off yesterday talking about how we can fix our tax code by bringing down rates and clearing out loopholes.  To the powers-that-be in Washington, ‘tax reform’ often means finding new ways to raise your taxes when the reality is the federal government will collect a record amount from taxpayers this year.  Spending is and always has been the issue, and solving our spending problem is one of Speaker Boehner’s five points for resetting America’s economic foundation.

BACKGROUND

Despite falling deficits, the nation’s debt is rapidly increasing. 

  • “Arguably the most important metric of a country’s fiscal health is its debt-to-GDP ratio,” according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and “as a percent of GDP, debt has grown extremely rapidly,” going from 35 percent in 2007 to 74 percent in 2014.  The only other period when it’s been so high was around World War II.
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that, by 2039, our debt will exceed 100 percent of GDP.  “Debt would be on an upward path relative to the size of the economy,” CBO says, calling this “a trend that could not be sustained indefinitely.” 

This rapidly increasing debt is driven by unsustainable entitlement programs.

  • Looking at health care programs, CBO says that “aging is the key driver of spending over the long-term,” with more than 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring each day.  Over the next 25 years, the number of people who receive Social Security benefits will increase by more than 77 percent. 
  • Projections show that the Social Security Disability Insurance trust fund will run out by 2016.  The Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) trust fund is set to run out by 2033.  Absent legislation, beneficiaries of these programs will face deep and immediate cuts.
  • Medicare is another picture of unsustainability.  For example, a married couple – both 66, both with average earnings – will receive more than double the amount of benefits than they contribute in Medicare payroll taxes over their lifetimes.  

The increasing debt level hurts economic growth and burdens future generations.

  • CBO continues to warn about the “substantial negative impact” our growing debt has on the economy.   The large amount of federal borrowing would draw money away from private investment in productive capital in the long term,” their recent report says, with the result being “a smaller stock of capital and lower output and income than would otherwise be the case, all else being equal.”
  •  In a study of the history of advanced economies, economists found that “high levels of public debt have been associated with lower growth.”  In addition to discouraging private investment, “high levels of public debt also call into question whether the debt will be repaid in full.”  Those concerns often lead to “higher long-term real interest rates, which in turn has negative implications for investment as well as for consumption of durables and other interest-sensitive sectors, such as housing.”

SOLUTIONS

“These programs are important to tens of millions of Americans,” Speaker Boehner said in his five points speech. “You can’t throw them out, and you don’t want to throw them out.  But they need to be fixed and put on a sustainable path, and we can in fact do that.”

On April 10, 2014, the House passed H. Con. Res. 96, a balanced budget resolution that contains examples of solutions to strengthen our entitlement programs: “This budget protects and strengthens Medicare for current and future generations.  It also requires the President and Congress to work together to develop a solution for Social Security.  This budget recognizes that the federal government must keep its word to current and future seniors.  And to do that, it must reform these programs.”

In the near-term, the Republican majority has worked to cut government spending by $2.1 trillion over 10 years.  To lead by example, we’ve cut the cost of running the House by nearly 14 percent.  And to make it easier to measure the scope of the problem, we’ve passed three budget reform bills.

But to truly reset the foundation of our economy, we need to address what’s driving our debt.  By sustaining these programs for our children, we can secure their ability to invest in their futures, pursue their aspirations, and have stability all the way through retirement.

Five Points RoadmapIntroduction: America’s Energy BoomPoint One: Fixing Our Tax CodePoint Two: Solving Our Spending Problem Point Three: Reforming Our Legal System (Friday, October 24) Point Four: Reforming Our Regulatory System (Monday, October 27) Point Five: Improving Our Education System (Tuesday, October 28)

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Boehner Statement on the Attacks in Canada

2014/10/23

WASHINGTON, DC - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement offering the House of Representative’s full support to the people of Canada and its government after two days of attacks:

“The House of Representatives sends its strongest support to the Canadian people and to the government and Parliament.   While we are still seeking answers as to the motivation and intention of the attacks on Canadian forces and on the Parliament over the last two days, Prime Minister Harper and Speaker Scheer have and will continue to have friends and allies in the U.S. Congress who are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with them against our common enemies and who are prepared to move forward in our aims to improve the quality of life and economic opportunities for both our countries. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the fallen and injured, as well as the families and friends who endured uncertainty today while waiting to receive confirmation that their loved ones were safe.  The world is growing more complex and dangerous by the day, but we will not be intimidated by those who seek violence, repression, and fear.  Our common cause and fight – dignity and freedom for all – will always persevere, even during the darkest of times.”

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Five Points Roadmap: Fixing Our Tax Code

2014/10/22

This is the second part of our in-depth series exploring Speaker Boehner’s five points for resetting America’s economic foundation.

Running a small business in Southwest Ohio, Speaker Boehner saw firsthand how the federal government was making it harder for hardworking people to get ahead.  It’s a big reason why he got involved in public service, and why fixing our tax code is one of his five points for resetting America’s economic foundation.

BACKGROUND

Our tax code makes it harder to compete and keep jobs here.  Since the mid-1980s, when our code was last updated, the average corporate tax rate among our competitors has fallen by nearly 35 percent.   As a result, we now have the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, which helps explain why the Tax Foundation ranks our system as one of the least competitive, ahead of only Portugal and France.

By failing to keep pace, the United States has lost growth and wages.  According to Ernst & Young, GDP  in 2013 was reduced by anywhere from 1.2-2.0 percent on account of the high corporate rate.  That rate stands to go up, resulting in as much as $345 billion in lost output each year.  Over the long-term, wages would be depressed by 1.2 percent. 

Meanwhile, the tax incentives that do help spur job creation are temporary.  Congress has gotten in the habit of requiring annual votes on parts of the tax code that in all reality are permanent.  This uncertainty reduces their potential benefits as businesses can’t plan ahead.  For example, the Research & Development tax credit has been a regular part of the tax code since 1981.  Instead of making it permanent, Congress has chosen to extend it more than a dozen times.  “Uncertainty here is the enemy,” Joe Harpaz writes in Forbes, “and having the innovation credit up in the air is a double whammy for businesses that are already dealing with a highly unpredictable marketplace.”

One thing that makes the tax code so costly is that it’s so complex.  The average taxpayer has to spend 13 hours preparing their returns.  It’s not hard to figure out why.  For example, did you know that there are currently 15 different education tax breaks with a corresponding 90 pages of IRS instructions?  While big companies have the resources to navigate the code and push for loopholes, middle-class families remain overtaxed. 

SOLUTIONS

Here are examples of ways we could turn our tax code from a weakness into a strength so that it helps make our country a more attractive place to start and grow a business, and make it easier for families to do everything from buy a home to save for college and reirement:  

  • Lower the corporate tax rate.
  • Modernize the taxation of companies doing business abroad.
  •  Lower and simplify the rates paid by individuals and pass-through businesses.
  •  Simplify the tax code for families and businesses, so families can do their own taxes and businesses can plan for the future, and neither can wonder if someone else is getting a better deal.
  • Simplify the maze of credits and deductions families use for things like education and retirement planning. 
  • Reform the IRS to make it more accountable to taxpayers and less susceptible to bureaucratic abuse. 

On February 26, 2014, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a discussion draft for tax reform that addresses these priorities.  The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that Chairman Camp’s proposal would create 1.8 million private-sector jobs over the next 10 years, and his plan sets the stage for further action on reform.  In addition, the House has acted on:

  • H.R. 3393, which would permanently reform and consolidate the maze of high education tax incentives into a single American Opportunity Tax Credit.
  • H.R. 4457, which would permanently allow small businesses to deduct the up-front cost of purchasing new equipment and property.
  • H.R. 4718, which would make permanent 50 percent bonus depreciation.
  • H.R. 4719, which would make permanent and simplify charitable provisions of the tax code.

These bills are among the dozens of House-passed initiatives stuck in the Democratic-run Senate.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at how solving our spending problem would go a long way towards resetting the foundation of our economy.  

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Five Points Roadmap: America’s Energy Boom

2014/10/21

Beginning tomorrow on Speaker.gov, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at Speaker Boehner’s five points for resetting America’s economic foundation:  

1.Fix our tax code

2.Solve our spending problem

3.Reform our legal system

4.Reform our regulatory system

5.Improve our education system

But first, every plan requires some groundwork, and for Speaker Boehner, that’s where America’s emerging energy boom comes in.

BACKGROUND

America’s energy boom has been a bright spot in a challenging time for middle-class families and small business owners.  The states where the energy boom is happening are seeing lower unemployment.  Last month, The New York Times pointed to Ohio as an example, specifically “the once-moribund downtowns of Northeast Ohio cities,” including Youngstown and Canton.  One local expert said, “Both Youngstown and Canton are places which experienced nothing but disinvestment for 40 years… they’re not ghost towns anymore.” 

The problem is, for all its potential, this boom is confined to state and private lands.  From 2009 to 2013, oil production on non-federal lands increased 61 percent while falling 6 percent on federal lands.  Natural gas production has seen similar trends: a 33 percent increase on non-federal lands, but a 28 percent drop on federal lands.

Bringing the state and private boom to the federal level would help create jobs and facilitate broader growth.  The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline alone could support roughly 42,100 jobs and $2 billion in earnings throughout the country. 

Speaker Boehner believes America’s energy boom has the potential to not only grow our economy, but reset its foundation across the board, starting with manufacturing.  For example, as of March 2013, nearly 100 new manufacturing investments in the chemical industry valued at $71.7 billion had been announced.  This translates to 1.2 million jobs during the investment phase, and a total of 530,000 permanent jobs by 2020.

SOLUTIONS

We have to enact laws and policies that allow the nation to fully enjoy the benefits of this energy boom by (1) building the infrastructure that connects the boom to consumers and companies alike, (2) pushing for federal lands to contribute to increased domestic energy production, and (3) stopping regulations that undermine this renaissance.  The House has already begun to act on examples of these policies, including:

  • H.R. 3, which would green light the Keystone pipeline and eliminate legal and regulatory barriers that could delay its construction for years.  
  • H.R. 6, which would expedite the approval of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export applications.  Just the construction involved in supporting LNG exports would, according to one study, create anywhere from 2,000 to 40,000 onsite jobs, largely in the Gulf Coast region, between now and 2018.
  • H.R. 1582, which would stop further ozone regulations by the EPA.  These EPA rules could lead to 2.9 million fewer jobs per year on average through 2040.
  • H.R. 1900 and H.R. 2641, which would accelerate the development of new energy infrastructure.  As  an example, the construction of 351 delayed energy projects could have boosted the economy by $1.1 trillion and created 1.9 million jobs annually during the years of construction.  After that, each year of operation of these projects could support 791,000 jobs.
  • H.R. 2728, which prohibits Washington from overriding states that have been safely and successfully regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal land.  Shale oil and natural gas activity is set to support nearly 2.5 million jobs next year, a 45% jump since 2012
  • H.R. 2824, which prevents the government from imposing excessive, unnecessary regulations on coal-fired energy.  The administration’s proposed rewrite of coal production regulation could cost at least 7,000 jobs and hurt the economies of at least 22 states. 
  • H.R. 3826, which prevents a new de facto national energy tax from taking effect.  These new rules could, in addition to causing double-digit percentage electricity rate increases in most states, close 45,000 megawatts of coal production. 
  •  H.R. 4899, which promotes more onshore and offshore energy production.  This bill’s offshore provisions alone, according to an economist at Louisiana State University, could create 250,000 short-term jobs during exploration and development, and 1.2 million long-term jobs.

Taken together, these bills – all of which are among the dozens stuck in the Democratic-run Senate – would help protect and expand America’s emerging energy boom.

We can’t stop there.  Once we lock in this boom, what do we need to do to bring jobs home and make America a more attractive place to work and invest?   We’ll have more on that tomorrow.

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The Capitol Christmas Tree’s Journey

2014/10/21

The Capitol Christmas Tree’s final destination is right here in the shadow of the Capitol Dome, but first, this 88-foot-tall white spruce will spread holiday cheer in a town near you.  In keeping with tradition, the tree will make nearly 30 stops as it travels 2,000 miles to our capital city.

It all starts next week with a public cutting ceremony in Minnesota’s Chippewa National Forest.  The forest’s supervisor will make remarks, and a traditional blessing will be offered by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe members.  Minnesota’s Logger of the Year, Jim Scheff, who runs a family-owned logging and trucking business in nearby Marcell, will do the honors of cutting the tree.       

The tree will then appear in seven different states, where preparations are already underway.  One stop will be the Mayo Clinic, where children have already planted a permanent tree for the holidays.  All the tour dates – including three stops in the Speaker’s home state of Ohio – are available here

In late November, the tree will arrive in Washington, where it will be entrusted to the professionals from the Architect of the Capitol’s team and trimmed with 10,000 ornaments from Minnesota communities. 

Then, with some carols and the flip of a switch, the spruce will light up the West Front Lawn of the Capitol for the holiday season. 

More updates soon, but for now, you can watch last year’s tree-lighting ceremony here:

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Americans Prefer Republicans on the Economy & Jobs

2014/10/20

In the House, Republicans have consistently made the American people’s priorities our priorities.  We’ve done it by passing more than 45 jobs bills that remain stuck in in Harry Reid’s dysfunctional, do-nothing Senate.  We’ve done it by offering real solutions and working to find common ground on initiatives to, among other examples, reform our workforce development programs, help meet the needs of families looking for work, and bring greater accountability to the VA for our nation’s veterans – all measures that have been signed into law.

We have focused like a laser for the last three and a half years on jobs and the economy,” Speaker Boehner said during a recent interview on ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”  When it comes to the economy, surveys show that Americans prefer Republicans over Democrats:

  • By a 50-39 percent margin, Americans believe Republicans would do a better job handling the economy than Democrats, according to the latest Gallup survey.
  • Similarly, the latest CBS News survey gives Republicans a 49-40 percent edge over Democrats on handling economic issues.
  • And the Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey gives Republicans a 10-point advantage over Democrats.

The Speaker has also outlined five key things we should do as a nation to bring jobs home and reset the foundation of our economy for generations to come: 

  1. Reform our tax code.
  2. Solve our spending problem.
  3. Reform our legal system.
  4. Reform our regulatory system.
  5. Improve our education system.

As today’s Washington Times notes, “another factor boosting U.S. and global growth is the oil and gas boom,” with one expert saying that it is “serving to attract investment and manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.”  Speaker Boehner’s five points are all about building on this boom to help Americans achieve real security and stability.  Learn more at speaker.gov/5points

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The House’s Response to the Ebola Outbreak

2014/10/16

On Wednesday, Speaker Boehner laid out the actions the House and its committees have taken to assist and assess the government’s response to the Ebola outbreak.  “Numerous committees,” he said, “are actively assessing the administration’s response, and hearings have already begun.   These oversight efforts will continue, and the House stands ready to act if it becomes clear legislation is needed to ensure the threat is countered aggressively and effectively.”

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Here is a summary of our committees’ efforts to date.  We will update this list as the committees’ work progresses.

 

Appropriations

Armed Services

  • September 25: Announced the release, in concert with the Appropriations Committee, of $50 million to support Operation United Assistance, the Department of Defense-led mission to combat the Ebola outbreak.
  • October 7: Held a committee briefing with interagency representatives on DOD support to Operation United Assistance, including its mission scope, biosecurity plans, deployment timelines, force protection measures, and spend plan.
  • October 9: Announced the release, in concert with the Appropriations Committee, of an additional $700 million to support Operation United Assistance.
  • October 14: Sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Hagel expressing concern for the protection and wellbeing of troops deploying to West Africa.

Energy & Commerce

  • September 12: Sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell seeking more information regarding the Ebola outbreak and preparedness efforts.
  • October 16: Held a subcommittee hearing examining the U.S. public health response to the Ebola outbreak, with testimony from the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other administration officials.
  • October 23: Sent a letter to President Obama and administration officials seeking further answers on the administration’s response and preparedness efforts to treat those with Ebola, prevent any further spread in the United States, and stop the spread of the virus at its source in West Africa.

Foreign Affairs

  • August 7: Held a subcommittee hearing to examine global efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak, with testimony from the director of the CDC and other administration officials.  
  • September 17: Held a subcommittee hearing to examine global efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak, with testimony from administration officials.
  • October 15: Sent a letter to the State Department calling for the immediate suspension of the issuance of visas for non-U.S. nationals in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Homeland Security

  • September 16: Sent a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security inquiring about inbound international screening procedures and training for Customs and Border Protection personnel.
  • October 10: Held a field hearing at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to examine the coordinated federal, state and local response to the Ebola case in Dallas, Texas. 
  • October 10: Sent a letter to the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection requesting enhanced entry screening at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
  • October 15: Sent a letter urging the president to re-establish the position of Special Assistant to the President for Biodefense Policy.
  • October 15: Sent a letter calling on the Departments of State and Homeland Security to temporarily suspend the visas of individuals from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

Judiciary

  • October 16: Sent a letter urging the president to use his authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to temporarily ban foreign nationals who were recently in an Ebola-ravaged country from traveling to the United States. 
  • October 21: Sent a letter to the Departments of Homeland Security and State inquiring about reports that the Administration is putting together a plan to allow non-U.S. citizens infected with Ebola to enter the United States for treatment.  

Oversight & Government Reform

  • October 24: Held a hearing on the multi-agency response to the Ebola crisis. 

Transportation & Infrastructure

  • October 14: Sent a letter calling on the Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security to institute a temporary travel ban for affected West African countries.
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Democrats Like ObamaCare, & They’re Going to Force You to Keep It

2014/10/16

Recent polls continue to find that, by a wide margin, more Americans view ObamaCare unfavorably than favorably. The reason why is pretty obvious: virtually everything that President Obama and his Democrats in Congress said about their health care law turned out to be untrue.

This makes President Obama’s latest shtick on the stump amusing to say the least. As he brags to crowds about how wonderful the economy is, he likes to say he’s “just telling the truth now.” Why the supposed turn at honesty? “I don’t have to run for office again, so I can just, you know, let her rip.” It’s an act that can only convince the most gullible. Indeed, President Obama admits that while his name isn’t on the ballot next month, all of his policies are.

And he stubbornly defends them, despite evidence they have failed. Confronted by a steel plant worker in Indiana who has seen his health care premiums increase dramatically, President Obama blamed him for not “shopping effectively enough,” essentially insulting his intelligence.

Of course, from this president, that’s nothing new. Who can forget these three gems?

President Obama: “If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” (6/15/09)

  • The truth: Politifact named this the 2013 “lie of the year,” and there are more cancellations coming. “[N]early 50,000 people will lose their current health coverage in the coming weeks,” reported The Hill.

President Obama: “For Americans who get their insurance through the workplace … your employer, it's estimated, would see premiums fall by as much as 3,000 percent, which means they could give you a raise.” (3/15/10)

  • The truth: Kaiser Health News reports that “Health Premiums And Costs [are] Set To Rise For Workers Covered At Work,” but Americans won’t find out exactly how much until after the election. On top of that, ObamaCare has meant smaller paychecks for workers who have had their hours cut.

President Obama: “I will not sign it [a health care reform bill] if it adds one dime to the deficit now or in the future – period.” (7/23/09, 9/9/09)

  • The truth: “Analysis of [nonpartisan] Congressional Budget Office projections by the Senate Budget Committee finds that …. Obamacare will increase deficit spending by $131 billion from 2015-24,” reports The Weekly Standard. “That’s a $311 billion swing from the extrapolated 2012 numbers, a $240 billion swing from the actual 2012 numbers, and a $255 billion swing from what we were told when Obamacare was passed.”

Senate Democrats followed President Obama’s lead and repeated these false claims over and over again. Now that they’ve proven untrue, they’re full of new promises. They say they will fix the law and make things right.

But if that’s true, where’s their legislation? President Obama hasn’t proposed any, and Senate Democrats certainly haven’t passed anything.

Republicans in the House have passed more than 350 bills that are currently being blocked by Senate Democrats, including bills that would eliminate the worst parts of ObamaCare, like the tax on medical device manufacturers that is sending jobs overseas and the arbitrary 30-hour rule that is hurting workers. But Senate Democrats have only said no.

Apparently, they like the law they passed, and they’re going to force you to keep it – even if they are guilty of false advertising. 

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The Facts About Funding for the Fight Against Ebola

2014/10/16

With the United States and the entire world facing a global health threat, the last thing anybody has time for is political opportunism.  But as The Washington Post has noted, that hasn't stopped a few from attempting to distort the facts about government funding in a shallow attempt to gain a political edge. Contrary to political claims being made by some, the Republican-led House of Representatives has acted decisively and consistently when it comes to efforts to combat the deadly disease, even providing more funding than requested for the agencies on the front lines of the fight against Ebola. Here are the facts:

  • Congress Has Released Up to $750 Million in Funding to Combat Ebola.  The House last week released up to $750 million to support Operation United Assistance, the  mission “to provide medical, logistical and security support” to combat Ebola in West Africa.
  • Congress Provided More CDC Funding Than the President Requested Last Year.  The FY 2014 budget agreement reached in January of this year provided the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] “an 8.2 percent budget increase for fiscal 2014,” The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported at that time. “This is more than the agency anticipated, because the president's fiscal year 2014 budget request for it was just $6.6 billion -- a decrease of $270 million from fiscal 2012,” the Chronicle adds.  Even The Huffington Post admits “President Barack Obama hasn’t been consistent on funding the [CDC], the dominant U.S. public health agency combating the outbreak,” and “indeed explicitly posed significant cuts at times.”
  • The White House Proposed the Sequester.  This isn’t the first time the White House has tried to shirk responsibility for the sequester it proposed, and the president signed into law, in 2011.  But as Politico reported back in 2012, “the book ‘The Price of Politics,’ by Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward, makes it clear the idea for the draconian spending cuts originated in the White House – and not in Congress.”  In fact, Congress’s 2014 budget agreement restored $1 billion worth of National Institutes of Health [NIH]cuts made under the president’s sequester.  In addition, “It’s worth noting that President Obama’s 2015 budget request did not call for a major increase in funding for the NIH,” The Washington Post reports.

On many levels, this line of attack is absurd,” says Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, who rated the claim a “whopper.”  Instead of trying to point the finger, “the administration must be able to assure Americans that we will stop the spread here at home,” Speaker Boehner said yesterday. “We will continue to press the administration for better information about what steps will be taken to protect the American people, including our troops, from this deadly virus.  And we will work with the administration on appropriate policy options that will help stop the spread of this horrific disease both here in the United States and around the globe.”

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Boehner: Travel Ban Should Be Considered by President as Ebola Crisis Worsens

2014/10/15

On #Ebola crisis: our hearts go out to those affected. President should consider travel ban. Full statement: http://t.co/8sNK0sMyVg

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) October 15, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement on the growing Ebola crisis:

“Our hearts go out to the health care workers who have contracted the Ebola virus here in the United States, as well as those who have been impacted by it around the globe.  We pray for their speedy recovery, and we pray for those who are helping to treat and care for these individuals, including our medical experts and military personnel who are in West Africa to help stem this deadly disease.  Concerns about the possibility of an outbreak of this sort prompted the House to provide more funding for the CDC than requested, and the tragic developments seen in recent weeks demonstrate that decision was a prudent one.

“In a September 16 speech in Atlanta, President Obama said the ‘chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.’  Since that time, several Americans have been diagnosed with the virus and untold more potentially exposed to it.  Today we learned that one individual who has contracted the virus flew to Ohio through the Cleveland airport in the last few days.  A temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the virus is something that the president should absolutely consider along with any other appropriate actions as doubts about the security of our air travel systems grow.

“It is also imperative we ensure that federal, state and local agencies, along with our public health infrastructure, are prepared, remain vigilant, and follow proper protocols to identify the virus and take appropriate measures for those who have been exposed to it.

“Numerous committees – including the House Armed Services Committee and the Committees on Appropriations, Homeland Security, Energy & Commerce, Foreign Affairs, and Transportation & Infrastructure – are actively assessing the administration’s response, and hearings have already begun.  The Homeland Security Committee held a hearing in Dallas to examine the federal, state, and local response thus far.  Tomorrow, the Energy & Commerce Committee will hear from the CDC and NIH to look into their response to the crisis.  These oversight efforts will continue, and the House stands ready to act if it becomes clear legislation is needed to ensure the threat is countered aggressively and effectively.

“The administration must be able to assure Americans that we will stop the spread here at home.  We will continue to press the administration for better information about what steps will be taken to protect the American people, including our troops, from this deadly virus.  And we will work with the administration on appropriate policy options that will help stop the spread of this horrific disease both here in the United States and around the globe.”

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Is the White House Conceding Kobani & Other Key Territory to ISIL?

2014/10/15

That’s an important question that must be answered after a noteworthy exchange in the White House briefing room yesterday.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest claimed the president’s strategy, limited as it may be, is “succeeding” despite all the evidence to the contrary.  He then goes on to admit that the White House doesn’t want Kobani to fall but that the U.S. airstrikes won’t be enough to save the town: “So we certainly do not want the town to fall.  At the same time, our capacity to prevent that town from falling is limited by the fact that airstrikes can only do so much.”

The White House and the administration say this fight will be a long-term proposition.  We agree, but reversing the momentum of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) doesn’t have to be a long-term proposition.  We don’t have to cede key territory to the terrorists in the hope that someday down the road, we can win it all back. 

Everyone wants the president’s strategy to succeed, but right now we are not reversing ISIL’s momentum.  That has to change.  And it’s why the speaker and many others continue to call on the president to outline and implement a broader strategy for winning this fight.  Full transcript of the exchange yesterday below:

MR. EARNEST:  The meeting that is being convened at Andrews Air Force Base later today is with about 21 of the U.S.’s partners in this broader international coalition against ISIL.  Those who are participating in the meeting are at the chief-of-defense level.  This is something I’ve only learned in the last couple of days.  These are, essentially, the international counterparts to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  So again, these are the military leaders of the militaries who are participating in this broader international coalition.

This is a meeting that Chairman Dempsey convened here in this country.  It will last for a couple of days.  The President will participate in one meeting of this broader series of meetings.  And this is all part of the effort to continue to integrate our broader strategy and to ensure that the military capabilities or our partners is integrated and effectuated in pursuit of this operation.

QUESTION:   Integrated and effectuated.  Are you sticking with the same strategy?  You believe it’s working?

MR. EARNEST:  Yes.  And we’re in the early days of the execution of that strategy, but certainly the early evidence indicates that this strategy is succeeding. 

QUESTION:   Because there are -- and I don’t need to tell you this -- several analysts who look at Kobani, if it falls, it will be the third city on the Syrian-Turkish border to do so.  Anbar is now 80 percent controlled by ISIS.  They are 15 miles away from Baghdad.  If you take that outer perimeter from Baghdad and go east, it’s an area of control of about 350 miles.  That doesn’t read to many analysts like success.  Why does it look like success to this administration?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, I can cite -- we’ve gone to this a few times before, that there are specific episodes where the use of military force has succeeded in beating back an ISIL advance, or stopping the siege of a vulnerable humanitarian target.  We have seen that our strikes have had an impact on targets in Syria, that the ability of ISIL to command and control their forces has been affected by the airstrikes. 

At the same time, I don’t think anybody has sought to leave you or anyone else with the impression that these kinds of airstrikes were going to dramatically reverse the situation on the battlefield overnight.  They won’t.  We’ve been pretty candid about the fact that this is a longer-term proposition, and it’s predicated on something that necessarily does take a long time, which is building up the capacity and capability of forces on the ground to take the fight to ISIL.  The President has made a strategic decision that there will not be American boots on the ground, in a combat role, taking the fight to ISIL. 

But what we can do is we can build up the capacity of Iraq security forces, and we can build up the capacity of Syrian opposition fighters to take the fight to ISIL.  That is a core component of this strategy.  And until that aspect of the strategy is ramped up, that is a necessary component of the strategy that will allow us to see more significant results on the battlefield.  But the aspects of the strategy that have been implemented so far have been characterized by having an impact on ISIL in a negative way for them.

QUESTION:   To follow up on Roberta’s question, does the President regard Kobani as strategically significant and worthy of defense?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, in terms of our broader strategy, our broader strategy is to ensure that ISIL cannot operate in a virtual safe haven in Syria.  And so to the extent that ISIL is trying to carve out a safe haven in Syria in the midst of all this violence, we want to take airstrikes that can degrade their ability to do exactly that.  That, ultimately, at some point, is going to require some forces on the ground who can take the fight to them.

More broadly, we have sought, where possible, to try to avoid humanitarian -- terrible humanitarian situations from occurring.  So I talked about the situations at Sinjar Mountain and Amerli in Iraq.  Our capability to do that in Syria is limited by the fact that we don’t have ground forces that can follow up on coalition airstrikes.  So --

QUESTION:   But what Roberta is getting at is that we should not interpret the increased volume of airstrikes in and around Kobani as a strategic decision on behalf of this government and its coalition to protect it at all costs; that it is so strategically important that you don’t want it to fall, and therefore that is why the airstrikes have stepped up in number and ferocity.

MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, of course we don’t want the town to fall.  We are very concerned, as we’ve said many times, about the citizens who live there and the citizens who are threatened by ISIL.  Again, the fact that they are encroaching on this city and seeking to take it over is just further evidence that ISIL is an extremist organization that is willing to perpetrate terrible acts of violence that are worthy of global condemnation.

So we certainly do not want the town to fall.  At the same time, our capacity to prevent that town from falling is limited by the fact that airstrikes can only do so much.  Airstrikes can have an effect and have an impact, and they already have, but they are made more effective when there is a ground force that can take the fight to ISIL in the aftermath of those kinds of airstrikes.  That ground force doesn’t yet exist, but is a ground force that we are actively working to ramp up our assistance to and setting up training-and-equipping operations in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where we can provide additional training and expand the capacity of Syrian opposition fighters so that after they’re trained and after they’re equipped, they can be used -- or they can go and fight ISIL in their own country, and they can do so with the strong backing of coalition airstrikes in a way that will make them, we think, more effective.

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White House Says It’s Your Fault If You Pay More For Insurance

2014/10/14

When a steel plant manager in Indiana recently asked President Obama why the business is still seeing big premium increases, the president turned the question around, saying, “The question is whether you guys are shopping effectively enough.”  

Along the same lines, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said that “part of the problem is that many people don’t understand how to buy health insurance.”  “We need to spend time educating people,” she said. 

Educate people on what, exactly?  After all, the president repeatedly promised that the typical family would see their costs go down by $2,500.  During the push to get this monstrosity through Congress, he said that savings would go “back into the pockets of American consumers in the form of lower premiums.”  

Instead, we continue to see just the opposite. Under the headline, “Health Premiums And Costs Set To Rise For Workers Covered At Work,”Kaiser Health News reports today that average premium increases will be higher than last year and “the shift toward higher out-of-pocket costs overall for consumers will continue.” 

We’re already seeing double-digit premium increases in Iowa and Louisiana.  In Minnesota, some small businesses “face increases of 40 percent or more.”  “We had no idea it was going to be as dramatic as it is,” according to one dental group practice manager. 

And in Southwest Ohio, Speaker Boehner has been collecting stories from constituents struggling with higher costs.  The newest one comes from the finance director for Coldwater, a small town that’s about to take a big hit: 

“Since ObamaCare became law, the village has seen its insurance premiums more than double – a direct blow to the village’s 24 insured employees that will … also be felt by the roughly 4,500 people who call the Village of Coldwater home.  Yet again, the village will see premiums increase 14 percent next year.

And get this: even though the new HealthCare.gov is up, it won’t display premiums until the second week of November.  So much for spending time educating people so they can shop more “effectively.”

Instead of putting the blame on hardworking people, we can help them by repealing this health care law and starting over with patient-centered solutions that focus on lower costs.

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Obama’s Obsession with Closing Gitmo is Wildly Unpopular

2014/10/14

Fact: a majority of Americans have consistently opposed closing our terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

  • “Twenty-nine percent of Americans support closing the terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and moving its prisoners to U.S. prisons, while two in three (66%) oppose the idea.” (Gallup, 6/13/14)
  • “[J]ust 27% of Likely U.S. Voters think the prison for suspected terrorists at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba should be closed. … Fifty-four percent (54%) disagree and say the Guantanamo prison should not be closed, consistent with most surveys for several years.” (Rasmussen, 5/27/14)
  • 70 percent [of Americans] favor keeping open the Guantanamo Bay detention center[.]”  (ABC News/Washington Post, 2/8/12)
  • “By more than 2-1, those surveyed say Guantanamo shouldn't be closed. By more than 3-1, they oppose moving some of the accused terrorists housed there to prisons in their own states.” (USA TODAY/Gallup, 6/1/09)

Americans know all too well that the threat of Islamic terrorism is still very real. After all, ISIL continues to make significant gains in Iraq and Syria and al Qaeda is resurgent in Yemen. President Obama, however, is preoccupied with legacy-building, which is why he’s focused on giving Iran more flexibility with its nuclear program and closing Guantanomo, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal:

“The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said. …

The core obstacle standing in the White House’s way is Congress’s move in 2010 to ban the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. That legislation was passed after the administration sparked a backlash when it proposed relocating detainees to a maximum-security prison in Thomson, Ill.

“[A]dministration officials say the detention center can’t be closed without sending at least some of the remaining inmates to the U.S. mainland.”

In response to this news, Speaker Boehner said:

Even as Islamic jihadists are beheading Americans, the White House is so eager to bring these terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the United States that it is examining ways to thwart Congress and unilaterally re-write the law. Not only is this scheme dangerous, it is yet another example of what will be this administration’s legacy of lawlessness.”

The Obama administration also sparked a bipartisan backlash earlier this year when it broke the law and released five top terrorist leaders from Guantanamo, even though President Obama said they could “absolutely” return to plotting attacks on Americans. The House passed a resolution last month condemning the release, which a majority of Americans also opposed.

Still, President Obama is obsessed with closing the prison, “raising it weekly,” according to his staff. He believes its “continued operation hurts U.S. standing overseas and is a recruitment tool for terrorists.” He’s chasing a fantasy, holding out hope that showing a softer side will convince radical Islamic jihadists to end their murderous crusade.

It’s a naive way of thinking – not to mention absurdly inconsistent with the Obama administration’s anti-terrorist social media campaign.

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Five Great Things About the Library of Congress

2014/10/10

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the resolution that permitted Congress to purchase Thomas Jefferson’s book collection to create a new Library of Congress (LOC).  After the British burned the White House, U.S. Capitol, and Library of Congress in August of 1814, the rebuilding process required replacing the collection.  The resolution passed and Congress purchased Jefferson’s books for just $23,950.  To honor this important anniversary, here are five great things you may not know about the Library of Congress:

1)      Veterans History Project.  Through the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the Veterans History Project welcomes stories and personal accounts of American war veterans from World War I to the present conflicts our troops face today.  To date, Speaker Boehner, representing Ohio’s Eighth District, has contributed 172 interviews from his constituents to the Veterans History Project, one of which was with Colonel Tom Moe, the former Director for the Ohio Department of Veterans and a POW of the Vietnam War.  Through this project, Boehner and his staff have helped veterans get the recognition they deserve for their service by awarding upgraded service medals and honorary high school diplomas.

2)      Promoting transparency and open-government.  The Library has been a leading institutional partner in making the legislative branch more open and accountable to the American people.  In 2012, the LOC unveiled the new Congress.gov , which has made it easier for citizens to find information about the legislative process and what bills are being debated.

3)      Legislative Branch Bulk Data Task Force.  This task force was created to examine how best to increase availability of congressional information in bulk while still considering costs, timelines, authenticity of data, and further the mission of increasing transparency for the American people.   As the Deputy Librarian of Congress said last year, “The Library works closely with the Congress and related agencies to make America’s federal legislative record more widely available.”

4)      The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.  Each year the Library of Congress recognizes an artist of popular music for their outstanding contributions to American music, theatre, and culture, and to the Library of Congress.  Next month, the Library will present the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to legendary singer-songwriter Billy Joel.  Speaker Boehner congratulated the Long Island native on this well-earned honor, saying, “The man makes great music, and we are grateful for his contributions.”

5)      Open door policy.  As stated earlier, the Library of Congress is architecturally and visually beautiful.  From the Neptune fountain outside to the marble floors and custom arches inside, the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress is a stunning achievement for America.  The preservation of our history, and accessibility of those resources, is at the forefront of its mission.  So, with that accessibility comes one of the greatest things about the Library of Congress: it is open to the public and free to visit

We owe a debt of gratitude to the Library of Congress and those lawmakers – and, of course, Thomas Jefferson – for making all of this possible. 

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Does The President Have a Secret Plan to Fight Inequality?

2014/10/10

Standing in Gwyneth Paltrow’s backyard last night, President Obama launched into a discourse about inequality.  “Most of the gains in our economy go to the folks who are in this lovely yard,” he said. 

The president could have admitted he hasn’t done enough.  Instead, he absolved himself, saying “that’s a trend that preceded me.”  Meanwhile, the numbers clearly show that “income inequality has grown faster on his watch than any time in the past two decades, at least.

Indeed, what the president fails to mention is that his own policies have made the problem worse.  Here are just a handful of examples:

  • Energy. By actively blocking, hindering, and delaying American energy production, the president has increased the squeeze on middle-class families and sent good-paying jobs and opportunities overseas. 
  • Banks. Four years after Dodd-Frank and its $21.8 billion in compliance costs became law, ‘too big to fail’ is alive and well, while the community banks that lend to small businesses are tangled up in red tape.
  • Taxes. Instead of leading the charge for tax reform that brings down rates and clears out loopholes, the president has time and again tried to raise taxes on small businesses, many of which pay rates more than double those of large corporations.  
  • Education. By fighting our efforts to help students in underperforming schools gain access to a quality education, the president and the education establishment make it that much harder for low-income families to climb the ladder.
  • Health Care. ObamaCare is making millions of small business employees pay more for insurance while turning full-time workers into part-time workers.  One union did a report on this problem.  The title? “The Irony of ObamaCare: Making Inequality Worse.”

Still, maybe there’s hope yet.  You see, also on hand in that lovely yard was Bradley Whitford, who, of course, played White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on The West Wing.  Maybe this means the president has a secret plan to fight inequality?  Because more of the same clearly isn’t going to cut it. 

While we wait on tenterhooks for the Obama/Lyman plan, Republicans have acted on real solutions to close the gap, to help middle-class families get ahead, not just get by.  And Speaker Boehner has outlined five points to reset our economy from the bottom up – so people from all walks of life can pursue their aspirations without Washington getting in the way.   Learn more by going to speaker.gov/5points.

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Speaker Boehner Statement on President Obama’s Efforts to Import Gitmo Terrorists to the United States

2014/10/10

President Obama's plan to import #Gitmo terrorists to the U.S. is another example of admin’s legacy of lawlessness http://t.co/MqkOJB1gg3

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) October 10, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement after The Wall Street Journal reported that President Obama is considering options to re-write the law and import terrorists housed at Guantanamo Bay to the United States: “An overwhelming majority of the American people and bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate oppose importing the terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay into the United States, yet the White House continues to move forward with its plan.  Even as Islamic jihadists are beheading Americans, the White House is so eager to bring these terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the United States that it is examining ways to thwart Congress and unilaterally re-write the law.  Not only is this scheme dangerous, it is yet another example of what will be this administration’s legacy of lawlessness.  

“While Republicans stand united against this ploy, each and every Democrat should make their position known.  Do they support the president’s maneuver to override a bipartisan law, thumb his nose at the American people and the Constitution, and bring these terrorists to U.S. soil?  Or do they stand with the American people and oppose this dangerous plan?  House Republicans have kept our Pledge to America to keep these terrorists out of the United States, and we will do everything within our power to keep our pledge and hold the administration accountable.”

NOTE: Over the last four years, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate have consistently passed – and President Obama has signed – legislation that prohibits him from transferring the terrorists housed at the Guantanamo Bay prison to the United States.

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Boehner and Goodlatte: It’s Never Acceptable for the President to Re-Write Our Laws

2014/10/09

Washington, D.C. – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) released the joint statement below following the remarks made yesterday by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest that President Obama delayed his decision to act unilaterally on immigration until after the November elections because he didn’t want Republicans to win on the issue.

“It’s shocking that the White House now openly admits that President Obama is delaying his unilateral actions on immigration until after the November elections simply because of raw politics. Whether before or after the election in November, it is never acceptable for the President to re-write our laws by executive decree – the Constitution does not give him the authority to do so. By taking unilateral action on immigration, President Obama will inject serious constitutional questions into an already heated debate. Such shortsighted actions will undermine the American people’s trust in the President’s commitment to enforcing our immigration laws and will further setback any chance of enacting immigration reform.”

Last month, House Judiciary Committee Republicans wrote to President Obama demanding that he disclose to the American people the recommendations he has received for the anticipated executive actions he will take to further dismantle our nation’s immigration laws. To date, the President has failed to respond.

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The 25th Anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution

2014/10/09

This is the fourth post in our series recounting the events of 1989 that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

An 800-year old church in a city 118 miles southwest of Berlin.  It’s an unlikely epicenter for one of the great democratic movements of the 20th century, but on October 9, 1989, it was exactly that.  That day, thousands of dissidents gathered at Nicolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church) in downtown Leipzig and proceeded to march through the city, holding candles and chanting “We Are The People” in protest of the East German regime. 

“This was no spontaneous flash mob,” Der Spiegel reports.  In fact, it was years in the making:

“By the summer of 1989, East German dissidents had been meeting at Leipzig's 800-year-old Nicolaikirche for almost a decade to pray and talk politics.  At times there were fewer than a dozen people in the church, but all through the 1980s the meetings happened every Monday without fail.  Eventually, they attracted people eager to discuss a wide range of causes, from the environment to the right to travel freely.  By the fall of 1989, the prayer meetings had evolved into a nationwide movement centered in Leipzig.”

Despite their growing numbers, these dissidents had good reason not to take their cause to the streets.  Remember, this was only four months after the Tiananmen Square Massacre.  The potential for a crackdown was very real.  In many homes, one parent stayed behind in case the worst came to pass.  But when the day came, and the crowd swelled to at least 70,000, the police stepped aside.  Thus the protest became known as the “Peaceful Revolution.”  

German President Joachim Gauck said, “The images of the peaceful march around Leipzig's city center ring road became an inspiration which encouraged more and more people in more and more towns and cities … to come out and protest in public.”

Indeed, two weeks later, more than 300,000 people filled the city center.  Two weeks after that, the Berlin Wall fell. 

Today, we pay tribute to the men and women of the Peaceful Revolution, especially those believers who met every Monday in that old church in that old city.  The risks they took and the faith they kept made Europe – and the world – safer for democracy.

The House’s celebration of the Revolutions of 1989 will culminate on Wednesday, November 19, when we dedicate a bust of Vaclav Havel, the playwright turned dissident who became Czechoslovakia’s first elected president. 

READ MORE

June 4: 25 Years of Freedom in Poland August 19: 25th Anniversary of the Pan-European PicnicSeptember 10: 25th Anniversary of the Opening of Hungary's Border

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Consciously Uncoupling Rhetoric From Reality

2014/10/08

Consciously uncoupling rhetoric from reality on #jobshttp://t.co/V3bCdmGfW2

— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) October 9, 2014

The American people’s confidence in the president’s economic leadership has sunk to a new low.  So what’s he doing about it?  According to the White House, he plans to give a speech tomorrow in California about “the progress our economy is making.”  Hmm.  That may strike many Californians as odd, given that their state’s unemployment rate has been stuck at 7.4 percent – well above the national average – for the last three months. As a matter of fact, in Los Angeles County, where the president will attend “an intimate dinner” at the home of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, average wages dropped by 1.9 percent last year – one of the biggest drops among the nation’s large counties.

Looking ahead, economists at UCLA say that “the fundamentals of California and the U.S. suggest the most likely evolution of the California economy is more of the same — slow, steady and unexceptional growth.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The president tried to pull off the same bragging routine last week in Illinois, which has 300,000 fewer jobs than it did six years ago – one of a host of critical facts he overlooked.   There’s also this: the president hasn’t just presided over California’s struggles; he has contributed to them.  As the nation’s second-largest exporting state, California is poised to benefit from real, pro-growth solutions like trade promotion authority.  “California would be a major beneficiary of these agreements,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) wrote last January. “There would be more business for our small manufacturers and service providers, increased traffic through our ports, new customers for Silicon Valley technology, and more exports of dairy goods, nuts, citrus and other agricultural goods. … President Obama should lead from the front and work closely with Congress to pass trade promotion authority…”

Yet despite bipartisan support for the idea, the administration has done little to nothing to pass trade promotion authority, a missed opportunity for California and the country.   So if anything, California is a microcosm for what a letdown the president’s policies have been, and why so many are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?

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Delays, Denials, Dishonesty: President Obama’s Deficit of Leadership on Debt & Entitlements

2014/10/08

Over the years, President Obama has talked a good game about addressing the national debt and saving entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security from bankruptcy:

  • “We’re going to have to take on entitlements, and I think we’ve got to do it quickly. … I’d like to do it in my first term as president.” (10/7/08)
  • “The real problem with our long-term deficit actually has to do with our entitlement obligations …. [W]hat we have done is kick this can down the road. We’re now at the end of the road, and we’re not in a position to kick it any further.” (1/15/09)
  • “[I]f you look at the numbers, then Medicare in particular will run out of money and we will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up. I mean, it’s not an option for us to just sit by and do nothing.  … [W]e have an obligation to make sure that we make those changes that are required to make it sustainable over the long term.” (7/11/11)

Today, Medicare and Social Security are still scheduled to go bankrupt and the national debt stands at $17.8 trillion, an increase of $7.2 trillion under President Obama – who has still not proposed a credible plan to balance the budget, despite admitting in 2011 that “all this rising debt will cost us jobs and damage our economy.”

Not only has he unfairly attacked Republicans who have tried to propose solutions, but President Obama now actually denies there is a problem. He’s even gone so far as to brag about cutting the annual budget deficit, which is still bigger than any year before he took office.

In an op-ed criticizing “Obama’s false victory over the deficit,” The Washington Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt writes:

“Anyone looking beyond that date [when President Obama leaves office] should be alarmed at the satisfaction Obama proclaims despite the prospect of ever-rising government debt. …

“Federal debt has reached 74 percent of the economy’s annual output (GDP), ‘a higher percentage than at any point in U.S. history except a brief period around World War II,’ the [nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office] CBO says, ‘and almost twice the percentage at the end of 2008.’ With no change in policy, that percentage will … [rise] to a dangerous 78 percent by 2024 and an insupportable 106 percent by 2039.

“As a result, by 2039 the government will be shelling out interest payments equal to 4.5 percent of GDP, more than twice the average share of the past 40 years.

“Meanwhile, with the population aging and costs still rising, payments for Social Security and health programs including Medicare and Obamacare also will soar, the CBO estimates. By 2039 those programs will consume 14 percent of GDP, again double the average of the past 40 years. …

“Put those together and the government will be spending on entitlement programs and interest alone just about what it spends today on the entire budget. …

“[Obama] should at least return to speaking honestly, which might make it a bit easier for the next round of (hopefully) more responsible leaders to make politically difficult decisions. …

“It is sad that Obama, never to face the electorate again, is squandering his chance to push in the right direction.”

President Obama may be fine with repeating dishonest political attacks and failing to lead, but Speaker Boehner isn’t satisfied with the status quo. He’s still pushing for common-sense reforms, and recently unveiled his five points for resetting America’s economic foundation and getting the country back on the right track, which includes saving programs like Medicare and Social Security from bankruptcy. Here’s what Speaker Boehner said:

[W]e’ve got to solve our spending problem. … [I]t’s bad for our economy.  It’s stealing from our kids and our grandkids, robbing them of the benefits they’ll never see and leaving them with burdens that are nearly impossible to repay. …

“The question isn’t what’s driving this debt – it’s who. It’s Baby Boomers like me retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day, 70,000 this week, 3.5 million this year, and this is going to go on for another 20 years. …

These programs are important to tens of millions of Americans. So you can’t throw them out. And you don’t want to throw them out. But they need to be fixed and put on a sustainable path, and we can in fact do that.”

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ObamaCare Deals Another Blow to Part-Time Workers

2014/10/07

President Obama sold his health law on the promise that it would “bend the cost curve” and allow Americans to keep the health plans they liked and could afford.  Those promises have long gone by the wayside, and now the rising cost of health care has dealt a fresh blow to part-time workers already struggling in the Obama economy. 

According to the Associated Press, an estimated 30,000 part-time employees in just one company are losing their health benefits due to “the impact of higher health care costs.”  The move will force thousands of families onto the ObamaCare exchanges where they face skyrocketing costs across the country, at the same time that incomes are dropping and middle-class families are paying more for nearly everything they need. The bad news doesn’t stop there.  As we recently noted here on the blog, the president’s health care law is also wreaking havoc on jobs.  “Three Federal Reserve Banks in Philadelphia, New York and Atlanta have surveyed the folks in their area and roughly one fifth of the employers are saying they cut back on employment,” Fox News reports, and “more than one in ten are saying they're doing more outsourcing - all this because of the new health care reform.” 

According to the most recent Department of Labor jobs report, the number of involuntary part-time workers “was little changed in September at 7.1 million.”  That’s more than seven million Americans, “almost 5 percent of the labor force, who want, but can’t find, full-time jobs,” one of the Vice President’s own former economic advisors admits. 

House Republicans have taken action to protect part-time workers’ hours and wages from the fallout of the president’s health care law with the Save American Workers Act, but Senate Democrats have refused to act on it, or the dozens of other common sense, House-passed jobs bills sitting in that chamber.  “The American people recognize that ObamaCare is hurting our economy and making it harder for small businesses to hire,” says Speaker Boehner.  “That’s why Republicans remain committed to repealing the law and replacing it with solutions that will lower health care costs and protect American jobs.”

Read more about the solutions Republicans have put forth to help lower costs, expand opportunity, and help more Americans find work at GOP.gov/solutions, and bookmark speaker.gov/5points to learn more about Speaker Boehner’s long-term, five-point vision for resetting America’s economic foundation.

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Announcing Speaker.gov/5points

2014/10/07

Last month, Speaker Boehner outlined his five points for resetting America’s economic foundation. 

Last week, we gave you a two-minute snapshot of this plan. 

Now we’re introducing the one-stop shop version.  It’s speaker.gov/5points, a page where you can easily find – and share – all the information you need about the five points. 

Right now on speaker.gov/5points, you can:

  • Check out a review from Newt Gingrich, who calls the five points a “realistic, positive vision for governing in the 21st century.”
  •  Learn more about how these five points build on our American solutions to help get people back to work, lower costs at home, and restore opportunity for all.

Of course, we’ll be adding to the page as we go, just as we do with speaker.gov/jobs, which tracks the dozens of jobs bills being blocked by Senate Democrats. 

Speaker Boehner first announced the new site in an e-mail to Speaker.gov subscribers.  If you missed it, you can sign up for future updates at speaker.gov/email.  

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It’s Still The Question

2014/10/06

“Look at the state of things,” Speaker Boehner said last month in his speech at the American Enterprise Institute, “flat wages, higher prices, a six-year slog to regain the jobs lost during the recession, and millions still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’“

By several measures, Friday’s unemployment report shows we’re not much closer to where we need to be:

  • The number of long-term unemployed is “essentially unchanged” at historically high levels.
  •  The number of involuntary part-time workers is “little changed.”
  • Average hourly earnings “changed little,” yet another reminder that the middle class has become poorer on the president’s watch.
  • Unemployment rates for women, teenagers, and African Americans showed “little change.” 
  • Employment in manufacturing also showed “little change” and its “share of total U.S. jobs has hit a record low.” 
  • The labor force participation rate “changed little."  Actually, it fell to a 36-year low, a trend Andrea Mitchell noted on Meet The Press, saying, “that’s just not a sustainable recovery.”

The White House may look at this and see “incredible progress,” but for far too many families, the question remains essentially unchanged: where are the jobs?

That’s why the House has focused on real solutions to help get people back to work, lower costs at home, and restore opportunity for all.  In addition, in that speech at AEI, Speaker Boehner outlined these five points for resetting America’s economic foundation:

1.       Fix our tax code.

2.       Solve our spending problem.

3.       Reform our legal system.

4.       Reform our regulatory system.

5.       Improve our education system. 

This vision is about getting beyond the new normal and helping middle-class families achieve security and stability – the kind of change the president once promised, but has failed to deliver. 

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Another Obama Policy on the Ballot: Amnesty

2014/10/03

“I am not on the ballot this fall,” President Obama said yesterday. “But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot – every single one of them.” Last night, he made it very clear that one of those policies is amnesty by executive action. It’s “not a question of if, but when,” the president said. “It will be taking place between the November elections and the end of the year.”

Why will President Obama grant amnesty after the election? Because he knows the American people oppose it, and he doesn’t want his fellow Democrats to be held accountable on election day.

Speaker Boehner has been very clear that “There is a never a ‘right’ time for the president to declare amnesty by executive action.” And while the Speaker has long supported fixing our broken immigration system, he also told ABC News that if President Obama does what he is threatening to do, such unilateral action “would poison the well. And I've told the president this directly: if you want to get immigration reform done, and you want to get it right, don't do things that will poison the well.”

Unfortunately, President Obama isn’t interested in upholding or following the law, or listening to the American people. Even though he admits that “no matter how bold I am, nothing I can do will be as comprehensive or lasting as” real legislation, he says he’s going to do whatever he wants and create his own law – but that’s not how our democratic system of government works.

President Obama has admitted that previously, on many, many occasions:

  • “I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. … Not just on immigration reform. But that's not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written.” (7/25/11)
  • I am president, I am not king. I can't do these things just by myself. We have a system of government that requires the Congress to work with the Executive Branch to make it happen.” (10/25/10)
  • “The problem is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.” (2/14/13)
  • [U]ntil Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do.” (3/6/14)
  • “[I]f we start broadening that [executive actions], then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally. So that's not an option.” (9/17/13)
  • “I, as the President, am obligated to enforce the law. I don't have a choice about that. … With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed …. [F]or me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.” (3/28/11)
  • “[T]here are those in the immigrants’ rights community who have argued passionately that we should simply provide those who are [here] illegally with legal status, or at least ignore the laws on the books and put an end to deportation until we have better laws. ... [T]his could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration.” (7/1/10)
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Speaker Boehner on the September 2014 Unemployment Report

2014/10/03

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement in response to the Department of Labor’s unemployment report for September 2014: “Only Republicans are offering real solutions to help get people back to work, lower costs at home, and restore opportunity for all.  We have dozens of good jobs bills stuck in the Democratic-run Senate that would help hardworking families.  In addition, I have laid out five things we can do as a nation to reset our economic foundation for the next two or three generations.  They are: fix our tax code, solve our spending problem, reform our legal system, reform our regulatory system, and improve our education system.  This is the kind of long-term plan Americans are not getting from the president and Senate Democrats, who continue to preside over a new normal of flat wages, higher prices, and too many part-time jobs.  Every day I hear from people in my district who say no matter how hard they work, they still struggle to make ends meet.  Instead of trying to convince Americans that things are great, Washington Democrats ought to show they’re serious about helping middle-class families get ahead, not just get by.”

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Desperate for a Foreign Policy Accomplishment, Obama Offers Iran More Flexibility

2014/10/03

As the Obama administration plays catch-up in combatting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), it should not be forgotten that President Obama made history by talking with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by phone on September 27, 2013. The subject of the phone call was Iran’s ongoing nuclear program, but since then, President Obama’s negotiations with Iran have been complicated by the current surge of terrorism in the Middle East. Recent news reports indicate that the United States has unofficially entered into an informal partnership of sorts with Iran – a country that just last month forced a military-chartered plane carrying roughly 100 Americans to land within its borders and one that is still on the State Department’s list of official State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Last week, Speaker Boehner urged President Obama to not back down in negotiations with Iran, reminding the administration that the rogue country “has no interest in a stable, strong Iraq …. has a deplorable human rights record, and it still has American hostages.” This week, 354 members of the U.S. House of Representatives – including Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer – sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry stating they “remain deeply concerned with Iran’s refusal to fully cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

Here is a timeline of recent events:

  • “With the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, an offshoot of al Qaeda, rapidly gaining territory, Iran deployed Revolutionary Guards units to Iraq, according to Iranian security officials. … The involvement of Iran would pose yet another security challenge for the White House, and raises the prospect of the U.S. and Iran fighting on the same side. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/12/14)
  • “[Secretary of State John] Kerry said the United States would be willing to work with Iran on ways to stem the progress of ISIS[.]” (ABC News, 6/16/14)
  • Some administration officials are also suggesting that Iran could be a partner in a post-war Syria, helping to ensure security there during a transition period, after which Assad would negotiate his own departure.” (The Daily Beast, 7/3/14)
  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would need to significantly increase its uranium enrichment capacity, highlighting a gap in positions between Tehran and world powers as they hold talks aimed at clinching a nuclear accord.” (Reuters, 7/8/14)
  • “The fight in northern Iraq appeared to be the first time American warplanes and militias backed by Iran had worked with a common purpose on a battlefield against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, even though the Obama administration said there was no direct coordination with the militias. Should such military actions continue, they could signal a dramatic shift for the United States and Iran, which have long vied for control in Iraq. They could also align the interests of the Americans with their longtime sworn enemies in the Shiite militias, whose fighters killed many United States soldiers during the long occupation of Iraq.” (The New York Times, 8/31/14)
  • Iran remains ‘quite optimistic’ it can reach a nuclear deal with six major powers by Nov. 24, the country's foreign minister said …. Iran and the six powers failed to reach a final, comprehensive nuclear deal in Vienna in July. At the time, Iran and the six-power group—the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China—decided to adjust the deadline for a deal by four months to Nov. 24 from July 20. A final agreement would see the West gradually lift tight economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for steps by Tehran to limit its nuclear program and activities.” (The Wall Street Journal, 9/1/14)
  • The tacit alliance that has emerged in Iraq between the United States and Iran is further stirring unease that the new strategy will only further empower Iran and its Shiite allies at the expense of Sunni influence in the region.” (The Washington Post, 9/10/14)
  • “A spokesman for [Secretary of State John] Kerry acknowledged the U.S. has held discussions with the Iranian government about efforts to counter ISIS amid negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program.” (The Hill, 9/15/14)
  • “[S]enior administration officials confirmed to The New York Times rumors that they are offering Iran a deal that would allow them to ‘disconnect’ some of their 19,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges instead of actually dismantling them …. Behind the scenes there’s a lot of concern that Iran may be just playing for time and not ready to make any real sacrifices, jeopardizing the negotiations and a pillar of what President Obama wants to be his foreign policy legacy, a new relationship with Iran.” (The Daily Beast, 9/20/14)
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met his Iranian counterpart for more than an hour on Sunday and stressed the need to make progress in nuclear negotiations this week on the sidelines of U.N. meetings.” (Reuters, 9/21/14)
  • “Iran is ready to work with the United States and its allies to stop Islamic State militants, but would like more flexibility on Iran's uranium enrichment program in exchange, senior Iranian officials told Reuters. … U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that Iran has a role to play in defeating Islamic State, indicating the U.S. position may also be shifting.” (Reuters, 9/21/14)
  • The United States informed Iran in advance of its intention to strike Islamic State militants in Syria and assured Tehran that it would not target the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a senior Iranian official told Reuters.” (Reuters, 9/23/14)
  • “With the clock ticking down on the [negotiations] deadline, diplomats have told The Associated Press that the U.S. is considering a new approach. They said the tentative proposal would allow Tehran to keep nearly half of the centrifuges already spinning but reduce the stock of uranium gas fed into the machines to the point where it would take more than a year of enriching to create enough material for a nuclear warhead.” (Associated Press, 9/26/14)
  • “While Obama probably will try to ease [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s suspicions about diplomacy with Iran, the U.S. president will stop short of meeting the Israeli demand that Tehran be required to completely dismantle its nuclear capability under any comprehensive accord, a U.S. official said.” (Reuters, 10/1/14)

David Frum sums up the situation:

“[Iran] stand[s] on the verge of scoring a stunning diplomatic triumph over the United States. … On the present trajectory, any final agreement will leave Iran paused on the verge of nuclear-weapons capability—and this time, with the U.S. having signed away any non-military means of preventing Iran’s final drive to complete a bomb.”

President Obama – who in 2009 declared his intention to seek a “world without nuclear weapons” – thinks such a deal with Iran would be a legacy-enhancer. He’s wrong. And while he may be in sore need of a foreign policy accomplishment, he shouldn’t be offering Iran “more flexibility” for political reasons.

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Secretary Panetta: The White House Was Wrong on Iraq

2014/10/02

Though he may claim otherwise, it’s no secret that President Obama underestimated the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). But his first big mistake – one that led directly to the rise of ISIL and its expansion into Iraq – was the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country and the administration’s failure to negotiate a status of forces agreement (SOFA). 

In an excerpt from his upcoming book posted online at TIME with the title, “How the White House Misplayed Iraqi Troop Talks,” former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discusses how the White House put a higher priority on getting out of Iraq than preserving the hard-won gains of American troops. The White House failed to use its leverage to reach an agreement that would have helped prevent the rise of ISIL and the sectarian violence now playing out in the country:

"Through the fall of 2011, the main question facing the American military in Iraq was what our role would be now that combat operations were over. When President Obama announced the end of our combat mission in August 2010, he acknowledged that we would maintain troops for a while. Now that the deadline was upon us, however, it was clear to me–and many others–that withdrawing all our forces would endanger the fragile stability then barely holding Iraq together. …

"My fear, as I voiced to the President and others, was that if the country split apart or slid back into the violence that we’d seen in the years immediately following the U.S. invasion, it could become a new haven for terrorists to plot attacks against the U.S. Iraq’s stability was not only in Iraq’s interest but also in ours. I privately and publicly advocated for a residual force that could provide training and security for Iraq’s military.

"Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy did her best to press that position, which reflected not just my views but also those of the military commanders in the region and the Joint Chiefs. But the President’s team at the White House pushed back, and the differences occasionally became heated. Flournoy argued our case, and those on our side viewed the White House as so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests. …

"The deal never materialized. To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al-Qaeda’s resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country."

In January, long before the administration started to take the ISIL threat seriously, Speaker Boehner urged the president to get engaged:

“That progress is now threatened and, in the case of Fallujah, it’s been reversed.  A status of forces agreement with Iraq should have been agreed to, and this administration failed to deliver. … [T]he Administration has chosen to spend much of its time and energy trying to explain why having terrorists holding key terrain in the Middle East is not the President’s problem.” 

As ISIL took control of city after city in Iraq, getting closer to Baghdad, the president and his team were finally forced to act. Speaker Boehner hopes the president’s military actions succeed, because destroying ISIL is critical to the safety and security of the United States.

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5 Things the President Forgot & 5 Points to Consider

2014/10/02

The president pivoted back to the economy – again – but forgot to bring some key facts with him.  Before he goes back to focusing on something else, we thought we’d offer him this list of reminders:

Tax inversions.  Wasn’t this going to be the Democrats’ big push this fall?  It received nary a mention in today’s speech.  (That much of a dud, huh?

Minimum wage. The president called for raising the minimum wage, but failed to mention that the CBO – which he had just cited – says his plan would destroy roughly 500,000 jobs.  On a tour this spring of Neaton Auto Products in Eaton, OH, Speaker Boehner heard more about this issue.  As his OH-08 blog reported, “Neaton’s company leadership predicts that the president’s plan to increase minimum wage would cost the company about $500,000 per year. For our local area, that means less flexibility to hire more people and support our local communities.”

Workplace flexibility.  The president touted the need to remove barriers to workplace flexibility, but stuck in his Democratic-run Senate is a bill to do just that.  Authored by Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), H.R. 1406 would allow private-sector employers to offer workers the choice of time off or cash for overtime.   Either way, they get to make that decision - not their boss, and not Washington.  The president should call on Senate Democrats to give this a vote.  

Making college more affordable. The president is right to say we need to make college more affordable, but – you guessed it – stuck in his Democratic-run Senate are good bills to do just that.  As an example, H.R. 3393, authored by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), makes it easier for students and families to use the tax credits available to them to help pay for college.  The president should call on Senate Democrats to take up these bills as well.   Ideas for jobs. To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with giving a speech about harnessing America’s energy boom and creating jobs – it’s what Speaker Boehner did exactly that two weeks ago today, with his five points for resetting America’s economic foundation:

1.       Fix our tax code

2.       Solve our spending problem

3.       Reform our legal system

4.       Reform our regulatory system

5.       Improve our education system

This vision builds on the American solutions Republicans have offered to help get people back to work, lower costs at home, and restore opportunity for all.  

The president says a true opposition party should offer ideas – well, we’ve done that and then some, passing dozens of good jobs bills that are stuck in his party’s Senate.  This has been, and will continue to be, our focus.  Americans are still waiting for the president and his party to make it theirs as well.  

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Old and New: September in Photos

2014/10/02

The month of September provided many opportunities to bring new faces and fresh perspectives to these old halls.  So grab a cup of coffee, and check out some photos from last month: An Old Photo on Instagram…

A look back at Fall back home in West Chester, Ohio in 1993.

A New Perspective at an “Instameet”

Speaker Boehner hosted an event that provided Instagrammers from the Washington D.C. area a behind-the-scenes look at our nation’s Capitol.

A Meeting with one of the World’s Oldest Democracies:

Speaker Boehner speaks with the leader of the world’s largest democracy, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, before a meeting with other Congressional leaders.

And One of the Newest Ones:

Speaker Boehner welcomed President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine to the Capitol prior to his addess to a joint meeting of Congress.

A Medal Older than Our Republic:

An officer with the Sergeant at Arms prepares the Congressional Gold Medals honoring the fallen heroes of 9/11 at a ceremony in Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol. 

And Another New Bill Off to the President’s Desk:

Speaker Boehner signs H.R. 4323, the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act, bipartisan legislation that helps protect victims of sexual assault by cutting down on the backlog of DNA test kits.

And Finally, A New Portrait of an Old Friend:

Speaker Boehner speaks at a portrait unveiling ceremony for Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI).  The two came into the House together in January of 1991, when Boehner began his first term as representative of Ohio’s Eighth District.

Be sure to take a look at the Speaker’s Flickr page and Instagram page for more photos from September.

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Obama in 2006: ‘Increasing America’s Debt Weakens Us Domestically & Internationally’

2014/10/02

With very little notice, the U.S. passed a major milestone in June. For the first time in history, foreign entities owned more than $6 trillion of America’s $17.7 trillion national debt. The largest share is, of course, held by China, with friends like Ireland and foes like Putin’s Russia holding smaller amounts.

Why does this matter? Well, “the more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money,” one U.S. Senator said in 2006 as he voted against raising the debt ceiling, “the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours. Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally.”

That senator is now the President of the United States, and today he’s giving a speech about how America’s economic greatness fuels America’s leadership around the world. President Obama is right about that, but he’s also correct that his reckless spending and refusal to fix our debt problem has weakened America’s standing and made us less secure.  Three years ago, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, said, “I believe the single, biggest threat to our national security is our debt[.]” Today, the national debt is $3.1 trillion higher than it was then – and the world certainly isn’t getting any safer. “I don't remember a time when there have been so many national-security issues on the front burner as there are today,” former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell said in August 2013 when he warned about growing al Qaeda extremism in Syria.

The fiscal year ended just a couple days ago, and this year’s budget shortfall is expected to be more than $500 billion, an amount greater than any of President George W. Bush’s deficits. It’s amazing that President Obama actually brags about cutting the deficit, especially considering the fact that he has fiercely opposed nearly every Republican attempt to address the drivers of the government’s exploding debt: autopilot spending on “entitlements.” Again and again, the president has denounced Republican efforts to strengthen important programs like Medicare to help them avoid bankruptcy.

The truth is, this president has chosen to leave these issues for future generations to deal with, refusing to discuss even basic changes to entitlement programs unless Republicans agree to massive, job-destroying tax increases on families and small businesses.  

It’s one thing to give a speech about the debt; it’s another to actually lead at crunch time when key decisions have to be made.  And on those occasions during his presidency, President Obama has consistently fumbled the ball. Coupled with the failed “stimulus” spending binge that marked his first years in office, his confrontational, market-rattling rhetoric and demonization of even the most straightforward proposals for spending reform have plunged the nation far deeper into debt and left America at constant risk of downgrades to its credit rating. In fact, his administration’s fundamental public position for years has been that spending reforms actually threaten the economy and that the mere discussion of them puts America at risk. When Republicans have pressed for spending reforms to go along with his requested increases in the nation’s debt limit, President Obama has likened them to terrorists, accusing them of “holding the economy hostage,” “holding a gun to [his] head” and threatening to drop a “nuclear bomb” on the U.S. economy. (This is the same president who originally dismissed the threat to our nation from actual terrorists – the ones American military personnel are currently risking their lives fighting in the Middle East – as “jayvee.”)

With virtually no experience in the private sector and a barely-concealed disdain for small business entrepreneurial capitalism (“You didn’t build that!”), President Obama believes economic growth and job creation is generated by increases in government taxation and spending, not by the hard work of the American people.  It’s little wonder job creation during his presidency has fallen woefully short of the levels his administration promised when he took office and left Americans asking: where are the jobs?

In contrast to this president’s dismal record, Republicans have worked tirelessly to trim spending, support private-sector job creation, and enact common-sense reforms, passing balanced budgets that have been blocked by President Obama and Senate Democrats. And while more progress is absolutely essential, Republicans did successfully work to cut $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years. Solving our spending and debt problem remains a top priority for Speaker Boehner. In fact, it’s one of his five points for resetting America’s economic foundation. “For what lies ahead, the world needs a strong America, and that means we need a strong economy,” he says.

If President Obama agrees, he should work with Republicans to rein in out-of-control spending, encourage entrepreneurship and small business job creation (instead of trying to tax it and punish it), and reduce the debt. Otherwise, his big speech in Chicago is just more empty bluster.

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5 Key Facts About President Obama’s Dismal Economic Record – & A Positive Alternative

2014/10/01

For the umpteenth time, President Obama is attempting to “refocus attention on the economy” – this time with a speech on “economic greatness.”   The trouble is, the Obama economy is anything but ‘great’ for the vast majority of Americans who are paying the price for the president’s failed policies with higher costs, stagnant wages, and too few opportunities to get ahead.  Here are five key facts to keep in mind as the president seeks to defend his dismal economic record:

  • A 15 Percent Increase in the Long-Term Unemployed: The number of long-term unemployed Americans – those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more – remains at “historically high levels,” up from 2.6 million when the president took office to three million last month, a 15 percent increase.  As the Los Angeles Times notes, “The longer people remain jobless, the more likely they are to suffer the scarring effects of unemployment that can hurt their earnings permanently and create a cycle of instability.” 
  • 45.3 Million Americans Living in Poverty: The number of Americans living at or below the poverty line went up by 5.5 million between 2008 and 2013, according to the most recent Census Bureau data.  There is now a total of 45.3 million Americans living in poverty.
  • Higher Costs on Nearly Everything for American Families:  Americans are paying more for the things they need, a recent Gallup survey found, “further constraining family budgets…still reeling from a stagnant economy.”  Spending on gas, groceries, utility bills and health care top the list of added expenses, driven up by energy costs that have nearly doubled on the president’s watch and health insurance premiums that are skyrocketing.  
  • Wages are Down on the President’s Watch: A recent Census Bureau report shows that “between 2009 when Obama took office and 2013, the latest for which numbers are available, median annual household incomes fell by more than $2,100 in inflation-adjusted terms,” Reuters reports.
  • Millions of Americans Have Dropped Out of the Workforce: Labor force participation “dropped to 62.8 percent” in August, “the lowest level since the late 1970s,” says The New York Times.  That’s “equivalent to the disappearance of nearly three million workers” in the Obama economy.    

House Republicans don’t need to “refocus” on the economy – it’s been our priority all along.  The House has passed dozens of good, common-sense jobs bills that are languishing, untouched, in the Democratic-led Senate.  We’ve offered solutions to lower costs and create more opportunities for all Americans, while the president and Senate Democrats have wasted their time on dead-end gimmicks and misplaced priorities.  And Speaker Boehner has laid out a long-term, five-point plan to reset America’s economic foundation, while the president is more concerned with defending his economic record than doing something about it.  The president, and his party’s leaders in the Senate, owe hardworking families more – they owe them a vote, and a signature, on the dozens of House-passed jobs bills they’re blocking.    

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Speaker Boehner Backs Chairman McCaul’s Plan for Independent Review of Secret Service

2014/10/01

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement backing House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul’s (R-TX) plan to establish a blue ribbon commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the United States Secret Service:  

“Given the Secret Service’s proud history and the duties it is charged with, we are right to expect nothing but candor and clarity from its leaders, particularly at a time when Americans are as aware as ever that we live in a dangerous world.  Unfortunately, the Secret Service director’s appearance before Chairman Issa’s Oversight & Government Reform Committee has created more questions than answers.  Already, we have learned of a prior security breach in Atlanta that she failed to mention.  The more we discover, the clearer it becomes that the Secret Service is beset by a culture of complacency and incompetence.  

“As such, the president must make a swift determination on whether the agency is being well-served by its current leadership.  Moreover, I fully support Chairman McCaul’s plan for a top-to-bottom, independent review of the agency.  The courageous men and women of the Secret Service who put their lives in harm’s way every day deserve the best possible leadership and a culture worthy of their sacrifices.” 

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Democracy, Old and New

2014/10/01

Yesterday, the leader of the world’s largest democracy visited the the Capitol of the world’s oldest democracy.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India met with Speaker Boehner and other Congressional leaders to discuss expanding economic opportunity across the globe. 

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Newt Gingrich: “Five Important Points from Speaker Boehner”

2014/10/01

NOTE: Yesterday, Speaker Boehner released a new video highlighting his five points for resetting America’s economic foundation.  This long-term vision builds on our American solutions to help get people back to work, lower costs at home, and restore opportunity for all. 

 

“Five Important Points from Speaker Boehner” Newt Gingrich September 19, 2014http://j.mp/10l0Sno

Speaker of the House John Boehner gave an important speech at the American Enterprise Institute yesterday.

He offered the American people in simple language the five things we need to do to reset our country’s economic foundation. It was exactly the kind of realistic, positive vision for governing in the 21st century that Americans have been waiting to hear from either party.

Speaker Boehner began with what the House Republicans have accomplished in the last four years, despite Democrats controlling both the Senate and the presidency. Some of their record may surprise you. Republicans cut total federal spending for two straight years–the first time that’s happened in half a century. They guaranteed that 98 percent of Americans would not see permanent income tax hikes. And they pushed through free trade agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama.

These are historic accomplishments. They have real meaning for the lives of millions of Americans. And they create room for future economic growth.

Speaker Boehner argued that the real growth in the last few years, however, has come not from government but from an opportunity in American energy–the revolution in energy production that is transforming towns across the country and creating good jobs in places where there have been too few. Thanks to almost unbelieveable advances in engineering and technology, the United States is now the world’s leading producer of both oil and natural gas.

That energy boom, he said, means the U.S. should be one of the best places in the world to make just about anything, with more growth, more jobs, and lower prices. It is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset our economy from the bottom up.”

Taking advantage of this opportunity will require leadership with the wisdom to do five crucial things, the Speaker said.

First, we have to fix the tortuous tax code that punishes companies for doing business here and carves out dozens of special loopholes for the wealthiest Americans while the middle class struggles to get by. Everyone would be better off with a simpler, fairer, and flatter tax code.

Second, we have to fix the spending problem and move toward a balanced budget. This means cutting waste and strengthening Medicare and Social Security for current retirees and the next generation as well.

Third, we have to fix the legal system that makes it impossible for doctors, hospitals, and other businesspeople to do their daily work without fear of getting sued. The cost of litigation here is far higher than in other countries, and we’re all paying the price.

Fourth, we have to tame the sprawling, bureaucratic regulatory state that makes it painful and expensive to do business in the U.S. The bureaucracy has gotten completely out of control.

And finally, Speaker Boehner argued that we have to fix our education system, which has been failing to teach our children for two generations and denying opportunity to millions of students who are trapped in schools where they don’t have a chance. We can go a long way toward resetting the system if we give parents and students a choice about which schools are best for them.

If we do these five things, Speaker Boehner argued yesterday, “we can reset the foundation of our economy for the next two or three generations.”

This was a sincere, heartfelt speech from a leader of the Republican Party who has an optimistic vision for the future. Take the time to watch or read it here today.

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Speaker Boehner Welcomes Prime Minister Modi of India to the U.S. Capitol

2014/09/30

WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today made the following comments at a media availability following a meeting at the United States Capitol with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India:

“Today it is our privilege to welcome the Prime Minister to one of the world’s greatest symbols of democracy: the United States Capitol.  His election and pledge to expand economic opportunity have inspired not only the Indian people, but frankly, people all over the world.  India’s growth will offer many opportunities to strengthen the ties between our two countries.  We look forward to that, and we certainly wish him well in his endeavors.”

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Boehner Statement on Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan

2014/09/30

WASHINGTON, DC - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement after a bilateral security agreement was signed with Afghanistan to keep U.S. troops in the country beyond the end of 2014:

“Today’s announcement is an important step forward in reaffirming our commitment to the Afghan people, solidifying the gains we’ve made, and completing our mission.  As I’ve long said, completing our mission successfully will require retaining a credible residual troop presence to help continue to stop terrorist networks and provide training and advice to the Afghan security forces.  This is what should have happened in Iraq, and it’s essential that the Obama administration does not repeat the same mistakes that it made there.  

“While the signing of this agreement is a positive step, the administration should reconsider its plans to draw down U.S. forces completely over the next two years.  During my visit to Afghanistan in April, it was clear that of all the challenges facing our strategy there, the most potentially damaging and completely avoidable is quitting just short of the goal line.  Friends and foes alike are watching to see whether America has the resolve to see this through.  We must ensure that Afghanistan can never again be used a safe haven for terrorists to attack the United States. 

“Lastly, we owe a debt of gratitude for our troops and civilian personnel who have fought to bring peace and security to Afghanistan.  On behalf of a grateful nation, we thank them and their families for their service to our country.”

NOTE: Speaker Boehner's op-ed on Afghanistan, published in May, can be read here.

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Speaker Boehner Has A Point – Five Of Them, Actually

2014/09/30

Speaker Boehner believes America’s energy boom offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset our economic foundation.  But first, there are five things we need to do as a nation to make it happen.   He’s been sharing this long-term vision throughout the year with constituents in Southwest Ohio, colleagues in the House, and most recently, in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute.

What are those five things?  How do we do them?  What is at stake?

Find out everything you need to know in just two minutes.

 

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President Obama’s Favorite Fallback?

2014/09/30

The way President Obama sees it, he’s never wrong. What may appear to be his mistakes or failures are really just a series of misunderstandings and underestimates.

In no particular order, here are eight times President Obama used one of his favorite excuses and lamented that his team underestimated something:

How ineffective his economic policies would be:

  • “[T]his recession turned out to be a lot deeper than any of us realized. … [E]verybody underestimated it. … So, the die had been cast, but a lot of us didn't understand at that point how bad it was going to get.” (2/14/12)

How horrible his “stimulus” package would be at creating jobs:

  • “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” (6/13/11)

How difficult resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be:

  • “This is just really hard … If we had anticipated some of these political problems on both sides earlier, we might not have raised expectations as high.” (1/21/10)

How strong the terrorists were growing on his watch:

  • “Did we underestimate ISIL? I think that there is no doubt that their advance … has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates[.]” (8/9/14)

How easily Libya would become a chaotic terrorist haven post-Qaddafi:

  • “I think we [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you’re going to do this.” (8/8/14)

How hard it would be for Americans to enroll in ObamaCare:

  • “Another mistake that we made I think was underestimating the difficulties of people purchasing insurance … and somehow expecting that that would be very smooth.” (11/14/13)

How much Americans would dislike ObamaCare:

  • “[I]t proved as costly politically as we expected - probably actually a little more costly than we expected, politically.” (11/7/10)

How difficult building the ObamaCare website would be:

  • “[W]e probably underestimated the complexities of building out a website that needed to work the way it should.” (11/19/13)
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Under or Over, There’s Just No Way Around the Facts

2014/09/29

Never underestimate President Obama’s ability to avoid taking responsibility. Under fire for being out to lunch while the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) was taking over large swaths of the Middle East, the president is hoping that if he blames faulty intelligence estimates often enough, no one will notice just how incompetent his foreign policy prowess has proved.

On August 9, President Obama said, “Did we underestimate ISIL? I think that there is no doubt that their advance … has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates[.]” He was at it again over the weekend, appearing on 60 Minutes. This time, he was careful to replace “we” with “they”:

Steve Kroft: How did they [ISIL] end up where they are in control of so much territory? Was that a complete surprise to you?

President Obama: Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.

As The New York Times noted dryly, “Mr. Obama made no mention of any misjudgment he may have made himself.” Well, what a surprise.

The fact is that everyone knew ISIL was becoming a big problem; Speaker Boehner called for the president to get engaged in January. And if President Obama’s intelligence officials weren’t aware of the threat, the Commander-in-Chief could have read about it in the news.

Tim Arango, The New York Times’ Baghdad Bureau Chief, wrote on Reddit earlier this month:

after 2011 the administration basically ignored the country [Iraq]. and when officials spoke about what was happening there they were often ignorant of the reality. they did not want to see what was really happening because it conflicted with their narrative that they left iraq in reasonably good shape. In 2012 as violence was escalating i wrote a story, citing UN statistics, that showed how civilian deaths from attacks were rising. Tony Blinken, who was then Biden's national security guy and a top iraq official, pushed back, even wrote a letter to the editor, saying that violence was near historic lows. that was not true. even after falluja fell to ISIS at the end of last year, the administration would push back on stories about maliki's sectarian tendencies, saying they didn't see it that way. so there was a concerted effort by the administration to not acknowledge the obvious until it became so apparent -- with the fall of mosul -- that iraq was collapsing.”

Eli Lake, senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast, reports on the reaction to President Obama’s blame game:

Nearly eight months ago, some of President Obama’s senior intelligence officials were already warning that ISIS was on the move. In the beginning of 2014, ISIS fighters had defeated Iraqi forces in Fallujah, leading much of the U.S. intelligence community to assess they would try to take more of Iraq. …

“Reached by The Daily Beast after Obama’s interview aired, one former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted. ‘Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,’ the former official said. …

“In prepared testimony before the annual House and Senate intelligence committees’ threat hearings in January and February, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the recently departed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the group would likely make a grab for land before the end of the year. ISIS ‘probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.’

As NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell said in mid-August, for President Obama “to say that he didn’t have intelligence …. The fact is there was intelligence. … The White House wasn't listening.”

That’s the same picture painted by a former military official who spoke to Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge at the start of September:

“President Obama was given detailed and specific intelligence about the rise of the Islamic State as part of his daily briefing for at least a year before the group seized large swaths of territory over the summer, a former Pentagon official told Fox News.

“The official … said the data was strong and ‘granular’ in detail. The source said a policymaker ‘could not come away with any other impression: This is getting bad.’ …

“But after suggestions that the administration may have been blindsided by the rise of ISIS, and that poor intelligence was to blame, the former Pentagon official said some of the intelligence was so good in the region, that when the president drew a red line on chemical weapons use in Syria in 2012, the information was ‘exquisite.’

“The source said ‘[we] were ready to fire, on a moment's notice, on a couple hundred targets,’ but no order was given. In some cases, targets were tracked for a ‘long period of time’ but then slipped away.”

Herridge also notes:

“Obama, unlike his predecessors who traditionally had the document briefed to them, is known to personally read the daily brief. The former Pentagon official, who has knowledge of the process, said Obama generally was not known to come back to the intelligence community with further requests for information based on the daily report.”

Two years ago, when President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were caught off guard by a planned terrorist attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, and then attempted to blame it on a YouTube video that supposedly prompted demonstrators to turn violent, Marc Thiessen wrote in The Washington Post:

“It is apparently a point of pride in the White House that Obama’s [Presidential Daily Brief] is ‘not briefed to him.’ In the eyes of this administration, it is a virtue that the president does not meet every day with senior intelligence officials. … He can forgo his daily intelligence meeting because he is, in [then-National Security Council spokesman Tommy] Vietor’s words, ‘among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet.’”

All things considered, that’s an overestimation if there ever was one.

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Oh, The Irony: President Criticizes “Endless Regulations”

2014/09/29

In a speech last week, President Obama bemoaned the use of “endless regulations” in other countries.  

The irony of that statement surely isn’t lost on many Americans, especially those whose stories we’ve highlighted in recent weeks, from middle-class families who are being squeezed by the president’s policies and workers who are losing their jobs because of his war on coal to small business owners hurting from Obama Care.

All told, Americans oppose the president’s “vast expansion of the regulatory state” by a more than a two-to-one margin.  Most think the government is “trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses.”

And yet, the administration is “hitting the gas” on a number of new rules and regulations. 

That’s why, as The Hill notes, the House acted earlier this month to take “direct aim at agency rule-making”:

“Included in the legislative bundle was the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, which would require congressional sign-off on the costliest regulations, and the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act, which would force additional analysis before rules are issued and public disclosure of their ‘true cost.’  The bill would also repeal the Affordable Care Act’s regulation defining a 30-hour workweek as full-time employment, and contains language ensuring the rules enacted under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law don’t divert capital from small businesses.”

Indeed, many of the common-sense jobs bills the House has passed would remove government barriers to growth and opportunity.  In addition, Speaker Boehner, a former small business owner himself, has made fixing our regulatory system one of his five points for resetting America’s economic foundation.

We’ve put these solutions forward to help people like Gavin, whose West Chester, OH small business has to bear more costs and cut the hours of hardworking employees to try and comply with ObamaCare’s rules and regulations.  “What’s sad is that we care about every employee that we’ve got,” he says. “I’m doing everything I can to make their quality of life better.” 

So, if the president wants to do something about “endless regulations” here at home, he’ll urge Senate Democrats – one of the most daunting government barriers of all these days – to stop standing in our way.

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www.speaker.gov

The Speaker acts as leader of the House and combines several roles: the institutional role of presiding officer and administrative head of the House, the partisan role of leader of the majority party in the House, and the representative role of an elected Member of the House. By statute, the Speaker is also second in line, behind the Vice President, to succeed to the presidency.

The Speaker presides over the House, administering the oath of office to Members, calling the House to order, and preserving order and decorum within the Chamber and in the galleries. Additionally, he appoints the chairmen to preside over the Committee of the Whole, appoints special or select committees, appoints conference committees, has the power of recognition of Members to speak, and makes many important rulings and decisions in the House. The Speaker may vote, but usually does not, except in the case of a tie. The Speaker and the Majority Leader determine the legislative agenda for the House, and often confer with the President and the Senate.