With 95 percent of consumers living outside the U.S. border and standards of living increasing in much of the developing world, global demand for Nebraska’s agriculture products is growing. Unfortunately, current trade barriers prevent our producers from fully capitalizing on this opportunity.
Last week, I joined an eight-member congressional delegation led by Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan to promote trade in three Asian nations participating in Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. In Singapore, Malaysia and Japan, we met with senior government officials and American and local business leaders in an effort to advance the U.S. trade agenda and strengthen ties with these countries.
At each stop, our delegation stressed how increased agriculture trade can be a win-win for both countries. Japan is one of the United States’ top trading partners, and our discussions on agriculture with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were particularly productive.
However, for all 12 TPP parties to reach agreement on a final deal, Japan will have to make progress on agriculture market-access issues. This was a recurring theme in our meetings, and the Japanese acknowledged they still have work to do. This includes lowering tariffs, such as the 38.5 percent tariff on both fresh and frozen beef, and reducing other trade barriers.
The Japanese also made it clear they do not want to make final offers until Congress passes Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), adding to the need for us to act quickly on this effort. For America to get the best possible deal in trade negotiations, passing TPA is the essential first step.
The President already has the authority to negotiate trade deals with any country at any time. By passing TPA, we would empower Congress to set the objectives for negotiations and provide clear instructions to the administration. TPA requires the administration to consult with members of Congress throughout the process and provide them access to negotiation texts at any time. It also gives Congress the final say on approving any trade agreements. In exchange, the administration can assure our trading partners when they bring their best offer to the negotiating table, the agreement reached will receive a straight up or down vote in Congress.
As we ask other nations to bring these best offers to us, we must uphold our end of the bargain. Issues such as the recent workforce disputes at our West Coast ports, which disrupted trade with Asia for months, not only make it more difficult for our trading partners to take us seriously but also cause great hardship for our producers and exporters.
At a Ways and Means Committee hearing earlier this year, I raised concerns about these disputes to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. Many perishable goods such as pork and beef were spoiling before they could be shipped, leading to large losses for U.S. exporters. Agriculture producers feared overseas customers would look to foreign competitors to supply products if we could not regain reliable service.
As the disputes continued, I also joined 83 of my colleagues in writing to the International Longshore and Workers Union and Pacific Maritime Association urging a swift resolution. Thankfully, an agreement has been reached, and as of this week our ports are once again operating at full speed and beginning to work through the backlog of ships waiting offshore. Moving forward, we must avoid conflicts like this to ensure U.S. producers, manufacturers and consumers can take full advantage of expanded market opportunities.
To keep America competitive in the global economy, Congress will continue prioritizing initiatives to expand U.S. trade. I am optimistic we will soon pass TPA and move forward on negotiations to open new trade opportunities for Nebraskans.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) encourages high school students in Nebraska’s Third District to submit their artwork for the 2015 Congressional Art Competition by the Monday, March 2 deadline.
Artwork must be two-dimensional and up to 28" x 28" x 4" including the frame and not more than 15 lbs. Artwork may be in the following categories: painting, prints, drawings, photographs, collage and computer art.
The Nebraska Art Teachers Association is working with Smith to coordinate the competition. Official guidelines, forms and submission instructions are available online: http://www.nebraskaarteducators.org/congressional-art-caucus---grades-9-12.html.
The first place artwork will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Smith will display the runners-up in his Washington, D.C., and Third District offices.
The Congressional Arts Caucus annually sponsors the Congressional Art Competition for high school students from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.Read More
Nebraskans work hard each day to provide for their families. For generations, Americans have paid taxes into Social Security with the expectation the program will be there if they need it when they get older.
Without reform, the Social Security Trust Fund will continue toward insolvency. As our population has aged, the ratio of workers paying into Social Security has gone from 16-to-1 in 1950 to less than 3-to-1 today. Because of this change, Social Security is paying out more in benefits than it is taking in from workers. In fact, in the last six years the amount of benefit obligations Social Security would be unable to pay over the next 75 years has doubled to $10.6 trillion.
Two major accounts comprise Social Security: Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI), which pays out funds to those who have reached retirement age, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which pays out funds to those who have been disabled and can no longer work. The SSDI fund in particular is in dire straits and without major reforms will go bankrupt in 2016. The OASI has problems of its own and is set to go insolvent sometime in the early 2030s.
If the SSDI fund runs out of money, nearly 11 million Americans will see a 20 percent reduction in benefits. This looming crisis needs long-term solutions, not another temporary bandage.
In order to address SSDI’s imminent insolvency, some in Washington want to kick the can down the road and move funds from the OASI fund to supplement the disability fund, without instituting any real reforms. Many Nebraskans facing difficulties obtaining their Social Security benefits are frustrated by the idea of taking from one fund to provide a temporary fix for another, and for good reason. Congress has shifted these funds 11 times since the 1950s, and yet we find ourselves facing the same problem in 2015.
It is time for us to address Social Security insolvency head-on. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives made a necessary change to House Rules to prohibit a transfer of funds from the retirement fund to the disability fund unless legislation is passed to improve the solvency of both funds. I fully support this effort to preserve Social Security for future generations rather than continuing to raid the retirement fund paid into by millions of Americans.
The House Ways and Means Committee is the committee of jurisdiction for Social Security reforms. My colleagues and I are holding hearings on this issue and are committed to finding lasting solutions. Recently, I was proud to again cosponsor Committee legislation to prohibit individuals from receiving both SSDI and unemployment benefits. SSDI benefits are intended for those who are physically unable to work, while unemployment benefits are intended for those who are able and are searching for employment – therefore, there should be no overlap in these two programs. Not only do we need to stop transferring money from one fund to another, but we also must find ways to combat waste, fraud and abuse.
Retirees and those nearing retirement in Nebraska should not have to worry about whether Social Security will be there when they need it most. In Congress, I will continue pursuing solutions to ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security.Read More
The Homestead National Monument coin launched this week, marked by a celebration in Beatrice. With Chimney Rock proudly featured on our first state quarter, it is only fitting for this second quarter to celebrate the pioneers who settled the land.
As Nebraskans, we are thankful for the generations of homesteaders who built the foundation for our current way of life. My family was among the settlers who journeyed into the unknown to expand a nation based on freedom and opportunity.
While this quarter circulates from coast to coast, its depiction of the Homestead National Monument will serve as a reminder of how opportunity has grown America. One of my main goals is to preserve this legacy of opportunity for Nebraskans.
A strong economy which encourages innovation and entrepreneurship is the foundation of opportunity. Unfortunately, President Obama’s tax, spending and regulatory policies are stunting our country’s economic growth.
The budget recently proposed by the President for Fiscal Year 2016 is more of the same. It never balances but calls for $2.1 trillion in new taxes and $8.5 trillion in new debt. This comes from an administration which has already raised taxes on hardworking Americans by $1.7 trillion and increased the national debt by $7.5 trillion.
Raising taxes and expanding regulations undermines small businesses, and the impacts are felt by a majority of Nebraskans. Small businesses represent 96.6 percent of all Nebraska employers and provide jobs for half of the state’s private workforce. A mark of the homesteaders’ legacy, entrepreneurship remains a key driver of our rural economy today.
To support small businesses, the House of Representatives passed America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act on Friday. This legislation makes long-standing tax provisions permanent to give certainty to small business owners and allow them to plan for the future. In particular, the provision setting higher expensing levels under Section 179 of the tax code will provide small businesses the certainty they need to invest in equipment while knowing those expenses will not be taxed up front by the federal government. It is a small but important step toward simplifying our tax code and ensuring more economic opportunity for our job creators.
Congress also finished its work on the Keystone XL pipeline this week. The bill passed by both the House and Senate authorizes the pipeline’s construction, forcing President Obama to make a decision on this project after more than six years of stalling. Though he has promised to use his opportunity-killing veto pen, I hope the President will choose to change his course on Keystone and support this investment in American energy and infrastructure.
Nebraska’s pioneer history demonstrates what can happen when people are empowered by opportunity. Simplifying the tax code and pursuing domestic energy solutions are just two of many initiatives I am working on to encourage economic growth. The House of Representatives will continue pushing forward with legislation which ensures more opportunity for all hardworking Americans.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) introduced legislation today to exempt consumers who purchased coverage under a terminated qualified health plan funded through the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO–OP) program, such as CoOportunity Health, from paying Obamacare’s individual mandate penalties.
“Americans were falsely promised they could keep the insurance they had and liked, and now we are seeing they cannot even keep the insurance Obamacare created,” Smith said. “Many Nebraskans who purchased policies through CoOportunity Health were simply trying to responsibly follow the law, only to be left empty-handed and once again searching for insurance with even fewer options.
“Americans should not be penalized under a law when the law’s own failed program prevented compliance. CoOportunity customers deserve an exemption from Obamacare’s individual mandate and more time to review their health care options.”
CoOportunity Health, which services beneficiaries in Iowa and Nebraska, is one of 23 Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Programs (CO-OPs) created through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and received approximately $146 million in federal loans. On December 23, 2014, the Iowa Insurance Commissioner submitted a petition for an Order of Rehabilitation for CoOportunity Health. The company was taken over by the State of Iowa and now faces liquidation.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) made the following statement today after voting in favor of S. 1 to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. S. 1 passed the Senate prior to today’s vote in the House of Representatives and will now go to the President’s desk.
“With today’s vote to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama will now be forced to make a decision on this important infrastructure project after more than six years of stalling,” Congressman Smith said. “Nebraskans overwhelmingly support building the pipeline, and even the President’s own State Department concluded it would not have a significant environmental impact.
“Congress has finished its work on Keystone to encourage investment in American energy and infrastructure. President Obama continues to bypass Congress through unconstitutional executive action, but for six years he has refused to exercise the lawful authority given to him by Congress to approve this pipeline. I hope the President will finally choose to stand with the majority of Americans who want to see this project completed.”
S. 1 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 270-152.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) reintroduced the Small Airport Regulation Relief Act today. This bill would assist small, rural airports threatened by a pilot shortage caused in part by federal regulations requiring co-pilots to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time.
Smith’s legislation would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use enplanement numbers from calendar year 2012 when calculating appropriate annual funds for airports through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016. It would ensure those airports which reached 10,000 enplanements in 2012 – before the new regulations – could use the enplanement numbers from that year.
“Many small airports around the country, and especially in Nebraska’s Third District, are facing a barrage of flight cancellations,” Congressman Smith said. “This is being caused in part by new federal regulations and continues to reduce enplanements. The rising number of cancelled flights prevents many of these airports from meeting the requirements to receive AIP funding even though they have qualified in the past. This bill would ensure small airports are not penalized twice under these regulations and help them obtain the resources they need to continue serving our rural communities.”
The Airport Improvement Program provides funds for projects to improve infrastructure, including runways, taxiways, aprons, noise control, land purchases, navigational aids, safety and security.Read More
President Obama’s health care law is failing. The abrupt collapse of CoOportunity Health exemplifies Obamacare’s unsustainable cycle of spending and mandates, and has left tens of thousands of Nebraskans once again searching for insurance with even fewer options.
CoOportunity Health is one of 23 Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OPs) created through Obamacare. Though CoOportunity received $146 million in federal loans, those funds were not enough to sustain this Obamacare-created program for more than one year. In December, it was seized by the Iowa state insurance commissioner and now faces liquidation.
I am extremely concerned for Nebraskans needing health coverage and for the taxpayers who have seen millions of dollars lost and millions more put at risk. Last month, I sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell asking about options available to those impacted by CoOportunity’s failure and how further risks to taxpayers can be avoided. I await a response to my inquiry and hope to get answers for those who need them.
While people across the country suffer rising health care costs, tax hikes and coverage losses, President Obama and his allies have consistently resisted making any changes to the law to reduce these burdens. Soon after the 114th Congress convened in January, I joined 73 of my colleagues asking House Leadership for an early vote to fully repeal Obamacare. This week, I was pleased to vote with a House majority in support of H.R. 596 to repeal this harmful law.
This vote, though important, does not fix the damage. We must replace the President’s failed legislation with consumer-based solutions which reduce costs and empower patients to make their own health care choices. The Chairmen of three major House committees have founded a working group to pursue patient-centered health care solutions to replace Obamacare. I look forward to supporting these efforts through my role on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.
Ensuring rural Nebraskans have access to quality, affordable care remains among my top priorities. On Wednesday, I was honored to meet with Nebraska health care professionals and receive the National Rural Health Association’s (NRHA) Congressional Champion award in recognition of my leadership on rural health care issues, including the bills I have introduced to address arbitrary regulations threatening many providers.
As we seek answers in the wake of CoOportunity Health’s failure, it is clear Nebraskans deserve better options for care and taxpayers deserve better accountability for their tax dollars. I will keep working in Nebraska and Washington, D.C., to create more market-based, patient-friendly solutions for our health care system.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) accepted the National Rural Health Association’s Congressional Champion award today at the annual Rural Health Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. This award recognizes Congressman Smith’s leadership in introducing and advocating for legislation to address rural health challenges. “As the representative for one of the largest and most rural districts in the country, I am focused on addressing issues impacting access to health care for Nebraskans,” said Congressman Smith. “Members of the National Rural Health Association know these challenges firsthand and are strong partners in ensuring our rural communities maintain access to quality, affordable care.”
Last month, Congressman Smith reintroduced two bills to help ensure access to quality health care for rural Americans. H.R. 169, the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act, would remove the 96-hour precertification requirement for patients at Critical Access Hospitals. H.R. 170, the Rural Health Care Provider Relief Act, would delay physician supervision requirements at critical access hospitals for at least a year and until the impact of the rules is studied.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) made the following statement today after voting in favor of H.R. 596 to repeal Obamacare.
“President Obama’s health care law is failing Nebraskans. The recent collapse of CoOportunity Health exemplifies Obamacare’s unsustainable cycle of spending and mandates. While people across the country suffer rising health care costs, tax hikes and coverage losses, President Obama and his allies have consistently resisted making any changes to the law to reduce these burdens.
“Last month, I joined 73 of my colleagues in sending a letter to House Leadership requesting a vote to repeal Obamacare before Presidents’ Day. Today I was pleased to vote for removing the federal government’s heavy hand from health care, but this vote is not enough. We must replace the President’s failed legislation with consumer-based solutions which reduce costs and empower patients to make their own health care choices.”
Last night, Congressman Smith spoke on the House Floor to draw attention to the far-reaching impacts of Obamacare-created CoOportunity Health’s potential liquidation. Click here for video of his speech.
H.R. 596 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 239-186.Read More
2241 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Adrian Smith has earned praise for his leadership, hard work and dedication to Nebraska commonsense. Smith has tackled issues ranging from biofuels and other forms of domestic energy to transportation research and development to fashioning legislation promoting rural America.
Smith has consistently voted against tax increases, massive government bailouts, and was unwavering in his opposition of the misguided health care bill now creating massive uncertainty for our nation’s job creators.
Smith, a co-sponsor of the Balanced Budget Amendment and a supporter of a Congressional earmark moratorium, has earned a reputation as a solid conservative through his votes to protect the rights of gun owners, efforts to limit the scope of government, and his strong pro-life voting record.
Smith, who serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means, actively promotes access for Nebraska agriculture products in Asia, South America, and throughout the world. Nebraska’s $4 billion in worldwide agricultural exports creates $6.7 billion in additional economic activity. Smith supports trade agreements which will continue to create new opportunities for our agriculture producers and their products to keep Nebraska’s economy strong.
Smith’s assignment on the Ways and Means Committee also puts the Nebraskan on the front lines in the debate on how to create jobs, promote economic growth, and directly impact tax policy – such as the Death Tax which threatens family farms and ranches.
Smith’s also has introduced the bipartisan Small-Scale Hydropower Enhancement Act which would help stimulate the economy of rural America, empower local irrigation districts to generate revenue, and decrease reliance on fossil fuels by encouraging the use of small-scale hydropower projects.
The Gering native, whose family has called Nebraska home for six generations, was first introduced to politics by his grandfather. Prior to his election to Congress, Smith served his hometown as a member of the City Council. He then represented District 48 for eight years in the Unicameral.
He continues to reside in Gering.
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