Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today announced students will have until May 31, 2014 to submit their software applications or “apps” for the first annual House Student App Challenge for Nebraska’s Third Congressional District.
The Third District challenge is part of a nationwide competition designed to promote innovation and engagement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among high school students. Participating students will compete by creating and exhibiting an app for mobile, tablet, or computer devices on a platform of their choice.
“The House Student App Challenge is a unique opportunity for Third District students to share their ideas, innovations, and creativity,” said Congressman Smith. “The United States faces a shortage of graduates in STEM fields, and I am excited to help promote interest in science, technology, engineering, and math education though this competition.”
The House Student App Challenge is open to all high school students who live in or are eligible to attend public schools located in the Third Congressional District. Students may participate individually or in teams of up to four. Students entering the competition must provide a YouTube or VIMEO video explaining their app and what they learned through the competition process.
The winning app in each participating congressional district will be featured on the U.S. House of Representatives’ website and will be on display in a U.S. Capitol exhibit.
More details on submitting a contest entry, the rules of the competition, and helpful programming resources can be found at http://StudentAppChallenge.house.gov or by contacting Congressman Smith’s office. The deadline for submissions is May 31, 2014.Read More
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a budget plan which honestly accounts for the federal government’s spending, proposes solutions to balance the budget in 10 years, and grow our economy. This plan stands in stark contrast to current policy which will continue to spend more money than we have, burden our economy, and plague future generations with trillions of dollars of debt.
Our national debt has now exceeded $17 trillion, and without reform it is expected to increase by another $7.3 trillion during the next 10 years. Despite the massive amount of deficit spending by the government, there is little to show for this “stimulus” to our economy. Five years after the financial crisis far too many Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or live in poverty. The lack of improvement in our economy is just the latest evidence we cannot tax, spend, and regulate our way to prosperity.
In order to grow the economy and create jobs we have to get government out of the way. The House-passed budget would remove the government imposed barriers to growth by making responsible reforms to long-term spending, calling for a simpler tax code, promoting American energy production, and repealing burdensome policies such as Obamacare. Economic growth and new jobs would not only benefit America today, they will increase revenue and help reduce the debt.
However, private sector growth alone will not be enough to balance the budget. The United States currently borrows about 40 cents of every dollar it spends. This is irresponsible and unsustainable. The House budget goes after fraud, waste, and abuse today, but is also honest about the real drivers of our long-term deficit – entitlement programs. Without reform, these popular programs will go bankrupt, and to do nothing is to endorse their demise.
Thankfully, there is still time to reform health programs including Medicare without making changes for current retirees by introducing market-based reforms. For example, Medicare Part D costs 55 percent less in 2012 than originally estimated because negotiations and competition have driven down prices at every level. Similar reforms to Medicare as a whole would give seniors more control over their health care and make the program sustainable for future generations. The budget also calls on Congress and the President to submit their plans to stabilize the Social Security trust fund.
This budget plan is not perfect, but I am proud we in the House of Representatives are working to address these problems not sweep them under the rug. The President’s budget does not include a plan to reduce our long-term deficit, but rather doubles down on his current strategy of more taxes, more spending, and more debt. Even worse, Senate Democrats have not and do not plan to introduce a budget at all.
I was disappointed last year when the House and Senate agreed to a budget which failed to address long-term spending and actually broke the budget caps agreed to on a bipartisan basis in 2011. I voted against this budget because I believe we can and must do better. Ultimately, the House and Senate will have to work together to pass a spending plan to fund the government, but the failure of Senate Democrats to even propose a budget which moves beyond last year’s agreement to address the long term deficits and debt will all but ensure we pass another stop-gap measure and continue down the current path for another year.
The House-passed budget is not only a solution to balance the budget and begin to pay down our debt, it represents our governing philosophy and principles. We believe it is possible to restore opportunity, fairness, and prosperity for all Americans through limited government and economic growth. I hope you will take the time to learn more about our plan at http://budget.house.gov/fy2015.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today announced the winning artists of the 2014 Congressional Art Competition: An Artistic Discovery. Smith worked with the Nebraska Art Teachers Association to coordinate the competition.
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.
“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Congressional Art Competition and to all of the students who submitted their work,” said Smith. “The quality of the art submitted this year is further evidence of the talent of Third District students and their teachers.”
First Place: Thomas Hoxmeier from Orleans, Southern Valley High School
“Then There Were Three”
Thomas’ work will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year.
Second Place: Ethan Nelson from Dalton, Nelson Home School
Ethan’s work will be displayed in Smith’s Washington, D.C. office.
Third Place: Lenae Kohmetscher from Blue Hill, Blue Hill Community School
“The Reason Behind it All”
Lenae’s work will be displayed in Smith’s Scottsbluff office.
Fourth Place: Shelby Engles from Kearney, Kearney High School
“My Best Friend”
Shelby’s work will be displayed in Smith’s Grand Island office.Read More
It has been more than six months since the Obamacare online exchanges opened and I continue to hear from Nebraskans about the problems and price increases they are experiencing because of the law. While the President has refused to work with Republicans on solutions to ease the burden on hardworking families, the Administration has been busy issuing delays which only postpone further complications and hardships.
There are currently 22 delays to the Affordable Care Act which have been issued by the Administration without the consent of Congress, even though in several cases they directly contradict the text of the law. The most recent delay is to give individuals more time past the March 31 deadline to enroll in the exchanges if they experienced technical problems because of the glitch-filled website. Because it is difficult to show whether individuals actually had problems, eligibility for this delay is being enforced by an “honor system.”
I have supported multiple efforts in the House of Representatives to delay the individual mandate to purchase insurance for a year. This is the same flexibility the Administration has already extended to large businesses by delaying the employer mandate. But the White House has actually threatened to veto these bills, while implementing similar policies without the consent of Congress.
I was disappointed this week during a Ways and Means Health Subcommittee hearing when I asked a senior official at the Department of the Treasury if the Administration would consider legislation to delay the employer mandate tax penalty. He responded by saying the Treasury Department believes it already has the authority to implement these changes. I strongly disagree.
The American people are better served by the federal government when we follow the system of checks and balances envisioned by our founders and defined by the Constitution. It is the President’s responsibility to execute the law. Changes to law must be passed by Congress. Selective enforcement of the law sets a very dangerous precedent and undermines our system of checks and balances.
Even while keeping Obamacare enrollment open past the stated deadline, the Administration claims to have only signed up around 7 million Americans for health insurance through the exchanges. However, analysts are predicting only a fraction of these enrollees previously did not have insurance, most likely have higher health care costs, and many may not have made their first premium payment. If accurate, premiums and health care costs would go up even further next year.
I would still prefer to repeal this law and pass market- and patient-centered reforms to lower cost and expand access to care. These ideas are unlikely to pass the current U.S. Senate or be signed by the current President, but in the meantime, I would hope there is an opportunity to work together to ease burdens in a manner consistent with the Constitution. To prevent further disruptions in the health insurance market and the continuing price increases, the President and the Administration should work with, not around, Congress to find common ground and solutions.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE), along with colleagues on the Committee on Ways and Means, turned over evidence of criminal acts by former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner to the U.S. Department of Justice for possible prosecution. Lerner previously served as Director of the Exempt Organizations Division which is being investigated for the targeting of political groups because of their beliefs.
“Abuse of the tax code for political purposes undermines our founding principles of free speech and equality under the law,” said Congressman Smith. “The documents we are turning over today clearly indicate the inappropriate targeting of conservative organizations by the IRS.”
Congressman Smith is a member of the Committee on Ways and Means which has jurisdiction over tax policy, including the IRS, among other issues. The Committee, along with the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has led the House investigation into political targeting by the IRS.
Click here to view a PDF copy of the Ways and Means letter to the Department of Justice.
All of the public documents in this case are now available online at: http://gop.gov/irs.
Tax Day – April 15 – is quickly approaching and many Americans are still working to complete and file their 2013 tax returns. This year, I have heard from many Nebraskans not only about the complexity of the tax code, but also about concerns of being targeted for an audit, delay, or additional questioning because of political beliefs.
Individuals are concerned because they know the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted political organizations with additional scrutiny, inappropriate questions, and delays when applying for tax-exempt status. As confirmed in the IRS Inspector General’s report, additional scrutiny was disproportionately applied to conservative organizations.
While my colleagues and I on the Ways and Means Committee continue to thoroughly investigate the agency’s conduct, this issue is not resolved. We have held numerous hearings and continue to review thousands of documents. All of the public documents in this case are now available online at: http://gop.gov/irs.
If you feel you have been unfairly treated or targeted by the IRS, or are having problems with this or any other federal agency, I encourage you to contact my office. As your representative in Washington, I am committed to helping you navigate the bureaucracy, cut through the red tape, and resolve problems. Each case is different, but in dealing with the IRS my office may be able to connect you with a taxpayer advocate, or contact the IRS to request more information or an update on your problem.
Many of the problems Nebraskans have with the IRS are a direct result of the immense complexity of the tax code – more than 10,000 pages of ever-changing rules. The code is so outdated and complicated nearly 90 percent of Americans choose to pay someone else to do their taxes or use commercial software. Tax compliance costs the American economy more than 6 billion hours and costs $168 billion annually in addition to actually paying the tax burden.
Simplifying the code would ease this burden on taxpayers, make our tax structure fairer, and be a significant boost to our economy. After years of work, dozens of hearings, and a series of bipartisan working groups, Ways and Means Chairman recently released a comprehensive draft tax reform proposal. This draft is intended to generate discussion and feedback and I hope you will take the time to review it at http://tax.house.gov.Read More
Today, Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) announced the 2014 Third District Service Academy Open House will take place on Saturday, April 19, in Grand Island. The event will help young people in Nebraska learn more about the U.S. Service Academies and other opportunities for military service.
“The U.S. Service Academies and ROTC programs are great opportunities for exceptional young men and women to serve their nation, receive an education, and develop leadership skills and character,” said Congressman Smith. “I encourage any interested young people to attend this event and learn more about opportunities for military service.”
The Third District Service Academy Open House will take place on Saturday, April 19, from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 pm CDT. The event will be held at Central Community College’s Grand Island Campus in the Health Sciences 500 Building (3134 W Highway 34, Grand Island).
Representatives from the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, and Army ROTC will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about opportunities each offer. Representatives from the offices of Congressman Smith, Senator Johanns, and Senator Fischer will also be in attendance to answer questions about the Service Academy nomination process.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE), today released the following statement after Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) announced he would not seek re-election to the House of Representatives:
“I appreciate and will miss Dave Camp’s principled and thoughtful approach to policy, and his focus on solutions over politics. He has been an exceptional Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, a friend, and a great leader.
“I am sorry to see Chairman Camp leave Congress, but I look forward to continuing to work with him to simplify our tax code, expand trade opportunities, and address the challenges facing our health care system before the end of the year.”
Congressman Smith serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.Read More
The United States was founded in part on the idea of religious freedom. It is no coincidence the First Amendment to the Constitution ensures the ‘free exercise’ of religion. However, two cases argued before the Supreme Court this week will test whether this basic right truly extends to all Americans, or if the federal government now has the power to force individuals to violate the tenants of their faith.
The cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius will decide the constitutionality of a provision of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which forces employers to provide their employees government approved insurance plans or pay a tax. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties are contesting this provision because they object on religious grounds to some of the coverage the law requires them to provide such as abortion-inducing drugs.
These minimum coverage requirements are enforced with a significant penalty which actually encourages employers to offer no insurance at all rather than offer insurance without provisions they find objectionable. The tax on employers for violating this provision of the law is $100 per day, per employee, or $36,500 per year. For Hobby Lobby this tax would amount to $475 million per year. If the company offered no insurance coverage at all to their employees, they would pay a $26 million tax; a massive fine for simply having a conscience objection.
While many Americans disagree on the morality of certain drugs and procedures, we should all be able to agree no one should be forced by the federal government to do something they find objectionable. After considerable controversy and public attention, the department of Health and Human Services agreed to give non-profit religious employers such as Catholic churches and schools, an exemption from these provisions. The Department inexplicably did not extend the same consideration to private employers with strongly held beliefs such as Hobby Lobby.
All Americans are entitled to freedom of religion and to rights of conscience - even if they are a private sector employer. This principle is why I signed an amicus brief in support of the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties cases against Obamacare. I am also a cosponsor of the Rights of Conscience Act which would repeal this mandate. It is only fair to give private sector employers the same flexibility to ensure religious freedom, as the Administration has already given to non-profit employers.
One-size-fits-all, government mandated health care plans are also bad business. The insurance market works better when employers and individuals are given the choice to purchase plans which match their unique needs, budgets, and beliefs. The market should be driven by options, not government mandates.
These cases also further demonstrate the problems which arise from the ever-expanding role of the federal government. As government grows more powerful and tries to regulate more aspects of our economy and daily lives, conflicts will inevitably arise between personal freedom and the interests of government. The founders of our nation understood this concept, and intentionally set up our system of government to protect the God-given freedoms of individuals.
Conscience rights are among the most basic American ideals, and must be preserved. I am hopeful the Supreme Court will strike down this mandate and uphold religious freedom for all Americans.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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