The Ebola epidemic is an ongoing tragedy with serious worldwide consequences. With the virus now in the United States, Americans naturally are concerned about what steps are being taken to prevent the further spread of this disease and to prepare for more cases. Unfortunately, our government’s response has not always inspired confidence this threat is being handled appropriately.
The rate at which the Ebola virus has spread throughout West Africa is alarming. So far the administration's response has been to deploy troops to the region, but leave our borders unprotected from the disease except for minimal airport screening. For this reason I joined 25 of my colleagues on October 8th in sending a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging him to institute travel restrictions, enhance airport screening, and to consider quarantining individuals who have recently traveled to or from the West African countries most affected by this epidemic.
Many Nebraskans have reached out to me to express their support for a travel ban. I agree for the time being it is not appropriate for our government to issue tourist visas to individuals from nations being ravaged by Ebola. Even several African countries have successfully implemented travel bans. This is a commonsense measure to reduce the risk of more individuals bringing the virus into our country.
However, the Obama Administration continues to issue approximately 100 tourist visas per day to individuals from affected nations to visit the United States, saying to do otherwise would hurt efforts to fight the virus at the source. However, I have yet to hear a compelling argument as to why allowing foreign nationals from these nations to visit the United States would have any effect on our ability to fight Ebola in Africa.
American hospitals, doctors, and medical personnel have proven highly effective in treating the disease at specialized containment facilities including at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The Centers for Disease Control assured a Congressional panel earlier this year all American hospitals were equipped and ready to handle Ebola cases. However, the contraction of Ebola by two nurses treating a patient in Dallas raises serious questions about the preparedness of other hospitals to contain and treat the disease.
These questions become even more concerning since the Administration announced it would be sending American troops over to the effected region to combat the disease’s spread. It is critical all hospitals, treatment facilities, and our armed forces have access to the protocols and practices being used effectively at the containment sites so other medical workers, patients, and the general public, are not further exposed.
Ebola is a public health crisis, not a political crisis. While there have only been a handful of cases in the United States and there is no reason for panic, it is critical our government get this right and we stop the spread of this devastating disease. Greater safeguards on our immigration system, and better preparedness at our hospitals will help keep us safe.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) has been named a recipient of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence. The award is based on his votes in the 113th Congress on issues critical to manufacturing in the United States.
Congressman Smith said, “I appreciate this recognition by the National Association of Manufacturers because of the important role manufacturing plays in economic growth and job creation in the Third District. I will continue working with our manufacturers to ensure federal policy does not undermine rural America’s success in serving the needs of domestic and foreign consumers.”
“Manufacturers in Nebraska and throughout the United States are making a comeback, creating jobs, making more products and making them better than ever before,” said NAM Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Aric Newhouse. “However, manufacturers are often disproportionately impacted by decisions made by policymakers in Washington. The NAM is proud to stand with lawmakers like Rep. Smith who understand what is at stake and seek to implement policies that will foster innovation, growth and competitiveness.”
The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, and contributes $2.08 trillion to the U.S. economy every year.Read More
While Congress has been out of session, I have spent the last few weeks traveling Nebraska’s Third District meeting with constituents and listening to your thoughts, concerns, and ideas.
One of the issues I have heard most about is the Waters of the United States (WOTUS). This proposal would allow the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to expand federal regulatory powers over waters of the U.S. under the Clean Water Act.
The word “navigable” was included in the Clean Water Act more than 80 times in order to limit the jurisdiction of the federal government on farms, ranches, man-made conveyances, and other local water jurisdictions. Attempts to alter this interpretation without Congressional approval are a clear overreach of statutory authority and clearly defy the intent of the law. Further, this change could severely harm Nebraska’s agriculture economy.
Common Sense Nebraska, a coalition of Nebraska organizations which have come together in response to the WOTUS proposal released a report this week detailing the many problems this rule would cause for our state. The report was compiled by former director of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) Mike Linder and indicates the rule would increase costs and uncertainty for agriculture producers.
Linder’s analysis confirms the proposal would “impose a blanket jurisdictional determination over thousands of acres of private property” causing “unnecessary property restrictions and uncertainty as to what that actually means to a farmer or rancher.” This finding refutes the EPA’s claims the rule would not have much effect on farmers and ranchers.
As beneficiaries of clean water, Nebraska producers take numerous steps to protect the natural resources of our state. We all agree safeguards are necessary, but this proposed rule ignores safeguards already in place, and steps NDEQ has taken to work with producers to protect our water.
I have written the EPA and Army Corps to express my objections to this plan, and many Nebraskans are speaking out as well. The EPA recently announced it would extend the comment period until November 14, 2014. While this delay is a positive development, I question their motive of moving the deadline for comments on this economically disastrous rule until after the midterm elections.
I encourage all interested Nebraskans to continue making their voices heard on this rule at: http://www.regulations.gov. We have fought this overreach before, and we must continue to let the EPA and other agencies know where we stand.Read More
There are many barriers to our increased financial and economic success including time, capital, and taxes. One of the hidden obstacles to economic growth is the built-in cost of federal regulations on the products we buy and costs of living. However, a new study by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is shedding light on the costs of regulation to our economy.
The NAM study found federal regulations cost our economy more than $2 trillion per year. While many regulations serve as important safeguards to ensure opportunity, safety, and health, I hear from many Nebraskans about the negative impacts of unnecessary regulations on their lives and livelihoods.
I launched my Regulation Rewind project earlier this year to track how I am working to address the government-imposed rules directly affecting Nebraskans.
For example, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has held up approval of a renewal license for the Crow Butte Mine in Dawes County for more than seven years, and continues to delay decisions on critical expansion sites nearby. The mine has operated safely for more than two decades, producing uranium for our nation’s nuclear fleet and contributing tens of millions of dollars to Nebraska’s economy.
In July, I wrote to the NRC along with Senator Johanns and Senator Fischer to request an update on the applications and reasons for the delay. In August, the NRC responded, but only said it hoped to make a decision on the requests next year. Continuing to stall hurts not only the company, but also the community, especially as it relates to education funding.
Other examples of regulatory overreach include new rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which forced the Department of Defense to end the transfer of excess vehicles to state and local firefighting agencies. Through these programs, the Nebraska Forest Service has 570 refurbished vehicles on loan to 250 volunteer fire districts. These vehicles play a critical role in the defense against wildfires for volunteer fire departments which protect 99 percent of Nebraska’s land against wildfires.
In response, I joined several of my colleagues in sending a letter to the Department of Defense, which was able to work out an agreement with the EPA to keep this program going. I also cosponsored the Firefighter Equipment Protection Act which would ensure this does not happen again.
To learn more about my efforts to overcome the regulatory barriers to Nebraska’s success, please visit my website at: http://adriansmith.house.gov/regulationrewind. And please continue to let me know how government overreach unnecessarily complicates your business or life. Together we can fight back and make a real difference.Read More
The economy, culture, and values of rural America are largely shaped by agriculture. This is especially true of Nebraska’s Third Congressional District. We are incredibly grateful for the contributions and innovations of our ag producers which not only fuel our economy, but feed the world.
A new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) now confirms the Third District is the largest agriculture district in America based on total value of products sold. We are the second largest district in value of livestock and poultry, and the third in value of crops.
Because of the incredible success of our agriculture producers, it is more important now than ever for federal policy to support their efforts rather than undermine them. Implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill is an important step in this process, which will provide farmers with a choice of a price or revenue-based assistance if there is a loss.
The new Farm Bill eliminates direct payments, counter-cyclical payments and the ACRE program. In their place, three programs were created for covered commodities or program crops: Agriculture Risk Coverage, County Option (ARC-CO), Agriculture Risk Coverage, Individual Farm Coverage (ARC-IC), and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) with the option to buy the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) on insurance.
Farmers will be able to visit their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices to learn more about these tools and make the best decision for their operation. Producers will have through early spring of 2015 to select a program.
The new Farm Bill increased funding for outreach to the next generation of producers, including beginning farmers and veterans. This concept is not new in the State of Nebraska, which has been recognized nationally for its success in recruiting beginning farmers and ranchers. Recently I had the opportunity to visit a veteran participating in the “Homegrown by Heroes” marketing program which has helped start and grow a business in the heart of the Third District. Additionally, the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture offers initiatives like the “100-cow” program for beginning farmers and the “Combat Boots to Cowboy Boots” program for veterans. These are great examples of innovative ways to get young people involved in farming and support those who have served our country in uniform.
As we continue to look for ways to expand production at home it is also important to open new markets for our products abroad. We are producing an abundance of affordable, nutritious food which could help feed people around the world while befitting our consumers at home. The Third District is currently the fifth largest exporter of agricultural goods.
With the continued success of agriculture, we must remain vigilant and responsive to the needs of producers to foster their continued growth. Smart policy and continued innovation will help feed the world, and producers and rural America to thrive.Read More
On September 18th I had the honor of attending a historic address to a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and the Senate by President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine. It was a remarkable speech in which President Poroshenko discussed our shared values, the challenges facing his country, and the need for more American support for the democratically-elected government of Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists.
The opportunity for a foreign leader to address both chambers of Congress is a rare gesture of unity and solidarity between our two countries. Unfortunately, our support of Ukraine has also been largely symbolic. President Poroshenko’s speech was a call to action and now is the time to do more to support Ukraine.
In February of this year, Russian and Russian-backed forces invaded the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, and set up an illegal referendum for the region to succeed from Ukraine. Because the region was occupied by a foreign force, this referendum has no legitimacy. Shortly after the referendum passed, Russia “annexed” the territory in blatant violation of accepted international law and specifically in violation of a treaty signed by the United States, Britain, Russia, and Ukraine guaranteeing their sovereign territory.
Since then, the world has watched as Russia continues to arm and support separatists fighting the Ukrainian government. The separatists likely used Russian military equipment to shoot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 killing nearly 300 innocent people, including an American citizen. There still has been no one held accountable for this unprecedented and horrific act.
The United States and European nations have placed sanctions on Russia, but it is debatable what effect if any these efforts have had. Out of fear of upsetting Russia we have limited our assistance to Ukraine to non-lethal aid. During his speech, President Poroshenko expressed his gratitude for what we have done so far but added, “one cannot win a war with blankets!”
President Poroshenko then urged the United States to give the Ukrainian democracy the resources and tools it needs to stand against a much more powerful aggressor. He did not ask for direct American military involvement, and repeatedly stressed his desire for a peaceful solution to this conflict. I agree and believe we must do more while we have the opportunity to help this nation defend their sovereign territory. We must also show our friends in the region we will not allow this Russian aggression and expansion to continue.
The United States has historically been the greatest source of good, and the greatest champion for democracy in the world. As we have seen too often in the last year, when America backs down our enemies are emboldened and seize the opportunity in their own interests. We must not forget the challenges facing Ukraine, and we must support democracy and the rule of law over invasion and oppression. We need to reassert our leadership in the world, not to produce confrontation – but to ensure peace.Read More
As we approach the one year anniversary of the launch of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, it is appropriate to review how continued implementation of the law is affecting the American people and our health care system. Many problems persist a year after the law debuted with disastrous technical glitches, dropped coverage for millions of Americans, loss of doctors, hundreds of new regulations, increased premiums, and other broken promises.
Many Nebraskans have told me their health care costs increased dramatically after implementation of the law last year. Forced minimum coverage requirements mean Americans have fewer options to find plans which meet their unique health needs and budgets. These mandates were so restrictive, nine insurance companies decided to not offer health insurance on the individual market in our state at all.
Last year, a Manhattan Institute study found Nebraskans would pay up to 74 percent more on the individual market for health insurance after the implementation of Obamacare. Last week, we found out rates would increase again. The Nebraska Department of Insurance announced some individual plans would increase by as much as 19 percent due to the Obamacare mandates.
While many of the technical problems which plagued the infamous Obamacare online exchange last year have been ironed out, many risks remain. Security experts have repeatedly warned Americans’ personal information is vulnerable to hacking and theft on the online system which is not adequately safeguarded.
This month, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the Obamacare website was hacked, although they maintain no personal information was accessed. Even so, the incident is deeply troubling as Americans prepare for another round of Obamacare open enrollment during which millions of Americans will share their information and shop for insurance through the online exchange.
Millions of tax dollars are at risk during the open enrollment period as well. As I learned during a Committee on Ways and Means Health Subcommittee hearing last week, eligibility for tax credits is automatically extended unless Americans log back on to the online exchanges and update their information. Because the Obama Administration continues to delay reporting requirements for the employer-mandate, it will be very difficult for the Internal Revenue Service to confirm those receiving tax credits are in fact eligible.
House Republicans have offered hundreds of potential solutions to these and other problems with the health care law. I am hopeful a new Congress and continued opposition to the disastrous consequences of Obamacare will encourage all sides to work together to reduce complexity, decrease costs, and increase access to care for all Americans.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) has been named a Guardian of Small Business for his record of voting for policies which support America’s small-businesses during the 113th Congress. The award is given by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation’s leading small business association.
“Federal policy should support America’s small businesses, not undermine their hard work with burdensome regulations, a complicated and uncompetitive tax code, and new health care mandates,” said Congressman Smith. “I appreciate this recognition by the NFIB and their members, and I will continue to support pro-growth policies.”
NFIB President and CEO Dan Danner said, “The record shows that Rep. Smith is a true champion of small business, supporting the votes that matter in the 113th Congress. This award reflects our members’ appreciation for supporting the NFIB pro-growth agenda for small business.”Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today voted to authorize the Department of Defense to arm and train Syrian opposition forces fighting both the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
“ISIS clearly poses a threat to American interests and allies, and they must be stopped,” said Congressman Smith. “While I continue to have concerns about certain aspects of the President’s plan, I believe the Commander in Chief needs flexibility to address threats to our nation which includes eliminating any safe havens for our enemies. The Administration must ensure the groups we support are carefully screened and trained, and American weapons and resources do not end up in the wrong hands.”Read More
Today, Congressman Adrian Smith welcomed Gloria Becker of Minden to the U.S. Capitol. Becker is the 2014 Angels in Adoption honoree for Nebraska’s Third District for helping families work through the challenges of adopting foster children as a Parent2Parent advocate for Right Turn.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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28 years ago today - President Reagan signed comprehensive #TaxReform. It is past time to simplify the code again.
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