Constituents of Third District Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) who need assistance dealing with a federal agency are invited to attend Caseworker in Your Community events on Monday, February 27, in St. Paul and Kearney.
Caseworker in Your Community is an opportunity for constituents to meet directly with one of Smith’s congressional caseworkers. Caseworkers may be able to assist constituents who are having problems dealing with a federal agency such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security, Medicare, passports and visas through the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or the Internal Revenue Service.
Caseworker in Your Community will be held on Monday, February 27, at the following times and locations:
St. Paul Public Library 1301 Howard Avenue, St. Paul, NE 68873 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (CST)
Kearney Public Library – Loup Room 2020 1st Avenue, Kearney, NE 68845 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (CST)
For additional information, please contact Congressman Smith’s Grand Island office at (308) 384-3900.Read More
We live in a country built on opportunity, but too many Americans face roadblocks to moving up the economic ladder. As chairman of the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, I am pleased to work with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to improve our country’s anti-poverty programs.
On February 15, I convened my first hearing as chairman, which focused on the Geography of Poverty. We examined how the poverty map is changing around the country and explored the challenges facing our own communities. A better understanding of local issues and solutions creates a foundation for our efforts to help more Americans find employment and experience greater economic opportunity.
When thinking about poverty in America, large cities often come to mind first. However, rates of poverty in rural and remote areas have been higher than in urban areas for decades. Additionally, a larger share of working-age adults live in poverty than ever before, as fewer men and women are employed today than in the past.
It was a privilege to invite Tammy Slater of Doniphan, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska, to testify at our hearing. Ms. Slater detailed the challenges Goodwill faces in lifting people out of poverty in rural areas and how the organization achieves success through its social enterprise model, comprehensive services, and community partnerships.
Despite the commitment by so many like Ms. Slater to reducing poverty’s footprint, we know the drug epidemic in America plays a major role in limiting opportunity. This week, I managed debate in the House on using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn an Obama administration rule which greatly restricts states’ ability to screen unemployment insurance (UI) beneficiaries for drug abuse.
As part of a bipartisan agreement in early 2012, President Obama signed into law legislation to allow, not require, states to screen and test UI beneficiaries for illegal drugs. The law called for the Department of Labor (DOL) to set the parameters for testing. The legislative intent was for DOL to work with states and industries to determine which jobs would require drug testing, either because it is required by law or because an industry requires screening for new employees.
After nearly five years of delay, DOL finally produced a rule which ignores legislative intent and makes it virtually impossible for states to screen or test anyone because it is limited to beneficiaries who are looking for work solely in jobs with a federal drug testing requirement.
This means even if there is a state-level testing requirement, a state cannot require screening. It also means if someone is looking for work in a career with a federal testing requirement but also applying for jobs without a federal testing requirement, he or she cannot be screened.
We know we need to correct the reverse incentives in our benefits systems. Studies have found drug abuse costs employers $81 billion per year. It should be a priority of any employment program to incentivize those looking for work to stay drug-free. The House passed the CRA resolution to roll back DOL’s misguided rule and ensure states have the ability to motivate jobseekers to get and stay clean.
Independence and productivity must be the goals of any program designed to help Americans escape poverty. I will continue to advance these principles while helping direct Congress’s efforts to empower people through greater opportunity.Read More
The House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), today held a hearing to examine how poverty is changing around the country and to explore solutions to the challenges Members are seeing in their own communities.
The traditional geography of poverty is changing. In recent years, poverty has shifted from cities to the suburbs, while poverty rates in rural areas are consistently higher than rates in urban communities. As the geography of poverty—and the different challenges facing our communities—continues to evolve, Ways and Means Republicans are working to develop local solutions—not one-size-fits-all policies—to help more Americans climb the economic ladder.
Recognizing a diverse set of needs across the country, Chairman Smith stressed the importance of finding those different solutions to reach one, shared goal:
“Our instinct might be to think rural Nebraska and urban Chicago are so vastly different they have nothing in common. But what we are charged to do in this subcommittee is to find ways for individuals and families to succeed, and those challenges are universal, even if they require different solutions … It’s important we realize and respect the differences between the constituencies we represent, as too often Congress proposes national, one-size-fits-all solutions when local flexibility is really what’s needed."
As Tammy Slater, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska, whose efforts to address poverty span across 55 counties, explained:
“It’s not just one service … It has to be collaboration, it’s not just one of any of us. It’s all of us coming together and making sure we understand what each of us brings to the table. So, Chairman Smith, the first answer would be flexibility to be able to reach out to the proper services that will meet that individual’s needs.”
Discussing the mix of urban and rural communities she serves, Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) asked Ms. Slater to share what collaborative strategies have been a success in Nebraska that could be applied in other communities. Ms. Slater said:
“It’s about people. It’s about people working together that are there to actually serve the people we are seeing every day … It’s asking for help, it’s actually acknowledging what your core is and what cores come from other agencies … You cannot be good at everything.”
Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) illustrated how unique each community’s challenges are. In his rural district, factories have closed and left many working-age adults unemployed. He said:
“Forty-nine percent of adults in my district are not in the labor force and the poverty rate is 20 percent … When nearly half of adults in my district aren’t working and are out of the labor force entirely, our communities are deeply in trouble.”
Ways and Means Republicans are working to advance solutions that will get people back to work, focus on results, and provide local flexibility to meet the diverse needs of every community and lift more Americans out of poverty.
Click here for more information about today's hearing.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) convened his first hearing as chairman of the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee today on the Geography of Poverty. Tammy Slater of Doniphan, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska, testified at the hearing as an invited witness.
Congressman Smith’s opening statement:
It’s great to work with all of the Members of this Subcommittee so we can help more Americans escape poverty and move up the economic ladder. As we all know, the Ways and Means Committee plays an important role in designing policies to improve the lives of Americans across this country.
Together, members of this Committee work to improve our nation’s healthcare system, modernize our tax code to make American businesses more competitive, improve trade so U.S. companies can sell goods abroad, and – in the Human Resources Subcommittee – help more families access opportunities to move up the economic ladder. This task is more important than ever.
While the total number of individuals living in poverty has fallen from its recent peak in 2010, poverty rates—and even more troubling, child poverty rates—remain much higher than they were prior to the recession. In addition, a larger share of working-age adults are in poverty than ever before, as fewer men and women today are employed than in the past.
Today’s hearing represents our first step to address this issue in the 115th Congress. Before we can identify ways to foster greater opportunities, we have to first understand what the challenges look like across the country. That’s why the focus of our hearing today is on the geography of poverty. This felt like the right place to start as I thought about the challenges in my own district, where many locations aren’t just rural but also remote, and that of the Ranking Member’s as potential bookends of the same story.
People often think of poverty only as they see it in cities, not realizing poverty today is more common than ever in suburban and rural areas. People also underestimate poverty in rural and remote areas, not knowing rates of poverty in these areas have for decades been higher than in urban areas. Our instinct might be to think rural Nebraska and urban Chicago are so vastly different they have nothing in common. But what we are charged to do in this Subcommittee is to find ways for individuals and families to succeed, and those challenges are universal, even if they require different solutions.
Fortunately, the members of this Subcommittee bring substantial expertise to bear, as together we represent a wide range of constituencies from virtually all four corners of this country. This diversity will be an asset as we explore ways to reduce poverty, as I know what works in one area may not always be what works in another. It’s important we realize and respect the differences between the constituencies we represent, as too often Congress proposes national, one-size-fits-all solutions when local flexibility is truly what’s needed.
Clearly, the centerpiece of any poverty fighting strategy must be employment. We must make sure federal policies support and reward work, and make sure employment pays for those struggling to get ahead. It’s also important we get incentives right so everyone benefits when someone moves from welfare to work – from the state agency running the program to the business owner hiring the employee to the individual seeking to improve his or her own life.
We should also avoid the tendency to focus solely on inputs like dollars spent or people served, and instead ensure we focus on outcomes. By prioritizing results, we can empower local communities with the flexibility they need to design solutions which have real impact on improving the lives of families in their community.
I look forward to hearing from our expert panel of witnesses today, and I know their insights will lay the groundwork for our efforts to help more Americans find jobs, escape poverty, and move up the economic ladder.
Tammy Slater’s testimony:
Good Morning. Thank you for the invitation to testify on the challenges and opportunities of serving people in rural Nebraska impacted by poverty. My name is Tammy Slater, and I live in Doniphan, Nebraska, a town of 850-plus people. I am the Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska, located in the third largest city of Nebraska, Grand Island, with a population of 50,000. We are one of 157 autonomous Goodwill organizations in the United States and one of four Goodwills serving Nebraska.
Last year, all Goodwills collectively connected 312,000 people with employment in the United States and Canada. Each local Goodwill organization has an assigned territory and provides services within our geographic area in response to our communities’ needs. Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska’s services promote independence and access to the community, help people become successfully employed, support goals of wellness and recovery, facilitate group classes to teach responsible behavior, and provide safe and affordable housing.
Our Goodwill mission is to serve Nebraskans experiencing intellectual or developmental disabilities, severe and persistent mental illnesses, substance use disorders, behavioral health challenges, or acquired brain injuries. Each year, we serve more than 1,600 people in central and western Nebraska with an array of services. We help people earn jobs and advance their careers with specialized services to meet their needs.
Our service territory, as Chairman Smith referenced, includes 55 counties and is about 54,000 square miles. Of the counties we serve, 30 percent have a population of 3,000 or fewer.
The challenges of poverty, as we all know – lack of stable housing, adequate nutrition, effective healthcare, reliable transportation, quality childcare, appropriate education and job training – are common to both rural and urban areas. How we respond to these challenges in rural areas may be different because we do have sparse population, limited local resources, and scarce employment opportunities.
Education and job opportunities are scarce for people in rural Nebraska, which is a major roadblock to lifting people out of poverty. In 2015, rural employment was still below pre-recession rates, and earnings are generally lower in rural areas than those in urban areas.
Many of the individuals we serve require comprehensive services, so partnerships with state and local agencies are important to address the complex needs of people living in rural Nebraska. Community partners such as public schools, United Way, area churches, and local Salvation Army posts help us build a support network. Government partners in Health and Human Services, Corrections, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Social Security, among others, help people living in rural communities get and keep their lives on track.
Though partnerships are crucial to success, it is tougher in rural areas because there are fewer community organizations, and we struggle to continue services due to the long distances between communities, which are expensive to maintain. We at Goodwill are grateful for our social enterprise model that creates jobs and helps fund services.
Our team members work to understand our neighbors in the communities we serve and how we can equip them to overcome poverty. One of those neighbors is Peter. When Peter was referred from Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation to Goodwill, he was unemployed, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression, and narcissistic personality disorder, and receiving Social Security. Peter was also on probation for a felony, and his employment retention was beyond poor.
Peter was able to access an array of services from our Goodwill including comprehensive benefits planning, behavioral health day services, and our behavioral health employment program. Together with Peter, the team working to support him, including Goodwill staff, the local probation office, his counselor at Nebraska VR, and his family members, he’s had a great result. He’s been employed for over one year and continues to work with our Behavioral Health and Benefits Planning.
Peter is just one example of the complexity of those we serve every day. I thank you for this opportunity to share our experience. We appreciate the Subcommittee’s interest in hearing from the field and are very happy to serve as a resource. Thank you.
For more information on today’s hearing, including a full list of witnesses, click here.Read More
A common request I receive from Nebraskans is for help getting bureaucracy off their backs. Especially over the past eight years, federal agencies have far too often violated the separation of powers and legislated through red tape.
A study by the American Action Forum found the cost to our economy of the Obama administration’s midnight regulations, or regulations passed after the election of President Trump, totaled $157 billion. With 99 regulations issued in December alone, the Obama administration’s monthly regulatory churn more than doubled in its final weeks.
The House has spent the first few weeks of the new Congress focused on undoing this regulatory damage. We are working rule by rule to get rid of as many onerous, job-killing regulations as possible. President Trump has joined us in this effort, requiring agencies to kill two major regulations for every new one implemented.
An important tool Congress can use to reduce regulatory burdens is called the Congressional Review Act, or CRA. In order to maintain Congress’s constitutional role in setting federal law, the CRA provides a streamlined process, including expedited Senate consideration, to overturn newly finalized rules by the executive branch. A CRA resolution only requires 51 votes to pass in the Senate rather than the usual 60.
When the Obama administration finalized its Waters of the U.S. rule, or WOTUS, in 2015, I introduced a resolution to block it using the CRA. The Senate version of my resolution passed both chambers but was vetoed by President Obama, along with all the other CRA bills passed by the last Congress. Thankfully, President Trump has expressed his desire to sign these CRA resolutions when they reach his desk.
Many of the Obama administration’s midnight rules targeted domestic energy production. The Bureau of Land Management’s Methane Rule has been estimated to cost the industry anywhere from $110 million to more than $1 billion per year while providing little environmental benefit. Despite rapid growth in oil and natural gas production, methane emissions have already declined significantly in recent decades. The Stream Protection Rule, a duplicative regulation with a new flowery name, would cost tens of thousands of mining jobs and put up to 64 percent of U.S. coal reserves off limits.
The House has used the CRA to block both of these damaging regulations. To achieve U.S. energy independence, we should be embracing all forms of American energy rather than strangling them with the heavy hand of the federal government.
Another midnight regulation by the Obama administration threatened the constitutional rights of millions of Americans. In December, the Social Security Administration finalized a rule to automatically add Social Security beneficiaries with representative payees to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Approximately 4.2 million Americans have representative payees, and as the Ways and Means Committee explored in a recent hearing, there are numerous concerns about how beneficiaries end up on the representative payee rolls in the first place.
Receiving help to manage one’s Social Security benefits does not correlate with the capacity to own or judiciously use firearms. However, under this rule, these law-abiding Americans would be reported to the NICS list with no judicial review and forced to go through an appeals process to be removed. The House used the CRA to block this rule and protect Americans’ Second Amendment and due process rights.
We have many more CRA bills to work through in the coming weeks, as the Obama administration’s regulatory labyrinth will take time to dismantle. To strengthen our economy and ensure greater opportunity for Americans, cutting regulations must remain a top priority.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement after Dr. Tom Price was sworn in today as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) following his confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
“Dr. Price has demonstrated his commitment to bringing more choices, quality, and accessibility to health care throughout his time in Congress, and I congratulate him on his confirmation as HHS Secretary,” Smith said. “With his experience as an orthopedic surgeon and chairman of the House Budget Committee, Dr. Price is uniquely qualified to lead HHS’s efforts to bring relief to Americans by replacing Obamacare with a patient-centered system. Having worked alongside him on the Ways and Means Committee, I know his expertise will be a great asset to the Trump administration.”Read More
The month of February opened with one of my favorite traditions – the first Nebraska Breakfast of 2017. Nearly every Wednesday morning when both the House and Senate are in session, Nebraskans visiting the nation’s capital are invited to join their full congressional delegation for an informal discussion.
Started by Senator Hugh Butler in 1943, the Nebraska Breakfast is the longest-running event of its kind on Capitol Hill. It allows delegation members to visit with the many Nebraskans in town advocating for important causes or taking in our country’s history. If you are planning a trip to Washington, D.C. this year, I encourage you to visit my website at AdrianSmith.house.gov/NebraskaBreakfast to see the 2017 schedule.
The busy start to the new Congress has provided many opportunities to welcome Nebraskans to Washington. On January 19, I hosted an open house in my office for constituents arriving to pick up tickets to the inauguration of President Donald Trump. While distributing more than 200 tickets, it was great fun to meet Nebraskans from Mitchell to Dakota City and share in their excitement about the historical events taking place.
One week later, I visited with Nebraskans who traveled to D.C. to participate in the March for Life. The blustery January day did not deter them from peacefully marching on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. I was honored to meet with them and discuss some of my recent efforts to defend the sanctity of life, such as voting to prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions and cosponsoring the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to prohibit abortions past twenty weeks of pregnancy.
In recent days, I have also enjoyed meeting with many Nebraska agriculture groups, from the Farm Bureau to wheat growers to sorghum producers, during their trips to D.C. It is important to come together and discuss the challenges facing producers, as well as the best ways to ensure they can continue to help feed the world.
Punxsutawney Phil may have seen his shadow on February 2, but we know spring is on its way and my office will soon be welcoming student groups to the nation’s capital. I always enjoy the opportunity to visit with young Nebraskans, talk about our country’s history, and hear their insights on the issues we are working on in Congress. If you are a Third District teacher or student coming to D.C. with a school or youth group, please let my office know so we can schedule a time to meet during your trip.
Hearing directly from Nebraskans is invaluable to serving as your representative in Congress. In addition to these in-person meetings, my offices have already received nearly 4,000 calls and pieces of mail this year. I encourage you to continue reaching out to me by phone, email, mail, or in person with your thoughts, concerns, and questions. You can also visit my website at AdrianSmith.house.gov to schedule a meeting or let me know about an event in your community.
We have an eventful year ahead, and I want to hear your ideas firsthand. Thank you for keeping in touch with me.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after voting in favor of H.J. Res. 40 to utilize the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Social Security Administration’s rule which automatically adds Social Security beneficiaries with representative payees to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Smith is a cosponsor of the legislation.
“This midnight regulation finalized by the Obama administration in December arbitrarily revokes both the Second Amendment rights and due process rights of Social Security beneficiaries with representative payees,” Smith said. “Receiving help to manage one’s Social Security benefits does not correlate with the capacity to judiciously use firearms. However, under this rule, these law-abiding Americans would be reported to the NICS list with no judicial review and forced to go through an appeals process to be removed. This discriminatory rule must be stopped to protect the constitutional rights of millions of Americans.”
Smith’s remarks on the House floor:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this resolution to repeal a rule which would arbitrarily revoke the Second Amendment rights of certain Social Security beneficiaries.
The inability to manage one’s Social Security benefits does not correlate with the capacity to judiciously use firearms.
By adding Social Security beneficiaries to the NICS list with no judicial review and forcing them to go through an appeals process to be removed, this rule would also violate the due process rights of these Americans.
I would also like to focus on the component of this rule which would inhibit the ability of Social Security Disability beneficiaries to be approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to work with or around certain materials.
Mr. Speaker, there is bipartisan agreement we should be investing in and rebuilding our infrastructure.
There is also bipartisan agreement we should be empowering people receiving benefits like Disability Insurance to return to work if they are able to do so.
However, this rule will create a new barrier for beneficiaries seeking to return to work in industries like construction by forcing them to navigate a complex appeals process before they can be re-employed.
Let me say again – if we do nothing about this rule, it will prevent law-abiding Americans who are able to do so from getting off the disability rolls and returning to work.
We can work together on constructive ways to prevent those who would do us harm from having access to firearms and explosives. This rule is not the way to do so.
I urge support for the resolution, and I yield back the balance of my time.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) received the Nebraska Wheat Growers Association’s Person of the Year Award and the National Association of Wheat Growers’ Wheat Advocate Award today in recognition of his support of the wheat industry and U.S. agriculture.
“Nebraska producers deserve our gratitude for their tireless work, which has made the Third District the top-producing agriculture district in the country,” Congressman Smith said. “I thank the Nebraska Wheat Growers Association for these awards and look forward to many more opportunities to work together on issues vital to Nebraska agriculture. As chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus and a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to lead efforts to roll back onerous regulations, open more markets to producers, and promote innovation and science-based policies.”
“It is an honor to present Congressman Smith with our NWGA Person of the Year Award as well as the National Association of Wheat Growers’ Wheat Advocate Award,” said Nebraska Wheat Growers Association President Randon Peters. “We want to thank the Congressman for his continued efforts to support our state’s wheat farmers and agriculture. His advocacy on trade issues and regulatory challenges assures our farmers that he understands our industry and gives agriculture an ally in Washington, D.C.”Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement this evening after President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“President Trump made clear his intention to nominate a judge who could follow in the footsteps of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, and I am optimistic his selection of Judge Neil Gorsuch will fulfill this promise,” Smith said. “Justice Scalia commanded the respect of jurists across the political spectrum due to his intellectual approach and commitment to the rule of law. Judge Gorsuch’s record on the bench appears to reflect these important qualities.
“As a Member of the House, I do not have a vote on filling Supreme Court vacancies, but I look forward to learning more about Judge Gorsuch and hope further examination of his record will convey a commitment to ensuring the Constitution is upheld.”Read More
2241 Rayburn HOB
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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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