This week our nation marked the 13th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorists attacks. We remember not only the horror of these attacks, but also the heroism, patriotism, and unity of purpose we found as a nation in their aftermath.
This dark date also launched the War on Terror. We learned the painful consequences of allowing enemies of the United States to have safe havens to organize, train, and plot against us. We vowed to never forget this lesson, and to take action against terrorist organizations before they strike again.
These lessons are still relevant and applicable today as the War on Terror continues, and we prepare to address the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Much like al-Qaeda, and the Taliban who provided them safe haven before 9/11, these terrorists are dedicated to establishing their barbaric and savage views as widely as possible. They use shocking brutality in an attempt to intimidate and suppress opposition.
Aided by the chaos of the Syrian civil war and America’s untimely withdrawal from Iraq, ISIS has been able to seize control of a broad stretch of land in both countries. Alarmingly, they appear to be better organized and financed, and more vicious than al-Qaeda ever was. ISIS also poses a unique threat to the United States because possibly hundreds of their fighters carry European or American passports.
After months of delay and an outpouring of concern by the American people, President Obama has announced his strategy for combatting ISIS. I appreciate the President’s building of a broad international coalition for this effort, and his willingness to use airstrikes to attack ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. Increased efforts to stop the financing of this group and to unravel their network of support are also appropriate.
While I agree with these specific efforts and the goal of eliminating this threat, I do have some concerns about some parts of the strategy. For one, I worry about the President’s request for additional funds from Congress to arm the so-called “moderate” forces in the Syrian opposition to fight both ISIS and the regime of Bashar al-Assad. This may have been appropriate two or three years ago. Now, I fear this action is unlikely to succeed and could have unintended consequences.
The Syrian opposition is a fractured and decentralized group. It would be difficult to know exactly who we are supporting, and we risk these arms ending up in the hands of other extremists – or even ISIS itself. The Syrian civil war is a complicated and brutal conflict in which we should more carefully consider our involvement.
I am encouraged the President now understands the threat posed by ISIS, and I share his commitment to “degrade and destroy” these terrorists. I look forward to learning more specifics about this plan, as well as listening to feedback from Nebraskans before Congress considers authorizing additional funds for expanded military operations.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today released the following statement:
“Today we remember not only the horror of the September 11th terrorist attacks, but also the heroism, patriotism, and unity of purpose we found as a nation in their aftermath. On this date we also remember the second anniversary of the attacks on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya which killed four Americans including our Ambassador.
“The lessons of September 11th are still applicable 13 years later. We must continue to fight terrorism around the world because we know the threat posed by enemies of freedom when they are allowed land and resources to plot against us. We must never forget, and we must do everything in our power to prevent such horrific attacks in the future.”Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today responded to President Obama’s address to the nation regarding his plans to counter the threat posed by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS):
“I appreciate the President addressing the American people regarding the ISIS terrorists,” said Congressman Smith. “While America is understandably weary of foreign conflicts, ISIS clearly presents a threat to American interests and allies. ISIS also poses a unique threat to the United States because many of their fighters carry American or European passports.
“As we mark the anniversary of the attacks on September 11th 2001 and the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, we are reminded of the consequences of allowing terrorists to control territory, organize, and train unfettered.
“I am encouraged the President understands the threat posed by ISIS. I look forward to learning more specifics about this plan, as well as listening to feedback from Nebraskans before Congress considers authorizing additional funds for expanded military operations.”Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today voted in favor of H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act. This legislation would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing a rule which would expand federal authority to include virtually all water flows, including on private land. The agencies are once again attempting to broaden their regulatory authority without Congressional consent.
“This attempt to regulate all waters in the U.S. is not only a clear overreach of authority, but also an additional burden to Nebraska landowners, local officials, and water managers,” said Congressman Smith. “The legislation passed today by the House is an important step to prevent the Waters of the US rule from moving forward, require federal entities to consult state and local authorities, and rein in yet another abuse by the federal government.”
The bill passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. Smith previously joined with 230 of his colleagues in writing to the EPA opposed to the rule as part of his Regulation Rewind program.Read More
Many Nebraskans depend on the Social Security and Medicare benefits they have earned by paying into these programs throughout their careers. Many more are planning on these benefits being in place as part of their retirement savings. However, both of these programs are unsustainable on their current path.
This concerning conclusion was made by the annual report of the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, a board made up mostly of Democrats appointed by President Obama. The report which was released in August does not offer specific fixes, but should serve as a call to action to find solutions for the shortfall in both programs.
There is a popular misconception the solvency issues of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds have occurred because money was taken from the funds and spent on other programs. This is not true. While reserved trust funds are lent through a mechanism similar to Treasury bonds, these funds have been and will continue to be paid on schedule and the interest paid accrues to the trust funds.
These long term solvency problems of these programs have occurred because they are paying out more in benefits than they are taking in from workers. An aging population and higher medical costs have contributed to the problem. Without addressing these changes the deficit for Social Security and Medicare will continue to grow larger.
Social Security operates by having today’s workers pay for today’s retirees. In 1945, the ratio of workers paying into the system per beneficiary was about 42 to 1. Today, the ratio is about 3 to 1. By 2033 the ratio is expected to fall to about 2 to 1.
The trustees report also found the combined Medicare Trust fund continues to face a “substantial financial shortfall.” It is worth noting the trustees report found Medicare Part D, which is very popular among seniors and includes many of the market-based principles Republicans have suggested applying to other parts of Medicare, will remain adequately financed for the “indefinite future.”
The President and some in Washington have preferred raising taxes and even cutting Medicare funding and diverting it to Obamacare to address these challenges. These actions are not solutions to the structural problems faced by these programs.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have passed relatively modest reforms which would keep Medicare solvent without changes for current beneficiaries. My colleagues and I on the Ways and Means Committee have held a number of hearings on Social Security reforms and are committed to finding solutions. Unfortunately, the Democrat-controlled Senate has blocked our reform efforts without offering constructive alternatives.
The trustees report concludes solutions are needed “sooner rather than later to minimize the impact on beneficiaries, providers, and taxpayers.” I could not agree more. This report makes clear the consequences if we are unable to come to the table to find solutions for Social Security and Medicare. I hope all sides will find the courage to act.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today announced the names of Third District high school students who will serve on his Youth Advisory Council for the 2014-2015 academic school year.
Youth Advisory Council members include:
Justine Bauer of Elm Creek High School;
Tristan Bruce of Franklin Public School;
Trenton Buhr of Norris High School in Firth;
Megan Canfield of Grand Island Northwest High School;
Tianna Engen of Kearney High School;
Emma Franklin of Wallace Public Schools;
Sydney Glatter of Sumner-Eddyville-Miller High School;
Molli Hagge of Ord Public Schools;
Kaitlyn Hanvey of Verdigre High School;
Kyra Jones of Maxwell Public School;
Madison Klar of Fillmore Central High School in Geneva;
Ryan Kopsa of York High School;
Garrison Lowe of Kearney Catholic High School;
Quinn Myers of Broken Bow High School;
Jared Pohlmann of Deshler Public School;
Hannah Price of Grand Island Senior High School;
Meile Rosenlund of Grand Island Northwest High School;
Megan Trierweiler of St. Patrick High School in North Platte;
Jordan Werth of Elba Public School;
Colten White of Kearney High School;
and Calvin Wineland of Cambridge High School.
Smith’s Youth Advisory Council is a forum for high school students to discuss throughout the school year opinions, thoughts and concerns with Smith about local and federal issues. Through in-person meetings and other contacts, the Council provides students an opportunity for involvement and insight into their government and communities.
The Council is open to junior and senior high school students who are selected from an application process in the spring. For more information, interested parties are encouraged to contact Smith’s Grand Island Office at 308-384-3900 or visit Smith’s website at: http://adriansmith.house.gov/youth-advisory-council.Read More
Students across Nebraska returned to classes in recent weeks. However because of new, overbearing government regulations fewer students are participating in school lunch. A new national survey by the School Nutrition Association found a five percent decline in daily participation, even as the number of students receiving free and reduced meals increased.
The challenges facing school lunch programs are at least in part due to implementation of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. While I voted against this legislation, the law in theory intended to improve the quality and nutrition of meals served in American schools. In practice, this meant one-size-fits-all federal regulations with unintended consequences. In addition to reduced participation, costs have risen, local control and flexibility has decreased, and meals may not meet the nutritional needs of all students.
Travelling Nebraska’s Third District, I often meet with students, teachers, and staff. Since the new school lunch requirements were implemented many students tell me meals are not adequate, and they are left hungry. Administrators tell me the new requirements are straining already stretched school budgets. And parents are faced with difficult choices.
This feedback is consistent with a report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, nonpartisan federal agency in March. The GAO report confirmed a decrease in student participation, an increase in the amount of food thrown away by students, and the challenges by school districts to plan menus and obtain food which meet the new requirements.
Most alarmingly, the GAO reported more than half of school districts surveyed believed students were going hungry because of the new calorie restrictions required by the new rules. It is worth remembering for many students school meals are their primary source of nutrition. Reductions in the size of meals could affect the health and wellness of these and other students.
Decisions of how to spend limited resources are best left to local officials and school boards. They are better equipped and more accountable to meet the needs of their students and communities. I have urged Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to revisit the new school lunch rules to give more flexibility in implementing the guidelines and to review their costs and benefits.
We can all agree children need adequate and nutritious meals. As is too often the case, these worthy goals cannot be achieved by federal mandates. For all of the challenges and high costs of the new regulations it is now becoming clear too many children are not being well served by the new school lunches. As the new school year continues, hungry students and challenged school staff would welcome a change to the menu.Read More
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) will meet with members of the Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 to discuss local and national issues affecting small business, the economy, and jobs.
The event is open to the public. Details are as follows:
Who: Congressman Adrian Smith, the Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce, and members of the public
What: Meeting to discuss economic growth, jobs, and development
When: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 3:30 p.m. CDT
Where: Gothenburg City Hall – City Council Chambers; 409 9th Street, Gothenburg, NE.Read More
During the August work period I have been travelling the Third District meeting with and listening to Nebraskans. This year, more than ever, I am taking time to hear from veterans, current members of the military, and their families. Our nation has made a commitment to those who have served in uniform, and it is important policy makers listen to them to ensure we are meeting this commitment.
I recently held open houses to meet with veterans in Scottsbluff, Chadron, and Grand Island to listen to their experiences and opinions regarding the VA. Veterans told me in each of these meetings access to quality health care is among their top concerns.
Their concerns are well justified. Recent reports of mismanagement and abuse at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals are unacceptable and raise serious questions. In pursuit of bonuses, some VA employees appear to have created secret waitlists to give the impression the system was meeting goals for wait times for appointments. In some areas this left thousands of veterans waiting months and even years for appointments. Dozens of veterans may have died while waiting for care.
Before departing for the August work period the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to a bipartisan first step toward reforming the VA and ensuring veterans are able to receive the health care they were promised and deserve. The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act will at least temporarily allow veterans who live further than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility, or are unable to schedule an appointment within 30 days to seek care outside of the VA system.
The bill also makes important reforms to allow the VA to fire employees when they abuse the system. The recently revealed mismanagement should not be tolerated and the VA will now have greater flexibility to hold these employees accountable for their actions. The bill also provides for new hiring and upgrades to some VA facilities.
I have also been working to prevent the closure of the VA hospital in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Reducing services at Hot Springs and requiring many rural veterans from Nebraska to drive upwards of six hours roundtrip for care will cause many to not seek or delay seeking the services they need. At a time when we are working to improve access, increase transparency and accountability within the VA, and improve the quality of care – this proposal simply does not make sense.
Last week, I participated in a House Committee on Veterans Affairs field hearing along with the committee chairman, other regional members of Congress, representatives of the Save the VA Committee, and officials from the VA to discuss their plan to reduce services at Hot Springs. I had requested Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) visit the facility, and I appreciate him going the extra mile to hold a hearing.
At the hearing, I was disappointed the VA did not provide additional information about the costs of closing or refurbishing the Hot Springs facility, or the impact on local veterans. This hearing was a great opportunity to allow lawmakers on the House Veterans Affairs Committee to see the importance of keeping this facility open and to expose the flaws in the VA’s plans.
Access to quality health care can be a challenge in rural America, but particularly for veterans who have fewer options for care. As your Representative and Co-Chair of the Rural Veterans Caucus I will continue to oppose all efforts to restrict choice and availability of heath care services for our veterans. Those who have served our nation deserve nothing less.Read More
As I’ve traveled the Third District during the August work period, I have heard from many Nebraskans about the regulatory burdens affecting their lives and livelihoods. In order to identify and address these government-imposed burdens, I launched my Regulation Rewind initiative earlier this year.
For example, I heard from many farmers and ranchers concerned about a proposal from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) attempting to regulate small farms, despite Congress explicitly prohibiting this by law. Such regulation would have a significant impact on these farms and ranches with less than 10 employees.
After hearing these concerns from Nebraskans, I helped organize a coalition of 83 Members of Congress from both parties to write the Department of Labor opposing the regulation of small farms and challenging the department’s authority. I am happy to report OSHA has since rescinded this proposal.
I’ve also been working to ease regulatory burdens on landowners in the Northport Irrigation District. These landowners have been restricted by a Bureau of Reclamation contract signed more than 60 years ago which requires burdensome reporting requirements and acreage limitations.
I introduced legislation which would allow these landowners to repay their loans individually, which would provide relief to landowners and generate otherwise uncollected revenue for the federal government. This legislation has now passed the House and is awaiting action in the U.S. Senate.
Nebraskans are rightfully concerned about two unnecessary Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposals which would affect our state. I have joined in sending bipartisan letters to the Administration opposing both proposals.
The first is yet another attempt to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, even though Congress has never approved legislation authorizing the EPA to do so. The costs of retrofitting power plants and the increased costs of producing electricity will be disastrous for manufacturing, agriculture, and especially for low- and middle-income Americans who can least afford huge increases in their electric bills.
The EPA is also once again attempting to strike the word “navigable” from the Clean Water Act. Congress included the word “navigable” in the Act more than 80 times to preserve state and local water rights. Ag groups, resource districts, water managers, and Nebraskans from many different backgrounds have reached out in opposition to this rule.
There is still time to let the EPA know your thoughts before they make a final decision on both of these proposed regulations which would have major impacts on Nebraska’s economy. To leave your comments on these rules, please visit: http://www.regulations.gov.
I also hope you will continue to let me know about the regulations which affect you, or how my office can help you cut through government red tape. Please visit my website at: http://AdrianSmith.house.gov/regulationrewind to learn more about my Regulation Rewind program and how I am acting on the concerns of Nebraskans to address the government imposed burdens affecting our lives and our economy.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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