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
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
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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We need to reassert our leadership in the world, not to produce confrontation – but to ensure peace. http://t.co/wyVGH7bQ2s
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