As I sat down to write the annual Christmas bulletin, I decided to instead address two topics. While this time of the year is very joyous and festive from coast to coast, I will spend most of this column addressing the spending bill that Congress recently passed.
Each year, it is the job of Congress to fund the government. Earlier this year, the House passed seven appropriations bills, to fund different aspects of the government with bipartisan majorities. By the time the House finished the seventh of these bills, the Senate had not yet taken up a single one, and it became clear that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had no intention of bringing any appropriations bills to the floor prior to the election. So, it came down to the end of the 113th Congress to craft a spending bill to fund the government. As mentioned above, the House tried to pass individual bills through regular order, but in the end, this is the hand we were dealt.
The bill that has now passed both the House and Senate and was recently signed by the president through September 30, 2015 except for the Department of Homeland Security, which is only funded until late February. This means that the new Republican majority in the Senate will be able to join House Republicans in confronting the president’s executive actions on immigration in early 2015, without the threat of a government shutdown on the table. One of my top priorities heading into the 114th Congress will be working to block the president’s unconstitutional, emperor-like, executive order rampage.
Besides the Department of Homeland Security funding, which will expire in February, the rest of the bill had a number of significant provisions in it, which would not have been possible had Congress just decided to temporarily kick the can down the road once again through a short-term continuing resolution of current funding. The Internal Revenue Service was slashed by $345.6 million below Fiscal Year 2014 and it cut the funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) staff to 1989 levels. Also, there is no new funding for the president’s health-care law. In fact, it cuts $10 million from the Independent Payment Advisory Board. While $10 million is a great first start, next session that is one area that Congress will target to fully defund. The bill also prevents taxpayer bailout of the ACA Risk Corridor Program and maintains all existing pro-life policy and funding provisions. In addition it blocks the UN Arms Trade Treaty and prevents the EPA’s attempt to regulate certain farm ponds and irrigation ditches under Waters of the United States. Another provision that is important for Missourians is it provides funding for national defense, including 15 EA-18G Growler that are built in the state.
This time of year is a time to reflect but also look ahead to what the new year will bring. In Washington, I hope it brings a more functional Congress. I am ready to get to work on reforming the tax code, a balanced budget amendment, chipping away at the president’s health-care law, and reining in the volatile regulations that are coming out of the administration on a daily basis.
I sincerely hope everyone has a few days to rest and relax with your loved ones and friends. Take a moment and enjoy the traditions or create new ones with your children and family and reenergize and get ready for the new year. Lastly, take a moment and remember the teachings that emphasize love, charity and hope – and how special it truly is this time of year.
On behalf of myself, my family, and my staff I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God Bless.Read More
After passage of the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes language to ensure Sergeant William Shemin is eligible to receive the Medal of Honor, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer had the following statement:
“Late last week, the Senate passed the NDAA which included language that specifically states the president may award the Medal of Honor to Sergeant William Shemin for his acts of valor during World War I. For years I have worked to ensure Sergeant Shemin is rightfully awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions fighting for our nation. It is so important that we provide brave Jewish American veterans like Sergeant Shemin the opportunity to receive the recognition they may not have been afforded because of potential discrimination at the time. I want to thank Senator Roy Blunt for including the language in the NDAA and I look forward to receiving notice that the president has signed this bill into law so we can begin the last step. It is my hope that the president swiftly signs this legislation and moves forward with posthumously awarding Sergeant Shemin the Medal of Honor.”
Sergeant Shemin passed away in 1973, but his daughter, Elsie Shemin-Roth, a resident of Labadie, Missouri and a constituent of Luetkemeyer’s, has passionately worked on behalf of her father’s military legacy. After meeting with Shemin-Roth, Luetkemeyer secured passage of language in the Fiscal Year 2012 NDAA that provides for reviews of the service records of Jewish World War I veterans who may not have received the awards they deserved for extraordinary acts of military service, due to discrimination at the time. Since then, and the Pentagon has completed a review of Sergeant Shemin’s records connected to Sergeant Shemin’s service, and, most recently, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recommended that the president should posthumously award Sergeant Shemin the Medal of Honor. This year’s NDAA includes a technical correction that will allow the process that was started several years ago by Luetkemeyer to move forward without delay. The president must now decide whether to award Sergeant Shemin the Medal of Honor.Read More
With the end of the year nearing, I was recently reflecting over the past two years in Congress. While there were many battles placed in front of Congress, there were also several highlights that come to mind over the past couple of years.
One particular occasion was the Night of Superstars Event that was held in Festus at the beginning of this year. The charity event recognized extraordinary children who are affected by varying types of disabling conditions but reach far beyond their adversities by exceling in activities such as academics, athletics, and community service. I was incredibly humbled to accompany Sarah Weston down the red carpet and into the awards ceremony for the evening. That evening was such a unique experience and I often think of Sarah and the 19 other superstars I met that night.
In addition, I have met several of the most inspiring young adults as a member of the Military Academy for the 3rd District. Each year, I look forward to meeting with the members of the nominating board that helps to decide which young people should earn nominations for our four armed service academies. Just this month the board convened and we had another crop of extremely bright young people and since I’ve been doing this the level of candidates grows even more impressive. Each year, I always look forward to meeting these young people face-to-face and seeing what great things they will accomplish.
Meeting folks in the 3rd District and attending events for truly wonderful people is one of my favorite aspects of being in Congress. However, legislation that I introduce and my work on the House Financial Services and Small Business Committees are also incredibly important to me, just in a different capacity.
This past year, I have been championing an effort in Congress to end a program called Operation Choke Point. Briefly, the name refers to an organized attempt by the Department of Justice and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), to bully and intimidate financial institutions from offering financial services to certain licensed, legally-operating industries the government doesn’t like in an attempt to choke off those industries from our country’s banking system. I have introduced multiple pieces of legislation to end this program and, most recently, the FDIC Chairman was in my office and I have demanded progress by the agency in ending this unprecedented program. I will continue to remain vigilant in putting an end to this issue in 2015.
Lastly, I am very excited and humbled to announce my new role as the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance. I look forward to working on housing and insurance issues that face our nation in the 114th Congress.
So, while we are starting to look to the new year, I wanted to take the opportunity to touch on a few highlights from 2014. Serving the more than 750,000 folks in the 3rd District is an honor and I look forward to hearing from you as we work together to improve the lives of all Americans.Read More
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) today sent a letter to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg to follow-up on yesterday’s meeting regarding the agency’s involvement in Operation Choke Point.
The letter from Luetkemeyer reiterates the importance of the FDIC conducting a full review of senior staff members who have, with the Chairman’s approval, clearly committed wrongdoing.
“There is neither doubt nor denial that numerous members of your senior staff have allowed personal and political views to interfere with the important work of the FDIC,” Luetkemeyer stated in the letter. “Their actions have not only called into question their ability to appropriately carry out their duties, but also have exposed your entire agency to what many of your staff would refer to as significant ‘reputational risk.’”
In addition, Luetkemeyer urges Chairman Gruenberg to use his authority to alter and improve the FDIC’s examination process in an effort to create more transparency and reign in these “vigilante activists” FDIC examiners and senior staff. Luetkemeyer’s latest legislation targeted at Operation Choke Point, the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, includes language that would dictate that federal banking regulators cannot suggest, request or order a financial institution to terminate a banking relationship unless the regulator has material reason. Moreover, the legislation states clearly that ‘reputational risk’ alone is not reason to order account terminations.
“I appreciate Chairman Gruenberg’s willingness to meet and it is my sincere hope he acts swiftly to bring punitive measures against FDIC staff members that have violated public trust,” Luetkemeyer said. “I will continue to hold the FDIC accountable for its actions and wrongdoing, which is why I requested a meeting with Chairman Gruenberg and Vice Chairman Tom Hoenig during the second week of January so they can report back to me and I can hear firsthand the progress made in bringing Operation Choke Point to an end once and for all. If the FDIC has not made substantial headway on these efforts, I will pursue new legislation to ensure this behavior does not happen again.”Read More
After years of local officials seeking permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to close St. Clair Regional Airport, today U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) and the House of Representatives passed legislation that would allow the city to close the airport once all obligations to federal taxpayers have been repaid.
“It may come as a surprise to many Missourians, but a municipality such as St. Clair cannot close an airport which it owns and operates without permission from the federal government. A few years ago local officials of St. Clair asked members of the Missouri delegation for help to facilitate authorization to close the airport. I am pleased that the House and Senate have now both passed legislation introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt to allow the city to pursue its own efforts to improve the local economy once federal taxpayers are made whole,” Luetkemeyer said. “St. Clair has been financially burdened with maintaining and operating this struggling airport year after year and closing it will allow the city to move forward with economic development plans supported by the local community. This legislation ensures the city will pay back any taxpayer dollars that were put into the airport and will transfer any salvageable airport and aviation equipment back to the state.”
Last week, the Senate passed S.2759 which would release the city of St. Clair from all restrictions, conditions, and limitations on the use of conveyance and closure of the regional airport. It would allow St. Clair to close the airport once they pay back any previously received FAA funds and transfer all salvageable equipment to the Missouri Department of Transportation for the improvement of Missouri aviation. Moreover, the city of St. Clair is very supportive of this effort, including the mayor, city council, school board, and local chamber of commerce. In addition, the Missouri Department of Transportation has indicated closure of the airport will not have an adverse impact on aviation in the state.Read More
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) today met with Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Martin Gruenberg about the agency’s involvement in Operation Choke Point.
Yesterday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report regarding the FDIC’s involvement in Operation Choke Point. Included in the report are more than 7,500 pages of information, including internal memorandum and emails. The information in the report indicates that FDIC staff blatantly targeted specific industries despite FDIC officials reporting to Congress that industries have not been and would not be targeted.
“After reviewing the FDIC report from the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, I can confirm that our worst fears have been validated,” Luetkemeyer said. “The report clearly shows that senior members of the FDIC lied to me, to Congressional staff, to other Members of Congress, and in testimony to several House Committees. Not only that, the communications contained in the report show that the FDIC is inserting personal views into banking supervision, which is unethical and completely unacceptable. I have urged Chairman Gruenberg to take prompt action, including but not limited to a thorough review of each FDIC staff member implicated in the report. Throughout my more than 35 years in the banking industry, I have always had the utmost respect for the FDIC and the manner in which it carries out its mission. That respect has been greatly diminished. Congress and the American people have lost faith in the FDIC and will not tolerate this behavior. It is time for Chairman Gruenberg to take action and report back the findings to Congress in order to restore the integrity of the FDIC.”Read More
Continuing his efforts to shine light on regulations from the executive branch, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) introduced legislation that would require agencies to create a plain language summary of proposed rules to provide more transparency and clarity.
“Government agencies have a habit of creating long-winded and convoluted rules that, frankly, don’t make sense unless you are an expert in that field. My legislation would simply require agencies to create a short, plain language summary and a web link to make it accessible so that all Americans can easily find and understand the rules being proposed by the administration,” Luetkemeyer said.
The legislation, the “Providing Accountability through Transparency Act,” would require each government agency, in providing notice of a rule making, to include a link to a 100 word plain language summary of the proposed rule.Read More
While you were with your family and loved ones on Thanksgiving Eve getting ready to enjoy some turkey, the Obama Administration was busy preparing an extra helping of regulations, 3,415 to be exact. With the release of its annual regulation road map the administration has made clear that it plans on continuing its burdensome regulatory agenda in 2015 and beyond.
One proposed regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone per the requirements of the Clean Air Act. Essentially, the EPA could lower the level from 75 parts per billion (ppb) in the atmosphere to 60 ppb.
Let me explain this further. Currently, the EPA’s requirement for ozone was issued in 2008 and is only now being implemented and it continues to drive billions of dollars in new environmental compliance costs. Not only are billions of dollars being spent, the proposed regulation cost is even more frightening. By the EPA’s own analysis this regulation could end up costing more than a trillion dollars over the next ten years and has the potential to lead to nearly 2.9 million fewer jobs. A study done by the National Association of Manufacturers found that these job losses could be more than 40,000 in Missouri alone.
To combat this regulation, I am a cosponsor of the Clean Air and Strong Economies Act which would force the EPA to consider economic impacts and the feasibility of its regulations. It would not allow the EPA to update the current requirement until at least 85 percent of counties in the country have come into compliance with the existing rule. In addition, it would require the EPA to issue a cost-benefit analysis without cherry picking data by using “co-benefits.”
Another regulation that has received a lot of attention is the “Waters of the U.S.” proposal. The EPA has said the final rule definition will be released in 2015, even though a large, bipartisan group of members in Congress have opposed this proposed rule. I have been out front of this issue and I have consistently said this proposed rule is a federal grab of our nation’s waters. I am a proud cosponsor of legislation to combat “Waters of the U.S” and earlier this year, the House voted and passed a measure to rescind the rule.
Another frustrating fact is these two proposed regulations, and the hundreds of proposed regulations, will not have any significant impact in improving our nation’s environment. It is simply hurting our nation’s small businesses, farmers, ranchers and individuals by forcing them to comply with more rules.
Since I’ve been in Congress, I have been committed to combatting the burdensome regulations and this latest batch has proved to be even more worrisome. I have heard from far too many of you about the numerous regulatory burdens from the EPA that threaten jobs and increase energy prices and I will continue to support legislation to reverse those troubling trends.Read More
Following is a statement from U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) after the administration extended the timeline of nuclear talks with Iran:
“After a year of negotiations, it is unacceptable that the Obama Administration has yet again extended the talks while the Iranian government continues to receive billions of dollars in economic sanctions relief. Simply put, we need an agreement that ends Iran’s ability to advance its nuclear weapons capabilities. Until the administration is able to reach an agreement, greater pressure must be put on Iran. It is more important than ever that Congress works together with the administration to show strong American leadership and advance sanctions that leave Iran with no choice but to disassemble its nuclear program.”Read More
The House of Representatives unanimously passed U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s (MO-03) legislation that would reduce duplicative regulatory burdens for advisers of Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs).
H.R. 4200, the SBIC Advisers Relief Act, accomplishes several things: it allows SBIC advisers that jointly advise SBICs and venture funds to be exempt from registration; it excludes SBIC assets from the SEC registration threshold calculation; and it allows SBIC funds with less than $90 million in assets under management to be regulated solely by the U.S. Small Business Administration, as they are today.
“I am very pleased the House of Representatives recognized the importance of this legislation and of greater investment in our nation’s small businesses,” Luetkemeyer said. “H.R. 4200 will reduce regulatory burdens for the advisers to investment funds that make long-term investments in U.S. small businesses. Several unintended consequences have hampered those advisers since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, and this common-sense legislation would relieve those burdens. Most importantly, this legislation includes sensible provisions that prevent redundant regulatory mandates and allow for greater investment in America’s small businesses. It is my hope the Senate will hotline my legislation and the president will sign H.R. 4200 into law before the end of the year.”Read More
2440 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
As the Congressman from the 3rd Congressional District of Missouri, Blaine is committed to representing the interests of the hard-working people by being a strong voice for them in Washington, D.C.
Blaine, 61, represents the 13 counties that make up the 3rd Congressional District of Missouri. Blaine, a native of St. Elizabeth, Mo., has lived in the district with his family for four generations and he operates a 160-acre farm there.
Along with his strong agriculture background, he was also a small businessman, having been in the banking and insurance business. Blaine has also served as a bank regulator for the state of Missouri earlier in his career. He was elected in November, 2008, succeeding fellow Republican Kenny Hulshof.
From 1999 to 2005, Blaine was a Missouri State Representative and served as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee and was elected by his colleagues to serve as the House Republican Caucus Chairman. After leaving office, Blaine was appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt to serve as the Director of the Missouri Division of Tourism.
Building on his experience as a bank examiner, small businessman and community banker, Blaine serves as vice chairman of the House Small Business Committee where he also serves on the House Small Business Subcommittees on Health and Technology and Agriculture, Energy and Trade. Blaine also serves on the House Financial Services Committee where he also serves on the panel’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Committee and is vice chairman of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee.
Blaine is a member of the Knights of Columbus, Eldon Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Rifle Association and a lifelong member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church. Blaine is a graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., where he earned a degree with distinction in political science and a minor in business administration.
Blaine and his wife, Jackie, have three children, Trevor, Brandy and Nikki, and four grandchildren.
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Contact my Washington, DC office for assistance with tours and flags in 2015! http://t.co/dzl64nYzfQ
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Much joy and happiness to those who are celebrating #Hanukkah!
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Three Receive Farm Bureau Outstanding Service to Ag Awards http://t.co/IR9JtLBr6T
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