WASHINGTON, DC - This week, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-03) introduced the Review Every Dollar Act (RED Act) to strengthen spending controls, enhance oversight of government spending and bring honest accounting to Washington’s broken budget process. HR 405 has been introduced twice before, as HR 1873 in the 113th Congress and HR 3579 in the 112th Congress.
“More than ever, Washington D.C. must change the way it does business,” said Chaffetz. “The appropriations process is flawed. The RED Act makes fundamental changes to that process, requiring Congress to be more accountable for financial decisions. Ultimately, this legislation is intended to slow spending by improving the process to help Congress do the right thing. If we want different results, we have to do something different. We have to change the process.”
The bill has five provisions that reform the way Congress creates budgets. First, the bill requires periodic sunset reviews and reauthorization of federal programs. Committees of jurisdiction shall consider whether spending programs should be modified, terminated, or reauthorized. Criteria include cost effectiveness and efficiency of the program, whether the program is duplicative with other programs and should be consolidated with similar programs, whether the original objectives of the program have been achieved, and whether alternative methods exist to carry out the objectives.
Second, the bill creates deficit reduction accounts. This reform would ensure that if an amendment is adopted that reduces the amount of budget authority provided in a bill, then that budget authority is not merely shifted to some other part of the bill but is instead made permanently unavailable and thus used to reduce the deficit.
Third, general fund transfers to the highway trust fund will be scored as spending. In recent years, the federal government has transferred more than $34 billion from the general fund to the highway trust fund. This provision does not prevent general fund transfers to the highway trust fund nor does it reduce highway spending, which includes the mass transit account, but this provision does require that such transfers be scored as spending.
Fourth, Pell Grant funding will be entirely discretionary. Currently, Pell Grants are funded through a mixture of annual appropriations and direct spending. This provision shifts current Pell Grant mandatory spending to discretionary spending without reducing Pell Grant spending or the current maximum award of $5,550. This provision simplifies the program and gives Congress better control over costs.
Fifth, this bill requires that administrative actions that increase costs of mandatory programs cannot go into effect unless Congress enacts legislation to fund them. Under current law, agencies that run programs funded through direct spending can take administrative actions such as changing eligibility that increase the cost of that program to the federal government without approval from Congress. Congressional approval should be required for all spending, including mandatory spending.
The Review Every Dollar Act reforms the federal government’s broken budget process by increasing oversight and transparency.
Washington, D.C. – In order to create clear rules about when law enforcement agencies can access and track Americans’ electronic location data Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, reintroduced the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act (GPS Act) today.
The bipartisan, bicameral bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and in the House by Reps. Peter Welch, D-VT and Jon Conyers Jr., D-MI.
“Buying a smartphone shouldn’t be interpreted as giving the government a free pass to track your movements,” Wyden said. “GPS data can be a valuable tool for law enforcement, but our laws need to keep up with technology and set out exactly when and how the government can collect Americans’ electronic location data.”
"As technology makes tracking people's movements easier and less expensive, we need to update our laws to protect privacy and respect individual rights. In light of the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Jones, which was certainly a step in the right direction, we need clarification specific to the use of GPS technology. This law will settle the controversy and provide specific and clear guidelines to ensure this valuable and effective technology is not abused,” said Chaffetz.
"Smartphones make our lives easier, but the privacy of the individual and due process are fundamental to the American way of life," Senator Kirk said. "Law enforcement can greatly benefit from information obtained from smartphones and GPS devices – but only if it's obtained legally."
“Cell phones are in the pockets and purses of most Americans. While tracking technology has transformed our lives in many positive ways, it also poses a risk to privacy through potential misuse of tracking data. The time has come to modernize our statutes to reflect the technology of our age. This bipartisan legislation protects Americans’ right to privacy while ensuring law enforcement officials are able do their important jobs,” said Welch.
“We must enact the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act to require the government to obtain a warrant based on probable cause to compel companies such as cell phone service providers to disclose the geolocation information of their customers,” Geolocation tracking, whether information about where we have been or where we are going, strikes at the heart of personal privacy interests. The pattern of our movements reveals much about ourselves. When individuals are tracked in this way, the government is able to generate a profile of a person’s public movements that includes details about a person’s familial, political, professional, religious, and other intimate associations. That is why we need this legislation to provide a strong and clear legal standard to protect this information,” said Conyers, Jr.
Courts have issued conflicting opinions about whether the government needs a warrant to track Americans through their cell phones and other GPS devices. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2012’s U.S. vs. Jones case that attaching a GPS tracking device to a vehicle requires a warrant, but it did not address other digital location tracking, including through cell phones, OnStar systems and consumer electronics devices.
The GPS Act applies to all domestic law enforcement acquisitions of the geolocation information of individual Americans without their knowledge, including acquisitions from private companies and direct acquisitions through the use of ‘Stingrays’ and other devices. It would also combat high-tech stalking by creating criminal penalties for surreptitiously using an electronic device to track a person’s movements, and it would prohibit commercial service providers from sharing customers’ geolocation information with outside entities without customer consent.
WASHINGTON, DC – Intended to spur the development of drugs previously considered economically infeasible, HR 406 was introduced by Congressman Jason Chaffetz today. The bill would extend to new combination drugs containing molecules already approved by the FDA the same five-year market exclusivity as a drug product containing an entirely new active ingredient.
The existing Hatch-Waxman law gives new drugs a period of five years of “market exclusivity” to help them defray the cost of undergoing the FDA new drug approval process. Therefore, regardless of the patent situation of a new drug, the company can count on having five years as the exclusive seller of the product. Thirty years ago when Hatch-Waxman was enacted, all new drugs were “new chemical entities,” that is, new molecules that had never before been approved. No one at the time considered the possibility that a new drug might be created combining existing molecules (that is, molecules that had already been approved).
Today, however, it is clear that much of the future of conventional medicine is in combination products. This has proven especially true in the fields of cancer, AIDS and other complex diseases.
“As the law is currently written, virtually all combination new drugs are excluded from the five years of market exclusivity and therefore are not being developed,” said Chaffetz. “A new drug that has been created using one or more existing molecules should not be required to go through the same rigorous, lengthy and expensive FDA new drug approval process.”
The legislation is supported by a coalition consisting of large research-based pharmaceutical companies like Sanofi and BI, small innovators like Pozen, and independent generic companies like TEVA who recognize that the future of the generic industry depends upon Congress encouraging the development of new medicines.
This may well be the first time ever that the research-based and generic pharmaceutical companies have joined on an issue involving market exclusivity. The bill extends to new combination drugs containing molecules already approved by the FDA the same five-year market exclusivity as a drug product containing an entirely new active ingredient. “This legislation is intended to allow companies to develop new medicines that are not financially or economically feasible under existing law,” Chaffetz said.
Washington, D.C. – H.Res. 41, introduced today, declares Congress’s opposition to federal bailouts of state and local government employee pension plans. In 2012, state and local government employee pension funds reported unfunded liabilities that equal more than $4 trillion. Identical legislation (H.Res. 23 and H.Res 117) was introduced during the 112th Congress and 113th Congresses.
“Unfortunately, too many state and local government pension plans have understated liabilities and overstated asset growth rates,” said Chaffetz. “They have employed methodologies that federal law prohibits private sector plans from using. This is a problem states will have to face.”
The federal government is already deeply in debt, having borrowed 14 cents of every dollar spent in 2014. As of January 2015, the federal government itself carries $18 trillion of debt, of which $13 trillion is owed to the public and $5.1 trillion is owed to Social Security and other trust funds.
“State and local governments should not look to the federal government to rescue them from the consequences of poor public policy decisions,” said Chaffetz. “With more than 16% of the total federal budget already going directly to state and local governments, the federal government can’t afford to fix this problem. Bailing out states that have recklessly adopted overly generous pension programs would send the wrong message to states that have made the hard decisions to manage their budgets responsibly.”
Washington, DC—Consistent with his commitment to fix legal immigration, Congressman Jason Chaffetz reintroduced legislation to create a fair and equitable first-come first-served visa system. HR 213, the bipartisan Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, would eliminate per country percentage caps for employment-based visas. Reps. Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) will once again be original cosponsors of this legislation.
“This bill is an important step toward creating a more equitable and less arbitrary immigration system. Our current practice of capping visas at an arbitrary 7% per country ultimately favors people from some countries while penalizing people from others. Those from countries with larger populations or close proximity to the United States ultimately wait years longer to receive a visa than those from small countries,” said Chaffetz. “While this bill does not fix all of our legal immigration problems, it addresses an important problem that has created a backlog of qualified workers.”
Under this system, U.S. companies will be able to focus on what they do best – hiring smart people to create products, services, and jobs for Americans. An identical version of the bill (H.R. 3012) passed the House during the 112th Congress with a resounding bipartisan vote of 389 to 15, but the subsequent version in the 113th Congress (HR 633) did not receive a vote. “The current percentage cap has created a backlog of qualified workers. American companies view all highly skilled immigrants as the same regardless of where they are from, and our immigration policy should do the same,” said Chaffetz.
HR 213 creates a fair and equitable, “first come, first serve” system. Under this system, US companies will be able to focus on what they do best – hiring smart people to create products, services, and jobs for Americans.
Current law prohibits US employers from hiring foreign workers to fill these jobs unless there are not sufficient US workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available. The employment of the immigrant will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the US. HR 213 does not change this, but it does encourage high skilled immigrants who were educated in the US to stay and contribute to our economy, rather than taking the skills they learned and aiding our competitor nations.
“I am committed to helping fix legal immigration. Per country limits make no sense in the context of employment-based visas. Companies view all highly skilled immigrants as the same regardless of where they are from—be it India or Brazil,” said Chaffetz. “By removing per country limits, American companies will be able to access the best talent.”
The bill also adjusts family-based visa limits from 7% per country to 15% per country.
This legislation is pro-growth, pro-jobs, and pro-innovation. It is supported by the US Chamber of Commerce, Compete America (a coalition of high tech companies (Microsoft, Google, Oracle, etc.) and various trade groups (BSA, SIA, ITIC, etc.).Read More
Washington, D.C. – House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz released the following statement after voting to cut off funding for President Obama’s executive action on immigration:
“Today we pushed back against President Obama's unilateral attempt to change laws with which he doesn't agree. I voted to defund the amnesty executive order and convey to the President in no uncertain terms that Congress will not stand by and cede the Constitutional authority entrusted to us by hardworking Americans. His executive amnesty betrays the American people by circumventing the Constitution we in Congress have sworn to uphold. My constituents have been loud and clear. They want Congress to work together to fix legal immigration, secure the border, and protect American workers. We still have a great deal of work to do and it ought to be accomplished within the Constitutional bounds our Founders set."
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman-elect Jason Chaffetz (R – UT), and current Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D – MD), released the following statement in response to a review conducted by an independent panel appointed by the Department of Homeland Security on recent security breaches within the Secret Service:
"We appreciate the hard work this panel put into reviewing recent incidents within the Secret Service. Their report highlights many issues we have long had concerns with. Every day honorable men and women put their lives on the line to protect the President, first family, and others within the Administration. There’s no room for mistakes.
“At the start of the new Congress, we will be conducting a bipartisan investigation that will allow lawmakers to further examine some of the matters highlighted in this report. The investigation will examine security breaches that have recently been publicly reported, as well as focus on overall leadership, staffing, culture, protocol, technology, tactics and training issues. A serious and robust investigation must include cooperation on both sides of aisle in order to root out systemic problems and implement proper reforms.”
Washington, D.C. – Incoming Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz announced this week six new Subcommittees that will be established during the 114th Congress and the Chair selections:
“When assessing the future of the committee and our goals, we saw an opportunity to make some changes, which includes modifications to subcommittee issue areas and titles. These changes will allow the subcommittee Chairs and Members to take a new approach to addressing the matters that come before the committee. Each of the incoming Chairs brings valuable knowledge and experience to the subcommittees they have been selected to lead and I am grateful for their commitment to bringing vigorous oversight to the federal government, “said Chaffetz.
Subcommittees (in alphabetical order):
Government Operations – Mark Meadows (NC)
Included on a long list of focus areas, the Government Operations Subcommittee will focus on a range of issues that includes federal records, national archives, Executive Office of the president, U.S. Postal Service, FOIA, Department of Commerce, Treasury, Education, and Labor, and federal civil service, among other issues.
Health Care, Benefits, & Administrative Rules – Jim Jordan (OH)
This subcommittee will focus on issues related to HHS, healthcare, gov-wide rules and regulations, Social Security, and Medicare/Medicaid.
Information Technology – Will Hurd (TX)
The IT Subcommittee will focus on federal IT procurement, Will Hurd (TX) Cybersecurity, IT infrastructure, emerging technologies, and intellectual property, among other issues.
Interior – Cynthia Lummis (WY)
The Interior Subcommittee will focus on issues related to the Department of Interior, Department of Energy, EPA, and USDA.
National Security – Ron DeSantis (FL)
The National Security Subcommittee will focus on issues related to DOD, Dept. of State, USAID, DHS, VA, DOJ, and the intelligence community.
Transportation and Public Assets – John Mica (FL)
This subcommittee will focus on issues related to the Department of Transportation, TSA, FEMA, HUD, GSA, and real property.
Many of you continue to have concerns about the omnibus bill passed last week. I understand your concerns. The bill is an imperfect compromise with the problems and budget gimmicks typical of all appropriations bills. However, I believe passing this bill was important to Utah and represents our best strategy for fighting the President’s agenda. There is a reason the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren voted against this bill. There is a lot of misinformation circulating about this bill. Let’s talk about some of those myths.
MYTH: Voting against the CRomnibus would put an end to executive amnesty.
FACT: False. If the CRomnibus had been defeated, the President’s executive orders would still be carried out. During the last shutdown, just 15% of DHS employees were furloughed. The rest - 85% - were deemed “essential” and continued to work through the shutdown. A shutdown would not stop executive amnesty.
Furthermore, the agency carrying out the President’s orders is primarily funded by user fees. In a government shutdown, those fees are still collected.
I believe we must change the equation. Can that be done with a Harry Reid-led Senate? Unfortunately, no. With a new Senate, I hope and expect we can and will.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, explains, “The CRomnibus actually presents the best possible chance of stopping executive amnesty, as not even a government shutdown will stop the President’s executive actions. The CRomnibus provided just two months of funding for the Department of Homeland Security so that our border patrol can keep the border secure through the end of February. One of the first things that House and Senate Republicans will tackle - TOGETHER - is to create a budget for DHS that includes our tough House border security bill and specific language to stop the use of any funds, appropriated or gathered via fees, to implement the President's executive amnesty plan. While the President and Democrats were hoping to force a government shutdown debate early next year to detract the public's attention from his unlawful immigration executive order and discredit the new Republican Senate, thanks to the CRomnibus we sidestepped their trap and strengthened the new Republican Senate's ability to put a bill on the President's desk forcing him to choose between protecting our border or protecting illegal immigrants.”
MYTH: A vote for the CRomnibus was a betrayal of Utah voters.
FACT: A vote against the bill would have been the real betrayal. Failure to pass this budget would have cost rural Utah counties a substantial portion of the funds upon which they rely to provide public safety, infrastructure and other critical services. A vote that could financially devastate the counties I represent would have been a true betrayal. Because the federal government pays no property taxes on the millions of acres it controls in our rural counties, those counties are forced to rely on PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) to run local government. The omnibus, along with the National Defense Authorization Act, fully funds PILT at $442 million. This funding will provide certainty and badly needed stability for rural counties in Utah and across the West. There is no funding vehicle for PILT payments – the only way Utah ever gets this money is if the bill is attached to an appropriations bill. The Utah delegation worked hard for our constituents to get PILT payments into the omnibus bill.
FACT: Voting against the sage grouse provision would have been a further betrayal of Utah voters. Because the CRomnibus prohibits the US Fish and Wildlife Service from issuing rules to place the Western and Gunnison Sage Grouse on the Endangered Species List for a year, Western states gained a huge concession. We can now demonstrate once again that states can manage endangered species without the one-size-fits-all policies of federal agencies that hurt our local economies and have a low rate of success. Utah's state plan has been successful and proves that habitat protection can co-exist with grazing, mining, drilling and other land uses.
The CRomnibus contains numerous other provisions important to Western states. The Western Caucus has provided an excellent summary of those provisions here.
MYTH: The CRomnibus empowers environmentalists and the EPA.
FACT: The CRomnibus cut EPA funding by $60 million. The Western Caucus reports, “Overall, EPA funding has been reduced by $2.2 billion – or 21% since Republicans gained control of the House in 2010. The agreement rejects $66 million requested by the President for EPA regulatory programs and creates exemptions for livestock producers from onerous greenhouse gas regulations.”
MYTH: The CRomnibus is full of pork and giveaways.
FACT: Budget authority for 2015 is even lower than the budget authority for 2008, despite seven years of inflation, population growth, and GDP growth. This bill dramatically slows the growth in discretionary spending. In actual dollars, total discretionary spending will have decreased for the fifth consecutive year. Total discretionary budget authority, including disaster, emergency, and war spending, will be about $1.1 trillion in fiscal year 2015, which is lower than 2008. This appropriations bill continues the trend of reducing total discretionary spending relative to GDP. Discretionary spending relative to GDP has fallen dramatically since the stimulus was enacted and is now even lower than it was prior to the stimulus. In 2007, total discretionary spending equaled 7.5% of GDP. In 2009, total discretionary spending peaked at 10.4% of GDP. However, in 2015, total discretionary spending will approach 6.1% of GDP. These figures include all discretionary spending such as base, disaster, emergency, and war spending.
MYTH: The CRomnibus fully funded ObamaCare through September.
FACT: The CRomnibus cut another $10 million from IPAB atop the $52 billion we have cut from Obamacare since 2012. I have voted more than 40 times to repeal Obamacare. Unfortunately, Democrats intentionally designed Obamacare to function independent from Congressional discretionary appropriations specifically to prevent us from cutting the funding. Even the government shutdown did not stop Obamacare because of the way it was funded. We have repeatedly blocked funding for implementation.
Rep. Brady (R-TX), who is the most senior Republican on the House Ways & Means Committee, writes, “The CRomnibus blocks the White House from using the Prevention and Public Health Fund as a slush fund for ObamaCare, removed $10 million from the IPAB rationing board and blocked taxpayer funds from being used to bailout insurance companies faltering in the exchanges. To sum up, we did not fund ObamaCare through the Cromnibus. As the author of the ObamaCare chart and leader of the Health subcommittee my goal is to repeal ObamaCare as soon as possible (we'll need a new President) as that's the only way to fully defund it, and replace it with a free-market alternative driven by patients, not Washington. In the meantime, we'll continue to repeal and defund as much of it as we can and now with the Senate working with us, not against us.”
MYTH: The CRomnibus shows Republicans aren’t serious about tackling the debt.
FACT: This bill only addresses discretionary spending – which is about1/3 of the federal budget and is not the main driver of our debt. Even if you reduced discretionary spending to 0, we would still run massive deficits. Mandatory spending — which is NOT addressed in this or any other appropriations bill — is the primary threat to our nation's economic future. Congress should be focusing more on reforming programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which are by far the biggest drivers of our debt. Three years ago, I introduced a Social Security reform proposal. You can view this proposal on my website at http://chaffetz.house.gov/issue/social-security
MYTH: The Y Mountain bill should never have been part of the CRomnibus.
FACT: It wasn’t. I was able to pass it through the House in each of the last two sessions – first in July 2012 and again in June 2013. Senator Hatch carried the bill in the Senate. He wisely attached the legislation to the NDAA and consequently was able to pass it. It is now on its way to the president’s desk for signature. You can read more about what it accomplishes here.
2464 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Selected by House leadership to chair the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, Jason Chaffetz enters his third term in Congress with energy, enthusiasm, and a determination to continue reforming Washington, D.C.
Believing in the core conservative principles of a strong national defense, fiscal discipline, limited government, and accountability, Mr. Chaffetz distinguished himself as a budget hawk by co-founding the Sunset Caucus, identifying budget cutting measures, running a lean office that returned more than $600,000 of his office budget in his first term, and sleeping on a cot in the closet of his office. He was asked by House Speaker John Boehner to chair the House Technology Operations Team, was featured regularly on CNN’s freshman year, and consistently appears in local and national media outlets to communicate the conservative message.
On November 4, 2008, Mr. Chaffetz was elected by a 37-point margin to represent Utah’s Third Congressional District. To secure the Republican nomination, Mr. Chaffetz unseated a 12-year incumbent by a 20-point margin, and did so with no paid campaign staff, no polling, no free meals for potential voters, no campaign office, and a refusal to go into debt to finance the campaign. Despite being outspent by over $600,000, Mr. Chaffetz’ approach to conservative principles resonated with voters and resulted in an unprecedented victory.
Mr. Chaffetz comes to Congress with a 16-year history in the local business community, executive branch experience in Utah State government, a reputation for running strong political campaigns, and a distinguished college football career.
Mr. Chaffetz, who grew up in California, Arizona, and Colorado, was invited to Utah in the mid-1980s by the legendary Brigham Young University football coach LaVell Edwards to be a placekicker. His years at BYU literally transformed his life.
After a successful football career that included two years as the starting placekicker and two school records, Mr. Chaffetz earned a degree in communications and married Julie Johnson of Mesa, Arizona. In February, Mr. and Mrs. Chaffetz celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary.
In 1995, Mr. Chaffetz’s mother passed away after a long fight with cancer. Consequently, he was deeply touched by the overwhelming generosity of the Utah-based Huntsman family in fighting the disease that killed his mother. Their commitment was more than words as they personally donated hundreds of millions of dollars to research and treat cancer.
Upon reading an article about Jon Huntsman, Jr. potentially running for Governor of Utah, Mr. Chaffetz sought to meet the man who had given so much to fight cancer. Through a mutual friend, a meeting was set up and Mr. Chaffetz eventually joined the Huntsman for Governor staff. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Chaffetz was named Campaign Manager. In a crowded field of contenders, Huntsman triumphed by running a well-organized, positive campaign and became Utah’s 16th Governor. The Governor invited Mr. Chaffetz to continue working with him as his Chief of Staff.
Mr. Chaffetz used his time in the Governor’s Office to learn about the federal delegation and the issues that matter to the State of Utah. As Utah’s representative in Congress, he is committed to represent Utah to Washington, not Washington to Utah. Mr. Chaffetz made a commitment to voters in 2008 that he would seek to return this country to the core conservative principles of fiscal discipline, limited government, accountability and a strong national defense. As he concludes his second term, he has a distinguished record of promoting legislation to restore those values.
Tomorrow afternoon we hold our first Oversight Committee meeting of the 114th Congress, welcoming new committee members and adopting rules for
This is exactly why Rep. Bishop, Sen. Lee and I continue to work with local stakeholders to propose a land use plan for Eastern Utah. At any
Sen. Ron Wyden and I will try again this session to the pass the GPS Act. As technology makes tracking people's movements easier and less expensive,
Clearly Utah should have been Number One, but not bad.
Utah is hosting the Sundance Film Festival this week. I was pleased to attend a screening last night of Robert Redford's own film, A Walk in