WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) made the following statement about FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s decision not to testify before Congress ahead of the commission’s Thursday vote on sweeping new regulation of the Internet:
“We are deeply disappointed in Chairman Wheeler’s decision. As Chairman Wheeler pushes forward with plans to regulate the Internet, he still refuses to directly answer growing concerns about how the rules were developed, how they are structured, and how they will stand up to judicial scrutiny. After hearing from over four million Americans on such an important topic to our economic and cultural future, it’s striking that when Congress seeks transparency, Chairman Wheeler opts against it. The last time a rule of this magnitude was voted on by the FCC, then-Senator Obama was motivated to call for transparency at the commission. We continue that call today.”
“Reports as late as Tuesday suggest that changes in the proposed rules are still possible, with just hours left on the clock before the commission votes. So long as the chairman continues to insist on secrecy, we will continue calling for more transparency and accountability at the commission. Chairman Wheeler and the FCC are not above Congress. This fight continues as the future of the Internet is at stake.”
In light of Chairman Wheeler’s refusal to testify the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will postpone its scheduled hearing today at 2:00 p.m.
The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing on “The Uncertain Future of the Internet” at 10:30 a.m. today. More here.Read More
WASHINGTON – In an effort to liquidate federal lands identified by the Clinton Administration for disposal, Senators Mike Lee (UT) and John McCain (AZ), and Congressman Jason Chaffetz (UT – 03) reintroduced the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act.
Lee: "It is long past time to liquidate these federal lands and hand them over to those who will carefully and responsibly manage the property."
McCain:“The federal budget, much like the household budgets of millions of American families, is stretched alarmingly thin in today’s fiscal climate. Our legislation aims to reduce the federal estate in a way that’s mindful of how we currently manage our public lands and only seeks to dispose land that the federal government simply does not want. With more than 450,000 acres of federally managed land identified by the Interior Department as being eligible for disposal in Arizona, our citizens could reap tremendous benefits by putting this land to use in the private sector.”
Chaffetz: “While there are national treasures worthy of federal protection, there are lands that should be returned to private ownership. If the lands serves no public purpose, and are ‘identified for disposal’, let’s put them to use in a way that will benefit the states and local communities.”
A 1997 Clinton Administration report performed by the Interior Department identified approximately 3.3 million acres of land deemed suitable for sale to non-federal entities. The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act would responsibly dispose of the nearly 3.3 million acres of land the federal government identified by government agencies for disposal. This disposal would equate to just over 1% of BLM land and less than one half of 1% of all federal lands. In Utah there were 132,931 acres of eligible land identified by the Clinton Administration.
S. 361 was introduced this week in the Senate. H.R. 435 was previous introduced in the House.
WASHINGTON – Today, Republicans Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Trey Gowdy (R-SC) joined with Democrats Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) to introduce H.R. 759, Recidivism Risk Reduction Act. This bipartisan legislation uses risk assessment tools to reduce recidivism, lower the crime rate, and reduces the amount of money spent on the federal prison system.
Chaffetz: “It’s no longer enough to be tough on crime. We have to be smart on crime as well. States have successfully implemented these strategies. As a result, they’ve seen recidivism drop as well as cost.”
Gowdy: “This bill will help make our federal prison system smarter and more effective. It incentivizes individuals to take steps to reduce their risk of ending up back in federal prison, helping to reduce costs and increase public safety. I thank my colleagues for their hard work on this bipartisan legislation and am honored to work with them to improve our federal prison system.”
Richmond: “Our criminal justice system is in serious need of reform in many areas,” said Rep. Richmond. "One of those areas is our prison and post-release supervision system. We need a better approach to incarceration that uses effective strategies to reduce recidivism. Ensuring that people get the right programs and activities while in prison is crucial to ensuring they are prepared to succeed after their release. I am pleased to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort to move us closer to that goal.”
Jeffries: "This is a great first step toward comprehensive prison reform. The current system, which fails to discern between high and low-risk individuals, does not reward those who are committed to correcting their life’s path once their time is served. It should. This new, smarter grading system, in conjunction with the in-depth evaluation of how money is spent, will go a long way toward repairing this broken system.”
H.R. 759 would implement a post-sentencing dynamic risk assessment system to identify an inmate’s risk of recidivism. Then, using evidence-based practices developed by states, effective recidivism reduction programs are identified and utilized. The bill would then provide incentives for inmates to participate in those programs.
Ultimately, inmates could earn credits toward an alternative custody arrangement – such as a halfway house or home confinement – at the end of their term. Such arrangements reduce the cost of housing an inmate in the federal prison system.
The program will be phased in over a five year period. The savings will be reinvested into further expansions of proven recidivism reduction programs during this time. After that, it is anticipated that the savings can be used either for other Justice Department priorities such as FBI agents, US Attorney offices etc., or the savings can be used to help reduce the deficit.
Similar programs have found success on a state level in several states including Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, and North Carolina.
In addition, Reps. Chaffetz and Jefferies introduced HR 760, the Bureau of Corrections Renaming Act. This bipartisan legislation would simply rename the “Bureau of Prisons” – under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice – the “Bureau of Corrections.” Over ninety percent of all federal prisoners will eventually be released. This small change will help the Bureau remember that its mission is not just to house people, but also to rehabilitate prisoners such that they are productive members of society when released. Forty-eight states throughout the country use the word ‘corrections’ in describing their prisons
Post-Sentencing Risk Assessment System
a. This is not automatic – it must be reviewed and approved by the prison warden, the chief probation officer in the relevant federal district, and a judge in the relevant federal district.
b. This is not a reduction in sentence – prisoners are not being released and nothing in this Act affects Truth in Sentencing requirements that prisoners complete at least 85% of their sentence.
WASHINGTON – In an effort to reverse the Department of Justice’s abrupt 2011 decision expanding online gaming, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D – HI) today introduced Restoration of America’s Wire Act.
This bipartisan legislation will restore the long-standing interpretation of the Wire Act and is a response to concerns expressed by many state Attorneys General about the impact of the DOJ decision on their states. Utah and Hawaii are the only two states in the U.S. to reject all forms of gambling.
“In yet another example of executive branch overreach, the DOJ crossed the line by making what amounts to a massive policy change without debate or input from the people or their representatives. We must restore the original interpretation of the Wire Act. If there is justification and support for a change, the Constitution designates Congress as the body to debate that change and set that policy,” said Chaffetz.
“Congress has the responsibility to debate these regulations openly and should not allow bureaucrats to unilaterally change the law behind closed doors. Until that debate takes place, Congress must restore the long-standing interpretation of the Wire Act. The FBI and state Attorneys General from different parts of the country have raised multiple concerns about this new change. This bill restores protections against criminal activity which existed in the pre-2011 interpretation of the law,” said Gabbard.
On February 4th of 2014, Attorneys General from 16 states and territories wrote to Congress asking, “that Congress restore the decades-long interpretation of the Wire Act to allow Congress and the states to more fully consider the public policy ramifications of the DOJ’s reinterpretation of the Wire Act and to give federal and state law enforcement agencies time to fully assess and report on the implications Internet gambling has on our respective charges to protect the citizens of our states.” (View full letter here)
Additionally, in 2009 the FBI expressed similar concerns about fraud and money laundering by criminal elements. In 2014 the Governors of Texas and South Carolina also wrote to Congress expressing concerns about the Department of Justice’s decision. Identical legislation was introduced in the 113th Congress.
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jason Chaffetz introduced H.R. 547, the Properly Reducing Overexemptions (PRO) for Sports Act, which would eliminate the 501(c)(6) tax-exemption for professional sports organizations with annual revenues over $10 million. The bill was introduced in the 113th Congress as HR 3965.
Under H.R. 547, organizations like the National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL) would lose their tax exemption. Currently, NFL and NHL franchises are taxable, but their leagues are not.
“Professional sports organizations aren’t fooling anybody. Organizations like the NFL and NHL are for-profit businesses making millions of dollars each year. These are not charities nor are they traditional trade organizations. They are for-profit businesses and should be taxed as such,” said Chaffetz. “Closing this loophole should be combined with closing several other loopholes in order to lower tax rates in a revenue-neutral manner."
H.R. 547 is consistent with actions taken by the Tax Court with businesses that were previously classified as 501 (c)(6) organizations. For example, in 1953, the Tax Court revoked the 501 (c)(6) exemption for the American Automobile Association because "its principal activities were determined to consist of securing benefits and performing particular services for members." The Tax Court has also ruled "a trade association of manufacturers whose principal activity is the promotion of its members' products under the association's registered trademark does not qualify for exemption."
According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, removing non-profit status for major professional sports leagues would increase federal revenues by $109 million over ten years.
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
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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.
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