Washington, D.C. — Since President Obama has refused to take actions to stop illegal crossings at our southern border, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today introduced a bill to stop the surge of children, teenagers, and families from Central America seeking to enter the United States illegally. The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act (H.R. 5137) ends many of the Obama Administration’s policies that encourage Central Americans to come to the United States, such as weak standards for asylum claims that enable the Administration’s rubberstamping of fraudulent applications and policies that prevent Border Patrol agents from accessing federal lands along the border. Additionally, the bill makes targeted changes to current law, which has worsened the crisis at the border.
Congressman Chaffetz and Chairman Goodlatte released the statements below on the introduction of the bill.
Congressman Chaffetz: “Immediate actions are required to address the recent surge of unaccompanied children and teenagers crossing the border. The Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act not only deals with the crisis at hand, but implements important policy changes moving forward. By sending additional judges, attorneys, and other resources to the border we can ensure that these children are processed, reunited with their families, and sent home as swiftly as possible.
“Additionally, this bill makes long needed changes to the asylum process. Too many are finding ways to game the system. By strengthening standards for those who claim ‘credible fear’ we can expedite the removal process. We must deal with this crisis in both a humane and realistic manner. This legislation does both.”
Chairman Goodlatte: “President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement and administrative legalization programs have encouraged tens of thousands of Central Americans to make the dangerous journey to the United States with the hope of benefiting from the situation. Obama Administration officials claim that violence is the root cause of this surge but an internal Department of Homeland Security memo shows that 95% of those arriving at our border are coming because they think they will get a free pass to stay. And law enforcement agents on the ground say that the majority of these minors are seeking to join up with a family member who is already in the U.S. illegally. This crisis is a disaster of President Obama’s own making and threatens both national security and the rule of law.
“Although President Obama has many tools at his disposal to stop this surge at the border, he refuses to use them. Since President Obama won’t take actions to quell this activity, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act stops many of the Administration’s policies that have caused this crisis, such as exploiting weak asylum standards to approve baseless claims and stringent environmental policies that prevent Border Patrol agents from doing their job of securing the border. Additionally, the bill reforms current law to make sure we get these unaccompanied minors home safely and quickly. We must swiftly take action to end this crisis—children’s lives are at stake, and so is the integrity of our immigration system.”
Original cosponsors of the bill include Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).
Key components of the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act:
Provides additional immigration judges and ICE prosecutors: The bill provides a temporary allotment of immigration judges and ICE prosecutors in order to deal with the surge at the border.Read More
Washington, D.C. – Legislation sponsored by Congressman Jason Chaffetz and U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch passed unanimously through the Senate. H.R. 255, the Provo River Title Transfer Act, clarifies existing language in the Provo River Project Transfer Act. The bill is now on its way to the White House where the President is expected to sign the legislation into law.
H.R. 255 updates the Provo River Title Transfer Act by striking the term “canal” and replacing it with “water conveyance facility historically known as the Provo Reservoir Canal”.
“The Provo River transfer has produced a variety of win-win outcomes including enhancing local management and control of critical infrastructure, shielding federal taxpayers from future costs and risk, and facilitating outdoor recreation in Utah County. This bill solidifies and completes the transfer as originally intended. I am grateful for the Provo River Water Users and Senator Hatch for their hard work in getting this bill across the finish line," said Chaffetz.
During the 108th Congress, lawmakers authorized a transfer of the Provo Reservoir Canal from federal control to the local Provo River Water Users Association. The local water authority has since enclosed the canal using non-federal dollars in an effort to enhance water delivery, safety, and outdoor recreation.
The Bureau of Reclamation notified the local water authority that the original law authorizing title transfer needed to be updated because the original law refers to an open canal which is now enclosed. HR 255 would update the Provo River Title Transfer Act to reflect the recent enclosure, thus solidifying and completing the transfer.
This legislation passed the House in 2013 by a unanimous vote of 406 – 0.Read More
With great fanfare, President Obama in April 2009 gave the VA a mission: modernize health care delivery to veterans by integrating electronic health records between the Department of Defense and the VA. Five years later, with cost estimates in the billions, the mission has been aborted. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel candidly explained the decision in formal testimony before Congress, saying: “I didn’t think we knew what the hell we were doing.”
As consequences of the Obama Administration’s failure are magnified, the calls for accountability are justified. Secretary Shinseki presides over an agency in chaos, in which whistleblowers are coming out of the woodwork to report problems with the delivery of care, allegations of cooking the books and claims of retaliatory action against those who spoke up or refused to go along.
Today the VA is no closer to electronic record integration than they were the day Secretary Shinseki was sworn in. The much-heralded integrated Electronic Health Record (iEHR) project, slated for full implementation by 2017 after a scheduled preliminary rollout in 2014, has been scrapped in favor of maintaining two separate systems indefinitely.
As is the pattern of the Obama administration, no one at either agency has ever been held accountable for failing to implement the President’s policy. Instead, the agencies have sought to be rewarded for their incompetence with large infusions of money to “improve” the failed systems they refuse to integrate.
The iEHR project, which President Obama himself promised would “cut through red tape and reduce the number of administrative mistakes” would have ostensibly created a seamless system for transitioning electronic medical records. President Obama promised that, “When a member of the armed forces separates from the military, he or she will no longer have to walk paperwork from a DoD duty station to a local VA health center; their electronic records will transition along with them and remain with them forever.”
Just two years later, both the DoD and VA not only continued to use their separate systems, but began asking Congress to appropriate billions of dollars to each agency to improve the two redundant record systems iEHR was intended to replace.
According to a 2011 GAO report, DoD had obligated approximately $2 billion over the 13-year life of its own health record system (Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application - AHLTA) and requested $302 million in fiscal 2011 year funds for a new system.
Meanwhile, that same GAO report showed the VA spent a combined total of nearly $600 million during a six-year period as part of its health record system modernization (Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA). VA estimated in 2008 an $11 billion total cost to complete the modernization by 2018.
President Obama in his first year made promises to veterans with the expectation that his staff would carry them out. They didn’t. And so far, the only people who have paid a consequence for that failure are America’s veterans.
The promises to cut red tape at the VA, provide a seamless transition from active duty military to veteran status, provide a single permanent electronic health record and reduce wait times have gone unfulfilled. The results speak for themselves.
Once again, I find myself asking – just what does it take to get fired in this administration? If no one is ever held accountable, there is little incentive to perform.
For his part, President Obama can hardly plead ignorance. The red tape, long transition times and inadequate communication between DOD and VA are the same problems he told us five years ago would be resolved through the implementation of the iEHR project.
Having abandoned that project more than a year ago, the administration has unveiled nothing to take its place. To put it simply, the quality of care to America’s veterans has not been a priority. The new plan of action appears to be limited to throwing more money at the same system that created the problems in the first place.
The futility of efficiently operating a government-run health system notwithstanding, Secretary Shinseki has had plenty of time to prove he can at least implement the President’s agenda. Given the nation’s experience thus far with healthcare.gov, there is no guarantee the iEHR project would have accomplished its stated objective. Nevertheless, when the President makes a commitment to America’s veterans, his staff should take that commitment seriously.
The systemic problems at the VA call for new solutions and new leadership. Federal agencies need to be put on notice that incompetence will neither be rewarded nor tolerated. It’s time to replace Secretary Shinseki and move forward with real reforms and proven solutions.
For the original article, click here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jason Chaffetz released the following statement today after selecting former staffer Fred Ferguson as his new Chief of Staff:
“I am pleased to welcome Fred Ferguson back to the Chaffetz office to serve as our new Chief of Staff. Fred's exemplary performance in Rep. Bishop's office over the last 2 years has made him a leader in public lands policy and helped him develop valuable relationships across Utah. After a college internship in Congressman Bishop's office, Fred began his career on Capitol Hill as one of my original staffers during my first term in office. He started as a staff assistant, but quickly earned additional legislative responsibilities before departing in 2012 to serve as Rep. Bishop's Legislative Director. Fred will have big shoes to fill as he replaces Justin Harding, but I have every confidence in his ability to magnify this new responsibility and be an integral part of the Chaffetz team.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jason Chaffetz released the following statement regarding the hiring of his Chief of Staff, Justin Harding, to serve as the new Chief of Staff to Utah Governor Gary Herbert:
“Governor Herbert has made an outstanding choice in selecting Justin Harding to serve as his Chief of Staff. Justin is a man of great integrity whose experience and temperament will serve the State of Utah well. We wish he and his family nothing but the best. It has been an honor working with him over the past 5 ½ years and I look forward to continuing to work together with the Governor’s office to further Utah’s interests."
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jason Chaffetz released the following statement today regarding recent escalations by China in the South China Sea:
“China’s unilateral deployment of a state-owned oil rig in the waters of the South China/East Asia Sea off the Paracel Islands is deeply concerning. These waters are subject to an ongoing territorial dispute between China and Vietnam which must be resolved through peaceful negotiation in the appropriate bilateral and multilateral forums.
“This incident is the latest in a series of actions taken by Beijing that have contributed to a growing sense of uneasiness in the region. Upon traveling to the region recently I learned that the Vietnamese people desire what most people fundamentally desire – to live in peace and prosperity, with the respect of their neighbors. I believe the U.S. should strive to live up to its historic role of responsible leadership in the region in order to secure these blessings for both the American people and the people of the Asia-Pacific.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jason Chaffetz released the following statement regarding a recent report that IRS employees received bonuses even though they owe back taxes:
“Given the behavior uncovered over the previous years – political targeting, refusal to comply with subpoenas, and excessive spending on lavish conferences – it is hard to imagine that 69% of the agency’s workforce are deserving of rewards for performance. The indiscriminate awarding of bonuses to the very people IRS should be firing is unacceptable. There is no excuse for the incompetence of one of the nation’s most powerful federal agency.”
Chaffetz sponsored legislation – H.R. 249, the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act – that would address this issue. The bill would not only terminate the employment of current tax delinquent federal employees, but would also prohibit the future hiring of federal employees who already have seriously delinquent tax debt. The bill failed to gain two-thirds majority in the House during the 113th Congress. However, identical legislation passed the House during the 112th Congress.
WASHINGTON – Five members of Utah’s congressional delegation – U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, and Reps. Rob Bishop (UT-01), Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), and Chris Stewart (UT-02) – today urged the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to keep cattle seized in Nevada out of Utah. In a letter to BLM Director Neil Kornze and Amy Leuders, State Director of BLM’s Nevada Field Office, the members of the delegation cited health and safety concerns to Utah’s cattle industry, workers involved in a potential sale and that of residents in the communities around where any sale may take place.
In the letter, Hatch, Lee, Bishop, Chaffetz and Stewart wrote that “We strongly support Governor Herbert and echo his concerns, expressed in his April 2nd letter to you, that going forward with the plan to transport the Nevada cattle to Utah may endanger the health of Utah herds and place Utah state employees and other Utah residents in danger.” The letter adds that “endangering [the cattle industry], particularly when there are alternatives available for selling the animals in Nevada, would be imprudent and careless.”
A signed copy of the letter to the BLM can be found HERE, and the text is below:
Dear Mr. Kornze and Ms. Lueders
Over the past several weeks, Utah leaders have expressed to you in letters, hearings, and personal conversations our concerns with the Bureau of Land Management’s plans to transport cattle seized in Nevada to Utah for sale. As members of the Utah delegation, we again strongly urge you to develop a plan for the cattle which does not involve transporting them to Utah. The fact that the BLM is legally able to transport the cattle to Utah does not mean it would be wise to do so. Under the circumstances, bringing the cattle to Utah would be foolish and unnecessary.
We strongly support Governor Herbert and echo his concerns, expressed in his April 2nd letter to you, that going forward with the plan to transport the Nevada cattle to Utah may endanger the health of Utah herds and place Utah state employees and other Utah residents in danger. With 5,589 beef producers and 364,744 beef cattle, the Utah cattle industry is an important part of the state’s economy. Endangering this industry, particularly when there are alternatives available for selling the animals in Nevada, would be imprudent and careless.
We also share the concerns of Governor Herbert and other stakeholders that bringing any of the animals to Utah—not just those determined to be feral—may precipitate a needless confrontation. Regardless of who is to blame for the current environment, you clearly have the power to lower the emotions involved by keeping the cattle out of Utah. As Governor Herbert wrote, “the proposed transaction is a Nevada issue, involving Nevada residents and Nevada livestock.”
We ask that BLM please implement an immediate change of course. Simply postponing your plan will not solve the problem. We hope to work productively with you in your respective roles in the coming years, and to that end we hope you will recognize the very legitimate concerns of Utah leaders and respond accordingly.
# # #Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today introduced their bipartisan legislation, Restoration of America’s Wire Act (H.R. 4301), which restores the long-standing interpretation of the Wire Act and reverses the Department of Justice’s abrupt December 2011 decision to expand online gaming.
“This is yet another example of the Holder Justice Department and Obama Administration ignoring the law,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “In 1999, South Carolina outlawed video poker and removed over 33,000 video poker machines from within its borders. Now, because of the Obama Administration’s decision, virtually any cell phone or computer can again become a video poker machine. It’s simply not right.”
“The DOJ opened the door for massive change in policy without significant public input. These fundamental changes need to go through Congress. By restoring the original interpretation of the Wire Act, we are putting the genie back in the bottle and allowing for an open debate to take place,” said Chaffetz.
On February 4th of this year, 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.”
Earlier this week the Governors of Texas and South Carolina also wrote to Congress expressing concerns about the Department of Justice’s decision.
Texas Governor Rick Perry wrote, “When gambling occurs in the virtual world, the ability of states to determine whether the activity should be available to its citizens and under what conditions - and to control the activity accordingly - is left subject to the vagaries of the technological marketplace. This seriously compromises the ability of states to control gambling within their borders.”
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said, “Allowing Internet gaming to invade the homes of every American family, and to be piped into our dens, living rooms, workplaces, and even our kids’ bedrooms and dorm rooms, is a major decision. We must carefully examine the short and long-term social and economic consequences before Internet gambling spreads.”
The legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). The legislation is cosponsored in the House of Representatives by Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D – HI), Jim Matheson (D – UT), Lamar Smith (R – TX), Jim Jordan (R – OH), Trent Franks (R – AZ), George Holding (R – NC), Frank Wolf (R – VA), James Lankford (R – OK), and Emanuel Cleaver (D – MO).
Click here to watch video of the press conference.
Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), and National Security Subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) today sent a follow up letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson demanding information about the Obama Administration’s misguided and dangerous plan to lift a longstanding prohibition on Libyans coming to the U.S. to attend flight school, to work in aviation maintenance or flight operations, or to study or seek training in nuclear science.
After the House Judiciary Committee obtained an internal draft final regulation from a DHS source that outlines the Obama Administration’s proposal to change its policy towards Libya, Chairman Goodlatte and Congressman Chaffetz wrote to then-DHS Acting Secretary Rand Beers last November about this proposed policy. However, to date the Department has failed to respond and has moved forward with this proposed policy without disclosing information about it to Congress. The letter sent today states that the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security will convene a joint hearing on this issue in the immediate future.
Below are excerpts from the letter. To read the entire letter, click here.
“We write this letter as a follow up to a letter sent on November 25, 2013 … We raised concerns [about the Administration’s proposed policy], as, clearly, the U.S. relationship with Libya is anything but normal, as evidenced by the September 11th assault on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya and horrific murder of our ambassador to that country over year ago. Not only did four Americans die on that date, but, as we previously documented, numerous other terror threats have continued from Libya in recent months.
“Since November 25, 2013, House Judiciary Committee staff has contacted DHS over half a dozen times to determine the status of our inquiry … According to [a DHS memo], you expect ‘the Department to respond to Congress in a direct, courteous, and timely manner’ … Yet the letter we sent to DHS remains unanswered … Of even greater concern, we have learned that DHS already has moved forward with this regulation and sent it to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. DHS moved forward with the rule after we requested and did not receive information from DHS … While this rule is in the final stages of review prior to publication, the Administration continues to ignore Congressional inquiries.
“In light of the continued national security threat to America, we find the planned policy reversal to be dangerous and irresponsible. The decision to lift the ban on allowing nationals of such a terror-plagued country to come to the U.S. to engage in flight-related training is particularly disturbing in light of the role such training played in the preparations for the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Further, lifting the ban on Libyan nationals to come to the U.S. to study nuclear science and related fields is incomprehensible in light of the peril the U.S. and its allies in the Near East face from the potential acquisition of nuclear weapons technology by terrorists or hostile nations in the region.
“We will convene a joint hearing between the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security in the immediate future to determine the status of the rule and the impetus behind it. DHS will be called to testify in order to respond to Congress since it has failed to do so as of the date of this letter.”
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.
If we could get the Senate to act on the 240 House-passed bills they have stopped, I would prioritize this one. http://t.co/WIngWvYbbt
This is why we have to take to the time to investigate - talking to witnesses and looking at documents can yield very different information than
We are not finished investigating this.
President Obama's law professor looks at today's court decision on Obamacare subsidies.
This is a big deal.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa makes the case for a special prosecutor in the IRS targeting probe.