A federal lawmaker who represents part of Berks County was among a small group who welcomed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to Washington, D.C. Thursday and escorted him to his speech before a joint session of Congress.
U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, co-chair of the bipartisan Ukrainian Caucus, said being part of the escort committee gave him an opportunity to reconnect with Poroshenko, whom he'd met during a visit to Ukraine last year.
Poroshenko addressed Congress and met with President Barack Obama at the White House to ask for U.S. military assistance as his government faces Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country. He urged the U.S. to supply his troops with defensive military equipment as well as weapons.
Obama has said he would only support non-lethal military aid to Ukraine but has condemned Russia's backing of the rebels.
Gerlach, a Chester County Republican, said he was happy to hear Poroshenko make the case that his country is on its way to growing into a strong democracy but needs military help to remain independent.
"I think that's an important message for him to send to Congress," he said.
Gerlach authored a House resolution urging support for Ukraine that passed unanimously Wednesday.
He also introduced a bill that would provide defensive military aid - which includes items from night-vision goggles to anti-tank weapons - to the country and give Obama the OK to work with Ukraine to address its military, intelligence and security needs.
"I think there is a growing sense that we need to be helping doing that," he said.
Gerlach said Congress can and should show support for aid to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia but it's ultimately the president's call. He added that despite a supposed cease-fire, the Ukrainian military is still suffering casualties.
Congressional Ukrainian Caucus Co-Chair U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) continued to stand united with the people of Ukraine on Wednesday by leading the effort in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a resolution expressing support for Ukraine as it works to strengthen its democratic system of governance and fend off Russian aggression.
The Gerlach resolution,H. Res. 726, passed the House by a unanimous voice vote. Watch Gerlach's floor remarks here.
In addition to working to pass the resolution on Wednesday, Gerlach has introduced bipartisan legislation that would provide defensive military aid to Ukraine.H.R. 5190, the proposed Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014, would reinforce the strong relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine and take an important step toward helping Ukraine neutralize the military-support advantage that separatist rebels are using to target civilian and military aircraft in eastern Ukraine and foster violence and instability across that country.
This legislation would authorize the President to work with the Government of Ukraine to assess that country’s military, intelligence, and security needs and provide adequate and necessary assistance to protect Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty.
Here is the text of Gerlach’s floor remarks in support of H. Res. 726 as prepared for delivery on Wednesday:
"This resolution sends an unmistakable message to the Russian Federation, and the entire world, that this House stands united with the people of Ukraine.
During the last 10 months, no other ally has experienced more internal upheaval, or a more imminent threat to its sovereignty, than our friends in Ukraine.
Last November, the people of Ukraine flooded the Maidan in Kiev to peacefully protest a corrupt and arrogant regime.
For nearly three months, Ukrainians risked their lives – and more than 100 civilians died --- while ushering in a new era and a new system of governance.
An era in which their elected leaders will be accountable and transparent; honor the fundamental human rights of all Ukrainians regardless of political affiliation; and bolster alliances with the United States and European Union to foster greater economic opportunity and prosperity.
The smoldering fires of the Maidan had barely been extinguished, however, when a new threat emerged on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally occupied and then annexed Crimea.
He emboldened and equipped separatists who have been fomenting discord throughout eastern Ukraine.
Clearly, what Putin has in mind for Ukraine is not a new era of openness, liberty and opportunity, but rather a return to a bygone era of political intimidation and coercion.
And Putin’s gambit to reassert Russian influence in Ukraine has exacted a lethal toll.
The United Nations estimates 3,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed since April as a result of the clashes in eastern Ukraine.
But through all of these challenges, the Ukrainian people have not wavered in their desire to remain independent and to restore stability to their system of governance and an economy ravaged by the excesses of the previous regime.
I believe the people of Ukraine deserve our moral and material support as their country continues to confront challenges from within its borders and from its belligerent neighbor.
And that support must include defense articles, services and training and intelligence information that will allow Ukraine to effectively defend its territory and maintain its sovereignty.
I truly believe an independent, democratic Ukraine enhances the security of the United States and offers greater economic opportunity for citizens in both countries.
Therefore, I would ask my colleagues to pass this resolution and reaffirm the United States’ commitment to supporting the right of the people of Ukraine to independently determine their future free from intimidation and outside influence."
# # #
By Rep. Jim Gerlach
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Senate Democrat leaders are extremely eager to block the escape route Burger King and other American-based companies have scurried through in recent years to find new corporate homes in countries with lower tax rates than the United States.
During a speech to the Urban Institute think tank in Washington this week, Lew said the Obama administration is so anxious that it may go it alone without Congress and impose new regulations that would make relocating businesses overseas “less economically appealing.”
President Obama and Senate Democrat leaders also have floated a proposal that would force any company that has completed a so-called inversion – a fancy term for shifting your company’s headquarters to foreign soil after completing a corporate merger or acquisition -- in the last 20 years to forfeit legal tax deductions retroactively.
That would be like the IRS notifying you that the home mortgage and charitable contribution deductions you've claimed since 1994 are no longer valid and that you'll need to send in a check immediately for the back taxes you owe.
Reactionary regulations and legislation passed in the heat of the moment may provide immediate gratification for some in Washington who simply want to punish companies that move overseas to avoid what is now the highest corporate tax rate of any industrialized nation and, arguably, the most complicated and convoluted Tax Code in all of history.
However, modernizing and simplifying our antiquated Tax Code is the only effective solution for stopping U.S. companies from shifting their corporate headquarters, their capital, and possibly, American jobs.
Six months before Burger King announced its intent to acquire Canadian coffee franchise Tim Horton’s and relocate the corporate home of The Whopper to our northern neighbor, the House Ways & Means Committee released a discussion draft for overhauling our supersized Tax Code.
There has been bipartisan agreement that our Tax Code is still stuck in an era when people sent faxes and rented VHS tapes while our fiercest competitors for capital and jobs have implemented pro-growth tax policies better suited for the current era of instant messaging and streaming movies on smart phones.
While the U.S. corporate tax rate remains at 35 percent, Canada has cut its tax rate on companies to 26.3 percent from 36.1 percent since 2006.
A pair of pharmaceutical companies here in the Sixth Congressional District, Shire and Endo, merged with foreign companies and have moved their corporate headquarters across the Atlantic to Ireland where the tax rate is just 12.5 percent.
The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) found that the average corporate tax rate of its 34 member nations was 24.1 percent -- or about 31 percent lower than the current rate for U.S. companies.
No business could survive charging its customers 31 percent more than its competitors.
And the decisions that Burger King, Endo and Shire have made to move out of the U.S. should tell all of us that our country can’t keep existing companies, attract new ones and create more jobs without overhauling our broken tax system.
Under the House Ways & Means proposal, the U.S. corporate rate would be lowered to 25 percent and many of the special-interest loopholes are eliminated. Tax rates for families and small businesses also would be reduced to allow workers to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks and encourage businesses to hire and invest in America.
The non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation concluded this proposal would create 1.8 million private sector jobs over the next ten years. Additionally, middle class families would save an average of $1,300 per year, according to the Committee.
A separate analysis by Rice University concluded that enacting the Ways & Means reform plan would result keep 3.8 percent more after-tax income in the pockets of American workers and taxpayers.
Conversely, the punitive legislation Senate Democrat leaders and Treasury Secretary Lew have touted in the wake of Burger King’s move to Canada could drive 42,000 American jobs overseas and provide an incentive for businesses to invest as much as $988 billion in countries other than the U.S., according to the center-right think tank American Action Forum.
Simply adding a few thousand words to a Tax Code that already has about seven times as many words as Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” may temporarily make corporate inversions “less economically appealing.”
Unfortunately, the patchwork approach to fixing our Tax Code was tried about a decade ago.
And what that tells me is until Congress and the President address the root causes of what is driving businesses to our competitors and make wholesale reforms, business will continue finding detours around inversion roadblocks and, ultimately, American workers will suffer.
# # #
Congressional Ukrainian Caucus Co-Chairs Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and on Friday said that the United States cannot allow Russia to continue its military buildup along the Ukrainian border.
Gerlach, who for months has been advocating for a firm response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Putin’s support of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine that resulted in a Malaysian passenger jet being shot down, once again called on President Obama to authorize an immediate infusion of American military and security assistance to help Ukraine maintain its sovereignty as well as protect its military and its citizens.
NATO officials and media reports indicate that Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed 20,000 troops, more than 1,000 missiles and other military equipment along the eastern border of Ukraine. The buildup has prompted Ukrainian officials to brace for a major assault on the city of Donetsk, according to media reports.
"Vladimir Putin didn’t send 20,000 Russian troops to Ukraine’s doorstep to practice their marching," Gerlach said. "By annexing Crimea this spring and continuing to foment violence in eastern Ukraine, Putin has wedged his foot in Ukraine’s front door. It is time to help Ukraine slam that door shut. That’s why I am imploring President Obama to recognize the growing threat the escalating Russian aggression poses to the security and stability of Ukraine and the entire region. It’s time for the U.S. to provide Ukraine with the defensive muscle crucial to protecting its borders, its military and its citizens."
Rep. Kaptur added: “The world has witnessed the destabilization of Ukraine for months and this most recent military buildup along the Ukraine border further illustrates Mr. Putin’s true intentions. The United States has the capacity to provide excess defense supplies to non NATO nations like Ukraine that face overwhelming threats to their sovereignty. Russia is not an inert threat to the European continent and the world. She is a nuclear nation with vast capacity to destroy human life. Ukrainian forces are outnumbered and out supplied on every front. The Russian threat is serious and dangerous. One misstep could trigger a broader war whose edges no one can anticipate. Ukraine and her people have every right to sovereignty, territorial integrity, and self-determination as they strive for greater liberty and a more democratic future.”
Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and a candidate who sought the Democratic nomination for President in 2008, said during an interview on "The O'Reilly Factor" Thursday night that NATO should be unified in its response to the Russian threat.
Clark also backed sending material and support to the Ukraine military needs to match Russia's military might.
"They need night-vision goggles; they need intelligence (capabilities); they need flak jackets," Clark said. "It's time to get that stuff to them.”
Gerlach and his colleagues in the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus unveiled bipartisan legislation last month to provide a clear and specific process for sending direct, defensive military and security assistance to the Government of Ukraine as it seeks to strengthen its democracy and prevent separatist violence and aggression within its borders.
H.R. 5190, the proposed Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014, would reinforce the strong relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine and take an important step toward helping Ukraine neutralize the military-support advantage that separatist rebels are using to target civilian and military aircraft in eastern Ukraine and foster violence and instability across that country.
This legislation would authorize the President to work with the Government of Ukraine to assess that country’s military, intelligence, and security needs and provide adequate and necessary defensive assistance to protect Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty.Read More
The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act would:
Require VA to offer an authorization to receive non-VA care to any veteran who is enrolled in the VA health care system as of August 1, 2014, or who is a newly discharged combat veteran if such veteran is unable to secure an appointment at a VA medical facility within 30 days (or a future published goal established by VA) or resides more than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility, with certain exceptions.
Require VA to provide a Veterans Choice Card to eligible veterans to facilitate care provided by non-VA providers.
Provide $10 billion for the newly-established “Veterans Choice Fund” to cover the costs of this increased access to non-VA care. Choice program authority would end when funds are exhausted or three years after enactment, whichever occurs first.
Require an independent assessment of VA medical care and establish a Congressional Commission on Care to evaluate access to care throughout the VA health care system.
Extend the ARCH (Access Received Closer to Home) pilot program for two years.
Extend for three years a pilot program to provide rehabilitation, quality of life, and community integration services to veterans with complex-mild to severe traumatic brain injury.
Improve the delivery of care to veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma as well as care for Native Hawaiian and Native American veterans.
Provide $5 billion to VA to increase access to care through the hiring of physicians and other medical staff and by improving VA’s physical infrastructure.
Authorize 27 major medical facility leases in 18 states and Puerto Rico.
Authorize VA to fire or demote Senior Executive Service (SES) employees and Title 38 SES equivalent employees for poor performance or misconduct.
Provide an expedited and limited appeal process for employees disciplined under this authority. Appeals would go to a Merit Systems Protection Board administrative judge, who would have 21 days to decide on the appeal. If a decision is not reached within that 21-day period, then VA’s decision to remove or demote the executive is final.
Prohibit SES employees from receiving pay, bonuses and benefits during the appeal process.
Reduce funding for bonuses available to VA employees by $40 million each year through Fiscal Year 2024.
# # #Read More
Congressional Ukrainian Caucus co-Chairs U.S. Reps. Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Sander Levin (D-MI) on Thursday introduced legislation to provide a clear and specific process to provide direct military and security assistance to the Government of Ukraine as it seeks to strengthen its democracy and prevent separatist violence and aggression within its borders.
H.R. 5190, the proposed Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014, would reinforce the strong relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine and take an important step toward helping Ukraine neutralize the military-support advantage that separatist rebels are using to target civilian and military aircraft in eastern Ukraine and foster violence and instability across that country. This legislation would authorize the President to work with the Government of Ukraine to assess that country’s military, intelligence, and security needs and provide adequate and necessary assistance to protect Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty.
“The Ukrainian people have made clear their desire to build a stronger democratic self-government and establish closer ties to the European Union and the west,” Gerlach said. “Unfortunately, as recent events have demonstrated, the Russian Federation will not honor Ukraine’s sovereignty and will continue to meddle within Ukraine’s border until it has broken the spirit of the Ukrainian people. The evidence released by U.S. and Ukrainian intelligence authorities shows without a doubt that rebel separatists and hired thugs, armed with superior Russian technology and weapons, continue to foment havoc and instability. The bipartisan legislation we introduced today is another important step towards reaffirming the United States’ commitment to helping our Ukrainian allies develop as a fully democratic nation.”
Rep. Levin added: “With the overwhelming evidence that Russia is supplying the separatists with weapons, including the anti-aircraft missile that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, we want to make it clear that the United States stands with the people of Ukraine. We will help the Ukrainian people defend themselves from Russian efforts to destabilize Ukraine.”
Rep. Kaptur commented: “I am proud to stand united with my caucus co-chairs Reps. Jim Gerlach and Sander Levin today as we introduce the “Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014”. While the tragic crashing of MH17 certainly has brought the necessary condemnation of the world community, Ukraine and her people have been suffering for months at the hands of Russian-backed separatists and Russian aggressors. It is time for the United States to provide reasonable security assistance to Ukraine. The bill we introduced today reaffirms the United States’ commitment to Ukraine and her people. Our bill reiterates the President’s authority to provide such assistance and advocates for the delivery of security and intelligence assistance to Ukraine. Our bill also importantly calls to designate Ukraine as a Major Non-Nato Ally, in order to temporarily provide vital resources and the security NATO offers to member states. The world has witnessed the destabilization of Ukraine for months and this most recent atrocity further illustrates Mr. Putin’s blatant refusal to use his influence to quell the instability and violence. The United States continues to stand with Ukraine and her people, who have every right to sovereignty, territorial integrity, and self-determination as they strive for greater liberty and a more democratic future.”
Leaders from Ukrainian community organizations also stood with the Caucus during Thursday’s press conference in Washington, D.C. to announce introduction of the legislation.
Michael Sawkiw, Director of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, added: “The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the representative organization of over one million Americans of Ukrainian descent, is pleased to support Rep. Gerlach’s timely introduction of the “Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014,” which would provide needed security benefits to the country of Ukraine as it struggles to fend off Russian aggression. In this period of mourning and sorrow, the UCCA expresses its deepest condolences to the families and love ones of the innocent victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.
Given the severity of the situation, and the numerous crimes of the Russian-sponsored terrorists in Eastern Ukraine, the UCCA is grateful for the “Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014” and calls upon the United States to provide Ukraine with Major non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status and the necessary military assistance needed to end this crisis and bring peace back to the region. Furthermore, the UCCA urges the United States to impose harsher sectoral sanctions on Russia, and for President Obama, as leader of the democratic free world, to utilize all of his efforts to persuade the leadership of Europe to match U.S. resolve.”
Lada Pastushak, of the U.S./Ukraine Business Council,noted: “The U.S.-Ukraine Business Council strongly supports this bi-partisan bill, introduced by Representatives Jim Gerlach, Marcy Kaptur and Sander Levin, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus. This legislation will enable our Government to streamline US efforts in assisting the people of Ukraine during these challenging times as they fight for the sovereignty and integrity of their homeland, democracy and the rule of law. Furthermore, it will have a significant positive impact on a desired prompt resolution of the conflict in the Eastern Ukraine, thus preventing further loss of lives and destruction, and leading to stabilization of Ukraine and Europe. Implementation of this bill will clearly demonstrate that the US is serious about its support of Ukraine, global peace and security, bona fide democratic values, strong transatlantic partnership, and mutually beneficial economic growth and business development.”
Dr. Zenia Chernyk, Chair of the Ukrainian Federation of America, added: “The people of Ukraine have shed their blood to ensure that attempts to reintegrate Ukraine into a greater Russia will be resisted at all costs. The people want to live in a society governed by the principles of democracy and the Rule of Law and see their future as a part of the European Union. We believe that a free and independent Ukraine is vital to the security and economic welfare of the U.S. and Europe and are pleased to endorse this legislation and are committed to supporting its passage in any way we can.”
While the U.S. has already provided Ukraine with economic and diplomatic assistance, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Government of Ukraine needs direct security assistance to be able to defend its sovereignty against Russian subversion.The bipartisan legislation is supported by the Ukrainian Federation of America, Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, and the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council.
2442 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
A lifelong Pennsylvania resident, Jim Gerlach grew up in Ellwood City – a town about an hour north of Pittsburgh. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dickinson College and a Juris Doctor from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He currently lives in Chester Springs, Chester County with his wife, Karen, and they have three children and three step-children.
Jim has served the citizens of Southeastern Pennsylvania for more than 20 years. His distinguished career began in 1990 with the first of two terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, which was followed by two terms in the Pennsylvania Senate.
Jim is serving his sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing portions of Berks, Chester, Lebanon and Montgomery counties. In December 2010, he earned a spot on the influential House Ways and Means Committee. Jim serves on the Ways and Means Subcommittees on Health and Select Revenue.
One of his biggest legislative accomplishments was creating a much-needed veterans cemetery here in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The bill Jim authored was signed into law by the President on Veterans Day in 2003, and the cemetery opened in Bucks County in 2009.
National publications, including National Journal and Roll Call, have recognized Jim’s strong record as an independent voice for his constituents. And no member of Congress has had to fight closer contests each election cycle. The 6th District was ranked as the most competitive district in the nation between 2002 and 2008, according to a University of Minnesota survey.
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