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.
Congressional Ukrainian Caucus Co-Chairman Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) released this statement Thursday night after receiving a briefing from U.S. Department of State personnel about the circumstances surrounding a downed Malaysian Airlines passenger jet shot out of the sky in Ukraine:
"I want to first express my sincere condolences to the families of the 295 passengers and crews who lost their lives as a result of this reckless and reprehensible act. My office has been monitoring the situation and it is my sincere hope that those responsible for shooting this passenger jet out of the sky will be immediately held accountable and face severe consequences.
Based on the information that has been gathered so far by U.S. intelligence and diplomatic sources, there is clear evidence connecting the downing of the jet to Russian separatists who have been fomenting violence and discord in eastern Ukraine for months. It has been apparent over these last few months that Russia has encouraged and emboldened the separatists in an coordinated campaign to undermine the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia President Vladimir Putin has allowed instability in eastern Ukraine to fester and the cozy relationship between the separatists on the ground and the Kremlin leave little doubt that Russia bears a great deal of responsibility for the heinous act that claimed 295 lives today in the sky over Donetsk.
The U.S. and international response must be swift and firm. Economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russian government officials and those responsible for the unrest in Ukraine must be escalated immediately. The proposed Russian natural gas pipeline being considered by the European Union should immediately be scrapped. I also would urge the U.S. and the European Union to renew discussions with Poland and the Czech Republic about deploying anti-missile defense systems in those countries to deter and contain Russian hegemony. Finally, it's time for the international community to finally tell Russian President Putin that enough is enough. Putin's brazen actions in Ukraine, Georgia and Iran reveal him to be a maniacal pariah committed to international lawlessness and bloodshed in hopes of rebuilding and expanding the Russian empire. Putin must be shunned economically and diplomatically so that he gets the message that his actions will not stand."
Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) on Tuesday called on the House Ways and Means Committee to convene a hearing on the astonishing claim by the Internal Revenue Service that the tax enforcement agency somehow lost more than two years worth of e-mails between former IRS official Lois Lerner and other executive branch agencies and outside groups.
The Ways and Means Committee has been working for more than a year to obtain details and key documents related to an admission by the IRS that conservative groups faced harsher scrutiny when applying for tax-exempt status. Before retiring last year, Lois Lerner led the IRS department that systematically singled out organizations affiliated with the Tea Party and conservative groups.
Last week, the IRS notified Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp that a computer crash had wiped out all e-mails from January 2009 through April 2011 between Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, and Congressional Democrats.
Gerlach, who serves on the Ways and Means Committee, said the IRS’ claim that it lost Lerner's e-mails warrants a hearing and an immediate forensic audit by the IRS Inspector General to determine the circumstances surrounding the mysterious disappearance of correspondence between Lerner and others at the height of the conservative targeting period.
"If IRS leaders are going to give our Committee an excuse for not turning over records that is on par with 'my dog ate my homework,' then subpoenas need to be issued to the IRS technology team so they can explain what happened under oath," Gerlach said. "Taxpayers who have dealt with IRS auditors know the agency has a zero-tolerance policy for sloppy record keeping and wouldn’t accept it as an excuse for failing to comply with IRS demands. Now, IRS leaders and the Obama Administration just shrug their shoulders and claim critical evidence about who orchestrated the scheme to target conservative groups simply vanished. That’s just unacceptable. And it’s just another example of how this Administration goes to great lengths to keep the public in the dark and thwart any attempt by Congress to exercise reasonable oversight of the executive branch.”
The House voted in April to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for appearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, delivering a statement denying any wrongdoing in the targeting scandal and then refusing to answer any questions under oath.
Attempts to obtain e-mails and other documents related to the terrorist attack that killed four Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 have been met with fierce resistance from the Obama Administration as well, Gerlach noted.
In fact, it took a court order 18 months after the Benghazi killings to obtain 41 documents related to the attack, including an e-mail from senior White House adviser Ben Rhodes discussing how to divert blame away from President Obama and mislead Americans by claiming an Internet video sparked the violence.
Prior to Benghazi and the IRS scandal, the House voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in June 2012 for refusing to comply with multiple subpoenas requesting documents related to a covert Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Department gun-running operation in Mexico.
As part of the botched sting known as “Operation Fast & Furious,” federal law enforcement officials supplied weapons to Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns was used in the murder of two U.S. Border Patrol agents. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been trying for more than three years to get the answers the victims’ families and the public deserve.
A U.S. District Court ruling is still pending on whether Attorney General Holder can legally withhold documents related to his false claim under oath in February 2011 that the Justice Department did not allow guns to cross the border into Mexico.
“This Administration has shown time and time again utter disdain for Congressional oversight and has fallen miles short of the President’s promise of having the most transparent White House in history,” Gerlach said.
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Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) announced Thursday that qualified high school students in the 6th District who want to be considered for a nomination to one of our country's Service Academies have until August 11th to submit an application packet to his office.
You must be a resident of the district, which includes parts of Berks, Chester, Lebanon and Montgomery counties, to be considered for a nomination by Congressman Gerlach.
In addition, all Service Academy candidates must:
By law, Congressman Gerlach has a maximum of five vacancies at the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy at West Point and U.S. Naval Academy. A maximum of 10 candidates can be selected for nomination per vacancy. The Merchant Marine Academy also has vacancies. At this Academy, a maximum of 10 candidates may be selected for nomination per year.
For more information about the Service Academy nomination process, please contact Ed Schmid in the Exton Office at 610.594.1415 or visit www.gerlach.house.gov.Read More
Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) issued this statement on Friday following the resignation of General Eric Shinseki as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs:
"General Shinseki clearly understands the importance of having leaders who are accountable, and I believe he made the appropriate decision to resign. We are grateful for his tremendous valor while serving in Vietnam and thank him for his dedicated career of service to our country. While a change in personnel at the VA certainly is necessary given the inexcusable delays in providing medical care to our veterans and deceptive manipulation of records, there also must be a fundamental change in the culture at the VA. That change can occur only if the President demonstrates leadership and insists that everyone at the VA be accountable to our veterans, their families and taxpayers.
I know that the vast majority of VA employees are dedicated to serving veterans and their families and work hard every day to do just that. But without serious reforms throughout the VA system, the exemplary efforts of the majority will be overshadowed by those who game the system and put their self-interests ahead of the interests of our veterans. In the House, my colleagues and I already have acted on several fronts to ensure that our veterans have access to the high-quality medical care they've earned and to give the VA Secretary the flexibility all managers need to fire those who are not doing their job before they destroy the morale of competent co-workers and cause harm to our veterans. I am hopeful the leaders of the U.S. Senate and the President will join with us in these efforts."# # # Read More
The House Ways & Means Committee on Thursday passed legislation sponsored by Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) that would make permanent a federal tax incentive used to save thousands of acres of farmland and open space throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.
Gerlach authored H.R. 2807, the proposed Conservation Easement Tax Incentive Act. The bill, which is co-sponsored by nearly half of the members in the U.S. House of Representatives, now goes to the full House for consideration.
Local organizations, including the Berks County Conservancy, Brandywine Conservancy, French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, and Natural Lands Trust, have partnered with private landowners utilizing conservation easements to protect thousands of acres of open space in the Oley Hills area of Berks County, the Great Marsh in East Nantmeal Township Chester County, and other natural treasures in the 6th District.
However, the conservation easement incentive expired at the end of 2013 and will not be available without Congressional action.
“This vote is a crucial step in ensuring that we give all property owners, family farmers and others the option of voluntarily conserving the farmland and open space and farmland that make our communities in the 6th District such great places to live and raise a family,” Gerlach said after Thursday’s vote. “The conservation easement tax incentive has generated widespread support in Congress because the conservation easement tax credit works.”
In addition to making the incentive permanent, Gerlach’s legislation would create an enhanced incentive for conservation easements. The enhanced incentive helps landowners of modest means choose conservation by:
•Raising the maximum deduction a donor can take for donating a conservation easement
from 30% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) in any year to 50%
•Allowing qualified farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their AGI
•Increasing the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from 6 to 16 years
A regional study released in November 2010 by the GreenSpace Alliance and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission found that open space in five counties in Southeastern Pennsylvania:
•Adds $16.3 billion to the region’s home values;
•Supports nearly 7,000 jobs annually in industries including agriculture, tourism, hospitality, recreation, and open space management and preservation;
•Saves more than $130 million in water treatment and flood control costs;
•And through recreation at area parks and trails, avoids $1.3 billion in health-related costs.
"This is a great step forward for land conservation and for providing a reliable tool to ensure today's natural treasures can be enjoyed for generations to come," said Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance, which has been leading a coalition to make the provision permanent since 2006.
"The fact that the bill has already gained more than 200 co-sponsors underscores the breadth of support on both sides of the aisle for the idea of making the enhanced incentive permanent," he noted. "Nearly half of House members are co-sponsoring the bill, underscoring the fact that Congress believes it should be law," he pointed out. "But the number of legislative days are numbered, so the time to act is now."
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Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki should submit his immediate resignation or be fired by President Obama, with additional terminations and disciplinary action to other responsible VA employees as warranted.
President Obama should authorize payments to private doctors or medical facilities for any veteran who has not received timely medical care within the VA system.
The Department of Justice needs to establish a task force to investigate and prosecute any VA official who violated the law in delaying care to our veterans.
"The problems outlined in the inspector general's report prove just how lethal bureaucracy and a lack of accountability can be," Gerlach said. "Veterans in need of a caring, helping hand have been getting a cold shoulder from the Department of Veterans Affairs for too long, and that must end. Our veterans have already put their lives on the line serving our country. They shouldn't have to risk their lives again simply trying to schedule a doctor's appointment."
The VA's Office of Inspector General issued a report on Wednesday that found delays in providing medical care to veterans and intentional manipulation of records to cover up the actual length of delays is "systemic throughout" the Veterans Affairs medical system. You can read the VA Inspector General’s full report here.
Congressman Gerlach has worked with his colleagues in the House to:
INCREASE ACCOUNTABILITY -- He voted for H.R. 4031 – the VA Management Accountability Act. The bill passed the House with broad bipartisan support by a vote of 390-33 earlier this month. This bill would increase accountability by giving the Veterans Administration Secretary the authority to fire or demote senior executives who are not doing their jobs.
BAN BONUSES -- Gerlach also voted for H.R. 4486, the Military Construction & Veteran Affairs Appropriations Act, on April 30. The bill included a provision banning performance bonuses for senior VA executives. When veterans and their families are waiting, in some cases, nearly a year for the VA to process their application for health and disability benefits, someone is not doing their job properly and VA executives certainly do not deserve bonuses.
PROVIDE RESOURCES THE VA NEEDS TO SERVE VETERANS -- On April 30, Gerlach voted for H.R. 4486 -- a budget bill that would provide a 7 percent increase in VA funding for Fiscal Year 2015. In addition, the bill would provide $20 million more than the President proposed for helping to clean up the VA claims backlog. Last year, the Congressman supported a budget bill that increased spending for veterans' programs, including medical care, by 10 percent for Fiscal Year 2014.
Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District0), released the following statement Friday regarding House Speaker John Boehner’s announcement that the House will vote next week to create a Select Committee to investigate the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans:
"The families of the four victims of this attack and the American people have been waiting 599 days for honest answers from the Administration about what happened in Benghazi and the public statements from senior leaders in the Administration in the days and weeks after the attack. I applaud Speaker Boehner for his commitment to pursuing the truth about Benghazi and ensuring the House exercises its responsibility to provide thorough and effective oversight on an issue as important as this one. The recent release of 41 documents related to the White House's handling of the attacks should open everyone's eyes to the fact that we've waited too long for answers and we've tolerated far too much stonewalling from the Administration. I support giving the Select Committee the resources and time to conduct interviews, subpoena documents and hold public hearings needed to get the public and the victims' families the answers they deserve."
Gerlach is a co-sponsor of H. Res. 36 to create a Select Committee to investigate the Benghazi attack and the U.S. response to the attack. The bill authored by Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, is endorsed by The American Legion, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, respected national security leaders, such as former Attorney General Mukasey, as well as some of the family members of the Benghazi victims.
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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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Russia has set its sights on Ukraine. I have introduced bipartisan legislation to provide direct security and military aid to Ukraine and reaffirm
The House passed legislation today I have been working on for the last few sessions to make permanent a land conservation tool that has helped
Take a moment today to pause and pay tribute the more than 4,400 men who laid down their lives and all those who stormed the beaches of Normandy
President of the Bucks County-based Heritage Conservancy offers support for making permanent the federal conservation easement tax incentive.
While a change in personnel at the VA certainly is necessary given the inexcusable delays in providing medical care to our veterans and deceptive