Kevin Cramer

Kevin Cramer

NORTH DAKOTA

Cramer Urges Grain Inspection Service to Take Action on Port of Vancouver Delays

2014/08/01

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer urged U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to take action on delayed grain inspections at the Port of Vancouver in Washington state. Delays have persisted at the western port due to labor strikes, and recently the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) delegated certain critical responsibilities of the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). “In recent weeks, it has come to our attention that WSDA has been either unable or unwilling to perform its official grain inspection duties on a consistent or reliable basis,” wrote Cramer and nine colleagues to Secretary Vilsack. “This is unacceptable. Our trading partners, as well as farmers, grain handlers and exporters from the Northwest and Midwest, depend upon accurate, timely, and cost-effective delivery of mandated official grain inspection and weighing services administered by FGIS and its designated and delegated agencies. As such, it is imperative that we continue to assure all of our trading partners that the Port of Vancouver will continue to export a reliable supply of high-quality wheat, especially with wheat harvest already underway.” “Understanding the gravity of this situation, we urge FGIS to immediately take action to meet its statutory obligation to inspect wheat exports. It is incumbent on USDA and FGIS to ensure the inspections are completed and to prevent similar disruptions in the future,” the letter added. The signed letter can be viewed here. Last November, Cramer wrote his own letter to Vilsack outlining his concerns on the issue. Read More

Cramer Accepts Canadian Pacific CEO’s Offer to Visit North Dakota, Discuss Grain Shipment Concerns

2014/07/31

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer spoke with Canadian Pacific Railway CEO Hunter Harrison to discuss the rail company’s efforts to reduce the backlog of grain shipments in North Dakota. During the meeting Cramer accepted Harrison’s offer to meet in person with shippers and commodity groups in North Dakota, with details to be announced as soon as they are available. “After a thorough discussion of the rail backlog, I was encouraged by Mr. Harrison’s offer to visit North Dakota and meet with farmers concerned about getting their products to market. Clearly he shares my appreciation for transparency, and I look forward to facilitating a face-to-face discussion with farm organizations and shippers,” said Cramer. “While the progress CP is making on the backlog is difficult to measure in their weekly reports, Mr. Harrison estimated Canadian Pacific is 1,000 rail cars away from being caught up in North Dakota.” Congressman Cramer also asked Harrison about the Canadian government’s decision in March to fine railways if they fail to move at least 500,00 tons or 5,500 rail cars of domestic grain. “I have concerns about U.S. producers being put on a lower priority in light of the mandates in Canada. Mr. Harrison informed me CP has not altered any of its operations in the United States as a result of the order,” Cramer added. Since June, CP and BNSF Railway have been required by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) to publicly file weekly status updates on the backlog in grain shipments. The latest report from CP can be viewed here. Read More

House Legislation Rolls Back EPA Regulations on Agriculture

2014/07/31

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation cosponsored by Congressman Kevin Cramer to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from requiring additional permits for agriculture, mosquito, and other pesticide applications already regulated under separate law. The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act prohibits the EPA from imposing additional permitting requirements for pesticides it already regulates under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In over 30 years of administering the Clean Water Act (CWA), the EPA never subjected FIFRA approved pesticides to CWA permitting requirements due to unnecessary duplication. However, coinciding with other EPA attempts to expand its regulatory authority, several lawsuits contended duplicative approval from the EPA was necessary and eventually in 2009 the Sixth Circuit required the EPA to develop a new duplicative CWA permit affecting an estimated 365,000 pesticide applicators per year at approximately $50,000 each annually. Violators could face $37,500 per day per violation in fines. “The book of EPA overreach seems to get a new chapter every day. Here we have environmental groups forcing the EPA to add another layer of regulation complete with outrageous violation fees to an area of agriculture it already controls,” said Cramer. “The last thing we need is two sets of bureaucrats at the same agency trying to regulate the same thing.” Cramer has been active in opposing the expansion of EPA authority under the CWA, including the newly proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, which would grant the federal government unprecedented regulatory authority over nearly all bodies of water including small ponds, creeks, ditches, and other occasionally wet areas, including those found on private property. This week he cosponsored additional legislation to ensure normal farming practices remain exempt from burdensome CWA regulations. Concerned citizens can submit their comments to the EPA regarding its proposed Waters of the U.S. rule here. Read More

House Authorizes Lawsuit Against President's Unilateral Obamacare Changes

2014/07/30

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives authorized a lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s unilateral changes to his healthcare law. The litigation will challenge the President’s decision to circumvent Congress and make changes to the employer mandate on two separate occasions. Obamacare as written and passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress and signed by President Obama requires large employers to offer government-approved health insurance to their employees. This employer mandate was set to begin December 31, 2013. The Obama Administration on July 2, 2013 announced it would unilaterally delay the mandate by one year, and on February 4, 2014 announced it would delay penalty payments for employers with between 50 and 99 employees until 2016. These changes were made without the consent of Congress as required by the U.S. Constitution. “The President went around Congress in order to carve out exemptions to Obamacare for big businesses. I want everyone to be exempt from Obamacare, not just a select few. This lawsuit is necessary to defend the U.S. Constitution, which clearly states the President cannot simply create his own laws,” said Cramer. “While there are countless examples of executive overreach which could be challenged in a court of law, focusing on one particular situation gives the case a better chance of success in the courts.” Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution states the President “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed”. According to noted attorney David B. Rivkin, Jr., “The employer mandate is the central plank of Obamacare, and the law does not allow it to be delayed, waived, or otherwise suspended…The President’s unilateral action violates the Constitution’s separation of powers and nullifies the authority of the legislative branch.” Read More

Bipartisan, Bicameral Veterans Care Reform Passes House of Representatives

2014/07/30

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved bipartisan and bicameral legislation to establish accountability and more timely care for veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The compromise agreement is the result of the House-Senate conference committee created when the House passed the latest version of the reforms on June 18. The Senate is expected to follow the House in passing the agreement later this week. The Veterans Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act addresses rampant problems in the VA affecting the health care of veterans nationwide. It will give any enrolled veteran the option to receive non-VA care at the department’s expense if they cannot get an appointment within VA wait time goals, or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility. Eligible veterans will receive a Veterans Choice Card to facilitate care with non-VA providers. It includes accountability measures, giving the VA Secretary direct authority to remove or demote senior executives when necessary by submitting a notice of removal along with a reason to the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs, and establishes a Congressional Commission on Care to thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of the VA health care system. “This reform addresses the entrenched bureaucracy at the VA which has led to unacceptable failures, and in the meantime allows veterans to receive the care they need at non-VA facilities when it is necessary,” said Cramer. In June Cramer held a meeting of his Veterans Advisory Board in Devils Lake to discuss issues affecting North Dakota veterans. The board includes Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, Medal of Honor recipient, Brenda Bergsrud, Veterans Coordinator and Benefits Specialist with the North Dakota Department of Veteran Affairs, Lt. Colonel Davina French, Government Affairs Officer for the North Dakota National Guard, John Hanson, VFW National Legislative Committee Member, Rusty Ouart, Purple Heart recipient, Warren Tobin, Department Adjutant of the Disabled American Veterans, and Lonnie Wangen, Commissioner of Veterans Affairs for the State of North Dakota. Read More

Cramer Legislation to Protect Native American Children Receives Committee Hearing

2014/07/30

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bill introduced by Congressman Kevin Cramer to create uniform standards for the placement of Native American children into foster homes received a hearing yesterday in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. The Native American Children’s Safety Act would finally implement an across-the-board minimum protection for children placed in foster care under the direction of a tribal court. Senator John Hoeven has introduced the legislation in the Senate. During the hearing, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, Larry Roberts, as well as Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), acknowledged Cramer’s efforts to protect native children, including the hearing held last month to examine child welfare on Spirit Lake Reservation. “Congressman Cramer, I want to thank you for your leadership on this issue. Safety of native children is of utmost priority for the department and we’ve talked about this before in the past. We strongly support the principles of your legislation,” said Roberts during the hearing. Under the legislation, a background check must be conducted on all adults living in a potential foster home before a tribal court can place any child there. This must include a National Instant Criminal Background Check as well as a search of child abuse or neglect registries in any state the individual has lived in the preceding five years. Any adult 18 years or older who moves into the home after placement of the child would also be required to undergo the same thorough check. “While uniform standards for foster homes exist at the national level, Native American tribes have a complex and uneven series of procedures and guidelines which vary from tribe to tribe,” said Cramer. “This bill makes sure there are adequate background checks for every person who lives in a foster home before placing a child there.” The hearing also examined the Indian Tribal Self-Determination in Land Consolidation Act, which would improve the land buy-back program for tribes established through the court settlement Cobell v. Salazar. As part of this settlement, the Department of the Interior recently signed an agreement with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe allowing a buy-back of 230,000 parcels to take place. [[{"fid":"348","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full"},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"Cramer Legislation to Protect Native American Children Receives Committee Hearing","height":"380","width":"640","class":"media-element file-full"}}]]   Read More

Endangered Species Act Reform Passes U.S. House

2014/07/29

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The first reforms to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since 1988 passed the U.S. House of Representatives today. Congressman Kevin Cramer cosponsored the legislation and said the changes to the law are necessary to protect the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers from being harmed by litigation from environmental activist groups. The Endangered Species Transparency and Reasonableness Act aims to improve the ESA, which was created in 1973 and has a species recovery rate of less than two percent. It would promote transparency by requiring data used to make species listing decisions be publicly accessible through the internet, increase cooperation with states, tribes and local governments by mandating the federal government include their data before making a determination, and curtail frivolous lawsuits by placing a reasonable cap on attorney fees for suits filed under the ESA and requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to publish information on the funds used to respond to ESA lawsuits, the number of employees dedicated to litigation, and attorney fees awarded through ESA litigation and settlement agreements. The Equal Access to Justice Act limits the hourly rate for prevailing attorney fees to $125 per hour. However, no such fee cap currently exists under the ESA, and attorneys have often been paid upwards of $400, $500, or even $700 per hour in taxpayer funds. This bill would put in place the same $125 per hour cap on attorney fees for suits filed under the ESA. “The endless stream of frivolous lawsuits from out-of-control environmental activists is harming the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers and crippling the ability of the ESA to accomplish its intended goals. We need to leverage the power of transparency to create a more sensible endangered species policy which respects the livelihood of private citizens,” said Cramer. Cramer is a member of the Natural Resources Committee, which has held several hearings in an ongoing effort to reform the ESA. Last year the Committee held a field hearing in Billings, Montana requested by Cramer and colleagues to examine the potential impacts of the Greater Sage Grouse potentially receiving an endangered species listing. Part of the Greater Sage Grouse habitat is found in southwestern North Dakota. Between 1999 and 2003, environmental groups filed eight petitions to add an ESA listing for the Greater Sage Grouse to which the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) found in 2005 did not warrant a listing. Five lawsuits were subsequently filed by environmental groups against the FWS and in 2011 reached a settlement requiring the FWS to make a final listing determination no later than September 30, 2015. Such a listing could have severe repercussions on agriculture, energy production, and outdoor recreation activities in the state. “North Dakota also faces other listings including the Dakota skipper butterfly and the northern long-eared bat with no online data transparency and minimal input from state and local officials. If these groups have their way, these listings could have severe repercussions on agriculture, energy production, and outdoor recreation activities in North Dakota,” Cramer added. The public comment period for the northern long-eared bat remains open until August 29, 2014 and submission of comments can be made here. Read More

U.S. House Improves Child Tax Credit and Simplifies Higher Education Deductions

2014/07/25

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to strengthen the child tax credit and simplify education tax benefits for students and families, Congressman Kevin Cramer said today. Cramer supported the legislation and said it is important Congress act to simplify the tax code. “While the Senate has not taken up the vast majority of bills passed by the House, they should at least recognize how burdensome and confusing our tax code is. As jobs in other states remain in short supply and many families struggle to make ends meet, we can do better for them by simplifying tax deductions and setting policy more responsive to an increasing cost of living,” said Cramer. The Child Tax Credit Improvement Act indexes the amount of child credit to inflation to address the gradual erosion of its value due to the rising cost of living while also putting married couples on equal footing with single filers by increasing their combined income in line with single filers. The bill also addresses approximately $13 billion in improper refundable tax credit payments by ensuring improper payments aren’t issued in the first place. The Student and Family Tax Simplification Act consolidates four tax benefits for higher education into a single, improved system. It would provide a 100% tax credit for the first $2,000 of certain higher education expenses including tuition and course materials, and a 25% tax credit for the next $2,000 of the same expenses meaning a maximum credit of $2,500. The legislation also includes simple fraud prevention measures to reduce credit overpayments. The two bills are the third and fourth major efforts by the House this year to provide greater tax certainty. Earlier this month the House passed legislation to make the 50-percent bonus depreciation tax deduction permanent, and in June the House passed America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2014, cosponsored by Cramer, which addresses a lapse in the tax code which dropped the Section 179 expensing limitation for tax deductions from $500,000 to $25,000. The legislation would restore the $500,000 cap and make it permanent.  Read More

North Dakota to Receive $7.2 Million in Homeland Security Funding

2014/07/25

WASHINGTON, D.C. – North Dakota will receive more than $7.2 million in grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Congressman Kevin Cramer said today. The funding includes $3,733,000 from the State Homeland Security Program, $3,099,556 from the Emergency Management Performance Grant Program, and $433,149 from Operation Stonegarden, a program to enhance cooperation among local, tribal, territorial, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies to secure the United States’ borders. “Ensuring our state and citizens are ready for any kind of emergency is a top priority given the ongoing instability in much of the Middle East and throughout the world,” said Cramer. “These funds are also targeted to help North Dakota prepare for other potential threats to public safety including floods, fires and severe storms.” A summary of the grants awarded can be viewed here. Read More

Rail Companies Issue New Status Reports on Grain Car Backlog

2014/07/25

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer announced BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) have publicly filed their fifth weekly status updates on the backlog in grain shipments. The figures from BNSF show a total of 3,359 past due rail cars in North Dakota averaging 23.6 days late as of July 25, compared to the report last week which indicated 3,908 past due cars were averaging 26.6 days late. The CP report shows a total of 22,811 open requests in North Dakota with an average age of 11.15 weeks. The previous report showed 23,761 open requests with an average age of 10.72 weeks. “It is crucial the rail companies get their systems in the best possible shape in order to move the approaching harvest,” said Cramer. “BNSF has posted another week of substantial reductions to their backlog, while CP has much more work to do. I met yesterday with BNSF President Carl Ice and I plan on speaking with the CEO of Canadian Pacific next week.” In June the two companies were ordered by the STB to report their plans for resolving the backlog of grain car orders, and begin issuing weekly status reports until the problem is resolved. The BNSF report can be viewed here, and the CP report can be viewed here. Read More

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Contact Information

1032 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2611
Fax 202-226-0893
cramer.house.gov

Kevin Cramer was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012. He serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Science, Space and Technology Committee. Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings appointed Kevin Cramer to three sub-committees including Energy and Mineral Resources, Public Lands and Environmental Regulation and Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith appointed Mr. Cramer to the Energy Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over such science as hydraulic fracturing and clean coal technologies, and as Vice-Chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, which has general and special investigative authority on all matters within the jurisdiction of the full-committee. Congressman Cramer also serves along with Rep. Bill Owens (NY-21) as Co-Chairman of the Northern Border Caucus, fostering continued growth in the U.S.-Canada relationship.

Cramer has a distinguished career in public service. In 1991, Kevin was elected Chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party, making him the youngest member of the Republican National Committee. From 1993 to 2000, he served in Governor Ed Schafer’s cabinet, first as State Tourism Director from1993 to1997, then as State Economic Development & Finance Director from 1997 to 2000. From 2000 to 2003, Kevin was Executive Director of the Harold Schafer Leadership Foundation, which connects emerging leaders from the University of Mary with community business leaders. In 2003, then-Governor John Hoeven appointed Kevin to the Public Service Commission, and in 2004 he was elected to the position, gaining over 65% of the vote. He was re-elected in 2010 with 61.5% of the vote in a three-person contest.

As North Dakota Public Service Commissioner, Cramer helped to develop and oversee the most dynamic economy in our nation. He worked to ensure North Dakotans enjoy some of the lowest utility rates in the nation, enhancing their competitive position in the global marketplace. An energy policy expert, Cramer understands our country’s energy security is integral to our national and economic security.

A strong advocate for the free market system, Cramer has a proven record of cutting and balancing budgets, encouraging the private sector through limited, common sense regulations and limited government.

Cramer has a B.A. degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, a Master’s degree in Management from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND, and was conferred the degree of Doctor of Leadership, honoris causa, by the University of Mary on May 4, 2013. He is a native of Kindred, North Dakota where he received all of his primary and secondary education. Kevin and his wife, Kris, have two adult sons, Ian and Isaac, two adult daughters, Rachel and Annie, a seven-year-old son, Abel, and a new granddaughter, Lyla.


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