WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer issued the following statement today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formally repealed the Obama Administration’s definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and reinstated the previous rule and guidance, which the government has been operating under since the nationwide injunction on October 9, 2015.
“Today’s action marks the end of step one in a two-step process to undo the Obama Administration’s overreach to even further expand the federal government’s control of our land. This regulatory relief is not only important to our farmers, ranchers, and energy producers, but any individual or business wanting to undertake a construction project. Reestablishing the federal government’s role to only navigable waters under any reasonable person’s definition will help unleash economic development and put power back in the hands of the people closest to a project’s impact.”
Moving forward, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers will continue its work on a new definition as directed by President Trump in his February 28, 2017 Executive Order to be consistent with the opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Congressman Cramer is supporting legislation – the Federal Regulatory Certainty for Water Act (H.R. 1261) – to clarify the definition of navigable waters in law. The bill states that waters under federal jurisdiction must be navigable, permanent, and continuously flowing bodies of water that form streams, oceans, rivers, and lakes. The bill also specifically excludes waters with flows that are intermittent, ephemeral, or wetlands that lack a continuous surface water connection with the previously described bodies of water.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported two bills passed this evening in the House of Representatives to fast-track the certification process for veterans who wish to obtain commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs).
“I’ve always thought it was commonsense that a veteran with these types of experiences – not to mention the training and the skills to drive large equipment in very diverse circumstances, including several stressful circumstances – would automatically be provided a CDL and other certifications necessary for doing the same thing in the civilian workforce,” said Cramer. “This legislation is a win-win. It’s a win for the veterans and their families. It hooks their skillsets, and their training, up with the demand in the workforce, which provides them with good paying jobs and careers. But it’s equally good for the employers who have the need for this type of experience and these types of skills. It’s also good for the country. Let’s face it, we want to encourage people to go into our military – high quality men and women – and one of the ways to encourage them to do that is by making sure we have the right opportunities for them when they come out of the military.”
H.R. 2547, the Veterans Expanded Trucking Opportunities Act of 2017, would expand the types of medical professionals at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) who could certify that veterans meet the physical standards required to operate commercial motor vehicles. Currently at the VA, only physicians may perform the physical examinations and issue the medical certificates required for commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). The legislation would expand the certification to other medical professionals such as physician assistants or advanced practice nurses – allowing increased staff to perform the necessary examinations which may result in faster service for veterans looking to obtain CDLs.
The House also passed H.R. 2258, the ADVANCE Act, which exempts active-duty members or reservists of the armed forces from certain testing requirements to obtain a state commercial driver’s license if they have qualifying military experience. Under current law, states are permitted to waive testing requirements, if they so choose, for qualified veterans, reservists, members of the National Guard, and active-duty personnel until October 27, 2018. This bill extends this exemption to those who are currently serving in the military.
WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported two bills passed by the House of Representatives this week to increase training opportunities for technical careers and help individuals join the workforce.
The bills passed in the House this week come in the wake of the Trump Administration’s focus this month on workforce development. By incentivizing folks to join the workforce, Congress and the Trump Administration are keeping their promise to help Americans find honest, meaningful jobs.
“We really need to change the disconnect between the workforce demands and the workforce skills in this country,” said Cramer. “That means bringing higher education, career and technical education, K-12 education, and it certainly means including the job creators as a part of the conversation so that we can incent the right jobs for the right people to grow our economy.”
H.R. 2842, the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act, encourages employer-led partnerships with state and local agencies to hire recipients from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, providing recipients with highly-valued work experience and on-the-job training, including apprenticeships. Incentivizing employer partnerships will provide jobs and work experience to help TANF recipients transition into the workforce. It also gives local communities control over how TANF dollars are spent, instead of forcing them into inflexible, one-size-fits-all programs.
“For too long in this country, we’ve incented people to not work, and we’ve incented companies to not hire,” said Cramer. “Between regulations, Obamacare, and a welfare system that creates a permanent dependency, we’ve really gone down the wrong path. Today’s legislation, the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act, is an important step for restoring the dignity of work while providing a safety net for able-bodied adults. I can’t think of a better way to help people through difficult times than helping them find a job and earn the skills they need to sustain their employment for the rest of their lives.”
Ed Christian, Executive Director of the Dakotas Chapter of National Electrical Contractors Association, commended the bill’s passage. “NECA is pleased to support H.R. 2842, the “Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act,” said Christian. “This legislation will help encourage Americans who are willing and able to enter into the workforce, learn a skilled trade, and help rebuild our nation. There is a need for skilled electricians and linemen across our great nation and we should do all we can to help break down barriers for people who have the basic skills needed to meet the mission of this legislation.”
The House also passed H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 to help more Americans enter the workforce with the skills necessary to compete for and succeed in high-skilled, in-demand careers.
Since 1984, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act has provided federal support to state and local career and technical education, or CTE, programs. This law has not been updated in more than a decade, and it no longer reflects the realities and challenges facing students and workers. Meanwhile, millions of jobs across the country remain unfilled due in part to the “skills gap.”
Highlights of H.R. 2353 are:
• Supports innovative learning opportunities, promoting work-based learning and evaluating CTE providers on their ability to effectively prepare students for the workforce. The bill also encourages state leaders to better integrate their career and technical education services with other state-led programs, helping to provide individuals access to a more seamless and efficient workforce development system.
• Increases flexibility, increasing from 10 percent to 15 percent the amount of federal funds states can set aside to assist eligible students in rural areas or areas with a significant number of CTE students. It also gives states more flexibility to use federal funds to support CTE programs that are focused on unique and changing education and economic needs or state-based innovation.
• Builds better partnerships, encouraging stronger engagement with employers by ensuring local business leaders are involved in the development of career and technical education and the performance goals set at the state and local levels. These reforms will help students receive the skills they need to compete for jobs that exist in their local communities now and in the future.
• Addresses state and local needs, empowering state leaders with more flexibility to direct federal resources to CTE programs that provide students with skills to fill available jobs in their states and communities. Under the legislation, state leaders will be able to use federal funds to support programs focused on in-demand industries or occupations or on state-based innovation.
• Protects taxpayers, adding targeted levels of performance, as well as reporting and annually publishing the results on how they perform. This will provide students, taxpayers, and state and local leaders the information necessary to hold CTE programs accountable for results. Additionally, the bill reaffirms the secretary’s responsibility to provide technical assistance, monitoring, and oversight related to the implementation of a state’s revised performance improvement plan.
Recording: Audio Quote
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer issued the following statement after President Donald Trump signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 into law:
“The signing of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act demonstrates our commitment, and the President’s commitment, to providing better care for the men and women who have served in our nation’s military,” said Cramer. “Most VA employees provide admirable, if not excellent, care and I applaud their service to our veterans. However, it’s just unacceptable to not hold bad actors accountable, and this legislation allows the VA Secretary to better address misconduct in the agency and it strengthens whistleblower protections, resulting in better care for veterans.”
The House of Representatives passed the bill on June 13. Read more about the bill here.
HOEVEN, HEITKAMP, CRAMER: USDA TO ALLOW EMERGENCY GRAZING ON CRP LANDS FOR NORTH DAKOTA RANCHERS IMPACTED BY DROUGHT CONDITIONS
Cramer Audio Quote Here
Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow North Dakota ranchers access to emergency grazing of conservation reserve program (CRP) acres in areas experiencing drought conditions. Earlier this month, the delegation pressed USDA to open CRP lands to North Dakota ranchers impacted by drought conditions.
“We appreciate USDA opening up CRP lands for grazing to help our ranchers who have been hard hit by drought conditions,” said Hoeven. “We will continue working with USDA to provide assistance, including emergency haying, to help support our producers through these challenging times.”
“After pushing Secretary Perdue to help North Dakota ranchers weather this drought, USDA has agreed to our request to allow folks to begin emergency haying and grazing in drought-stricken counties,” said Heitkamp. “Countless ranchers have told us how dire the drought is across our state, especially in the western and central regions, where folks have already had to sell off too many cattle – and this emergency action will provide at least some relief. North Dakota is only as strong as our farming and ranching communities, which is why we’re fighting to make sure folks can weather this drought.”
“This fast action by Secretary Perdue provides much-needed relief for our livestock producers who remain under severe stress,” said Cramer. “Moving forward, we will continue to monitor drought conditions, and work together to lessen the burden during these trying times for our ranchers.”
The emergency grazing is open for acres experiencing drought conditions in categories D2 or higher on the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is available here. Interested ranchers should contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office to access the emergency grazing acres.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate released their health care reform bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.
“Since 2013, premiums have risen 44 percent in North Dakota and 105 percent nationally. A family of four on Obamacare in North Dakota with the state‘s median household income of $60,000 may have to pay between $12,000 and $15,000 out-of-pocket before their health insurance even kicks in – a whopping 25 percent of their entire income. Unfortunately, matters are getting worse as the downward spiral of Obamacare continues. With premiums skyrocketing in 2018, one-third of counties having only one insurance plan, and many counties having no options at all, it is imperative we act to prevent a total collapse of the American health care system. This is a rescue mission, and North Dakotans have a right to better health care. I encourage the Senate to pass a bill as soon as practical so we can reconcile any differences and rescue the American people.“
Recording: Audio Here
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer announced the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded the University of North Dakota (UND) a $3,876,470 million funding grant to be used over the next five years to address addiction and behavioral healthcare issues in North Dakota.
“We all know people struggling with drug addiction, this is an all-hands-on-deck situation“ said Cramer. “Through our work here in Congress, and the continued work being done both on the ground by the communities and in the Trump Administration, I’m pleased to see that one of our exceptional universities is helping tackle substance abuse problems that affect so many of our people. While there’s always more that can be done, this grant continues our pledge to address addiction problems affecting our friends and family across North Dakota.“
According to SAMHSA’s website, the purpose of this program is to develop and strengthen the specialized behavioral healthcare and primary healthcare workforce that provides substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and recovery support services. This is done by accelerating the adoption and implementation of evidence-based and promising SUD treatment and recovery-oriented practices and services; heightening the awareness, knowledge, and skills of the workforce that addresses the needs of people with substance use or other co-occurring health disorders; and fostering regional and national alliances among culturally diverse practitioners, researchers, policy makers, funders, and the recovery community.
The ATTC Network grantees will work directly with SAMHSA and amongst themselves on activities aimed at improving the quality and effectiveness of treatment and recovery, as well as work directly with providers of clinical and recovery services, and others that influence the delivery of services, to improve the quality of workforce training and service delivery. As part of this work, the ATTC program will also support Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) to develop their workforce capacity. The desired outcome of the ATTC program is to increase the capacity of specialized behavioral and primary healthcare providers to provide high quality, effective services for clients with SUD and co-occurring disorders.
Read more about the grant here.Read More
WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported five bills passed by the House of Representatives today addressing issues related to the foster care system.
Cramer is a member of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, consisting of more than 150 members of the House of Representatives who work to develop policy recommendations for improving child welfare outcomes.
In the United States, approximately 400,000 children are in the foster care system, providing a temporary living arrangement for children who cannot remain safely in their own homes. When it is not possible for these children to be reunited with their families, the child welfare system works to find permanent homes for them through adoption or legal guardianship. Cramer and his wife, Kris, are adoptive parents to their young son, Abel.
“Thousands of vulnerable children have a chance for a better life through foster care and adoption,” said Cramer. “We must do all we can to streamline the process and reduce red tape and bureaucratic hassles to help place them with loving families and ensure they grow up with the same access to opportunities as other children. While there is much more to do, these bills passed today address some of the greatest concerns.”
Bills passed today include:
H.R. 2847, the Improving Services for Older Youth in Foster Care Act, supports the transition to adulthood by updating the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. It allows states the option of continuing to assist older former foster youth up to age 23, including providing education and training vouchers.
H.R. 2866, the Reducing Barriers for Relative Foster Parents Act, reviews and improves licensing standards for placement in a relative foster family home. It requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to identify reputable model standards for licensing foster family homes no later than Oct. 1, 2018. No later than April 1, 2019, each state is required to submit information to HHS on whether its own licensing standards are fully consistent with the model standards identified by HHS.
H.R. 2742, the Modernizing the Interstate Placement of Children in Foster Care Act, amends Title IV of the Social Security Act to require states to adopt an electronic system to help expedite the placement of children in foster care or guardianship, or for adoption, across state lines, and provides funding to aid states in developing such a system. Most states currently use paper systems for the interstate foster care placement process, requiring state caseworkers to print and mail hundreds of pages of paperwork to place a foster child in a home across state lines, including with a grandparent or other relative. This outdated process can take an average of more than five months to complete. In November 2013, the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE) cloud-based electronic system pilot project was launched. It has reduced wait times by an average of 30 percent. This bill requires all states to join the NEICE system by 2027 and authorizes $5 million in funding to help states transition to or expand their use of the NEICE system for interstate foster care placement.
H.R. 2834, the Partnership Grants to Strengthen Families Affected by Parental Substance Abuse Act, helps to keep families together by strengthening the regional partnership grant program. It provides funding for evidence-based services to prevent child abuse and neglect related to substance abuse. This bill updates the program to specifically address the opioid and heroin epidemic and leverages what’s been learned to ensure that new foster care prevention funding provided under the bill is used effectively.
An estimated 6 million or 9 percent of children in America live with at least one parent who abuses alcohol or other drugs. Research indicates children of substance-abusing parents are more likely to experience abuse, physical, sexual, or emotional, or neglect than children in non-substance abusing households.
H.R. 2857, the Supporting Families in Substance Abuse Treatment Act, permits federal foster care payments, for up to 12 months, for a child in foster care who is placed with a parent in a licensed residential family-based treatment facility. Under the legislation, states and tribes would have the authority to grant federal foster care support payments to children while placed with a parent in a residential, family-based treatment facility.
Children of parents who abuse substances often remain in the child welfare system longer and experience poorer out-comes. Added to this, scarce resources and lack of coordination among various service systems often make it difficult to address the multiple needs of these children and families. This bill helps remove some of the barriers to establishing a family-focused approach to treatment.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported a number of health reform bills this week passed out of the House of Representatives.
The bills are considered part of the “third phase” for health care reform – the phase that makes legislative policy changes and requires 60 votes in the Senate instead of a simple 51-vote majority required for Senate passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). “You’d be hard-pressed to find this information in the news lately, but Congress continues to move forward on health care reform expeditiously, and it’s actually the most productive beginning of a Congress in more than 25 years,” said Cramer.
This week’s bills aim to expand health care options for veterans and the unemployed while also protecting taxpayer dollars.
H.R. 2372, the VETERAN Act ensures vets can choose to purchase health care in the individual marketplace under the American Health Care Act should they choose not to receive care through the Veterans Administration (VA). “We’re keeping our promise to provide more quality health care options for our veterans,” Cramer said. “This bill makes law the ability for veterans to receive the monthly tax credits provided by the American Health Care Act, even if they’re eligible to purchase insurance through the VA.” Under law, people eligible for insurance through programs such as TRICARE, Medicare, or Medicaid are not eligible to receive help purchasing health care option in the individual marketplace. An existing regulation makes an exception for veterans – who are eligible but not enrolled in VA insurance. The VETERAN Act codifies this language into law.
H.R. 2579, the Broader Options for Americans Act, helps people who recently lost their job to continue using the insurance they received through work by providing access to the AHCA monthly tax credits. Currently, people who lose their job can continue using their health insurance through a program known as COBRA continuation coverage. However, they must pay full premium costs – and sometimes more – without access to Obamacare’s current subsidy program. “Ironically, folks on Obamacare who lose their job have to pay more for COBRA coverage, not less,” Cramer said. “We want to encourage people who have lost their jobs to get back on their feet. Our bill also applies to Americans who have similar coverage provided through churches or other houses of worship.”
H.R. 2581, the Verify First Act, protects the taxpayer from waste, fraud, and abuse by verifying a person’s eligibility to receive financial assistance before the health insurance plan goes into effect. Fraud has been an ongoing problem under Obamacare since subsidies can be dispersed without fully verifying an individual’s eligibility. “Every time someone takes advantage of our government safety-net programs, the people who truly need the programs are being punished with higher costs or less assistance. In order to continue providing high quality coverage to the most vulnerable among us, we need to make sure the assistance is going towards people who truly need it.” Cramer said. The Verify First Act builds off the added safeguards included in the AHCA, which expressly define who is eligible to receive monthly tax credits.
On top of this week’s health reform legislation, the following bills have already passed the House and are awaiting further consideration in the Senate:
HR 1304, the Self-Insurance Protection Act, which clarifies that federal regulators cannot redefine “stop-loss” insurance as “health insurance coverage” under federal law. Specifically, the bill amends ERISA and the Public Health Service Act to continue allowing employers to utilize stop-loss insurance coverage, a financial risk-management tool, when offering employees health care coverage through a self-funded plan. Passed: April 2017
HR 372, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, which ensures health insurance issuers are subject to the same antitrust and unfair trade practices laws with which all businesses comply. The bill specifically prohibits businesses from engaging in anti-competitive practices, including price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation that could drive up healthcare costs. It is the first step to allowing insurance companies to sell across state lines which will increase competition and reduce premiums. Passed: May 2017
HR 1101, The Small Business Health Fairness Act, which amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to allow small businesses to join together in association health plans (AHP) across state lines through bona fide trade associations to become larger purchasers of health insurance. Specifically, the bill relieves small businesses that form AHPs from costly state-mandated benefit laws that often make coverage prohibitively expensive. Passed: May 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer issued the following statement after it was announced a shooting occurred at a Congressional baseball game practice this morning:
“Kris and I are praying for our friend Steve Scalise, Congressional staff, Capitol Police and their families. Events like this cause reflection and renew a commitment to unity among our colleagues. This act was done by a spineless coward who met an appropriate response by a heroic U.S. Capitol Police force.”
Neither Congressman Cramer, or his staff, attended the practice this morning.
1717 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Kevin Cramer was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6, 2012. He serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has the broadest jurisdiction of any committee in Congress. Cramer is assigned to three subcommittees: Communications and Technology, Energy, and Environment. In November 2016, Cramer was elevated to the influential House Republican Steering Committee – as the Small State Representative. The Steering Committee determines all committee assignments and chairmanships.
He is Co-Chairman of the House Rural Broadband Caucus, which develops policy solutions addressing Rural America’s digital divide, and the Northern Border Caucus, which fosters continued growth in the relationship between the United States and Canada. He is also a founding Chair of the Congressional Kid’s Safety Caucus.
He is North Dakota’s only member of the House of Representatives. Cramer has made constituent outreach a top priority, describing interacting with the public as “the best part of public service.” According to Legistorm, the Capitol Hill government issues website, since becoming a Member of Congress, Cramer has held more town halls than any other Member.
Cramer has had a distinguished career in public service. In 1991, he 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 from 1993 to 1997, then as State Economic Development & Finance Director from 1997 to 2000. From 2000 to 2003, he was Executive Director of the Harold Schafer Leadership Foundation, which connects emerging leaders from the University of Mary in Bismarck with community business leaders. In 2003, then-Governor John Hoeven appointed Cramer to the Public Service Commission, and in 2004 he was elected to the position.
As North Dakota Public Service Commissioner, Cramer helped oversee the most dynamic economy in the 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 America’s energy security is integral to 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 Bachelor of Arts degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, a Master’s degree in Management from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, 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 nine-year-old son, Abel; one granddaughter, Lyla; and three grandsons, Beau, Nico and Chet.
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We owe it to the families of those who lost loved ones to take action to prevent these horrible crimes. https://t.co/FlRXe8nXbj
More Counties Left Without Insurance in Wake of Obamacare’s Continued Collapse https://t.co/4Fv12dNEns
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Thank you Rex Tillerson Secretary, Ivanka Trump and especially our Heroes who do so much to save vulnerable people from human trafficking. Read
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just announced a repeal of the Obama Administration’s definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS). Today’s
Honored to attend the release of the 2017 Human Trafficking Report at U.S. Department of State this morning. #EndTrafficking #EndSlavery
Eager to hear the results of the U.S. Department of State 2017 Trafficking In Persons Report this morning with Secretary Rex Tillerson, Ivanka
For too long in this country, we’ve incented people to not work, and we’ve incented companies to not hire. Between regulations, Obamacare,