Kevin Cramer

Kevin Cramer

NORTH DAKOTA

Cramer and BNSF President Meet on Grain Shipment Delays, PHMSA Rule

2014/07/24

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer met with BNSF President and CEO Carl Ice to discuss what the rail company is doing to reduce ongoing delays of grain shipments in North Dakota. During the meeting Cramer pressed Ice on BNSF’s pledge to clear the backlog of last year’s crop before the new harvest begins, asked for a progress update on the company’s hiring of additional employees, and discussed the new rule for oil by rail shipments proposed yesterday. “Given we are fast approaching the next harvest and the last report from BNSF still indicated a backlog of more than 3,900 cars, time is running out on their promise to have it cleared by then,” said Cramer. “During my meeting with Carl Ice I relayed my concerns as well as those I have heard from farmers and grain shippers across the state. He informed me BNSF has now completed more than 40 miles of double tracking between Minot and Glasgow as part of its $1 billion expansion in the northern region and is on track with their other planned improvements. I appreciate these efforts to ensure their system is in the best possible shape in order to move what appears to be another bumper harvest. We also discussed the proposed rule for oil by rail shipments released yesterday, which may have an impact on agriculture shipments.” BNSF is engaged in a $1 billion expansion and maintenance program in the northern region. As part of this effort to grow capacity, they plan to complete 60 miles of double track between Minot and Glasgow by October. Since June, BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) 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 figures from BNSF show a total of 3,908 past due rail cars in North Dakota averaging 26.6 days late as of July 17, compared to the report last week which indicated 4,561 past due cars were averaging 30.2 days late. The CP report shows a total of 23,761 open requests in North Dakota with an average age of 10.72 weeks. The previous report showed 24,280 open requests with an average age of 10.14 weeks. The BNSF report can be viewed here, and the CP report can be viewed here. Read More

Cramer Statement on Proposed PHMSA Rule for Oil-by-Rail

2014/07/23

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released a proposed rule to establish new requirements for the transportation of oil by rail. Congressman Kevin Cramer issued the following statement: “While I still have to look through all the details of the proposed rule, it is assuring to see PHMSA moving the issue of rail safety forward. In order to build safer tank cars, the rail industry needs to know the construction standards prescribed by the federal government. While we need to also focus on preventing trains from derailing, a standard for rail car construction is appropriate given some accidents are inevitable. The issue of train speed must be approached with caution. We want a speed which ensures safety, but at the same time we don’t want a reaction that results in a greatly increased number of trains. It is refreshing to see PHMSA providing a menu of options for enhanced safety as well as a public comment period, and I strongly encourage interested citizens to submit their responses. I have also received approval from the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee for a hearing to examine recent studies on the characteristics of Bakken crude oil. I expect the hearing to take place sometime in September within the 60-day comment window. PHMSA has stated the public comment submission system will be opened at www.regulations.gov in no more than two days. The press release from PHMSA announcing the proposed rule can be viewed here. [[{"fid":"346","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full"},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"Cramer Statement on Proposed PHMSA Rule for Oil-by-Rail","height":"380","width":"640","class":"media-element file-full"}}]] Read More

House Bill Would Make Flying Easier for Honor Flight Veterans

2014/07/22

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer announced the U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation to establish a more expedited and reasonable airport security screening process for veterans traveling to visit war memorials built in their honor. The Honor Flight Act would require the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to create protocols making the passenger screening process less stressful and more respectful for military veterans. Prior to his time in Congress, Congressman Cramer served as Chairman of the Roughrider Honor Flight Committee, which flew hundreds of North Dakota World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. at no personal expense to experience the memorials dedicated to their service and sacrifice. “The TSA in Bismarck was incredibly accommodating to our World War II veterans. The head agent always attended our briefings and made sure the screenings were easy and without undue stress. Unfortunately, the common sense applied in North Dakota isn't as common everywhere,” said Cramer. The national Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization working to transport veterans on charter flights operated by commercial airlines to Washington, D.C. in order to visit memorials built and dedicated in honor of their service. The organization began when Earl Morse, a Retired Air Force Captain working at a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic, realized many of his World War II veteran patients would never have the opportunity to visit the memorials. Through the end of 2012, the network has transported more than 98,500 veterans to Washington, D.C. Last year, Cramer helped pass the Helping Heroes Fly Act, which makes air travel easier for severely disabled veterans by directing the Department of Homeland Security to address inconsistencies in the Wounded Warrior Screening Program operated by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). The program was created in 2005 as a response to well-documented difficulties imposed on wounded veterans by the increasing rigors of airport security. The bill was signed into law on August 9, 2013. Read More

Cramer Statement on Airport Grants Awarded to Fargo, Williston, and Hettinger

2014/07/22

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Airports in Fargo, Williston, and Hettinger will receive more than $5.9 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation to make improvements to existing infrastructure. Congressman Kevin Cramer released the following statement on the announcement: "Last week the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission reported 99,658 boardings in June, which is up more than six percent from 2013. These funds will help local airport authorities meet this increased demand. Like highways, our airports are essential transportation infrastructure critical to the movement of goods and people in a global economy. This commitment from DOT is an acknowledgement of North Dakota's expanding role in the global marketplace.” Read More

Rail Companies Issue New Status Reports on Grain Car Backlog

2014/07/21

BISMARCK, N.D. – BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) have publicly filed their fourth weekly status updates on the backlog in grain shipments, Congressman Kevin Cramer said today. The figures from BNSF show a total of 3,908 past due rail cars in North Dakota averaging 26.6 days late as of July 17, compared to the report last week which indicated 4,561 past due cars were averaging 30.2 days late. The CP report shows a total of 23,761 open requests in North Dakota with an average age of 10.72 weeks. The previous report showed 24,280 open requests with an average age of 10.14 weeks. “BNSF is reporting a 14 percent reduction in their past-due cars, which is good news. However Canadian Pacific has not indicated any meaningful reductions in their backlog since these reports began. I continue to remind the rail officials how crucial it is our farmers have access to reliable and efficient rail transportation, especially with harvest approaching. Given their promise to clear the backlog of last year’s crop before the new harvest begins, I will be watching their progress over the next few weeks carefully,” said Cramer. 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

Cramer: House Reins in IRS with Funding Cuts

2014/07/16

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut funding to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by 12 percent in response to the agency’s wasteful spending and targeting of private citizens based on their political beliefs. Congressman Kevin Cramer supported the Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which marks the seventh annual appropriations bill passed by the House this year. IRS funding cuts Cuts total IRS funding by $341 million below 2014 levels and 12% below the President’s budget request, and prohibits funds from being used to target citizens based on their political beliefs. It also prevents spending on wasteful conferences or videos and excessive employee bonuses or awards, two key areas of waste identified in news reports this year. Further, the legislation blocks funding to implement the individual insurance mandate in Obamacare, and prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from transferring funds to the IRS to enforce other penalties in the health care law. “The agency charged with collecting our taxes has been engaged in a mission creep, discriminating against taxpayers based on their political views and using Obamacare to expand its authority. These cuts are necessary to rein in an out-of-control bureaucracy,” said Cramer. Small business loans Provides $862 million for the Small Business Administration, including $195 million for small business loans, $115 million for small business development centers, and $15 million for women’s business centers. Holding government accountable Requires the Office of Management and Budget to submit the President’s budget on time each year or face a seven-month withholding of their budget until the request is submitted. Brings the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under the annual appropriations process for the first time, freezes pay for the Vice President and other senior political appointees, and prohibits funds from the Executive Office of the President from being used to prepare the signing of any Executive Order or statement contradicting existing law. “When Congress agreed to the omnibus spending bill in January, we had a chance to return to the regular order of debating and passing annual appropriations bills to fund the government. Now we are halfway through 2014 and the House has passed seven of these bills while the Senate has passed zero. We will continue doing our work, but we need the Senate to join us sooner rather than later,” Cramer added. Read More

Cramer: EPA Decision to Withdraw Wage Garnishment Rule is a Victory for North Dakotans

2014/07/16

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer welcomed the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw its proposed rule to garnish the wages of private citizens in order to assess its fines. Cramer sent a letter last Friday to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy strongly opposing the decision and encouraged North Dakotans to submit their public comments on the rule in a television appearance on Monday. “Just two weeks after announcing their proposal, a swell of public outcry has forced the EPA to withdraw its latest attempt to control more of people’s lives. This is a victory for every North Dakotan who voiced opposition to this violation of constitutional rights,” said Cramer. Just before the July 4th weekend, the EPA published a notice in the Federal Register proposing an expedited 30-day rulemaking to allowing agency to “garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.” The EPA stated the rule would take effect on September 2nd, 2014 unless there was significant opposing comment by August 1, 2014. Cramer appeared on KVLY-TV on Monday to encourage North Dakotans to submit their comments to the Federal Register. In addition, Cramer wrote to Administrator McCarthy and cosponsored a joint resolution resolving no such rule shall have force or effect. Read More

House Approves Agreement to Prevent Highway Trust Fund Shortfall

2014/07/15

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed an agreement to reauthorize transportation programs and prevent a lapse in highway funding. Congressman Kevin Cramer supported the measure but said it was an imperfect solution to a growing problem. “With a looming budget shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, we can’t afford to have shovels abandoned at construction sites all across the country. This legislation ensures we keep our infrastructure projects moving, however I am disappointed the solution only rearranges our spending problems instead of solving them,” said Cramer. The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 reauthorizes Federal highway and other surface transportation programs through May 31, 2015, and includes three provisions to prevent the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) from being depleted in August. The first provision adds $1 billion to the HTF from the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund. This account has a $1.4 billion surplus and is used to pay Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clean-up expenses from underground petroleum storage tank leaks. The second provision adjusts the interest rate calculations private employers must consider when funding employee pension plans, resulting in approximately $6.4 billion in additional revenue due to those employers having more taxable income. The third provision adds approximately $3.5 billion to the HTF by extending the authorization for U.S. Customs user fees. “The ongoing trend of increased spending on infrastructure projects and decreased fuel tax revenues is unsustainable. This temporary fix will only get us to next May, and in this time Congress needs to get serious about a long term solution,” Cramer added. Read More

Cramer: House Bill Permanently Bans Taxes on Internet Access

2014/07/15

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Congressman Kevin Cramer to make a ban on state and local internet access taxes permanent passed the U.S. House of Representatives today. The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA) addresses the November 1, 2014 expiration of a ban on internet access taxes by state and local governments by striking the end date and making it permanent. “This bill sends a clear message that internet access ought not to be taxed or restricted by any government entity. The internet has opened up boundless opportunities for every American citizen. Adding a tax on its usage would only punish families on a budget who already have plenty of expenses to manage,” said Cramer. Congress first temporarily banned state and local governments from imposing an internet access tax in 1998. This ban was extended three times through 2007 in successive bipartisan votes, with only five “no” votes being cast in total. The most recent extension lasts until November 1, 2014. Today’s legislation makes the ban permanent and eliminates the end date from law. “When a provision in the tax code has been extended three times over 16 years, it is time to end the uncertainty and make it permanent law,” Cramer added. Read More

Cramer Calls on EPA Administrator to Stop Garnishing Wages

2014/07/14

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer has called on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to cease garnishing the wages of private citizens in order to assess its fines. Just before the 4th of July weekend the agency published a notice in the Federal Register proposing an expedited rulemaking to allow the EPA to “garnish non-Federal wages to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed the United States without first obtaining a court order.” Cramer called it the latest example of overreach by an agency which also recently published its proposal to expand regulation of water features. “This claim seems to violate American citizens’ Constitutionally-guaranteed right to due process by placing the burden of proof on the debtor, rather than the agency. The process for challenging fines and wage garnishment is not satisfactory because it allows the agency to decide if the accused can even present a defense,” wrote Cramer and 29 other members of Congress. “The increasingly punitive nature of the agency is also of concern. According to the agency’s annual reports, the amount of fines collected by the EPA has gone from $96 million in 2009 to $252 million in 2013.” “The agency has fast-tracked the rule to take effect on September 2nd, 2014 absent sufficient opposing comment by August 1, 2014. We are writing to voice our strongest opposition to the rule and the EPA’s inadequate engagement with the public concerning it. Further, we ask that you reverse your decision and not follow through with this rule,” the letter continued. The full letter can be viewed here. Cramer is encouraging North Dakotans to submit their comments on the wage garnishment rule online at FederalRegister.gov by the August 1 deadline. He is also cosponsoring a joint resolution disapproving of the rule and resolving no such rule shall have force or effect. 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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