Kevin Cramer

Kevin Cramer

NORTH DAKOTA

CRAMER: Continuing Resolution Bill Funds Government, Military Funding and Zika Response

2016/09/29

Click Here for Audio on Continuing Resolution

Click Here for Audio on MilConVA ‘Minibus’

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Kevin Cramer issued the following statement on today’s approval by the House of Representatives of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Continuing Resolution legislation funding the government through Dec. 9. It also includes the text of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act and includes supplemental appropriations for Zika prevention and response, funding these programs for the next fiscal year.  With the Senate’s passage of identical legislation earlier today, the bill now proceeds to the President’s desk for his consideration.   

“This legislation allows the government to continue to operate without interruption until Dec. 9.  It also ensures we meet our obligation to support our military construction projects and veterans, and that funds are available fight the threat of the Zika virus.”

“Perhaps the biggest story of this Continuing Resolution is that we have also attached a ‘minibus’ to it, that is a full appropriation for the entire fiscal year for military construction and VA.  This is a very important appropriation for North Dakota’s veterans and for military construction throughout our military. This is a bill that was filibustered many times by Senate Democrats.  This is a major victory for our military and for our veterans and I’m glad Republicans in the House could deliver it.”  

Highlights of the bill include:

Continuing Resolution

• Funds government operations at $1.067 trillion, the same as FY16;

• Contains an additional $17 million to the Department of Health and Human Services and $20 million to the Department of Justice in funding to fight the opioid epidemic and begin carrying out the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016;

• Continues a provision that stops an Obama Administration Security and Exchange Commission rule that would force all publicly traded corporations to disclose their political contributions;

• Provides an additional $500 million in grants to states affected by recent flooding.

 

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs

• Totals $82.5 billion, an increase of $2.6 billion above current levels;

• Provides $74.4 billion in funding for the Veterans Administration, $2.9 billion above FY16 levels, including funding for medical services ($52.8 billion), an increase to address the backlog of disability claims ($156 million), and funds to support the modernization of the electronic health record ($260 million);

• Sustains quality housing for 1.3 million military families;

• Includes funding to care for 9.8 million troops and families at military medical facilities;

• Funds the American Battle Monuments Commission, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans

Claims, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Armed Forces Retirement Home;

• Prohibits the closure of Guantanamo Bay and the construction of any facilities to house detainees in the U.S. or its territories; and

• Improves oversight at the VA to address mismanagement, stop waste, and better serve veterans, as well as add new whistleblower protections.

 

Zika Response and Prevention

• Provides a total of $1.1 billion to stop the spread of Zika, $400 million of which is offset;

• Targets funding for mosquito control, response, and readiness in high-risk states/territories ($394 million);

• Funds vaccines and diagnostic test research to ensure they are available to the public quickly and safely ($397 million);

• Supports health care for mothers, children, and others experiencing complications in areas with the highest rates of transmission ($75 million);

• Implements strong oversight, including funds for the Inspectors General of HHS and UASAID ($1 million);

• Provides funding to diplomatic and consular programs as well as emergencies in the diplomatic and consular service ($15.6 million);

• Enables financing in repatriation loans to U.S. citizens in Zika-affected areas ($1 million);

• Supports the Global Health Programs efforts to reduce the transmission of Zika ($145.5 million); and

• Maintains the Hyde amendment and reiterates strong protections against the use of this funding for abortions.

 

 

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CRAMER: Water Resources Development Act Supports Infrastructure for State Producers

2016/09/29

Click Here for Audio

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer praised the benefits to North Dakota producers and exporters in the projects funded by today’s passage of H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The Senate passed similar legislation today and both bills now advance to a conference committee.

This legislation authorizes the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to carry out water resources development through cost-sharing partnerships with non-federal sponsors. These activities include navigation, flood damage reduction, shoreline protection, hydropower, dam safety, water supply, recreation, environmental restoration and protection, and disaster response and recovery. 

“More than 60 percent of America’s grain and other agriculture exports, as well as fuel and coal, move through inland waterways like the Mississippi River,” said Cramer. “Maintaining and improving that transportation infrastructure is crucial as good highways and railroads to North Dakota producers moving their products to domestic and international markets.”

Highlights of H.R. 5303 include:

  • Reforms the Corps planning process, promotes timely project delivery, empowers non-federal project sponsors, and strengthens congressional oversight;
  • Authorizes 27 new projects to improve navigable systems, strengthen flood-risk management, provide hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and restore the environment;
  • Follows a new, transparent approval process that was established by Congress in 2014;
  • Puts Congress on a two-year cycle of addressing infrastructure—a much-needed return to regular order;
  • Saves money by allowing needed water resources projects to move forward, preventing unnecessary increases in project costs;
  • Keeps American jobs in America by strengthening competitiveness and ensures the transportation system remains attractive to private sector job creators;
  • Fully offsets new authorizations;
  • Ensures that authorizations for inactive projects will sunset to prevent future project backlogs;
  • Reduces the inventory of projects that are not needed for the missions of the Corps, and
  • Contains no earmarks.
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CRAMER: Terrorism Bill Veto Override a Big Victory for Justice

2016/09/28

Listen to Audio Here

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer released the following statement after the House of Representatives joined the Senate today in overriding President Obama’s veto of S. 2040, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. The Senate vote was 97 to 1, and the House vote was 348 to 77. This bill allows victims and their families to sue Saudi Arabia for its involvement with the 9/11 attacks. The bill initially passed the Senate May 17 and the House Sept. 9. President Obama vetoed the bill Friday.

“Today’s veto override by Congress is a strong affirmation of accountability and justice.  Fifteen years later, It gives the victims and their families of the 9/11 attacks another avenue to seek justice and have their day in court.  This law sends the message to foreign countries the United States will fight terrorist attacks on American soil with every means possible, including the American court system. This was a big victory for justice today.”

 

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CRAMER: Bills Address Quality Care Issues for Veterans

2016/09/28

Click here for HR 5162 Vet Connect Act Audio

Click here for HR 5392 Veterans Crisis Line Audio

Click here for HR 3216 VET Act Audio

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Cramer supported three bills passed by the House of Representatives this week that address quality care issues to improve services for veterans.

H.R. 5162, the Vet Connect Act of 2016, requires the Veterans Administration (VA) to share medical record information with a public or private health care provider to provide care or treatment to a shared patient.  It authorizes the VA to disclose to non-VA entities that provide hospital care of medical treatment to veterans any records regarding the identity, diagnosis, prognosis or treatment of any patient seeking treatment at a non-VA facility.

“Veterans deserve the absolute best care possible regardless of where they go for treatment,” said Cramer.  “Sharing medical information to ensure they receive a quality diagnosis and treatment needs to be a basic protocol for all veterans everywhere.”

H.R. 5392, the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act, requires the VA develop a plan to ensure that each telephone call, text message and other communications received by Veterans Crisis Lines is answered in a timely manner by a person. This legislation was written to address complaints about unanswered or delayed calls or inappropriate responses to calls from veterans to the crisis line. 

“Effective and timely mental health care for troubled veterans must be a basic service to our veterans,” said Cramer. “No answers or poor quality responses to veterans calling crisis lines is inexcusable. Our bill demands improvements in responsiveness and performance for every call made by a veteran to a crisis line.” 

H.R. 3216, the Veterans Emergency Treatment (VET) Act, requires the VA follow certain procedures to ensure high-quality care when veterans seek emergency treatment at a VA medical facility.  It requires the VA hospital to conduct a medical examination to determine if an emergency medical condition exists, stabilize the patient  or arrange a transfer, and prohibit delaying appropriate exams or treatment to inquire about payments methods or insurance status. 

“The mistreatment documented at some VA hospitals by turning away veterans in need of emergency services is unconscionable,” said Cramer.   “This bill clarifies the procedures for VA hospitals in providing appropriate emergency care for veterans, including diagnosis and stabilizing treatment .”

These bills now advance to the Senate for further consideration. 

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CRAMER : Health Insurance CO-OP Bill Protects Consumers from Failed Plans

2016/09/28

Listen to Audio Here

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer joined a bipartisan majority of Members of the House of Representatives today in supporting legislation that protects consumers from individual mandate penalties if their coverage is terminated. 

R. 954, the CO-OP Consumer Protection Act of 2016, addresses the concerns caused by the failure of the non-profit, member-run CO-OP insurance plans that were intended to increase competition in the private insurance industry.  As of July, 23 CO-OPs received $2.4 billion in federal loans to assist with start-up costs and to meet state solvency standards to remain a licensed insurer under Obamacare.  As of mid-September only six of the original 23 CO-OPs remain in operation.  With the collapse of these plans, an estimated 800,000 people have lost insurance coverage and have been forced to find new insurers.
This bill allows individuals who had a CO-OP plan terminate mid-year to be exempt from the individual mandate and the penalties associated with it, for the remainder of the year.

Cramer said with the failure of all but six of the original Obamacare CO-OPs, the White House continues to demonstrate how not to run a health insurance program. “In three short years, President Obama has managed to squander nearly $2 billion on a failing CO-OP Program that has left participants scrambling to find a new health insurance plan to maintain coverage, or face the tax penalty of the individual mandate. It’s like being punished twice for the same thing you had nothing to do with, ” Cramer said. “This common sense legislation looks out for our consumers by retroactively exempting them from having to pay the individual mandate tax penalty if they are kicked off one of these failed CO-OPs.” 

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CRAMER: Iran, Ukraine Bills Bring Transparency, Accountability

2016/09/23

H.R. 5461 Audio Here

H.R. 5931 Audio Here

H.R. 5094 Audio Here

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer supported three bills passed by the House of Representatives this week bringing greater transparency and accountability to dealings between the U.S. and  the countries of Iran and the Ukraine.  They now advance to the Senate for consideration.                                                                        

H.R. 5461 , the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act, requires the Treasury Secretary to develop and post online a list estimating the “funds and assets” held by senior Iranian political and military leaders, along with a description of how they acquired the assets and how those assets are employed.

“This bill brings transparency for the people of Iran, who suffer from the corruption of its political and military leaders,” said Cramer.  “It helps bring to light the transactions of these officials and helps financial institutions see the assets associated with them.”

H.R. 5931, the Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act, prohibits the United States government from making any cash payments to the Government of Iran until the President certifies Iran is not a primary money laundering concern or a state sponsor of terrorism. The bill states that the policy of the United States Government not to pay ransom or release prisoners for the purpose of securing the release of United States citizens taken hostage abroad. It also increases transparency and reporting requirements related to settlements and judgments under the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal.

“The cash ransom the Obama Administration recently admitted it paid to Iran for American hostages threatens American security and encourages Iran and other terrorist countries to take more hostages,” said Cramer.  “In fact, just recently Iran has taken three more hostages. There is no provision under current law that prohibits the U.S. government from making payments in exchange for certain actions or to fulfill certain settlement agreements. This bill makes sure that no longer happens.”

H.R. 5094, the Stability and Democracy for Ukraine Act, puts into law existing sanctions intended to deter aggression against the Ukraine and requires them to stay in effect until the President certifies to Congress that Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea has been restored. It also requires the Department of State to develop a strategy to counter Russian dis-information and propaganda, and encourages NATO adoption of a policy that opposes the transfer of defense articles and services to Russia while Russia continues to occupy Crimea.

“This bill ensures that sanctions against Russia remain in place as long as the Russian occupation of the Ukraine continues,” said Cramer. “It also drives new private-sector investment to Ukraine and pushes back against Russian propaganda.”

 

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CRAMER: Court Ruling Strikes Down Anhydrous Ammonia Regulations

2016/09/23

 

Listen to Audio Here

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer released the following statement regarding today’s court ruling striking down efforts by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to impose more strict standards on retailers of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled with the Agricultural Retailers Association and the Fertilizer Institute that OSHA’s withdrawal of a long-standing exemption from OSHA’s Process Safety Management regulations did not follow proper procedure.  The court ruled OSHA must first go through the formal notice and comment rulemaking process before implementing new standards on anhydrous ammonia retailers.

Cramer has been an outspoken opponent of the proposed rule, which was to take effect Oct. 1, and the onerous burden it would have placed on small fertilizer retailers and producers.  The cost of forcing these retailers to implement the new rules was estimated at $30,000 for initial compliance, $12,000 for annual compliance and $18,000 every three years for an audit. Given these costs, as many as one-third of North Dakota’s anhydrous ammonia facilities could have been forced to close.  

He and a bi-partisan group of 38 Members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez last October urging him to reverse the OSHA ruling.   In March Cramer led a letter from a bi-partisan group of 41 Members of Congress requesting the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations bill prevent using federal funds to implement new regulations. That language was included when it was passed by the House Appropriations Committee in July. Cramer also cosponsored H.R. 5213, the FARM Act, which would block OSHA’s new fertilizer regulations and force the agency to go through the formal rulemaking process.  

“While this is certainly a victory, it is also frustrating because for the last couple of years we could have avoided this. Just a basic reading of the law would tell you that OSHA should have gone through a formal notice and rulemaking process.  But it insisted it didn’t have to, so we had to put disciplinary action in appropriation bills, stand-alone bills and letters. After a couple of years it  kept on going down a path of avoiding transparency, a thorough process and due process. And, here we are again with a court slapping down the Obama Administration because it just can’t stick to the law.”    

 

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Cramer Bill Eliminating the New Pre-Existing Condition Receives Broad Bipartisan Support

2016/09/23

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Kevin Cramer says legislation he has introduced prohibits a new loophole that allows health insurance providers to discontinue the health insurance of chronically sick individuals if a charity or non-profit helps them pay their insurance premiums.  To date, the bill has received broad bipartisan support with 120 Congressional Members from both parties and all political spectrums signing on as co-sponsors.

The bill is H.R. 3742, the Access to Marketplace Insurance Act.  Cramer introduced it last October in response to an interim final rule issued by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). The rule gave authority to insurers offering plans on the Obamacare exchanges to deny non-profit charities from providing premium assistance, a service provided to sick individuals who cannot afford to pay their health insurance premiums on their own accord.  Since the release of the interim final rule, plans in 38 states have announced a prohibition against allowing non-profits, civic groups and churches to help with health insurance premiums for individuals and families. H.R. 3742 requires health insurance companies to accept payments from non-profit organizations.

For many years, non-profits, civic groups, and churches have helped pay health insurance premiums for individuals and families. Patients with rare diseases and catastrophic illnesses use this program to pay for their health insurance premiums, which become inflated due to the price of rare-disease medications that can cost upwards of $500,000 per year.   While many health plans cover the majority of these costs, some plans put low-income individuals in financial distress.  As a result, chronically ill individuals may face a choice between paying bills or taking medications.

“Putting politics aside, we all agree health coverage should not be denied because a non-profit charity is helping individuals afford their health insurance plan,” said Cramer. “This bill removes the handcuffs from private charities, allowing them to assist insured patients pay their premiums without fear of breaking the law.  It allows charities to be charitable.”

He said the bill’s large number of cosponsors recognize it is wrong to ban non-profits, civic groups and churches from assisting with premium payments. “This is a very deliberate bipartisan effort,” Cramer said of the bill. “Having this many cosponsors creates a snowball effect that increases interest and sends a strong message to CMS. I am very hopeful this bill will pass in the upcoming lame duck session, or that CMS will change the rule without legislation.”

Cramer spoke about the bill this week at a Congressional lunch briefing and dinner hosted by Patient Services, Inc. (PSI), one of several non-profit patient assistance organizations that provides individuals with access to lives-saving and life-sustaining treatments with premium payment.  In April, Cramer was presented with PSI’s Patient Champion Award.

“Two things are contagious in our society – hope and despair,” Cramer said. “With this legislation I choose to spread hope.”

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CRAMER: Future of Nuclear Deterrence Important to Global Security

2016/09/23

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer called the future of nuclear deterrence as important as its rich history. “Considering what is going on in the world today, the entire nuclear triad, especially the northern tier, is very relevant to America’s national security and overall global security.”

He presented closing remarks today at the fifth annual Task Force 21 Triad Conference, "Nuclear Deterrence:  Agenda for the Next Administration.”  Attending were members of Congress and their staffs, local officials and community leaders from Triad-related communities, industry representatives, contractors, academics, Department of Defense officials and public policy experts.

“In the past 50 years of the politics of national defense, we could always leave our disagreements at the water’s edge,” Cramer said.  “It is very disheartening that we now live in a time where the low-hanging fruit of nearly unanimous support for national defense is being used for leverage for other social issues.”

He described one of the joys of his nearly four years in Congress as speaking on the floor of the House a couple times a year about the importance of the mission of the nuclear triad. “Whether advocating for funds to keep our 450 ICBMS in warm status, active and ready, or for upgrades to the B52 or B2, I’ve always been able to stand with my colleagues and be victorious in the end.”

He said this year’s defense appropriations and defense authorizations bills passed by the House included his amendments for research and development for UH-1N Huey replacements and prohibiting funding to reduce ICBM alertness levels.  He has been discouraged by Senate action, where only two Democrat senators, Joe Manchin and Joe Donnelly, did not vote to block the defense appropriations bill.  And, President Obama has threatened to veto the defense authorizations bill.  

Cramer said America must return to traditional priorities.  “We have to get back to the nation and the Constitution being the top priority of the Commander-in-Chief. I plead with you to keep the fires lit,” he told those attending the conference.  “Never be afraid to confront the reality of deterrence and the critical role the nuclear triad serves as a defender of freedom.” 

 

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CRAMER: China Lifting Ban on U.S. Beef Good News for Producers and Consumers

2016/09/22

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer released the following statement regarding the announcement today that China is lifting a 13-year ban on U.S. beef exports.  The ban was imposed in 2003 as a result of a Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) scare. Read more from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) here.

“This is great news, both for our cattle producers and consumers worldwide.  It presents another opportunity for our livestock producers to help feed a hungry world.  China’s 1.4 billion people have a growing appetite for meat consumption, and North Dakota producers have premium product to export.  Technical negotiations on lifting this ban are underway, and I will work with the USDA and other agencies to see this large and ever-expanding market opens as soon as practical.”   

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Contact Information

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

Committee Assignments

Energy and Commerce

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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