Louis Barletta

Louis Barletta

PENNSYLVANIA's 11th DISTRICT

Barletta Supports Aggressive Approach to Containing Iran, Terrorism

2016/07/14

WASHINGTON – On the first anniversary of the Obama Administration’s ill-conceived Iran Nuclear Deal, Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) has supported a package of three bills to curtail Iran’s ability to support terrorism and impose sanctions on the belligerent regime.  Barletta voted in favor of legislation to punish Iran for its support for terrorism, ballistic missile program, and rampant human rights violations, and to require the president to report to Congress on efforts to retrieve Americans being held prisoner in Iran.  In addition, he supported bills to block Iranian access to the U.S. dollar and prohibit the purchase of Iranian heavy water, which is a key ingredient in some nuclear reactors and can be used to produce plutonium.  Barletta has also been highly critical of the Obama Administration’s entrance into the Iran Nuclear Deal, which paves the way for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

“Iran is the most prolific state sponsor of terrorism in the world today, and they cannot be allowed to operate on a clear field,” Barletta said.  “While they still hold Americans hostage, while they continue to work toward a nuclear weapon, and while they consistently threaten their neighbors with ballistic missiles, we need to show the mullahs that the United States means business.  If the Obama Administration won’t stand up to them, Congress must.”        

Barletta supported the following pieces of legislation this week:

H.R. 5631 – Iran Accountability Act of 2016

The legislation authored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) passed the House by a vote of 246-to-179 and imposes sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program, support for terrorism, and human rights violations, and addresses the plight of Americans still being held captive.  The bill:

  • Requires the administration to apply terrorism sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and expands and strengthens existing sanctions against the IRGC.
  • Places additional sanctions on Mahan Air, a proscribed terrorist entity that supports the IRGC and carries weapons and personnel to support Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria.
  • Imposes sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile development and on those that aid development or sell advanced conventional weapons.
  • Expands the list of those subject to sanctions for human rights abuses and sanctions those institutions that conduct transactions with those that abuse human rights or export sensitive technology to Iran.
  • Requires the President to report to Congress on efforts to free Americans held hostage by Iran.

H.R. 4992 – United States Financial System Protection Act

The legislation authored by Rep. Edward Royce (CA-39) passed the House by a vote of 246-to-181 and codifies regulations to prevent Iran from accessing the dollar and U.S. financial system.  The bill:

  • Maintains Iran’s designation as a “primary money laundering concern.”
  • Denies Iran access to the U.S. dollar, including through any offshore dollar clearing system, for transactions involving the government of Iran or an Iranian.

H.R. 5119 – No Heavy Water (2H2O) from Iran Act

The legislation authored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (KS-4) passed the House by a vote of 249-to-176 and prohibits the purchase of Iran heavy water, which is a key ingredient in some nuclear reactors and can be used to produce plutonium.  This is a reaction to the announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy that the United States would purchase heavy water from Iran to encourage other countries to purchase heavy water and ensure Iran would not violate the caps set by the Iran Nuclear Deal.  The announcement came despite the fact that the Iran Nuclear Deal does not require the United States to purchase excess heavy water produced by Iran.  The bill ensures that no funds will be used by any U.S. department or agency to purchase heavy water or to issue a license for the purchase of heavy water from Iran.

“The mullahs who run Iran are the same crowd that chants ‘Death to America’ at every opportunity and stirs up hatred against the West as a matter of policy,” Barletta said.  “In the absence of leadership from the White House, these measures are necessary to protect ourselves here at home and our allies overseas.” 

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Barletta Backs Conscience Protections for Individuals Who Oppose Abortion

2016/07/13

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today voted in favor of legislation that prevents federal agencies, or any state or local government receiving federal funds, from discriminating against individuals or institutions objecting to participating in abortions.  The protections, originally created by the “Weldon Amendment” in 2004, until recently have been enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The need for codification arose when the Obama Administration declined to enforce the conscience protections in some cases, most notably in California, which required all insurance plans in the state to cover abortions, including those offered by churches, Catholic agencies, and other non-profit social service groups.  The bill, S. 304, the Conscience Protection Act, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 245-to-182.  It now must return to the Senate for its consideration.

“The protections against the violation of deeply-held moral or religious objections to abortion have been in place for more than a decade, but now they are clearly under assault by the Obama Administration,” said Barletta, who co-sponsored similar legislation (H.R. 940).  “People who do not want to participate in abortions should not be forced to, and they should not face discrimination if they object.”

Authored by Rep. Diane Black (TN-6), the legislation also adds a new private right of action which allows those who believe their rights of conscience are being violated access to the courts for relief, rather than being wholly dependent on HHS enforcement.  The law is designed to protect the freedom of hospitals, insurance companies, employers, social service agencies, nurses, doctors, and medical residents to choose not to perform, refer for, or provide coverage for elective abortion without fear of losing their jobs, federal contracts, or any other punitive measure.  The bill contains protections that would safeguard the lives of women who require abortions in emergency medical situations.

Since 2004, the Weldon Amendment, named for former Rep. Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, has been incorporated into the funding bills for the Department of Labor and HHS, with enforcement responsibilities residing with the HHS Office of Civil Rights.  However, in 2014, the state of California decided to require all insurance plans offered in the state to cover abortion without restriction. This violated the Weldon amendment and forced employers like churches, social service non-profits groups, Catholic agencies, and health systems to offer health insurance that paid for elective abortion, violating their deeply-held convictions.  Complaints were filed with HHS and members of Congress raised those concerns with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.  In June of 2016, HHS released a letter concluding that no rights had been violated by California’s actions, despite the clear intent and language of the Weldon Amendment.

“This law is only necessary because the Obama Administration has willfully violated the legal rights of people to object to participating in abortions if they have objections on moral or religious grounds,” Barletta said.  “The full might of the federal government should not be used to force people to provide abortions against their will.”

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Opioid Abuse Bill Passes with Barletta Protection for Newborns

2016/07/08

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today voted in favor of sweeping legislation combating the growing opioid epidemic, a package which contains his own bill that specifically protects addicted newborns and their caregivers.  Barletta was a member of the conference committee that worked out the differences between House and Senate versions.  The bill, titled the Conference Report to Accompany S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, combines educational and prevention programs, enhanced treatment, and increased law enforcement efforts to provide a comprehensive approach to the expanding problem of opioid abuse.  The conference report passed the House by a vote of 407-to-5 and must also be approved by the Senate.

“All you have to do is read the newspapers or watch television news to know that substance abuse is a problem that afflicts millions of Americans,” Barletta said.  “The opioid epidemic is something that I consistently hear about when I am home in Pennsylvania.  I am pleased to be a strong supporter of this comprehensive legislation that will attack the problem, and help bring so many lives back from the brink of disaster.”

As a conferee on the legislation, Barletta was able to secure the inclusion of provisions his own Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act (H.R. 4843), which had already passed the House on its own by a unanimous vote of 421-to-0.  Specifically, based on Barletta’s legislation, the bill:

  • Requires the department of Health and Human Services to review and confirm states have put in place policies required under the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
  • Strengthens protections for infants born with addiction by clarifying the intent of safe care plans. 
  • Improves accountability related to the care of infants and their families by requiring additional information on the incidents of infants born with substance exposure and their care. 
  • Provides states with best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe.
  • Encourages the use of information made available through other child welfare laws in verifying CAPTA compliance.

CAPTA was enacted in 1974 to coordinate federal efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect.  The law provides states with resources to improve their child protective services systems.  In order to receive funds under CAPTA, states are required to assure the Department of Health and Human Services that they have implemented certain child welfare policies.  Such policies include requiring health care providers to notify state child protective services agencies when a child is born with prenatal illegal substance exposure, as well as requiring the development of a “safe care plan” to protect these newborns and keep them and their caregivers healthy.  A recent Reuters investigation revealed some states are receiving federal funds without having the necessary policies in place, resulting in shocking and deadly consequences.

“Every 25 minutes in this country, a baby is born having already been exposed to drugs and suffering from opioid withdrawal,” Barletta said.  “Children who are exposed to illegal substances before they’re born are helpless in avoiding the pain and suffering caused by addiction, and so many infants enter this world without even a fighting chance.  These children will pay the price for something they had absolutely no control over—something they were defenseless against.”

The overall legislation, the Conference Report to Accompany S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, authorizes the attorney general and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award grants to address the national epidemics of addiction to heroin and prescription opioids, and makes various other changes to Federal law to combat opioid addiction and abuse.  The legislation:

  • Authorizes HHS to award grants to states and combinations of states to carry out a comprehensive opioid abuse response, including education, treatment, and recovery efforts to prevent overdose deaths.
  • Authorizes the Department of Justice to award grants to states, local governments, and nonprofit organizations to carry out a comprehensive opioid abuse response, including alternatives to incarceration, law enforcement training, and treatment to prevent overdose deaths.
  • Creates a task force on pain management to review best practices for chronic and acute pain management.
  • Creates awareness campaigns to spread information on prevention and detection of opioid abuse.
  • Authorizes Community-Based Coalition Enhancement Grants to Address Local Drug Crises.
  • Creates information materials and resources to prevent addiction related to youth sports injuries.
  • Authorizes grants to states to establish, implement, and improve state-based prescription drug monitoring programs.
  • Authorizes grants for states to implement standing orders for opioid reversal drugs.
  • Supports the purchase and distribution of opioid overdose reversal drugs and training for first responders and other key community sectors.
  • Support states in expanding access to addiction treatment services for individuals with an opioid use disorder.
  • Expands access to medication-assisted treatment by authorizing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine, which is used to treat opioid addiction or treat moderate pain.
  • Reauthorizes the Residential Treatment Program for Pregnant and Postpartum women and creates a new pilot program to support family-based services for women and their children.
  • Requires the Comptroller General of the United States to issue a report on neonatal abstinence syndrome.
  • Clarifies that pharmacists coordinating with the doctor and patient and in accordance with state law do not need to fill the entire amount of a prescription for a Schedule II substance, such as opioids.
  • Facilitates the creation and management of “lock-in” programs to curb identified fraud, abuse, and misuse of prescribed medications.
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office to study and report to Congress on the effects of the various “Good Samaritan” laws at the state level.
  • Protects classified information from disclosure during a federal court challenge by a designee.

“It was a great honor to be named a conferee as the House and Senate worked together to craft this bipartisan legislation to address our nation’s growing opioid epidemic and prevent the heartbreaking instances of addiction and loss that have touched every American community,” Barletta said.  “No American demographic is safe from the scourge of opioid addiction.  It crosses party lines and it transcends Congressional district boundaries.”  

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Barletta Supports Career & Technical Education Reforms

2016/07/07

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today supported bipartisan legislation to reform Career and Technical Education (CTE) policy to help more Americans enter the workforce with the skills they need to compete for high-skilled, in-demand jobs.  In a hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, Barletta voted for the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 5587), which improves and reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.  The bill was approved by the committee on a unanimous 37-to-0 vote and now heads to the floor of the full House of Representatives for its consideration.

“With every day that passes, new technologies are presenting exciting and challenging employment opportunities for Americans,” Barletta said.  “If we want to truly compete in the world economy and maintain our position as a global leader, then our workforce must be able to set the pace.  This legislation will provide much-needed resources to equip students with the skills they will need.”

Since 1984, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act has provided federal support to state and local CTE programs.  These programs offer students the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to compete for jobs in a broad range of fields, such as health care and technology.  However, because federal law has not been updated in more than a decade, it no longer reflects the realities and challenges facing students and workers.

Building on recent reforms to the K-12 education and the workforce development system, the bipartisan legislation will:

  • Deliver states more flexibility to use federal resources in response to changing education and economic needs.
  • Ensure that career and technical education prepares all students, including historically disadvantaged and vulnerable students, for success in high-skill, high-wage occupations and careers in technical fields.
  • Improve alignment with in-demand jobs by supporting innovative learning opportunities, building better community partnerships, and encouraging stronger engagement with employers.
  • Enhance career and technical education through increased focus on employability skills, work-based learning opportunities, and meaningful credentialing so students are prepared to enter the workforce poised for success.
  • Streamline performance measures to ensure career and technical education programs deliver results for students and taxpayers.
  • Reduce administrative burdens and simplify the process for states to apply for federal resources.
  • Reward success and innovation by directing federal resources to replicate promising practices that best serve students and employers.  
  • Provide parents, students, and stakeholders a voice in setting performance goals and evaluating the effectiveness of local programs.
  • Empower state and local leaders to develop plans that improve the quality of career and technical education and take into account unique ‎local and state needs.

 

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A small victory on immigration

2016/07/07

By Rep. Lou Barletta

Op-ed in the Washington Times

In a rare instance when a tie score was really a win, the 4-4 Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s executive amnesty for illegal immigrants represented a victory for the rule of law. The deadlocked court means the merits will finally be addressed while the president has been blocked from bestowing legal residency upon an entire class of people. Without question, this is good news. But the celebrations should be muted, as there are many other disastrous Obama policies still in place, with many more illegal immigration problems still to be addressed.

What the court has blocked is Mr. Obama’s expansion of his existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, along with the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) policy. Under the DACA expansion announced in 2014, legal presence was granted to illegal immigrants claiming to have been present in the United States since before they turned 16, and who claimed continuous residency since 2010, among other criteria. DACA also included work authorization. Under DAPA, legal presence was granted to people who had lived in the country since 2010 and were parents of citizens or legal residents. Both of these programs were challenged by 26 states in United States v. Texas and are now on hold pending the lower court’s decision.

Regardless of the outcome of the case, other Obama policies excusing and rewarding unlawful entry and residency in the United States are still in force. The underlying DACA policy, announced two years earlier in 2012, is still in effect and includes those claiming continuous presence dating all the way from 2007. A bigger concern is Mr. Obama’s Priority Enforcement Program, replacing the successful Secure Communities policy, which exempts nearly 90 percent of all illegal immigrants and allows an unacceptable number of criminal illegal immigrants to remain in the country. Similarly, Mr. Obama’s immigration authorities released more than 86,000 criminal illegal immigrants back into American communities between 2013 and 2015, including murderers and rapists. There can be no doubt that while the Supreme Court ruling was a welcome suspension of DAPA and expanded DACA, the surviving Obama policies are still harmful to the rule of law and public safety.

We have laws to govern immigration for two basic reasons: to protect national security and to preserve American jobs. It is high time Congress set its sights on the problems that violate both principles.
 

The very first piece of legislation I ever introduced in Congress was to crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” — those municipalities that refuse to honor immigration laws or cooperate with immigration authorities. As we have seen, this willful disregard for the law can have deadly effects. July 1 marked the one-year anniversary of the San Francisco murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant, a seven-time felon who had been deported five times. We experienced a similar case in Hazleton, Pa., in 2006, in which 29-year-old father of three Derek Kichline was killed by an illegal immigrant who had been released from custody in New York City at least six times. In Philadelphia, the new mayor has reestablished the city’s sanctuary city policies, laying out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants in Pennsylvania’s largest city. These are not some far-flung enclaves; rather such localities number more than 300 and reach every corner of the country. Congress should withhold federal funding from sanctuary cities until they abandon their policies that benefit the lawless over the law-abiding.

While much of the attention on immigration policy is focused on our southern border, it is imperative that we pay attention to our interior. Nearly half of the people who are currently illegally present in the United States did not cross a traditional border: They arrived on a visa, the visa expired, and they never went home. Recent data suggests that well more than half of the new illegal arrivals also traveled on a visa and were not typical border-crossers. Failure to police such visa overstays is the reason I point out that if your state is home to an international airport, then you effectively live in a border state. To combat this, we must finally implement a biometric exit system so we have an accurate accounting of who has left the country and who has illegally stayed.

The rise of ISIS and the ever-increasing threat of global Islamic terrorism make heightening our vigilance all the more urgent. The 9/11 Commission Report taught us that aspiring terrorists want two things most of all: to enter this country legally and to be able to stay here. With this in mind, it is outrageously irresponsible to continue the refugee program as it currently exists, and wildly reckless to expand it. In my view, until we can adequately identify and screen people applying for refugee status, we ought to suspend the entire program until the security flaws are repaired. That said, the Visa Waiver Program we offer to citizens of 38 countries carries severe risks as well. Permitting visa-less entry into the United States for 90 days is a tempting opening for terrorists to exploit. No other country on Earth has been as welcoming to immigrants and refugees as we have, but there is no cause for us to be negligent in the process.

With all of the national security risks that come with our illegal immigration problems, there are also costs to American employment and wages. Admitting wave after wave of illegal workers consumes jobs and depresses income, as illegal arrivals compete for positions that are already scarce. In many ways, strongly opposing illegal immigration is a decidedly pro-immigrant stance, because it protects those who obey the law and does not reward the lawbreakers.

To be sure, there was cause to applaud what amounts to a victory in the Supreme Court as we continue to fight the Obama administration on immigration policy. Celebrants would do well to remember that the battle is not over, neither on that front nor countless others.

• Lou Barletta is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.

 

Read the op-ed on the Washington Times website here.

 

 

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Barletta Backs Comprehensive Mental Health Reform

2016/07/06

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today voted in favor of sweeping legislation to reform the mental health system, addressing the needs of more than 10 million Americans facing serious mental illness and the countless others who go without diagnosis or treatment.  The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), authored by Rep. Tim Murphy (PA-18), breaks down federal barriers to care, clarifies privacy standards for families and caregivers; reforms outdated programs, expands parity accountability, and invests in services for the most difficult to treat cases while driving evidence-based care.  H.R. 2646 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 422-to-2.

“For too long, people with mental illnesses have been stigmatized and neglected by a health care system that did not adequately respond to their needs,” Barletta said.  “This is important legislation that will help individuals and families identify and treat conditions that have impacted so many lives.”

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act:

  • Empowers parents and caregivers to access care before stage four, or the latest stage of the chronic disease process.
  • Fixes shortages of inpatient beds.
  • Reaches underserved and rural populations.
  • Expands the mental health workforce.
  • Drives evidence-based care.
  • Provides alternatives to institutionalization.
  • Integrates primary and behavior care.
  • Increases physician volunteerism.
  • Advances critical medical research.
  • Brings accountability to mental health and substance use parity.

“We know that there is a nationwide shortage of nearly 100,000 psychiatric beds, and that three of the largest mental health ‘hospitals’ are actually criminal detention facilities – the Cook County, Los Angeles County, and Rikers Island jails,” Barletta said.  “This is an unacceptable situation which must be rectified so that we can begin to help people and families who need it most.”

In particular, the legislation:

Allows Parents and Caregivers to Help With Care

  • Breaks down barriers so families can work with doctors and mental health professionals as meaningful partners in health care delivery.

Increases the Number of Crisis Mental Health Beds

  • Provides additional psychiatric hospital beds for those experiencing an acute mental health crisis and in need of short term immediate inpatient care for patient stabilization.

Drives Evidence-Based Care

  • Establishes an Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use with experience in mental health and substance use treatment to elevate these issues, coordinate programs across agencies, and promote evidence-based programs.

Builds on Existing Mental Health & Substance Abuse Parity laws

  • Requires a public report on all federal investigations into compliance with the parity law so families and consumers know what treatment they have rights to access.
  • Develops an action plan for improved enforcement of existing parity requirements.
  • Clarifies that eating disorders must be covered under the current mental health parity standards.

Brings Accountability to Federal Grant Programs

  • Establishes the National Mental Health Policy Laboratory to state objective and scientific outcome measure for all mental health grants. 

Focuses on Innovation

  • Creates a National Mental Health Policy Laboratory to drive innovative models of care, and develop evidence-based standards for grant programs.

Reaches Underserved and Rural Populations

  • Advances tele-psychiatry to link pediatricians and primary care doctors with psychiatrists and psychologists in areas where patients don’t have access to needed care.     

Expands the Mental Health Workforce

  • Requires the Assistant Secretary to study and develop a national strategy for increasing the number of psychiatrists, child & adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, clinical social workers, and mental health peer-support specialists.
  • Authorizes for the first time the Minority Fellowship Program.  

Advances Early Intervention and Prevention Programs

  • Authorizes, for the first time in federal law, the Recovery after Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE), an evidence-based early intervention program.
  • Reauthorizes the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
  • Launches a new early childhood grant program to provide intensive services for children with serious emotional disturbances in an educational setting. 

Develops Alternatives to Institutionalization

  • Incentivizes states to provide community-based alternatives to institutionalization for those with serious mental illness, such as Assisted Outpatient Treatment, Assertive Community Treatment, and other intensive community-based approaches.

Focuses on Suicide Prevention

  • Reauthorizes the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Program and for the first time authorizes the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Increases Program Coordination across the Federal Government

  • Establishes Interagency Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee to organize, integrate, and coordinate the research, treatment, housing and services for individuals with substance use disorders and mental illness.

Reforms Protection & Advocacy

  • Fixes the broken grievance procedure by providing an independent pathway so families can once again participate in the protection, care and advocacy on behalf of their loved ones.
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Barletta Examines Cost-Savings on Real Estate across Federal Government

2016/07/06

Click here or on image to view video of Rep. Barletta in a hearing examining cost-saving possibilities in real estate management across the federal government. 

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11), whose work as a subcommittee chairman has resulted in more than $3 billion in savings to taxpayers through better management of the federal real estate portfolio, today examined what further efficiencies are possible.  Barletta scrutinized two reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which highlighted shortcomings in the federal leasing process that have led to taxpayers overpaying for federal office space.  Barletta has spearheaded efforts to save taxpayers billions by reforming the way the General Services Administration (GSA) handles office space, but the two GAO reports investigated federal agencies that have leasing authority outside the GSA.

“We have already saved taxpayers more than $3 billion by changing the way GSA manages its real estate portfolio, but this new information indicates just how much more work there is to do across the entire federal government,” Barletta said.  “As more and more leases expire over the next five years, we must get a better handle on the management of properties.  Federal agencies should have office space that is appropriate to their respective missions, but we must be good stewards of taxpayer dollars at the same time.”

The reports were requested by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders.  One of the GAO reports examined agencies that have their own leasing authority, independent of the GSA.  The Committee asked GAO to examine how agencies are using their independent authority, if they are acting within their legal authority, whether they are getting good deals for the taxpayer, and whether those agencies are reducing their costs and space footprint.  The second GAO report reviewed the use and potential benefits of purchase options in GSA lease agreements. 

“While we have been working to improve how GSA manages its leases, there are more than 50 other agencies with their own authority to lease office and warehouse space,” Barletta said.  “While the GAO found that some of these agencies were able to get comparable leasing rates or better than GSA, in part due to their use of real estate brokers, very often they leased more space than they needed.  In addition, there are serious questions about whether some of these agencies are exceeding their leasing authority.”

While the GSA functions as the landlord for the federal government, the number of federal agencies with their own authority to lease space has grown over time.  In recent years, there have been cases in which agencies with independent leasing authority have signed costly, wasteful leases.  For example, the committee’s investigation of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) use of its leasing authority in 2011 revealed the pitfalls agencies can fall into.  The SEC exceeded its leasing authority and wound up committing the taxpayer to a $500 million lease that it did not need and, ultimately, had to be bailed out with help from GSA.

Furthermore, while purchase options give an agency the choice to buy a building at the end of a lease term and can save taxpayers a significant amount of money in some cases, changes to federal budget rules in the 1990s have all but ended the use of purchase options.  The practical effect can lead to taxpayers paying for a building several times over through lease payments without gaining any equity.  Taxpayers will have paid nearly $2 billion for the Department of Transportation headquarters space when the current lease expires without accruing any equity.

Highlights from the report entitled “Federal Real Property: Actions Needed to Enhance Information on and Coordination with Federal Entities with Leasing Authority” (GAO-16-648) include:

  • There is no comprehensive list of agencies that have authority to lease space independent of GSA, but GAO found there are at least more than 50.
  • Many federal agencies with independent leasing authority have little accountability, as they are not required to follow Office of Management and Budget directives on reducing their space footprint or to report their leases to the government-wide Federal Real Property database.
  • Agencies with independent leasing authority often lease significantly more space than they need – even when able to negotiate rates comparable or better than GSA rates.
  • Agencies with independent leasing authority that use brokers can secure better rental rates, compared to GSA negotiated rates.

Highlights from the report entitled, “Federal Real Property: Leases with Purchase Options Are Infrequently Used but May Provide Benefits” (GAO-16-536R) include:

  • The scoring rules changes effectively ended the inclusion of discounted purchase options in leases, and have led to the unintended consequence of creating a greater incentive to use short-term operating leases, a practice that costs more in the long-run.
  • Of the three leases with purchase options GAO was able to identify, they resulted in more than $80 million in taxpayer savings.

In May, the House passed H.R. 4487, the Public Buildings Reform and Savings Act, authored by Barletta, which provides a number of GSA reforms, including a leasing pilot program and authority for GSA to negotiate discounted purchase options in their lease agreements consistent with existing scoring rules.  The pilot program has the potential for significant savings by taking advantage of the current market and providing GSA with more flexibility to negotiate good lease deals. In addition, the committee has encouraged GSA to use brokers more as a cost saving measure and to get through the current leasing backlog.

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Barletta Statement Regarding FBI Announcement on Hillary Clinton

2016/07/05

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today issued the following statement regarding FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that he would not recommend the prosecution of Hillary Clinton for her private email server:

“I believe Director Comey and his staff at the FBI are top professionals with dedication to thoroughness and the rule of law.  I am perplexed, however, at the decision announced today.  The director made clear that Hillary Clinton and her subordinates absolutely transmitted classified information over unsecure emails, in direct contradiction of Clinton’s claims, just as he stated that it was a crime to do so either knowingly or through gross negligence.  He also indicated that it was certainly possible than hostile states or agents had gained access to Secretary Clinton’s private server without leaving tracks behind as evidence.  At the same time, Director Comey intimated that any other person who was guilty of the same actions would be punished.  What is clear is that Hillary Clinton believes herself to be above the law; and for today, she was right.”

 

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Barletta Statement Regarding Independence Day 2016

2016/06/30

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today issued the following statement regarding Independence Day, Monday, July 4, 2016:

“Two hundred forty years ago, a group of brave patriots gathered in Philadelphia to do the unthinkable.  They declared their independence from the mightiest nation on the planet, knowing full well that their actions would lead to war, death, and the possible extinction of their fledgling revolution.  Undeterred, they published a litany of grievances with the British crown and proclaimed certain self-evident truths, including the equality of all and the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  It has not always been a smooth path this country has traveled, but the result has been the greatest and most freedom-loving country the world has ever seen.

“As the recent vote in Great Britain demonstrated, a free people will always seek self-rule and determination, and will bristle at decisions being made for them by distant bureaucracies and rulers who do not enjoy the consent of the governed.  The selection of freedom is always the correct decision, as time has proven through the continued success and prosperity of these United States, the grandest experiment in representative democracy in history.”

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Barletta Congratulates Winner of Congressional Art Competition

2016/06/23

Taylor Herron, a student at Crestwood High School in Mountain Top, is the 2016 winner of the Congressional Art Competition for her acrylic painting “Colorful Pair.” She is pictured with Rep. Barletta and her mother, Tiffany Herron.

 

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today welcomed Taylor Herron, a student at Crestwood High School in Mountain Top, to his Capitol Hill office and congratulated her for winning the 2016 Congressional Art Competition for Pennsylvania’s 11th District.  Herron’s work, an acrylic painting of two ducks titled “Colorful Pair,” will hang in the U.S. Capitol for the next year alongside winners from all other Congressional districts.

“I told Taylor that when it comes to being an artist, you either have it or you don’t, and Taylor clearly has it,” Barletta said.  “Each year I am amazed by the level of artistic talent we have our part of Pennsylvania.  Every day I walk through the hallway where all of the artwork hangs, and it’s truly inspiring to see how skilled our young people really are.”

The Congressional Art Competition was begun by the House of Representatives in 1982 as an annual contest in which high school students are invited to showcase their artistic abilities.  Entrants must reside in the Congressional district in which they enter and works are considered by a panel of area judges.  Each Congressional district is represented by one winner.

 

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115 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-6511
Fax 202-225-0764
barletta.house.gov

Representative Louis J. Barletta proudly represents his hometown of Hazleton and the people of Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District. He began his second term on January 3, 2013.

Representative Barletta was first sworn in on January 5, 2011. He immediately started serving on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which plays a critical role in the economic development of and job growth in Northeastern and South Central Pennsylvania, and the Education and Workforce Committee, which focuses on how our nation can improve its educational system so we have competitive, qualified workers in the future.

He remains on these committees during his second term in office.  Additionally, Rep. Barletta was appointed Chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Also for his second term, Rep. Barletta was assigned to the Committee on Homeland Security, which was established in 2002 to provide congressional oversight for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and better protect the American people against a possible terrorist attack. The committee has jurisdiction over Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), and the U.S. Coast Guard; border security programs including efforts to achieve operational control of the border; and border smuggling and trafficking of drugs, humans, currency, weapons and other illicit materials. The committee also has jurisdiction over the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), counterterrorism efforts, cybersecurity, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and airport security, and more.

Illegal immigration is a very important subject for Representative Barletta, who first tackled the problem when he was mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Lou Barletta was the first mayor in the country to introduce and sign into law local ordinances cracking down against businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens. He has since become a national figure in the fight against illegal immigration.

During his first term in Congress, Representative Barletta formed the 112th Class Immigration Reform Caucus, which brings together members of the historic 2011-12 “freshmen” class. Representative Barletta chairs this caucus as it examines solutions to the country’s illegal immigration problems.

Also during his first term, Representative Barletta used his position on the Small Business Committee to fight to reduce the interest rate charged on certain Small Business Administration disaster recovery loans after massive flooding devastated the 11th District in September 2011.

Born and raised in Hazleton, Representative Barletta majored in elementary education as a student at Bloomsburg State College (now Bloomsburg University). He left school to try out for a Major League Baseball team, but was released when the team’s management discovered he couldn’t hit a curve ball.

After he returned to Northeastern Pennsylvania, he and his wife Mary Grace started a business together. For $29.95, the Barlettas formed a line-painting business. Through hard work and perseverance, they grew that business into the largest of its kind in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania within five years. They eventually grew it to be the sixth-largest business of its kind in the entire nation.

As a small business owner, Representative Barletta saw how government regulation and taxes could affect the bottom line. Even though he had very little interest in politics, he decided to run for a slot on Hazleton City Council. He was first elected to council in 1998, then was elected mayor in 2000.

Despite inheriting a massive budget shortfall, he was able to turn around the City of Hazleton with tough, fiscally responsible decisions. This turnaround earned statewide praise and recognition.

In addition, his leadership on the issue of illegal immigration in Hazleton garnered national attention. By ever-increasing margins of victory, Representative Barletta was elected mayor three times.

In September 2004, Representative Barletta was appointed by the White House to serve on the United Nation Advisory Committee of Local Authorities as the representative of the United States of America.

In November 2010, Representative Barletta was elected to Congress on his third attempt. He was re-elected in November 2012.

Lou and Mary Grace are the parents of four daughters: Kelly, April, Lindsey, and Grace. They also have one grandson, Gabriel Louis; and one granddaughter, Madeleine Grace.


Serving With

Mike Kelly

PENNSYLVANIA's 3rd DISTRICT

Scott Perry

PENNSYLVANIA's 4th DISTRICT

Glenn Thompson

PENNSYLVANIA's 5th DISTRICT

Ryan Costello

PENNSYLVANIA's 6th DISTRICT

Patrick Meehan

PENNSYLVANIA's 7th DISTRICT

Mike Fitzpatrick

PENNSYLVANIA's 8th DISTRICT

Bill Shuster

PENNSYLVANIA's 9th DISTRICT

Tom Marino

PENNSYLVANIA's 10th DISTRICT

Keith Rothfus

PENNSYLVANIA's 12th DISTRICT

Charlie Dent

PENNSYLVANIA's 15th DISTRICT

Joe Pitts

PENNSYLVANIA's 16th DISTRICT

Tim Murphy

PENNSYLVANIA's 18th DISTRICT

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