Louis Barletta

Louis Barletta

PENNSYLVANIA's 11th DISTRICT

Barletta Statement Regarding Memorial Day 2016

2016/05/27

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today issued the following statement regarding Memorial Day 2016, which falls on Monday, May 30, 2016:

“We should be remembering the men and women of our armed forces every single day of the year as Americans, but we set aside this day specially to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.  To paraphrase General George S. Patton, it is one thing to mourn their deaths, but it is much better to thank God that such heroes lived in the first place.  On this Memorial Day, let us all give thanks to those who laid down their lives so that the rest of us may live in freedom in the greatest nation the world has ever known.”

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Barletta Named “Hero of Main Street” for 4th Straight Year

2016/05/26

 

Rep. Barletta, who received an award from the National Retail Federation for a 4th consecutive year, has launched an interactive map, which traces his “Main Street Tours” across PA’s 11th District.

 

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) has been recognized as a “Hero of Main Street” by the National Retail Federation (NRF) for the fourth consecutive year, while he also unveiled an interactive map on his official website charting the “Main Street Tours” he has conducted across his district.  Barletta received the NRF award for his support of the American retail industry, which is the largest collective employer in the private sector.  Barletta has received the award in each year it has been given: 2013, 2014, 2015, and now 2016.  The interactive map of “Main Street Tours” can be found at http://barletta.house.gov/main-street-tours.

 

“Recognition by retailers is very important and symbolic to me because I know exactly how important Main Street businesses are to the vibrancy of a local economy,” Barletta said.  “As a former mayor, I know that the health of a community is directly tied to the strength of its local employers.  Local businesses and small employers make up the backbone of our national economy, and it’s important that we pay attention to them and listen to their concerns.”

 

The NRF recognized Main Street Heroes from both political parties in Congress.  The NRF highlighted key votes on policies on health care, tax reform, and workforce policies that work for employers and employees alike.  As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, the NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes.  Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. businesses that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans.

 

“This bipartisan group of lawmakers has shown that they care about retailers big and small and value the role these businesses play in communities across the country,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.  “We appreciate their advocacy on behalf of a thriving Main Street, their support for the long-term growth of the retail industry, and their recognition of retail’s role as a catalyst for continued growth and opportunity for our nation’s economy.”

 

At the same time, Barletta also launched a new page on his Congressional website that takes visitors on a virtual “Main Street Tour” of various localities in the 11th District.  Barletta has conducted nearly 30 “Main Street Tours,” talking to business owners and consumers to hear their concerns and suggestions.  He cites his conversations with merchants and citizens as good sources for ideas. 

 

“One of the first things you find out in Washington is that common sense is not so common,” Barletta said.  “When I talk to the people who make our economy move, the people who work every day in our communities, I hear real problems and solutions from the real world.  My Main Street Tours keep me in touch with what is happening at the local level, where policies are actually put into practice.”  

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Barletta Named “Afterschool Hero” for Work on SHINE

2016/05/25

Rep. Barletta is presented with an Afterschool Hero cape by Mia Zamudio, a SHINE student from Jim Thorpe, PA.

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) has been named an “Afterschool Hero” by the Afterschool Alliance for his strong support and work on learning programs, most notably SHINE in Schuylkill, Carbon, and Luzerne Counties.  The Afterschool Alliance, an organization which works to promote access to affordable, quality afterschool programs for all children, made the presentation during its Capitol Hill showcase of innovative learning programs.  Barletta has been a long-time supporter of SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education) and successfully prevented its federal funding from being eliminated.

“When you awaken the minds of young children with hope and possibility of what their future can be, there’s no stopping them,” Barletta said.  “That’s what SHINE does. These afterschool programs change the lives and direction of children.  It was an honor to meet Mia Zamudio and her friends and see the satisfaction they are getting from learning.”

“The showcase offered a shining example of the kinds of innovative, hands-on learning activities that quality afterschool programs offer students,” said Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant. “These programs help young people discover their passions and have fun while they learn. At afterschool programs around the country, children and youth are growing, harvesting and selling fruits and vegetables. They are learning computer coding and creating their own virtual worlds. They are engaging with college students and business leaders to expand their horizons. Young girls are running their first races to build self-esteem. We need to increase public and private funding so all students can take advantage of the opportunities afterschool and summer learning programs provide. Rep. Barletta and the other heroes we honored not only support these programs, but also the students, parents and communities that benefit from them.”

SHINE has already been a success in Schuylkill and Carbon Counties and expanded to Luzerne County last fall in the Wilkes-Barre Area, Greater Nanticoke Area and Wyoming Valley West school districts.  It expanded to Hazleton earlier this year.  The program, geared to grades K-8, focuses on a project-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) curriculum. SHINE links schools to homes to help children build a stronger academic and social foundation. 

Barletta and Pennsylvania State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) have championed SHINE together, working closely with Luzerne County host institution Wilkes University and its president, Patrick Leahy.  Barletta was also instrumental in saving an important SHINE funding source, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program.

Beginning in February 2015, Barletta began painstakingly working to restore the 21st CCLC funding, which had been slated for elimination.  Barletta, however, negotiated 14 changes to the base text of the bill in support of afterschool programs, and specifically the SHINE model, in the House Education and the Workforce Committee.  He also engaged in a colloquy with committee Chairman John Kline (MN-2) to establish a record of support for such programs.  On the floor of the House, Barletta spoke in support of his own successful amendment that requires school districts to report to state agencies on the use of Title I money for afterschool activities to further demonstrate the importance of such programs.  Finally, when the legislation reached the conference committee, Barletta sent a letter to lead House and Senate negotiators imploring them to preserve the 21st CCLC program.  As a result, the conference report passed authorized $1 billion in funding for the 21st CCLC program.   

Currently, SHINE of Luzerne County serves nearly 300 students from five area school districts: Wilkes-Barre Area, Wyoming Valley West, Nanticoke Area, Hanover Area, and Hazleton Area.  The existing programs in Schuylkill and Carbon Counties bring the total number of students to more than 1,000.

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Barletta’s Reform of Public Buildings Passes House

2016/05/24

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today guided his bill to save taxpayers billions of dollars by reforming the handling of federal office space and real estate to passage on the floor of the full House of Representatives.  Barletta’s bill, H.R. 4487, the Public Buildings Reform and Savings Act of 2016, could end up saving taxpayers at least $500 million each year.  The bill passed the House on a voice vote and now will head to the Senate for its consideration.

“Within five years, half of all federal leases will expire,” Barletta said.  “To give some perspective on how much space that represents – that’s 100 million square feet of space or 32 new World Trade Centers in New York.  And, more than half of the total real estate inventory is in commercial leased space, costing the taxpayers more than $5.5 billion each year.  How we replace these leases has a huge impact on the costs to the taxpayer.”

The legislation increases accountability and oversight of the agency responsible for securing and protecting thousands of federal buildings.  Barletta’s legislation could result in a 20 percent reduction in lease costs and save taxpayers more than $500 million annually, even without accounting for savings through reductions in space.  The bill also includes language that will give the General Services Administration (GSA) a better ability, where appropriate, to use Public-Private Partnerships to meet space needs, leveraging private dollars to offset costs.  In his role as subcommittee chairman, Barletta has held numerous hearings in Washington, DC and different regions of the country, providing oversight and holding federal bureaucrats at the GSA accountable for their use of office space and taxpayer resources. 

“When we reduce the amount of office space agencies are leasing, it directly reduces the costs to the taxpayer,” Barletta said.  “And, with the large number of leases expiring in the near future, we now have a ripe opportunity to save even more by negotiating better rental rates and concessions.”

Barletta’s efforts as Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management have already saved taxpayers more than $3 billion by reforming the way the federal government manages its real estate portfolio.  

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Barletta Victory: Obama Admin. Pauses Motor Carrier Rule

2016/05/20

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today declared victory in getting the Obama Administration to back off of fast-tracking a new motor carrier safety rule that would have been based on a flaw safety program.  The recent Highway Bill contained provisions of Barletta’s legislation to improve the safety score calculations for carriers by making the scores more reflective of a company’s safety record.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is the lead U.S. Department of Transportation agency responsible for truck and bus safety, had appeared prematurely poised to amend safety regulations before the reforms were completed.  It has now moved its plan onto the long-term actions list, which means no movement is expected for at least twelve months.

“This is about common sense and an accurate method of gauging the safety of motor carriers,” said Barletta, who led efforts to reform the CSA safety score program.  “The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration must first fix the safety score program before it bases a new safety rule on it.” 

Barletta led 33 members of his House colleagues in March in requesting that the powerful Appropriations Committee include in an annual spending bill a provision requiring the administration to wait until the Congressionally-mandated safety score program reforms were completed before basing the new safety fitness determination (SFD) rule on the flawed program.  Following Barletta’s efforts, the draft Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Spending bill included the Barletta provision.   The bill awaits consideration by the Appropriations Committee. 

Acting in May, Barletta and Rep. Bob Gibbs (OH-7), both members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led more than 35 members of the House in urging the FMCSA to first fix the flawed safety score program before finalizing the new safety fitness determination rule.  Barletta applauded the FMCSA decision to remove the new SFD rule from the active work plan and instead place it on the long-term plan.  Presently, the agency’s position is that the next action on SFD is “undetermined.”  The agency’s next agenda is expected to be released in December. 

“As a father of four and grandfather of three, I worry every day about the safety of my family when they’re out on the roads,” Barletta said.  “I strongly believe that unsafe vehicles should not be out there creating hazards, but safety scores must be based on a sound program.  There is no reason for Congressional intent to be ignored.”   

In both 2014 and 2015, Barletta authored the Safer Trucks and Buses Act, which temporarily halted the publication of flawed safety scores until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance Safety Accountability scoring system is revamped.   Barletta’s language was included in the Highway Bill, otherwise known as the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act), which became law in December 2015.  In addition, the Transportation Appropriations bill currently under consideration includes a prohibition on using any funds to amend the safety regulations before the reforms are completed.  Nevertheless, the Obama Administration had appeared determined to move ahead with its rulemaking despite this legislation.

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Barletta Examines Costs, Funding of Border Station Construction

2016/05/18

Click here or on image to watch Rep. Barletta’s opening statement at the subcommittee hearing on border station construction and funding.

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today convened a hearing to discuss the costs and funding methods of U.S. land ports of entry, also known as border stations, and examine the use of non-federal and private dollars currently not being accessed.  As Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, Barletta noted that good stewardship of taxpayer money is an important responsibility, as is providing adequate facilities for the locations that protect the American border.    

“Border security is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government because we must protect both our national security and the American worker.  This makes border stations critical to our Nation’s security and our economy,” Barletta said.  “These land ports of entry are important to our national security, as they serve as a line of defense against those who would enter this country illegally.  However, the cost of maintaining and modernizing our land ports of entry is not cheap.”

Barletta noted that there are 167 border stations, which each day see roughly $2 billion in trade crossings, 350,000 vehicles, 135,000 pedestrians, and 30,000 trucks.  The subcommittee heard from witnesses from federal agencies, local governments, and trade groups to determine how best to use non-federal and private dollars to jumpstart projects to help meet infrastructure needs. 

Barletta’s opening statement, as prepared for delivery, is as follows:

Border Security is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government because we must protect both our national security and the American worker.

This makes border stations critical to our Nation’s security and our economy.

The purpose of today’s hearing is to review major capital projects at our Nation’s border stations and examine how we can use non-federal and private dollars that are sitting on the sidelines to jumpstart projects to help meet these infrastructure needs. 

It is important that the men and women who guard our border have the resources they need to better enforce our existing immigration and trade laws.

There are 167 land ports of entry, also known as border stations that, according to GSA, see roughly $2 billion in trade crossings, 350,000 vehicles, 135,000 pedestrians, and 30,000 trucks daily. 

These land ports of entry are important to our national security, as they serve as a line of defense against those who would enter this country illegally with the intent of attacking our homeland.

However, the cost of maintaining and modernizing our land ports of entry is not cheap.

Projects recently completed or underway in recent years have totaled $1.5 billion.

And, these costs don’t include equipping and staffing these border stations.

That is why I worked to help craft language enacted in the Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations bill to establish a pilot program for public private partnerships.

This pilot program allows for non-federal donations of real property and equipment at owned border stations to help reduce costs to the taxpayer.

More recently, language further refining this program was included as part of H.R. 3586, the Border and Maritime Coordination Improvement Act.

The intent of this pilot program is not to replace the federal responsibility of constructing and maintaining these critical facilities.

To be clear-- making sure that we have the infrastructure and tools in place to enforce immigration and trade laws is a federal responsibility.

Rather, the intent is to provide additional tools to GSA and CBP to work with State, local, and private sector partners to help temporarily address funding gaps.

Potential donations under the pilot should not be used to replace our federal responsibility or to circumvent our process of appropriately identifying priorities and needs.

Donations – whether they be of real property or equipment – are not free.  Generally, acquisition costs are only a portion of the total cost of an asset. 

Each project considered under the pilot program should be limited in scope and be carefully reviewed to ensure it fits with our national priorities and that the costs associated with ongoing maintenance and upkeep are assessed to protect the taxpayer from picking up an unexpected bill down the road.

While CBP owns 42% of the owned stations, GSA owns and manages all of the largest and most heavily used border stations.

The size and complexity of these facilities vary widely and include facilities with traffic as little as 2 vehicles a day and 3,000 square foot buildings to large complexes that see thousands of vehicles and house a multitude of federal agencies including CBP, ICE, Agriculture, CDC, and the FDA.

Unfortunately, many of these border stations have not kept up with new technologies, threats, and traffic.

We must ensure that we can effectively screen people and goods to protect our Nation’s security and commerce but at the same time facilitate the movement of legitimate traffic and goods.

This is a tough balance and the facilities and related infrastructure managed by GSA and CBP are critical to this mission.

Without proper facilities, new technologies like biometric entry and exit systems that better screen people and vehicles cannot effectively be deployed.

Without space for all the key agencies to operate, commerce may be slowed, hurting American businesses and killing job opportunities.

Today, I am pleased to have GSA and CBP as well as private and local representatives here with us.

We want to know:

The status of projects we have authorized;

What are the future needs and priorities; and

How Public-Private Partnerships could be effectively used to help temporarily fill any gaps.

I hope we can get answers to these and other questions today.

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Barletta Succeeds in Advancing School Cafeteria Modernization Bill

2016/05/18

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today succeeded in inserting his legislation to help schools modernize their cafeterias into a larger bill that strengthens nutrition standards for public schools.  The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, of which Barletta is a member, approved H.R. 5003, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act, and included language from Barletta’s own H.R. 3316, the School Food Modernization Act.  The larger bill passed the committee by a vote of 20-to-14 and now heads to the floor of the full House of Representatives for consideration.

“Far too many of our nation’s schools have outdated kitchen equipment and inadequate infrastructure,” Barletta said.  “Eighty-eight percent of school districts need at least one piece of kitchen equipment.  Fifty-five percent of school districts need kitchen infrastructure changes.  This legislation seeks to ensure schools have the tools they need to serve our kids healthier meals.”

Barletta’s legislation:

  • Allows schools to participate in a loan assistance program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help them acquire new kitchen equipment and build new infrastructure.  Schools would be eligible for federal guarantees up to 80 percent of the loan.
  • Provides targeted grant assistance to give school administrators and food service directors seed money for less extensive infrastructure upgrades or purchases of high-quality, durable kitchen equipment such as commercial ovens, steamers, and stoves. 

Barletta’s School Food Modernization Act is now part of the overall Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act, which strengthens nutrition standards in a way that provides flexibility to state and local leaders and meets the needs of all students. The bill:

  • Requires the Department of Agriculture to consult with school leaders in its review and update of nutrition standards.
  • Ensures standards do not limit participation, are appropriate for the needs of school age children, and do not increase costs to schools.
  • Expands access to nutritious fruits and vegetables for all schools.
  • Enhances program integrity by fighting fraud, waste, and abuse.
  • Improves community eligibility by targeting assistance to those most in need while continuing to provide all eligible students access to healthy meals.
  • Provides states more flexibility to serve nutritious meals during the summer, especially to children living in rural and low-income areas.
  • Strengthens the integrity and efficiency of the Women, Infants & Children program by supporting a faster transition to electronic benefits transfer.

Barletta’s statement, as prepared for delivery, is as follows:

            Thank you, Chairman Kline.  I appreciate the opportunity to recognize the important steps that the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act takes in supporting local efforts to provide our kids with healthy and nutritious meals.

In particular, I want to highlight provisions of this legislation that draw from a bill I introduced with my colleague from across the aisle, Mr. DeSaulnier from California, that seeks to ensure schools have the tools they need to serve our kids healthier meals. 

Today, far too many of our nation’s schools have outdated kitchen equipment and inadequate infrastructure.  Eighty-eight percent of school districts need at least one piece of kitchen equipment.  Fifty-five percent of school districts need kitchen infrastructure changes. 

Our bill, the School Food Modernization Act, ensures that schools have access to funding to upgrade and modernize their kitchens and cafeterias to better serve students. The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act draws on this language to provide grants and loans to help schools purchase new equipment that will permit for more storage, allowing schools to buy in bulk and prepare food on-site.  This provision is limited in scope and will help improve students’ health.  I want to thank the subcommittee chairman for including this provision in the bill.

I would also like to highlight the important first steps this bill takes towards closing the summer hunger gap.  For many children in my district and across the country, summer is the hungriest time of year. 

Program rules need to be more responsive to the needs of both local providers and the children they serve.  Provisions of today’s bill will help streamline the application process for summer food providers like the Commission on Economic Opportunity, which operates in my hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, ensuring  more efficient use of federal resources, and most importantly, fewer hungry kids.  This bill is a step in the right direction to providing program operators with the tools and resources they need to feed our nation’s kids, and as we move forward on this issue, I hope their needs will continue to be addressed.

Again, I thank my colleagues on the committee for including these important reforms in the bill, which will help us deliver on the promise of providing healthy meals to our nation’s children. 

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Barletta Named Conferee on Comprehensive Opiate Addiction Legislation

2016/05/17

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) has been named a conferee on bipartisan legislation aimed at addressing the opiate addiction epidemic, as House and Senate negotiators will hammer out differences between their competing versions of the bill.  Barletta was the lead sponsor of H.R. 4843, Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act, which requires that states which receive federal funds for child protective services comply with federal law and enact certain guidelines for the welfare of children exposed to opioids.  H.R. 4843 passed the House by a unanimous vote of 421-to-0.  Barletta’s bill was incorporated into the House’s overall opiate legislation, which was passed as an amendment to the Senate’s version, S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.  Barletta, as a representative of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, will now be a part of the negotiations on the final package to be approved and sent to the president for his signature.

“Dependence on opiates like heroin and some painkillers is a problem that is fast growing into a nationwide epidemic,” Barletta said.  “It hurts individuals, families, children – and most heartbreakingly, babies who are born addicted.  It is a sad fact that every 25 minutes in America, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal. These are commonsense reforms we should all embrace.  By working together and advancing this legislation, we help ensure these children, mothers, and their families have the help they need and the care they deserve.”

In addition to Barletta’s bill, the House legislative package addresses illegal drug dealers, supports addiction recovery efforts, and funds drug courts, among other approaches.

Specifically, Barletta’s legislation would:

  • Require 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).
     
  • Strengthen protections for infants born with illegal substance exposure by clarifying the intent of safe care plans.
     
  • Improve accountability related to the care of infants and their families by requiring additional information on the incidents of infants born with illegal substance exposure and their care.
     
  • Provide states with best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe.
  • Encourage 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.

 

Click here or on image for video of Rep. Barletta arguing in favor of his bill to protect babies born addicted to opiates.

 

Other House-passed bills that were included in the overall package and will be part of the conference are: 

H.R. 4063 – Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

H.R. 4985 – Kingpin Designation Improvement Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Foreign Affairs Committee)

S. 32 – Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein / Judiciary Committee)

H.R. 5048 – Good Samaritan Assessment Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Guinta / Judiciary Committee)

H.R. 5052 – OPEN Act (Sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy / Judiciary Committee)

H.R. 4978 – NAS Healthy Babies Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Evan Jenkins / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 3680 – Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act of 2016, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 3691 – Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 1818 – Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 4969 – John Thomas Decker Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Pat Meehan / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 4586 – Lali’s Law (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Dold / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 4599 – Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Katherine Clark / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 4976 – Opioid Review Modernization Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 4982 – Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act of 2016 (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Foster / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 4981 – Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Larry Bucshon / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 4641 – To provide for the establishment of an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and for other purposes (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Susan Brooks / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 5046 – Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act of 2016, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner / Judiciary Committee)

The conference committee will be led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23).  The rest of the conference committee will consist of:

Judiciary Committee:
Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-6)
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-5)
Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21)
Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10)
Rep. Doug Collins (GA-9)
Rep. Dave Trott (MI-11)
Rep. Mike Bishop (MI-8)

Energy and Commerce Committee:
Chairman Fred Upton (MI-6)
Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA-16)
Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-7)
Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-2)
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-16)
Rep. Larry Bucshon (IN-8)
Rep. Susan Brooks (IN-5)

Education and the Workforce Committee:
Rep. Lou Barletta (PA-11)
Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-1)

Veterans Affairs Committee:
Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12)
Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-2)

Ways and Means Committee:
Rep. Patrick Meehan (PA-7)
Rep. Bob Dold (IL-10)

 

 

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Barletta Seeks to Control Costs of Federal Disaster Responses

2016/05/12

Click here or on image to watch Rep. Barletta’s statement at a subcommittee hearing regarding rising FEMA disaster costs.

WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today chaired a hearing to examine the rising costs of federal responses to disasters and to consider solutions to the long-term trend.  In a hearing he convened in his House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, Barletta presented and heard evidence that costs have risen dramatically over time and that steps must be taken to prevent even higher amounts in the future.  Earlier this year, Barletta authored legislation that passed the House of Representatives designed to reduce costs and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“While there are significant variations from year to year, we have found that disaster losses have grown considerably over the past three decades,” Barletta said.  “As a result, the private sector and government are spending an ever increasing amount of money on disasters.  FEMA alone has obligated more than 178 billion dollars since 1989 for over 1,300 presidential disaster declarations.  In addition, the number of federal disasters is going up.  The federal government has a responsibility to respond after a disaster, but we also have a duty to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollar.”

Barletta presented extensive data, which detailed the extent of the growth in the costs of natural disaster response and recovery.

Barletta recalled the difficulties his own Congressional district faced in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

“After those storms, people had lost everything,” Barletta said.  “I will never forget that preparing for natural disasters is about more than the loss of possessions.  It’s our friends and neighbors, and the lives that could be at stake if we do not plan in advance.”  

Barletta, along with Subcommittee Ranking Member André Carson (D-IN), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), and Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR), introduced the FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act in 2015.  The House unanimously approved the legislation in February and Barletta has urged the Senate to act on it.

The legislation:

  • Commissions an assessment of trends in disaster losses—their causes and amounts—and recommendations that will result in the reduction of losses and increased cost savings.
  • Provides FEMA additional direction and authorization for key programs that help reduce the losses and speed recovery for those impacted by disaster, including authorizing FEMA through FY 2018, consistent with current funding levels.
  • Authorizes the Urban Search and Rescue Response System through FY 2018 and clarifies liabilities and compensation issues related to participants in the system.
  • Raises the Public Assistance small projects threshold to $1 million to reduce administrative costs, expedite assistance, and help communities recover more quickly.
  • Establishes rates to reimburse states and local governments for the administrative costs incurred to implement disaster recovery projects, and provides a fixed cap to avoid uncontrolled administrative costs.
  • Reinstates a 3-year statute of limitations on FEMA’s ability to reclaim funds based on an agency change in policy determination after an applicant has already spent the funds on projects previously determined to be eligible.
  • Clarifies mitigation activities related to wildfires and earthquakes.

Barletta’s entire statement, as prepared for delivery, is as follows:

At our first hearing in the 114th Congress, I stated that my top emergency management priority was pursuing life-saving and cost-reducing disaster legislation and launching a public policy debate about the costs of disasters – in terms of both the loss of property and human life.  We followed that hearing with several roundtables to help us understand what disasters cost this country, who pays those costs, and whether the problem is getting better or worse.

Early last year, Ranking Member Carson and I introduced the FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act to call for the first comprehensive assessment of disaster costs and losses in over 20 years.  We also wanted to reform several disaster assistance programs to make them more efficient and effective.  In February the House passed this FEMA legislation and we hope the Senate will take up H.R. 1471 and pass it soon.

The purpose of today’s hearing is to discuss what we have learned so far and begin exploring potential solutions, particularly the principles that should be driving those solutions.

While there are significant variations from year to year, we have found that disaster losses have grown considerably over the past three decades.  As a result, the private sector and government are spending an ever increasing amount of money on disasters.  FEMA alone has obligated more than $178 billion since 1989 for over 1,300 presidential disaster declarations.

In addition, the number of federal disasters is going up.  Slide 1 shows the steady increase in the number of presidential disaster declarations since 1953.

Many have suggested, including the General Accountability Office, that the growth in the number of disaster declarations may be causing the increase in federal disaster costs.  But when we had the Congressional Research Service look more closely at the data, they found the growth in declarations is driven by small disasters and they represent a very small part of federal disaster spending. Slide 2  In fact, 75 percent of all declared disasters account for only 7 percent of costs.  In other words, we could eliminate three quarters of all federally-declared disasters and barely cut seven percent of federal disaster spending.  I would argue the amount saved by eliminating those disaster declarations certainly would not outweigh the benefit those declarations provide to helping our smaller, remote communities respond to and recover from disasters.

In order to understand why disaster costs are going up, we need to look at the big disasters since that is where over 90 percent of the money goes.  Since we started looking into this issue, we have also found the role of the federal government in covering disaster losses has increased.  As we can see in Slide 3, federal disaster spending as a share of total disaster losses has grown from 23 percent during Hurricane Hugo in 1989 to 80 percent during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. 

In recent years, significant disaster aid has been provided outside of FEMA’s disaster assistance programs.  The Slide 4 charts show how disaster aid programs outside FEMA have grown.  In fact, for Hurricane Sandy, there was less FEMA assistance than from either the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Department of Transportation.

We found that these additional disaster aid programs don’t have the same requirements and restrictions as the FEMA assistance.  FEMA assistance is tied to actual disaster damage, and is for individuals, governmental entities or certain non-profits performing government-like functions.  FEMA only spends money on eligible items for eligible applicants, no matter how much money FEMA receives.  FEMA mitigation funds must be used on cost-beneficial projects to ensure the federal investment is a wise one.  FEMA makes every effort to get money in the hands of applicants as fast as possible to enable rapid recovery from disaster impacts.

In the most recent data provided by the Sandy Program Management Office from March 2016, it appears that these agencies have been slow in awarding and especially paying out funds.  Slide 5  Based on this data, only one-third of the CDBG-DR funds have been dispersed and only 13 percent of the FTA funds have been paid out.  This may be worth looking into in greater detail and certainly shows why a comprehensive look into disaster spending, as well as costs and losses, is needed.

In an era of growing government debt, we need to ensure federal spending is necessary and cost-effective.

Right after I became a Member of Congress in 2011, my own district was hit hard by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Strom Lee.  I remember in Bloomsburg, a family stayed in their home to try to move their possessions to an upper floor.  But Fishing Creek rose too quickly.  The house next to theirs was knocked from its foundation.  Water started gushing through their front windows as they called for help.  They had to be saved by a helicopter.  The woman there told me she can never live in that home again.

I will never forget that preparing for natural disasters is about more than the loss of possessions; it’s our friends and neighbors lives that could be at stake if we do not plan in advance.  

As we were rebuilding, I was amazed that much of the federal assistance was to rebuild in the same place in the same way, leaving people vulnerable to the next storm.  The federal government has a responsibility to respond after a disaster, but we also have a duty to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollar.  I look forward to the conversations we have today, the ideas we are going to hear about, and taking the next steps to reduce the costs of disasters.

 

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Barletta Bill Protecting Opiate-Addicted Babies Unanimously Passes House

2016/05/11

Click here or on image for video of Rep. Barletta arguing in favor

of his bill to protect babies born addicted to opiates.

WASHINGTON – In a rare unanimous vote, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation from Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) protecting opioid-addicted newborns and their caregivers.  The Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act (H.R. 4843), which Barletta authored with Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), requires that states which receive federal funds for child protective services comply with federal law and enact certain guidelines for the welfare of children exposed to opioids.  The category of opioids includes a variety of pain medications or other drugs, such as heroin.  The legislation does not seek to persecute the mothers of the children, so as not to dissuade parents from allowing their newborns to access appropriate care.  The bill passed the House by a bipartisan, unanimous vote of 421-to-0.

“Every 25 minutes in America, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal. It’s an eye-opening statistic, and the more you consider what it really means, the more tragic it becomes,” Barletta said.  “Every 25 minutes, a child enters the world having already been exposed to drugs.  Every 25 minutes, a newborn has to pay the price for something he or she was defenseless against.  Every 25 minutes, another infant becomes a victim of the national opioid crisis.  These are the victims this bill will help protect.”

“Through a number of commonsense measures, this bill strengthens protections for infants born with illegal substance exposure, improves accountability related to the care of infants and their families, and ensures states will have best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe,” Barletta said.  “These are commonsense reforms we should all embrace.  By working together and advancing this legislation, we help ensure these children, mothers, and their families have the help they need and the care they deserve.”

This legislation would:

  • Require 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).
  • Strengthen protections for infants born with illegal substance exposure by clarifying the intent of safe care plans.
  • Improve accountability related to the care of infants and their families by requiring additional information on the incidents of infants born with illegal substance exposure and their care.
  • Provide states with best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe.
  • Encourage 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.

Barletta’s entire floor statement, as prepared for delivery, is as follows:

            Thank you, Mister Speaker. I rise today in strong support of H.R. 4843, the Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Every 25 minutes in America, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal. It’s an eye-opening statistic, and the more you consider what it really means, the more tragic it becomes.

Every 25 minutes, a child enters the world having already been exposed to drugs.

Every 25 minutes, a newborn has to pay the price for something he or she was defenseless against.

Every 25 minutes, another infant becomes a victim of the national opioid crisis.

These are the victims this bill will help protect.

Federal policies—including the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, or CAPTA—have long supported state efforts to identify, assess, and treat children who are victims of abuse and neglect.

The law provides states with resources to improve their child protective services systems if they assure the Department of Health and Human Services that they have put in place certain child welfare policies. For example, requiring health care providers to notify child protective services agencies when a child is born with prenatal illegal substance exposure and requiring the development of something known as a “safe care plan” to keep these newborns and their caregivers healthy and safe.

Last year, a Reuters investigation examined the care that infants receive when they are born to parents struggling with opioid addiction. The investigation detailed the heartbreaking consequences those infants had to endure—consequences like suffering through the physical pain of withdrawal, and in the most shocking cases, terrible deaths.

It’s hard to imagine that stories like these could be any more tragic. Unfortunately, they are—because they should have, and in many cases, could have been prevented. As Reuters revealed, HHS is providing federal funds to states that do not have the necessary child welfare policies in place. In short: the law is not being properly followed and enforced, and some of our most vulnerable children and families are slipping through the cracks.

That’s why Representative Clark and I worked with a number of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and introduced the legislation before us today. This bill requires HHS to better ensure states are meeting their legal responsibilities when it comes to preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect.

Through a number of commonsense measures, it strengthens protections for infants born with illegal substance exposure, improves accountability related to the care of infants and their families, and ensures states will have best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe.

As the House works this week to fight the opioid epidemic destroying communities and lives across the country, these are commonsense reforms we should all embrace. By working together and advancing this legislation, we can help ensure these children, mothers, and their families have the help they need and the care they deserve.

I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.

Closing

Mister Speaker, in closing, I want to reiterate the purpose and importance of this legislation.

No government—federal or state—should be allowed to skirt its responsibilities on the taxpayers’ dime, especially when those responsibilities involve the health and safety of children. We’ve seen what can happen when they do, and none of us should be okay with allowing those kinds of consequences to continue. Making sure they don’t, is a responsibility we all share.

In the end, this bill isn’t about pointing fingers or placing blame. It’s about the kids who need help—not only the infants affected by the opioid crisis, but all the victims of child abuse and neglect. This bill is about ensuring we are working together to strengthen protections for our country’s most vulnerable children and families. 

I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, and I yield the remainder of my time.

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Contact Information

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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