Actions taken by the FCC over the last several months have raised issues of transparency, accountability, and regulatory humility.
From Net Neutrality to the Commission’s potential entry as an online privacy regulator, Congress continues to be discouraged by Commission policies, which are seen as picking winners and losers and hurting consumers.
Specifically, I continue to be troubled by the FCC’s decision to pre-empt state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that restrict municipal entry into broadband markets – a position even the DOJ found it could not support. Such decisions have financial consequences for state taxpayers and should be left to their elected representatives.
On November 17th the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held an oversight hearing on the FCC. Full video of the hearing is here.
Additionally, I’m leading an amicus brief, signed by 23 of my colleagues, asking the D.C. Court of Appeals to strike the net neutrality regulations down. The court will hold oral arguments on December 4th and we look forward to a decision expected in the first months of 2016.
Rate regulation is a tremendous concern as are increased fees, the loss of liberty, and the pre-empting of free speech. These concerns deserve a thorough examination. For more information, click here.Read More
Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Brian Babin (R-TX), Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) are calling for a temporary suspension of Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) resettlement funding for all refugees, as well as individuals not in a legitimate lawful status. The lawmakers’ approach includes but also extends beyond refugee services for Syrian, Iraqi and other refugees and reflects the need to examine the resettlement of potential “special interest aliens” who are crossing our Southern border. The lawmakers are currently crafting language to address the issue for inclusion in an omnibus spending bill.
The Members argue that congressional action to protect American citizens from Islamic State terrorists must acknowledge vulnerabilities in our overseas vetting process as well as our domestic security vulnerabilities. Islamic State terrorists can just as easily pose as illegal aliens crossing our southern border as they can refugees fleeing a war torn country overseas.
The Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety was recently asked whether Islamic State terrorists had infiltrated the Southern border. He responded, “Individuals that come across the Texas/Mexican border from countries with a known terrorism presence and the answer to that is yes.”1 In April, a Judicial Watch report cited a Mexican Army officer and police inspector who asserted that ISIS was operating training bases in close proximity of the U.S. Southern border.2 Another report from August 2014 advised that social media traffic indicated ISIS was planning to “infiltrate” the Southern border in order to carry out a terrorist attack.3
ORR has failed to submit annual reports in a timely manner as required by section 413(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, despite being directly involved in the resettlement of thousands of illegal aliens who have crossed our Southern border over the past few years. Further, ORR’s budget has grown exponentially from approximately $750 million in FY2012 funding to over $1.5 billion currently. Repeated attempts by Members of Congress to conduct legitimate oversight of this entity have been met by delays, obstruction and a failure to produce information.
The vetting and resettlement processes associated with services for refugees and aliens not in a legitimate lawful status must be re-examined in order to address threats from all potential access points. Accordingly, all resettlement services should be temporarily suspended. If Congress funds ORR without such restrictions, Congress will be providing the President the funds to carry out his refugee resettlement efforts in full – both from countries overseas as well as through the resettlement of illegal aliens at the Southern border.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) was established by the Refugee Act of 1980. It operates within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to ORR’s FY2013 Annual Report, its “mission is to link these newly-arrived populations to key resources to maximize their potential in the U.S., and to become integrated and successful members of American society.” ORR has settled more than three million refugees from seventy different countries since it was established.
1. Kellan Howell, Texas top cop: Islamic State terrorist might cross southern border. Washington Times, October 6, 2015. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/6/steven-mccraw-texas-top-cop-islamic-state-terroris/
2. Edmund DeMarche, ISIS operating base few miles from Texas border, group warns. Fox News, April 16, 2015. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/04/16/isis-reportedly-operating-base-few-miles-from-texas-border/
3. Jana Winter, Online Posts Show ISIS Eyeing Mexican Border, says law enforcement bulletin. FoxNews, August 29, 2014. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/29/online-posts-show-isis-eyeing-mexican-border-says-law-enforcment-bulletin/
"The security of American citizens must be our top priority. We now have reports that one, and possibly more, of the Paris attackers posed as Syrian refugees before entering Europe. As a result, we must immediately suspend similar resettlement efforts in the U.S. I have repeatedly warned that it is impossible to vet Syrian refugees to determine if they have ties to ISIS. Any efforts to continue moving forward with the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. would be dangerously irresponsible," Blackburn said.For more on the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris and what Congress is doing to protect American citizens, click here. Read More
An Investigation in Defense of Life
U.S. News & World Report
By Marsha Blackburn
The abhorrent videos released over the last several months detailing abortion practices and treatment of infant lives have shaken and startled compassionate Americans across the country. These videos raise serious questions that deserve a thorough examination, as people have reacted with disgust as they have seen the video footage. Constituents, regardless of being anti-abortion or pro-abortion rights, are demanding we get answers to their questions about how we treat and protect life in this country and details of how this practice of selling baby body parts transpires.
The content in these videos is despicable and difficult to watch, but we cannot ignore what is an unsettling topic. This is a discussion our country must have. No issue is more deserving of our undivided attention than protecting the dignity of human life.
The mission of our Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives will be to gather information and get the facts about medical practices of abortion service providers and the business practices of the procurement organizations who sell baby body parts. Our select panel will help centralize the investigations already being conducted by Congress at the Energy and Commerce, Judiciary and Oversight Committees by bringing it primarily under one umbrella.
Specifically, the focus of our investigation will be to review medical procedures of abortion providers and business practices of procurement organizations as well as the relationship that exists between the two entities.
We will also look at the practices being used by providers of second- and third-trimester abortions, including partial birth abortion procedures that may lead to a child being born alive as a result of an attempted abortion. What happens with survivors of partial birth abortions? What rights do they have?
Finally, we'll look at how Title X funds are being used to ensure taxpayer dollars are not going to fund abortion procedures. Not one cent of taxpayer money should be going to fund big abortion businesses.
Not only is this a conversation that we must have as a nation, it is also long overdue. The most recent thorough examination of the ethical, legal and scientific issues surrounding any aspect of human fetal tissue research was the effort nearly three decades ago by a National Institutes of Health advisory panel in 1988. The federal law that primarily addresses human fetal tissue research, the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, was enacted over twenty years ago in response to concerns with transplantation of fetal tissue in humans.
As we begin our work as a select panel, we can assure the public we fully understand we are charged with gathering information and conducting fact finding to get answers on the questions outlined in this article. You can be assured that we will follow the law, find the facts and focus on where those facts take us in defense of life.
Congressman Marsha Blackburn serves as Chair of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and is Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She represents the Seventh Congressional District of Tennessee.Read More
Op-Ed: A Bipartisan Case for Fair Play Fair Pay Act (Exclusive)
by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
In 2015, countless new technologies bring us music and entertainment, yet we have no uniform licensing system in place to ensure that digital, satellite and AM/FM radio play by the same rules. The United States is behind the times, and we are long overdue for an update that will see performing artists fairly compensated for their work.
Due to special-interest exemptions, short-term reactions to changing technologies and congressional gridlock, the law that governs royalty payments is inconsistent and unfair. New technologies are put at a disadvantage by the current licensing system: Internet broadcasters like Pandora pay royalty rates comparable to those that would have been negotiated in the free market, while cable and satellite providers pay a below-market rate under a "grandfathered" provision that predates the development of Internet radio.
Meanwhile, terrestrial radio pays nothing to performing artists and musicians. Some of the biggest and most successful digital services have argued that the law does not require them to pay for music recorded before Feb. 15, 1972, cutting off payments to older artists (although there are ongoing litigation and settlement negotiations with Pandora).
To bring the music marketplace in line with the times, creating a system that is technology neutral and that fairly compensates all performing artists, we have introduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015. Supported by a broad left-right coalition, the legislation will provide a needed balance to America's music-licensing system. The act would:
· Establish a terrestrial performance right so that AM/FM stations pay performance royalties under a fair market value for the music they use.
· Protect small, local and public broadcasters by capping terrestrial royalties at affordable rates. Stations with less than $1 million in annual revenue would pay $500 per year; noncommercial public radio would pay $100; religious and incidental uses of music would pay no royalties.
· Create platform parity to level the playing field among terrestrial, satellite, cable and Internet radio so that all forms of radio pay fair market value for music performances.
· Require the payment of royalties for sound recordings made before Feb. 15, 1972.
· Protect songwriters and publishers by clearly stating that nothing in this bill can be used to lower songwriting royalties.
· Streamline the allocation of royalty payments to music producers by codifying industry practices, ensuring artists receive their fair share from direct licensing of all eligible performances.
Artists of all genres and eras have backed the legislation, including Elton John, Chuck D, R.E.M., Annie Lennox and Rosanne Cash. The bill has the backing of many organizations, including AFL-CIO, American Federation of Musicians, MusicFirst Coalition, The Recording Academy, RIAA, SAG-AFTRA and SoundExchange.
Performing artists have been unfairly treated by the law for many years. We must update it so that music creators can prosper in the years ahead.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn is a Republican representing Tennessee's 7th Congressional District. Rep. Jerrold Nadler is a Democrat representing New York's 10th Congressional District. This article was originally published in the Nov. 14 issue of Billboard.Read More
Fellow Americans –
We lost a much loved Tennessean this week. Though Fred Thompson’s roots were in Tennessee, his service spanned far past the borders of our state and into the lives and homes of all Americans. To my family, and to many in Middle Tennessee, Fred was a neighbor, a friend and a trusted political voice. Many of you have shared with me your memories of Fred and here I share with you my own. His passing brings great sadness to all and our prayers are with his wife Jeri and the entire Thompson family.
Every time I hear from you, no matter what the issue is, there is one underlying theme – you want to see action. Under the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan the House now has a clean slate to move forward and to take that action. We will work together to rein in regulations and spending, enact tax reforms that benefit all Americans, and strengthen our national security. In case you missed it, I discussed our new leadership in depth with Fox News this weekend. Additionally, I spoke about my new role as Chairman of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. As I’ve mentioned before, our mission is to gather information and get the facts about the medical practices of abortion service providers and the business practices of the procurement organizations who sell baby body parts. You can be assured that we will follow the law, find the facts and focus on where those facts take us in defense of life.
We’ve had a full schedule at the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week looking into ways to fix our broken healthcare system and make sure all American’s have access to quality healthcare they can afford to use. Our nation’s most vulnerable rely on Medicaid to access the healthcare they need, but more must be done to strengthen and sustain the program. Working with colleagues on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I’m pleased to serve on the Medicaid Task Force which will build on our efforts to fulfill the promise of quality care for years to come. You can learn more about what we’ve done in the past to examine Medicaid and what our plan going forward is, here. We also looked into the failing Obamacare CO-OPs that are costing taxpayers millions of dollars and counting. Eleven of the 23 Obamacare CO-OPS have failed, including our own in Tennessee. You can watch our full hearing here where we examined the Administration’s costly failures and worked to find solutions.
As you can see, a lot of our work this week has centered on the delivery of healthcare. Our district is home to many health innovators who dedicate their talents to developing 21st century technology that can improve the health and well-being of all Americans. It was an honor to accept the Champion of Healthcare Innovation Award from the Healthcare Leadership Council this week for my work on legislation, such as 21st Century Cures, which encourages these developments to help save lives.
On two occasions this week we’ve seen blatant instances of President Obama putting criminals and illegal aliens before law-abiding, hardworking Americans who should be his priority. With the whim of his pen and phone, the President issued an executive order that prevents federal agencies from requiring job-applicants reveal if they have had a criminal record and through a leaked DHS memo, we saw the President once again planning to circumvent checks and balances – this time, to help illegal aliens secure work. This only strengthens my resolve to fight against President Obama’s lawless executive actions.
As Veteran’s Day approaches, I encourage you to take the time to thank all of those who have served. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter as we’ll be recognizing the sacrifice and courage of our veterans community throughout the week. If you are a local veteran who would like to submit your story and a photo to share on my Facebook page, please send it to TN07vets@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you and to each of you I convey my appreciation and admiration
Have a great weekend,
Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) today released the following statement on the passing of Fred Thompson:
"Fred Thompson was a neighbor, a friend and a trusted political voice. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jeri and all the Thompson family. Fred Thompson will be missed dearly. I appreciate all he did on behalf of conservative values for our state."Read More
Congress Needs Transparency Before It Could Consider Resettlement of Syrian Refugees
by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
The Obama Administration has announced its intention to resettle a minimum of ten thousand Syrian refugees in the U.S. I have significant compassion for refugees fleeing the Islamic State, but the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has not been transparent or accountable in the past.
ORR’s involvement in the resettlement of tens of thousands of illegal aliens from Central America during the summer of 2014 raised many concerns about its functioning. Before we can begin a discussion about the resettlement of Syrian refugees, we must change the culture at ORR.
According to the State Department, the United States Refugees Admissions Program (USRAP) is comprised of several departments across government, including ORR. My first experience with ORR came during the summer of 2014. HHS sent representatives to Capitol Hill to brief Members and staff on multiple occasions about resettlement services for Central Americans illegally surging into our country. I also visited an ORR shelter for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma on July 12, 2014. What I saw and heard based on these interactions was appalling and led me to initiate an investigation of ORR.
First, during the course of my investigation I learned that ORR had not filed an annual report with Congress as required by Section 413(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act since FY2012. The annual reports contain important information about “refugee placement”, “ORR refugee health initiatives”, and “discretionary grants” and are to be filed “no later than January 31 following the end of each fiscal year,…” They are also vital because ORR’s budget has grown exponentially since 2012 when its enacted funding level was $768,334,000. ORR requested $1.6 billion in its FY2016 “Justification of Estimates for Appropriations Committees”.
I wrote Secretary Burwell on November 21, 2014 to address these issues and demand that HHS submit ORR’s FY2013 annual report. Subsequently, ORR Director Eskinder Negash resigned on December 9th. HHS also submitted the FY2013 report to Congress last Spring, but Congress is still waiting on ORR’s FY2014 report (due January 31, 2015). I warned Secretary Burwell that “it becomes increasingly difficult to approve requested funding” without annual reports being submitted to Congress.”
Second, I became aware of allegations of child abuse against ORR shelter workers after reading a May 24, 2014 Houston Chronicle article titled “Crossing alone: Children fleeing to U.S. land in shadowy system”. The Chronicle’s investigation revealed that over one-hundred “significant incident reports” obtained from HHS through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request detailed instances where children were abused, sexually or otherwise, by shelter workers at ORR facilities between March 2011 and March 2013. Incredibly, allegations of child abuse were not referred to the FBI and criminal cases “crumbled” because they were handed off to “local police and prosecutors”.
I wrote Secretary Burwell again on December 17, 2014 demanding more information about these significant incident reports and why HHS had failed to publish “a final rule adopting standards for the detection, prevention, reduction and punishment of rape and sexual assault” in ORR facilities as required by section 1101 of the 2013 Violence Against Women Act. A week later, HHS released an interim final rule that was published in the Federal Register on December 24, 2014. Further, Secretary Burwell’s February 23, 2015 response to my inquiry sidestepped the issue of child abuse as follows: “No significant incident reports were filed against ORR employees in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. Care workers in facilities for unaccompanied children are not HHS federal employees, but employees of grantees of ORR.” Secretary Burwell advised that HHS is working with federal authorities on the reporting of such allegations, but more accountability is needed when children are being preyed upon.
Allegations of child abuse and failure to produce annual reports have left a cloud hanging over ORR. It has simply not proven transparent or accountable enough to undertake the resettlement of thousands of Syrian refugees. It would be beyond inhumane to subject children fleeing the Islamic State to further abuse when they arrive in the U.S.. The curtains must be pulled completely back on ORR’s operations before we can trust it with a responsibility as serious as resettling Syrian refugees in the U.S.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives serving the Seventh Congressional District of Tennessee. She serves as vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a member of the House Budget Committee.
217 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Growing up, Marsha Blackburn learned that the promise of our nation depends on each generation of Americans working hard to leave the country a better place than they found it. As a small business woman, author, mother, grandmother, and Member of Congress, Marsha Blackburn has dedicated her service to the sacred obligation all citizens have to their communities: making Tennessee and America a better, more prosperous, and freer place.
Congressman Blackburn began her elected service career in 1998 as a Tennessee State Senator. Blackburn’s Senate career was marked by her commitment to fiscal common sense and government accountability. She became known to her constituents for holding “budget school” in her district and across the state; identifying waste and offering solutions for a state in a budget crunch.
While serving in the Tennessee Senate, Blackburn led a statewide grassroots campaign to defeat a proposed state income tax. She earned the reputation as a champion of anti-tax and government reform issues, frequently appearing on local talk radio and even earning the attention of national publications like the Wall Street Journal and conservative groups such as Americans for Tax Reform.
Blackburn’s reputation for focusing on individual freedom and free enterprise boosted her from the Tennessee Senate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Blackburn was first elected to represent Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District in 2002, quickly becoming a leader in Congress and a leading voice advocating for a small, efficient federal government that is accountable to its citizens. She is regularly praised by good government groups like the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Farm Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council and the American Conservative Union. She has been named a Taxpayer Hero by Americans for Tax Reform each year she has served in Congress. In 2007 Blackburn received the Conservative Leadership Award from the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.
Congressman Blackburn is often selected by her colleagues to lead the charge for common sense reform. In February 2010 she was selected to represent conservative views on health care reform at the President’s Blair House Summit. She has served on the majority and minority whip teams since her election in 2002, and holds a seat on the vital Energy and Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over health care, energy regulation, and telecommunications issues. In 2006 the Independent Electrical Contractors recognized her as their Lawmaker of the Year.
Marsha has earned a special reputation as a bi-partisan leader and policy expert on telecommunications issues and intellectual property rights. She has strong ties with Tennessee’s recording industry and the songwriters and performers who make it great. In 2003 Blackburn founded and serves as Chairman of the Congressional Songwriters Caucus to give the nation’s creative community a voice on Capitol Hill. In 2007, she was awarded the Congressional Grammy by the Recording Academy; the White Hat award from the Nashville Songwriters Association and in 2008 received the Platinum Award from the RIAA.
In 2012, Health IT Now presented her with the HITN Innovation Award for her work in support of innovative solutions to our most pressing healthcare problems. Marsha has also been honored by the Family Research Council and the Susan B. Anthony list for her pro-life, pro-family work. And recognized by the Association of Children’s Hospitals and the American College of Radiology for her leadership on healthcare issues. In April 2013 at the “Women Run The World” Half Marathon in New York City, More Magazine recognized Blackburn for her service in government by honoring her as one of 10 women who are making a difference in the world.
Blackburn was selected to serve as Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for the 113th Congress where she will continue to serve on four critical Subcommittees: Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade (CMT); Oversight; Health; and Communications and Technology. She serves on the House Budget Committee and is a founding member of the Republican Women’s Policy Committee. Blackburn is also a member of the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board.
Marsha and her husband Chuck live in Williamson County, Tennessee. They have two children, Mary Morgan Ketchel and Chad Blackburn; and two grandsons. Blackburn is a native of Laurel, Mississippi and graduate of Mississippi State University.
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I hope this Thanksgiving finds u grateful for all the blessings we share as u gather w/ family, friends & loved ones https://t.co/wEJy99JRvb
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Renewed my handgun carry permit, bought moulding for a fixer project. Heading home to cook the feast… https://t.co/oWX2RsBdto
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#TN07 is home to many wonderful small businesses. As a former small business owner myself, I’ve pushed for less taxation and less regulation
This Thanksgiving I hope the day finds you thankful for all the blessings we share as you sit down with family, friends, and those you love.
Looking forward to joining Varney & Co. on Fox Business tomorrow morning around 9am CT/10am ET.
Joining Newsmax Prime tonight during the 8pm ET hour to discuss Syrian refugee resettlement & ISIS. Tune in by clicking the link below.
The EPA's bureaucratic rule is a burden on our Tennessee farmers and needs to be defunded. Glad to join 87 of my colleagues in pushing this effort.