Between Christmas and New Year’s, I led a congressional delegation to Kabul, Afghanistan, where I met with some of our soldiers, and with senior U.S. military and diplomatic leaders to discuss what progress we are or are not making in that war.
What I found is alarming: First, we need to abandon the Obama administration’s false narrative that it has been able to reduce U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, now down to 8,400, because our strategy is “working.” Quite the opposite is true; our strategy is not working. The Taliban are gaining ground and Afghan security forces have suffered heavy casualties. So long as the Taliban sees a path to victory and is gaining territory, as it currently is, it will choose to fight rather than negotiate a peace deal.
As for the troop levels, the Obama administration knows that its self-imposed reduction to an 8,400-troop cap is unrealistic. The reality is that it is playing a shell game with the numbers. The trick is that the Obama administration has reduced our military presence by substituting civilian contractors, who are now performing the identical tasks that previously belonged to the soldiers they replaced. In fact, civilian contractors now greatly outnumber U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan at a much higher cost to the taxpayers and with unequal results.
One example concerns U.S. Army helicopter units. Flight crews are arriving in Afghanistan without their maintenance personnel to help keep under the troop cap. Meanwhile, their maintenance personnel, trained, ready and still on the payroll, are sitting in the United States, with no aircraft to maintain, while taxpayers are paying comparatively more for their civilian replacements to do the same work in a combat zone.
Second: We need to change the rules of engagement (ROE). ROE are the guidelines under which U.S. military forces are permitted to engage an enemy. Under the current ROE, the U.S. military in Afghanistan is free to target al-Qaeda and Islamic State fighters, but they do not have the same latitude in attacking the Taliban, who pose an existential threat to the government of Afghanistan. The current ROE only allows the U.S. military to target Taliban fighters if they pose a “direct and immediate” threat to U.S. military forces. If they are a threat to Afghan security forces alone, we cannot target them, despite the fact that we are in Afghanistan to support the security forces of the Afghan government. The ROE were recently relaxed, but not nearly enough. They now allow U.S. forces to target the Taliban only if a provincial capital is in danger of falling to the enemy.
I believe Congress needs to address the ROE issue by modifying the current Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which is the legal basis for U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. The good news is that the Obama administration has long sought revisions to the AUMF, but the bad news is that addressing the Taliban threat is not one of the revisions it has sought.
This spring, the Taliban will, once again, begin to assemble its forces for the start of the fighting season. The U.S. military must have the appropriate ROE to target them as soon as they begin to mass their fighters and long before they can pose a direct threat to our forces or those of our Afghan allies, if we ever hope to bring this long war to an end.
Afghanistan is now the longest war in U.S. military history and given how this war has been conducted, between artificial troop caps and an ROE that makes winning seem impossible, it’s not hard to see why. The incoming Trump administration must be honest with the American people about how the war is going; stop playing the political numbers game with U.S. troop levels; and provide our military with an ROE that reflects a strategy for victory and not defeat.
U.S. Representative Mike Coffman is a Marine Corps combat veteran and a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Original article appeared here: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/01/18/trump-should-update-military-policy-in-afghanistan/Read More
One of the great honors that I have as a member of Congress is nominating young people to our nation’s military academies. Having served in both the U.S. Army and the Marines, I’m continually impressed by the many bright and talented students seeking to serve as our nation’s next generation of military leaders.
The story of one young student in Aurora is one I will never forget. Monica Carreta wanted to go to the U.S. Naval Academy. She had just graduated at the top of her class from Aurora Hinkley High School and had all of the right attributes for a competitive application. There was just one problem. Monica is not a U.S. citizen because her parents had brought her from Mexico when she was just a year old. Monica grew up here, went to school here, and because the United States is the only country she has ever known, considers herself a loyal and patriotic American.
She did not end up applying to the Naval Academy through my office.
I strongly believe that Monica, and all of the young people like her, should be treated differently than the adults who knowingly violated our immigration laws. This is why I’ve supported, and will continue to support, legislation, like H.R. 5533, the “Recognizing American Children Act” that I co-sponsored last summer, that gives young people, like Monica, a path to becoming a legal permanent resident based on their work history, education, or through military service. On Thursday I became a cosponsor on the re-introduced Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, a House resolution that would provide childhood arrivals like Monica a three year extension under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to live and work legally in the U.S.
For the adults, who knowingly broke the law, I propose, a brief window where those illegally in the country can come out of the shadows, pay a fine, undergo a criminal background check, and receive a legal status akin to a renewable work visa thus removing the fear of deportation and the breakup of families.
After this window elapses the United States must replace current immigration laws with a much tougher set of laws and enhanced border security in such a way that it sends a clear message that we are serious about ending illegal immigration. We can do that by adopting a policy of “zero” tolerance. Under current law, unlawful presence in the United States is not a crime and is only subject to civil penalties.
Currently, when illegal immigrants are caught they are not detained, unless they are in violation of a criminal law. These individuals are simply given a summons to appear at a hearing at a later date, which is often ignored. Being unlawfully in the United States should be a criminal offense for which the offending adult is detained and deported.
I strongly disagree with a “special” path to citizenship, for those adults who knowingly broke U.S. immigration laws. This is what the 2013 Senate bill 744 known as “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” would have allowed. This approach would be unfair to everyone who followed the law and waited in line to legally come to the United States.
Another critical aspect in rethinking immigration reform, involves our workforce. The Pew Research Center recently published a study that showed that there are an estimated 8 million illegal workers in the United States. In Colorado alone, Pew found that the number of illegal workers was consistent with the national average of 4.9 percent. This translates to approximately 140,000 illegal workers out of a total of 2.8 million workforce in the State.
There is no question that a key part of fixing our broken immigration system is a requirement mandating all employers use the federal E-Verify system to check the immigration status of applicants and current employees. We must also provide stiff penalties for employers who fail to comply.
I am optimistic that we can fix our broken immigration system by securing our borders, enacting tougher laws and strict enforcement, all while still showing compassion by keeping families together. In other words, we need to rethink immigration reform in the 21st Century. U.S.
Rep. Mike Coffman is a Republican who represents Colorado’s 6th Congressional District
Original article appeared here: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/01/14/rethinking-immigration-reform/Read More
Two weeks into 2017, it is clearer than ever that xing our nation’s health care system will require a full repeal of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. This law has failed Coloradans — it hasn’t made health care affordable or accessible.
Our colleagues on the other side of the aisle like to highlight the number of uninsured Americans to measure the success of the ACA, but there is a big difference between people having health insurance and people having true access to health care.
It is time for a reality check.
Health care isn’t affordable or accessible when the cheapest plan comes with an average deductible of more than $6,000, which is what people in the individual market will see this year. Health care isn’t affordable or accessible when a family has only one insurer to choose from and their premium is more than their mortgage payment, which is becoming a common occurrence across our state. Health care isn’t affordable when nearly 6 million people choose to pay a ne to remain uninsured rather than enroll in a plan.
In Western Colorado, there are 14 counties where families will have only a single insurance carrier to choose from on the Obamacare exchange. And throughout southern and eastern Colorado, there are 16 counties where families will see an overall average premium increase of more than 40 percent. We are seeing the same trend in employer-based plans, too. Last year, the average annual out of pocket cost for a typical family with employer-based coverage jumped to over $4,300. This is simply unacceptable and unsustainable.
How can anyone look at these numbers and say that President Obama’s health care law is working?
We also continue to hear the narrative that repealing Obamacare will take insurance away from millions of Americans overnight. This is untrue for a number of reasons, the rst of which was stated above: the number of people with health insurance isn’t a good measure of access to health care when many can’t afford to use the insurance they’ve been forced to purchase.
Secondly, since Obamacare was enacted, the net total of newly-insured Americans is 16.9 million. The biggest gains were made in two categories: employer-sponsored health plans and Medicaid.
We saw 9.6 million Americans gain insurance through their employer, but it is important to remember that the Obamacare employer mandate was delayed during 2014, so it’s hard to credit the law for these gains. Of the 6.5 million people who gained health insurance through Medicaid, 70 percent were already eligible for the program prior to its expansion under the ACA. We can attribute the streamlined application and increased public awareness for these gains — neither of which will go away when we repeal Obamacare.
The second narrative we continue to hear revolves around patients with pre-existing conditions. The existing protections for individuals with preexisting conditions would continue without Obamacare. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibits insurance companies from denying insurance to any individual who transfers between group markets. This means that if you have a pre-existing condition and you change jobs, your new insurer cannot increase your rates or deny you insurance because of your pre-existing condition.
The Republican plan for replacing Obamacare envisions expanding these HIPAA protections to the individual markets, which should put the minds of parents whose children are living with disabilities or individuals who have experienced jobs loss at ease. Combined with the protections that the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) provides, under the Republican replacement plans, no individual with a pre-existing condition will be denied insurance coverage or see their rates spike. Ensuring that individuals with pre-existing conditions have access to health insurance will continue to be one of our top priorities.
And speaking of replacement plans, the narrative that Republicans have offered no plan to replace Obamacare is false. Republicans have introduced multiple alternative health care plans since 2010, and we encourage you to review them. The most recent replacement plan was offered by the Republican Study Committee, called the American Health Care Reform Act. The Empowering Patients First Act was a plan put forth in the 114th Congress by future Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Tom Price. Our Better Way Agenda also includes a blueprint for replacing Obamacare that is centered on more choices, lowers costs, and greater flexibility.
Replacing President Obama’s failed health care law will be a dif툁cult and complex process, but we are fully committed to implementing health care reforms that will ensure every Coloradan and Americans in all corners of the country have access to affordable, patient-centric health care services.
Ken Buck, Mike Coffman, Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton, are Republican U.S. representatives from Colorado
Original article appeared here: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/01/13/reality-check-fixing-health-care-requires-repeal-of-obamacare/Read More
Washington, DC -- U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06) released the following statement after voting for a one-time Congressional exception to allow Gen. James Mattis (Ret) to be confirmed for Secretary of Defense by the United States Senate:
"As a fellow Marine combat veteran, I was proud to vote in favor of the exception to allow General James Mattis (Ret) to be considered for the Secretary of Defense. I firmly believe that General Mattis will provide our men and women in uniform with the leadership and support they deserve."Read More
GRAHAM, DURBIN REINTRODUCE BRIDGE ACT TO PROTECT UNDOCUMENTED YOUTH FROM DEPORTATION
Reps. Coffman and Gutiérrez introduce companion bill in House of Representatives
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as children should the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be discontinued under the next Administration. The Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, which was first introduced in the Senate late last year, would provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to undocumented youth. U.S. Representatives Mike Coffman (CO-06) and Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04) are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“It’s my firm belief most Americans want to fix a broken immigration system in a humane manner,” said Graham. “In my view, the DACA Executive Order issued by President Obama was unconstitutional and President-elect Trump would be right to repeal it. However, I do not believe we should pull the rug out and push these young men and women -- who came out of the shadows and registered with the federal government -- back into the darkness. Our legislation continues to provide legal status to them for three years as Congress seeks a permanent solution. These young people have much to offer the country and we stand to benefit from the many contributions they will make to America. I’m confident that if President-elect Trump were to support this measure we can repeal the unconstitutional Executive Order and Congress will provide temporary legal status through the proper constitutional process.”
“For over a decade, I’ve come to the Senate floor to share with my colleagues and the American people the stories of talented young undocumented immigrants, who have overcome the odds to give back to the only country they call home. Since the establishment of DACA, we’ve witnessed them realize their full potential - by opening businesses, becoming doctors and teachers, and serving our country in uniform. We cannot squander that talent and dedication and send them back to countries they barely know,” said Durbin. “The BRIDGE Act is an opportunity for supporters and critics of DACA to come together and address a compelling humanitarian issue on a bipartisan basis. I’m honored to work with Senator Graham, Congressmen Coffman and Gutiérrez, and other colleagues to ensure that DREAMers are protected from deportation until Congress is able to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
“Today’s introduction of the Bridge Act is only a first step in the long process of permanently reforming and strengthening our immigration laws,” said Rep. Coffman. “I believe children brought here at no fault of their own merit the opportunity to live, work and study in the United States. For the balance of Immigration reform, I am optimistic that we can fix our broken immigration system by enacting tougher laws, securing our borders, and implementing stricter enforcement, all while still keeping families together”.
“We need to do whatever we can to protect DACA recipients who are already working on-the-books and not move backward to strip them of legal status,” Rep. Gutiérrez said. “These young people are a lifeline for their families and leaders in our communities. We are starting with them, but I remain concerned about the millions of other immigrants who have no clear path to legal status and the millions who are locked out of legal immigration because our system is so out-of-date and backlogged. The DREAMers who have DACA are not competing with Americans for a slice of the pie, they are helping to bake a bigger pie for our country and our economy.”
U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) are original cosponsors of the Senate version of the BRIDGE Act. U.S. Representatives Jeff Denham (R-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Carlos L. Curbelo (R-FL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Judy Chu (D-CA) are original cosponsors of the House version of the BRIDGE Act.
The BRIDGE Act has broad support from the faith, business, higher-education, civil rights, and immigrant communities. This week, 88 business leaders from around the country sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump and House and Senate leadership asking them to support the BRIDGE Act.
Find out more about the BRIDGE Act here.Read More
Washington, DC -- Today, U.S. Representative Mac Thornberry, the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, announced his selection of Mike Coffman (R-CO) to serve as the Chairman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee. In this role, Coffman will lead congress’ efforts in the areas of military personnel policy, reserve component integration and employment issues, military health care, military education, and POW/MIA issues. Most importantly, this subcommittee makes sure that our troops and their families receive the benefits that they deserve.
Regarding this opportunity, Coffman stated the following:
“First, I want to thank Chairman Thornberry for his confidence in me. Second, as a former enlisted soldier, a combat veteran, and a retired Marine Corps officer, I look forward working with my colleagues to address the many issues essential to our national security and to our dedicated men and women in uniform that this subcommittee will address”.
Coffman is the only veteran in Colorado’s congressional delegation. He has a combined 21 years of military service and is the only Member of Congress who has served in both the First Gulf War and the Iraq War.Read More
Washington, DC -- U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06) released the following statement on the Office of Congressional Ethics:
"As representatives of the people, Members of Congress are held to the highest of standards. I strongly oppose any unilateral changes to the Office of Congressional Ethics, and instead support a bipartisan independent system to assure fair and effective oversight and transparency in Congress.”
Washington, DC -- U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06) released the following statement regarding the United Nations vote on Israeli settlements:
"The decision of the US to abstain from the UN vote last week in addition to the comments by Secretary Kerry today is one that directly contradicts the US-Israeli relationship of mutual trust and support. Mixed messages in foreign policy on behalf of this administration undermines US interests and jeopardizes our relationships around the globe."Read More
(Aurora, CO) – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06) returned from Afghanistan where he spent Christmas visiting some of our deployed troops.
“This Christmas, I had the honor of visiting with our troops deployed in Afghanistan,” said Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran. “Any opportunity I have to thank our deployed service members for their work, especially around the holidays, is very important to me. I also want to thank the families of those deployed who don’t have their loved one home for the holidays. I want them all to know that their service and sacrifice is appreciated.”
Coffman led a bi-partisan Congressional delegation to Afghanistan to meet with deployed U.S. service members and their leadership. Congressman Coffman met with Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., who is in charge of Operation Resolution support in Afghanistan and also with the 1st Calvary Division commander, Major General John c. Thomson III. Site visits included the Al-Udeid Air Force Base, Bagram Airfield and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
Coffman has a combined 21 years of military service and serves on the House Armed Services Committee and House Veteran’s Affairs Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. He is the only member of Congress to have served in both Iraq Wars.
Washington, DC -- U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (CO-06), an Iraq War combat veteran and member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement in response to the terrorist attack in Berlin, Germany.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Berlin. This tragedy is a reminder that terrorism doesn’t pause during the holiday season and that we must remain vigilant at all times. The U.S. stands with the German people and its government in condemning this attack, and we hope those responsible are swiftly brought to justice.”Read More
2443 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Mike Coffman began his distinguished career of serving our nation at a very young age. At age seventeen, after finishing his junior year at Aurora Central High School in 1972, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Through the Army, Coffman was able to earn a high school diploma. In 1974, he left active duty to attend the University of Colorado under the G.I. Bill where he continued his military career by serving in the U.S. Army Reserve. Coffman took a leave of absence from the U.S. Army Reserve and the University of Colorado to attend D.G. Vaishnav College in Chennai, India in 1976 and the University of Veracruz in Xalapa, Mexico in 1977. Coffman graduated from the University of Colorado in 1979 and immediately transferred from the U.S. Army Reserve to the U.S. Marine Corps where he served as an infantry officer.
In 1983, Coffman came back home to Colorado and started a small business, an Aurora-based property management company, that would grow to over 20 employees. He remained the senior share holder of the firm for the next seventeen years until selling his interest in 2000. While in business, he continued serving in the military by joining the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
In his role as a Colorado small business owner, Coffman saw the need to bring more common sense pro-growth economic policies to state government so he ran and was elected to the State House of Representatives in 1988 and re-elected in 1990. Shortly after his 1990 re-election, Coffman took an unpaid leave of absence from the state legislature and volunteered to return to active duty for the first Gulf War where he served as the executive officer for a light armored infantry company. The battalion that Coffman served in was ordered to attack and defend positions inside of Kuwait, for three consecutive days prior to the main ground attack, as part of a deception and reconnaissance-by-fire operation. Coffman retired from the military in 1994 after having served for seven years between the U.S. Army and the Army Reserve and thirteen years between the U.S. Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve.
In 1994, Coffman was elected to the State Senate where he served as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. While in the State Senate, he completed the Senior Executive Program for State and Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In 1998, Coffman was elected to the office of State Treasurer and re-elected in 2002. In 2005, the U.S. Marine Corps was under strength in meeting their requirements for the Iraq War and begun to extend Marines beyond their active duty enlistments, recall Marines recently released from active duty, and selectively reach out to retired Marines and request their return to active duty. Coffman resigned his position as the State Treasurer and volunteered to return to the U.S. Marine Corps for an assignment in Iraq. In Iraq, Coffman was a civil affairs officer where he worked in support of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) in 2005 and in 2006 he was reassigned to help establish interim local governments in the Western Euphrates River Valley.
In 2006, Coffman came home after completing a full tour of duty in Iraq and was appointed by Governor Bill Owens to serve out the remainder of his term as the State Treasurer. In that same year, he ran and was elected to the Office of Secretary of State and served in that capacity until he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.
Coffman is the only veteran in the Colorado delegation and the only Member of Congress to have served in both the first Gulf War and in the Iraq War. Congressman Coffman represents the 6th Congressional District of Colorado and serves on the Armed Services Committee, the Veteran’s Affairs Committee where he is the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and on the House Committee on Small Business.
Coffman and his wife Cynthia were married in 2005 just before he deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps. Cynthia Coffman was the Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Bill Owens before becoming the Chief Deputy Attorney General for the State of Colorado under Attorney General John Suthers. Coffman attends Faith Presbyterian Church in Aurora with his eighty year-old mother, Dorothy Coffman.
Retweeted by repmikecoffman
Retweeted by repmikecoffman
Retweeted by repmikecoffman
Great picture @ashtonrbelk of our beautiful Capitol! Enjoy.
Retweeted by repmikecoffman
I invite you to follow the 58th Inauguration Day coverage by clicking on the following link. Politics aside, the peaceful transfer of power is
Thanks to everyone who stopped by today and picked up their #InaugurationDay2017 tickets! 🇺🇸#CO06
We are excited to be welcoming #CO06 constituents stopping by to pick up their #Inauguration2017 tickets. 🇺🇸
"This spring, the Taliban will, once again, begin to assemble its forces for the start of the fighting season. The U.S. military must have the
Today, we remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.