Letter to DOJ and BOP about Private Prison Directive
Last Friday, I was joined by five other Members of Congress in asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for detailed answers to questions raised by the DOJ’s August directive to phase out the use of private prisons. Texas 19 is one of several districts that stands to be adversely impacted by this directive, and we need to know how the BOP will implement this change in policy. Local officials have contacted me to express concern for their communities’ future economic security, especially since these private prisons are large employers both in Big Spring and in Garza County.
Both of the prisons in our area with BOP contracts primarily house criminal aliens. In addition to the local economic concerns, this directive also raises national security concerns because it sends the message that law enforcement for criminal aliens is not a priority for the federal government. If the federal government reduces the space currently used to incarcerate criminal aliens, where will these inmates go? While we wait for answers, I encourage the DOJ and the BOP to put this directive on hold. Our communities deserve a thoughtful and justified prison policy, not a policy driven by politics.
Financial Services Committee Approves Financial CHOICE Act
Last Tuesday, the House Financial Services Committee approved the Financial CHOICE Act and voted to report this legislation to the full House of Representatives. I am pleased with the progress our Committee is making on this significant effort to correct the mistakes of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. The Financial CHOICE Act is also a key piece of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” policy plan to help get our economy back on track.
When Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, supporters of that law threw a wet blanket over the economy and tried to regulate banks into stability. Unfortunately, that government-knows-best mentality has not served consumers and community banks well. Subjecting small community banks to the same regulatory framework as big banks has caused more than 1,000 community banks to close or consolidate since 2010. The Dodd-Frank Act also included provisions that had nothing to do with preventing future bail-outs. Notably, it included government price-fixing for debit card swipe fees, known as the Durbin Amendment. When our Committee passed the Financial CHOICE Act last Tuesday, it included my provision to repeal this government price-fixing. Repealing the Durbin Amendment will help consumers and small businesses through renewed market competition and will help community banks offer features such as free checking accounts once again.
Now that we have moved the Financial CHOICE Act through the House Financial Services Committee, I hope we can take the next step and bring this bill before the entire House to advance the regulatory relief Americans deserve.
U.S. Brings Agriculture Trade Case against China
I am very pleased the United States has initiated a new agriculture trade enforcement action against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO). U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that the United States is bringing a case against China to challenge the support China has provided for its own wheat, corn, and rice crops. Like other countries, China agreed to limits on its domestic government support for agriculture when it joined the WTO. However, China has exceeded the limits it agreed to on corn, rice, and wheat by $100 billion in 2015 alone. Excessive government support, such as the market-price support China provides, artificially inflates the prices Chinese producers receive, causing overproduction that keeps out U.S. exports. China’s actions have created an uneven playing field for American producers who are following the rules. Moving forward, I hope U.S. trade officials also pursue enforcement action against unfair Chinese policies that impact other crops, such as cotton.
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) issued the following statement today after sending a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) regarding the DOJ’s August directive to scale back the use of private prison contracts:
"I have many questions surrounding this directive. The DOJ and the BOP have not provided details about how this policy change will be implemented and the impact it will have. I am joined in this letter by five other Members of Congress whose districts, like Texas 19, stand to be heavily and adversely impacted by this decision. Local officials in our districts have expressed their dismay with this new directive and are understandably concerned about the economic security of their communities moving forward. I share their concerns.
“In addition to the impact on jobs and our local governments, this directive also raises questions of potential national security concerns because it sends the message that law enforcement for criminal aliens is not a priority for the federal government. One of the major questions that remains unanswered is where the prisoners currently housed in these private facilities will go.
"I hope to receive swift responses to these questions as we ask the DOJ to give serious consideration to reversing this directive. These contract prisons are the largest employers in many small communities. Our communities, as well as the nation’s taxpayers, deserve a thoughtful and justified prison policy, not a political solution."
H.R. 5063, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act
Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5063, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act. If signed into law, this legislation would close a loophole that has allowed the Obama Administration to bypass the Congressional budget and spending process and funnel money to interest groups of its choosing. H.R. 5063 would stop that practice and ensure money not given directly to victims in settlement of a lawsuit brought by the federal government goes into the Treasury for Congress to decide how to spend.
The Administration’s use of these slush funds has gone on for far too long. An investigation by the House Judiciary Committee found that third-party groups received a half billion dollars from settlements in the past 20 months. Our Founding Fathers created checks and balances to make sure one branch of our government cannot serve its special interests to the detriment of the American people. One of these checks is the Congressional “power of the purse” to decide how federal funds are spent. When the executive branch distributes money without Congressional approval, it circumvents these checks. That’s why I voted for H.R. 5063, and I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.
WASPs Laid to Rest at Arlington National Cemetery
During World War II, Sweetwater, Texas was home to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) training facility. These outstanding women contributed to the war effort in some incredible ways, including flying planes that towed targets for other pilots to practice shooting at and testing newly repaired military aircraft. At the time of their service, they were not considered military personnel. That changed in 1977 when WASPs received retroactive status as veterans, which enabled them to have their ashes interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Unfortunately, Army officials decided to revoke that privilege last year. In response, Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, H.R. 4336, the WASP Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act in May of this year; I was pleased to vote for this bill.
Last week, Elaine Harmon became the first WASP laid to rest in Arlington since we changed the law. Texas 19 was proud to be home to the WASPs during their service, and I have been proud to continue to fight for these wonderful veterans after their service.
Remembering the Heroes of September 11, 2001
Yesterday marked 15 years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. The resulting loss of life in the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York, the partial demolition of the Pentagon, and the crash of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania are still deeply felt across our great nation. Each year on September 11, I reflect on the heroism of Americans. Our heroes have countless stories, ranging from the first responders in New York City, Washington, DC, and those who traveled across the country to help, to the passengers of Flight 93, and to the office workers who helped their colleagues evacuate. Many of these selfless heroes lost their lives that day, and their stories are the ones we pass on to future generations who were either not yet born or were not old enough to remember September 11.
Another thing I think about on September 11 is how much our world has changed since then. National security is no longer something Americans only think about once in a while. Now, national security is something we have to work on every day. We must maintain our resolve to protect our country and leave our children and grandchildren a safer world.Read More
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) released the following statement today mourning the passing of Phyllis Schlafly:
“Dana and I send our sincere condolences to the Schlafly family. It was an honor to have known and been able to work with Phyllis for many years. Her contributions to conservative principles will never be forgotten. A true pioneer of the grassroots movement, she was a tireless advocate for the pro-life community, and she was unabashed about proclaiming the importance of the family. She will be missed.”
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
I know first-hand how incredibly important it is for men to have an annual prostate exam. This exam has saved my life not once, but twice. Detecting cancer as early as possible is the best way to increase your likelihood of successful treatment and survival. Because prostate cancer is one of the cancers that is least likely to show symptoms until it progresses to a more advanced stage, it is very important to make an appointment with your doctor and discuss options for screenings and your individual risk factors. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test that successfully identified my cancer twice is recommended for men starting at age 50 if you have an average cancer risk, according to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Risk factors such as family history of prostate cancer can move that age up.
With September designated as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, it is a good time to talk with your doctor about screening and remind those important to you to do the same.
Better Way Wrap Up
Over the last six weeks, I highlighted the featured themes of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” policy proposals. Often it’s easy to focus on what we are against: big government, high taxes, and the list continues. Under Speaker Ryan’s leadership, House Republicans are making a concerted effort to focus on and draw attention to what we are for and back up those ideas with specific policy solutions. We are for a resilient economy that gives people incentives to pull themselves out of poverty and achieve the American Dream. We are for a strong national defense at home and abroad. We are for a government that works for the people and doesn’t insist on unnecessary regulations that harm small businesses. We are for a simplified tax code that is understandable for individuals and competitive for businesses. We are for a health care system that puts patients in control instead of the government. In laying out real solutions to problems standing in the way of progress for individuals and our country as a whole, my hope is that you understand the policies House Republicans will continue to fight for as Congress returns to session this week.
Labor Day Message
As many people enjoy a day off work in observance of Labor Day, it is a great time to reflect on the many opportunities we have to contribute to our families, communities and our country. I wrote in the Roundup several weeks ago about the ways current federal anti-poverty initiatives do not reward or support workforce participation, but rather discourage work. Americans’ opportunities to find productive and gainful employment have also been under attack from both from external and internal forces. It is important that federal government policies support employers’ ability to create new jobs and enhance jobs already available.
The Department of Labor’s new regulation addressing which workers must be paid overtime is one example of the federal government attacking job opportunities. Small businesses, universities, and others who rely on part-time or flexible employees tell me they will be forced to either scale back hours or eliminate jobs in response to this regulation. Neither of those options helps the employees struggling to make ends meet. Instead, Congress should focus on pro-growth policies that open the workforce to more people, such as improving career education, reducing regulatory burdens and reforming the tax code. I also look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress this fall on options for addressing the damaging overtime regulation.
A Better Way to Improve our Economy
I was asked recently to name one thing I wish I could have changed during my time representing you in Congress. I’ve had a consistent answer to this question: our national debt. Though there are many issues I am passionate about and I have worked hard to address in Congress, I’ve always thought the House of Representatives is in a strong position to control federal government spending. While we have made some progress in recent years when it comes to slowing spending growth and actually making some cuts, our national debt is still rising. The fact that our government continues to implement new programs and allow for more regulations, the cost of which get added to the credit cards of our children and grandchildren, bothers me deeply. It is not sustainable, and it is not conservative.
As part of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” policy proposals, Republican working groups examined and proposed solutions to help grow our economy, which include reforming a regulatory system that already, by itself, represents the world’s ninth largest economy, behind India. If we want to reduce the size of government in order to help reduce spending, we first need to rein in our regulatory state.
Before implementing new regulations, federal agencies should always ask several questions. First, is a state or local solution already in place? Second, is federal action necessary? If so, how can this regulation be made more efficient and effective without becoming overly burdensome, especially for small businesses? If our government agencies studied these key questions and determined the answers before issuing new regulations, we could cut down on a tremendous burden on our economy’s growth and innovation. Another key part of reducing the drag that unnecessary regulations have on our economic growth is implementing a process to review and weed out regulations that are outdated and no longer serve a beneficial purpose. Right now, regulators essentially have a blank check to keep regulations in place indefinitely – and add to them.
The aspect of this plan that I have been most involved in is promoting financial independence and ending the era of “Too Big to Fail.” Recently, the Financial Services Committee released a discussion draft of the Financial CHOICE Act, which incorporates two bills I have introduced. First, it includes my bill, H.R. 1266, to reform the leadership structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from a single director who is not accountable to anyone, to a five-person bipartisan commission. Changing the CFPB structure will ensure a balanced and politically-neutral agenda that puts consumers first. My second bill that is part of the Financial CHOICE Act, H.R. 5465, would repeal debit card swipe fee price-fixing, which is commonly known as the Durbin Amendment. Swipe fees are one of many regulations put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act that the Financial CHOICE Act would roll back in order to re-introduce market competition in the payments system to benefit consumers.
If Congress wants to do more to cut our national debt in order to stop adding to the burden our children and grandchildren will face, it is imperative that we take more steps to reduce regulation and the ever-growing size of government. Some regulation is necessary, but regulation can’t replace the ability of free markets and innovation to grow our economy and ensure it remains strong enough to weather financial hardships.Read More
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) released the following statement today regarding the passing of Nelda Laney:
“Our hearts go out to Pete and the rest of the Laney family on the passing of Nelda Laney, a true treasure of West Texas. She served Texas with honor and distinction. Nelda’s legacy of love will live on through her children and grandchildren, and she will be remembered for her many contributions to the Texas State Capitol, Texas Tech University, and Hale Center. Our state has lost a great Texan, and Dana and I lost a friend.”
Back to School
For much of Texas, this week marks the beginning of the new school year. As children go back to school, summer routines and commutes change for all of us. Please watch for children crossing streets and buses stopping to pick up and drop off students. Remember to slow down as you drive through school zones. Dana and I wish students across the 19th District a safe and healthy start to the new school year. We also thank the teachers, administrators, and school police officers who are welcoming students and their parents back. Your work is so important, and we appreciate your dedication to our students.
Department of Justice’s Decision to Reduce Use of Private Prisons
I have already heard from many residents of the 19th District who are concerned by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to begin phasing out its use of private prisons. Private prisons have provided the needed capacity to house prisoners in the past several years. Before we embark on any major changes to the federal prison system, a comprehensive analysis should be conducted. I will continue to monitor this situation as it develops, and I have already requested additional clarification from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
A Better Way to Manage Health Care
It’s no secret the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, isn’t working for Americans. Not only have many of you not been able to keep the doctor you prefer, but the number of options for health insurance providers has been steadily decreasing. Already this year, UnitedHealth Group announced it would no longer offer individual insurance policies in 26 states next year, including Texas. Now, Aetna says it will drop out of 11 state exchanges and only keep its plans available in four states. When insurance companies pull out of the ACA marketplace, consumers lose choices.
As choices go down, and costs go up under the ACA, it is time for a new approach, or in the words of House Speaker Paul Ryan, it is time for a “Better Way.”
As part of a series of Republican proposals, working groups have identified the shortcomings of our health care system. Some of these problems existed before Obamacare, and the ACA created other problems on its own. The solution is not just repealing the ACA, something I have voted for time and again, although that is a necessary first step. The premise of the solution is simple. We need to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care.
To lower the cost of insurance, increasing competition is vital. We increase competition by giving people more control and more choices. Americans need to be able to pick the health insurance plan that best meets their needs, not Washington’s mandates. When individuals have this control, insurance companies will be forced to compete for their business, not Washington’s approval.
Speaker Ryan’s proposal also calls for protecting Medicare and making the program viable for both our current and future seniors, rather than using Medicare to prop up the ACA. Another important aspect of this plan is encouraging the development of cures and treatments to more known diseases. Only about 500 of the 10,000 known diseases have cures at this time. The challenge of finding new cures calls for innovation and ingenuity, not bureaucracy. Clearing away red tape allows new ideas, life-saving devices, and therapies to be discovered.
A better health care system requires Congress to change how individuals, the government, and health insurance companies interact. It is time to replace the ACA with a system that gives power back to the people.Read More
Proposal for a Better Tax Code
As part of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” series of policy proposals, Republican working groups have identified two major problems with the way our tax system currently works. First and foremost, our tax code is far too complicated. Second, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has lost sight of its mission, helping America's taxpayers understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforcing the law with integrity and fairness.
To address the first problem, the “Better Way” tax proposal would reduce the number of income tax brackets from seven to three. Additionally, the standard deduction would be streamlined and increased to a maximum of $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. The current child exemptions and child tax credit would be consolidated into a total child tax credit of up to $1,500. As a result of these changes and simplifications, many families who currently itemize their deductions could instead complete their taxes on a form about the size of a postcard. Think about that: a postcard-size form instead of pages and pages to complete even the simplest individual tax return.
Speaker Ryan’s plan extends the advantages of a simpler system beyond individual income taxes. Specifically, for small businesses, the plan would cap taxes at 25 percent for sole proprietorships and partnerships. This new rate structure would allow small businesses to grow, invest, and create new jobs in their communities while ensuring they are not taxed more than large corporations. Notably, Republican working groups also called for the elimination of the estate tax, which is one of the biggest threats to farming families hoping to hand down their land to the next generation. Finally, this proposal also advocates lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent, the highest in the developed world, to just 20 percent. A lower corporate tax rate will increase the likelihood of companies keeping their headquarters and jobs in the United States instead of moving overseas.
The internal problems of the IRS are harder to address concretely from the Congressional standpoint because many of the problems stem from the culture of the agency itself. However, working groups identified some specific proposals to help shift the internal IRS culture and put taxpayers first. One of the best ways to protect taxpayers is to ensure the IRS is upholding the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Furthermore, updating and prioritizing the security of the IRS systems that handle sensitive taxpayer information is vital.
The most direct proposal to change the culture of the IRS is to simply streamline customer service into specialized units based on the type of service provided, rather than the current overarching customer service department, which serves all IRS divisions. Changing the IRS’ internal problems has already been a focus for Congress this year, with the House passing four bills to address some of the most serious issues. This includes H.R. 1206, No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act, which would prevent the IRS from hiring people who are delinquent on their taxes.
Our complex tax code and the IRS’ notoriously poor customer service have come to make Americans dread each approaching tax season. It is time to find a better way to approach taxation, one that works with the American economy and the American people, not against them.Read More
Military Academy Applications Due October 1st
One of the greatest honors I have as a Member of Congress is nominating young men and women to our nation’s service academies. The 19th District of Texas has a long history of sending some of our best and brightest to receive an excellent education and serve our nation. Any student interested in applying to one of the service academies should first consult their parents and high school counselor. This year, all applications must be submitted by October 1, 2016. You can access the application here.
A Better Way to Keep America Safe and Free
National security is an issue on everyone’s mind these days. With terror attacks taking place all around the world, growing instability in Iraq and Syria, and Iran’s continued nuclear program, Americans are wondering how we can best protect ourselves. As the third installment in my series examining House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “Better Way” proposals, I will be looking at the plan for improving our national security.
Earlier this year, I traveled through Europe and the Middle East with four other Members of Congress. The mission of our trip was to meet with military leaders and heads of state, gaining their perspectives on the threats in the world today. During that trip, I had the opportunity to visit a refugee camp in Jordan. Bordered by Syria, Iraq, and the West Bank, Jordan has battled to keep its borders secure while thousands of refugees pour out of Syria. Witnessing the region’s conflicts first-hand made it clear to me that more action is needed to defeat ISIS.
As part of the Speaker’s national security proposal, Republican working groups suggested adopting a wartime mentality when approaching the fight against terrorism. Unlike current policy, this would keep all options on the table. Broadcasting to our enemies that there are tactics we will not use against them endangers our military and gives our enemies an advantage. We cannot give terrorists any leverage as we seek to stop their attacks and restore stability to areas that have plunged into chaos.
Equally important is protecting our homeland. I have long advocated for securing our borders as the first step in fixing our broken immigration system. If we do not know who is coming into our country, we will always be at risk. Those entering could potentially strike at us from within. We must gain a better awareness of what is happening along our borders and adapt to confront and control the threats.
Effective use of technology is one of the best ways to detect, deter, and respond to emerging threats. However, if we do not make network security a priority, technology can also become a big vulnerability. Strengthening information sharing among government agencies, the private sector, and our allies will help us improve our response to threats both at home and abroad.
The balance of providing security without restricting freedom will always be a delicate one. I believe the solutions offered in the Speaker’s plan to reform our national defense capabilities also emphasize individual rights and due process. Our intelligence procedures have improved, but it is imperative we remain vigilant to protect the safety, security, and freedom of the United States of America.Read More
1424 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Randy Neugebauer proudly represents the 19th Congressional District of Texas, which stretches across 29 counties. He has offices in the cities of Abilene, Big Spring and Lubbock.
As one of the most conservative Members of Congress, Randy works to keep Washington accountable to hardworking American taxpayers by requiring commonsense spending and borrowing limits.
Randy was raised in West Texas, and he is a voice for traditional Texan values in Washington. Randy graduated from Texas Tech in 1972 with a degree in accounting. He went on to work in real estate management, eventually starting his own land development company.
As a small business owner, Randy knows first-hand the dedication and commitment it takes to own and manage a successful company. He also knows how government regulations can quickly deplete the resources of a small business, causing hard times for families and communities. Randy brings this businessman’s perspective to Congress where he advocates for reduced spending, fiscal discipline, free markets, and limited government.
Randy serves on three committees in the House of Representatives, where he can work on legislation that directly benefits his constituents. He is a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee and the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Additionally, he serves as the Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance.
As Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Chairman, he’s working to reform the housing market, cut regulatory burdens, and shift risk away from American taxpayers and back into the private sector.
Randy’s legislative initiatives include eliminating wasteful federal spending, improving crop insurance, and supporting diverse domestic energy sources. He continues to work on legislation that will empower the constituents of the 19th Congressional District.
Randy’s support of conservative principles has been recognized by many groups and organizations. He has received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award, the Club for Growth Defender of Economic Freedom Award, and the Taxpayer’s Friend Award from the National Taxpayers Union. He has earned a 100% lifetime rating by National Right to Life. He has been recognized by National Journal as one of the six most conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, Randy serves as an Assistant Republican Whip to House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy.
Randy is married to his high school sweetheart, Dana, who is a Ropesville native. Together they have two sons, two daughters-in-law, and are the proud grandparents of three boys and one girl.
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American consumers are losers when gov fixes costs to help “rent-seekers.” See my op-ed on repeal of Durbin amendmnt https://t.co/Ha7yvgOaIY
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Proud to stand united with my House colleagues this morning to honor those lost on 9/11. We will never forget. https://t.co/hftjSW2Cox
Great speaking to National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) this morning.
I can't think of a better home for the new B-21 Bomber "Raider" than the midst of Red Raider country. Hopeful that Dyess Air Force Base and Abilene
Thankful for this document every day, which established the greatest form of government in the world. #ConstitutionDay2016
Today, we are analyzing, discussing, and considering changes to the Financial CHOICE Act in the Financial Services Committee markup hearing.
Proud to stand united with my House colleagues this morning to honor those lost on 9/11. We will never forget.