Opening the William B. Crooker Memorial Highway near Big Spring
I was honored to join state and local officials last week at the successful opening of the William B. Crooker Memorial Highway. The highway provides a much-needed relief route to reduce heavy truck traffic through downtown Big Spring while still providing easy access to the community. The opening ceremony was organized by the Texas Department of Transportation and the Big Spring Chamber of Commerce. I had the privilege of presenting a flag flown over the United States Capitol to Joyce Crooker, widow of the late William Crooker. I knew Bill Crooker long before I became a Congressman – back when I served as the first president of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance, and Bill was a board member. Bill was such an advocate for this relief route and all of Howard County, so it is only fitting that this road carries his name.
Examining the Republican Plan to Better Uphold our Constitution
Over the past several weeks, House Speaker Paul Ryan introduced a series of six policy platforms that came out of Republican congressional working groups. He calls these platforms “A Better Way.” I will be examining each of these six initiatives more in-depth over the next several weeks. This week, I am starting with ideas to uphold our Constitution.
Our founders created three equal branches of government in our Constitution because they understood that checks and balances would protect our freedoms and prevent the federal government from having too much authority. Unfortunately, over the last several decades, the balance of power has tipped toward the executive branch.
The House has already passed one proposal, which I highlighted in the Roundup last week, to correct this power shift. The “Chevron deference” can cause our courts to defer to the executive branch’s interpretation of rules and regulations. If H.R. 4768, the Separation of Powers Restoration Act, becomes law, it would repeal the “Chevron deference” and help re-balance power between the three branches of government.
Another way we can uphold our Constitution is by rolling back the ability of executive branch agencies to unilaterally issue major regulations. In some instances, Congress is to blame for writing laws that give federal agencies broad authority. However, often the executive branch acts alone and stretches the law far beyond its original intent. Requiring Congressional approval of major regulations would add another check on the power of the executive branch. In fact, if this extra check had been in place throughout the Obama Administration, Congress would have had a say in an average of 81 more regulations each year.
I firmly believe the best way Congress can uphold the Constitution is by taking back control of the budget and spending process. Right now, because of the complexity of the budget process and barriers between House and Senate procedures, Congress has failed, year after year, to carry out our basic budgetary responsibility. Congress cannot exercise its power of the purse when our process for doing so has broken down. We need to change the system and hold Congress and the Administration accountable for the $19 trillion in debt Americans are facing.
If we implemented just these three aspects of Speaker Ryan’s plan, Congress would take significant steps towards equalizing the balance of power between the three branches of government. For more information and the specifics of this plan, see Speaker Ryan’s paper on how we can work to uphold our Constitution.Read More
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Chairman of the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee, delivered the following opening statement – as prepared for delivery – at today’s hearing entitled “Examining the Opportunities and Challenges with Financial Technology (“FinTech”): The Development of Online Marketplace Lending.” This hearing will examine emerging technology and its impacts on the future of banking:
“Today’s hearing - focused on the development of online marketplace lending - is the first in a series of hearings on financial technology, or ‘FinTech,’ that I plan to convene in this subcommittee.
“Online marketplace lending, sometimes referred to as peer-to-peer lending, has developed rapidly over the last decade. Leveraging technology, new lending platforms and underwriting algorithms, marketplace lenders have provided expanded avenues of credit for consumers and small businesses alike.
“At the most basic level, online marketplace lenders provide borrowers with faster access to credit than brick-and-mortar lenders, at loan levels traditionally not offered by banks. These lenders process these loans using online applications and automated underwriting that often allow funding decisions in less than 72 hours.
“Many consumer–focused lenders specialize in certain segments of lending such as education loans, debt consolidation, or personal loans.
“Small business lenders are able to work with businesses to address cash flow issues and provide capital for growth and expansion projects. This type of financing is especially important given the depressed small-dollar, small business lending environment since the financial crisis.
“While currently only a fraction of the $3.5 trillion in existing consumer debt, marketplace lending shows signs of tremendous growth potential and identifiable challenges.
“Over the last year, we have seen growing attention paid to this market by federal regulators, the media, and other market participants. For example, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Treasury Department have considered the appropriate federal regulatory framework for these lenders. One proposal being considered would offer a limited-national banking charter that could provide operational efficiency and regulatory clarity.
“To date, I have appreciated the measured and thoughtful approach taken by the OCC and Treasury on this issue.
“Banks have grappled with questions surrounding competitiveness and partnership. Some have been quick to point to an uneven regulatory structure, while others have embraced the opportunity to partner with lenders to leverage their technology and consumer reach.
“I am hopeful that our community financial institutions will benefit most from these technological advancements and partnerships.
“Market analysts and the media have closely examined and scrutinized the market’s development, and anticipated where new growth or consolidation might occur. For example, there has been a significant shift from retail investor funding to institutional investor funding, which has facilitated the growth in originations. Some analysts estimate the market will reach $90 billion in originations by 2020.
“The improvement of the capital markets is also seen in the securitization process. The market saw its first securitization in 2013. As of today, there have been cumulative securitizations of $10.3 billion.
“On the other hand, a 2016 report from Deloitte predicts the future of the market will see large consolidations and strategic partnerships with traditional banks. To make better policy decisions, it is incumbent upon us to:
“Today, I hope members walk away with a better understanding of the market, its participants, and where we are headed.”
Tragic Shooting in Dallas, Texas
Dana and I were horrified by the tragic shooting of police officers in Dallas last week. Our men and women in uniform willingly put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. We will continue to pray for the families of those killed in Dallas and for the speedy recovery of those injured. We appreciate law enforcement across the country and thank them for the sacrifices they make every day. There has been far too much violence and loss of life across America in recent weeks. Even when we disagree on how best to deter it, we cannot allow continued violence to divide our nation.
Supporting Increased Access to Mental Health Services
Last week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. I was proud to support this bill. H.R. 2646 improves services for those battling mental health disorders by strengthening existing federal grant programs for mental health treatment, prevention, and research. This bill requires each state to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that mental health efforts are coordinated across the nation. H.R. 2646 also clarifies existing law by allowing health care providers to communicate with a patient’s family and with law enforcement if a patient poses a serious threat of harm to themselves or others. I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to take up similar legislation so we can better support those who need help the most.
FBI Director Comey Testifies on Hillary Clinton’s Private Emails
Last week, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey announced his recommendation that Hillary Clinton should face no charges for using a private email server to access classified information. Director Comey testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Mrs. Clinton was “extremely careless” with her email and stated that other employees might have been fired for the same actions. No one should be above the law. In response, I have written a letter with several other Members of Congress asking Director Comey for more answers. Congress will continue to review Mrs. Clinton’s actions this week when U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.
Presenting Medals to Veterans in Lubbock
Last week, I had the honor of presenting two District 19 veterans with their medals in a ceremony that was long overdue. Sergeant First Class Jessie Rendon received the Bronze Star for heroism while serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. On March 1, 1969, SFC Rendon was directing the evacuation of his company as they came under fire from an enemy force. He exposed himself to hostile fire while assisting fallen comrades to safety, completely disregarding his own personal welfare. His medal had been mailed to his home and was never formally presented before last week’s ceremony.
Aviation Radioman Second Class Andrew Winnegar served during World War II from 1942 to 1946 in the U.S. Navy. At the ceremony, he received the Honorable Service Lapel Pin, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Good Conduct Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal. In fact, 91-year-old Winnegar only missed out on the Purple Heart Medal because he declined medical treatment after he was hit by shrapnel from a Japanese shell on one of his 66 missions aboard the U.S.S. White Plains.
The ceremony took place in Lubbock’s Silent Wings Museum and was organized in part by Larry Williams with the South Plains Honor Flight. In the below picture from the event, SFC Jessie Rendon is on the left, and ARM2c Andy Winnegar is on the right.
U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Texas’ Law Regulating Abortion Facilities
I was very disappointed the United States Supreme Court struck down Texas’ law requiring abortion facilities to maintain surgical levels of cleanliness and requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital. The Texas law was straightforward and seemed intuitive – making sure that facilities offering surgical abortions were up to the same cleanliness standards as other surgical facilities and that the doctor closest to the situation had admitting privileges and could ensure the continuity of care should something go wrong. However, despite this disappointing decision, please be assured I will continue working to advance pro-life policies that support both mothers and unborn children.
Happy Independence Day
Dana and I are blessed to spend this 4th of July with our family and friends in the greatest country in the world. It was truly a spectacular commitment the signers of the Declaration of Independence made on July 4, 1776. Today, 240 years later, we should take this opportunity to renew our commitment to the standards set by our founding fathers. I hope you have a chance to gather with others in your community to reflect on the amazing experiment in representative government of which we are all a part. May God bless Texas, and may He continue to bless the United States of America.
Supreme Court Upholds Decision Blocking Immigration Executive Order
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a 4-4 split on the case of Texas’ challenge to President Obama’s 2014 executive order on immigration. That executive order sought to grant legal status to certain immigrants here illegally. The split decision of the high court defaults back to the decision of the lower court, which blocked the President’s executive order. This is a win for the Constitution. Despite the fact that President Obama does not have the authority to unilaterally change immigration law, something he has acknowledged multiple times, he nevertheless attempted to do so by issuing this executive order. Instead of constructively conversing on the issue of immigration and working to fix our current system, President Obama diverted resources and attention toward a policy that the American people have openly rejected. I am pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling and I look forward to a renewed focus on ways to secure our border and repair our immigration system.
Introduction of the Financial CHOICE Act
The House Financial Services Committee introduced a draft of the Financial Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs (CHOICE) Act last week. This legislation aims to replace the disastrous Dodd-Frank Act that was enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Unfortunately, the Dodd-Frank Act was rushed into law by the Democrat-controlled Congress without studying the real causes of the financial crisis. Instead, they threw a wet blanket over the financial markets, which has led to a vast quantity of new regulations that banks of all sizes are forced to follow.
This is hurting our community banks a lot more than the big banks. In drafting the Financial CHOICE Act, the House Financial Services Committee really tried to examine what’s going wrong and why our smaller banks are being pushed out of the market. We have found solutions that make sure our financial institutions are resilient and stable, but not being micromanaged by Washington.
I am pleased that some of the reforms the Financial CHOICE Act incorporates are pieces of legislation that I have previously introduced, such as H.R. 1266. H.R. 1266 would head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) with a five-person, bipartisan commission, instead of a single bureaucrat that is not accountable to Congress or the President. Also incorporated is my recently introduced legislation, H.R. 5465, which would repeal the debit card swipe fee price caps that were instituted under the Dodd-Frank Act’s Durbin Amendment. While the Durbin Amendment was intended to help consumers, it actually ended up artificially removing competition and innovation from the payments system. Americans do not need a government-knows-best approach to handle their finances. Instead, they need a competitive marketplace where they are free to choose the best products to meet their needs – they need legislation like the Financial CHOICE Act.
House Democrats Stage a Sit-In Demanding Gun Control Legislation
I was disappointed last week to see the House Democrats use a publicity stunt to divert attention from the real issue we need to be focused on in the wake of the Orlando attack – terrorism. Instead of proposals to take away the Constitutional rights of individuals, both the right to bear arms and the right of due process, we should be pressuring the Obama Administration to introduce a cohesive plan to combat terrorism, both at home and around the world.
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) released the following statement after the introduction of a discussion draft of the Financial CHOICE (Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs) Act:
“There are principles incorporated into the Financial CHOICE Act that will make a positive impact on the lives of every American consumer. This legislation would create an environment in which competition and consumer choice can rule the markets instead of the government picking winners and losers. This is done in part through high capital requirements that make financial institutions more resilient and stable. In return for these higher capital requirements, financial institutions would be subject to much lower government involvement. This ensures that the American people are protected, but that banks are not being micromanaged from Washington.
“I applaud the hard work that has been done to make the Financial CHOICE Act a viable alternative to the disastrous Dodd-Frank Act. In the wake of the financial crisis, the Democrat-controlled Congress did not adequately study the causes of the crisis and instead rushed to throw a wet blanket over our financial markets. I am proud of the work Chairman Hensarling and our Committee have done over the last several years to bring forth a strong vision for financial regulation. The Financial CHOICE Act is based on a structure that can be tested and measured. It provides all market participants with a transparent and fair structure in which to do business. I appreciate that it already has the support of many community financial institutions and leading scholars.
“Finally, I am pleased the Financial CHOICE Act incorporates two of my legislative priorities – CFPB leadership reform and the repeal of debit swipe fee price caps. H.R. 1266, which institutes a five person, bipartisan commission to lead the CFPB, will ensure a balanced and politically-neutral agency that works for consumers. H.R. 5465, which repeals debit swipe fee price caps, commonly known as the Durbin Amendment, will ensure that consumers get the benefit of a competitive and innovative payments system.
“Americans do not need a government-knows-best approach to handle their finances. Americans need a competitive marketplace where they are free to choose the best products to meet their needs – they need legislation like the Financial CHOICE Act that frees smaller financial institutions to compete and innovate for consumers.”
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) released the following statement today after it was announced that the United Kingdom had voted to exit the European Union, an event referred to as Brexit:
“The British people have spoken. The voting process is one that we, as American citizens, cherish and profoundly respect. I look forward to a continuation of the special relationship the United States shares with the United Kingdom. Our close alliance should not be impacted by this decision.”
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) today welcomed Zoe Fuqua, a senior from Sweetwater High School and the winner of the 2016 Congressional Art Competition for the 19th District of Texas, to the United States Capitol to see her artwork in its home for the next year.
“The 19th District is an extraordinary place with extraordinary people. I was blown away by the talent of the high school students who submitted entries for this year’s Congressional Art Competition. It takes hard work to cultivate natural ability, and I appreciated every piece that was submitted,” Rep. Neugebauer said.
“I especially want to congratulate our winner, Zoe Fuqua, on her artwork entitled Texas Sun. I look forward to seeing it often as I walk through the Capitol. It was especially nice to have the privilege of seeing the artwork with the artist today as she came to Washington, DC to be honored for her accomplishment.”
Zoe’s piece will be on display in the Cannon Tunnel in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC until May of 2017.
WASHINGTON – Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) released the following statement today in response to the United States Supreme Court’s 4-4 split ruling on President Obama’s executive order on immigration, which upholds a lower court’s ruling to block the 2014 order granting legal status to certain immigrants here illegally:
“Today’s ruling is a win for the Constitution. Despite the fact that President Obama does not have the authority to unilaterally change immigration law, he nevertheless attempted to do so by issuing an executive order. This was a clear instance of the Executive Branch seeking to legislate. Creating laws is the purview of Congress. Instead of constructively adding to the conversation on immigration and working toward fixing our broken system, President Obama’s action diverted resources and attention to a policy that the American people rejected. I am pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling today, and I look forward to a renewed focus on ways to secure our border and repair the immigration system.”
Introduction of Legislation to Reinstate Innovation and Competition
Last week, I introduced H.R. 5465, legislation to repeal another part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that is not working as promised. H.R. 5465 would do away with a section of law often referred to as the Durbin Amendment, which has proven to be an egregious example of the federal government picking winners and losers. Prior to Dodd-Frank, merchants, banks, and payment networks were free to negotiate and enter into contractual relationships to set certain fees for processing debit card transactions. The Durbin Amendment was enacted under the guise that it would provide significant savings that merchants would then pass along to consumers.
Unfortunately, several recent studies, including one by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, have shown that consumers are not getting those savings. Instead, an estimated $30 billion, has simply been shifted from one industry to another, which not only discourages innovation, but also free market competition among payment providers. This government pricing regulation especially harms small businesses and those with a high volume of small-dollar transactions, since these price caps still apply. How often do you see signs posted with a minimum purchase amount in order to use your debit card to complete a transaction? Not only are consumers not seeing the savings, many are also paying the price through loss of services such as free checking accounts and higher fees. With the government picking winners and losers, we lose innovation and competition, the drivers of success in the free market economy we strive to maintain. For these reasons, I introduced this legislation to repeal the Durbin Amendment and reinstate beneficial free market values in this sector.
Solutions for Economic Growth and Government Reform
In a continuing effort to introduce solutions for the problems facing the nation in order to make sure the American people understand what we stand for, House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled two more plans from the House working groups that have been meeting over the last several months. Last week started with an economic growth plan that included major aspects of legislation the Financial Services Committee, on which I serve, laid out earlier this month. One of the key components of this growth plan is to offer an alternative to the Dodd-Frank Act, including ending the prospect of bailouts and the concept of “Too Big to Fail.” Rather than holding out the promise that the government will step in to stop a failure, our plan would require banks to hold more money in reserve through higher capital requirements, which would help eliminate the risks posed by larger institutions. This change is accompanied by a move to smarter and more tailored regulations. While some large financial institutions might find the higher capital requirements too burdensome, it is important to point out the trade off – getting the government out of the board room. On the other hand, smaller banks, and the majority of banks in our district, are well positioned to take advantage of these capital levels and significant regulatory relief.
Speaker Ryan also introduced a plan for government reform that focused on restoring the separation of powers. Throughout my time in Congress, I have been working toward making the government smaller and keeping the bureaucracy from encroaching more and more into our everyday lives. As this plan says, Congress has got to be clearer in the language it uses when writing bills. One of the keys to making sure laws are carried out as Congress intends is designating distinct lines of authority when directing agencies to implement a law. Furthermore, regulations proposed by those agencies should be summarized in plain, understandable language and the approval procedure should change so that major regulations must be approved by Congress, adding another check to bureaucratic regulatory power.
I appreciate that both of these most recent proposals have themes of transparency, limited government, and simplification. Government should empower Americans to grow the economy, not hold back their progress and innovation.
Texas Tech Baseball in the College World Series
I congratulate Texas Tech University, my alma mater, for making it to the Baseball College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Though I was sorry to see them lose their first game over the weekend to Texas Christian University, I was proud of the Red Raiders for being one of only eight teams to make it to the series. I look forward to watching their next game against Florida tomorrow.
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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Pleased to be joined by Jim Purcell of Big Spring at a hearing on choices in financial services. Watch it live here: https://t.co/sQJHy2bV1x
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Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the lesser prairie-chicken has been officially removed from the list of threatened animals
I convened a Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee hearing on Financial Technology, or “FinTech” – see my opening statement:
Pleased to be joined by Jim Purcell of State National Bank of Big Spring at a hearing on choices in financial services. Watch it live here: http://financialservices.house.gov/
Happy Birthday Abilene Zoo! Looking forward to 50 more wonderful years in West Texas.
Dana and I are sending our thoughts and prayers to Dallas today. Our men and women in uniform willingly put themselves in harm’s way to keep