Rich Nugent

Rich Nugent

FLORIDA's 11th DISTRICT

SitREP - October 17th, 2014

2014/10/17

Dear Friends,Just a quick update on where things stand with the Ebola outbreak – Yesterday, after a week of pondering whether to have a single person coordinating the government’s response to the outbreak, President Obama appointed Vice President Biden’s former chief of staff to be in charge. I don’t know much about him other than that he also served as former Vice President Gore’s chief of staff. And he’s described in the press as a well-respected “Democrat operative” with no medical or healthcare background. I certainly don’t envy the President’s situation here, but dithering for weeks over a question of having a single person running the show and then settling on this gentleman doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.Also on the Ebola front – the House Energy and Commerce Committee convened in Washington this week to meet with the Director of the CDC. Members on both sides of the aisle had some tough, but obviously fair, questions for him.The CDC has been speaking confidently for weeks that we would “stop Ebola in its tracks”. As I said previously, I have a lot of faith in our doctors and nurses in this country. But that’s only helpful when the basic common-sense stuff is taken care of. If a guy comes into the E.R. with a high fever saying he’s just arrived from Liberia, you don’t send him home. You don’t let the ambulance he rode in continue servicing other patients.And then… (after one nurse who treated that patient has already been diagnosed with Ebola) you don’t tell the second nurse with a fever that she’s ok to fly. I don’t care if its a 99.5 degree fever and not the 100.4 degree fever that your regulations tell you is required for additional screening. That’s insanity. And it’s putting people’s lives at risk. As a former law enforcement official and not an epidemiologist, I am always going to be inclined to trust the professionals. I wouldn’t appreciate a healthcare official questioning law enforcement decisions we made in real-time. But it reaches a point when you just have to ask… Like if we had a bank robbery in progress and the guy with the mask comes out and asks if it’s ok to head over to the bank across the street. A reasonable law enforcement response to that would absolutely not include: “According to our regulations, the mask you’re wearing does not meet the definition threshold required for us to be concerned about it. So go head. Just please make sure you look both ways before you cross the street.”It’s crazy. But that’s the kind of response we’ve seen so far out of the CDC.Also in the news, we’ve got several thousand troops already on the ground in Africa and the President just issued an executive order paving the way for National Guard troops to be called up. According to reports, our men and women on the ground have been working to create some basic infrastructure to treat healthcare professionals over there who have been getting infected. The situation on the ground is dire. There is no doubt about it. Electricity is intermittent at best. Basic plumbing doesn’t work. There are precious few supplies and nowhere near enough doctors. And that was before the crisis began. Right now, there are roughly 5,000 dead due to Ebola. The World Health Organization (WHO), which has had people on the ground since the beginning is predicting that without international help, they’ll be looking at 10,000 new cases each week by the end of the year. Diseases like this grow exponentially. So when it’s a small outbreak, every day counts in trying to contain it. Once it reaches a certain point, it just explodes. And in my opinion, that kind of growth represents a threat – not just to our national security, but to the entire globe. What I’m concerned about immediately though, is that if we’ve got nurses in the United States with everything working in their favor still getting infected on the job, what kinds of precautions are being taken for our personnel on the ground in these countries? What kind of support are we getting from our European allies? And what do we expect to accomplish and by when? The word is that our troops have been on the ground for a month already and not even one of the seventeen planned facilities is complete. Needless to say, having had a son deployed to Africa just a few months ago during the outbreak (safely back home now), I am watching the situation very closely. Last but not least, we have the debate over the travel ban. Officials from all over the political spectrum, includingyour writer, have called for a ban on travel from those countries to the United States. If a U.S. citizen needs to get home, that’s a different story, but as for anybody else… we just can’t take that risk when our system isn’t functioning nearly as well as it should be.Opponents of the ban (including the CDC Director) say they are concerned that it could make the situation worse by preventing supplies and medical personnel into the affected countries. And they also say there is no way to track the origin of people who don’t buy a single flight to the U.S. or travel to another country before flying to the U.S. Let me just say that if our Customs officials in the U.S. can’t figure out how to check travel visa stamps in a pinch, we’ve got bigger problems than Ebola. And I’ll also need a little more explanation on why preventing people from entering the United States is going to impede food aid making it into Liberia. In any case, the administration has a lot of explaining to do – both on what’s happened so far and more importantly, what we’re doing in the weeks and months ahead. For right now, it’s an unmitigated mess and the American people are continuing to lose faith. Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SiTREP - October 4th, 2014

2014/10/04

Couple of quick updates this week:First, on the Ebola question. As I’m sure you’ve seen by now, the U.S. has its first confirmed case of Ebola within our borders. As I’m sure you’ve also seen, the man traveled from Liberia, told a nurse at the hospital where he’d come from and told her what symptoms he was experiencing. Because of some failure, perhaps reportedly a record-keeping failure, medical staff sent him home with an antibiotic. They’re working double-time to figure out how many people he may have had contact with. Needless to say, epidemics grow at an exponential rate and trapping them early is critical. We had a conference call on Thursday with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta about the situation. CDC has been providing guidance to hospitals since August on how to spot potential Ebola patients and what protocols should be taken in the event that one should turn up. Those protocols haven’t exactly been followed. I have drafted an official inquiry to the head of the CDC and to the White House asking some specific follow up questions on both the protocols in place and what their reasoning is regarding travel bans from affected countries. I imagine a number of my colleagues will join me in that effort and I will keep you posted as it develops.For now, suffice it to say that while there is a huge difference between our health system in America and the health system in Sierra Leone, it doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels. Given the inherent threat we face from global pandemics (and the desire of our enemies to launch a biological attack here), the government’s response to a slow-moving threat like Ebola needs to be flawless. So far, I’m not convinced.I should have more to report on that next week.In the meantime, I wanted to give you an update on Iraq and Syria. This will get a little bit into the constitutional weeds, but please bear with me. It’s important.In our system of government, war is a shared responsibility between the Executive and Congress. From the very beginning, America’s Founding Fathers recognized that for efficiency’s sake, the Commander-in-Chief would need a good deal of flexibility on the actual prosecution of war. That is to say, they didn’t think Congress should conduct war by committee. They did not, however, want the Commander-in-Chief to be able to declare war all by himself. The Founders rightly felt the nation should have a debate and ultimately decide for itself weather or not to commit its sons and daughters to war. So, they left that power to Congress. It’s a delicate but important balance. In response to the slow escalation and even slower withdrawal from Vietnam, Congress realized that it needed to assert itself more in preventing such a conflict from ‘accidentally’ happening again without Congress’ explicit authorization. The solution was the War Powers Act of 1973. It had to pass with a two-thirds majority in order to overcome a presidential veto (Presidents like their power).In short, the War Powers Act says (and I’m paraphrasing here) the President is authorized to respond in the event of an emergency where there is a clear threat to national security, but only for sixty days. If Congress does not provide explicit authorization for military action within that sixty-day period, the President then has an additional thirty days to remove U.S. forces and cease all military action. Bottom line - absent Congressional authorization, the President can only conduct military operations for a maximum of ninety days without breaking the law. Last month, President Obama sent Congress a letter, pursuant to the War Powers Act, officially notifying us that he had begun conducting airstrikes in Iraq. That letter (or more precisely the airstrikes themselves) started the sixty-day clock. One thing that’s important to note - in both the case of Libya a couple years ago and in the case of Syrian airstrikes now, the President never provided that official notification.I may be old-fashioned, but in the case of Libya, I did not feel that the President had proper authorization to proceed and I argued loudly that Congress should stand up for its constitutional rights and check him. In that case, hostilities ceased quickly and the issue pretty well subsided. But in the case of Syria, the airstrikes will almost certainly continue for some time. It’s time we have that discussion. Without getting into any classified details, it’s important to know from the start that Syrian air defenses are Russian-made systems. They are not old rinky-dink air defenses. They are sophisticated and they are dangerous to our pilots. These airstrikes are not without risk. Furthermore, no matter how much we may detest President Assad, Syria is a sovereign nation. Where I come from, launching missiles into somebody’s backyard constitutes an act of war. Therefore, I believe that the President has the constitutional responsibility to request proper authorization from Congress. He has started a war with ISIL and technically speaking – he has started a war with Syria. That’s a big deal and Congress has the constitutional responsibility to insist on a request for authorization by the President. It then has a responsibility to consider it.While many of us question the effectiveness of a long-term strategy relying on airstrikes in Syria, polls suggest the country is largely supportive of those strike. So, in other words, this isn’t just about the airstrikes themselves. Frankly, the President probably won’t have much trouble gaining the authorization once he requests it. But to treat the process of submitting a presidential request, debating it in Congress, and holding an up-or-down vote as an unnecessary formality is treating the Constitution itself as an unnecessary formality - no longer needed in a modern-day world. I think that is a complete and utter abdication of duty and Congress needs to step up to the plate. The simple fact that a military action is popular does not mean we should just shrug as a nation and fail to deliberate properly as our Constitution demands. If we don’t take that step, then future presidents can use this as a precedent to expand their war powers beyond what the Founders intended. Fundamentally, when it comes to a question of war and peace and the life and death of our service members, we owe it to ourselves, to those who came before us, and to future generations of Americans to have a debate, to have a vote, and to commit the use of military force with our eyes wide open. Anything short of that betrays the trust that our Founding Fathers placed in us. It might take a few hours, and a bunch of politicians may have to actually put themselves on the record, but in the final analysis, is it not worth that trouble? Do we not owe that much to the people who risked and lost everything just to give us that right? I think we do. And I’m doing more than just talking about it. More on that next week…  Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SiTREP - September 19th, 2014

2014/09/19

As I am sure you saw this week, Congress voted to authorize the Department of Defense to train and equip “vetted” Syrian rebels. What many people may have missed is that Congress did not vote on the question of whether or not to authorize the President to continue airstrikes in Iraq. In general, as a matter of constitutional power, the President cannot declare war or embark on a war without the explicit authorization of Congress. As a response to Vietnam, Congress passed into law a bill known as the “War Powers Resolution”. In the simplest terms, the War Powers Resolution recognizes that in certain cases, a president may need to act swiftly to defend American interests. Consequently, under the law, if the President elects to commence with military action, he is required to notify Congress of that action. That starts a clock. The President is permitted to conduct operations for sixty days. If Congress does not vote to authorize further action, the President has thirty more days to cease military action and withdraw our forces. At any point during that sixty-day period, Congress can vote to end military action immediately. It’s generally a pretty good compromise that preserves the proper constitutional roles of the two branches… so long as Congress chooses to enforce it.In the case of Libya, the President chose not to provide Congress with official notice (starting the clock), nor did he feel like he needed to abide by the clock when some members of Congress (myself included) spoke out saying he was required to. In any case, the air campaign ended relatively quickly and the issue receded from people’s minds. I haven’t forgotten it.So when Congress received a letter from the President officially noticing that, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, he had started the clock on military action in Iraq, I was both surprised and encouraged. Here was an opportunity to do this the right way. Surely Congress would take advantage of this constitutional “olive branch” and fulfill its end of the bargain. So imagine my dismay when word came down from on high that Congress would be passing on the opportunity to vote on the airstrike authorization. Congress it seems, believes the President already has the authority to conduct those strikes. Now, so does the Presdient.I do not believe that is the case. In my opinion, matters of war (and the power to declare and prosecute war) are one of the most fundamentally important issues a nation must wrestle with. To simply shrug and allow a President to pursue a war without the proper authorization creates a dangerous precedent. The fact that the specific military action is popular (or not) does not absolve us of our constitutional responsibilities.This is all a very long way of saying that I was extremely disappointed that Congress decided to take a pass on addressing the War Powers issue. As a more specific policy question, I also have serious reservations about arming these so-called “vetted” opposition groups. To be clear, it is extremely hard once these weapons and tactics go out the door to track them or control them. We know very well that some members of the Free Syrian Army have defected to ISIL. We know that an al-Qaeda affiliate is also heavily involved in the fighting. We’ve spent billions and billions of dollars training and equipping the Iraqi Army. When they abandoned their posts in the fight against ISIL, the terrorists were all too happy to collect those very weapons. I live every day with the reality that any decisions I make regarding war policy may very well affect my own sons. That fact makes it easier to stay focused on the reality that the decisions we make regarding war policy affect the sons and daughters of Americans all across this country. As I have told a number of my colleagues this week, the strategy that the President has laid out would make a wonderful thesis paper for somebody’s masters degree. But when that “thesis” is projected onto the ground in Iraq and Syria, the realities don’t support the theory. The President has proclaimed that the Iraqis have now formed an “inclusive government”. The obvious implication he’s making is that the minority Sunnis in the Iraqi military will now stand shoulder to shoulder with their Shiite brothers and fight ISIL head on. The same goes for the “coalition” he is building with a variety of partners in the region. The Saudis have offered to host the Syrian rebels for training, but have not agreed to send troops to battle ISIL. Turkey has pledged “support” but won’t allow us to use their bases to conduct our airstrikes. This is the reality on the ground.I see this arming and training proposal as a dangerous half-measure. The idea that we can take months (or years) to train up an indigenous fighting force to battle ISIL (and simultaneously the Syrian Army) is preposterous. Both ISIL and the Syrian government are highly trained and organized armies. And I don’t expect that they will stay static while we train this much smaller force that we hope will fight effectively on two fronts. ISIL will continue growing stronger during that time. The administration needs to own up to these realities. They need to be able to articulate what success looks like and how they will measure it. Yesterday, in a hearing with Secretary of Defense Hagel, one of my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee asked that very question. The Secretary’s best response was “when there are no more beheadings”. He couldn’t be more specific than that.I believe that Congress has an important constitutional role to play here. We need to consider the facts and have a robust debate about the President’s plan. We need to hear specifics on what resources the President thinks will be required. Right now, we don’t have the answers and we aren’t having the debate. I cannot in good conscience vote to authorize a train and equip mission that I believe will do more harm than good in the long term. I also cannot roll over and give up on our responsibility to authorize the airstrikes. We owe our troops, our citizens, and our allies better than that. When Congress returns, I expect to see that we deliver.Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - September 13th, 2014

2014/09/13

As I’m sure you all saw, the President made his public case on Wednesday for further action against ISIL. I won’t take up your time by reiterating the threat ISIL poses to our allies and our citizens. I think most people are pretty well up to speed on that. Instead, I want to take this opportunity to take you through some of the questions I still have. And to the greatest extent possible, walk you through my understanding of the challenges and the dangers.First off, like all military families, my wife and I see military action through the lens of a parent’s eyes. It’s entirely possible that anytime we put boots on the ground somewhere, it could well be our own sons’ boots. As a result, the bar for intervention is a high one. Once a threat is established, there are two things that I am looking for in order to give my support for authorization. Number one is that the mission is clearly defined – What is our objective? What is the end state that we intend to achieve? What does success look like? If the Commander-in-Chief cannot answer that first question, then there is really nothing else to talk about in my mind. If he can answer that question, then we move on to a second critical question – What is our strategy to achieve that outcome? Does our strategy provide a sufficiently high likelihood of success? Does it provide sufficient safeguards for our military personnel? If things don’t go as planned, to what extent will we able to reevaluate and adapt? To what extent will we be able to extricate ourselves from the conflict if fundamental conditions change? What is the likelihood that we get drawn further in than we intended? To be sure, war is an uncertain thing. But if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve and you aren’t exactly sure of the best way to achieve it, you can count on things not going well. And when it’s the lives of young Americans on the line, that kind of failure is unacceptable.So where are we in answering those questions? The President has talked a lot about “degrading” and “destroying” ISIL. That is his simple answer to the first question. But I think there are some details there that are still missing. The answers to the second question leave even more up in the air. We know the President would like to continue pursuing air strikes against ISIL targets. That also raises questions we haven’t gotten answers to. How are we selecting targets? Will we need our people on the ground and in harm’s way to locate them? What happens if one of them is captured? What happens if one of our planes goes down over enemy territory? What is our capacity to go in and conduct rescue operations? Similarly, we know he’s put roughly 1,200 “advisers” on the ground so far in Iraq and he plans on sending several hundred more. Initially, we started out with under 500 personnel on the ground. That’s tripled in just a couple short months. What are these increases intended to achieve? Should we expect additional increases to continue? As a general matter, the closer that our personnel are to the battlespace, the more likely they are to get caught up in the fight. Intended or not. Finally, most observers agree that in order to defeat ISIL, there must be a political solution. A military-only strategy cannot eradicate them completely. The Iraqis (and Syrians) must be able to drive them out and keep them out on their own. The President made a bold assertion during his speech on Wednesday that in “recent days” the Iraqis “have formed an inclusive government”. A big part of the backdrop to what is happening with ISIL is that the group is comprised of radical Sunnis. In Iraq, Sunnis are a minority population and the Shiites have controlled the government since we replaced Saddam Hussein. A key reason that ISIL was able to roll through northern Iraq so easily is that Sunni members of the Iraqi national army couldn’t justify putting their lives on the line against the Sunni ISIL just to defend the Shiite government in Baghdad (which has not treated them well). The two groups have mistreated and mistrusted each other for a thousand years. Atrocities have been committed on both sides. But the President would have us believe that they managed to work out their issues and form a new government that will functionally serve both groups in the future. We don’t have evidence of that yet and it’s a pretty important detail to simply declare solved and gloss over. I think the American people have every right to question a military intervention that depends on the Iraqis being able to work together politically. The same goes in Syria. The President wants us to authorize him to arm and train “moderate Syrian rebels”. We need to ask tough questions about how these individuals are being vetted. How many fighters does he envision we can functionally train and equip? How will that turn the tide against ISIL and the al-Qaeda affiliate also fighting in Syria? How can we ensure that either through shady dealings or defeat on the battlefield that these weapons don’t fall into the enemy’s hands?In general, while I think the President acknowledges that this fight will continue for a long time, I believe he still has a lot to answer about how this is really going to work. I think most of us acknowledge that ISIL is a credible threat. They are more capable and better-financed than al Qaeda has typically been. I don’t personally believe that we can afford to ignore them. Our allies in the region including Jordan and Israel certainly feel that way. But before we go headlong into committing our support for a long-term strategy, we need answers to these questions. Much of the information I get as a member of the Armed Services Committee is classified and I won’t be able to discuss a lot of it with you – including some answers to the questions above - but I will try to relay what I can. In the meantime, as a military father, as an American citizen, and as your representative in Congress, I will continue to ask these questions and make the best decisions I can about funding, authorization, and oversight to keep our troops and our country safe. As always, I very much appreciate and rely on your input. So if you have some time, please drop me a line at thewebsite and let me know what you think. Thanks again.  Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - August 16th, 2014

2014/08/16

n typical August fashion, the news cycle has slowed down a good bit. Not much is happening in the policy world right now. The President is out of town for a couple of weeks and most of us are back in our home states visiting with the good people we represent. That has certainly been the case for me. It’s been wall-to-wall meetings the last couple of weeks – everybody from our local realtors and continuing care health professionals to individuals and families who needed to talk about casework issues and policy concerns.For many of my colleagues and definitely for me, this is an extremely important time of the year. As most of you know, I really try to make a point to answer every piece of correspondence I get and I do my best to take every meeting possible with constituents when they ask. The weeks frequently get busy flying back and forth to DC, so August is a really important chance to catch up and spend a few straight weeks back home. In any case, I don’t have a whole lot else to report at the moment. I really just wanted to take this opportunity to remind everybody that if you or someone you know is having an issue with a federal agency, please don’t hesitate to call. Whenever people get jammed up and lost in the bureaucratic maze that is the federal government, we’ve got some very knowledgeable and dedicated people on staff who can help get things moving again. The rules are the rules and we can’t always change the outcome of a dispute with the government, but we can absolutely make sure that your government is being responsive to you. That is truly one of the most rewarding aspects of being your representative. Instead of getting pushed around by the bureaucracy, we finally get to push back and restore some accountability.So again – if you all need anything, please do let me know. Our success rate at solving problems we’re aware of is pretty good. Our success rate at solving problems we aren’t aware of is hovering around zero. And whether it’s policy-related or it’s casework-related, your input is critical. Thank you, as always, for your time and I hope you and yours have a great weekend. Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - August 5th, 2014

2014/08/05

Just a quick update this week on how things shook out with Congress’ response to the border crisis.Border Patrol estimates that this year, they will catch roughly 90,000 unaccompanied minors entering our country illegally. They expect that number to rise next year. And while this issue has existed for years, we’ve seen a massive spike over the last year – and that trend is expected to continue. The President has been pretty quiet on the question of what caused the spike. Many people, including me, attribute it pretty closely to rumors spreading around Central America following the President’s executive order regarding amnesty for children of illegal immigrants. In the past, an individual or family seeking asylum in the United States would visit a U.S. consulate in their home country and apply – just like any other family fearing for their lives would in countries all over the world. They wouldn’t expect to show up and be granted an automatic waiver. But the rumors, which frankly the President is doing to more confirm than dispel, are that if you make it to America now, you can stay. No problem. So is it any real surprise then that we have tens of thousands of unaccompanied children coming across? Not particularly.Initially, in an attempt to respond to the crisis, the President requested that we revisit a 2008 law designed to combat human trafficking. Due to an unintended technicality, the law was making it legally difficult for US officials to turn minors around and send them back home. Legally, under the 2008 law, if you were from a country in Central America (instead of from Mexico), you were to be automatically transferred from Border Control to the custody of U.S. Health and Human Services where you would await a hearing designed to find out if you were a trafficking victim. It made perfect sense that in order to act quickly, the Obama administration needed us to modify that 2008 law. But in a matter of days, before Congress had a chance to do the due diligence on the new language, the President changed his mind and said he was now opposed to changing the 2008 law. A couple of protests and poll results was all it took. The President determined that, in fact, he actually did want his hands tied. As a backup plan for addressing the border crisis, he decided he would blame Congress for causing the crisis – and for failing to fix it. If you follow the White House’s revised talking points, it is apparently Congress’ unwillingness to pass the Senate amnesty bill that has caused the crisis along the border. As the argument goes, the Senate bill included large sums of money for increased enforcement along the border. If the President had had those billions of extra dollars in enforcement money, he’d have set up a sufficient deterrent along the southern border. That’s absurd on so many different levels, it's hard to know where to start. First, the President hasn’t been turned down for any increased enforcement budget requests along the border. He just chooses not to request that money unless we agree to amnesty first. He’s also just finished demonstrating his position on the issue – let the kids stay… all of them… as many as can get here… We have a fairly robust presence along the southern border already. But it’s not just about being able to catch people entering the country illegally. Frankly, a lot of the minors and their parents actively seek out border patrol agents as soon as they cross. Because if you let them all stay anyway, then the threat of catching them doesn’t really serve as much of a deterrent. Finally, as it pertains to passing the Senate immigration bill, it really strains the mind to imagine why amnesty for all would serve as a deterrent for people wanting to come here. Amnesty for kids resulted in a wave of kids. If his goal is politics, that logic makes perfect sense. If his goal is a secure border and a strong deterrent, it makes no sense at all. But such is the leadership from the White House on this issue. The President has requested millions of dollars from Congress to use in Central America to buy ad space trying to combat rumors of amnesty for minors. I’ll leave it to you all to decide whether those ads will be compelling enough to overcome the calls people are getting from cousins in the U.S. saying they are here to stay. Before the House adjourned on Friday, we passed legislation to give the president the tools he needs to address this crisis – if he really wants to. He’s got $650 million to boost our presence along the border. That’s enough to get us to the end of the fiscal year (which is September 30th). Included with the funding are two main provisions – one addresses the problem caused by the 2008 trafficking law. The second provision prevents the administration from issuing any further expansion of his amnesty executive orders.Not surprisingly, the President threatened to veto the House solution and instead let word leak that he is readying a much broader executive order for amnesty – this time looking at 5 to 6 million illegal immigrants. The Senate, for their part, left town without passing any bill at all. Obviously, there will be more to discuss in the weeks ahead. You know where I stand. I believe this:  amnesty orders + open border = disaster. The math on that isn’t complicated. If this current crisis has showed us anything, it’s that in addition to have the policing capability along the border, we also have to demonstrate to the world that entering this country illegally will not be tolerated. Amnesty is the exact opposite of that. It will make the problem worse. It won’t make it go away. As always, I’m interested to hear your take on this. If you have a minute, drop me a line and let me know what you think. Thanks again. Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - July 26th, 2014

2014/07/26

Dear Friends,As a former law enforcement officer, I feel strongly that if you are going to accuse somebody of something – even gross inaction – you ought to have some evidence to back up your claims. So this week, since we have some time, I thought I would share some numbers with you that you can use the next time somebody tells you that the dysfunction in Washington is anybody’s fault but the United States Senate. For starters, here are some top-line numbers: The House has passed over 285 bills that the Senate has failed to act on. That is four times the number for the Senate.Of the 120 bills that the President has signed into law, only 27% came from the Senate. 73% of the bills he’s signed came from the House. The House has completed more than half of the annual funding bills… the Senate? Zero. Just in the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the latest example. A job training bill that the House passed in March of 2013 just made its way to the President’s desk… in July of 2014. The “major actions” below for that job training bill is what productivity in Congress tends to look like: H.R. 803 – Workforce Innovation and Opportunity ActSponsor: Rep Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5) 2/25/2013    Introduced in House3/12/2013    House Education and Workforce Committee amends and passes it.  3/15/2013    Three days later, it’s passed in the full House by a vote of 215 - 202 [15 months passes with no action in the Senate.]6/25/2014    Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions discharged by Unanimous Consent.6/25/2014    Passed in Senate: Passed Senate with an amendment by a vote of 95 - 3.7/9/2014      Resolving differences -- House passes the Senate-amended version by a vote of 415 – 6.7/15/2014    Presented to President. 7/22/2014     Signed into law. Now the first time we passed this job training bill, the Democrats in the House balked. They didn’t agree with everything we had done. That’s fine. That’s the way the process is supposed to work. But where this bill survived and so many don’t is that the Senate (after over a year) finally bowed to pressure, decided to take it up in committee, and amend it. They didn’t take it lock stock and barrel from the House. They amended it and sent it back. That’s fair. That’s what they are supposed to do.And what do you know? Pretty quickly (once they finally took it up), they were able to reach a compromise version with Republicans in the Senate. The Senate then passed their amended version 95-3 and sent it back to us. We took their compromise version and passed it 415-6.Now, as a result, the first major reform of U.S. job training programs in sixteen years is taking effect. That’s the way the process is supposed to work. Personally, if somebody brings up a good idea, I don’t particularly care which party they’re from. And despite the constant talking points from the President blaming House Republicans for blocking any sort of progress in America, that’s the way the House generally feels as well. It’s not that the Senate has passed bills we don’t like. It’s that they haven’t passed terribly many bills at all. When they do get together and come up with good common-sense ideas, those ideas tend to get sent to the President’s desk.Those are the facts about the work being done in Congress.  And if you need any more facts, just let me know.Thanks again and I hope everybody has a great weekend.Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

CANCELLED - Service Academy Open House Will NOT Be Held This Weekend

2014/07/16

“The Service Academy Open House will NOT be held as planned this Satuday at Pasco Hernando State College in Spring Hill.  The Veterans Benefits Resource Fair, however, will go on as planned tomorrow morning.  For more information, please call 352-689-4684." Read More

Sitrep - July 12th, 2014

2014/07/04

Just a quick update this week on a couple of items. First, the House passed one more funding bill this week. We’ve completed work on six out of twelve at this point. I would suggest calling your senators to ask how they’re coming along, but my guess is you already know the answer. Also of note - the House vs. Executive Branch lawsuit is moving forward as anticipated and we should be considering the actual details of it next week. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I wanted to give you a quick update on where things stand with the border crisis. The short version - we’ve caught tens of thousands of minors coming across the border.  We've crammed them briefly into detention facilities, military bases and so forth and then released them out into the country with some distant future court date we hope they show up for. Health and legal concerns are serious and there is no end in sight. By the end of the year, experts are projecting a full 90,000 minors to be apprehended while trying to come across the border. The President has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the problem. He has sketched out his request in fairly broad terms, but key pieces of it keep changing. To understand the background, you have to go back to 2008 when Congress passed a bill to combat human trafficking. The bill said that, unlike Mexico and Canada, going forward, any minor who is interdicted coming into the country illegally will be turned over to Health and Human Services and at some point have an individual day in court to determine whether they have been victims or have come here of their own accord. The normal process (and still the current process as far as Mexican and Canadian immigrants are concerned) is that unless the immigrant can convince Border Patrol that they have a legitimate fear of persecution back home, anybody attempting to enter the country illegally can be expeditiously turned around and sent back from whence they came. The President requested that Congress modify that old 2008 law to provide Customs and Border Patrol the flexibility to process this massive wave of undocumented immigrants in a timely fashion. At the time, he requested about $2 billion in emergency funding. Then he got criticized by immigration activists and changed his mind about the need for increased flexibility. He doesn’t want the flexibility anymore. And… by the way… he’s going to need $3.7 billion in emergency funds now because even though he says, “most” will be returned to their country of origin, he’s pretty sure they’re going to be staying for a while. The administration also wants to spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars taking out ads in Central American newspapers saying there will be no amnesty for children entering the country illegally, while simultaneously granting de facto amnesty to the very same kids he is trying to dissuade from coming. In the middle of a national crisis, this isn’t exactly the lead-from-behind approach you are looking for from your chief executive: Concrete plan to address the crisis turned out to be unpopular, so… abandon the plan. Double down on actions that led to the crisis in the first place. Hope crisis goes away and/or nobody notices when it doesn’t… There is a reason that both sides have lost faith in the President’s ability to address the major problems facing this nation. And he doesn’t help himself in that regard here. He just flew all the way to Texas this week, but doesn’t bother to go to the border to sit and listen to the actual border agents on the ground. He goes to a Democrat fundraiser and mingles with millionaires instead. He asks for nearly $4 billion in emergency funding and wants Congress to overlook his double-speak and trust him to spend the no-strings money wisely. That’s not the way it works. And that’s not the way it should work. The House and Senate are frankly pretty well divided on what to do. It’s not just a partisan split. It’s more complicated than that. For me, I don’t trust the President’s intentions, his competence, or his ability to select a strategy based on anything but his weekly polling numbers. Basically, I just don’t trust him. And to be blunt about it, I’m not signing off on giving away billions worth of other people’s money on a slim hope that somebody who’s proven himself unreliable is going to do something different this time. But that’s just me. We need strings, and enforceable benchmarks and measures for success. “Hope” doesn’t cut it. But as always, I’m interested to hear what you all think. If you have a minute, visit the website and drop me a line. Thanks again.Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - June 28th, 2014

2014/06/28

This was a good week for Congress. I don’t mean it was a good week for me, or for my party, or for the House, or for the specific group of senators and congressmen who happen to hold office here at this particular moment. It was a good week for the institution. It was a good week for the Legislative Branch and everything it is supposed to represent in our society.Why do I say that? Well, we talk about Congress a lot – what it should be doing, what it shouldn’t be doing. We talk about the Constitution a lot – what it directs us to do and not to do. But so much of that conversation tends to be about the specific policy questions of the day. As a country, we don’t talk as much as we probably should about the bigger picture. We get so caught up in this bill or that bill that we tend to forget about the issues more fundamental to maintaining our republic over the long term. As a people, we need to do better.The Founders thought long and hard about what kind of system to create for us. They debated furiously amongst themselves about how best to achieve their goal, but the goal itself was never a question. For each of them, the objective was to prevent the very kind of royal tyranny they had just fought so bitterly to escape. They didn't want a king with limitless power. They didn't want to allow taxation without representation. They didn't want the seizure of life or property without due process. They wanted a government that was accountable to the people and one that had sufficient checks and balances built in to ensure that no part of the government could become powerful enough to silence the people. Most of that centered on limiting the power of the presidency – any presidency.That issue is still alive and well today.If you are a Democrat reading this, imagine for a moment that today’s situation were flipped. Imagine that today’s President was now a Republican and that the Senate was under his thumb. Imagine that your party only controlled the House. Now imagine that the President of the United States was wildly and unapologetically pursuing the creation of new conservative policies that had not been duly passed by Congress. Imagine that the President’s IRS leadership was caught targeting liberal advocacy groups and then conveniently “lost” all of the emails relating to that crime. Imagine that a Republican president was tapping the phones of dozens of reporters in pursuit of a whistleblower who leaked unflattering information about the administration. Imagine that the Republican President was ignoring vast swaths of duly enacted laws – laws that you felt were important. Would you accept all of that? Or any of that? I doubt it.Now if you are a conservative, imagine the exact same scenario but with a twist. Imagine you had your very own conservative firebrand in the White House – whomever you wanted, your ideological hero. Imagine your conservative president was using “executive power” to aggressively pursue policies that you thought were right and necessary for the country. Imagine he was pushing well beyond the bounds of the law because Congress refused to pass those conservative policies he was calling for. Would you feel outraged and concerned on principle? Or would you give him a pass because you agreed with the ends he was pursuing? I certainly hope not.Throughout our history, each party has taken its turn in the White House. But for most of our history, regardless of party, Congress has stood up to the President whenever he overstepped his constitutional bounds. Members of the President’s own party, though they may vigorously protect and excuse their President on any number of issues, would not stand for anything that infringed on the constitutional prerogatives and powers of Congress. But today’s leaders have not done that. When President Obama made wildly questionable “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, for instance, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid applauded his decision. Sen. Reid couldn’t get the votes to confirm the President’s selections, so he acquiesced to a power grab instead.This week, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that those very appointments were an unconstitutional intrusion on Congress’ rightful powers. Harry Reid, in a moment of allowing the ends to justify the President’s means, let the United States Senate down. He let the legislative branch down. In doing so, he let the entire country down. I say that because as sure as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, future presidents will continue trying to push the bounds of executive authority. And every time Congress allows a president get away with it, the presidency becomes stronger and “the People’s Branch” becomes weaker. It’s been said a thousand times before, but power corrupts. It’s intoxicating. Every president (save perhaps Washington), has tried to push his presidency to the absolute limits – Republicans and Democrats alike.So when it comes to the delicate but critical balance of powers between the branches of government, we have to rise above ideology. As citizens, we have to look at the bigger picture. We cannot slip into the thinking that the ends justify the means. They don’t. And so while it may be easier this week for conservatives to applaud Speaker Boehner’s announcement that the House will be taking the President to court over the issue of presidential overreach, it’s something that I think all Americans should reflect on and applaud. Any time Congress stands up to check the power of the White House, it’s a good thing for our country in the long run.So no matter how passionate we may be about the issues and no matter how frustrated we may get from time to time with our fellow citizens on the other side of the aisle, we should always remember to take the long view. Principle must always come before politics. Every power grab we allow from a president moves us closer back to having a king. That’s not something we can tolerate in America. For ourselves and for our future generations, we are the stewards of our great republic. It doesn’t protect itself.Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

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Contact Information

1727 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-1002
Fax 202-226-6559
nugent.house.gov

First, let me say what an honor it is to be your representative in Congress. While this may be a “digital” introduction, I really look forward to having a chance to meet with you in person and to hear your views on where this country should be headed. In the meantime, let me take just a minute to tell you bit about who I am and where I come from.

I was born and raised in a suburb of Chicago. My father was a steel worker and my mother, a dedicated homemaker. And while not without its ups and downs, I was mighty lucky to grow up in a time when America was at her best.

Right out of high school, I joined the Illinois Air National Guard. And as anybody who has spent time in America’s military can tell you, young people inevitably learn the value of leadership, teamwork, discipline, and self-reliance. My experience as a young man was no different. Honorably discharged after six years, I decided to continue serving as a police officer in the city of Romeoville, Illinois.

After twelve years, having achieved the rank of sergeant, my wife Wendy and I moved with our young son Ryan to beautiful Hernando County. I joined the Sheriff’s Office as a deputy and have been with them ever since. Over the years, I worked hard and rose through the ranks – eventually becoming Sheriff in 2000.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost thirty years since we came to Florida. All three of our boys, Ryan, Kyle, and Casey are now grown and as a Dad, I couldn’t be prouder of them. Ryan, our oldest, graduated West Point in 2004. Having spent a year in South Korea before a 15 month combat deployment in Afghanistan, he is now a Captain assigned to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Hohenfels Training Area in Germany. Before finishing his tour in Afghanistan, he signed up for three more years.

Kyle, his younger brother, is an Army ROTC graduate of the University of Tampa and is now assigned to the Florida National Guard as a Blackhawk pilot. And Casey, our youngest, is also following in his brothers’ footsteps. He graduated from West Point and is now a Lieutenant with the 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley.

As parents, it means the world to us to see our children putting service before self. Wendy and I have always emphasized the importance of service – to whom much is given, much is expected. We believe that as Americans, we owe it to future generations to make the sacrifices necessary so that this country will always be the greatest on earth.

Throughout my career as a police officer, I have seen the best and worst in our community. I know the great potential that lies there. My wife Wendy, as a school teacher, believes the same. Our experiences have shown us that the best solutions in our communities will come from small business owners, local leaders, and private citizens – all working together; not, as some believe, from the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington.

In my view, a government for the people and by the people, must be made up of the people. The best representative is a member of the community first, and a Member of Congress second. In keeping with that ideal, I promise you that I will always be available and ready to listen. I will always come back to the District because it’s my home and that’s where my family is. I hope that you will always feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or concerns, or even just to say hello. In the meantime, I wish you all the best and I hope to meet you soon.


Serving With

Jeff Miller

FLORIDA's 1st DISTRICT

Steve Southerland

FLORIDA's 2nd DISTRICT

Ted Yoho

FLORIDA's 3rd DISTRICT

Ander Crenshaw

FLORIDA's 4th DISTRICT

Ron DeSantis

FLORIDA's 6th DISTRICT

John Mica

FLORIDA's 7th DISTRICT

Bill Posey

FLORIDA's 8th DISTRICT

Daniel Webster

FLORIDA's 10th DISTRICT

Gus Bilirakis

FLORIDA's 12th DISTRICT

David Jolly

FLORIDA's 13th DISTRICT

Dennis Ross

FLORIDA's 15th DISTRICT

Vern Buchanan

FLORIDA's 16th DISTRICT

Tom Rooney

FLORIDA's 17th DISTRICT

Curt Clawson

FLORIDA's 19th DISTRICT

Mario Diaz-Balart

FLORIDA's 25th DISTRICT

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

FLORIDA's 27th DISTRICT

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