Rich Nugent

Rich Nugent

FLORIDA's 11th DISTRICT

SITREP - October 30th, 2016

2016/10/30

Dear Friends,

Just a week ago, news broke about the Pentagon requiring National Guard members in California to pay back erroneously awarded bonuses. Needless to say, given the years that have passed since the bonuses were paid, there was national outrage. And because of this public pressure, the Department of Defense has since suspended the effort to recoup any of the money. This is good news. It is unfair, unwise and irresponsible to ask of those serving our country to give back overpayments so many years later simply because their employer made an accounting mistake. For many families, that money has long since been spent. 

Many of these men and women are struggling to make ends meet in the first place – so to place undue pressure and expectations on them to live in ongoing financial suspense is just about the most thankless federal policy I have ever encountered.

That is why, back in April, I put a fix into the National Defense Authorization Act that would place a firm time-based restriction on the Pentagon's ability to recoup overpayments to the troops. Known as Section 642, this provision would establish a statute of limitations on the military recovering future overpayments and scrutinize the Defense Finance and Accounting Service’s management of existing cases of service member debt.

Currently, there is no statute of limitation and, because of this, there are many cases of the Department of Defense sending first notice of collection more than a decade after the overpayment originally occurred. At some point in a military career, it is fairly common for a service member to be under or over paid in salary or benefits. Service members are limited to 10 years to seek redress on their end, whereas Department of Defense has no such restriction. Section 642 is a necessary first step toward establishing a common standard for correcting accounting errors that applies equally to both the DoD and the individual service member.

This way, honorable service members won’t be punished for Department of Defense's failure to send notice of accounting errors in a timely manner. The situation with the California Guard (which my colleague Darrell Issa is working to help with) is a perfect example of why we need that statute of limitations.  

I served in the Air National Guard, all three of my sons currently serve in the military and even someone on my staff had this very issue happen to him years after he left the Marines. Service members are good, hardworking, honest folks who do what they do out of love for this country and expect nothing more than a fair wage and a decent way of life. This is not too much to ask for those that sacrifice everything so that we may enjoy the very freedoms and liberties that make America the greatest nation in the world.

Our statute of limitations language was passed by the House of Representatives back in May. It's now up to the Senate to include the House’s solution and I look forward to seeing it in the final version of the NDAA.

And, as always, feel free to reach out to me with anything that may be on your mind. 

Sincerely,
Rich Nugent
Member of Congress

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SITREP - October 5th, 2016

2016/10/05

Just a few months ago when talking about Tropical Storm Hermine I said that sometimes the weatherman has a tendency to get us all riled up only for it to be much less significant than promised. But for some in our community, the effects of Hermine were devastating. Flooding forced folks out of their homes, response crews had to be brought in from other states and some families are just now getting back on their feet.

But Matthew is a different monster entirely – this could be the biggest hurricane to hit our state in a decade. This impending storm has already brought destruction to Haiti as a Category 4 with winds nearing 150 miles per hour and it could be making landfall at this severe level in Florida as soon asThursday. I hope everyone is keeping a keen eye on developments.

Now, even though the eye of the storm seems to be tracking just east of Marion, Lake, Citrus, Sumter and Hernando counties, everyone still needs to be prepared for the worst. Recent reports are saying winds of 50 miles per hour or more are to be expected in our District, this is just about the speed that can take down big trees.  And the possibilities of residual flooding, power outages, waterspouts and tornadoes – all scenarios that can do damage to our property, or worse, harm one of our loved ones – should be considered a real threat.  

Like I have said already many times throughout my years as Sheriff and Congressman, the reasons I take any natural disaster threat like this so seriously is that I know how susceptible parts of our District are to flooding. With many homes located near the coast and other bodies of water, we know it doesn’t take much for rising water levels to become a huge problem very quickly. Additionally, Governor Rick Scott has already declared a State of Emergency for Florida and may even issue mandatory evacuation orders for some parts of our state.

This may not be groundbreaking advice – I recognize that many of you are experienced Floridians and have seen a storm or two in your time. But, I urge everyone to have some sort of plan in place, even if it may feel redundant or unnecessary. Chat with your neighbors, check in with family, maybe grab a few necessary supplies prior to rainfall and most importantly, make sure there is a cohesive strategy in place should things turn for the absolute worst. Also, I am sure some of you have friends or relatives living over on the Atlantic side – please make sure they are aware of the approaching danger as well.

To close things out, wanted to let everyone know that The State of Florida actually has a really useful website specifically dedicated to helping make sure that you and anyone in your household are as organized and as prepared as possible. It only takes a few minutes to fill out and could prove incredibly useful should Matthew bring what is expected. Click the following to get your personalized emergency management plan: http://flgetaplan.com/.

A few other useful tools and resources regarding hurricane preparedness and recovery can be found at the following websites for the National Hurricane Center http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ and Florida Division of Emergency Management http://www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp.

The main takeaway here is that forecasting the path of any storm, especially one this consequential, is difficult at best. And it is possible that Matthew could shift more westward according to some weather professionals. Please stay up to date with the most recent storm track. 

And if there is any help my office can offer, please feel free to reach out. 

Sincerely,
Rich Nugent
Member of Congress

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SITREP - September 10th, 2016

2016/09/10

I want to talk about Zika with you for a moment, because if there are people out there who aren’t worried about it, they should be. This is an emergency unfolding in slow motion, but it’s an emergency nonetheless.  It’s not hard to see what’s happening and where it’s going.  It’s not hard to see what steps we need to take to contain it.  It’s not hard to see that once it spreads, it’s very difficult to go back and un-spread it.  And yet, this crisis – especially for our home state – has fallen victim to the same stupid, inexcusable congressional gridlock that has held up everything from the military’s budget to tax reform to transportation funding (all major items that Congress more or less agrees about).

If I may, this is why a lot of us in the Florida delegation (from both parties) are going through the roof right now.  The CDC has run out of money that they can easily reprogram to fight Zika. Congress just took more than a month of vacation without providing the funding they need.  We now only have a few more weeks to pass a budget or the government shuts down. Senate Republicans and Democrats aren’t fighting over the dollar amount for Zika.  They’re fighting over unrelated policy riders.  In the meantime, nearly 3,000 cases of Zika have been reported in the 50 states alone. If you add in the reports from Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the US Virgin Island, that number exceeds to over 16,000 individuals.  Let me repeat this – there is virtually no disagreement about the top line dollar amount we’re going to allocate.  There isn’t much disagreement about how those dollars should be allocated.  And there certainly isn’t much disagreement about the severity of the problem.  There is only a disagreement about which political points are going to get scored and by whom in the passage of this funding bill.

We’re talking about America’s newborns.  We’re talking about permanent cognitive damage.  There. Is. No. Excuse.  Put politics aside for one afternoon and save American families from a lifetime of agony.  Is that unreasonable?

My fellow Sunshine State colleagues, from both sides of the aisle, have tried to sound the alarm and demand publicly that our respective leadership officials work out a solution to the deadlock. It’s sad that this situation warrants such a repeated outcry (you’d think the gravity of Zika would be obvious to all lawmakers), but that’s just about how desperate we have become.

The text of our collective note is as follows:

As Members of the Florida delegation, it is our hope that Congress take immediate action to pass emergency funding to combat the Zika virus. 

Seven months have passed since the Administration submitted its $1.9 billion request for Zika response efforts, and nearly four months since initial legislative action in the House.  Emergency funding is needed now for vital vaccine research and diagnostic development, mosquito surveillance and control efforts, and education initiatives to warn of the serious risk the virus poses, particularly for fetal development in pregnant women.

In that time, the virus has taken hold in the continental United States, hitting our home state of Florida especially hard.  To date, more than 16,000 Americans have been infected with the Zika virus, of which more than 1,600 are pregnant women.   The spread of this disease has now resulted in 17 babies being born in the U.S. with Zika-related birth defects.

With federal funding for Zika response set to expire at the end of the Fiscal Year, Congress’ continued failure to act will halt federally funded vaccine research, mosquito control, testing, and surveillance.

Our most fundamental responsibility is protecting the health and safety of Americans.  Please present a clean funding package to fight the Zika virus as soon as possible.

We sent this over just a few days ago, but even back in May, many of us wrote and spoke out about the concern that we wouldn’t be able to find a compromise, and here we are now in mid-September with nothing to show for the mothers and babies and families that live in constant fear of Zika’s threat.

I believe in the institution of Congress and it has been an incredible honor to be a part of it, but when we can’t even get the things done that we agree on – things that affect defenseless newborns, it’s hard not to lose heart a little bit.  The American people are way past fed up.  I don’t blame you.  Shame on Congress – both sides, both chambers.

Sincerely,
Rich Nugent
Member of Congress

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SITREP - August 31st, 2016

2016/08/31

Quick note about the impending storm.  I know that sometimes the weatherman has a tendency to get us all riled up about a storm only for it to be much less significant than promised. But, let’s not let a few missed marks in the past impede our preparation for what Tropical Storm Hermine could bring over the coming days. 

Set to hit landfall around noon tomorrow, Hermine is projected to bring up to a foot of rain to some parts of our community. A Tropical Storm of this magnitude brings with it the possibility of flooding, power outages, waterspouts and tornadoes – all scenarios that can do damage to our property, or worse, harm one of our loved ones. 

The reason I am taking this so seriously is threefold. For starters, I know how susceptible parts of our District are to flooding. With many homes located near the coast and other bodies of water, we know it doesn’t take much for flooding to become a huge problem very quickly. Second, Governor Rick Scott has declared a State of Emergency for each one of the counties I represent – Hernando, Citrus, Sumter, Lake and Marion – in what is the first official hurricane watch in four years. And if that doesn’t seem serious enough, the NFL moved a Buccaneers preseason game scheduled for Thursday up a day to tonight. That is no small feat, but it's a wise decision. Folks are not taking any chances out there and neither should you. 

This may not be groundbreaking advice – I recognize that many of you are experienced Floridians and have seen a storm or two in your time. But, I urge everyone to have some sort of plan in place, even if it may feel redundant or unnecessary. Chat with your neighbors, check in with family, maybe grab a few necessary supplies prior to rainfall and most importantly, make sure there is a cohesive strategy in place should things turn for the absolute worst. 

To that end, The State of Florida actually has a really useful website specifically dedicated to helping you make sure that you and anyone in your household are as organized and as prepared as possible. It only takes a few minutes to fill out and could prove incredibly useful should Hermine bring what is expected. Click the following to get your personalized emergency management plan: http://flgetaplan.com/.

And if there is any help my office can offer, please feel free to reach out. 

Sincerely,
Rich Nugent
Member of Congress

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SITREP - August 28th, 2016

2016/08/28

This week I wanted to shed light on a very concerning report coming out of a recent congressional investigation. Earlier this month, a joint House panel consisting of members from the Armed Services, Intelligence and Appropriations committees concluded that US Central Command (CENTCOM) has been manipulating reports as it relates to our fight against ISIS. Since 2014, CENTCOM leaders have routinely painted a falsely-positive portrait of our fight against this terrorist group. The investigation further suggested that top officials engaged in a practice of editing intel from subordinates that may have contradicted the ongoing narrative of success.

In short, either the Commander in Chief has developed a culture of sycophants or CENTCOM leaders are smudging the truth for their own reasons.  Whatever the reason, we know we have a failure in fulsome reporting from those in the highest ranks of our military. This fits in to a long establish pattern of the Obama administration prioritizing political appearances over military realities.

If the situation against ISIS is not going well, we need to know that. If our men and women in the military are going to have trouble accomplishing their mission, we need to know that. If the unvarnished assessments would suggest a different course of action, we absolutely need to know that. We can make anything look good in an official assessment. But by putting forward a glass-half-full picture when the glass is really leaking, we're putting our own folks in harm's way under dangerously false pretenses. No member of Congress, regardless of party, should find this situationacceptable. I predict this won’t be the last you hear of this.

Moving on to a more local matter, this Tuesday, August 30 is Florida’s primary election. No matter your party or where you may stand, it’s important to be part of the process. And even though I’m retiring this year, you can bet that Wendy and I will still be out there casting our ballots for that next generation of community leaders. If you have any questions or need more information on candidates and voting locations, please visit the Supervisor of Elections website for your county of residence.

Finally, with a tropical storm potentially bearing down on us, please remember that we are entering the height of the hurricane season and may even see some heavy rains early this week. Be aware, be prepared and have a plan in place in case this, or any future storm, turns into something of dire consequence.

With summer coming to a close and football season around the corner, it’s easy to miss an important news story here and there – especially from Washington. But that’s why this SITREP exists, to bring you topics and tidbits, like the conversation on CENTCOM, that I feel have been underreported and underappreciated. If there is anything you feel is not getting proper attention, or you just want to tell me what’s on your mind, please feel free, as always, to reach out anytime at https://nugent.house.gov/contact.

Sincerely,
Rich Nugent
Member of Congress

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SITREP - July 30th, 2016

2016/07/30

Couple of happy updates to share with you all this week.  You may remember that earlier this year I wrote about a small, but nonetheless significant issue facing many of our residents in southern Spring Hill. This problem concerns the lack of sidewalk on Quality Drive. Combined with the absence of a cross walk, handicap and elderly residents are prevented from having safe access to the hospital and local shopping center.

This problem was originally brought to my attention by Ms. Arlene Sollis, a heroic octogenarian who has battled a severe cerebral palsy condition her entire life. She wasn’t supposed to live into her teenage years. And yet, eight decades later she is still fighting the good fight for safety and access, for herself and others.

So back in February the prospects of the Quality Drive sidewalk project were questionable at best. We didn’t really know how long it was going to take to complete. We didn’t even know if there would be adequate funding. And we certainly didn’t know whether the County would view it as a priority.

But now, just a few months later, we are many steps closer to making this project a much needed reality. I am extremely pleased that the Hernando County Commissioners recently voted to single out, amplify and expedite the 1,000 foot strip on Quality Drive as its own independent project. Adding to the great news, the Commission was also able to approve an ample public-private partnership funding mechanism thanks to some good folks at Cemex who swooped in last minute to push it over the top.

We are looking at a quicker completion timeframe, and there are the resources to make it happen.

This is a win for those with accessibility needs. This is a win for everyone who uses Quality Drive, both pedestrians and drivers. And perhaps most importantly, this is a win for our beloved community.    

And this brings me to an inspiring meeting I had in my Washington office with Ian Britt. This 26-year-old is also from Spring Hill and suffers from an extremely rare degenerative terminal illness called Cockayne Syndrome (CS). It’s estimated that there are only 50 living children in the United States with this condition. Heroically, many traveled with their families to Capitol Hill to meet with their Representatives. Ian was joined by his mother and two brothers, one whom is in the Army and the other who will be shortly – their spirit was undeniable and unbreakable. Wendy and I were extremely touched by their love, positivity and perseverance as a family unit. Even in the face of prolonged hardship that comes with supporting a child with a condition that requires constant attention, dedication and sacrifice, they showed tremendous strength, vision and optimism.

Ian as well was not meant to live long after his birth, and the family is incredibly honest about his ever-worsening health. The truth is he doesn’t have much time left on this earth. There is no known treatment for Cockayne Syndrome. The condition is mired by premature aging, microcephaly, sensitivity to sunlight and neurological delays. And still, he was in full spirit, smiling, fist-bumping and excited as could be to visit our Nation’s capital.

The reason they came was not to ask for anything in particular.  They just simply want to raise awareness – awareness for the fact that rare diseases are just that, rare. And as such, they receive much less attention, much less dedicated funding and much less scientific research.

You see, the free market is a fantastic system and it’s responsible for this incredibly prosperous society that we’ve built. And limited government is absolutely part of the secret sauce in America’s amazing experiment.  But there are blind spots that markets can’t reach.  Pharmaceutical companies simply can’t justify spending the large amounts of R&D dollars to create a cure for something that only affects a few dozen people every year.  They’d never make that money back.  So if the government is going to invest in basic scientific research, the pursuit of treatments for rare diseases seems a sensible place to allocate those resources.  Who knows what else we may discover along the way.  Frequently, some of our greatest breakthroughs have been surprises in pursuit of something very different. 

In closing, these are two perfect examples of why it’s so important to take the time to reach out to your representatives.  While American’s have an understandable belief that “Washington doesn’t listen”, the truth is, many individual representatives do.  It’s how we learn, it’s how we grow, and it’s how we become more effective advocates for the people we represent.  You would be amazed at what a difference it might make.  So on that note, please keep me posted as things come up and as always, have a safe and restful weekend. 

Sincerely,
Rich Nugent
Member of Congress

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SITREP - July 9th, 2016

2016/07/09

I spent 38 years in law enforcement. From patrolling the night shift in a police department in a Chicago suburb to serving as Sheriff of Hernando County in Florida, I have been witness to unimaginable acts by horrendous criminals. I’ve been held at gun point by a deranged individual.  I’ve had to bury my friends that I went through the police academy with. I’ve had to tell children that their parent was never coming home. I know first-hand what so many people in the law enforcement community are feeling right now; a somber combination of frustration, anger, pride, fellowship, conviction, sorrow and loss.

It’s not an easy job and it’s only getting harder. Many times situations arise where judgement and action need to be weighed in an agonizing split second. Do cops always make the right decision 100% of the time? Absolutely not. Does all the amazing work that cops do on a daily basis go unreported and underappreciated? Absolutely. The hard truth is that perfection is impossible while safeguarding the public, protecting oneself and subduing a criminal all in the heat of an intense moment.

No matter one's station in life, an innocent person, badge or no badge, doesn't deserve to be a target for violence.  Period.  And the perpetrators of such violence, no matter who they may be or what they claim to represent, deserve to be met with the full weight and force of the law.

This is why Dallas is such an unspeakable tragedy.  It appears this mass murder was a planned, coordinated and executed attack on officers of the law simply for wearing the uniform of their community.  At least five officers are dead, with even more seriously wounded. This tragedy is the worst attack on the police community since September 11th.

And so I leave with what that means to me personally.  As we all enjoy precious time with friends and family over the coming days, think about the fact that a handful of police officers in Texas will never get that privilege ever again. Slain by someone with a heart of pure evil, these heroes will never again step foot in their homes, never see their kid’s next little league game, never get to share a meal with those they love ever, ever, ever again. 

Give some time and thought to what the families and the Dallas Police Department are going through at this very moment.  Something of this scale is as unexpected as it is unimaginable. And to the families most especially, we need to let them know that not a day goes by that we don't think of the officers who died in the line of duty and this tragedy will be added to that ever growing prayer. 

Criminals and murderers and terrorists will never divide us. They may try to kill and shoot and intimidate, but their method of evil will not break our country or our communities. Ever.

Sincerely,
Rich Nugent
Member of Congress

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SITREP - July 2nd, 2016

2016/07/02

I think it is important that we address something that happened last week …  Around lunchtime on Wednesday (June 22), the Democrats decided to hold a protest in the House. A handful of them took a seat on the floor (literally on the floor) in an unprecedented effort to block the House’s proceedings until they got the gun control votes they wanted. They yelled and chanted and sang songs and spoke solemnly about the victims of gun violence.  And when they thought the cameras were away, they smiled and laughed with each other and sent out fundraising emails. There are many ways to get your point across and move legislation forward. This wasn’t one of them.

I believe there are ways that we can step up our game from a security standpoint while still protecting the rights of innocent Americans all over the country. Many of my colleagues feel this same way as well.  I look forward to this upcoming week when the House will take up the Homeland Safety and Security Act. This legislation will bring new and expanded authority to the Department of Homeland Security to pursue and prioritize radical Islamist terrorism threats within the U.S. It will also place an increased emphasis on weeding out those traveling to and from the States with an affiliation to terrorist networks. Additionally, this bill will revoke U.S. passports of individuals who belong to designated foreign terrorist organizations or have aided, abetted, or provided material support to such an organization. 

Last but not least, the final bucket of this legislation states that if you have been on the terror watch list and attempt to buy a gun, law enforcement will be notified. At which point the Attorney General would have the ability to delay the purchase so there is an ability to prevent the firearm transfer if deemed appropriate. In such a case, that individual could petition the decision in court and if they win, the government will be on the hook for any legal feels. That provides the due process component that I think most can agree is needed.

This process may well have been able to prevent the Orlando shooting. 

Any longtime readers of this newsletter will know that I don’t mince words when I’m unimpressed with the Republican leadership of the House.  But in this sit-in case, I think they handled it just right.  They patiently let the Democrats have their stunt and after ten hours of shenanigans, they quickly reminded the Democrats that the House is an institution where the majority rules and the majority is elected by the American people.  The House went right on ahead with the pressing business of the day – we passed the remaining Zika funding and the budget bill for the VA and Military Construction.  We brought the bills up and voted them right on through – right over top of the childish screaming from our Democrat colleagues. 

Rules, order, system – the House is where democracy is supposed to work its way up in a respectful way. This publicity stunt tried to set a dangerous precedent and we showed them that the precedent wouldn’t stand.  We’re not going to negotiate with hostage takers.  We’re not going to roll over to a slogan.  We’re going to tell people the truth and then we’re going to keep moving forward.   

Reasonable people can and will disagree.  But there’s a way to do it respectfully and with a fair and open mind.  They picked the disruptive, disrespectful and disingenuous way. And credit to my colleagues in leadership for directly taking the high road and not surrendering principle while offering a workable solution for the week ahead.

As always, feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts on this or any other issue.

To close, I just want to wish everyone a very happy and safe Independence Day weekend. Monday marks the 240th anniversary of our nation's liberty and freedom. Let's all take a moment to reflect on the fathers and mothers, scholars and scientists, farmers and fighters who got us here. The United States of America is the greatest country in the history of the world. God bless. 

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SITREP - June 18th, 2016

2016/06/18

A week ago, our neighbors to the east suffered a homegrown terrorist attack.  The shooter was an American citizen.  His father (from Afghanistan) is an open and vocal supporter of the Taliban.  As more information trickled out, it became clear that the shooter had been investigated multiple times by the FBI, had been placed on the terrorist watch list and had been removed.  Had the shooter remained on that list, his weapons purchases would’ve flagged him for increased surveillance.  Instead, 49 civilians were killed and dozens more wounded.

For me, as the former head of a law enforcement agency, it’s hard not to focus on how things could’ve been handled differently.  The FBI held a press conference with their staff laughing on camera before the Director came out to announce they’d done everything right.  In the days since, we haven’t been having a serious, somber conversation about what we’re going to do differently to stop this threat.  Instead, way too many people have started treating this as a political opportunity.  Some Democrats in the House actually protested a moment of silence for the victims saying that instead of offering a prayer for the victims, we should be taking up their gun-banning legislation.  No matter how strongly one may feel about a legislative issue, I don’t think that’s appropriate.

In the days since, nobody has been talking about what we could or should be doing to stop ISIS abroad so they stop being able to inspire and facilitate attacks at home.  Nobody is talking about the steady trickle of refugees from Syria and elsewhere still coming into this country with insufficient background checks.  Nobody is talking about the sorry state of readiness in our military that cripples our capabilities and puts our people in danger.  And nobody seemingly, is asking tough questions about how the son of a Taliban cheerleader who just shot a hundred Americans after being reported to the FBI by two separate sets of people was not deemed to be a threat.

You’ve heard plenty from me over the last few months about ISIS and our military.  You’ve heard me talk about the half-hearted and unauthorized air war we’re relying on to stop this threat.  We also need to focus on how we’re going to stop the lone attackers – the ones who aren’t communicating their intentions.  It’s an extremely tough question.  But the terrorist watch list is a mess.  Senator Ted Kennedy was famously on it and couldn’t get off.  There are little kids and grandmothers who can’t get off it.  And yet the son of a Taliban supporter who bragged about his own association with terrorist groups is cleared to do as he pleases without anyone checking after him.  That’s crazy.  We also don’t have any kind of system in place to notify us if somebody who’s been investigated for terror-related activities tries to buy weapons.  That seems like a good place to focus some bipartisan attention. 

If we restrict this debate to taking away Americans’ constitutional rights – without any judicial review – I think we’ll remain at loggerheads with no progress made.  This threat isn’t going away.  There will be more attacks.  This one has shown just how close to home the threat can be.  In the weeks ahead, I hope you’ll reach out with your views on what steps the government should be taking.  Reasonable people can and will disagree, but I think we owe it to the victims of terror – past, present and future – to try and reach a consensus about what we can be doing better.  I don’t accept the FBI Directors comments that this nation or their agency did everything possible.  This is the strongest country on earth and we shouldn’t let anybody forget it.

Thank you as always for your time and please let me know what’s on your mind.  

Sincerely,
Rich Nugent
Member of Congress

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SITREP - June 12th, 2016

2016/06/12

This past weekend Wendy and I were helping one of our sons, who is now a Major in the Army, and his young family move into a new house.

During the move, we stopped by the base’s commissary to pick up a few essentials when we noticed a recent copy of ArmyTimes with the following headline, “Congress is Targeting Military Housing Stipends, and it Could Cost Troops Thousands.” The article is of course talking about the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and how the system currently assigns a determined stipend based on rank, family and zip code.

First, this news that Congress was considering reducing the BAH was shocking and scary to our daughter-in-law (and rightfully so). She told us that many others in the military community were apparently already expressing concern over the potential that their already-low housing stipends could be further cut.

Second, she looked at me – as a sitting member of said Congress – with a terrified look hoping I had an update and answers from Capitol Hill.

Frankly, I was certain there was no cut in the House version of the bill we just passed, so the breaking news headline caught me a bit off guard as well. Turns out, it’s actually the Senate who has quietly planted this potential bombshell in their version of the National Defense Authorization Act (the House completed ours a few weeks ago, they are now reviewing their version this past week and next).

Proponents of this harmful measure argue that service members who live off-base are taking advantaged of their housing allowance by living in smaller, less expensive dwellings or group-sharing scenarios and then pocketing the difference.

I argue that many of these folks are deliberately choosing to live in restricted housing situations because the cost of living combined with their relatively low salaries are forcing them to make tough decisions in order to survive.

But to harm service members and their families at large who are already struggling to make ends meet and are trying to make the most of their situation is reckless and insulting. 

This is not the place to make cuts.

Look, the truth is that service members on and off of bases are not living a lifestyle of glitz and glamour – they earn just enough to get by, provide for their family and hopefully save a little in the process.

On paper a reduction of the Basic Allowance for Housing program may seem like a good thing – legislators love to make hypothetical and macro level percentage cuts in a show of reduced federal spending. And in general, trimming real fat is obviously a good and necessary idea. But in this instance, the hurt would come at a very micro and personal level, targeting the men and women and their families who sacrifice to defend our country.

Freedom isn’t free. Making sure that the troops can afford to house their families is part of that cost. And there is no way we won’t combat this provision, should it be included in the Senate’s final version of the NDAA and on to the conference discussion table.

To that end, I’d love to hear from you on this topic. Do you have any family members or friends in the service who are hearing murmurs about the Senate cutting their BAH? And feel free to pass along anything else that may be on your mind.

Enjoy the weekend. 

Sincerely,
Rich Nugent
Member of Congress

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2014-04-04 14:07:59


Nugent wants answers - "If you like your healthcare, you can keep it"

2013-11-19 14:17:48


Nugent on Closure of Head Start During Shutdown

2013-10-08 15:40:24


Rep. Nugent Questions Joint Chiefs on Troop Pay, Training, and Readiness

2013-09-18 17:17:20


Rich Calls on Congress to Remember POW / MIA on 4th Anniversary of Bergdahl Capture

2013-07-02 19:33:53


Rich Calls For Moment of Silence Honoring Fallen Law Enforcement Officer

2013-05-16 18:59:13


Nugent Testifies Before Budget Committee For The Third Time

2013-03-06 15:57:06


Rule Debate - 09-11-2012

2012-09-11 17:17:58


Nugent Sticks Up For Small Businesses

2012-08-01 18:43:42


Nugent on Affordable Care Act: What a Scam

2012-07-10 18:09:46


Nugent Leads Debate on Holder Contempt Resolution

2012-06-29 14:23:20


Nugent Questions Issa and Cummings Over AG Holder Contempt Resolution

2012-06-27 20:28:14


Rich Calls for the Repeal of Obamacare Tax

2012-06-07 17:11:52


Nugent Calls for Accountability in Elections Process

2012-06-07 15:10:19


Nugent Calls for Passage of his Combat Action Badge Amendment

2012-06-05 19:02:22


Contact Information

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

Committee Assignments

House Administration

Armed Services

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

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

Carlos Curbelo

FLORIDA's 26th DISTRICT

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

FLORIDA's 27th DISTRICT

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