Rich Nugent

Rich Nugent

FLORIDA's 11th DISTRICT

SITREP - December 13th, 2014

2014/12/13

Well, I’ve got a lot to report so I’ll get right to it. This week, amidst all of the focus on the government funding bill, there was a significant piece of legislation that you deserve to be aware of. Very quickly and very quietly, Congress passed the authorization bill for the nation’s intelligence agencies. As many of you many know from past years, the actual text of the bill is classified, as are the dollar amounts authorized for the various agencies and programs. Members of Congress are permitted to read the actual text of the bill, but in order to do so, we have to go to a secure room and physically read it there. We cannot take a copy with us. Our staff is not permitted to review it. We have to comb through it as best as we can in a very short period of time. The only people available to answer questions are the people who actually drafted the bill. They don’t exactly point you to the questionable parts.For a variety of reasons, I understand the need for much of the operational / programmatic content to be kept secret. But that inherent lack of transparency always makes me queasy. This is especially true given the revelations we’ve had over the last couple years about wiretapping, etc. Making matters worse, the bill was brought up so quickly that there wasn’t anywhere near the time necessary to do the due diligence. At the end of the day, I just don’t trust what’s in there and I couldn’t vote for a bill knowing full well that there could be a new authority or something granted that I believe is unconstitutional.For somebody who focuses so heavily on national security issues, it feels a little strange having had to vote against the Defense Authorization and Intelligence Authorization in back to back weeks. But strange as it may feel and as much as I may have preferred to support these bills, what’s right is right and I will never be one of these legislators who plays the game just to get ahead. And that brings us to this week’s funding bill for the entire government. It’s an interesting situation where outside groups on both the right and left were itching and urging to shut the government down in hopes of forcing the other side’s hand. The message from both camps was, “if we just don’t give in, the other side will have to.” Playing chicken is exciting, but when neither side is prepared to blink, well… bad things happen to good people.   Both sides wanted a drag out fight that would inevitably end up in a government shutdown followed shortly by a temporary spending patch to get us into next year. The consequence of that is that we’d be unable to use our leverage right now to make the changes to the rest of the budget that we think are necessary.For instance, with the bill we passed, we were able to provide an additional $69 million for reducing the VA’s backlog. We were able to cut the IRS’s budget by $345 million. We rolled back the EPA and Army Corps overreach on water. We were able to boost defense funding, embassy security funding, traumatic brain injury research – all while simultaneously cutting overall spending levels to back to pre-Pelosi levels. We were able to do these things while also keeping the DHS funding limited to early next year when everybody agrees we’re in the strongest position to fight back against the President’s executive amnesty.  I understand where critics are coming from on this. If you’ve read this newsletter for any length of time, you know how frustrated I am about the President’s executive orders – and not just on this issue. I am very much looking forward to having that ‘discussion’ with a Senate majority next year. If all I wanted was a symbolic shutdown to show the other side just how mad I am, I would be bitterly disappointed with this outcome. But I wanted more than that and I think we got a lot more that. I know we did. The liberals are just as hopping mad as many conservatives are. They are screaming that the Republicans are getting away with far too much and the President gave away the farm. In the final analysis – at least in my final analysis - I think preserving our ability to fight the executive order in January, ensuring that spending is actually prioritized for the rest of this fiscal year, and setting the federal government on a course – for the first time in nearly a decade – to actually prioritize the budget as we’re supposed to… that’s a reasonably good outcome given the circumstances.Reasonable people can disagree and as always, I’m interested to hear your views on this. You all are good to take the time each week to read this newsletter and to share your insights in return. I don’t know very many of my colleagues who get to enjoy this kind of dialogue on a regular basis so I thank you all for that.Have a safe and restful weekend and please let me know if there is any way we can be of service to you. Thanks again.Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - November 22nd, 2014

2014/11/22

Well, it happened. The President announced his executive amnesty plan. As I explained to a reporter Thursday night, it seems like the deeper into his presidency that he gets, the more support the President loses among the American people. And the more support he loses, the more he tries to go it alone. His remaining supporters will tell you this is leadership. I disagree. The President had strong majorities in both the House and Senate at the beginning of his term. He’d promised he’d deliver amnesty. He didn’t. Even a Democrat-controlled Congress knew that the support for his plan wasn’t there. So they didn’t do it.Our position this entire time has been that before any rational discussion could be had on this subject, the country needed to have positive control of its borders. If you just start out with amnesty, then people will flood the border trying to get in under the wire. That’s what we saw with the President’s first executive order on the children of illegal immigrants – a flood of unaccompanied minors at the border. At the same time the President was trying to tell Central American countries not to send their kids here, his agencies were under orders to accept all of the inbound kids. That’s not rocket science.  History is instructive here.  In 1986, as most of you know, President Reagan reached an agreement on immigration. In exchange for the promise of future enhancements to border security, the estimated three million illegal immigrants in the country were granted amnesty. It was said at the time that once and for all, America’s broken immigration system would be fixed and we’d never have to deal with it again…We all know how that turned out. A couple of short decades later, we had twelve million illegal immigrants living here. That is the effect that amnesty has… people expect another round of it in the future. If you aren’t in a position to secure the physical border, you aren’t in a position to crack down on employers hiring undocumented workers, and you aren’t in a position to catch people purposefully overstaying their visas, then you aren’t in a position to grant amnesty and start the cycle all over again.As everybody knows, we are a nation of immigrants. For generations, people have risked life and limb to get to this country in search of a better life for their children. We respect that narrative in America because it is ourcollective narrative. But if we are going to have a moral discussion about this issue in our country, then we need to talk about the millions of people all over this globe who are oppressed by their governments, starving for food and water, and desperate for a better life. They don’t all have access to a land bridge and an open border into America. They come here the right way - they visit consulates and embassies and they go through a remarkably arduous and lengthy process in order to get here. The President’s supporters will tell you that we have a moral obligation to accept the people who cut to the front of the line. They will tell you these undocumented immigrants have families and they desperately want to be Americans. Well so does every other applicant living in every other dark corner of this world. They also have children. They also fear for their lives. They also yearn for economic and religious freedom. And they can’t come here the right way because we’re already swamped with people coming here the wrong way. Knowing this, the president and his supporters on this amnesty plan still feel like the top priority is rewarding the people who broke the law. Maybe it’s a life spent in law enforcement, I don’t know, but I have never put the people who willingly break the law ahead of the people who faithfully follow it. I will never be convinced that amnesty without border security is a wise way to approach a broken immigration system. And I will never sit back and accept a President who tries to force his way because he is too lazy, too shortsighted, or too weak to engage with the other branches of our government. The ends will never justify the means when it comes to the very legal fabric of our great nation. We are going to have a fight in Washington when Congress returns. I don’t know what that is going to look like yet. Rest assured, whatever happens, I will certainly keep you informed and as always, I am anxious for your input.Thanks again.Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - November 15th, 2014

2014/11/15

Well… we saw some progress this week. As you may have heard, the Democrats in the Senate have agreed to allow a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline. Even the less cynical people in Washington will readily admit that this is just a ploy to help out a vulnerable incumbent Democrat facing a runoff election for Senate next month. Regardless though, it’s a welcome development for a country tired of nothing getting done in Washington. On Friday, we voted for the ninth time to approve the Keystone permit application. And as with previous votes, we had a few dozen Democrats join us. The Senate actually passed a non-binding version of Keystone back in 2013 with 17 Democrats joining all of the Republicans. There is no obvious reason that the result should be materially different this time.Regardless, the President has indicated he will veto the bill. For some of us who have been working on this issue for a long time, it’s extremely hard to understand. It’s been six years since TransCanada requested a permit to build a section of pipeline connecting Canadian fields and American refineries. Four hundred miles on either end have already been completed – they just need permission to connect the two across the US / Canada border. The state of Nebraska, which would host the pipeline, has voted to approve it. There is overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress for it. The labor unions have cited the jobs it would create in why they support it. And the environmental impact study that the Obama administration required came back saying the impact would be minimal. And it’s easy to understand why.The environmentalists who oppose Keystone, almost reflexively, say that construction of the pipeline would somehow cause a dramatic increase in carbon emissions. They say that drilling in the Canadian Tar Sands releases more greenhouse gasses than other drilling projects. But even if that’s true and even if that’s a concern that keeps you up at night, the drilling is going to keep taking place regardless of the pipeline. It’s just a question of whether the Canadians build a pipeline out to the west coast and ship the oil to an eager Chinese public or as they’ve more recently contemplated, build a pipeline to the east coast and transport the oil down to the Gulf on ships. Even though both of those options are less efficient (and therefore more expensive) they’ve been patiently waiting for six years for the Obama administration to act and they simply don’t have much choice any more. All the while, the jobs that are depending on this project, modest though they may be, are going unfilled. Even in our local community, as some of you probably know, we are losing business that would likely result from completion of the pipeline. Our congressional district is home to one of the only metal foundries in the world that makes the giant pumps that are used in this sort of project. And there are situations like that all over this country.The government can’t waive a magic wand and cause economic growth, but there are commonsense steps you can take to support it. This is one. Instead, the President travels to China, sits down with their head of state and agrees to a deal in which the U.S. will voluntarily reduce its emissions by 28% by 2026 in exchange for the Chinese agreeing to stop increasingtheir emissions by 2030.   In case it’s not obvious, our people are supposed to absorb the full cost of reducing these emissions while the Chinese keep building cheap power plants to fuel their growth for the next two decades. That decision is making the Chinese more competitive against us. The President’s job is to make us more competitive against the Chinese.I understand the pressure that the President feels to pander to his base. That’s fine. He wanted to get himself reelected. I get that. But when it’s costing us good paying American jobs here at home...? When it makes the cost of fuel more expensive for American families who have to drive every day…? When China of all countries is reaping the benefits of our self-inflicted wounds?There is a reason that support for the Keystone Pipeline is at 60% among the American people. There is a reason why it has overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. And there is also a reason why Harry Reid feels it’s critical to allow his Democrat candidate in Louisiana to distance herself from the President on this.    The reason is that the President is wrong on the policy with Keystone. Hopefully… some bipartisan cooperation in Congress can help turn him around.In any case, if you have a minute, let me know what you think about Keystone or anything else we’ve got going on in Washington. You know I’m always happy to hear from you.Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - November 7th, 2014

2014/11/07

Well, it’s done. The noise and ruckus of the campaign has stopped. There’s nothing left to do now but govern.    For the first time since I’ve been in office, I’m feeling genuinely optimistic that things are turning in the right direction. This country may finally be able to see the House and Senate come together to tackle the nation’s business. First and foremost, I’m hopeful that we can finally see a proper budget crafted, debated, voted on and reconciled. I’m hopeful that based on the outlines of that agreed-upon budget, we can see Congress start considering the various spending bills one-by-one and line-by-line as we are required to do each year by law. I’m hopeful that the various bipartisan jobs bills the House passed will make now be able to make it to the President’s desk after we pass them again in the next Congress. I’m hopeful that we can take on our monstrous tax code and replace it with something simple and effective for families and small businesses. I’m hopeful that we can replace Obamacare with reforms that take the American people’s input into account. I’m hopeful that we can get the Keystone pipeline approved and continue advancing the policies that are pushing gas prices down for everybody.  But while I am hopeful that all of these things will take place, there is one thing I don’t have tohope for anymore. There is one thing I know is about to happen – the days of the administration being able to do as it pleased without any meaningful oversight from Congress are gone. Neither the House or Senate will have the 2/3 majority required to override a presidential veto of policy changes – at least not without unlikely votes from Democrats. But where the Senate has given the White House a pass over the last six years, we’re going to take that pass back. Where Congress has collectively allowed the Executive Branch to do as it pleased, we are going to reclaim that power and put it back in the hands of the people’s representatives – as our Founders intended.I cannot promise that the President and congressional leaders will be able to reach amicable solutions on everything we’d like to get done. The trust and the mutual respect have been seriously damaged over the last few years. But what I can promise is that we will make every effort we can to work out solutions that can pass both the House and Senate. From there, it will be up to the President to decide whether making that progress is worth bending his liberal ideology. It’s hard to guess.  He’s been quoted as saying, “without the Senate, I don’t particularly care to be president”. That kind of thing isn’t encouraging and it seems like a pretty and small-minded way to lead a nation. But that’s where he may be in his own head. Who knows? We should get a pretty good picture in the first couple of months of how well this is going to work. For the time being, we’ll have to finish up some year-end business and just wait and see. At the end of the day, I know where my constituents stand and I have my marching orders ready to go. Congress returns to Washington this week for some organizational business and hopefully some legislating as well. I should have a clearer idea next week what we can expect policy-wise for the remaining weeks of the year.   Until then, please keep me posted about what’s on your mind and if there is anything I can do to help move that particular ball forward.Thanks again.   Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - November 1st, 2014

2014/11/01

On Thursday night, a military coup was brewing in Burkina Faso. By the time newspapers had been delivered in America Friday morning, it was all over. The president of that country had been overthrown and a general had declared himself in control. Cars burned in front of parliament, broken glass was everywhere, and thousands had taken to the streets. This story is a sad repeat of the same sort of coup thirty years prior in that same country. In that coup, the now-deposed president violently overthrew and killed his once close friend to take control.This kind of thing happens so much around the world that we tend to get a little desensitized to it. But getting so close to our own elections, I am reminded just what a strong and resilient country we really are. No matter how vicious and partisan the fights in Washington may get, Americans will still head to the polls on Tuesday and peacefully decide for themselves who will lead. In each and every contest, the loser will respect the wishes of the people. There may even be some irregularities and quarreling in front of the courts. But at the end of the day, we live by our Constitution and our laws because, as a society, we respect them. And as bad as things seem to get sometimes in our country sometimes, we shouldn’t lose sight of that. Nobody gave us this country. Nobody ensured peace and prosperity for us. We had to earn it. And every two years, we have to keep earning it. For more than two centuries, we have done continuously what so many nations struggle to do at all. We peacefully and respectfully hand power to our adversaries – even the ones we bitterly mistrust and disagree with. And regardless of how things may shake out on Tuesday, or how they may shake out in 2016 and beyond, as long as we keep our eye on what’s most important and stay true to our Constitution, America will remain the leader of the free world and the envy of everyone else.   Read More

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

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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

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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