Rich Nugent

Rich Nugent


SITREP - July 26th, 2014


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

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


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

Sitrep - July 12th, 2014


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

SITREP - June 28th, 2014


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

SITREP - June 21st, 2014


The House stayed busy this week and I’m happy to report, it was all pretty positive stuff.  The main order of business was consideration of the Defense Appropriations bill (one of my top priorities, obviously).  I’ve been through this a couple times now, but it is still remarkable to me (and a little scary to be honest) that we can bring up, debate, amend, and pass a bill that appropriates $491 billion in just a few days without too many hickups.  But… that’s the way the process works and they’ve been doing it this way for generations.The deeper I get into this, though, the more I realize just how important the basic committee process is.  All 435 members of the House can’t possibly be specialists in everything.  The solution, going back to the beginning of the Republic, is to divide the work up into committees of jurisdiction - usually according to our individual interests and areas of expertise.  It takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication to work through and analyze every single program (big and small) within a budget as big as DOD’s.  Bbarut that is precisely what is required if you want to do the hard work of setting priorities and responsibly allocating resources. For instance, I’ve become the adopted parent of a small “directed energy” program called CHAMP.  For a number of years now, the Air Force has been researching ways to use small microwave emitters to knock out enemy electronics without causing physical harm to people or structures.  The idea being – American taxpayers shelled out considerable sums to rebuild vital infrastructure in Iraq almost as soon as we were done blowing it all up.  It would’ve been far more cost effective to render the enemies capabilities useless without having to actually go in later and rebuild their structures for them.  This tool won’t be the answer for everything and it certainly won’t ever replace conventional weapons completely, but it is another very useful and very cost effective tool in the commander’s took kit.Right now, the Air Force is hard at work coming up with a reusable delivery vehicle for this emitter, but that reusable model is still about ten years out.  As my military aide and I came to realize, however, they can use a cruise missile as an alternative. As luck would have it, we have a warehouse full of old decommissioned cruise missiles that are literally just sitting there collecting dust.  They have no other mission.  The Air Force tested the cruise missile option and it worked.  They just need to retrofit the emitter to accommodate a larger fuel tank for the missile and provide optimal stability characteristics, etc.  And it requires is refocusing some of the research investment.  No additional money, just a relook at how we’re spending the research dollars.  Seems like a no brainer. To make a long story short, I offered an amendment to reprogram some of the lab research money to make this a reality.  I am pleased to report that after some explanation and deliberation, the House passed my amendment unanimously.  More than a year’s worth of work for five minutes’ debate time on the floor.   “And the aye’s have it.  The amendment is agreed to.”  Phew... It’s not always that easy to bring people around to a new idea, but it helps when the idea makes a lot of sense.  If it weren’t for my position on the Armed Services Committee, I likely never would have had the time to really dig in to the nitty-gritty of this.  But sometimes, it’s making these little tweaks to funding priorities that can end up saving massive sums of money (and civilian lives) later down the road.The bottom line is… budgeting is important.  If you don’t go back and re-look at these issues from time to time, you’re liable to miss things like this.  In government, just like the private sector, we need to be constantly asking ourselves “why are we doing this?”  Does it still make sense?  Are there options we haven’t fully explored?  Can we be more efficient?  Can we be more effective?  Can we do more with less?  Can we be better stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars?  The “details” is where the money is invested wisely or blown on stupid stuff.  There’s no simple way around that.  It takes time and attention.  For too many people in Washington, I think it’s too easy to skip the hard part of budgeting and just throw money at the wall until something sticks.  But that’s not what any of us would really call budgeting. That’s just borrowing and spending.  And anybody can do that. In any case, that was the big focus for me this week.  Obviously, there is a lot going on with Iraq, the IRS, etc.  We’ll be back again next week to discuss some of that, but I fear I’ve taken enough of your morning already.  If there is anything I can do in the meantime, please let me know.  Otherwise, have a great weekend and I will be in touch again next Saturday.Thanks again.  Read More

SITREP - June 14th, 2014


There is obviously a lot going on in Washington right now, but most of it we’ve talked about at length already. Briefly - the House did continue its work on passing the appropriations bills. That’s a good thing and we’ve got more coming up next week. One thing I did want to touch on - As I alluded to last week, Defense Secretary Hagel showed up as scheduled to testify before the Armed Services Committee about the prisoner swap. I promise you, he’d have preferred to be at the dentist’s office. Not surprisingly, much of the questioning (from both sides of the aisle) focused on why the White House felt it was justified in ignoring the law and failing to inform Congress of their plans. Democrats and Republicans both feel some genuine anger about the President’s decision and their excuses haven’t helped. The Administration has tried out a few different versions since the story broke. First it was because they were concerned about Sgt. Bergdahl’s health – because of a video that was released six months earlier. Then it was because they were worried his captors were getting ready to kill him – which would’ve been inexplicable after five years of keeping him. Then they changed their minds again and said that they were concerned that Congress would leak the information and that would put the soldiers who were going to retrieve him in jeopardy. Then it was because the Qatari government told them that if there was a leak, the deal would be off. Then it was because they only knew the day before the transfer that the deal was going to happen.We’ll start with this latest one first. To be clear – the United States government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Qatari government on May 12th – weeks before the actual transfer took place. This didn’t come up the day before the swap. They could have notified Congress then, so that excuse is just plain bogus. We’ll just go ahead and skip the, “we only follow the law if the Qatari government says it’s ok” bit. That’s just nonsense. So what about the “our troops going to fetch Bergdahl would be in jeopardy if we informed Congress”? Well, the administration gave advance warning to Congress about the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, and that wasn’t exactly a low risk mission. And if the Secretary was so concerned about leaks, then why are we hearing reports that nearly 100 people across the Administration know about the deal? They even went so far as to inform the Department of Justice so they could request a letter of opinion saying that the President didn’t need to follow the law.All of these excuses are bogus and the Administration knows it. I think the most encouraging thing to me about this situation is that Congress as an institution finally started pushing back against the Executive Branch – not as hard as I’d like – but pushing back nonetheless. We’ll see what that leads to…The other big news of the week was the surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. As you might expect, there have been a lot of discussions going on in the press and within the halls of Congress as to why he lost. Some people attribute the defeat to the positions he’s taken on a variety of issues. There is undoubtedly truth to that. But as I’ve pointed out to a number of my colleagues who asked me my thoughts on it, issues alone wouldn’t explain why he lost so badly and so many other members with similar positions ended up winning handily. My take on it is this, and it’s pretty simple: There are two kinds of representatives in Washington – those who make sure they are on the first flight back home every week and those who think DC is a nice place to stay for the weekend. If you don’t genuinely enjoy spending time at home listening to people, if you don’t thoughtfully respond to their questions, if you don’t take their views into account, then at some point, they will find somebody to replace you with. It’s that simple. Being in the leadership is not an easy job and he spent a great deal of time travelling around to help fellow members. That’s part of the job and I get that. But it doesn’t absolve you of being accountable to the people who send you to Washington in the first place. The job title is “representative” and I think some people in Washington would do well to reflect on that from time to time. Our Founding Fathers set up our system of government the way they did for a reason. And that system has served us pretty well over the years. Good representatives, as they envisioned it, work hard to make sure they are always available to the people back home. It’s why, for instance, I make sure that when people request a meeting, we move heaven and earth to accommodate conflicting schedules. It’s why I respond to every letter I get, even if I can’t do it right away. It’s why even when we’re in Washington, we set aside time to do our tele-town halls. With all of this communication technology we have today, there is no excuse, none, not to be available to people. All of this is to say, as I’ve said a thousand times before, if you ever need to reach me, just know that you can. If you want to participate in the tele-town halls, just make sure we’ve got your phone number. If you ever want to sit down and talk, we’ll be sure to make it happen. And last but not least, if you should ever feel like your question wasn’t answered or your concern wasn’t heard, please be sure to let me know. It is a real and genuine honor to serve you all. Even though we may not agree on every issue, each and every citizen of this great country has a right to be heard. And as we saw this week, I know all too well that the American people won’t hesitate to show somebody the door if they feel like that basic responsibility isn’t being met. So thank you, as always, for your time and please let me know if there is anything I can do to be of service to you. Thanks again and have a great weekend. Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - June 7th, 2014


If you’ve read a newspaper or turned on a television at all this week, then you already know what the news is. Last Saturday, President Obama announced the he had swapped five high level Taliban operatives for our only POW in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. A firestorm has ensued. So what is all of the fuss about and where do I stand on it?Well, for starters, as you all probably know, I have been extremely active in Congress trying to raise awareness that Sgt. Bergdahl existed in the first place. You would be amazed at how many members of Congress didn’t know he was being held until the announcement was made last weekend. As a father of three American soldiers, I was angry about that. Many people, including reportedly some who served alongside Bergdahl, have understandably questioned the loss of lives in trying to locate him. But at the end of the day, an American solider is an American solider and even in cases of misconduct, his country should know he’s being held captive. His country should still want to find the guys who are holding him. Now that he’s back, the Army will need to look at the facts surrounding his disappearance and whether punishment is in order. But in whatever case, that punishment should be carried out by the United States military and not by the terrorists. So where does that leave us now that the President has swapped the prisoners for him? It depends a lot on yourjudgment of the deal itself. The prospect of swapping these five Taliban leaders has been on the table for a long time (as has the opposition to it). According to reports, Defense Secretary Gates, CIA Director Panetta, and Secretary of State Clinton (all former) collectively opposed the deal when it was first brought up in 2011. According to Senator Feinstein, the Democrat chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the opposition among those briefed in Congress was similarly overwhelming. “Virtually unanimous”, I believe is the phrase she used. So it seems that the vast majority of those involved in the discussion were opposed on the grounds that releasing these militants presented too great of a threat to our troops and to our allies.Adding fuel to the fire, the President was required by law to notify Congress 30 days in advance of any release from Guantanamo. Senator Feinstein, a liberal herself and general supporter of the President, was outraged when he didn’t comply with that law. She attributed the “oversight”, as the administration put it, to a recognition within the White House that congressional opposition to the deal was overwhelming. As much as I wanted to see our guy out of Taliban hands, I was part of that opposition. As a father, I think like most Americans, I felt a lot of anguish for the family. The thought of having one of my boys being held by the Taliban for five years is beyond anything I care to contemplate. But as an American and as policymaker, I can’t just think as a father. Our responsibility is for the security of our forces at large and for our nation as a whole. So while a big part of me is very glad that the Taliban is no longer holding one of our soldiers prisoner, I deeply question the wisdom of the President’s decision. These are not easy questions by any means and I think reasonable people can disagree about them. It’s rare that you can have two seemingly inviolable principles that are in direct contradiction to one another: leave no man behind and never do anything to jeopardize our national security. In my opinion, at the end of the day, the primary responsibility is for the nation as a whole. You do the best you can and you do everything you can, but "doing everything" doesn’t mean putting our guys needlessly at risk. In any case, I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this. We’re still a long way from having all of the facts. Even a week later, despite the briefing requirement, we’re still getting just about all of our information from the media. The House Armed Services Committee will be holding a hearing this coming week and I will very definitely be an active participant. I’m not sure how much will come out and to what extent the information will be classified, but I sincerely hope I’ll be able to report more next Saturday. In the meantime, as always, if there is anything I can do to be of service, please let me know. Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

SITREP - May 31st, 2014


It’s been a short week in Washington, so just a couple items for you. The House moved another one of the twelve appropriations bills. This time, it was the Commerce, Justice, and Science bill, which funds several departments. Despite opening the bill up to unlimited amendments, we managed to move through the bill and pass it in a little over 48 hours. Feel free to read into that that there is no reason the Senate can’t get its work done.In any case, obligatory do-nothing Senate mention behind us, I wanted to flag one particular program for you that has been a key legislative priority of mine for over a year. Long story short, I saw first-hand when I was in law enforcement, that the jail system has become a sort of warehousing facility for people suffering mental health issues. Individuals with certain mental illness issues have a tendency to run afoul of the law in many different ways, and like everybody else, they end up in jail. But jail is a catastrophically bad place to try to treat those illnesses. As such, many of these same individuals tend to keep getting rearrested. To give you some idea of the scale we’re talking about…According to the Florida Mental Health Institute, over five years, 97 individuals in Miami-Dade County accounted for 2,200 bookings in the county jail, 27,000 days in the jail, and 13,000 days in crisis units, state hospitals and emergency rooms. The cost to the state and local taxpayers was nearly $13 million… for just 97 individuals!However, there are programs available that seek to divert people with mental health issues into treatment instead of just throwing them into a cell block. In Pinellas County – for instance – a mental health jail diversion program showed an 87 percent reduction in re-arrests for the nearly 3,000 offenders who were enrolled.Many of these kinds of programs receive federal grants under the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act, of which yours truly is the sponsor. I’ve been working with the Judiciary Committee for the better part of a year on the reauthorization, but this week, we were working on the appropriation component. I offered an amendment to the CJS appropriation bill which would boost funding for these programs, including a separate version of the mental health courts designed specifically for veterans. As many people already know, veterans suffer disproportionately from mental health and in many cases, those issues are a direct result of their service. To simply throw these guys and gals in jail and forget about them would be completely unacceptable in my opinion, so I was pleased to be able to get my amendment passed and into the final version of the bill.For those fiscal hawks out there, I want you to know that I covered the cost of the increased funding by reducing a corresponding amount from the Census Bureau’s bloated budget. In my view, responsible budgeting isn’t just about cutting everything, it’s about prioritizing spending. It’s about looking at each line item and seeing how much benefit the taxpayer gets out of the investments we make. In the case of mental health programs within the justice system, we’re talking about making our communities safer while saving the taxpayers money. That’s about as obvious as it gets.In any case, consider another one of the twelve appropriations bills done. The other main news obviously was that Secretary Shinseki stepped down as the head of the VA. I’ve written about it pretty extensively in recent weeks, so I won’t rehash it all here again. Suffice it to say, I think Shinseki is a good man, a decorated veteran, and a true patriot, but those things do not cancel out the tragedy that has happened on his watch. General Shinseki was at the head of the VA for five years – in my opinion, clearly long enough to change the culture within the department. He failed to do that and I think stepping down was the right thing to do. If you are interested, here is a link to the full statement I put out following his resignation.  Sincerely,Rich NugentMember of Congress Read More

Nugent Statement on Resignation of VA Sec Shinseki


(WASHINGTON, DC) Following the announcement of Secretary Shinseki's resignation, Rep. Rich Nugent (FL-11) issued the following statement:“Weeks ago, as the scope of the VA scandal became clear, I made the decision to call for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation.  And while many of my colleagues waited for the results from the Inspector General Report, I think we all knew this was coming.  As I said at the time, as a disabled veteran himself, I don’t doubt Secretary Shinseki’s dedication to the troops. His service to this country is beyond reproach and I sincerely thank him for that.  But when the mission is this important and the results fall so far short of what the American people should expect, I don’t think there is any excuse left.  General Shinseki was at the helm of the VA for five years and the problems were known to one degree or another when he assumed the office.  Five years is more than long enough to change the culture of complacency within the VA and he failed to do that.   “While many have tried to characterize the problems at the VA as a lack of sufficient funding, Congress has routinely met or exceeded the budget request from the President.  In the last ten years alone, the VA's budget has grown from $63.8 billion to over $134 billion.  And if they needed more funding, all the Secretary needed to do was ask.   If they didn’t have the resources necessary in Arizona and elsewhere, they should’ve spoken up.  But they didn’t speak up.  Instead, the VA stuck these veterans names in a drawer while they slowly died from treatable conditions and then went on to try and collect bonuses for their trouble.  So, to try and excuse the wrongful deaths of our nation’s veterans in this way is just plain offensive on the face of it.  And to be honest, it angers me that so many in Congress and in the media keep parroting these blatantly misleading, irresponsible and undignified excuses. “The House overwhelmingly passed legislation (H.R. 4031 - The VA Management Accountability Act) that will make it possible to demote or fire managers at the VA who are not performing.  While this standard does not apply to the rest of the federal government, it does apply to private companies and local government agencies all across the country.  The mission at the VA is far too important to tolerate this kind of complacency, mismanagement, and abuse.  The Senate needs to stop making excuses and take the necessary steps to fix the problem.  Obviously, the problem at the VA isn’t going to fix itself.”  -###- Read More

Nugent Amendment to CJS Approps Passes Unanimously


(WASHINGTON, DC) Following adoption of his amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill for FY 2015, Rep. Rich Nugent (FL-11) issued the following statement:“As a career law enforcement officer, I have seen first hand how our justice system has become a warehousing system for people suffering from mental health challenges.  Jails obviously are a terrible place to treat mental health issues, but that’s the situation we’re facing now.  One of the biggest ways we can reduce recidivism rates is to get these individuals the right kind of treatment so that the underlying conditions and not the symptoms are addressed.  I am very proud to be the sponsor of legislation reauthorizing a variety of programs under the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act.  We’ve received the support of 47 co-sponsors in the House and 36 co-sponsors for the companion bill in the Senate. “And to have the House unanimously support my amendment and one additional amendment appropriating a more than 33% increase in the funds available for these grant programs means an awful lot to the people on the ground who are trying to improve this situation.  I am happy to report that my amendment also increases the amount of resources available for the creation of veterans courts, which is especially important to me as veterans are disproportionately affected by mental health issues and in many cases, that is a direct result of their service and sacrifice to this country.  We owe it to these brave men and women that we don’t just shrug off the challenges they are facing, throw them in jail when they suffer a crisis, and then forget about them.“At the end of the day, these are investments that will do right by our veterans, make our communities safer, and in the final analysis, save the taxpayers money.   It doesn’t get much better than that.”  TRANSCRIPT of Rep. Nugent Remarks on the House Floor:   Madam Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.·      Thank you, _____ Chairman.·      Each day more and more Americans are realizing that that we need to take action to deal with mental health issues in this country.·      We need to make it a priority.·      My amendment, in keeping with that sentiment, would provide additional funding for programs under the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) and for Veterans Treatment Courts.·      These are programs with a proven track record of effectively addressing some of the important issues associated with mental health illnesses.·      My amendment would offset this increase by taking $4 million from the the Periodic Censuses and Programs account.·      Madam Chairman, both of the programs that would receive an increase in funding under my amendment highlight the need of our justice and mental health systems to work together.·      As a former Sheriff, I can tell you that cooperation is vital.·      If our justice and mental health systems are collaborating, we can provide more positive outcomes - not only for those with mental health illnesses but for our taxpayers as well.·      Grants provided under MIOTCRA are used, among other purposes, to set up mental health courts, for community reentry services, and training for state and local law enforcement to help identify and respond to people with mental illnesses.·      During my 37 years as a cop, I saw first-hand how our jails were becoming warehouses for people with mental health needs. ·      No one is well served by this process. Not those with mental health issues, not our taxpayers, and certainly not our veterans.·      Let me provide some numbers to illustrate what’s actually going on in our jails.·      According to the Florida Mental Health Institute, over five years, 97 individuals in Miami-Dade County accounted for 2,200 bookings in the county jail, 27,000 days in the jail, and 13,000 days in crisis units, state hospitals and emergency rooms.·      The cost to the state and local taxpayers was nearly $13 million… for just 97 individuals!·      However, the type of programs my amendment supports have been shown to dramatically reduce those rates.·      In Pinellas County – for instance – a mental health jail diversion program showed an 87 percent reduction in re-arrests for the nearly 3,000 offenders who were enrolled. ·      Not only does my amendment support these programs but it also recognizes the unique responsibility we have to our veterans. ·      Veterans are disproportionately affected by mental health illnesses.·      Even more, they would likely not have these issues if it weren’t for their service to our country.·      We owe them a better outcome and Veterans Treatment Courts can help.·      The point, Madam Chairman, is that we don’t have to waste taxpayer dollars warehousing people in jail. ·      We don’t have to be content with a system that isn’t effectively serving the people it is supposed to.·      We have programs that help and that save money.·      Let’s make this a priority.·      I urge adoption of my amendment and I reserve the balance of my time.  -###- Read More

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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


Steve Southerland


Ted Yoho


Ander Crenshaw


Ron DeSantis


John Mica


Bill Posey


Daniel Webster


Gus Bilirakis


David Jolly


Dennis Ross


Vern Buchanan


Tom Rooney


Curt Clawson


Mario Diaz-Balart


Ileana Ros-Lehtinen


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