Rich Nugent

Rich Nugent


SITREP - February 7th, 2015


As promised, we’ve got a brief rundown on the President’s Budget request for you this week.  The challenge this year I’m finding, is that it’s getting harder and harder to find new and exciting ways to explain the exact same budget debate that we’ve seen for the last four years.   If some of this sounds like stuff you’ve heard before, I hope you’ll forgive me… It is.For starters, as I always do, it’s important to remind everybody about the “request” element of the “President’s Budget Request”.  That’s important.  As any long term readers or students of the federal budget process know, under our system of government, the President’s budget has no force of law at all.  Under our system, the President budget is simply a proposal of what he thinks we should do. It’s up to Congress to decide what we will do.That second part matters a great deal and it’s why you hear me gripe so much when Congress doesn’t live up to its end of the bargain.  Congress punting on the budget means the whole thing is just on auto-pilot.  That’s not good for anybody – not the President (whose budget has no force), not the institution of Congress (whose power comes from the purse), and certainly not for the taxpayers (who have to pay for all of it).Honestly though, I think the process is off to a reasonably good start this time.  Both the House and Senate are under the leadership of Republicans who have been frustrated for years by the lack of productive work on the budget process.  Also - this is the first year, at least since I’ve been here, that the President has submitted his budget on time, as defined in law.  That’s a positive and it’ll give us time to sort through the details.  In his request this year, the President has also called for restoring military funding to a safe and sustainable level.  That’s positive too.  Sadly though, that’s about where the positive stops…It’s where the positive stops and the next round of trillion dollar tax hikes begins. It’s where the immediate 6.7 percent spending increase begins.  It’s where the government-as-a-share-of-the-economy starts growing back to historic levels again.  It’s also where the glossing over problems and fuzzy estimates of savings begin.  And most visibly, it’s where the deficit stops getting better and starts growing unsustainably again.Medicare and Social Security are still careening toward catastrophe.  And despite having called for reform in a few of his State of the Union speeches, he still hasn’t put forward a specific plan to address the shortfalls.  The annual interest payments on the debt are still set to explode to $800 billion per year within a decade.  And instead of explaining where we’re going to cut back to cover those expenses, the President argues instead for abandoning “mindless austerity” and spending more.  The President’s plan for the deficit includes a new scheme to tax capital gains when property is passed to an heir.  Under current law, if you bought property many years ago for $15,000 and it grows to a $150,000 by the time you pass it onto your children, your kids aren’t expected to pay taxes on the gain in value that occurred during your lifetime. The President believes they should. They’ll need to go back into the records and find what the original cost-basis was as well as any depreciable improvements made over the years, then calculate the cost-basis just like it’s a stock trade. That, the President believes, would help them “pay their fair share”.You may also recall a proposal in his State of the Union to start taxing college savings accounts. After he suggested it, even Democrats in Congress pushed back and he had to abandon the plan. Unfortunately, it was too late to stop the budget from going to the printers, so that college savings tax is still counted as “savings” in the deficit. Also part of the “paying your fair share” philosophy.In addition to the tax increases, the President also says he’ll reduce the deficit by an estimated $400 billion through unspecified “healthcare savings” that his yet-to-be-created rationing board will find.  I thank the good Lord that he hasn’t tried to move forward with actually setting up his rationing board, but since he hasn’t, how do you count the savings they were supposed to get from rationing in the first place? And these projected savings come right alongside a cleverly disguised admission that his student loan reforms actually resulted in a $21.8 billion shortfall.  The President didn’t come right out and say that in his budget. The figure was actually hidden in a data table.  But as Politico reported this week, it is “apparently the largest [shortfall] ever recorded for any government credit program”.  The President didn’t call it a loss in his budget, his administration simply refers to it as a “re-estimate”.  That “re-estimate” resulted in a 5% increase to the nation’s deficit.While a lot of the budget request is fuzzy, the projected deficits are not.  We know very well where the deficit is headed if we don’t stay committed to restraining it.  The President just frankly doesn’t seem to enjoy that part of the job.  I can understand that.  I’m sure telling people they can have more without having to pay more is really easy politics.  I’m sure throwing dollars out to the crowd is fun – just like wearing beads and throwing candy from a Mardi Gras float is probably fun.  But like so many areas in life, fun doesn’t mean it’s the responsible thing to do.  This isn’t a light-hearted festival.  It’s the budget of the United States of America.  And despite the progress we’ve made cutting back (and aided recently by a recovering economy), it doesn’t mean you can go back to growing spending the way he did when he first entered office.  This money isn’t free.  Somebody has to pay for it.  And that somebody, my friends, is you.In any case, the congressional end of the budget process will commence shortly.  Our committees will be meeting and tossing around new ideas and conducting all the due diligence to come up with the estimates. We expect to put our proposals out for public review early in the spring.  What happens from there, we’ll just have to wait and see.  In the meantime, it’s safe to say that the President’s request can go right back in the drawer with last year’s.  It’s not credible.  And between you and me, I think he probably knows that…    As always, let me know what you think. And thanks again. Read More

SITREP - February 2nd, 2015


Just a quick update for you all from last week and a few thoughts on gas prices. As anticipated, the Senate passed the legislation forcing the administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. 53 Republicans and 9 Democrats joined together to pass it. The President has threatened to veto it. It’s unlikely that either the House or Senate will be able to find the votes necessary to override that veto. And so… Keystone will likely remain an unsolved problem.At this point, I’m sure most of you all know the backstory. Years ago, an application was filed to connect oil fields in Canada to American refineries in the Gulf. What should have been a relatively straightforward review turned into half a decade of dithering. Traditionally, because the pipeline spanned an international border, the President had the foreign policy discretion to approve it or reject it. Neither decision came, however. Over time, the goal posts seemed to keep moving. “We need an environmental impact study”.   The study was completed and the impact determined to be minimal. “We need the border states to approve it.” They talked it over and then did. “We need further review.” It’s unclear what else there is to review… the economic benefits of energy independence?Watching this all unfold from up north, the Canadian government became increasingly frustrated. Their oil needed to get to market. The pipeline wasn’t determining whether or not they would drill – just where the oil would go once they did. The energy-hungry Chinese were naturally anxious to get it and the Canadians considered for a while building a pipeline to the west coast and putting the crude on ships bound for China. That wasn’t ideal for anybody (certainly not America) and as an alternative, they looked at shipping the oil to the east coast and putting in on ships to bring it around to the Gulf that way. The governments and companies involved have looked at transporting the crude on trains - also not an ideal or efficient solution.What’s frustrating to a lot of us is that the Administration’s argument against Keystone just doesn’t make much sense. It goes something like, “if we don’t approve the pipeline, then the oil just won’t be drilled and then we’ll be more inclined to look at alternative energy sources.” That’s nonsense and any objective observer can see that.First off, they are going to drill the oil. That’s a given. Second, even if we diverted as much taxpayer money as the President wants into renewable energy, it will still be a very long time indeed before our cars stop needing gasoline. It will be a long time before we stop needing oil to make things like plastic and other derivative products. For the foreseeable future, American consumers need fuel. They don’t want to need fuel, but they do need fuel. There’s no choice in the matter. So from a public policy perspective, an important choice is what we are willing to do to try to reduce the cost of that fuel for American families.In large part because of the boom in oil and gas production here in North America, global oil prices have plummeted. So far, according to AAA, consumers have saved $14 billion this year at the pump and that number could be closer to $75 billion next year if prices hold steady. For an economy still struggling and for families where wage growth remains stagnant, saving $75 billion in unavoidable costs is no small bonus. And if the cost savings weren’t enough, we also have the thousands of jobs that oil and gas production has created in states like North Dakota and elsewhere. Unemployment in those states, even when the rest of the country was still in the grips of the recession, was well below the national average. It has, in fact, been one of the only bright spots in our economy.So how, even at this late stage, seeing the dramatic improvement for consumers, can the opposition still be there to increasing our own domestic production and independence? This development has strengthened American consumers and it has put additional pressure on countries like Iran and Russia and Venezuela. Very few things in life are all good or all bad and to be sure, there have been some negative impacts of the fall in oil prices. Many small banks that have made loans to American production companies have been pinched and we’re starting to see new exploration slow somewhat which will mean some job growth will slow as well. But on the whole, I really have a hard time moving around Central Florida and seeing how cheaper gasoline is bad for our community.Keystone has been delayed for so long that the companies have largely problem-solved their way around it. In many respects, this issue has become a proxy vote for whether or not you think American-made fuel is a positive or a negative. The President is going to have to explain to the American people – the vast majority of whom have to drive as part of their daily lives – why he remains opposed. He’s going to need to explain why these low costs, which have happened in spite of his best efforts, are bad for American consumers. And he’s going to have to do better than, “cars should run on windmills.”In any case, that's the news on that front.  The President's budget request was released this morning and we're starting the process of going through the fine points.  I'll have more to report on that next week.  In the meantime, if you have any questions or anything else comes up, please let me know.  Thanks again.  Read More

SITREP - January 25th, 2015


Well, the 114th Congress is off and running. As has been the tradition for the last century, the President came to Congress to deliver his thoughts on the state of the union. As has been the tradition for the last five years, the President delivered his own unique version of that – a lecture. What struck me about this speech in particular, is that the President’s tone (and content) still hasn’t evolved despite a dramatic change in the composition of Congress.When he was first elected, President Obama enjoyed massive majorities in both the House and Senate. He preached bipartisanship in his State of the Union while also presenting a fairly partisan agenda. I didn’t begrudge him that his first time out. He’d won big and he’d run on that message. As he famously said to then-minority leader Eric Cantor, “elections have consequences”. But as time wore on and the American people became less enamored with his vision and his execution, the bipartisan notes he sounded in his speeches started to sound hollow. He wasn’t reaching across the aisle at all.After two years in office and one massive government takeover of healthcare, the President lost his majority in the House. Not one Republican voted in support of his bill. I entered Congress that very next year. Like a lot of people, I was interested to see whether the President took anything away from that loss and whether he would take a different tone in that year’s State of the Union Address.As it turned out, he didn’t.He lectured again about the importance of bipartisanship and coupled that again with highly-partisan plans. And while I learned a lot about the President’s leadership style in that speech, at that point, it still remained to be seen how well he’d actually work with a new Republican majority. Speeches are one thing, but can you work behind the scenes to build consensus and find solutions?Needless to say, he didn’t work very well with the new Republican majority. Part of that is Republicans’ fault, to be sure. But the President didn’t change up his style either. And he didn’t change up his playbook. He kept singing the same tune. He kept lecturing the same message.As we all know, he was reelected in 2012. That year, Democrats maintained control of the Senate and Republicans maintained control of the House. The status quo continued. The State of the Union remained the same.But in this most recent election, the President got trounced one more time. He lost complete control of Congress. The American people voted against him. They voted against his team. They voted against the Democrats’ track record and style of governing. Surely, with only two years left in his administration and a natural desire to ensure some tangible legacy beyond the disastrous healthcare law that bears his name, President Obama would finally take a different strategy. He’d be more conciliatory and more genuinely interested in finding what common ground there is between the two political parties.I’m not sure if you watched his speech on Tuesday – a huge percentage of the country did not. But if you did, then you saw the same speech he’s given year after year. Lofty goals without any corresponding detail. Hollow lectures about bipartisanship. Liberal talking points designed to fire up his base. The show went on just as it always has. The challenge, at this point, is not to allow the stale air from these speeches to affect our ability to push forward with new ideas and better solutions for America.Like most people, I want to see Congress work. I want to see the President lead. I want to see us get results. For far too long now, that hasn’t been the case. And while we can’t control what the President does (or how he does it), we are now in a position to control what Congress does (and how we do it).Although it may be a little procedural and a little “inside baseball”, you’ve heard me talk enough over the years about how few bills the Senate decided to take up. You’ve heard me talk about Harry Reid’s desire to shield his members from having to take tough votes heading into an election. You’ve heard me explain what the impact of that inaction has been on both our budget and our economy.And although we have a very long way to go and so very many things left to prove, I will leave you all with this one fact to demonstrate where I think we’re headed:In the three weeks since Republicans took control of the Senate, they have already considered more amendments than they did in all of 2014. You read that correctly. More amendments in the first three weeks than in all of last year. The Democrats got to offer their amendments, just as Republicans did. They got to make Republicans take politically dicey stands on things. They got to play “gotcha”. And the end result is that the Senate worked its will a little bit. They’re debating the issues again. They are taking a stand on things. This week, it’s the Keystone XL Pipeline – something they hope to wrap up next week. And while it appears they are four votes short of what would be necessary to override the President’s threatened veto, I am genuinely encouraged by what might be possible with a Senate that does something – anything really. There are plenty of issues out there that we need to work on.Is there common ground out there to be found? You bet there is. Would it be good for America if we can find some solutions within that common ground? I have no doubt that it will be if we can get there. But what is becoming clearer by the day is that no matter how loudly the American people send the message, it appears that the drive and the leadership will have to come from Congress. The President will continue to threaten vetoes. He’ll continue to try to push executive decisions. But what he can’t do is blame a dysfunctional Congress. We’re going to keep sending solutions to his desk. What he does with those solutions will be up to him.In any case, I appreciate your time, as always. I hope you all have a safe and restful weekend and please keep me posted if anything comes up. Read More

SITREP - January 17th, 2015


Just a quick note this week to update everybody on the President’s executive amnesty and how Congress is responding to it. As most of you probably know, the House has now passed a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security which completely defunds and blocks the President’s executive amnesty. At this point, my expectation is that the Senate bring it up as quickly as possible and either pass or amend it well in advance of the deadline.  By doing so, Congress can dispense with shutdown hysterics. I don’t anticipate that the Senate will necessarily agree with our bill exactly as written (and certainly not the President), but these deliberations need to get moving now – and not at the eleventh hour. The House has acted well in advance of the DHS funding deadline. If you don’t see the Senate move quickly, then you can bet there are shutdown leverage antics on the horizon.Regardless of how one feels about the President’s action (and people feel passionately on both sides), there is no reason why this bill should get left till the last second and rushed through. The country doesn’t need the hysterics that will accompany it and the country doesn’t need the last minute items that will get slipped into the bill amidst the chaos. It’s important to remember, after all, that the immigration provision in the DHS funding bill isn’t the only thing of consequence in there… the entire budget for DHS is in there. We need to think through all of this – including the amnesty piece – very carefully.As a country and as a government, we need to have these debates, but I think we should have the debates deliberately and out in the open. We have that opportunity now. The House has made its argument. I hope the Senate doesn’t delay in making theirs. Read More

SITREP - December 13th, 2014


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


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


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


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


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


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

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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


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


Carlos Curbelo


Ileana Ros-Lehtinen


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