Tim Walberg

Tim Walberg

MICHIGAN's 7th DISTRICT

House Passes Walberg Legislation To Bring Greater Accountability & Transparency to Government

2014/09/16

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House passed in H.R. 5169, the Senior Executive Service Accountability Act, legislation Rep. Walberg authored to provide greater transparency and accountability within the Senior Executive Service (SES).  The Senior Executive Service is comprised of senior level employees in managerial supervisory, and policy positions in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

H.R.5169 would make Senior Executive Service employees subject to the same employment standards as other civil service personnel.  It would streamline the process for removing members of the SES for misconduct, subject SES employees to many of the same rules for the employees they supervise, and would limit the amount of time an agency has to complete adverse action proceeding for senior leaders engaged in misconduct. 

“From the IRS to the VA, the American people have lost trust in the federal government to do the right thing. In many cases, these scandals have been spearheaded or continued by senior executive employees. My bill raises the level of accountability when misconduct occurs and provide greater assurances to the American taxpayer that Washington is being good stewards of their hard-earned dollars,” said Rep. Walberg following the vote. Read More

Rep Walberg Welcomes Constituents to Receive Angels in Adoption Award

2014/09/16

Washington, D.C. —  Rep. Tim Walberg is proud to announce that Dick and Cathy Caskey from North Adams have been named Angels in Adoption recipients through the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). The Caskeys have five biological children and have given 16 adopted children a loving home.

“The Angels in Adoption award could not go to a more deserving couple.  Dick and Cathy Caskey feel every child deserves to be in a home where he or she is cherished and have opened their hearts to special needs children over the years that have been challenged with blindness, epilepsy, autism, cerebral palsy and other difficulties. They are truly an inspiration,” said Rep. Walberg.

The Angels in Adoption program was established in 1999 and is a public awareness campaign and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad.  The Caskeys were honored at the annual CCAI awards ceremony on September 16 in Washington, D.C. with hundreds of other recipients from around the country.

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Walberg Votes to Assist Veterans

2014/09/16

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Walberg voted for a package of bills to help our nation’s veterans.  Among the bills passed with bipartisan support are measures to rein in out-of-control costs of three major Veterans Affairs projects, provide for a cost-of-living increase for certain disabled veterans and their dependents, and extend a number of important programs which help female veterans and homeless veterans.

“I remain committed to assisting our nation’s veterans and ensuring they have access to the benefits they deserve.  Today’s legislation illustrates the House’s continued commitment to delivering on these promises while also rooting out waste and abuse within the VA,” said Rep. Walberg following the votes.       

Background on bills:

  •  H.R. 3593 The VA Construction Assistance Act would implement reforms to expedite construction and rein in the out-of-control costs of three major VA regional projects under development
  • H.R. 5404 - Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act would extend a number of programs benefitting female veterans, homeless veterans and student veterans and other authorities given to the VA pertaining to health care, housing and transportation
  • H.R. 4276 - Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Improvement Act would require the VA to submit detailed quarterly reports to the Congress regarding the pilot program for rehabilitative services for veterans with traumatic brain injury
  • S. 2258 - Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act would provide for an increase in the rates of compensation of veterans with service connected disabilities and rates of dependency and indemnity compensation or the survivors of certain disabled veterans

 

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Government Executives: House Approves Bill To Make It Easier to Fire Senior Executives

2014/09/16

The House on Tuesday passed legislation that would make it easier to discipline and fire senior executives across the federal government.

The Senior Executive Service Accountability Act (H.R. 5169) would make the federal government’s top career officials eligible for one- to 14-day suspensions without pay, and expand the criteria that could be used to justify firing them. Currently, members of the SES can only be suspended for more than 14 days, or fired. Those who are suspended continue to receive pay, must receive 30 days’ advance notice of a proposed suspension, have the right to reply, and the right to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board. Agencies can issue a reprimand in lieu of a suspension for lesser offenses.

The new provision allowing for shorter suspensions gives supervisors more flexibility in disciplining senior executives. Opponents of the bill, however, believe it could lead to politically-motivated suspensions.

The final bill also includes a provision that would require SES employees put on administrative leave during the investigation and ultimately fired if the Merit Systems Protection Board sides with the agency, to pay back their salary and accrued annual leave for that period of time to the agency. In addition, the legislation would get rid of a provision in the current law which allows SES employees removed for performance and placed in a General Schedule job from retaining their SES salary. 

The House passed H.R. 5169 under a suspension of the rules on Tuesday night.

H.R. 5169 would extend the initial probationary period for SES employees from one to two years. Many of the procedural hurdles that prevent agencies from immediately firing senior executives do not apply when the employees are in their probationary periods. H.R. 5169 also requires agencies to provide a written justification for each of their SES positions every two years, and give employees a written description of their job performance requirements 30 days before each evaluation period.

Senior executives now can be fired for poor performance, misconduct, or the failure to complete assigned duties within the confines of due process. H.R. 5169 would add another reason defined as “such cause as would promote the efficiency of the service.” As of September 2013, there were 7,190 career senior executives in the federal government, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management.

The Senior Executive Service Accountability Act, introduced by Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and cosponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. – significantly changes SES oversight. H.R. 5169 was inspired by Lois Lerner, the senior executive at the heart of the IRS controversy who continued to collect pay during the investigation and retired at the height of the scandal. Lerner has continued to deny any wrongdoing in the matter.

It’s not the first time, however, that lawmakers have sought to make it easier to fire top career officials who, unlike appointees, have strong job protections within the civil service system so that they can’t be fired for political reasons. In 2013, legislation circulating in both chambers would have allowed the government to put those top career employees on leave without pay for three months pending the outcome of an investigation. The legislation, which Congress did not pass, directed agencies to fire, suspend without pay, or reinstate employees at the end of the 90 days. Congress this summer passed legislation which President Obama signed into law that makes it easier for the Veterans Affairs Department to discipline and fire senior executives engaged in misconduct or wrongdoing.

The Senior Executives Association sent a Sept. 15 letter to members of the House, urging them to vote against the bill, questioning the legality of the legislation.

“Laws already exist to allow agencies to hold employees accountable – supervisors at all levels need to understand the policies and have the will to use them and political leadership needs to support their doing so,” wrote SEA President Carol Bonosaro. “Nonetheless, SEA welcomes the opportunity to engage in a serious attempt at identifying what accountability policies work, which do not and whether problems arise from the policies themselves versus implementation.”

Bonosaro emphasized that SEA understands the desire to hold employees accountability and protect taxpayer money, but “trying to do so through unnecessary – or worse, unconstitutional – policy changes is not the answer.”

Lawmakers voted on an amended version of the bill. The original version included provisions that reduced agency notification to employees of an adverse personnel action from 30 days to 15 days, and another that required SES employees who receive written notice of a pending removal from the civil service to take mandatory annual leave during which they would receive pay, but could not work. Those provisions were dropped from the bill’s final version.

To read the original article, click here.  Read More

Walberg Supports Bipartisan Child Care & Development Block Grant Reforms

2014/09/15

Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Walberg helped pass a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program. The CCDBG program has not been reauthorized since 1996 and S. 1086the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act modernizes the CCDBG program and implements reforms which enhance parental choice, strengthen child safety and promote better care for our kids.

“This program is important in  helping many working families balance the demands of their jobs and caring for their kids.  I applaud the bipartisan work on the bill while still maintaining the program’s essential purpose with increased state flexibility and parental choice,” commented Rep. Walberg after the vote. Read More

Forbes: After Cops Seized and Kept Cash, Washington, D.C. Settles Almost Million-Dollar Forfeiture Class Action

2014/09/12

Under D.C. law, after receiving a notice that their property has been seized and is subject to forfeiture, owners have 30 days to file a claim to try to get their property back. Meanwhile, the city has one year to file a civil forfeiture action.

Purportedly, these procedures were not followed with Hardy or the thousands of people he represents as a class. In 2009, the Evidence Control Branch of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) sent out 3,000 asset forfeiture notices. But 2,000 of them were returned to the division unsigned. The Branch’s manager even testified that they usually did not search for other addresses to mail the returned forfeiture notices.

Arguing that the District’s forfeiture policy infringed their Fifth Amendment right to due process, Hardy, along with Donnell Monts, who had $823 taken after his arrest in 2006, filed a class action in 2009. Five years later, the two men will each receive $2,500 as part of the settlement.

Altogether, the nearly 1,400 claimants in the class action lost almost $700,000 to forfeiture, so the settlement will restore roughly three-quarters of what was taken from them. Yet the claimants represent just 14 percent of those affected by this particular D.C. forfeiture policy. Over a six-year period, the Metropolitan Police Department seized a staggering $2.9 million from these owners collectively.

Among the owners represented in the lawsuit, the median amount of cash seized was a mere $120. In fact, the MPD seized as little as $1 from some owners. There is little indication trivial amounts of money can be plausibly tied to the drug trade, noted Sean Day, who was co-counsel on the class action.

Nor is Washington, D.C. an outlier in using civil forfeiture to seize small sums of cash. Research by the Institute for Justice challenges the notion, frequently perpetuated by law enforcement, that civil forfeiture is primarily wielded against sprawling criminal enterprises. In Minnesota, the average value of forfeited property was $1,250, while in Georgia half of the property seized by law enforcement in 2011 was worth less than $650. Since the cost to litigate is often worth more than the property that was taken, many owners do not even contest these seizures.

Yet the class-action settlement does not alter the scant safeguards and perverse incentives created by the District of Columbia’s civil forfeiture regime. To forfeit property, the District only needs to show probable cause, the same standard used to obtain a warrant. Not only do 36 states have a higher standard of proofin all civil forfeiture cases, but probable cause is a far cry from requiring “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is needed to convict someone of a crime. After a property is forfeited, law enforcement can keep all of the proceeds.

These lax laws create potent incentives to police for profit. Between 2010 and 2012, Washington, D.C. generated $4.8 million in forfeiture revenue. “It’s become a cash cow for a lot of jurisdictions frankly,” said Day.

Moreover, the MPD makes liberal use of a federal loophole known as “equitable sharing.” Under this program, local and state law enforcement can collaborate with federal agencies to forfeit property under federal law, thereby bypassing local and state civil forfeiture laws. Local law enforcement can then take a cut of the proceeds from forfeited property. From 2010 to 2012, the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the MPD processed $9.2 million worth of property seized by both joint task forces and the MPD. The MPD kept $2 million in equitable sharing proceeds.

Meanwhile, property owners have to contend with legal proceedings that can be downright baffling, like having to pay for their right to challenge a seizure in court. This “penal sum” is 10 percent of what the property is worth (as determined by the MPD) and can range anywhere from $250 to $2,500. If owners do not pay, the government automatically wins and keeps the property.

After police seized his car in June 2012, Keith Chung, a firefighter, was told to pay a bond of $2,075 before he could challenge the seizure in court. Police never charged Chung with any crime. After the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia intervened, he got his car back .

Moreover, unlike criminal cases, the burden of proof is on the owners—they are assumed guilty unless they prove their innocence. In order to retrieve their property, owners have to show by a “preponderance of the evidence” they have no connection to a crime to prevail, a higher burden of proof than what the D.C. government needs to forfeit property. Since these forfeiture cases are in civil court, owners do not have a right to court-appointed counsel, even if they are indigent.

In the class action that was settled, the attorneys’ hourly rate was just north of $250. So an hour of legal help was worth twice as much as the property taken from Hardy and many others. As the case makes clear, many owners simply do not have the means to challenge the government in court.

Nor is the government required to maintain or preserve property it has seized. In a separate, currently-pending forfeiture class action filed against the District, police seized and held onto Takia Jenkins’ car for almost a year. She was never charged with a crime nor was her car involved in any criminal prosecution. When she finally got her car back, the windows were damaged and the car wouldn’t start. Mold had even formed on the inside.

Last year, six members of the D.C. city council introduced a bill that would have overhauled civil forfeiture in the District. While it did not pass, the council is expected to reconsider forfeiture reform when it reconvenes in the fall. On the federal level, Rep. Tim Walberg and Sen. Rand Paul have introduced legislation that would either restrict or outright eliminate participation in equitable sharing, preventing law enforcement from trying to circumvent forfeiture reforms at the local level.

Speaking at a panel in July on civil forfeiture at the Heritage Foundation, Congressman Walberg described his bill as “common-sense,” as it “does not detract from good law enforcement.” Americans, he added, should live “without the fear of overweening government.”

To read the original article at Forbes, click here.  Read More

Walberg Votes to Prevent Federal Overreach and Uphold Successful Clean Water Act Provision

2014/09/09

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Walberg voted in favor of H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act. H.R. 5078 upholds the successful federal-state partnership in place for 40 years and would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers from expanding federal regulations to nearly all bodies of water without Congressional approval. The bill passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 262 -152.

“For over 40 years the Clean Water Act has successfully protected our nation’s waters. This bipartisan legislation provides a much needed safeguard for our nation’s farmers, manufacturers and property owners from a federal bureaucratic overreach, while still protecting our nation’s waterways,” said Rep. Walberg following the vote. Read More

Washington Post: Stopping the abuse of civil forfeiture

2014/09/05

Imagine you are driving down the highway on your way to buy a car. You spent months researching years, makes and models, and you finally found somebody who was selling the exact ride you were looking for at a reasonable price. Suddenly, police pull you over for allegedly going 37 mph in a 35 mph zone. Upon discovering the $8,500 in cash you have on hand, the officers take you to jail and threaten to charge you with money laundering unless you turn over the money. Frightened, you give it to them.

This may sound like something out of a Hollywood movie, but it’s a true story, and incidents like it happen all too often across the country because of our civil forfeiture laws.

Fortunately, the victim in the above story, Roderick Danielshad his property returned by officials due to media attention and legal pressure. But the power to take property without due process continues to be abused by local, state and federal law enforcement officials. In my state of Michigan, grocery store owner Terry Dehko had his bank account seized by the IRS because it suspected him of being a money launderer. Dehko would make cash deposits in the bank across the street every night to reduce the threat of robbery and because of coverage limits on his store’s insurance policy. Charges were never filed, but Dehko had to fight in court to prove that his money was not being used in a criminal enterprise.   

Many of the abuses occur at the state and local levels, but the federal government encourages them through “equitable-sharing partnerships,” a practice that allows police agencies to circumvent state laws that might otherwise tie their hands. Nebraska has some of the strongest anti-forfeiture laws in the country, but in 2003, the local police used equitable sharing to work with federal officials to seize $124,700 in cash from Emiliano Gonzolez under the federal government’s lesser legal standard of proof. Gonzolez was never charged with a crime, but he lost his cash, which he had intended to use to buy a refrigerated truck for a produce business.

In a country founded on principles of due process and property rights, no one should be comfortable with a system that allows law enforcement to seize personal property without a finding of guilt or, in many cases, even leveling a criminal charge. More states are looking into reforming their forfeiture laws, and this year Minnesota became the latest to push back against such abuses. However, as long as equitable sharing remains an option for local officials who want to work around state laws, such reforms will be nullified. The profit motive is too strong. Last year, equitable-sharing agreements funneled $600 million to police budgets. Clearly, with the size of the federal Asset Forfeiture Fund exceeding $2 billion in 2013, civil forfeiture is big business for the government.

In response to these abuses, I recently introduced the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, which would raise the level of proof of a substantial nexus to criminal activity that must be met before property can be seized. The legislation would also bolster the “innocent owner defense” by requiring the government to show that an owner was aware that property was being used in criminal activity. Finally, along with imposing greater reporting requirements on the Justice Department, the bill would require the attorney general to certify that equitable-sharing agreements are not entered into simply to get around state laws that would prohibit a forfeiture. These common-sense reforms can help restore the balance of power between the government and its citizens.

Policing is a necessary and vital element of an orderly society, and the large majority of our law enforcement personnel do difficult work with great professionalism and integrity — but our constitutional framework emphasizes the need to uphold individual rights above all. We should not accept a system in which Americans must live in fear that their property could be seized by those whose chief mission should be to serve and protect.

To read the original article at Washington Post, click here.  Read More

Detroit News: Republicans have a plan to create jobs

2014/08/20

Our country has long been predicated on and flourished under the belief that a good, honest day’s work brings success. As many families continue to struggle under one of the slowest economic recoveries in decades, we are reminded daily that America can’t work if enough Americans aren’t working. We need a healthy economy that grows all types of jobs – salaried, hourly, full-time or part-time –and reflects the diversity of our country’s workers and workforce needs. In order to help get America working, my colleagues in House have advanced solutions to create jobs and connect individuals with better jobs.

Today, nearly two-thirds of new jobs are created by a small business, and it makes sense to encourage these entrepreneurs to grow. With an estimated cost of at least $30,000 to start a company, current government regulations which often stand in the way of aspiring businesses need to be addressed. Understanding this reality, the House has passed legislation with bipartisan support to make it easier for companies of all types to start or expand their business. Whether it’s reducing regulatory barriers that make it more difficult for private funds to be raised and invested in companies, or working to remove the competitive advantages faced by U.S. businesses from foreign competition, I’ve joined my colleagues in the House to push for real, immediate solutions.  

While we’re helping businesses grow and expand, we’ve also worked to ensure job-seekers are connecting with good-paying jobs which match their skill sets.  The federal government already operates dozens of job training programs but, unfortunately, these often duplicative efforts have done a poor job at the cost of millions of dollars each year.  That’s why earlier this summer, the House passed H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to reform the nation’s workforce development system and help workers gain the education and skills they need for today’s economy. WIOA is a compromise with the Senate based on the House-passed Supporting Knowledge and Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act and was signed into law by the President. By reforming these federal job training programs to meet the job needs of the area, we are making it easier for community leaders to have a greater say while ensuring individuals receive the local training they need.

Additionally, the House has passed bipartisan supported legislation to reform federal veterans education and employment programs and ensure our nation’s heroes receive the benefits and services they’ve earned.  We’ve also pushed to make it easier for companies to hire veterans, and passed legislation to connect potential employers with talented veterans who have gained technical skills from their service. 

Americans need solutions and I recognize there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done.   Despite the fact that over 40 House-passed jobs bills remain sitting before the Senate, my House colleagues and I will remain committed to supporting policies that create jobs, give small businesses the tools they need to grow and expand, and provide the skill training job seekers need for today’s workforce.

To read the original article at Detroit News, click here

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Walberg Acts to Address Southwest Border Crisis

2014/08/01

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Walberg voted for H.R. 5230 to provide funding to address our current crisis along the Southwest border.  Specifically, H.R. 5230 will increase security along the border, address the needs of federal agencies to enforce immigration and customs laws, provide care for the thousands of unaccompanied children and families, and deliver tools to prevent further crises.  H.R. 5230 is fully offset through cuts and rescissions of existing federal funds. It passed by a vote of 223-189.

“The President’s immigration policies have only intensified the crisis at the Southwestern border through his failure to enforce existing laws. The House has acted to address the immediate needs at the border, providing funding to key federal agencies and the states’ national guards for increased border security and enforcement, along with assistance for the care and removal of unaccompanied minors already here. The President has a responsibility to work with Congress to help address this crisis and prevent similar situations from happening in the future,” said Rep. Walberg following the vote.

 

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Contact Information

2436 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-6276
Fax 202-225-6281
walberg.house.gov

Tim Walberg is currently serving his third term in Congress as the representative of south-central Michigan.  The diverse constituency of Michigan’s 7th District encompasses Branch, Eaton, Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, and Monroe Counties, along with parts of Washtenaw County.  Since first taking office, Tim has hosted hundreds of coffee and town hall meetings to better understand the thoughts and concerns of the district.

Prior to his time in public office, Tim served as a pastor in Michigan and Indiana, as president of the Warren Reuther Center for Education and Community Impact, and as a division manager for Moody Bible Institute.  He also served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1983 to 1999, and is proud to bring his reputation as a principled legislator, fiscal reformer, and defender of traditional values to Washington.

In the 113th Congress, Tim serves on the House Education and the Workforce Committee as Chair of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee.  In addition, he serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He and his wife, Sue, have been married for over 39 years, and enjoy spending time outdoors and riding on their Harley. They live in Tipton, Michigan, where they raised their three children: Matthew, Heidi and Caleb.


Serving With

Dan Benishek

MICHIGAN's 1st DISTRICT

Bill Huizenga

MICHIGAN's 2nd DISTRICT

Justin Amash

MICHIGAN's 3rd DISTRICT

Dave Camp

MICHIGAN's 4th DISTRICT

Fred Upton

MICHIGAN's 6th DISTRICT

Mike Rogers

MICHIGAN's 8th DISTRICT

Candice Miller

MICHIGAN's 10th DISTRICT

Kerry Bentivolio

MICHIGAN's 11th DISTRICT

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