Tom Latham

Tom Latham

IOWA's 3rd DISTRICT

LATHAM REPORT: Counter-Terrorism Tools to Protect From ISIS

2014/09/27

Dear Friend,

Evil is a constant in this fragile world and evil feeds and grows on indecisive indifference. Groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL [Levant]) and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) state that they are determined to kill American's both in the Middle East and on United States soil.

This past week, the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing to hear and discuss this threat with the three top counter-terrorism officials: the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey, National Counter-Terrorism Center director, Matthew G. Olsen, and Secretary Jeh Johnson of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

During the hearing, all three stated the need for lawmakers and public officials to understand the dangerous level global terrorism has reached. This is because of the growth of safe havens and the resurgence of groups such as ISIS and AQAP in Iraq, Syria, and the greater Middle East.

Olsen in his testimony warned about the "greater than 15,000 foreign fighters who could potentially return to their home countries to participate in, or support terrorist attacks" and noted his specific concerns of those fighters who may return to their countries "battle-hardened, radicalized and determine to attack us." Olsen followed up with a warning that "homegrown violent extremists remain the most likely immediate threat to the homeland."

Recent news reports have highlighted the effective use of online recruitment by terrorism networks to foster the threat from the homegrown, or "lone wolf" attackers. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified at the hearing that this is the hardest threat to detect and the one he worries about the most.

Both FBI Director James Comey and Olsen noted the effectiveness of the tools for terror groups who recruited the accused Boston Marathon bombers - who killed three people and injured 264 when they set off pressure cooker bombs in April 2013 - through the group's English language magazine.

In addition to the high profile Western nation recruits that have joined the terror group ISIS, global terrorist organizations are seeing a rise in recruits that come from western nations, including the United States, where there have been over 70 instances of home grown terrorist plots since 9/11.

FBI Director James Comey said that one main tool needed to combat the growing risk of homegrown terrorist fighters returning to the United States, is revoking the passports of those traveling to Syria for the purposes of joining ISIS. Director Comey said that he supports the move but that it would be implemented on a case by case basis.

Secretary Jeh Johnson also agreed, "I agree with the FBI Director that suspension of passports should be on a case by case basis. The State Department has the authority to suspend passports" and that "I agree given the current environment and real threat to America's homeland, that we need to seriously consider limiting the ability of certain individuals to travel."

I completely agree that our counter-terrorism efforts must include suspending passports of those that seek to train with ISIS and return to the United States for the purposes of committing a terrorist act. Using tools like revoking passports is a front-line measure our government can take to protect our homeland from terror before any radicalized Americans have the chance to return and cause mass harm.

While we live in one of the safest countries in the world, our counter-terrorism and homeland security officials must use all the tools afforded to them by law to ensure this safety for Americans at home and abroad.

Best Wishes,
P.S. You can find all three testimonies along with videos of the hearing here.

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With Threats to U.S. Homeland Increasing Latham Urges Limiting Travel Of Those Americans Seeking To Help ISIS & Terror Groups

2014/09/17

The US House Committee on Homeland Security held a high profile hearing today on emerging worldwide threats to America’s homeland in advance of Secretary of State John Kerry's testimony on the Administration's plan to "degrade and defeat" the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center, Matthew G. Olsen, in his testimony at the hearing warned about the "greater than 15,000 foreign fighters (in groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) who could potentially return to their home countries to participate in or support terrorist attacks."  Olsen, who is considered the nation’s top counter-terrorism official, noted his specific concern of those fighters who may return to their countries "battle-hardened, radicalized and determined to attack us."

The officials representing the nation’s top law enforcement and security agencies, outlined the growing threats to the United States homeland from militant groups around the world.  But Olsen warned that, "homegrown violent extremists remain the most likely immediate threat to the homeland."

Recent news reports have highlighted the effective use of online recruitment by terrorism networks to foster the threat from the homegrown, or "lone wolf" attackers.  U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified at the hearing that it is that threat that is the hardest threat to detect and the one he worries about most.

Both FBI Director James Comey and Olsen noted the effectiveness of these tools for terror groups who recruited the accused Boston Marathon bombers, who killed three people and injured 264 when they set off pressure cooker bombs in April 2013, through the a group’s English language magazine.

In addition to the high profile Western nation recruits that have joined the terror group ISIS, additional global terrorist's organizations are seeing a rise in recruits are coming from Western nations, including America where there have been over 70 instances of home grown terrorist plots since 9/11.

FBI Director James Comey said that one main tool needed to combat the growing risk of homegrown terrorist fighters returning to the United States is revoking the passports of those traveling to Syria for the purpose of joining ISIS.  Director Comey said that he supports the move but that it would be implemented on a case by case basis.

Secretary Jeh Johnson commented, "I agree with the FBI Director [James Comey] that suspension of passports should be on a case by case basis. The State Department has the authority to suspend passports. I also know that suspension, revocation of passports can be done on an expedited basis when the situation warrants in a matter of hours or days. It does not necessarily need to be a lengthy process. I agree, given the current environment and real threat to America’s homeland, that we need to seriously consider limiting the ability of certain individuals to travel. Either to go from one foreign country to another or from our country to another country.”

Congressman Tom Latham, who sits on the House Appropriations Homeland Security Committee, showed his support for the plan. "I agree that we should suspend passports of those that seek to train with ISIS and return to the United States for the purposes of committing a terrorist act. This is a frontline move to protect our homeland from terror and can seriously restrict the the possibility of radicalized Americans returning and causing mass harm."
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Remembering September 11th, 2001

2014/09/11

Dear Friend,

It began as a beautiful clear day that morning. The summer was coming to a close and we had just recently returned to the nation's capital from Iowa. I remember that I awoke in a somber mood, scheduled to attend the funeral service of a trusted friend, former Chaplin of the House of Representatives, Reverend James Ford.

Shortly before I was about to begin my drive to the Capitol, my wife Kathy and I overhead from the television that a terrible tragedy had just occurred, the station was reporting that “a small aircraft” had hit the World Trade Center in Manhattan.  Just like many Americans that horrific day, Kathy and I watched the television as a second airplane hit the South tower of the World Trade Center.  We watched in disbelief trying to understand how something like this could have happened. That's when we heard a large rumble that instinctively told us something wasn't right. The Pentagon had been hit, and just thirty minutes later, another plane went down in rural Pennsylvania.

However, astonishment quickly turned to action. In the hours following the attacks, first responders rushed into the fiery wreckage of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, scouring the rubble for survivors. Many heroic acts occurred in those days, weeks, months, and years that followed.  We’ve watched thousands of brave men and women – our sons, daughters, family members and neighbors – volunteer to put their lives on hold to defend our country and the cause of freedom in our armed forces.

The great sacrifices that resulted after those horrific attacks on September 11th, remind me to always keep in mind those that sacrifice, work hard for others, and to do the same for the people of our district.

On this 13th anniversary of September 11th, let us continue to remember and pray for the innocent victims, the heroes and their loved ones, take the time to thank the men and women in our lives who keep our communities safe and fight for our country here at home and on distant lands.

Best Wishes,

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Latham's Legislation Champions Federal Agency Improvement

2014/09/10

Congressman Tom Latham (IA-03) and Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), held a Lean Government Forum on Capitol Hill today, outlining Latham's most recent legislation, H.R. 5064, The Lean and Responsive Government Act.
The forum, hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration and Federal News Radio, included a panel of experts from the Department of Defense, Government Service Agency, and Johns Hopkins Medical Center, along with both Congressman Latham and Cuellar.

"With so many taxpayer dollars going to ineffective and inefficient federal agencies, Congress must take action to reign in red tape, and allow taxpayers to efficiently access many of the services that they have already paid for." said Latham.

In attendance were representatives from United States Agency for International Development, Government Accountability Office, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Department of Commerce, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, National Institute of Standards and Technology, along with staff from a variety of different House and Senate committees.

Latham added "I believe it is realistic to expect federal agencies to function efficiently and transform the way business is conducted. H.R. 5064 outlines a truly dedicated effort and gives agencies the tools they need to serve Americans in a more efficient way. Taxpayers expect that from the federal government, and they deserve it too."

Congressman Cuellar added, “As a lawmaker, I hold myself accountable to curb wasteful government spending and ensure beneficial government programs continue to aid my constituents and all taxpayers. We need to get the agencies focused on performance, results oriented procedures and improving customer service standards. The Government Performance Results Modernization Act which I authored and which became law in 2010 provided Congress and the public with information that we need to make responsible, informed budgetary decisions. The Lean and Responsive Government Act gives Congress one more tool to keep federal agencies accountable. I thank Congressman Latham for inviting me to participate in this excellent event and look forward to continuing to work with him on these issues.”

Federal News Radio will be broadcasting portions of the event in the upcoming days. For more information about H.R. 5064 please visit http://latham.house.gov/exclusive/lean-and-responsive.htm


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Latham Urges A Decisive and Clear Plan Against ISIS

2014/09/10

President Barack Obama tonight announced to the nation his administration’s strategy to combat the terrorist group known as ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). ISIS has been destabilizing portions of Syria, Iraq, and the greater Middle East. President Obama previously announced that his administration had not yet developed a strategy to combat ISIS.

Congressman Latham stated that "the president's indecisive and incoherent foreign policy has led us to this point in history. Evil is a constant in this fragile world. And evil feeds and grows on indecisive indifference."

"I support our nation pursuing and eliminating the evil that is ISIS. But this pursuit will only be successful with a clear, decisive plan that moves the world towards long term peace." added Latham.

In the past weeks ISIS has killed two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff and continue offensive operations in Iraq against Kurdish and Iraqi Government forces.

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Congressman Latham to Speak at Lean Government Forum

2014/09/08

Congressman Latham to Speak at Lean Government Forum

Washington, DC -  Congressmen Tom Latham and Henry Cuellar will be taking part in a forum hosted jointly by the National Academy of Public Administration and Federal News Radio. The discussion is centered around Latham's legislation, H.R. 5064, the Lean and Responsive Government Act, and process improvement efforts in the federal government. Speakers from DOD, GSA, and several other federal agencies using continuous process improvement methodologies will also share their experiences in a panel discussion. 

WHO: Congressman Tom Latham (IA-03), Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), other federal agency speakers

WHAT: Forum on Continuous Process Improvement and H.R. 5064, The Lean and Responsive Government Act.

WHEN: September 09, 2014, 2:30-4:30pm

WHERE: Rayburn House Office Building, room 2203, Washington DC. 

If you are interested in attending, please email Roger Kodat at rkodat@napawash.org. Read More

Helping Iowa Students Achieve College Dream

2014/07/24

To graduate from college is a celebrated accomplishment.  However, years of hard work culminate in a degree that often comes with a high price tag. To complicate things further, our broken tax codes add obstacles and make it difficult for Americans to truly plan for the cost of college.

H.R. 3393, the American Opportunity Tax Credit,  brings the American student a simplified solution.  It takes the 15 overlapping provisions and 90 pages of IRS instructions of the current American Opportunity Tax Credit, the Hope Scholarship Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the college tuition deduction and consolidates it into one simplified credit. It also allows Pell Grants to be used for more expenses, including room and board, without triggering additional tax liability.

“This legislation represents a true bipartisan collaboration in the U.S. House. Reducing the amount of bureaucratic red-tape helps students get the assistance they need without endless paperwork. I am proud to vote for H.R. 3393 which has bipartisan support and will give American students an easier route to increased opportunities and their American dream.“ said Congressman Latham.

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Making the Government Work Smart

2014/07/21

Dear Friend,

Washington has piled a mountain of debt on our children and grandchildren during the spending binge of the last several years.  It’s absolutely critical that we use every tool at our disposal to end the out-of-control spending and borrowing.  Too many agencies, including the VA, do not provide effective or efficient services and continually waste taxpayer’s dollars. The announcement that over 57,000 veterans are currently waiting for their first appointment at the VA is appalling. This problem is systemic and shines light on a larger, more pervasive problem in the federal government: It wastes too much.

The vast scope of the federal government creates plenty of opportunities for waste, fraud and duplication to gum up the works and make government less efficient and more costly.  Sprawling federal bureaucracies with budgets that only seem to grow year after year make it increasingly difficult for taxpayers to even gain an understanding of just how much of their hard-earned money is wasted every year. We must do everything we can to make sure every single tax dollar is spent wisely. 

That’s why I’ve introduced legislation that would cut waste in every sector of the federal government and bring light into some of the darkest corners of the bureaucratic maze, HR. 5064, The Lean and Responsive Government Act

When veterans wait an unnecessarily long time to see a doctor, when agencies waste their time, they very well may be taking the only time the veteran has left. That time is precious to anyone who wants to see their loved ones or just enjoy a life they have fought hard for.

A coordinated and innovative approach to improve process speed, reduce waste, and incorporate data-driven analysis could save hundreds of billions of tax dollars and drastically improve government services, and that’s exactly what my Lean and Responsive Government Act would do.

Politicians have promised to cut waste for decades, but those pledges have almost always amounted to little more than lip service.  However, my legislation is different, and here is why:
 
This legislation centers around continuous process improvement methods that reduce waste and improve effectiveness.  The goals of a continuous process improvement operation are to drastically reduce defects, mistakes, and variation. Agencies will put taxpayers first and constantly use data to evaluate its results.

The process already proves successful in the government entities that use it, including NASA and State governments.  The Lean and Responsive Government Act requires the chief operating officer of every federal agency to implement these continuous process improvement techniques and include information on their efforts in an annual report to Congress.  

Unlike any successful company or business, the federal government does not operate under an overarching strategic plan.  Instead, the government operates under hundreds of individual operating plans for each agency.  The result is a vast and chaotic alphabet soup of agencies and programs that often duplicate services and sometimes compete with one another.  The Lean and Responsive Government Act would provide the federal government with a unified and consistent method for reducing the duplication and wasted resources.  

We can save massive sums of money by cutting waste and making government services more efficient.  Waste, fraud, abuse, and duplication gobble up hundreds of billions of tax dollars every year and can cause taxpayers to wait for services that may be life saving.

On one hand, we have a federal government that is piling up debt faster than at any point in our history and is so inefficient that veterans may die while waiting for care or trying to navigate the bureaucracy. 

On the other hand, the federal government wastes hundreds of billions of dollars every year through inefficiency and mismanagement that has destroyed American's faith in the federal government.  We simply can’t afford to lose so many tax dollars to waste. 

American taxpayers don't have an unlimited amount of time or money and neither does the federal government. That’s why I’ve introduced the Lean and Responsive Government Act.  With these innovative processes, we can significantly reduce wasted money and services, and reign in the new "fourth branch of government":  the sprawling federal bureaucracy.

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Latham Introduces Bipartisan Government Improvement Bill

2014/07/16

This week, Congressman Tom Latham's efforts to craft legislation aimed at making the government more efficient was introduced in the US House of Representatives. This bipartisan measure - H.R. 5064, The Lean and Responsive Government Act, takes continuous process improvement measures successfully employed by state governments and small businesses across the country, and requires them to be adopted within the federal government.

Specifically, the bill calls for agencies to implement continuous process improvement methods, which are steps that require agencies to set clear, measurable goals, analytically evaluate overly bureaucratic systems, and reduce Washington red-tape in a sustainable manner.

Once federal departments and agencies universally implement these methods, it will result in improved performance and a better utilization of American tax dollars.  Embracing this approach empowers departments and agencies to take innovative steps to reduce waste in their organizations and apply those resources to other priorities without requiring additional funds.

"Washington has long needed measures that force government agencies to operate in an efficient and effective manner. My Lean and Responsive Government Act builds on the government reform efforts established by Congressman Henry Cuellar’s Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010, and ties continuous process improvement to the annual Congressional budgetary requests for each federal agency.  Many state governments, small and large businesses, and organizations take process improvement seriously, and it is time to for federal agencies to do the same," said Latham.

"I am pleased to join Congressman Tom Latham as an original co-sponsor of the Lean & Responsive Government Act,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This legislation builds off of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act, which I authored in 2010 to raise the standard of government efficiency and accountability.  Today’s bill further raises the standard that taxpayers expect of the federal government and I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure a responsive and effective government.” 

Currently, this legislation has been sent to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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Latham Urges Action To Lift DRC Adoption Ban

2014/07/09

The inter-country adoption situation between the United States and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has recently been suspended. As of September 2013, the DRC suspended issuing exit permits for Congolese children who were adopted by United States citizens.  Additionally, in a relatively recent development, the Congolese authorities have placed restrictions and/or stopped issuing visas to U.S. families who wish to visit their legally adopted children in the Congo.

Today, the House passed with bipartisan support H.Res 588 - Concerning the suspension of exit permit issuance by the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents - co-sponsored by Congressman Latham. The resolution requests that the Congolese government resume processing adoption cases and issuing exit permits, prioritize the processing of inter-country adoptions which were initiated before the suspension, and expedite the adoption processing of medically fragile children.

"As an adoptive father myself, this matter takes on a personal note for me.  My heart breaks for both parent and child who, by no fault of their own, have been caught up in this unfortunate situation.  The governmental interference by the DRC must end and these families must be united.  These families simply desire the ability to provide the love and care for each other that they deserve" said Latham

"As a father and a Congressman, I am proud to co-sponsor H.Res 588, and I have written a letter also urging the State Department to increase its engagement with the DRC and get this suspension lifted as soon as possible."

Congressman Latham's letter to Secretary of State, John Kerry, was sent last month urging him to take every step possible in getting the adoption ban lifted. Read More

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Contact Information

2217 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-5476
Fax 202-225-3301
tomlatham.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Appropriations

Tom Latham came to Washington with a vision of changing the way Washington works and changing the work that Washington does. Latham, a ten-term Republican, has represented the people of Iowa since January of 1995.

Latham, 65, knows the Iowa traditions of hard work, community service, and strong values very well because it is where he was born, raised, and educated. He grew up and raised his family near Alexander, Iowa, a town of 168 people. He is a farmer and a small business owner. Tom, along with two of his brothers, ran Latham Seeds, the family seed company that his father started in 1947. Today, the company is operated by Congressman Latham’s niece and nephews, making them the third generation of the family to run the company.

Congressman Latham and his wife, Kathy, have three adult children: Justin, Jennifer, and Jill.  They also have one granddaughter, Emerson, and four grandsons named Jack, Keaton, Mason and Carson.

Since his very first day in Congress, Tom Latham has been dedicated to the ideals of change in Washington. His Iowa values and common sense are a testament to the work he strives to accomplish, such as the promotion of individual liberty, economic opportunity, personal responsibility, and a smaller and smarter federal government.

Latham, the Dean of Iowa’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives, has established himself in Washington as a champion of fiscal responsibility. One Iowa newspaper proclaimed that Latham is “a fiscal conservative who not only talks the talk but walks the walk when it comes to spending he controls.” His work in Congress has also been noted with awards and recognition by several budget, taxpayer, senior, agriculture, small business, and anti-government waste advocacy groups.

He is Iowa’s only member of the House Appropriations Committee, considered to be one of the most influential in Congress. Through his work on the committee, Latham has provided significant support for Iowa’s homeland security first-responders, law enforcement, the Iowa National Guard, transportation projects, agriculture, environmental and public education initiatives, health care, community, and economic and small business development. Congressman Latham serves as the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.  He also serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

Tom Latham believes in this country and her people. He sees a great future in a nation that protects individual freedom and responsibility over that of an intrusive federal government that spends beyond its means. Congressman Latham believes if we hold to these values, America’s greatest days are yet to be seen.


Serving With

Steve King

IOWA's 4th DISTRICT

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