Vern Buchanan

Vern Buchanan

FLORIDA's 16th DISTRICT

Buchanan Calls for Immediate Appointment of Conference Committee to Approve Zika Funding

2016/05/24

“Everything We See is Bad” Says Top Disease Fighter Anthony Fauci 

WASHINGTON – In a letter sent today to congressional leaders, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan called for Washington politicians to stop ignoring the warnings of America’s top health experts on the need for swift action to confront the Zika virus. Buchanan urged leaders to appoint a conference committee immediately to approve funding.

Buchanan said our nation’s foremost infectious disease fighters at the Centers for Disease Control have made clear how we should respond to the threat. Buchanan told House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Congress should listen to the CDC instead of delaying action and refusing to fund precautionary measures. Currently, the House and Senate have approved different funding levels.

“The politicians in Washington should listen to the experts who spend their entire lives fighting outbreaks like this,” Buchanan said in his letter, which was also sent to the top Democrats in the House and Senate. “Every second counts if we want to protect the public from the devastating impact of this disease.”

Buchanan noted that Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, “Everything we see is bad. Every week. Every month it tends to surprise us. There was no reason to think that it would be this bad.”

The World Health Organization has estimated that the virus will reach most of the hemisphere and infect up to 4 million people by year's end.

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the Center for Disease Control’s principal deputy director, said, “Everything we know about this virus seems to be scarier than we initially thought.”

Buchanan’s call for leaders to move swiftly comes several days after Fauci said mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are expected to enter the U.S. mainland and begin infecting Americans within the next “month or so.”

The Department of Defense is also taking measures to combat the virus on U.S. military installations and protect troops and their families. According to a Pentagon memo written in March, the mosquito species capable of carrying the Zika virus is likely found on 190 military installations in 27 states and three territories, as reported by Stars and Stripes.


Florida had 152 reported cases of the Zika virus as of Friday, according to the Florida Department of Health. Across the U.S. there are 544 travel-related cases of Zika, according to the CDC.

Buchanan was the first Republican in the U.S. House to support the Obama administration’s request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus. The CDC has told Buchanan the money is essential to protect people in Florida and elsewhere as the summer months approach and mosquitoes flourish.

The CDC has declared that its emergency operations center has been put on a “Level 1” status – its highest level of activation – as a result of the Zika outbreak. The CDC has only put its operations center at Level 1 three times in the past: during the Ebola outbreak in 2014; during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009; and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

 

Text of letter:

 

May 24, 2016

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate

The Honorable Harry Reid
Minority Leader
United States Senate

Dear Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Reid: 

With funding levels still undecided in the fight against the Zika virus, it is imperative that Congress heed the warnings of our nation’s top health experts and move swiftly and forcibly stop the spread of the mosquito-borne disease. 

I urge you to quickly reconcile the differences between the approaches taken by both chambers and provide the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the full amount of funding it needs to fight this disease. Every day we delay in getting a bill signed into law puts more Americans at risk. It’s crucial that you appoint a conference committee immediately to tackle this issue.

The politicians in Washington should listen to the experts who spend their entire lives fighting outbreaks like this. Every second counts if we want to protect the public from the devastating impact of this disease.

CDC Director Tom Frieden has said that these funds are urgently needed for the agency to expand its capacity to test for Zika, create mosquito control strategies and accelerate the development of a vaccine. These are common-sense steps that, if taken quickly, can stop this disease from spreading further.  

The cost of delay is unacceptably high. We are seeing the effect of this disease in Florida, where mosquito season has already begun. Currently, Florida has more than a quarter of all U.S. Zika cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this weekend that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are expected to enter the U.S. mainland and begin infecting Americans within the next “month or so.”

Earlier this year, medical experts at the CDC called for nearly $1.9 billion to fight the spread of Zika. We have already provided $589 million by reallocating unused funds from the Ebola fight. I urge you to fully fund the remainder of the CDC’s request and do so quickly. The lives of thousands of infants are at risk. We must act swiftly to prevent a public health catastrophe.

 

Sincerely,

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Buchanan Tells VA Secretary “Apologize or Resign”

2016/05/24

Veterans Literally Dying While They Wait to See VA Doctor 

WASHINGTON – Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today called on Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald to either “apologize or resign” after he downplayed veteran wait times at VA hospitals by comparing them to wait times for rides at Disney theme parks.

“This statement exposes a shocking indifference to an issue that is life or death for millions of our veterans awaiting care in VA facilities,” Buchanan said. “Secretary McDonald should apologize immediately to show that he understands the depth of the issue, and if he refuses then he should resign.”

McDonald initially made the comments during a press event on Monday, refusing to apologize today after the comments were widely criticized.

McDonald’s remark comes more than two years after it was revealed that employees at 110 Veterans Administration facilities nationwide kept secret lists and manipulated wait time data to conceal the amount of time veterans waited for medical care. As many as 40 patients died at one VA facility while on these wait lists.

“It is a national disgrace that our veterans have continued to wait for care, years after this scandal came to light,” said Buchanan. “Secretary McDonald’s flippant attitude towards this suffering calls into question his judgment and commitment to reform.”

Just last month, it was reported that supervisors at VA facilities in seven states directed their staffs to lie about wait times to make it appear that veterans were receiving timely care – when the facts paint a grossly different picture.

Furthermore, it was revealed that employees at 40 medical facilities across 19 states regularly “zeroed out” veteran wait times, which in some cases had been going on for as long as a decade. 


In a separate report last month, the GAO also found that the VA has not done enough to prevent wait times from being manipulated – and that current VA wait time data underestimates how long veterans wait for care.

“We keep hearing that the problem hasn’t been fixed and that veterans still have to sit and wait before they get to see a doctor,” Buchanan said.

To date, not a single senior VA executive has been terminated for this scandal.  

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President Signs Buchanan-Backed Bill Protecting Sarasota Bay

2016/05/21

Home to Over 1,400 Plants and Animals

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan, a strong advocate of local conservation and wildlife protection, announced today that President Obama has signed legislation to protect Sarasota Bay and other national estuaries.

The bill was approved by the House recently with Buchanan’s support.

Sarasota Bay is one of only 28 ecosystems in the entire country that have been formally designated by Congress as an “estuary of national significance.” It was officially recognized in 1989. The bay lies between the barrier islands, or keys, that separate it from the Gulf of Mexico and the mainland.

The legislation reauthorizes the federal government’s National Estuary Program through 2021 and provides critical resources to protect and restore the country’s vital estuaries and vulnerable wildlife. It specifically authorizes $132.5 million over five years to help states and local partnerships develop and implement conservation and managements plans and address threats to estuaries.

“Sarasota Bay is a key contributor to the Suncoast’s economy,” Buchanan said. “In fact, researchers have found that 21,000 jobs depends on the bay. The bay provides crucial habitat for plants and wildlife including the iconic Florida manatee, the bald eagle, osprey, sea turtles, and bottlenose dolphins.”

Estuaries, or bodies of water and their surrounding coastal habitats, are typically found where rivers flow into the open sea. They are home to some very unique plants and animals. They are also some of the most productive ecosystems in the world – many animal species rely on estuaries for primary sources of food, nesting and breeding.

However, estuaries have particularly sensitive ecosystems and are highly threatened by stormwater pollution, loss of habitat, loss of wetlands, and diminished seagrass.

Sarasota Bay is home to more than 1,400 native species of diverse plants and animals and it contributes nearly $1.8 billion to Florida’s economy, according to the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

Buchanan has an extensive record of preserving Florida’s waterways and pristine coastline. The Congressman is a longtime opponent to drilling off the Gulf Coast. Moreover, to protect native coral and preserve healthy seas, Buchanan introduced the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act (H.R. 2553), bipartisan legislation that promotes further research into the potentially devastating effects of ocean acidification.

Additionally, Buchanan recently co-sponsored bipartisan legislation (H.R. 4667) that would direct the federal government to expedite necessary repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike, which has been rated as “critically near failure” by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If this structure were to collapse, it would flood populated areas as well as the delicate wetlands ecosystem of the Everglades with waters from Lake Okeechobee. 

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Buchanan Chairs Hearing Examining Impact of Addiction on Kids

2016/05/18

Hillsborough County Organization Testifies on Innovative Approach

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today chaired a hearing examining the devastating toll drug abuse takes on kids in the child welfare system.

Parental substance abuse is driving an increase in the number of children in foster care, as noted by a recent Wall Street Journal report. In fact, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, of the 353,040 children found to be victims of abuse or neglect in 2014, more than one in four – 91,903 kids – had caregivers with drug abuse problems.

“I’m concerned we haven’t taken a close enough look at the horrifying toll that drug use is taking on kids,” Buchanan said. “While the foster care system provides a vital lifeline to children, we should be doing all we can prevent these traumatic events before they occur.”

Buchanan is the chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, which has jurisdiction over federal spending on foster care programs and grants for child welfare services. The panel of expert witnesses described innovative approaches to identifying families in need of critical services before children are put in dangerous situations takes place.

The hearing featured testimony from Bryan Lindert, senior director of quality management at Eckerd Youth Alternatives, a non-profit entity that manages the child welfare system in Hillsborough County, Fla. The county experienced an unprecedented nine deaths from maltreatment in less than three years, according to Eckerd. Eckerd now uses data to predict when kids in the child welfare system are vulnerable and takes parental substance abuse into account when identifying at-risk children.

“The results have been promising,” Lindert said. “In Hillsborough, there were no maltreatment fatalities in the three year period following implementation of the program in the population served by Eckerd.”

“Cutting-edge methods to protect at-risk kids are being developed right in Southwest Florida,” Buchanan said. “Strong families make strong communities, and it is my hope that we can use these new tools to protect children and help families overcome the challenge of parental addiction.”

Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in the state. A total of 388 children in Manatee County were sheltered in out-of-home placements primarily due to substance abuse during the first eight months of 2015, according to the Bradenton Herald.

Regional child welfare officials, substance abuse experts and law enforcement professionals voiced their support for Buchanan’s efforts:

Manatee County Sheriff W. Brad Steube said, “The use of heroin in our community has led to a record number of overdoses and deaths. The story not yet heard are the number of children that are being addicted by their pregnant mothers, and of those children that are removed from homes. We applaud Congressman Buchanan with his efforts in Washington regarding our local heroin crisis, its influence on children and the system responsible for their welfare.”

Sarasota County Sheriff Thomas Knight said, “I applaud Congressman Buchanan for bringing attention to this horrific issue at the federal level. The continued battle to reduce heroin and opioid overdoses is a significant initiative on the part of the Sheriff’s Office. In every instance, the outcome can be damaging but when you talking about the impact this has on children, its effects can last a lifetime.”

Centerstone Behavioral Hospital and Outpatient Practice Chief Clinical Officer Melissa Larkin-Skinner said, “Children belong with their families but when their parents can’t care for them because of an addiction, we must step in. It is emotionally devastating for the family to be separated and it is very traumatic for children. In fact, this affects children forever. Thank you to Congressman Buchanan for continuing to spotlight the disease of addiction and its terrible impact on our society. His tireless efforts are making a difference in this fight.”

Children’s Defense Fund Deputy Director of Child Welfare and Mental Health Stefanie Sprow said, “It was encouraging to reaffirm today that child welfare systems know how to keep children safe and families together in the midst of the current heroin crisis and its increasing demands on our child-serving systems. The time is now to build on what we know works."

Children's Home Society of Florida President and CEO Michael Shaver said, “Sadly, far too many children enter foster care because of their parents’ struggles with substance abuse. I applaud Rep. Buchanan’s efforts.” 

Alliance for Strong Families and Communities Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Mobilization Marlo Nash said, “It is undeniable that the health and development of children is linked to the well-being of their families, yet crises like the opioid epidemic often end up separating children from their homes. Congress can make a big difference in the face of this crisis by financing early interventions, like substance abuse treatment for parents, that work to keep kids with their families. We thank Rep. Buchanan for seeking solutions that recognize that healthy families are vital to ensuring that all children thrive.”

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Buchanan Votes Against House Zika Bill

2016/05/18

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan last night voted against House legislation that contains “inadequate” funding to address the growing threat posed by the Zika virus. Buchanan was one of four Republicans to oppose the bill.

“The funding in this bill is far less than what the Centers for Disease Control said is needed to confront the Zika threat,” Buchanan said. “The lives of thousands of infants are potentially at risk. There’s no excuse for failure to act responsibly and swiftly.”

Buchanan said he was hopeful that in the end, Congress would put aside partisan differences and approve an appropriate level of funding to contain the mosquito-borne virus.

Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said Wednesday the House bill fails to provide adequate funding to diagnose the virus, combat the mosquitoes and develop a safe and effective vaccine, according to The Associated Press.

Buchanan was the first Republican in the U.S. House to support the Obama administration’s request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus. The CDC has told Buchanan the money is essential to protect people in Florida and elsewhere as the summer months approach and mosquitoes flourish.

Florida has 120 reported cases of the Zika virus as of Wednesday, according to the Florida Department of Health. Across the U.S. there are 503 travel-related cases of Zika, according to the CDC.

Buchanan was also one of the first in Congress to back using emergency federal funding to fight the virus. 

The CDC has declared that its emergency operations center has been put on a “Level 1” status – its highest level of activation – as a result of the Zika outbreak. The CDC has only put its operations center at Level 1 three times in the past: during the Ebola outbreak in 2014; during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009; and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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Wednesday: Buchanan To Chair Anti-Heroin Child Welfare Hearing

2016/05/17

Children of Drug Addicts “Often Forgotten” Yet “Most Vulnerable”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, announced today he will chair a hearing of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee on Wednesday, May 18 at 2:00 p.m. in Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The hearing is titled The Heroin Epidemic and Parental Substance Abuse: Using Evidence and Data to Protect Kids from Harm. It will feature testimony from a Hillsborough County service provider that uses data to predict when kids in the child welfare system are vulnerable – before they’re harmed. It will also feature three witnesses from programs in other states.

Drug abuse is a major contributor for children across the country entering foster care. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in 2014 of the 353,040 children found to be victims of maltreatment, more than one in four, or 91,903, were reported as having caregivers with drug abuse problems.


“Plenty of attention is paid to the systemic problem of drug abuse, but the children of drug abusers are often forgotten – even though they’re the most vulnerable to physical and mental harm,” Buchanan said. “We should be doing all we can to put kids and families in a better position to succeed. After all, strong families make strong communities.”

In Florida, the problem is no less grim for kids. Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in the state. According to the Bradenton Herald, a total of 388 children in Manatee County were sheltered in out-of-home placements primarily due to substance abuse during the first eight months of 2015.


Also driving child welfare cases are pregnant mothers and babies born addicted to opioids. A baby is born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes in America as a result of the mother’s addiction.

“As Congress continues to combat the opioid crisis it is important to remember Americans at all ages can be impacted by deadly drugs, not just adults and teens,” Buchanan said. “In my role as subcommittee chairman I will continue to ensure our children are supported on a path to well-being.”


Witnesses:

  • Mr. Bryan Lindert, senior director of quality management, Eckerd Youth Alternatives (Hillsborough County, Fla.).
  • Mr. Hector Glynn, vice president of programs, The Village for Families and Children (Hartford, Conn.).
  • Ms. Tina Willauer, director of sobriety treatment and recovery teams, Department for Community Based Services, Kentucky Cabinet for Health Family Services (Frankfort, Ky.).
  • Ms. Katherine Barillas, director of child welfare policy, One Voice Texas (Houston, Texas).

WHO: U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL.

WHAT: House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Hearing: The Heroin Epidemic and Parental Substance Abuse: Using Evidence and Data to Protect Kids from Harm.

WHEN: 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

WHERE: Room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building. 

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House Approves Landmark Anti-Drug Bill

2016/05/12

Bill, Co-Sponsored by Buchanan, is Centerpiece of 18-Bill Package

WASHINGTON — Sweeping legislation aimed at combating the heroin and drug abuse crisis passed the U.S. House today with overwhelming bipartisan support.

At the heart of an 18-bill anti-drug legislative package passed this week is the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, co-sponsored by Buchanan, which provides over $500 million in funding to states and local communities for education, prevention and treatment programs.

“Every day we delay acting to curb this deadly crisis more of our loved ones are lost,” Buchanan said. “It’s time for Congress to put partisanship aside and send this package to the president’s desk.”

House passage of the legislation marked a significant milestone in a months-long effort by Buchanan to confront the growing heroin epidemic. Nationally, 125 Americans die from drug overdoses each day according to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

The number of heroin overdose deaths in Florida increased 900 percent from 2010-2014, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County had more heroin overdose deaths per capita than any other Florida county in 2014.

The legislative package will go to a House-Senate conference committee to reconcile differences between the two versions.


Buchanan said he’s optimistic Congress will come to agreement and send the package to the president.

The anti-drug bills would:  

  • Provide grants for treatment and prevention to states, nonprofits, and municipalities.
     
  • Address drug interdiction by targeting drug traffickers and cutting off the flow of drugs entering the U.S.
     
  • Deliver treatment to pregnant mothers and babies born addicted to opioids.
     
  • Create a task force responsible for reviewing federal guidelines for prescribing opioids.
     
  • Prevent the over-prescription of painkillers for veterans seeking care from the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense by re-examining current pain management treatment guidelines.
     
  • Create veterans-specific drug treatment courts and programs.
     
  • Require the government to evaluate the effectiveness of federal grant programs tasked with curbing the heroin and opioid crisis.

The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the heroin crisis in Florida. Earlier this year he hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and stakeholders. Buchanan also recently chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington where members heard testimony from Rep. Sensenbrenner, author of H.R. 5046, and anti-drug experts.

Buchanan has also been at the forefront of the fight to crack down on drug abuse for years. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics.

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House Acts to Protect Babies Born to Drug Addicts

2016/05/12

“It’s Time Congress Stand Up For These Innocent Children”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today urged the Senate to quickly pass three bipartisan bills approved by the House this week to help babies born addicted to heroin and prescription drugs. The bills were part of a landmark legislative package combatting the growing problem of drug addiction in America.

A baby is born dependent on opioids every 19 minutes in America as a result of the mother’s addiction.

“One of the most heartbreaking effects of the heroin and prescription drug crisis is the suffering of innocent babies that are born to parents struggling with addiction,” Buchanan said. “It’s time Congress stand up for these innocent children. These bills will help deliver treatment to pregnant mothers and their newborns.”

According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, more children are being sent into foster care as a result of heroin and opioid abuse. Buchanan, the chairman of the Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Human Resources, will hold a hearing next week on the child welfare system’s response to this challenge.

Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County had more heroin overdose deaths per capita than any other Florida county in 2014.

The House unanimously approved the Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to certify that every state has a program to care for opioid-dependent babies and share best practices on the care for babies addicted to opioids.

The Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act reauthorizes residential substance abuse programs for pregnant women and new mothers suffering from addiction.


The Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act requires the Government Accountability Office to submit a report to Congress on the effectiveness of existing programs that treat babies suffering from withdrawal symptoms. 

Later today the House is poised to take up the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 5046), which Buchanan has co-sponsored. This legislation provides over $500 million in funding to state and local entities to enhance anti-drug education, prevention and treatment programs.

The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the heroin crisis in Florida. Earlier this year he hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and other key stakeholders. Buchanan also recently chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., where members heard testimony from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-WI, author of H.R. 5046, anti-drug experts and a recovering heroin addict.


Buchanan has been at the forefront of the fight to crack down on drug abuse for years. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics. 

 

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Buchanan & Fla. Gov Talk Zika

2016/05/11

112 Reported Cases of Zika in Florida 

WASHINGTON – As the number of Zika cases continues to grow in Florida, Congressman Vern Buchanan and Florida Gov. Rick Scott met today in Buchanan’s Washington, DC office to discuss the importance of swift congressional action to combat the deadly virus.

The governor and Buchanan agreed that Washington needs to stop dragging its feet and act to protect the public against this deadly disease. “I think we are on the same page when it comes to the urgent need to address this health threat,” Buchanan said. “The longer we wait, the more people are at risk, and Florida is ground zero.”

The meeting comes shortly after Senate leaders announced a bipartisan compromise of $1.1 billion in funding to fight Zika. U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., are prepared to offer a Zika funding amendment to an appropriations bill the Senate is considering as early as this week, according to press reports.

“It’s clear the Zika virus continues to be a growing public health threat to all Americans and I’m thankful that Governor Scott is also urging Congress to quit dragging its feet and act immediately to eradicate the deadly disease,” Buchanan said. “All members of Congress should take this virus seriously and put aside partisanship – time is not on our side as the summer months draw near.”

Buchanan was the first Republican in the U.S. House to support the Obama administration’s request for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat the mosquito-borne virus. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has told Buchanan the money is essential to protect people in Florida and elsewhere as the summer months approach.

Florida has 112 reported cases of the Zika virus as of Wednesday, according to the Florida Department of Health. Across the U.S. there are 472 travel-related cases of Zika, according to the CDC.

The congressman announced his support for emergency funding more than a week ago based on troubling new developments, including the first fatality on U.S. soil and new research revealing that Zika eats away at the fetal brain and destroys the ability to think. Researchers also say they have learned that up to 29 percent (not 1 percent as originally believed) of pregnant women infected with Zika showed fetal abnormalities. New evidence also shows that the disease can be sexually transmitted in addition to being carried by mosquitoes.

The CDC has declared that its emergency operations center has been put on a “Level 1” status – its highest level of activation – as a result of the Zika outbreak. The CDC has only put its operations center at Level 1 three times in the past: during the Ebola outbreak in 2014; during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009; and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Buchanan was one of the first in Congress to back using emergency federal funding to fight the virus.


In February, Buchanan co-sponsored the Zika Response and Safety Act (H.R. 4446), which would have allowed government agencies to use Ebola funding previously appropriated by Congress to prevent further outbreaks of the Zika virus. Last month, the Obama administration ultimately decided to tap existing, unused Ebola funds to respond to the outbreak as outlined in the legislation.

The Obama administration has asked Congress to approve about $1.9 billion in new federal spending to combat Zika. The emergency funding will expand education, prevention, and mosquito control programs, improve diagnostics and testing, speed the development of a vaccine and boost research into the complications of contracting the virus. 

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House Takes Action Against Foreign Drug Kingpins

2016/05/11

Bill Now Goes To President

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today praised House passage of two bipartisan bills that enhance America’s ability to combat drug traffickers and cut off the flow of heroin into the country.

The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015, previously approved by the Senate, now goes to the president’s desk to be signed into law. The legislation allows federal prosecutors to go after drug traffickers in foreign countries when there is a reasonable suspicion to believe that their drugs will make it into the United States. Buchanan is a co-sponsor of the House version of the bill.

The House also approved the Kingpin Designation Improvement Act (H.R. 4985), legislation strongly supported by Buchanan that improves the United States’ ability to prosecute international drug kingpins and impose the toughest sanctions possible on them without risking the public disclosure of classified information in court proceedings. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration. This measure builds upon past success of the original Kingpin Act, passed in 1999, which denies major drug traffickers access to the U.S. financial markets and prohibits all trade and transactions between them and American companies and individuals.

“In order to curb the heroin and drug abuse epidemic, we must sever the supply of drugs into our country while enhancing education, prevention and treatment programs,” Buchanan said. “Both of these bills will give federal prosecutors critical tools to target and prevent drug traffickers from smuggling heroin and other lethal drugs into the U.S.”

Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County had more heroin overdose deaths per capita than any other Florida county in 2014.

Heroin is considered the most addictive substance in the world and is cheaper to obtain than prescription narcotics. “Mexico and, to a lesser extent, Colombia dominate the U.S. heroin market, because of their proximity, established transportation and distribution infrastructure, and ability to satisfy U.S. heroin demand,” according to a Drug Enforcement Administration report.


Later this week the House is poised to take up a slate of additional bills addressing the heroin and drug abuse crisis, including the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 5046), which Buchanan has co-sponsored. This legislation provides over $500 million in funding to state and local entities to enhance anti-drug education, prevention and treatment programs.

The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the heroin crisis in Florida. Earlier this year he hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and other key stakeholders. Buchanan also recently chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., where members heard testimony from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-WI, author of H.R. 5046, anti-drug experts and a recovering heroin addict.


Buchanan has been at the forefront of the fight to crack down on drug abuse for years. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics.

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ABC 7: Rep. Buchanan Holds Anti-Heroin Roundtable

2016-03-10 17:57:59


ABC 7: Rep. Buchanan Acts To Combat Heroin Crisis

2016-02-27 15:13:23


Cox TV: Buchanan Introduces Plan To End Public Housing Scams

2016-02-03 17:36:48


WWSB-TV: Rep. Buchanan visits businesses in St. Armands Circle

2016-01-25 16:15:15


WWSB-TV: New Law To Protect Americans From Identity Fraud

2016-01-22 17:30:07


No Syrian Refugees!

2015-11-17 17:35:33


Buchanan Applauds Sarasota Memorial’s 90th Year of Service to the Community

2015-11-03 20:46:52


ABC-7 on Buchanan Presentation of Congressional Fire and Rescue and EMS Awards

2015-10-06 15:21:10


ABC-7 on Buchanan's Talk to Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

2015-09-14 23:21:30


Bay News 9 on Sarasota Iran Nuclear Deal Town Hall

2015-07-27 13:55:34


President Obama Signs Buchanan Veterans ID Card Act into Law

2015-07-21 15:31:22


ABC-7 on Buchanan's Veterans ID Card

2015-07-08 17:22:06


Buchanan Vets ID Card to Become Law

2015-07-07 19:17:46


Pastor Bezet of Sarasota-Manatee Bayside Community Church Delivers Morning Prayer before Congress

2015-06-25 15:32:15


Buchanan: Balancing the Budget is an Urgent Priority

2015-06-17 21:43:25


Buchanan Speaks on Veterans ID Card Act

2015-05-18 21:03:41


Rep. Buchanan Named to House Budget Committee

2015-03-18 16:40:43


Buchanan Hosts Venice Listening Session on Jobs and the Economy

2015-02-09 16:57:18


Buchanan Questions Treasury Secretary on Obama Economic Plan

2015-02-03 16:57:28


Buchanan Hosts Sarastota Town Hall on Jobs and the Economy

2015-01-26 20:19:21


Contact Information

2104 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-5015
Fax 202-226-0828
buchanan.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Ways and Means

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is the only Florida member of Congress to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, international trade, health care and Social Security.

A self-made businessman, Buchanan understands that America’s economic strength flows from its entrepreneurial spirit and pro-growth, free-market policies. Buchanan has worked tirelessly to enact tax incentives to help small businesses, end burdensome regulations, and limit frivolous lawsuits.

In his fourth term, Buchanan is an outspoken advocate of reforming the U.S. tax code to make it simpler and fairer. He serves on the Trade and Health subcommittees on Ways and Means.

As a member of the Trade Subcommittee, Buchanan recognizes that international competitiveness is key to revitalizing the economy. He will seek to move three free trade agreements through the Congress and conduct oversight on U.S. trade relations with the European Union, China, India, among others.

Buchanan is also a member of the Health Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare and employer-provided health insurance benefits. With 190,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Florida’s 16thDistrict, Buchanan is committed to preserving Medicare’s long-term solvency for senior citizens, as well as bringing down the cost of health care for all Americans.

And as the Chairman of the Friends of Panama Caucus, Buchanan will continue his efforts to help Port Manatee grow and capitalize on the upcoming expansion of the Panama Canal.

A strong fiscal conservative, the Congressman’s signature bill is the Buchanan Balanced Budget Amendment Act. He also introduced legislation to stop automatic pay raises for Members of Congress until the budget is balanced.

Congressman Buchanan’s previous committee assignments include the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and the House Small Business Committee, where he also served as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Finance and Tax.

Vern Buchanan grew up with five siblings in a blue collar household in a small town near Detroit, Michigan. He served six years in the Air National Guard and worked his way through college.

The self-made businessman is a respected leader in Florida’s business community. He chaired both the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Board of the U.S. Chamber, and in 2005 he was inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame.

In addition, Congressman Buchanan is a dedicated philanthropist, committing himself to diverse community causes, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Walk to Cure Juvenile Diabetes, the American Heart Walk, the Mote Marine Laboratory, and the Ringling Museum of Art.

A husband and father, Congressman Buchanan lives in Longboat Key, Florida with his wife of more than 30 years. Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan have two grown sons, James and Matt.


Serving With

Jeff Miller

FLORIDA's 1st DISTRICT

Ted Yoho

FLORIDA's 3rd DISTRICT

Ander Crenshaw

FLORIDA's 4th DISTRICT

Ron DeSantis

FLORIDA's 6th DISTRICT

John Mica

FLORIDA's 7th DISTRICT

Bill Posey

FLORIDA's 8th DISTRICT

Daniel Webster

FLORIDA's 10th DISTRICT

Rich Nugent

FLORIDA's 11th DISTRICT

Gus Bilirakis

FLORIDA's 12th DISTRICT

David Jolly

FLORIDA's 13th DISTRICT

Dennis Ross

FLORIDA's 15th DISTRICT

Tom Rooney

FLORIDA's 17th DISTRICT

Curt Clawson

FLORIDA's 19th DISTRICT

Mario Diaz-Balart

FLORIDA's 25th DISTRICT

Carlos Curbelo

FLORIDA's 26th DISTRICT

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

FLORIDA's 27th DISTRICT

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