SARASOTA – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, (FL-16), announced today that he will hold a listening session on national security, jobs and the economy in Sarasota this Saturday, February 6, 2016.
The event will be held at 11:00 a.m. in the New College Sainer Pavilion (Caples Campus) 5313 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL.
WHO: U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan
WHAT: Town Hall Meeting On National Security, Jobs and the Economy
WHEN: 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 6, 2016.
WHERE: New College Sainer Pavilion (Caples Campus) 5313 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL.
Please RSVP to Gretchen Andersen at Gretchen.G.Andersen@mail.house.gov
“Public Housing Should Be For Those Who Need It, Not Millionaires”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s measure to end taxpayer ripoffs in federally subsidized public housing was approved Tuesday by the U.S. House.
“Public housing should be for those who need it, not wealthy people with large bank accounts,” said Buchanan. “Our country is $19 trillion in debt yet we're giving subsidies to rich people?”
Buchanan's measure would tighten income and asset verification requirements. It was approved as an amendment to the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act H.R. 3700, which passed the House last night 427-0 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
According to an audit last year by the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a Nebraska tenant was approved to live in subsidized housing for 10 years with a monthly rent of just $300, despite having an annual income of $65,007, assets valued at $1.6 million, and savings, checking and retirement accounts each holding hundreds of thousands of dollars. The audit found that the federal government gave tax-subsidized, low-income housing to thousands of families who didn’t qualify while hundreds of thousands of needy families were left on waiting lists.
Buchanan’s amendment will require HUD to establish the means for public housing agencies (PHAs) and landlords to use existing databases to verify the income and assets of individuals receiving public housing benefits. Under current law, local PHAs and landlords rely on tenants self-reporting this information, which is time consuming to collect and verify.
The Sarasota Housing Authority (SHA), which provides affordable rental housing assistance to over 2,100 families in Sarasota, applauded Buchanan’s efforts. “This will also improve the accuracy and integrity of the programs and help ensure that the right amount of benefits are going to help the intended recipients,” said William Russell, president and chief executive officer of the SHA.
The executive director of the Manatee County Housing Authority, Rob Rogers, also supported the measure, saying, “Anything to reduce the burden on families, improve our administrative efficiency of the program and minimize the risk of waste, fraud, and abuse is welcomed.”
Vote Follows HUD Audit Exposing Taxpayer Ripoffs
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House is expected to vote today on Rep. Vern Buchanan’s (R-FL) amendment to tighten income and asset verification requirements for public housing after an audit revealed that 25,000 families earned too much to qualify for these subsidies. The amendment is to H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act.
According to an audit last year by the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a Nebraska tenant was approved to live in subsidized housing for 10 years with a monthly rent of just $300, despite having an annual income of $65,007, assets valued at $1.6 million, and savings, checking and retirement accounts each holding hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The audit found that the federal government gave tax-subsidized, low-income housing to thousands of families who didn’t qualify while hundreds of thousands of needy families were left on waiting lists.
The investigation found almost half of the families identified earned at least $10,000 more than HUD’s 2014 income limit.
“It is outrageous that taxpayers are footing the bill for millionaires’ housing,” said Buchanan. “This type of abuse hurts truly needy families and erodes faith in government. Holding HUD to the same standards used for other federal benefits will provide much-needed oversight on taxpayer funds and help create consistency across the vast array of assistance programs.”
Specifically, the amendment will require HUD to establish the means for public housing agencies (PHAs) and landlords to use existing databases to verify the income and assets of individuals receiving public housing benefits. Under current law, local PHAs and landlords rely on tenants self-reporting this information, which is time consuming to collect and verify. If Buchanan’s amendment is adopted, it will reduce the burden on families, improve the administrative efficiency for PHAs and landlords, and minimize the risk of waste, fraud, and abuse so limited resources are better targeted to families in need.
VA Says ID Card Won’t be Ready for Another Year
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep Vern Buchanan, R-FL, responding to reports that the Veterans Administration (VA) will take another year before issuing identification cards to the nation’s veterans, today called for the agency to “pick up the pace and move faster.”
In a letter to Secretary Robert McDonald, Buchanan urged the VA to help protect millions of American veterans at risk of identity theft by moving more swiftly to implement the Veterans Identification Card Act, which was signed into law by President Obama over six months ago. Buchanan introduced the bill on Jan. 6, 2015.
Buchanan asked the agency for information regarding specific steps it has taken to produce and issue the ID cards.
“The VA needs to pick up the pace and move faster on issuing identification cards to any veteran who wants one,” Buchanan said, expressing disappointment in the agency’s foot-dragging. “Another year is too long of a wait as millions of veterans remain vulnerable to identity theft.”
Currently millions of veterans are unable to document their service to our country without physically carrying around their official military service records. These records, referred to as DD-214 forms, contain sensitive personal information including social security numbers and service details that put veterans at higher, unnecessary risk for identity theft.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), veterans have twice the rate of identity theft than the general public nationwide.
Additionally, the law makes it easier for employers to verify an applicant’s service in the military and for veterans to take advantage of goods, services and promotional opportunities.
The Veterans Identification Card Act unanimously passed both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate last summer. The legislation was endorsed by AMVETS, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans for Common Sense and the Association of the U.S. Navy.
Full text of Buchanan’s letter is attached and can be found here.Read More
Bradenton, FL – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, FL-16, will visit IMG Academy in Bradenton this week to discuss its impact on jobs and the economy. Buchanan will tour the world-renowned school and sports training facility from 11:15 am to 12:15 pm on Wednesday, January 27. Press should enter the campus at 5650 Bollettieri Blvd, Bradenton, FL 34210.
Who: U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, FL-16
What: Tour of IMG Academy
When: Wednesday, January 27
11:15 am: Tour starts (Academic Center, Field House, Performance Center – current construction project, Campus Center – just opened in December, East Campus).
12:15 pm: Tour concludes back on West Campus with a press availability with Buchanan and IMG executives.
Where: 5650 Bollettieri Blvd, Bradenton, FL 34210
Notes: Upon arrival, press should tell security that they are there for the Congressman’s tour beginning at the Academic Center and security will direct you to where you should park.
Please RSVP to Gretchen Andersen at Gretchen.G.Andersen@mail.house.gov
Florida Has Highest Identity Theft Rate in Nation
WASHINGTON — A sweeping new measure designed to safeguard the Social Security numbers of more than 100 million working Americans has been signed into law by President Obama, Congressman Vern Buchanan, FL-16, announced today.
Buchanan’s “Taxpayer Identity Protection Act,” rolled into the tax extenders bill, would allow employers to keep Social Security numbers off the most commonly used tax form, the W-2, which is a prime target of identity thieves. The tax extenders bill was signed by the President last month.
Buchanan’s announcement that his measure was signed into law comes as tax filing season opens this week across the nation.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) every employee that makes more than $600 in a year – the vast majority of the nation’s 150 million workers – receives a Form W-2, which they must file with their tax returns. Recent reports indicate that thieves are stealing these W-2s from people’s mailboxes to help them file fake returns and fraudulently claim tax refunds.
“This common-sense measure will help safeguard millions of Americans from the devastation of identity theft,” Buchanan said. “By limiting the use of Social Security numbers on tax forms we can help keep hardworking Americans’ personal information out of the hands of criminals.”
Buchanan’s bill takes millions of Social Security numbers out of circulation. Employers will be able to list only the last four digits of the number on a W-2.
Buchanan is urging the IRS to issue necessary guidance so employers and employees can use this provision immediately to protect workers from identity theft.
Last year tax-related identity theft was listed as one of the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams by the IRS. Additionally, identity theft topped the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) national ranking of consumer complaints for the 15th consecutive year.
Treasury Department officials have testified before Congress warning that senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to tax-related identity theft where criminals file false tax returns using a victim’s Social Security Number. Seniors are attractive targets because they are more likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and have good credit.
According to the FTC, Florida has the highest per capita rate of identity theft. Of the cities with the most identity theft complaints in 2014, 9 of the top 20 are in Florida. The FTC reports that more than 800 people in Sarasota, North Port and Bradenton logged complaints last year, earning the area the 39th spot on the agency’s list.
“The Safety of Americans Comes First”
WASHINGTON — Amid reports this week that an ISIS terrorist disguised as a refugee killed 10 tourists in Istanbul, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today called for swift congressional action to stop Syrian refugees from entering America.
Buchanan called on the U.S. Senate to immediately pass the SAFE Act, which would freeze the influx of Syrian refugees into the U.S. until an iron-clad screening process is approved. The bill passed the U.S. House in November but has stalled in the Senate.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that Turkish officials identified the bomber as Nabil Fadli, a Syrian national who was fingerprinted in Turkey last week while registering as a refugee. The Journal said Fadli was not on any terror watch lists shared with Turkey by other countries.
“The attacks in Paris and Istanbul demonstrate how radical Islamic jihadists are using refugee populations as cover to carry out murderous attacks,” said Buchanan. “The safety of Americans comes first. Congress needs to put a bill on the President’s desk to freeze the Syrian refugee resettlement program until we have a better screening process.”
The SAFE Act requires the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence to personally certify that each and every refugee from Syria and Iraq is not a security threat.
“We should be using every tool at our disposal to stop terrorists in their tracks,” Buchanan said. “The Senate should pass this bill immediately and require the President to fix the gaping holes in the Administration’s vetting system.”
Last month Buchanan introduced the “Social Media Screening For Terrorists Act” which directs the secretary of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook and other forms of social media, before admitting foreign travelers and visa applicants into the country. Buchanan’s bill mirrors legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ. Text of the measure can be viewed here.Read More
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, voted today to expand punishing economic sanctions against North Korea following reports that the rogue nation detonated a hydrogen bomb.
The “North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act,” passed by the U.S. House today in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, now goes to the Senate for consideration. It also seizes assets related to North Korea's weapons program.
The vote comes less than a week after North Korea announced it successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb, making it the country’s fourth nuclear test since 2006.
“With the Kim regime’s history of human rights violations and previous nuclear tests, we cannot afford to be naïve and wait for North Korea to voluntarily halt their weapons program,” Buchanan said. “The Administration must enact aggressive sanctions against North Korea.”
“A nuclear North Korea is just as dangerous as a nuclear Iran,” Buchanan said. “The White House needs to work with China and other nations to cripple North Korea's economy and back down its nuclear aspirations.”
Programs “Promote a Clean Environment And Are Good For the Economy”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, and Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, co-chairs of the Congressional Bike Caucus, introduced the “Bikeshare Transit Act,” bipartisan legislation that will provide local communities additional flexibility to use federal funds for bikeshare programs.
Many bikeshare projects received federal funding to launch but face unique uncertainty as a form of a public transportation. Because there is no established federal funding source, bikeshare is in a gray area – preventing some communities from using federal funds for bikeshare investments. The “Bikeshare Transit Act” clarifies that bikeshare projects are eligible for existing federal funding and defines bikeshare in federal transportation law, giving much-needed certainty to business owners, city and local officials, and commuters alike.
“Bikeshare programs help people stay active, promote a clean environment and are good for the economy,” Buchanan said. “I’m excited to join Congressman Blumenauer in supporting legislation that will make it easier for more of these programs to receive federal funding.”
Under a typical bikeshare program, riders rent a bike for a designated period of time and return it at any station in the defined geographic area. Communities experience great economic development, with commercial investment increasing around bikeshare stations and networks. More than 10 million people rode a bikeshare bicycle last year.
“America is in the middle of a bikeshare revolution. Removing barriers faced by new and existing bikeshare programs is important to providing choice and adding value to our existing transportation network,” said Blumenauer.
“The League of American Bicyclists thanks Representatives Blumenauer and Buchanan for introducing the Bikeshare Transit Act. More and more people in communities across the country are using bikeshare for transportation. This bill defines bikeshare as a form of transit, which will help make federal funding available for bikeshare systems across the country,” said Alex Doty, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists.
“Bikeshare is proving to be a cost-effective, quick-to-implement transportation solution in a growing number of U.S. cities,” said Tim Blumenthal, president of the national bike advocacy organization PeopleForBikes. “Many U.S. city bikeshare systems support thousands of rides each day that help reduce road congestion and air pollution while improving health. The best thing about bikeshare is that everyone benefits.”
“Creating a bikeshare system is like building new transit for a fraction of the cost,” said James Corless, Director of Transportation for America. “It gives people another way to get where they need to go quickly and affordably. Especially for communities underserved by transit, services like bikeshare can be a crucial connection to everyday destinations like job and school. Innovative, affordable, and flexible ideas like this make federal dollars go really far, and we commend Representatives Blumenauer and Buchanan's bipartisan Bikeshare Transit Act.”
“Bikeshare programs are helping communities large and small create new and needed transportation options while also improving local economies and quality of life,” said Carol Rhea, FAICP, President of American Planning Association. “Bikeshare has become a proven tool for building stronger, more vibrant, and more resilient communities. APA and the nation’s planners applaud the introduction of the bipartisan Bikeshare Transit Act. This legislation will make sure that federal policies and investments recognize what residents and cities already know: that bikeshare works.”
“These Gentle Giants Need our Help”
WASHINGTON – In a letter sent today to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, said the agency’s decision to downgrade the manatee from endangered to threatened was "misguided and premature" in light of the dangers facing the iconic Florida animal.
Since 1966 the manatee, a symbol of Florida’s wilderness and beauty, has been listed as an endangered species. Manatees face a variety of threats to their existence, including watercraft collisions, habitat loss and red tide. Additionally, the warm water springs manatees depend on during the winter months for survival are disappearing.
“These gentle giants need our help as hundreds continue to be killed off,” Buchanan said. “The Fish and Wildlife Service decision will only exacerbate this crisis by reducing their protections.”
Some experts have projected that the current population of only 6,000 manatees in Florida could potentially drop to 500 within the next century.
“I urge the agency to withdraw its misguided and premature proposal immediately and help save this treasured species,” Buchanan said. “The government must not downplay the severity of these threats to the manatee’s survival.”
Buchanan previously called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in October 2014 to express his strong concern regarding reports that the agency was looking into weakening protections for the manatee.
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
Dear Director Ashe:
I am writing to express my opposition to your agency’s proposal to reduce protections for Florida manatees under the Endangered Species Act.
I urge you to withdraw this misguided and premature proposal.
I am pleased that the population of manatees has grown over the last five decades. But at only 6,000, it defies common sense to view these animals as unworthy of protection.
Since 1966, manatees have been listed as an endangered species. These gentle giants face a variety of threats to their existence, including watercraft collisions, habitat loss and red tide. In fact, hundreds of these animals die each year.
Moreover, manatees need access to warm water during the winter months. But warm water springs are disappearing and over half of Florida’s manatees rely on warm water near power plants that will eventually be phased out.
This is not the time for the federal government to reduce its protections for manatees and their habitats. In its 2007 status review, a government biologist projected a 50 percent probability that the current population of manatees in Florida could drop to 500 within the next century.
Manatees have become an iconic symbol for the wilderness and beauty of Florida. They are an engine in our economy even as they are a restorative presence in our tranquil waters. We must do everything possible to protect this treasured species.
Member of Congress
2104 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
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.
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Join me for a listening session on national security, jobs and the economy in Sarasota this Saturday, February 6, 2016. The event will be held
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