Former World Series Champs to Hold Spring Training in Sarasota County
WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today welcomed the Atlanta Braves to their new spring training home in Sarasota County.
The Braves announced last night that they would be holding their spring training in North Port, Florida.
“The Braves’ move reflects the growing recognition of Sarasota County as a vibrant and dynamic region,” Buchanan said. “This is a great move for the team and a tremendous score for our community.”
The Braves are three-time World Series champions and have had long stretches of dominance, including a period where they won 14 consecutive division titles from 1991 to 2005.
The Braves join the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles in getting the beginning of their season underway on the Suncoast.
“Baseball fans should come take advantage of the amazing early-season baseball viewing opportunities we have to offer here on the Suncoast,” Buchanan said. “We have a world-class lineup of teams, and strong fan support.”
Buchanan, who has thrown out the first pitch at a number of spring training games for both the Pirates and the Orioles, said he is more than ready to do the same for the Braves.
The Braves are leaving their current spring training grounds in Orlando.
“Barbaric Practice that Must End”
WASHINGTON – A coalition of leading animal welfare groups today endorsed bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Vern Buchanan to permanently ban the killing of horses for human consumption in America and end the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.
The SAFE Act (Safeguard American Food Exports) is co-sponsored by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.
“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that must end,” Buchanan said, announcing the endorsement of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Welfare Institute.
Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations, said, “It is time for Congress to permanently ban horse slaughter, not only in this country but also for export to neighboring countries as well. We must prevent even one more horse from suffering from this terrible fate.”
Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said, “We don’t round up dogs and cats for slaughter, and it should be unthinkable to do that to a species that helped us settle the nation. The horse slaughter industry is a predatory, inhumane enterprise.”
Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute, said his group “looks forward to working with Rep. Buchanan and the strong bipartisan leadership team in the House dedicated to ending horse slaughter.”
Although the sale of horsemeat for human consumption is banned in the United States, the prohibition is subject to annual congressional review. There is no federal law prohibiting the transport of horses across American borders for slaughter in Canada or Mexico.
More than 150,000 American horses were butchered in Canada and Mexico and then transported overseas for consumption in Japan, Italy and other countries in 2015. More than 90 percent of these horses were healthy and in good condition.
These animals suffer abuse even before arriving at the slaughterhouse. They are often transported for long periods of time without food and water in overcrowded trailers. Once at the slaughterhouse, horses are forced into a “kill box” and then shot with a bolt gun in an attempt to stun the animal.
A 2012 national poll conducted on behalf of the ASPCA found that 80 percent of Americans favor a ban on horse slaughter and want to protect these animals from abuse.
Many humane options are available to horse owners who can no longer care for their animals, including:
Buchanan has received the U.S. Humane Society’s Legislator of the Year award for his record in support of animal welfare legislation.Read More
Police Shooting Deaths Up 56% Last Year
WASHINGTON – Citing the shooting death yesterday of a police officer in Orlando, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan called for passage of his bill making it easier to impose the death penalty against cop killers.
Orlando police officer Debra Clayton, a 17-year veteran of the department, was shot to death Monday morning while trying to arrest a murder suspect. An Orange County Sheriff’s deputy was killed hours later in an auto accident while pursuing the alleged killer, who was wanted in the slaying of his pregnant former girlfriend.
“These vicious attacks against police must end,” Buchanan said. “My legislation sends a strong message to those who target police – you will be held accountable.”
Buchanan’s Thin Blue Line Act, H.R. 115, would make the murder or attempted murder of a police officer, firefighter or other first responder an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations.
The number of police officer deaths from shootings increased 56 percent nationally in 2016, according to a report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
William J. Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), praised Buchanan’s bill, saying assaults against police have increased sharply in recent years. In 2016 alone, ambush-style killings of law enforcement officers increased by 167 percent, according to NAPO.
“Establishing stricter penalties for those who harm or target law enforcement officers will deter crime,” Johnson said. “Any persons contemplating harming an officer must know that they will face serious punishments.”
Chuck Canterbury, national president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, also voiced his organization’s strong support for the legislation. “It is our job to protect others but it should not be ‘part of the job’ to be a target of someone who is looking simply to kill a cop.”
The legislation would be applicable whether the person is murdered on duty, because of the performance of their duty, or because of their status as a public official. It covers federal, state, and local police officers, firefighters and first responders. The only requirement is that the homicide involve federal jurisdiction, such as the interstate homicide of an officer, or an officer killed on federal land, or while serving as part of a joint task force.
Although federal law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are involved in the Orlando manhunt, it is unclear whether Buchanan’s bill would apply in this circumstance.
“We owe a great debt to police officers and first responders across the country,” Buchanan said. “Just as we recently witnessed during the Fort Lauderdale airport attack, these brave individuals put their lives on the line to keep us safe.”
The Orlando police shooting tragically took place on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and as Florida commemorates its First Responder Appreciation Week.
Focus on IRS, Medicare, Social Security, Identity Theft
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan has been named chairman of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, a key watchdog panel with investigative authority over all issues under the full committee’s jurisdiction, including health care, the IRS, welfare, Social Security and Medicare.
“I look forward to chairing this important watchdog panel that will monitor government’s largest federal agencies and programs,” Buchanan said. “I intend to make sure these programs are accountable and working for the people.”
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said: “While serving on Ways and Means, Vern has proven to be an effective, hardworking, and thoughtful leader. As the newly-selected Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee, Vern will be at the center of the House’s efforts to hold the IRS accountable and ensure the faithful execution of our laws. I appreciate his hard work and am confident he’ll continue to deliver real results for Floridians and all Americans.”
Buchanan said he is in the process of developing his agenda for the 115th Congress, but said it will include fighting fraud in Medicare and Social Security, making the Internal Revenue Service more responsive to ordinary citizens, safeguarding Americans from identity theft and increasing transparency in government.
"I intend to be fair but relentless in exposing government malfeasance," Buchanan said. "Fraud, waste and abuse will not be tolerated. Government exists to work for the people, not the other way around."
Buchanan, who chaired the Human Resources Subcommittee in the last Congress, also sits on the Health Subcommittee and Social Security Subcommittee of Ways and Means.
The Congressman has served on the Ways and Means Committee since January of 2011. His 2015 appointment as subcommittee chairman marked the first time a Floridian led a Ways & Means Subcommittee since U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fla., chaired the Trade Subcommittee for the 109th Congress (2005-2006). Ways and Means is widely considered the most powerful committee in Congress because of its broad jurisdiction, including taxes, health care, Social Security, Medicare, welfare and international trade.
“Breaking Up Families Should be a Last Resort”
WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan today announced that he has introduced legislation to help children stay at home with their families instead of being placed in group homes or foster care.
The bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act will address serious issues with the current foster care system. An identical version of the bill introduced by Buchanan last year passed the House unanimously in June 2016, but the Senate failed to act.
Experts have cautioned that children raised in foster care face increased risks of substance abuse, homelessness and teen pregnancy. Every year, more than 250,000 children – from infants to age 18 – are removed from their homes by state child welfare officials and placed in either foster care or group homes. In Florida, that figure was almost 16,000 in 2014.
“This bill makes sure that children are protected and families are not split up unnecessarily,” Buchanan said. “Our current system creates a perverse incentive to place children in foster care. Breaking up families should be a last resort.”
The bill will:
“We know that strong families make for strong communities,” Buchanan said. “This bill is so important given that we’re in the middle of an opioid and heroin crisis, which creates many, many vulnerable children. This bill is a departure from an outdated system that focuses on caring for children only after they enter into foster care, and instead invests in proven prevention services, including substance abuse treatment, that will keep families together. This legislation offers the types of support that parents need to provide the safe and stable home every child deserves.”
The bill is co-sponsored by the former ranking Democrat on Ways and Means, Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.).
Over 500 state and national child welfare organizations supported the bill in 2016, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Child Welfare League of America and the North American Council on Adoptable Children.
For draft bill text, click here.
Avalanche of Red Tape is “Hurting Job Growth”
WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan said today House passage of legislation aimed at reversing President Obama’s frenzy of last-minute regulations could save taxpayers more than $20 billion.
The Obama administration has enacted more than 99 regulations in the past month as he rushes to cement his legacy before he leaves office in two weeks. The rules touch nearly every aspect of American life – including immigration, trade and even the use of cell phones on airplanes.
According to the American Action Forum, 31 of the 145 new rules proposed since the election are considered to be economically significant, imposing a cost exceeding $20 billion.
“The avalanche of federal regulations coming out of the White House is suffocating businesses and hurting job growth,” Buchanan said. “A lame duck administration should not be able to jam through 11th-hour rules that have a serious impact on the American economy without congressional oversight. I urge the Senate to take up this legislation as soon as the new President is sworn in, so that it can be signed into law immediately.”
Small business owners consistently cite “government regulations and red tape” as one of the biggest challenges facing their companies, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s leading voice for small businesses.
The Midnight Rules Relief Act, H.R. 21, was approved by the U.S. House yesterday by a vote of 238-184 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. Specifically, the legislation would amend the Congressional Review Act to allow Congress to repeal any and all regulations finalized in the last 60 legislative days of an outgoing presidential administration under a single disapproval resolution.
A previous version of the Midnight Rules Relief Act passed the House with Buchanan’s strong support in late 2016, but the Senate never acted on the bill.
The federal government has issued 600 major regulations totaling $743 billion since President Obama assumed office, according to the American Action Forum. Furthermore, the Federal Register, the repository all of rules and regulations, stood at more than 81,600 pages by the end of 2016 – an all-time record.
Buchanan also called on Congress to take the next step and curtail executive overreach by approving the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, H.R. 26. The House is expected to vote on the legislation Thursday.
Specifically, this bill requires executive agencies to submit rules with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more to Congress for review. Under the legislation, Congress has 70 legislative days to approve the major rule and send it to the president’s desk otherwise the rule would not take effect. Currently, executive agencies can unilaterally enact rules.
“Unelected bureaucrats working behind closed doors are drowning small businesses in red tape with these rules,” Buchanan said. “The House must reverse this dangerous trend of government overreach and send a strong signal that the White House cannot circumvent Congress.”
President-elect Donald Trump has said he would sign the REINS Act should it reach his desk, and called it one “major step toward getting our government under control.” The House passed a previous version of the bill in July 2016 with Buchanan’s support, but also stalled in the Senate.
Secretary of State John Kerry Should Apologize for Offensive Comments
WASHINGTON — Saying the Obama administration failed to support a key ally, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today called on Congress to rebuke the United Nations for adopting an anti-Israel resolution.
The U.N. Security Council recently adopted a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements, describing them as an obstacle to peace. Breaking with long-standing tradition of defending Israel from such hostile action at the U.N., the U.S. refused to block the Dec. 23 vote.
The House is expected to vote Thursday on a resolution co-sponsored by Buchanan opposing the U.N.’s anti-Israel action.
Secretary of State John Kerry defended the administration’s action, saying “Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both and it won't ever live in peace.” Buchanan called Kerry’s comments “offensive” and said he should apologize.
“This is not how you treat your strongest ally in the Middle East, a democracy surrounded by hostile nations who have openly called for its destruction,” Buchanan said. “The U.N.’s recent action will only embolden enemies of the Jewish state.”
Had the United States chosen to veto this resolution, the vote would have automatically failed. This marked the first time the United States did not use its power to defend Israeli settlements at the U.N. Security Council in over three decades.
Immediately following the vote, both Democrats and Republicans rebuked the Obama administration for choosing to not intervene and kill the vote. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said “it is extremely frustrating, disappointing and confounding that the administration has failed to veto this resolution.”
Buchanan also pointed to a pattern of attempts made by the United Nations to undermine Israel during 2016.
In October 2016 the U.N.’s cultural agency, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization passed a resolution criticizing Israel as an “occupying power” in Jerusalem. It also denied the Jewish people’s deep connection to several of their holiest sites in Jerusalem.
In May 2016, the U.N.’s World Health Organization called for an investigation into alleged “mental, physical and environmental health” abuses made by Israel, the only country singled out.
In March 2016 the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women designated Israel as the world’s sole violator of women’s rights, disregarding counties such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Hamas, which is considered a terrorist group by the United States, released a statement praising the countries that voted in support for the Dec. 23 resolution. “We emphasize the need to turn such a resolution into action, not only to halt settlements but to eradicate Israel’s occupation in all its forms,” said a Hamas spokesman.
“Historic Opportunity to Move the Country Forward”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan announced today he will introduce seven bills to kick off the new session of Congress, saying job creation and tax reform will help raise the standard of living for all Americans.
“As the new Congress gets underway we have a historic opportunity to move the country forward with policies that encourage economic growth and restore fiscal sanity to Washington,” Buchanan said.
The official start of the 115th Congress, including the swearing-in ceremony for all House members, begins at 12 p.m. in the U.S. Capitol. Local press can watch the ceremony live on www.c-span.org.
Buchanan, who is co-chair of the 29-member Florida congressional delegation, said his top priorities this Congress include tax reform and reducing burdensome regulations to create jobs, preserving Medicare and Social Security, protecting America from terrorists and balancing the federal budget.
The seven bills Buchanan will introduce today include:
As a senior member of the powerful tax-cutting U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, the Congressman will play a central role in the debate over lowering taxes and simplifying the tax code. He is focused on fixing the tax code by lowering individual tax rates, making it easier for businesses and individuals to file taxes and making sure that small businesses don’t pay more in taxes than large corporations.
The Ways and Means Committee will also be key in any debate surrounding Social Security and Medicare. Buchanan is committed to protecting both Medicare and Social Security. In 2016, the President signed into law Buchanan’s proposal to preserve certain Medicare Advantage plans.
“Medicare and Social Security are two of the most successful government programs,” Buchanan said. “For many of our loved ones, these funds are critical to a healthy and secure retirement. We must preserve both programs for today’s seniors and future generations.”
Due to the congressional redistricting process, the boundaries of Buchanan’s district have changed since the 114th Congress. The newly redrawn 16th district no longer includes Sarasota County south of Clark Road and instead picks up eastern and southern portions of Hillsborough County.
“We Stand at a Critical Crossroad”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today outlined his key legislative priorities for 2017, with job creation, protecting Medicare and Social Security and safeguarding America from terrorists topping the list.
As Congress prepares to go back into session next week, Buchanan said reducing taxes for ordinary Americans, simplifying the tax code and eliminating unnecessary regulations will spur economic growth and create jobs. He said strengthening Social Security and Medicare will help current and future seniors live with dignity and independence.
“We stand at a critical crossroad that will shape our nation for decades to come,” Buchanan said, adding, “I’m optimistic we will embrace this challenge and take the steps necessary to fortify the economy, restore the American dream and safeguard our people against the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.”
Buchanan, entering his sixth term as a senior member of the powerful tax-cutting Ways and Means Committee, will play a central role in the critical debate over tax reform.
He is focused on fixing the tax code by lowering individual tax rates, making it easier for businesses and individuals to file taxes and making sure that small businesses don’t pay more in taxes than large corporations. The world’s largest corporations face a maximum tax rate of 35 percent, while Florida’s 2.3 million small businesses can pay more than 42 percent of their income in taxes.
The Ways and Means Committee will also be key in protecting Social Security and Medicare. Unless Congress acts, the trust funds from which these benefits are paid will be insolvent in fewer than 20 years. Rather than allowing massive benefits cuts to take effect, Buchanan has committed to protecting both Medicare and Social Security. In 2016, the President signed into law Buchanan’s proposal to preserve Medicare Advantage plans.
“Medicare and Social Security are two of the most successful government programs and I’m committed to preserving them,” Buchanan said. “So many people depend on these programs. Medicare beneficiaries make up 17 percent of the U.S. population – and roughly 220,000 Americans rely on Medicare in just Sarasota and Manatee counties alone.”
Buchanan also pointed to the recent terror attack by an asylum-seeker in Berlin as evidence that Congress needs to act swiftly to protect Americans.
“I'm very concerned about ineffective screening of foreigners trying to enter the country,” Buchanan said. “Other countries with loose border security are seeing attacks by radical Islamic terrorists and we need to do everything we can to keep another tragedy from happening on our soil.”
Buchanan will also continue his efforts to help veterans by pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement his Veterans Identification Card Act, which was signed into law by President Obama. These cards will help reduce the threat of identity theft that veterans currently face.
The Congressman, who serves as co-chair of the Florida congressional delegation, will introduce a package of legislative proposals in January, when the 115th Congress convenes, which includes:
“My job is to be a voice in Washington for the people of the Suncoast,” Buchanan said, adding his legislation would help seniors, veterans, taxpayers, among other people.
Buchanan said he is looking forward to the new session of Congress after just completing his most successful term yet when it comes to passing legislation he wrote and introduced. He recently scored his fourth major legislative win of this past session with the adoption of his bill to save Medicare Advantage plans.
Other Buchanan accomplishments passed in previous sessions of Congress included citrus greening research, job training for veterans, funding for Sarasota National Cemetery and veterans’ health care.
WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan said today that legislation signed by President Obama over the weekend will help fight drug abuse by funding $500 million in treatment, education and prevention programs.
“The heroin epidemic is destroying families right here in Manatee and Sarasota counties as well as across the country,” Buchanan said. “These critical funds will go a long way toward supporting community action against heroin and other killer drugs.”
The bill signed by the President directs $500 million to anti-drug program grants within the Department of Health and Human Services. These programs take a multi-pronged approach to tackling drug problems by beefing up drug abuse treatment and prevention, training health care practitioners in best prescribing practices, and improving prescription monitoring.
The funding level was widely supported by both parties and the White House.
Heroin-related deaths nearly quadrupled nationally between 2002 and 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County recorded more heroin-related deaths per capita than any of the other 66 Florida counties in 2014 and is currently experiencing a spike in drug overdoses.
The Manatee County medical examiner’s office has performed a record number of autopsies this year, according to the Bradenton Herald.
“The statistics and stories surrounding the death toll of the heroin epidemic are horrifying,” Buchanan said. “We are now putting serious resources behind fighting back against the drug epidemic.”
The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the opioid crisis in Florida. In September, Buchanan urged House and Senate leadership to provide urgently-needed funds to curb the country’s deadly heroin epidemic. In May, Buchanan chaired a Congressional hearing examining the impact of addiction on kids. Earlier this year he hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and stakeholders. Buchanan also chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, DC where members heard testimony from anti-drug experts. Buchanan serves as co-chair of the Florida delegation. 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.
Earlier this month, Buchanan announced his support for a bill that will fight the next phase of the opioid epidemic – the importation of fentanyl and carfentanil from countries like China into the U.S.
Fentanyl and carfentanil are synthetic drugs similar to heroin but more than 50 times more powerful. Manatee County ranks highest in the state for the number of fentanyl-related deaths, and, in Florida, fentanyl-related deaths increased by 77.6 percent last year when compared to 2014, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Medical Examiners Commission.
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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Great to see so many Floridians in Washington for the inauguration of the 45th president of the oldest democracy in… https://t.co/CJ2F153Ihb
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BAN HORSE SLAUGHTER! Check out the SAFE Act - my bill that will stop this barbaric practice! Learn more here… https://t.co/pjxASK3iEa
Today is the start of tax-filing season. Early filing can help prevent tax identity theft, a growing problem. If you file first, it will be
Great to see so many Floridians in Washington for the inauguration of the 45th president of the oldest democracy in the world!
Welcome to the Suncoast, Atlanta Braves! Good luck this season!
The Herald-Tribune nails it – why Congress needs to pass my bill to help Florida's orange growers!
Florida is sending 341 National Guardsmen to Washington, D.C. to provide security assistance at inaugural ceremonies this week. I deeply appreciate