Transportation, in particular our nation’s roads and highways, affect the daily lives of every American. For example, many in the 3rd District recognize 1-70 as a vital interstate you take to get to work, to appointments, and a crucial artery running through the State from St. Louis to Kansas City.
One fact you may not know is that 50 years ago, in August of 1956, Missouri became the first state granted a contract for work on U.S. 40 – which is now known as I-70, right here in St. Charles County. This would be the United States’ first roadway to undergo construction under the terms of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956.
While the Interstate System accounts for approximately 1.1 percent of the nation’s total public road mileage, it carries 24 percent of all highway travel. This very high volume of cars and trucks in our nation’s interstates, requires a lot of upkeep to ensure these roads safe for drivers.
Late last year, the first long-term investment in transportation in over a decade was signed into law. Over the next five years this bill will provide over $5 billion in federal highway funding for the state of Missouri, an increase in $455 million over the previous law. This money will be directly used to make our state’s roads better and safer over the next five years. In terms of safety, this bill gives states the flexibility necessary to increase the percentage of National Priority Safety Program funds that can be spent on each state’s traditional safety program. It also means there is certainty and flexibility for states to invest in transportation infrastructure and makes important reforms to the permitting processes.
Beyond maintaining our nation’s roads, we must also take care of our country’s bridges and infrastructure. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was honored to join the ground breaking for the new Highway 47 Missouri River Bridge in Washington, Mo, which connects Franklin and Warren counties. I was proud to join with the local leaders who worked tirelessly to make this a reality. The current bridge opened in 1936 and is just wide enough for one lane of traffic in each direction, without any shoulders. The new bridge will greatly improve safety for the 11,000 vehicles per day that cross over it.
While we celebrate the 50 year anniversary of our nation’s interstate system, we must also recognize the men and women whose hard work have created and maintained the roads and ensured their for future generations. Congress is already looking at funding measures for the next major surface transportation bill to ensure that our highways can continue to connect America.Read More
On any given day that the House is in session, my schedule consists of meeting with constituents from the 3rd District, attending hearings on the House Financial Services and Small Business Committees, and going to the floor of the House of Representatives to listen to and debate legislation and cast votes on various bills.
Whenever I travel around the district and hold meetings in the 13 counties I serve, constituents always ask me questions about what bills have passed this year and what Congress has done. With September quickly approaching and with more than half the year over, I am pleased to report the House of Representatives has been listening to the will of the people and has passed bills to to block many of the regulations and rules that have come from the Obama Administration and worked to put this country back on the right course.
The 3rd District of Missouri is blessed to have farmers and ranchers that help feed Americans all across the country. So, you can’t begin to even discuss out of control regulations in the 3rd District without talking about the EPA’s ridiculous Waters of the United States rule. As a farmer myself, I know the “Waters of the United States” rule is an expansion of the Clean Water Act in an unprecedented way, by applying it to “waters” generally instead of just “navigable waters.” It would give the EPA jurisdiction over puddles, ditches, and ponds, and farmers, ranchers, and small business owners know that it is a disaster. The House has acted on numerous occasions to stop this and earlier this year passed a resolution to scrap the rule. Make no mistake, the president was quick to ignore all of the calls and concerns expressed by the American people, but the House listened and acted. Currently, the WOTUS rule is blocked nationwide due to a decision by the U.S. District Court in North Dakota.
While the House will continue to push to reverse the WOTUS rule, we have made progress made in terms of helping our nation’s veterans. With three Medical Centers and numerous clinics serving veterans in Missouri, doing what I can to help ensure a better quality of life for our heroes is one of my top priorities. One bill the House passed is the VA Medical Center Recovery Act. This directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to evaluate the quality of health care being provided at each medical center ensures that medical centers are meeting high standards and not underperforming. This common-sense legislation passed the House in February and the Senate has yet to act on it.
Lastly, the House remains very focused on continuing its efforts to shield the homeland and protect Americans across the country. In the 114th Congress, there have been 77 bills that have passed through the House that would secure our nation’s borders; protect our technology against cyber attacks; and shield our country from international and domestic threats. Of those 77 House passed bills, 18 of them have been signed into law. One bill that has been signed into law is the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act. This law is designed to help the Department of Homeland Security identify and stop terrorists with Western passports from entering the United States. More must still be done, but we have made progress on this issue.
While this bulletin focuses on just three areas where the House has worked to make improvements, there are hundreds more examples in every single issue area including health, education, transportation, and so forth. The House is committed to getting America back on track and we have a full slate of ideas that have already been acted on and there is certainly more to come.Read More
There’s an old saying about laws and sausages: you don’t want to see how they are made. As somebody who raised hogs for many years, I can tell you that making sausage can be a lot more satisfying than making laws on a lot of days. So, a question that I am frequently asked is what is the trick to getting a piece of legislation signed into law? There isn’t a clear cut formula and the process can oftentimes be frustrating, especially when you are trying to make substantive changes to government programs that have gone unchecked for generations. Our founders didn’t want it to be easy to pass laws, though. That’s why they crafted a deliberate system in Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution requiring the House, Senate, and president to act. This week, I’ll do my best to outline how a major bill to reform many of our nation’s housing policies and programs made its way through each step of the process over the last year.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development marked its 50th anniversary in 2015, the same year that I became chairman of the House Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance. So, I met with public housing authority administrators and residents; apartment building owners; title agents; managers and tenants; realtors; home builders; lenders; low income housing advocates, and countless other groups of constituents to learn about their experiences with HUD itself and also the Rural Housing Service (RHS), which is a component of USDA.
From these meetings, I quickly came to the conclusion that the common theme across the spectrum was that Missourians wanted HUD to be modernized, since no major reforms had been enacted at the department since its establishment in 1965. In May of 2015, I organized a roundtable in the district for HUD Secretary Julian Castro to hear directly from Missourians about what programs needed to be eliminated, strengthened, or reformed at his department. It became clear from these conversations that legislation would be required to enact the reforms that were necessary at HUD and RHS in order to make the agencies work better and more efficiently for all Americans.
These ideas led me to draft a piece of legislation, H.R. 3700, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, which I introduced in October of 2015. Another Missourian, Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City, agreed to sign on as a co-sponsor in order to build support on his side of the aisle. We held hearings and the bill passed out of the Financial Services Committee in December. In early February 2016, it came to the House floor for debate. After over a dozen amendments were considered on the House floor, the bill passed by a vote of 427-0. With passage in the House, that meant one hurdle was complete and there were two to go.
With the help of a few of my colleagues in the Senate, including Senator Roy Blunt, it wasn’t too long after that the legislation passed, once again, unanimously. I’m told that this is the first time since 1989 that a significant piece of legislation passed without the House and Senate unanimously. The last step was receiving the president’s signature and just a couple of weeks ago, I got the news that H.R. 3700 was officially signed into law.
H.R. 3700 is an example of writing a bill, working hard to educate individuals and colleagues, and ultimately seeing it signed into law. However, there are several reasons why this piece of legislation was so popular in Congress.
Not only does this make the first reforms to HUD and RHS in decades but this legislation makes strides in the housing industry to raise up those in need and to give Americans the opportunity to live in homes they work hard to own – on their own, not through government assistance. This legislation also gives states and local housing agencies and private owners enhanced flexibility in meeting key program objectives such as reducing homelessness, improving access to higher-opportunity neighborhoods, and addressing repair needs in public housing. In addition, this legislation pays special attention to our homeless veterans and children aging out of foster care. And during a time when House Republicans are looking at every measure to save taxpayers money, my bill does just that – it saves taxpayers $310 million.
H.R. 3700 marked the first step in decades to reforming housing policies and programs across America. I look forward to working with you and my colleagues to make the next critical steps in this mission.Read More
While many weeks I write about what I’ve been working on in Washington or what I’m hearing from folks as I travel around Missouri, this week I want to take a moment and let you know what my staff has been up to in the 3rd District and also about an opportunity for high school students in the district.
In addition to the regular visits I make around the district, every quarter of each year, my staff holds Constituent Service Days in all 13 of the counties that I am honored to represent. We typically rotate which towns the stops are in, but we always stop in every county, every time. These forums give folks the opportunity to meet face-to-face with members of my staff to share any concerns you may have or ask questions. I strongly believe in the value of holding Constituent Service Days. Let me tell you, I personally review all the feedback that my staff hears from you and I take your concerns with me to Washington so that other government officials and members of Congress know what the citizens of the 3rd District of Missouri are experiencing in their daily lives.
These forums also provide an opportunity for you to get help navigating issues with federal agencies. Whether it’s help with Social Security, Medicare, the VA, or the IRS, we stand ready to serve as your liaison to the federal government.
Many folks may not know it, but one of the jobs of a congressional office is to nominate candidates to attend our country’s military service academies. This is an incredible opportunity for high school students in the district and my staff would be happy to navigate the nomination process with interested parents and students. The academies that individuals can apply to are the United States Military Academy, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, and the Merchant Marine Academy. We are also happy to connect interested students with the Coast Guard Academy; however, this academy does not require a nomination from my office.
It’s always an honor to help students from the district realize their dreams of serving our great nation. Just a few months ago, I went to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland to sit and visit with Midshipmen from the 3rd District who were going through training and attending school. I will never forget being able to see how much these young individuals had already grown in just a couple of short years.
On a daily basis, my offices receive phone calls, emails, and letters written by individuals in the 3rd District. Over the last year, my offices received over 38,000 pieces of correspondence. My staff takes pride in ensuring that you will get a response to your inquiry. The team is ready and willing to help with concerns or issues you may have.
A couple of other services of note that my office can provide: if you are planning a trip to Washington, please contact the D.C. office for help in planning tours during your trip. Also, if you need help with a federal grant or maybe you know someone who is looking for an internship, again, please let us know. All of this information, and more, is located on my website. Otherwise, please give any of my offices a call and let us know how we can help you.
Our nation’s government is elected by the people, for the people. I look forward to continuing to fulfilling that obligation and, as always, I look forward to hearing from you and working with you.Read More
President Obama has signed into law legislation that U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) introduced which would reform housing policies in America for the first time in decades.
“This is a historic time for housing in America,” Luetkemeyer said. “For the first time in over 50 years, there will be real reforms to the programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service (RHS). I am proud to be part of a movement that will streamline and modernize housing programs, creating opportunity for American families and saving hard-earned taxpayer dollars. I want to thank my colleague from Missouri, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, for his leadership on this bill, and to commend my colleagues in the House and Senate for recognizing the importance of this legislation and getting it to the president’s desk.”
“As someone who grew up in public housing, I know personally the importance of having a safe, affordable home,” said U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II. “I want to thank Congressman Luetkemeyer and Senator Blunt for their efforts. By working together we were able to pass one of the largest sweeping reforms of our nation's housing programs in the last two decades, providing safe and affordable housing for all Americans.”
H.R. 3700 passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 427-0 and it passed the Senate by unanimous consent.
H.R. 3700 includes provisions to:
- Ensure that veterans have fair access to housing and homeless assistance programs.
- Authorize the RHS single family housing guaranteed loan program to delegate approval authority to preferred lenders.
- Extend the period for which a family could use a family unification housing voucher and increase the ceiling for the Family Unification Program voucher age requirement.
- Provide a thoughtful limitation on public housing tenancy for over-income residents.
-Save taxpayers $600 million over ten years.
National security and issues related to the safety of Americans have been at the forefront of many discussions I’ve had with our fellow Missourians lately. Whether it is regarding the terrorist attacks happening across the world, the recent anniversary of the troubling and poorly crafted Iran Nuclear deal, or events that have happened here in Missouri – the level of concern about our nation’s security seems to be increasing by the day.
Recently, I had the distinct honor to participate in the annual Westminster Institute for National Security. The program is a week-long seminar for high school students and I was invited to be a speaker one evening and answer questions regarding national security from the students that were participating in the event. We discussed the need to make sure our military has the resources and equipment it needs to meet the modern challenges that it faces. We also talked about the fact that many countries around the world hunger for America to be a leader on the world stage again. And, as mentioned above, we talked about terrorism and the need to fight it at home and abroad. It is encouraging to know there are students who are well informed and care deeply about America’s national security interests. It was a great discussion and I hope the students that attended will continue to take an interest in our country’s security.
Illegal immigration is another issue that comes up a lot when I’m meeting with constituents. Earlier this year in Kansas City, Kansas and Montgomery County, Missouri five people were murdered, allegedly at the hands of Pablo Serrano-Vitorino. Not only is Serrano-Vitorino an illegal alien, but he had been deported previously for a felony conviction, re-entered the country, and was in police custody multiple times in the month prior to perpetrating these heinous murders.
After the news broke, I contacted officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to discuss what happened in this specific case. Clearly, the system is completely broken if an illegal alien who has a felony record and has already been deported once is released from custody. It’s clear that the Obama Administration is either unable or unwilling to carry out our current immigration laws in place in order to protect our citizens. After being left unsatisfied with the answers provided by ICE, I recently introduced the Empowering Local Law Enforcement Act, which would give local law enforcement the necessary authority to get dangerous illegal aliens off our streets.
This legislation would force the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to train willing local law enforcement officers to carry out federal immigration actions such as arresting and detaining illegal aliens. This program is already in place, but is unused by DHS. It would also provide local law enforcement with information on the most dangerous illegal aliens and provide with them with authority to detain these individuals. At the end of the day, it is of the utmost importance to provide local law enforcement the authority to protect our communities from these dangerous individuals.
Our national security doesn’t just depend on what happens overseas, what happens here at home matters, too. I will continue to update you regarding the status of this piece of legislation and any issues regarding national security and immigration. More needs to be done to secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws and I remain committed to protecting the safety of Americans.Read More
For the last five weeks, the bulletin has focused on the Better Way agenda which is six different bold ideas for a confident America. This week’s topic is the last section of the Better Way agenda, but it’s one that I hear about all the time: fixing our broken tax code.
Not only does our nation’s tax code need to be simpler and fairer but we must also ensure that it promotes economic growth and opportunity. The basis of the Better Way tax plan is very simple: simplification, growth, and IRS reform.
As I have discussed in past articles, the current tax code runs approximately 2,600 pages. Our tax reform plan simplifies the code so that the majority of Americans will be able to file their taxes on a form the size of a postcard. In addition, at 35 percent, our nation’s corporate tax rate is the highest in the developed world. This makes it harder for American workers and businesses to compete in the global economy. In 1960, 17 of the 20 largest global companies were headquartered in the United States. Today, that number has dropped to only six. This plan lowers the corporate tax rate to a more globally competitive level of 20 percent. Along with helping American companies, this tax reform plan helps American families and individuals. The individual income tax rate currently has seven tax brackets. Our plan reduces it to three simple brackets. This will make the individual system simpler, flatter, and fairer.
While simplifying the tax code is a great start, none of this is possible without an IRS that works in the best interest of taxpayers. The IRS has failed in its mission and is in desperate need of reform. That is why we need a new, customer-service first IRS will, led by a commissioner limited to just six years in office. A streamlined taxpayer service agency would be divided into just three components: families and individuals; businesses; and an independent “small claims court” unit. That way, each unit will have an efficient and accountable workforce that is trained to handle matters that are relevant to taxpayers in need of assistance.
We need a tax code that works for the 21st century. By reforming the tax code, that means families, individuals, and small businesses will have more time to spend on growing the economy rather than tackling the tax code. It should help make the United States the number one place in the world to hire and invest.
Tackling poverty, national security, growing the economy, upholding the Constitution, reforming health-care, and tax reform. Those are the six components of the Better Way agenda. As a whole, this comprehensive slate of ideas addresses the challenges that face our nation. I hope you enjoyed this series and you see the vision for a more confident America.Read More
U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) is encouraging high school students from the 3rd Congressional District to consider applying for a nomination to the nation’s military academies.
The four armed service academies are: United States Military Academy in New York (United States Army); United States Naval Academy in Maryland (United States Navy and Marine Corps); United States Air Force Academy in Colorado (United States Air Force), and the Merchant Marine Academy in New York (Merchant Marine). The United States Coast Guard in Connecticut is also available and it does not require a nomination.
“If any young men and women are interested in learning about the military academy admissions process, I strongly encourage you to contact my Jefferson City office for more information and details,” Luetkemeyer said. “This is an incredible opportunity from a very competitive field of qualified students across the country and I am always proud to see those from the 3rd District of Missouri get selected.”
The acceptance process includes a formal application to a panel of community volunteers from the 3rd District, applicant interviews, and formal applicant nominations to the academies of the student’s choice. Nominations are forwarded to the respective academies which notify students if they have been selected.
For more information, go to Luetkemeyer.house.gov or contact the Jefferson City office at 573-635-7232.Read More
In response to the tragic murders earlier this year in Montgomery City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) introduced legislation to empower law enforcement to crack down on illegal immigration.
The legislation, H.R 5853, the Empowering Local Law Enforcement Act, would force the Director of Homeland Security (DHS) to train willing local law enforcement officers to carry out federal immigration actions such as arresting and detaining illegal aliens, and it would provide local law enforcement with information on the most dangerous illegal aliens and provide them with the authority to detain these individuals.
“After the horrendous murders that took place earlier this year, I had to take action to try and prevent this from happening in our communities again,” Luetkemeyer said. “This legislation aims to solve two specific problems that were evident when I questioned DHS and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials about these murders. First, by forcing DHS to train local law enforcement to carry out federal immigration actions, this legislation would allow appropriately trained law enforcement officers the ability to actively seek out these dangerous individuals who are in our communities illegally. Second, by providing all local law enforcement with information on the most dangerous illegal aliens and giving them the authority to detain these individuals, we would eliminate any clerical errors and loopholes between local law enforcement agencies and ICE that would allow dangerous illegal aliens to remain on our streets. Since it is evident that this administration is not taking the necessary steps to secure our borders to keep these individuals out of our country and off our streets, I believe it is necessary to provide local law enforcement the authority to protect our communities from these dangerous individuals.”
On March 8, 2016, Pablo Serrano-Vitorino was captured by police after killing four individuals in Kansas City, Kansas and one individual in New Florence, MO. Serrano-Vitorino is an illegal immigrant who was deported from the United States for conviction of a felony, re-entered, and committed these acts. He was in police custody on multiple occasions in the months prior to this crime and he was not deported.Read More
48. 3,775. $1.058 trillion. These aren’t random numbers: they represent different directions for our health-care system. The first number represents what our health-care system could be. The other two are the crushing costs of Obamacare.
In this week’s series of the Better Way agenda, we discuss the future of our nation’s health system. In this plan, there are 48 ideas for health reform and it is a step-by-step approach to give every American access to quality care for themselves and their families.
President Obama and his administration promised his health-care law would lower premiums for families by approximately $2,500. Instead, average premiums have skyrocketed and increased by $3,775. In addition, the president’s health-care law imposes roughly $1.058 trillion in tax hikes on the American people. This is completely unacceptable.
Those numbers depict the reality that we live in today. However, there is a better way. We can and must do better for the health and livelihood of Americans.
Our plan is comprised of four main ideas, which are: provide individuals more choices and lowers costs; real protections and peace of mind; cutting-edge cures and treatments; and a stronger Medicare. Americans needs more choices, not more mandates. We must get back to the school of thought of putting patients and doctors in charge of health-care decisions, not federal bureaucrats.
Our plan also protects patients with pre-existing conditions and individuals struggling with complex medical needs. We are so fortunate to have the brightest, most intelligent scientists and researchers in our country. We need to get the United States back to the forefront of medical discoveries by getting rid of taxes on medical devices and swiftly moving developments of new and innovative products that could help cure patients in need.
The Better Way offers a roadmap to do all of these things plus more. Obamacare must be fully repealed so we can start fresh and take a brand new approach. I encourage you to read more information about this fifth section in the Better Way agenda. There is a lot of information included and my staff would be happy to answer any questions.Read More
2440 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
As the Congressman from the 3rd Congressional District of Missouri, Blaine is committed to representing the interests of the hard-working people by being a strong voice for them in Washington, D.C.
Blaine, 61, represents the 13 counties that make up the 3rd Congressional District of Missouri. Blaine, a native of St. Elizabeth, Mo., has lived in the district with his family for four generations and he operates a 160-acre farm there.
Along with his strong agriculture background, he was also a small businessman, having been in the banking and insurance business. Blaine has also served as a bank regulator for the state of Missouri earlier in his career. He was elected in November, 2008, succeeding fellow Republican Kenny Hulshof.
From 1999 to 2005, Blaine was a Missouri State Representative and served as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee and was elected by his colleagues to serve as the House Republican Caucus Chairman. After leaving office, Blaine was appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt to serve as the Director of the Missouri Division of Tourism.
Building on his experience as a bank examiner, small businessman and community banker, Blaine serves as vice chairman of the House Small Business Committee where he also serves on the House Small Business Subcommittees on Health and Technology and Agriculture, Energy and Trade. Blaine also serves on the House Financial Services Committee where he also serves on the panel’s Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Committee and is vice chairman of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee.
Blaine is a member of the Knights of Columbus, Eldon Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Rifle Association and a lifelong member of St. Lawrence Catholic Church. Blaine is a graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., where he earned a degree with distinction in political science and a minor in business administration.
Blaine and his wife, Jackie, have three children, Trevor, Brandy and Nikki, and four grandchildren.
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