This week in Washington:
Today, the House passed H.R. 2810, the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), funding our military and authorizing increases to the size of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Air Force, as well as our Army Guard and Reserve, Naval and Air Reserve, and Air Guard. The bill includes proposals to help address several critical needs for our Armed Forces and helps to protect those who serve each day to protect us by ensuring that our military has the resources they need to be equipped for combat in the 21st century. This legislation will support our military families, and provides the largest raise in troop pay in eight years.
The Cost of Caring I wanted to also inform you of an important issue that affects a large number of families across our state—supporting family caregivers and easing the burden on those who devote themselves to taking care of loved ones who cannot take care of themselves. In a recent editorial in The Hill, I outlined my work in Congress to assist the millions of loving family caregivers across our country. My colleagues and I, during the last Congress, introduced the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act:
“…This bipartisan legislation would implement that strategy by bringing together relevant federal agencies and others from the private and public sectors, such as family caregivers, older adults and persons with disabilities, healthcare and Long Term Support Services (LTSS) providers, employers, relevant industries, state and local officials, and others on an advisory council to advise and make recommendations. This approach would identify specific actions that government, communities, providers, employers and others can take in order to recognize and to better support these devoted family caregivers.”
Congress is working--For You There has been a lot of misinformation about the productivity of Congress in recent months, and I wanted to make sure that you have the most accurate information possible about what is being done by the folks who represent you. I wanted to share with you an article that ran today in the Washington Times about the pace at which the House of Representatives has been working since we were sworn in this January. The article states:
"...according to The Washington Times Legislative Activity Index, which shows a newly unified government in Washington passing bills at a clip not seen since the early days of the Obama administration.
It’s the House that has led the way, notching a legislative record that puts it in the top 25 percent of sessions of Congress dating back to just after World War II, when the Congressional Record began to publish monthly tallies of floor activity...clearing some 260 bills and joint resolutions through the chamber and having 29 of its bills signed into law."
Despite what you hear, the House is working to fix the problems facing our constituents and our country.
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It is my honor to represent you in Congress. Please let us know if my office can be of assistance to you in any way.
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Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.)
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA)
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
Rep. Albio Sires (D-NY)
The Seventieth World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), will be meeting in Geneva from May 22-31, 2017.
Taiwan’s meaningful participation is in the best interests of not only the people of Taiwan, but also the entire international community. As co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, we are profoundly disappointed that Taiwan has not been invited to attend the WHA this year. The U.S. Congress has long been a vigorous advocate for Taiwan’s inclusion in such international fora, and the World Health Assembly is no different. Public health should not be political. The WHO must remain an independent and neutral body to ensure the overall health of our global community.
Taiwan has been a critical partner on numerous global health issues, including the SARS epidemic and the recent Ebola outbreak, coordinating with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is of vital importance that Taiwan continue its engagement with the WHO and other international organizations to address global health and disease prevention needs.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – All members of the Mississippi congressional delegation today welcomed the decision to base in Mississippi the Department of Homeland Security’s demonstration range facility for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), or drones.
U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and U.S. Representatives Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) and Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) strongly endorsed the proposal developed by the Mississippi Partnership, led by Mississippi State University. The Mississippi Partnership plan was ultimately selected from among competing states by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate. It will support the Department’s missions, which include border security, maritime security, and counter-UAS operations.
“Mississippi is uniquely suited to assist DHS in leveraging this technology in a way that is cost effective, provides access to unrestricted flight time, and is available immediately to support evolving and diverse Department missions. Mississippi has made supporting unmanned technologies a statewide priority and is home to numerous existing UAS operators, manufacturers, and researchers,” the delegation wrote in an October letter of support.
“We believe our state is well suited to address the Department’s requirements for demonstrating small unmanned aircrafts systems. We are committed to continuing to support our state’s efforts to advance capacity and knowledge about how to safely integrate UAS into the National Airspace in a way that contributes to our national security needs,” they said.
The facility for demonstration and research of sUAS would involve several Mississippi sites that would make nearly 2,000 square miles of restricted airspace over land and water, at altitudes up to 60,000 feet, available for UAS tests. Among these sites are Camp Shelby, which is the Army National Guard’s national UAS training center; buffer zone areas at the Stennis Space Center, which is used for Department of Defense special operations training; and maritime environment accessible from U.S. Coast Guard facilities on Singing River Island.
This Department of Homeland Security designation further bolsters Mississippi’s reputation for UAS operations and research. In May 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) selected the MSU Alliance for System Safety of UAS Through Research Excellence (ASSURE) to operate a new National Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. In November 2016, the State of Mississippi became a full member in the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex, one of seven FAA unmanned aircraft system test sites.
WASHINGTON—Today U.S. Congressman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) introduced H.R. 633, the Patient Fairness and Relief Act of 2017, which allows individuals to maintain the health insurance policies they had before passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“While selling the Affordable Care Act, President Obama promised the American people that if we like our health care plan, we could keep our health care plan," said Harper. "Soon after Obamacare became law, millions of Americans received cancellation notices from their insurance companies. Put simply, the president’s words turned out to be untrue,"
According to the Mississippi Insurance Department, over 200,000 Mississippians found themselves in this situation. Not only would their policies be cancelled, these individuals would see average premium increases of 66% for new ACA compliant plans.
Beginning in 2014, the Obama Administration created a transitional relief policy which, contrary to the original law, allowed individuals and groups to maintain health insurance policies that did not comply with the Affordable Care Act. On three separate occasions, the Obama Administration granted millions of people across the country this temporary waiver from the damaging effect of losing their current health insurance plan. This is a clear example of how even President Obama recognized that the ACA was far from perfect and needed to be changed.
The Obama Administration refused to grant this relief a fourth time and without legislative or administrative action these policies would have to be cancelled at the end of 2017.
Harper stated, “This legislation will allow individuals who were granted the transitional relief policy to be able to keep their plans indefinitely, avoiding cancellations, premium rate increases, and helping to stabilize the insurance market for individual health plans.”
The Trump Administration can also grant this relief through executive action and may do so in the near term. It is hoped that this bill will encourage such action while also offering language for a permanent remedy.
WASHINGTON—Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) was sworn in today by Speaker Paul Ryan to serve his fifth term as the U.S. Congressman representing Mississippi’s Third Congressional District. Congressman Harper will serve as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration and will also continue to serve as a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, where this past Congress he served on three subcommittees: Environment and the Economy (vice-chairman); Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade; and Energy and Power. He will also continue to serve on the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress and the Joint Committee on Printing.
Chairman Harper released the following statement regarding his swearing in and the beginning of the new Congress, "I am so honored to have the opportunity to continue to represent and serve the people of Mississippi and the Third Congressional District. This is an exciting time for our great country and a critical time as well, and I look forward to working with the new Administration to enact bold, innovative reforms and restore a Confident America."
WASHINGTON – Last night, U.S. Representative Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) was selected as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration for the 115th Congress by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Harper made the following statement upon his appointment, “I am so honored that Speaker Ryan has trusted me to take on the responsibilities of Chairman of the Committee on House Administration,” said Congressman Harper. “As the Committee that oversees the operations of the House of Representatives, I will work hard to ensure that the institution runs in an effective and efficient manner as we tackle the challenges facing our country. I look forward to working with this upcoming Congress and the new administration as we enact real change toward building a Better Way for a Confident America.”
In his announcement of Harper’s appointment, Speaker Paul Ryan said:
“It is such a privilege to appoint my friend and colleague Gregg Harper as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration. His experience, sense of fairness, and good nature will serve the committee and the country well. I look forward to working with Gregg as we strive to meet the highest standards of stewardship on behalf of the American people.”
Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), the outgoing Chairman of the Committee, congratulated Chairman Harper on his appointment:
“I sincerely congratulate Gregg Harper on his appointment as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration. Gregg’s prior service on the Committee and tenure in the House of Representatives will be an invaluable asset as he leads the Committee as Chairman and helps to guide our Institution forward. This Committee has the responsibility to ensure that the House runs in an effective and efficient manner, and I am confident he will meet these challenges and responsibilities over the next two years. I applaud Speaker Ryan on making this important appointment and I wish Gregg all the best as he takes on this chairmanship.”
The Committee on House Administration is a standing committee of the House of Representatives with a vast oversight responsibility, including: federal elections; the day-to-day operations of the House; the administration of the House office buildings and facilities of the House on Capitol Hill; the budgets of other House committees and each Member’s office; and the oversight of the United States Capitol Police; the Library of Congress; the Government Printing Office; the Smithsonian Institution; the Clerk of the House; the Chief Administrative Officer; the Sergeant at Arms; the House Inspector General; and the Architect of the Capitol. In addition to the disposition of election contests, the Committee's jurisdiction over federal elections includes federal election administration and campaign finance across the United States.
Rep. Harper will also continue to serve as a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, where this past Congress he served on three subcommittees: Environment and the Economy; Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade; and Energy and Power, serving as the vice-chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. He will also continue to serve on the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress and the Joint Committee on Printing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Upon House passage of the 21st Century Cures Act—legislation introduced by the Energy and Commerce Committee to revolutionize medical innovation and research and bring it into the 21st Century—Congressman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) issued the following statement:
“I am so pleased that the 21st Century Cures Act passed the House this evening. This bill is going to fundamentally transform the way we find cures by revolutionizing scientific collaboration and promoting medical innovation,” said Congressman Harper. “I am honored to be a co-sponsor of this bill to reduce the burdens and regulations holding us back and bring our health care infrastructure into the 21st century to deliver hope for patients and their loved ones.”
The 21st Century Cures Act passed today 392-26. The bill works to bring the national health care infrastructure into the modern age of technology and digital innovation by accelerating the cycle of discovery, development and delivery of new cures and treatments that will ensure the United States remains the global leader in biomedical innovation.
Institutions like the University of Mississippi Medical Center will benefit from the bill’s focus on precision medicine, innovation at the FDA, investments in the next generation of medical researchers, support for advancing translational science, and support for the national pediatric research network. The state of Mississippi and UMMC are already at the forefront of medical innovation and the 21st Century Cures Act will only serve to encourage further medical breakthroughs.
The highlights of the Cures legislation accelerates cutting-edge research and personalized drug development, modernizes clinical trials and evidence development. The legislation aims to bring the FDA into the 21st century by utilizing flexible approaches to reviewing medical devices that represent breakthrough technologies, and creating regulatory modernization—giving them the funding to recruit and retain the best and brightest scientists, doctors and engineers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Mississippi congressional delegation today requested that President Obama posthumously award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Medgar Wiley Evers, the distinguished civil rights leader who was assassinated more than 50 years ago.
U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Representatives Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), and Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) issued the request in a letter to the President.
“Mr. Evers dedicated his life to the defense of civil rights in Mississippi and the United States… His leadership, dedication and sacrifice continue to inspire many Americans and have enhanced freedom for all of humankind,” the Mississippi lawmakers wrote.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest U.S. civilian honor awarded to individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” Awardees are selected by the President. President Harry S. Truman selected the first Medal of Freedom recipient in 1946.
Mississippi natives who have received the Presidential Medal of Freedom include: civil rights activist James Earl Chaney (2014); Representative G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery (2005); Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise (1970); historian Dumas Malone (1983); musical artists Leontyne Price (1964) and B.B. King (2006); writers Eudora Welty (1980) and Tennessee Williams (1980); and media mogul Oprah Winfrey (2013).
The text of the delegation letter is available below and here http://bit.ly/2ewsY9i.
Dear Mr. President,
We are honored to encourage you to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to heroic civil rights leader Medgar Wiley Evers.
Medgar Evers served our nation as a member of the U.S. Army during World War II and then as a leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Mississippi. As the first Field Secretary in Mississippi for the NAACP, Mr. Evers recruited volunteers, led demonstrations and organized voter-registration efforts in an effort to end racial discrimination in our society. Mr. Evers was tragically assassinated in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 12, 1963 as a result of his work to promote social justice, racial equality, and voting rights.
Mr. Evers dedicated his life to the defense of civil rights in Mississippi and the United States. In recognition of his role in the Civil Rights Movement, he was posthumously awarded the NAACP Spingarn Medal for outstanding achievement in 1963 and is featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. His leadership, dedication and sacrifice continue to inspire many Americans and have enhanced freedom for all of humankind.
We would appreciate your personal attention to this request. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
RICHLAND, MS – Friday, October 28, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) presented Congressman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) the NAM Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence at an event hosted by Siemens in Richland, Mississippi.
“We are honored to host Congressman Harper at our Richland plant to recognize his ongoing, strong support for the manufacturing industry,” said Muhammad Sohail, vice president of Siemens High Voltage Products. “Our 425 employees at this manufacturing plant are proud to build innovative, high-quality products that are modernizing the energy industry and making power more reliable for millions.”
“Manufacturers play such an important role in our robust industry here in Mississippi," commented Congressman Harper. “I am so honored to receive this award from my good friends at NAM and Siemens, and I will continue to support legislation that furthers a dynamic and competitive environment for the manufacturing industry in Mississippi and across the United States.”
“Manufacturing in Mississippi and across the country are changing lives for the better—through the jobs we create and the products we make. Manufacturing is about improving the human condition, one innovation at a time,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “Rep. Harper is helping to make our success possible by standing with manufacturers when it matters and casting the right votes.
“Manufacturers employ over 12 million men and women in the U.S., who are making everything from lifesaving medicines to the most cutting edge technology. The strength of manufacturing in America is responsible for the success of America in the world. When manufacturing succeeds, America succeeds, so Rep. Harper’s consistent support for manufacturing means he is supporting a better future for all Americans.”
Key Votes included in the Voting Record are selected by small, medium and large manufacturing executives who serve on the NAM’s Key Vote Advisory Committee. Additional information on the NAM Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence can be found here.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The entire Mississippi congressional delegation today praised the selection of Mississippi as the potential host to produce of the next generation of trainer aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.
U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Representatives Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), and Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) on Monday said the selection of Meridian by the Raytheon Company for its trainer aircraft production has the potential to expand the state’s role in aerospace manufacturing for years to come.
Raytheon plans to compete its T-100 Integrated Air Training System to be the Air Force’s choice for the next generation of trainers to replace the Eisenhower-era T-38 Talons to be used at pilot training facilities like Columbus Air Force Base. If selected by the Air Force, Raytheon would construct a multi-million dollar facility in Meridian. The Air Force is expected to issue a request for proposal in December, with selection of the new trainer in late 2017.
“New, cutting-edge training aircraft are critical to our national security, and I am confident that Mississippi workers can help provide those planes,” said Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense. “I look forward to this competition and I am excited that Meridian may play an expanded role in defense of our nation.”
“For more than 30 years, Raytheon has been a strong partner in our state, enhancing national security and providing jobs for hundreds of Mississippi families,” said Wicker, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It is no secret that our state is a leader in aerospace manufacturing and technology. This announcement has tremendous potential for Meridian and the future of the industry in Mississippi.”
“I am very pleased that Raytheon is growing its relationship with the State of Mississippi by building its T-100 training aircraft in Meridian. Mississippi’s talent base is as skilled and prepared for high-tech manufacturing jobs as any in the nation and this is further proof of that,” Thompson said.
Harper commented, “Raytheon’s proposal to build the T-100 in Meridian speaks volumes about our state, our pro-business climate and our people. I am excited to see how this proposed expansion advances our state and strengthens our nation’s defense in the years to come.”
“Today’s announcement proves what a crucial role Mississippi continues to play in our national security efforts. This partnership with Raytheon would be another opportunity for our state to offer our capabilities and workforce in helping serve the common defense of this nation at home and abroad,” Palazzo said.
“Our state continues to be a proven leader in advanced defense manufacturing.” said Kelly. “This is an exciting announcement that holds great potential for future job creation in our state.”
Members of the delegation have worked to promote Mississippi to Raytheon as the best candidate to host its trainer manufacturing facility. Raytheon already has an existing electronic systems manufacturing facility in Forest, which employs about 800 workers.
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