WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – issued the following statement today after introducing the Working Families Relief Act (H.R. 2618) in the House of Representatives. The legislation would increase the maximum amount that employees can set aside for, or employers can provide to, the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP), a flexible spending account which can be used to pay for childcare on a pre-tax basis. It would raise the cap from $5,000 to $10,500 and index it for inflation. It would also provide tax credits to employers who match DCAP contributions in order to encourage them to offer the benefit. The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA) and was previously introduced by both members in May 2016 during the last congress.
Statement by Rep. Kelly (R-PA):
“Early education and a child’s healthy development go hand in hand. Giving kids the right foundation at a young age means giving them a fair opportunity to succeed in life. Unfortunately, far too many working families struggle to cover costs for quality care. This bipartisan bill will help parents overcome that difficulty by expanding and modernizing DCAP accounts, which currently help more than 1.3 million families pay for early learning programs and childcare every year. As Congress works closer toward achieving pro-growth tax reform to rebuild our economy, this bill is about making sure our tax code is firmly on the side of our nation’s most precious asset – our children – and the hardworking parents who love and support them.”
Statement by Rep. Sánchez (D-CA):
“As a working mom myself, I understand that every working parent wants to be able to do it all. However, we often have to make sacrifices in both our personal lives and our careers just to keep up. I know that even a little help can make a world of difference for a hard working family. The Working Families Relief Act seeks to make childcare a little more affordable for working families. I look forward to working with my friend Rep. Mike Kelly to pass this important legislation on behalf of hardworking Americans.”
Statement by Mark Shriver, President of Save the Children Action Network:
“Many parents know that without high-quality learning programs, their children could fall behind and never catch up. Families want to provide their children with this kind of quality care; however, for many it’s simply unaffordable. Expanding the Dependent Care Assistance Program so more working families can participate will make child care costs more affordable and help parents ensure their children have a strong start in life. I want to thank Representatives Mike Kelly and Linda Sanchez for leading on the Working Families Relief Act in the House.”
Statement by David Kass, President of Council for a Strong America:
“We know from the research that high-quality early learning environments can have a positive impact on our children's educational attainment, behavior, and health. For many working families, high-quality care is out of reach. We commend Representatives Mike Kelly and Linda Sanchez for their bipartisan legislation, the Working Families Relief Act, which provides a much-needed update to the Dependent Care Assistance Program. This legislation is an important step forward in making childcare more affordable for all families.”
In America today, fewer than one in three children have a full-time, stay-at-home parent. Almost one-quarter of children under the age of 5 are in organized child care arrangements. For these families, the average cost of center-based child care is at least $12,000 per year, according to Child Care Aware.
High-quality early learning and care is one of the most effective ways to help kids escape poverty and ensure equal opportunity for all. It leads to higher graduation and employment rates, and it helps build a more prepared workforce. Though we come from opposite sides of the political aisle, we agree that helping families afford child care or early education programs should be a bipartisan goal and is a smart investment in the future of America.
While the federal tax code has some provisions that help families afford early child care, more can be done to assist low-income families with little to no income tax liability, for whom existing tax credits are of little help. Some of these parents are left with a debilitating choice: having to either leave the workforce, or place their children in low-quality child care.
Earlier this year, the Early Childhood Education Action Tank, a diverse coalition of children’s advocacy groups, businesses and financial institutions convened by Save the Children Action Network, released a menu of options for tax reform that would help address the two greatest barriers to early childhood education: cost and lack of access to quality programs.
One of the Action Tank’s recommendations is expanding tax credits and deductions for early childhood education. This includes reforming the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP), an employer-sponsored flexible spending program for up to $2,500 annually ($5,000 for married couples) to employees who pay for dependent care. In this program, employees are allowed to deduct dependent care expenses from their paycheck on a pretax basis, helping parents save money while ensuring their children are able to make the most out of their early years.
This bipartisan legislation [the Working Families Relief Act] would make DCAP stronger by increasing the maximum amount employees can exclude from income to $10,500, allowing a tax credit for small employer DCAP startup costs, and providing a tax credit to employers who match employees’ contributions by up to $1,000. These improvements would make the program more beneficial to families, while also incentivizing more employers to offer access.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – released the following statement today after introducing H.R. 2562, the Making Pharmaceutical Markets More Competitive Act, in the House of Representatives. The legislation requires the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prioritize the review of generic drug applications within eight months for medications that do not have more than three approved competitors or are on the federal drug shortage list. Such an expedited approval process would allow qualified drugs to get to market quicker and vastly expand competition between prescription medications, thereby lowering prices for patients. The Senate companion to this bill (S. 1115) was introduced by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Al Franken (D-MN) on May 11, 2017.
“Everyone knows that one of the leading drivers of health care costs in America is the sky-rocketing price of prescription drugs. This impacts how hardworking Americans budget their money, care for their families, and plan for their futures. When it comes to caring for the elderly, paying for the cost of medicine is often the greatest challenge. This year alone, prescription drug prices for seniors are expected to rise by nearly 10 percent. Unfortunately, more competition and lower prices are being inhibited by a backlog of thousands of generic drug applications at the FDA. A shorter wait time will bring cheaper alternatives to market quicker.
“With prescription drug prices rising the way they are, the best solution is more competition, not less. It’s widely understood that pricing controls lead to harmful shortages, stifle life-saving research, and simply don’t work. Instead, this commonsense bill will foster a more competitive pharmaceutical industry where doctors and patients have access to more affordable alternatives. By creating an expedited review process for certain generic drugs where there is little existing competition, such a reform can be powerfully effective in reducing health care costs and directly benefit millions of Americans of all ages.”
NOTE: H.R. 2562 represents the third piece of bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Kelly this year as a part of Phase Three of the process to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and lower the cost of health care. The first was H.R. 173, the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2017, introduced with Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) on January 3, 2017. The second was H.R. 2310, the Faith in Health Savings Accounts Act, introduced with Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) on May 3, 2017.
Rep. Kelly with 2017 student competition winners
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) issued the following statement today to officially announce the winners of the 36th annual Congressional Art Competition from Pennsylvania’s Third District. The annual contest, “An Artistic Discovery,” is a nationwide event sponsored by the U.S. House of Representatives enabling high school students throughout America to showcase their artistic abilities and earn recognition for their efforts.
Statement by Rep. Kelly:
“I congratulate all of the students who entered this year’s fantastic contest. Each young artist deserves enormous credit for putting their talents on display for all to see. In particular, I congratulate Max Schaller for winning the First Place prize and look forward to honoring him in our nation’s capital next month. I also thank MJ and Dennis McCurdy for devoting so much of their time and energy to making the ceremony in Harmony such a wonderful success. As co-chairman of this year's competition, I couldn't be prouder of everyone involved!”
This year’s winners are as follows:
FIRST PLACE: “Celestial Owl” by Max Schaller from Hickory High School
SECOND PLACE: "Gold Finch” by Jayme McKay from Hickory High School
THIRD PLACE: “Citrus Still Life” by Shane Krizmanich from West Shamokin High School
HONORABLE MENTION: “Kindred” by Priya Melonio from Sewickley Academy
About the contest:
More photos from the Third District awards ceremony can be viewed here.
Kelly: “We have to stay focused”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – delivered remarks at last week’s full committee hearing on tax reform and then appeared on Cavuto: Coast to Coast on Fox Business Network to discuss the hearing.
Rep. Kelly at hearing on “How Tax Reform Will Grow Our Economy and Create Jobs”:
“All of you that actually come from the private world—when I look at what’s going on … all we’re talking about today, ‘Is there a need for pro-growth tax reform?’ And without a doubt everyone says, ‘Yes, there is.’ It’s unquestionable. Then the next thing is, ‘So what’s fair? And how do we address fairness? And how do we define fairness? And is it really best for everybody?’ ... So as we look at all these things when it comes to pro-growth, it better be pro-growth. I am just really concerned that a country that is going to have record revenue still coming in and cannot come close to paying its spending. You couldn’t do it in your business and none of us can do it at all.”
“Thank you all for being here. And this is the first step [to tax reform] in you being here before us. You are the revenue producers, we are the spenders. You are the producers. Thank God we are finally getting the private sector in front of us right now, letting everybody in the world know how we improve our country.”
Rep. Kelly on Cavuto: Coast to Coast:
“It’s going to be robust and dynamic and we’re going to get people back to work and they’re going to have higher wages, and more importantly than anything else, we’re going to be able to compete globally because that’s where the market is now. We have to do that globally. And when you have the highest tax rates and more regulations than you can possibly shake a stick at, you’d better take a look at what’s holding you back.”
“My commitment is to listen, quite frankly, to the people of Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District. There’s 705,687 of them. If I can’t work for them, if I can’t do things the right way for them, then they shouldn’t send me back here. I would just caution all my colleagues: let’s do what we were sent to do, and that’s get this economy back on track, and let’s see people’s wages rise again. That’s what fixes everything.”
“My commitment is to every single person in Pennsylvania’s Third District and the people around our country. It is up to this Congress right now to work with people on both sides of the aisle to fix a broken tax code for all of them, not just corporate people, by the way, but individuals, and that is our mission, and we have to stay focused on that.”
“We know where we’re going. We know the route to get there. It’s tax reform. It’s regulation reform. And it’s getting us – our people – back to work again and being able to let their incomes rise.”
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Peter J. Roskam (R-IL), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Mike Kelly (R-PA), and Ami Bera (D-CA) — the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Korea — released the following statement on the election of Moon Jae-in as President of the Republic of Korea:
“We extend our sincere congratulations to President-Elect Moon Jae-in and wish him and his administration well in the months and years ahead as they prepare to lead the Republic of Korea – a key and indispensable U.S. ally – through the many challenges facing the Korean Peninsula.
“As Co-Chairs of the Korea Caucus, we remain steadfastly committed to defending and strengthening the U.S.-Korea alliance. Our relationship was forged on the battlefield nearly seven decades ago and now forms a lynchpin of U.S. foreign policy in the Asia Pacific region. Through our shared values of democracy, free markets, and the rule of law, we will continue to ensure peace and prosperity in the region and stand resolutely against North Korean aggression.
“We look forward to working together with President-Elect Moon Jae-in and his administration during this critical time for the alliance. We also wish to recognize the nearly two million Korean Americans throughout the United States who play a vital role in maintaining our strong bilateral relationship.”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – issued the following statement today regarding the passage by the House of Representatives of the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), which will repeal and begin replacing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) with a more affordable, patient-centered system. Rep. Kelly also supported and co-sponsored corrective legislation (H.R. 2192) passed this afternoon to ensure that the American Health Care Act and its amendments apply equally to members of Congress and their staff.
“I have joined the People’s House in fulfilling a promise more than seven years in the making by voting to advance the American Health Care Act to the U.S. Senate. Repealing and replacing Obamacare has been our unmistakable mandate since it was first passed with blatant lies and deception, only to betray millions of Americans with higher costs, fewer choices, and lost coverage. Today marks the beginning of the end of this failed law’s broken promises and damage.
“The American Health Care Act represents the beginning of a better health care system that is patient-centered, choice-filled, and cost-lowering. With this bill, and future action taken by Congress and the Trump administration, American families and workers will be guaranteed access to affordable, high-quality health insurance in a competitive market based on freedom and flexibility. Taxes will be cut, premium-increasing regulations will be eliminated, and power will be rightly restored to individual states, patients, and their doctors. No more one-size-fits-all federal system.
“After exhaustive review, I have made sure that this bill fully protects patients with pre-existing conditions by strengthening current law and establishing new requirements for states to follow as they redesign their markets to meet their populations’ needs. I would not support this bill or any other bill if such strict protections were not included. Earlier this afternoon I also voted for a bill to guarantee that no member of Congress or our staff is exempted from the law or treated differently. As this process moves forward, my focus will continue to be on making sure health care policy defends the most vulnerable and promotes fairness for American consumers.”
NOTE: Read the full text of the American Health Care Act here.
The AHCA represents Phase One of the overall repeal and replacement of Obamacare. Phase Two includes administrative action taken by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to adjust the marketplace to reduce health care costs. Phase Three includes other bills to increase the affordability and accessibility of health care insurance, including legislation recently introduced by Rep. Kelly.
The AHCA achieves the following:
· Dismantles the Obamacare taxes that have hurt consumers and employers, increased premium costs, and limited options for patients and health care providers—including taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, health-insurance premiums, and medical devices;
· Eliminates the individual and employer mandate penalties, which forced millions of workers, families, and businesses into expensive Obamacare plans that they do not want and cannot afford;
· Helps young adults access health insurance and stabilize the marketplace by allowing dependents to continue staying on their parents’ plan until they are 26;
· Establishes a Patient and State Stability Fund and Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program, which provides states with $130 billion to design programs that meet the unique needs of their patient populations, help low-income Americans afford health care, and provide a backstop safety net for Americans with pre-existing conditions. This includes $15 billion specifically toward mental health and substance abuse and newborn care;
· Modernizes and strengthens Medicaid by transitioning to a “per capita allotment” so states can better serve their patients most in need. The Medicaid reform represents the largest entitlement reform in a generation and puts the program on a sustainable fiscal path;
· Protects current Medicaid beneficiaries receiving health care under the expansion by honoring the enhanced state match they have been receiving, while working to redirect able-bodied adults to private health care so Medicaid can be refocused on helping the most vulnerable;
· Empowers individuals and families to spend their health care dollars the way they want and need by enhancing and expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)—nearly doubling the amount of money people can contribute and broadening how people can use it;
· Helps Americans access affordable, quality health care by providing a monthly tax credit — between $2,000 and $14,000 a year — for low- and middle-income individuals and families who don’t receive insurance through work or a government program. Americans can use this tax credit to purchase private, quality coverage of their choice.
Details on Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) explicitly protects individuals with pre-existing conditions. It upholds the current law which fully guarantees issuance of coverage, guarantees renewability of coverage, and prohibits insurance companies from denying patients coverage based on their condition.
The AHCA’s MacArthur amendment allows states to seek limited waivers to avoid some of the most expensive regulations in current law. This will give individual states more flexibility to innovate and redesign their own health care markets to reduce costs and give patients more choices. In order to be granted such a waiver, states must prove to the federal government that they are protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions by establishing a high-risk pool (funded by the AHCA’s Patient and State Stability Fund) or participating in the Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program. If approved, a state can then operate the waiver for up to 10 years. At any point during an approved waiver, the waiver becomes void if a state ends its risk-sharing program.
In waiver-granted states, health insurers can only increase premiums for those with pre-existing conditions who buy their insurance on the individual market and then discontinue their coverage and do not obtain new insurance within 63 days. The risk-sharing program requirement is designed to stabilize premium costs for these specific individuals. (The 93 percent of Americans with employer-provided coverage or government coverage — including Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VA benefits, etc. — are in no way affected whatsoever.)
The AHCA’s Upton-Long amendment strengthens its protections for pre-existing condition patients by establishing a further relief mechanism for those described above. The amendment supplies waiver-granted states with an additional $8 billion (on top of the $130 billion available to states through the Patient and State Stability Fund) to reduce premiums or other out-of-pocket costs for this specific group of individuals.
Again, under the AHCA, even in waiver-granted states, insurance companies would be prohibited from denying coverage to individuals on the basis of a pre-existing condition, prohibited from rescinding coverage based on a pre-existing condition, and prohibited from raising premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage. Each of these protections are current law and will remain the law.
Additional useful information
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – has introduced the Faith in Health Savings Accounts Act (H.R. 2310, also known as the Faith in HSAs Act), which would allow members of Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSMs) to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to save money on medical expenses without having to purchase a high deductible health insurance plan. The legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), and was previously introduced by Rep. Kelly in April 2015.
Statement by Rep. Kelly:
“As its name suggests, this commonsense bill is based on widespread faith in HSAs as a powerfully effective tool to make health care more affordable, along with our belief that Americans who pay into HCSMs deserve access to them. This is about guaranteeing fairness, financial savings, and greater peace of mind to countless faith-based households currently being neglected by our nation’s outdated tax code. The Faith in HSAs Act sets things right.”
Statement by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN):
“Health Care Sharing Ministries support the financial and medical needs of millions of Americans throughout the country. This bi-partisan legislation to allow their members to establish Health Savings Accounts will provide much-needed flexibility and choice to combat rising costs of care.”
Statement by Dr. Dave Weldon, President, the Alliance for Health Care Sharing Ministries:
“I’m delighted to see the re-introduction of H.R. 2310. This bill will allow Heath Sharing members to access and utilize an HSA. This will help the more than one million Americans who currently choose health care sharing to better meet their medical needs and expenses. I applaud the leadership and friendship Rep. Kelly and Rep. Peterson have extended to our community and the parity this bill offers.”
Dean Clancy, “Health Care Heaven,” U.S. News & World Report:
“In plain English, the one-sentence Kelly bill would allow millions of people of faith to save tax-free for their medical expenses. It would do this by opening up the popular Health Savings Accounts program to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been inadvertently shut out of it because of their religious practice. Specifically, the bill would amend the tax code to treat membership in a health care sharing ministry as equivalent to owning a high-deductible health plan, for purposes of having an HSA.”
“An HSA is a tax-favored savings vehicle first created in 2003 and today enjoyed by more than 15 million Americans. With one, you owe less in taxes, because contributions to the account reduce your taxable income. … But there's a problem, and this is the reason for Kelly's bill: To qualify for an HSA, you have to have a high-deductible health plan, which by definition is insurance. Millions of Americans decline to carry insurance for religious or ethical reasons. These Americans can never qualify for an HSA. It's not that they're insurance slackers or free riders; they just choose to provide for their medical expenses in a different way. Kelly's bill would fix this problem by allowing those who participate in a recognized health care sharing ministry to have an HSA.”
“Health Savings Accounts and health care sharing are naturally complementary – a match made in heaven … In uniting the two concepts, Kelly has done something astonishing. He has come up with a non-partisan, non-ideological, non-controversial health care reform that would actually make the world better.”
NOTE: Health Care Sharing Ministries are religious non-profit associations whose members choose to share medical expenses based on their mutual religious convictions. Under current law, HCSMs are recognized as valid insurance alternatives, however, they cannot utilize HSAs, which are only available to taxpayers who purchase high-deductible health plans. The Faith in HSAs Act would change the law to end this prohibition.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – authored a guest opinion piece published today at FoxNews.com in which he describes the first 100 days of President Donald J. Trump’s administration as a successful reversal of the nation’s previous trajectory of decline at home and abroad.
By Rep. Mike Kelly
Eight years ago, Charles Krauthammer assessed America’s future and famously wrote, “Decline is a choice. … Decline – or continued ascendancy – is in our hands.”
For the eight years that followed, under the administration of Barack Obama, decline was our chosen destination. Over the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency, America is choosing to ascend again.
Obama’s presidency was defined by the expansion of government at home and appeasement and retreat abroad. Justly so, President Trump’s mission to correct our course has involved a wholesale rejection of his predecessor’s approach to government and view of the world.
Unlike Obama, President Trump has surrounded himself with men and women from the private sector who, like him, understand how businesses are run, jobs are created, and pay checks are grown. Those of his appointees with public service backgrounds, like Vice President Mike Pence, are principled conservatives who want to empower those outside of Washington, not in it.
Obama pledged to “fundamentally transform” the United States and tried many methods to do so. Changing the dominant judicial philosophy of the Supreme Court would have meant changing the very character of our country, but thanks to a major promise kept, that will not be happening anytime soon.
Simply put, President Trump saved the high court from a hostile liberal takeover. The importance of this victory for the cause of limited Constitutional government and the rule of law cannot be overstated. The rewards of replacing Antonin Scalia with another originalist like Neil Gorsuch will be realized for decades. On everything from First and Second Amendment rights to the many debates centered on federalism, this can only be seen as a major conservative achievement.
Ironically, the same pen used by Obama to enact much of his agenda is now being wielded by his successor to undo it. With each pillar of the Obama legacy he pulls down, President Trump is effectively unleashing our economy and setting America in a more dynamic direction.
President Trump understands that one of the greatest impediments to economic growth has been excessive red tape imposed by Washington. That is why in January he signed a monumental executive order requiring that for every new regulation written by federal agencies, two existing regulations must be cut.
The Obama years saw overregulation reach a record high with more than 20,000 new rules that collectively cost our economy more than $100 billion. The Trump years are already promising the opposite. By utilizing the Congressional Review Act (CRA), the president has signed more bills to repeal more regulations in his first 100 days than any president before him.
According to the American Action Forum, through the CRA and separate executive actions, President Trump’s regulatory rollback will save Americans more than $60 billion and more than 56 million hours of paperwork. He is succeeding in getting government out of the private sector’s way and protecting taxpayers in ways until recently unthinkable.
Once targets of frustrating political obstruction, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines have now been approved for construction and completion. Once a cornerstone of liberal climate policy, the war on coal is now over. With the abolition of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United Sates rule, an industry that employs thousands and provides affordable electricity to millions will no longer be strangled by smug federal bureaucrats.
Even on the matter of defending the unborn, President Trump affirmed his administration’s pro-life convictions early on when he reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which protects taxpayer dollars from funding abortion overseas.
Other areas of domestic policy have also been addressed by President Trump’s multitude of executive orders. With each action, he has commanded the federal government to ease burdens on the American people and set the stage for larger projects, such as the repeal and replacement of Obamacare and pro-growth tax reform.
In the global arena, America is undeniably leading with strength and confidence again.
No better snapshot of our rediscovered spine was seen than when Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad once again attacked his own people with chemical weapons. When this line was crossed in 2013, Obama publicly dithered for weeks and ultimately failed to enforce his own threat. This time, President Trump responded decisively within days and sent 59 Tomahawk missiles to destroy the airbase from where the gas attack was launched.
Our retaliation sent a simple yet unmistakable message to the entire world, friend and foe alike: We are a mighty superpower to trust, fear, and respect again.
Above all, we are an America that respects itself again.
Think about it: 100 days ago, we had a president who actually scolded us not to “get on our high horse” when criticizing radical Islam because of actions by Christians during the Crusades and slavery.
Now, we have a president unafraid to use both his inaugural address and a primetime speech to Congress to call our enemy by its name, condemn ISIS as “a network of lawless savages,” and declare it our war’s goal to “extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.”
As President Trump put it before the election: “We will stop apologizing for America, and we will start celebrating America.”
This renewed confidence in our righteousness was felt as we dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in combat history on an ISIS cave in Afghanistan. It is why our Guantanamo Bay naval base is no longer at risk of being closed for ridiculous symbolic reasons.
Where there were apologies, there is now pride. Where there was indecision, there is now resolution. Where there was moral relativism, there is once again American exceptionalism. Instead of a lecturer as president, we now have a leader.
No president’s agenda has ever or will ever be completed in 100 days or even a year. There is still much work to be done and many promises to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that our trajectory of weakness has been stopped and reversed.
As President Trump visits Pennsylvania this Saturday, those of us welcoming him will celebrate the beginning of an era in which the world’s greatest republic rejected decline and instead chose to reaffirm its strength, its principles, its potential, and yes, its greatness.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) issued the following statement today regarding the launch of numerous missile strikes by the United States last night against a government air base in central Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack carried out by the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad earlier this week against Syrian civilians.
“Last night the world’s greatest force for good stood up to pure evil. The deliberate gassing of innocent men, women, and children by their own government demands retaliation by those with the power and virtue to fight it and stop it. History is filled with painful lessons about what happens when civilized nations turn a blind eye to such atrocities against humanity. I applaud President Trump for heeding those lessons and having the courage to take action. For too long, the lack of confident leadership by the world’s sole superpower only emboldened bad actors like the Assad regime to commit further aggression. The result was the shattering of regional peace, the spread of militarized terror, and the erosion of American credibility. I am proud and relieved to see America once again lead with strength and moral certitude. Through all that lies ahead, my prayers are with the United States Armed Forces, the innocent people of Syria, and all those who struggle in the name of peace and freedom.”
Washington, D.C. — Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) have introduced H.R. 1908, the Investing in America: Unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act, bipartisan legislation that would increase investments in critical harbor and port projects and guarantee that money intended to dredge the nation’s coastal and inland commercial ports would actually go toward harbor maintenance.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) estimates that full channels at the Nation’s 59 busiest ports are available less than 35 percent of the time. The Investing in America: Unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act provides the necessary funding to dredge all federal commercial harbors to their constructed widths and depths, and maintain these harbors for the next decade, without adding a penny to the deficit.
“The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund was created by the Reagan administration to ensure that our nation’s ports and harbors, like the Port of Erie, would always be properly dredged and fully operational. Unfortunately, much of its annually collected revenue is no longer making it back to the ports where it is desperately needed. The result is the inexcusable deterioration of our ports from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, which negatively impacts our economy in Erie and nationwide. Failing to maintain our ports and channels destroys American jobs and forces families to pay more money for the goods they need. This commonsense, bipartisan bill will make sure that America’s ports and harbors are once again fully maintained, which will save and create jobs, grow businesses, and keep us competitive on the global stage. We will ensure that the United States is equipped with a modern and efficient transportation system to meet the needs of a 21st century economy without raising a single dime in taxes,” said Kelly.
“The Federal government has a responsibility to maintain the ports, harbors and waterways that support thousands of jobs and economic growth in communities across the country. This bipartisan, common sense legislation guarantees that funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will not be diverted and will only be used for their intended purpose—harbor maintenance. Our legislation will create and sustain thousands of needed jobs, it will provide a tremendous boost to economic competitiveness, and it does all of this without adding a penny to the deficit,” said DeFazio.
The Investing in America: Unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act provides more than $18 billion over the next decade, which is a 29 percent increase in investment, and will enable the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge all Federal commercial harbors to their constructed widths and depths. The bill takes the Trust Fund off budget and allows the Secretary of the Army to directly use Harbor Maintenance revenues collected each year for authorized maintenance activities. The legislation also preserves Congress’ authority to appropriate additional funds for harbor maintenance needs from the existing $9 billion balance in the Trust Fund.
To read the legislation, click here.
In 1986, Congress and President Reagan enacted the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) to pay for the operation and maintenance dredging costs for the nation’s commercial ports by recovering funds from maritime shippers. The HMTF is directly paid for by importers and domestic shippers using coastal or inland ports as a 0.125 percent ad valorem user fee on the value of imported cargo (e.g., $1.25 per $1,000 value) and is typically passed along to U.S. taxpayers on the purchase of imported goods or services. These revenues are deposited into a HMTF within the U.S. Treasury from which Congress currently appropriates funds to the Corps for harbor maintenance dredging.
The HMTF collects far more revenues from shippers than Congress has provided to the Corps to maintain our harbors, with approximately $9 billion in already-collected revenues sitting idle in the U.S. Treasury. As a result, shippers continue to honor their commitment to pay for promised maintenance activities that the federal government then fails to carry out. There are sufficient funds in the Trust Fund to meet the maintenance dredging needs of all Federally-authorized ports. The problem is that the Trust Fund is being treated by appropriators more like a slush fund.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the HMTF will collect $18.5 billion in new revenues over the next decade—in addition to the estimated $8.8 billion in previously collected but unspent revenues in the Trust Fund. According to CBO, Federal appropriations from the Trust Fund over the next decade are only expected to total $14.3 billion, and would result in the balance of the Trust Fund doubling—reaching $17.2 billion in fiscal year 2026. The Investing in America: Unlocking the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Act would finally reverse this trend and all money collected for harbor maintenance would actually go toward harbor maintenance.
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1519 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Mike Kelly was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Butler, PA, where he has lived for the past 53 years. After graduating from Butler High School in 1966, Mike attended the University of Notre Dame on a football and academic scholarship. After college, Mike moved back to Butler to work at Kelly Chevrolet-Cadillac, Inc., a company founded by his father in the early 1950s. Mike took ownership of the dealership in the mid-1990s, expanding its operations to include Hyundai and KIA franchises.
Mike currently employs over 100 people from the region, and is a leader in the local and national automotive industry. Mike has served as Chairman of the Hyundai Eastern Region Dealer Council, Vice Chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council, and has served on the boards of the Chevrolet Dealers Advertising Association of Pittsburgh and the Cadillac Consultants of Western Pennsylvania. In addition, Mike was Secretary and Treasurer of the Hyundai initiative “Hope on Wheels,” which has donated over $58 million to childhood cancer research institutions nationwide.
Mike was a Butler City councilman, and has sat on the boards of several local and civic organizations, including the Housing Authority of Butler County, the Redevelopment Authority of Butler County, and the Moraine Trails Council of Boys Scouts of America. In recognition of Mike’s extensive volunteer and charitable work, Catholic Charities gave Mike the Mary DeMucci Award and the Mayor of Butler designated October 26, 2001 as “Mike Kelly Day” for his commitment to his hometown.
Dedicated to improving education, Mike founded the Butler Quarterback Club and The Golden Tornado Scholastic Foundation, which provides unique and innovative educational programs for students in the Butler Area School District. Mike and his wife, Victoria, a former elementary school teacher, also established the Mary McTighe Kelly Creative Teaching Grant for elementary educators and the Lighthouse Foundation’s One Warm Coat Program, which helped collect over 500 winter coats for students in need in the Butler community.
Mike and Victoria have four children: George III, Brendan, Charlotte and Colin; and are the proud grandparents to George IV, Vivian, Elizabeth, Helena, Elaina, Maeve and Victoria. Mike’s family and friends were with him on January 5, 2011, when Mike was sworn into office as the U.S. Representative of the 3rd Congressional District of Pennsylvania. Mike looks forward to representing the interests and voicing the concerns of the 3rd District, especially as they relate to Mike’s work on the House Committee on Ways and Means.
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As we deliver on our promise to further expand options for health care, here's a fact check of false Dem claims: https://t.co/q5MIRqsWBK