Vern Buchanan

Vern Buchanan

FLORIDA's 16th DISTRICT

Buchanan Calls for Crackdown on Cop Killers

2016/07/22

Police Deaths from Guns up 72 Percent This Year

WASHINGTON – In a letter sent today to congressional leaders, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) today called for swift passage of legislation to toughen penalties against anyone who murders police and other first responders.

The Thin Blue Line Act authored by Rep. David Jolly, R-FL, and co-sponsored by Buchanan, would make the murder or attempted murder of a first responder, including police officers and firefighters, an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations.

“Over the last several weeks police officers have been targeted for violence simply because they wear the blue uniform.” Buchanan said in a letter sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “The sick individuals who target police must face severe consequences for their actions. These senseless attacks on police must end.”

The number of American law enforcement deaths from shootings has jumped 72 percent over this time last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The legislation is backed by a number of law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations and Florida Sheriffs’ Association.

The bill could serve as a deterrent for violence against police, according to the president of the National Association of Police Organizations, Mick McHale. “Establishing stricter penalties for those who harm law enforcement officers will deter violence against officers and help keep communities safe, which is why it is vital that Congress pass this legislation,” McHale said.

“President Barack Obama recently wrote an open letter to American law enforcement, saying ‘we have your back,’” Buchanan said. “Congress should adopt the same approach and immediately pass the Thin Blue Line Act.”

The Thin Blue Line Act would be applicable whether the person is murdered on duty, because of the performance of their duty, or because of their status as a public official.

It covers federal, state, and local police officers, firefighters and first responders. The only requirement is that the homicide involve federal jurisdiction, such as the interstate homicide of an officer or an officer killed on federal land.


Full text of the letter:

July 22, 2016

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi   
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives                                               

Dear Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi: 

When Congress reconvenes in September, I urge you to schedule an immediate vote on legislation that would toughen penalties against cop killers.

Every day, brave men and women put their lives on the line to protect their communities. But over the last several weeks police officers have been targeted for violence simply because they wear the blue uniform. These senseless attacks on police must end. Across the country, Americans have come together to condemn the acts of violence against police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. But sympathy and support are not enough to keep our first responders safe.

Congress must take action to help end these attacks. The sick individuals who target those who keep us safe must face severe consequences for their actions.

The Thin Blue Line Act sponsored by Rep. David Jolly (H.R. 814) will toughen penalties for federal cases involving the murder of a police officer. Prosecutors and firefighters are also covered by the bill, which has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, Major County Sheriff’s Association, International Union of Police Associations, National Sheriffs’ Association, Florida Sheriffs’ Association and more.

The bill could serve as a deterrent for violence against police, according to the president of the National Association of Police Organizations, Mick McHale. “Establishing stricter penalties for those who harm law enforcement officers will deter violence against officers and help keep communities safe, which is why it is vital that Congress pass this legislation,” McHale said.

Sadly, the number of American law enforcement deaths from shootings has jumped 72 percent over this time last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

President Barack Obama recently wrote an open letter to American law enforcement, saying “we have your back.” Congress should adopt the same approach and immediately pass the Thin Blue Line Act.

Sincerely,

Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress

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Buchanan Urges President to Veto Sham Food Labeling Bill

2016/07/21

Congressman Supports Disclosure of Genetically Engineered Food

WASHINGTON – Saying consumers deserve to know whether their food contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged President Obama to veto a bogus labeling bill passed by Congress.

“This legislation does nothing to ensure that consumers will have the information they need to make informed decisions at the supermarket,” Buchanan said in a letter sent today to the president. “This is a sham bill that pretends to offer disclosure but in truth has so many loopholes that it is meaningless.”

Buchanan noted that the bill is opposed by leading consumer groups, including, the Center for Food Safety, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Consumers Union. 

Buchanan said the bill cynically included a gaping loophole that allowed food producers to bypass true labeling with a telephone number consumers could call to ask questions or with a QR code they could scan with a smartphone to connect with a website that may or may not answer their questions.

“What I want to ensure is that families get all the information they need to make decisions,” Buchanan told the president. “What they do with that information is up to them.”

The bill gives food manufacturers two years to update their packaging to provide information on GMOs through several options. Companies can disclose genetically modified ingredients through text directly on the product, or by including a picture similar to a bar code, called a QR code, that consumers can scan using a smartphone, or by placing a telephone number or website address on the product.

“Food labeling needs to be simple and clear,” Buchanan said. “QR codes and telephone numbers do not meet that definition. What mother shopping with her children is going to stop in the middle of the food aisle to call a company or go on a website to check the content of every product they would like to buy?”

Approximately 70 to 80 percent of packaged food in the U.S. contains GMOs through ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup or soy lecithin, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Campbell’s Soup Inc., General Mills Inc., Kellogg Co., ConAgra Foods Inc., and Mars, Inc. are some of the country’s top food giants that have announced their commitment to voluntarily label GMOs.


Full text of Buchanan’s letter below:


July 21, 2016

 

The Honorable Barack Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President:

People have a right to know what’s in the food they are purchasing for themselves and their children. That is why I urge you to veto a bill (S.764) that has been presented for your signature. This legislation does nothing to ensure that consumers will have the information they need to make informed decisions at the supermarket.

This is a sham bill that pretends to offer disclosure but in truth has so many loopholes that it is meaningless. S. 764 allows food producers to bypass true labeling with a telephone number consumers could call to ask questions or with a QR code they could scan with a smartphone to connect with a website that may or may not answer their questions.

Food labeling needs to be simple and clear. QR codes and telephone numbers do not meet that definition. What mother shopping with her children is going to stop in the middle of the food aisle to call a company or go on a website to check the content of every product they would like to buy?

Moreover, prominent consumer advocates oppose this legislation, including the Center for Food Safety, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and the Consumers Union.

What I want to ensure is that families get all the information they need to make decisions. What they do with that information is up to them. I urge you to veto S.764 and work with Congress on developing a transparent food labeling standard. 

Sincerely,

 

Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress

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Buchanan Urges Crackdown on Money Flow to Terrorist Groups

2016/07/19

“We Need to Cut Out the Financial Heart” of Terrorists

WASHINGTON – Citing the recent wave of terrorist attacks across the globe and the pressing need to keep American families safe, Congressman Vern Buchanan today called for passage of tough, new measures cracking down on money flowing to terrorist groups.

Buchanan said Congress should pass The National Strategy for Combating Terrorist, Underground, and Other Illicit Financing Act, which directs the Secretary of the Treasury to establish a comprehensive strategy to combat the financing of terrorism.

“We need to cut out the financial heart of the radical Islamic terrorists that have attacked our homeland and put our families at risk,” Buchanan said. “Congress must also hold Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism, accountable. Our government cannot continue to allow U.S. dollars to end up in the hands of a regime responsible for inciting terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere.”

With Buchanan’s strong support, the U.S. House recently passed several measures to stop funds from pouring into Iran and ensure that our country is prepared to stop terrorists from entering the homeland. These bills, now pending in the Senate, include:

  • The Iran Accountability Act of 2016 – imposes new sanctions on Iran for human rights abuses and continuing to test its ballistic missile program – a violation of the nuclear deal agreed upon by the global community one year ago.
     
  • The U.S. Financial System Protection Act – prohibits the Obama administration from allowing the U.S. dollar to be used to facilitate trade transactions with the Iranian government and Iranian banks.
     
  • Enhancing Treasury’s Anti-Terror Tools Act – requires the Treasury Department to investigate how to incorporate U.S. embassies into counter-terrorism financing efforts, and adds the Secretary of the Treasury to the National Security Council.
     
  • The Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act – requires the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an exercise to evaluate national preparedness against terrorist travel to the United States. The last major government exercise on terrorist travel was in 2009.

“Terrorists want to destroy our way of life,” Buchanan said. “Our government must do everything possible to stop them. Cutting off cash to ISIS and the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism – Iran – will undoubtedly limit their ability to attack the U.S. and its allies.”

Since declaring a caliphate more than two years ago, ISIS and its followers have carried out horrific terrorist attacks across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the U.S., including in Buchanan’s home state of Florida. Last month a gunman killed 49 people in Orlando after pledging allegiance to ISIS.

The Obama administration has repeatedly maintained that its strategy against ISIS is working. President Obama recently said that as a result of U.S. airstrikes against ISIS’s oil infrastructures the terrorist organization continues to lose money that is its “lifeblood.”


However last month, CIA Director John Brennan delivered a chilling testimony before Congress contradicting the administration’s assessment. Brennan said ISIS generates “at least tens of millions of dollars in revenue per month, primarily from taxation and from crude oil sales.”

The recent onslaught of ISIS-inspired attacks in Nice, Istanbul, Bangladesh, and Brussels have left many Americans anxious about the group’s capability to infiltrate U.S. borders. According to a CNN/ORC poll conducted last month, Americans are more likely to think terrorist attacks in the U.S. are imminent now than at any point since 2003.


Buchanan said the House-passed Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act will help the U.S. gauge its ability to prevent terrorists from traveling into and out of the country.

“Any gaps in our nation’s security systems must be made known and fixed immediately,” Buchanan said. “This legislation is critical to making the U.S. impenetrable for ISIS and other terrorists.”

Buchanan is the author of federal legislation to require social media screening for signs of terror threats from any foreigner who wants to enter America. His Social Media Screening For Terrorists Act directs the secretary of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook and other forms of social media, before admitting foreign travelers and visa applicants into the country. Buchanan has also called on government leaders to develop a strategy to combat terror groups’ online recruitment and radicalization.

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First Zika Case Reported in Manatee County

2016/07/16

“National Disgrace”

WASHINGTON — As the first case of Zika surfaced in Manatee County, Congressman Vern Buchanan today scolded Congress for adjourning for the summer without funding efforts to confront the deadly virus.

Manatee County was one of 18 new travel-related cases reported by the Florida Department of Health on Friday– the largest number of new cases confirmed in a single day. Manatee County is now included in the state’s Declaration of Public Health Emergency.

“Washington’s failure to approve Zika funding is a national disgrace,” Buchanan said. “Communities in Manatee County and elsewhere in Florida needed federal resources weeks ago to stop this deadly virus. The health of thousands of lives are now at stake because Congress and the president could not overcome their political differences.”

Florida leads the country in the number of reported Zika cases. As of Friday there were 311 cases, according to the Florida Department of Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there are 1,306 travel-related cases across the U.S.

“Congress has failed its primary duty to protect American lives,” Buchanan said. “Inevitably, more vulnerable pregnant mothers and newborns are now at risk because of partisan politics.”

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats voted to block a must-pass Zika funding bill previously approved by the U.S. House. The Senate brought up the bill again this week in a last ditch effort before Congress went home, however the funding was again blocked. As a result, no congressional action will be taken on the Zika emergency funding until after Sept. 5.

“Congressional leaders as well as the president should have been working together to solve this impasse,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan has pushed for rapid and full emergency funding for the Zika response and has hosted multiple public health experts in meetings and public events in Florida and Washington to talk about the virus. He also wrote a letter to House and Senate leadership urging the Zika conferees to provide the full amount of emergency funding requested by the Obama administration.

The Congressman was the first Republican in the U.S. House to support President Obama’s request for full funding to fight the Zika virus. The emergency funding will expand education, prevention, and mosquito control programs, improve diagnostics and testing, speed the development of a vaccine and boost research into the complications of contracting the virus.

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“National Disgrace”

2016/07/15

“Zika the Shameful Face of Washington Dysfunction”

WASHINGTON — With Congress recessed for seven weeks, Congressman Vern Buchanan today said the failure to fund efforts to confront the deadly Zika virus has become the new face of Washington dysfunction.

“Washington’s failure to protect women and children from the devastating effects of the Zika virus is a national disgrace,” Buchanan said. “The health of thousands of lives are now at stake because Congress and the president could not overcome their political differences.”

Florida leads the country in the number of reported Zika cases. As of Thursday there were 293 cases, according to the Florida Department of Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there are 1,306 travel-related cases across the U.S.

“Congress has failed its primal duty to protect American lives,” Buchanan said. “Inevitably, more vulnerable pregnant mothers and newborns are now at risk because of partisan politics.”

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats voted to block a must-pass Zika funding bill previously approved by the U.S. House. The Senate brought up the bill again this week in a last ditch effort before Congress went home, however the funding was again blocked. As a result, no congressional action will be taken on the Zika emergency funding until after Sept. 5.

“Congressional leaders as well as the president should have been working together to solve this impasse,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan has pushed for rapid and full emergency funding for the Zika response and has hosted multiple public health experts in meetings and public events in Florida and Washington to talk about the virus. He also wrote a letter to House and Senate leadership urging the Zika conferees provide the full amount of emergency funding requested by the Obama administration.

The Congressman was the first Republican in the U.S. House to support President Obama’s request for full funding to fight the Zika virus. The emergency funding will expand education, prevention, and mosquito control programs, improve diagnostics and testing, speed the development of a vaccine and boost research into the complications of contracting the virus.

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Buchanan Opposes “Sham” Food Labeling Bill

2016/07/14

(This is what consumers could see instead of a simple label on food products. In case you weren’t able to quickly access my press release, here it is:)

Buchanan Opposes “Sham” Food Labeling Bill 
Consumers Have a Right to Know What’s in Their Food
Genetically Modified Food (GMO) Labels Should be Clear and Simple

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., today voted against sham legislation that pretends to offer consumers transparency for foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). “This food labeling bill has all the transparency of a brick wall,” Buchanan said. “People have a right to know what’s in the food they are purchasing for themselves and their children but this bill will not provide any such disclosure.”

The bill passed Congress by a 306-117 vote despite Buchanan’s objections and now goes to the president for his signature.

Buchanan said the bill cynically included a gaping loophole that allowed food producers to bypass true labeling with a telephone number consumers could call to ask questions or with a QR code they could scan with a smartphone to connect with a website that may or may not answer their questions.

“This is sham legislation that pretends to offer consumers transparency when in reality it does no such thing,” Buchanan said, adding the issue is about transparency, not whether a product is safe or unsafe to consume. “What I want to ensure is that families get all the information they need to make decisions – what they do with that information is up to them.”

The bill gives food manufacturers two years to update their packaging to provide information on GMOs through several options. Companies can disclose genetically modified ingredients through text directly on the product, or by including a picture similar to a bar code, called a QR code, that consumers can scan using a smartphone, or by placing a telephone number or website address on the product.

“Food labeling needs to be simple and clear,” Buchanan said. “QR codes and telephone numbers do not meet that definition. What mother shopping with her children is going to stop in the middle of the food aisle to call a company or go on a website to check the content of every product they would like to buy?”

Approximately 70 to 80 percent of packaged food in the U.S. contains GMOs through ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup or soy lecithin, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Campbell’s Soup Inc., General Mills Inc., Kellogg Co., ConAgra Foods Inc., and Mars, Inc. are some of the country’s top food giants that have announced their commitment to voluntarily label GMOs.

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Congress Sends Sweeping Anti-Heroin Legislation To President’s Desk

2016/07/13

Includes Prevention, Treatment and Education

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan applauded congressional passage today of landmark legislation aimed at reducing heroin and opioid addiction across America.

“This is a major step toward breaking heroin’s deadly grip on America,” Buchanan said. “The president should sign this bill into law as quickly as possible so vital anti-drug resources will begin flowing to hard-hit communities in Florida and elsewhere.”


The legislation includes a number of anti-drug provisions that Buchanan has supported.

They include:

  • Grants for drug treatment and prevention to states, nonprofits and municipalities.
  • Treatment funds for pregnant mothers and babies born addicted to opioids.
  • Creation of a task force responsible for reviewing federal guidelines for prescribing opioids.
  • Preventing the over-prescription of painkillers for veterans seeking care by re-examining current pain management treatment guidelines.
  • Creation of veterans-specific drug treatment courts and programs.
  • Requiring the government to evaluate the effectiveness of federal grant programs tasked with curbing the heroin and opioid crisis.
  • Improving the ability of the U.S. to prosecute international drug kingpins without risking the public disclosure of classified information in court proceedings. 

Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County had more heroin overdose deaths per capita than any other Florida county in 2014 and is currently experiencing a spike in drug overdoses. Palmetto police chief Scott Tyler recently described the increase as “alarming,” according to the Bradenton Herald.

The number of heroin overdose deaths in Florida increased 900 percent from 2010-2014, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. 

“The drug abuse and overdose situation in my district is horrible,” Buchanan said. “Local groups are doing amazing work fighting the heroin crisis but they need more help – which this bill provides.”

The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the heroin crisis in Florida. In May, Buchanan chaired a hearing examining the impact of addiction on kids. Earlier this year he hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and stakeholders. Buchanan also recently chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, DC where members heard testimony from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, author of many of the provisions that passed the U.S. House today, and anti-drug experts. Buchanan serves as co-chair of the Florida delegation.

Buchanan also has been at the forefront of the fight to crack down on drug abuse for years. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics.  

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Zika: The Shameful Face of Washington Dysfunction

2016/07/13

“If Washington Can’t Function When the Lives of Infants Are At Stake, When Can It?”

WASHINGTON — As hopes dim for passage of a Zika funding bill, Congressman Vern Buchanan warned today the issue will become the new face of Washington dysfunction if Congress adjourns for the summer without taking action.

“If Washington can’t function when the lives of infants are at stake, then when can it?” the Congressman asked as Congress prepares to adjourn tomorrow for a seven-week recess. “This is a disgraceful display of dysfunction by both parties as well as the president at a time when the lives of so many people are at stake.”

“We have reached the 11th hour as a failure to authorize the resources necessary to fight Zika puts Americans at risk at the peak of mosquito season,” Buchanan said. “The time for partisan political games has long past.”

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Sunday said states and local governments need federal help to pay for mosquito control efforts, and that unless more funding is approved, further vaccine development will be delayed, according to USA Today.

Florida leads the country in the number of reported Zika cases. As of Tuesday there were 282 cases, according to the Florida Department of Health. The CDC reported there are 1,133 travel-related cases across the U.S.

“Communities across the United States and our nation’s top disease fighters needed these federal resources yesterday,” Buchanan said. “But unfortunately, because of Washington dysfunction, it is looking like more Americans will now remain vulnerable to Zika.”

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats voted to block a must-pass Zika funding bill previously approved by the U.S. House. The bill is expected to be reconsidered in the Senate before Congress leaves for recess. “Congressional leaders as well as the president should have been working together to solve this impasse,” Buchanan said.

Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid said the $1.1 billion House-passed conference report to fund Zika prevention efforts “isn’t going anyplace.” Reid warned on Monday that Senate Democrats will once again block the bill if it comes up for a vote this week.

However, weeks ago Senate Democrats unanimously supported a Zika funding bill that contained the same funding level and CDC Director Tom Frieden said at the time the bill “allows us to do the things we need to do in the immediate term.”

“Lives are at stake here,” Buchanan said. “I’ve been sounding the alarm on Zika’s threat for five months now. It’s beyond shameful that Washington can’t work together to stop future devastation caused by this deadly virus.”

Buchanan has pushed for rapid and full emergency funding for the Zika response and has hosted multiple public health experts in meetings and public events in Florida and Washington to talk about the virus. He also wrote a letter to House and Senate leadership urging the Zika conferees provide the full amount of emergency funding requested by the Obama administration.

The Congressman was the first Republican in the U.S. House to support President Obama’s request for full funding to fight the Zika virus. The emergency funding will expand education, prevention, and mosquito control programs, improve diagnostics and testing, speed the development of a vaccine and boost research into the complications of contracting the virus.

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Buchanan Calls for Emergency Aid to Fight Florida Algae Crisis

2016/07/12

President Should Declare A Federal Emergency

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged the Obama administration to declare a federal emergency in response to the unprecedented toxic algae blooms wreaking havoc across Florida. 

In a letter to President Obama, Buchanan called the toxic algae crisis in Florida a “nightmare” for millions of families, local businesses and iconic wildlife. The Congressman noted that the blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, has forced Floridians to wear masks near the water, and some have complained of skin rashes, headaches and respiratory issues.

“Under federal law, you have the power to declare an emergency in order to help save lives, protect public health and mitigate looming disasters,” Buchanan wrote. “Public health is at risk from a 200-square-mile toxic bloom so big it’s visible from space. In light of the threat toxic algae blooms pose to Floridians, I urge you to issue a federal emergency declaration before it is too late.”

Discharges from Lake Okeechobee have recently infested South Florida’s beaches and waterways with thick coatings of contaminated algae blooms. According to press reports, some experts estimate the outbreak has increased in size 500 percent since May.

“My home state of Florida is a national treasure, and vital to sustaining a thriving national economy,” Buchanan said. “This crisis, if not stopped in its tracks, has the capability of impacting millions of Floridians’ well-being and devastating businesses across the spectrum.”

The Florida Department of Health said exposure to blue-green algae at high levels can affect the gastrointestinal tract, liver, nervous system, and skin and has recommended that people avoid contact with the algal blooms. Cyanobacteria can also harm fragile ecosystems and kill domestic animals, pets, and fish and wildlife that drink or are otherwise exposed to contaminated water.

Moreover, local economies in South Florida that depend on tourism and provide jobs to millions of hard-working Floridians have seen an impact. Industries such as lodging, fishing, boating, retail and restaurant operators in the region have all been affected by the “guacamole-thick” algae blooms.


“I look forward to working with your administration to ensure emergency funds are delivered, and rest assured I will help in any way possible to protect Florida from future damage,” Buchanan said.


Buchanan, chair of the 29-member Florida congressional delegation, last week urged Congress to approve bipartisan legislation he’s co-sponsored that would help protect the state’s coastline from foul water discharges from Lake Okeechobee. The bill requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike and control water levels in the lake.

The Herbert Hoover Dike has been rated as “critically near failure” by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The measure is backed by several members of the Florida delegation including U.S. Reps. Curt Clawson, Daniel Webster, Jeff Miller, Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. 


Full text of Buchanan’s letter below:

 

July 12, 2016

 

The Honorable Barack Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

The toxic algae blooms wreaking havoc across Florida have become a nightmare for millions of families across the state, local businesses and our iconic wildlife. I urge you to immediately declare a federal emergency given the public health, economic and environmental impact of this crisis.

Toxic algae spawning in Lake Okeechobee has been introduced to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ release of contaminated lake waters. As a result, a thick coating of algae has covered South Florida’s beaches and waterways.

This scourge has forced Floridians to wear masks near the water, and some have complained of skin rashes, headaches and respiratory issues, according to press reports. The Florida Department of Health has warned that exposure to blue-green algae at high levels can affect the gastrointestinal tract, liver, nervous system and skin – and they note that children are particularly vulnerable to these threats.  

Moreover, local economies in South Florida that depend on tourism and provide jobs to millions of hard-working Floridians have seen an impact. Industries such as lodging, fishing, boating, retail and restaurant operators in the region have all been affected.

The blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can kill domestic animals, pets, and fish and wildlife that drink or are otherwise exposed to contaminated water. As these algae blooms are spread into Florida’s waterways and coastlines, they have the potential to harm the state’s fragile ecosystems. In fact, a 2013 algae bloom was blamed for the deaths of scores of manatees, dolphins, birds and fish.

My home state of Florida is a national treasure, and vital to sustaining a thriving national economy. This crisis, if not stopped in its tracks, has the capability of impacting millions of Floridians’ well-being and devastating businesses across the spectrum.

Under federal law, you have the power to declare an emergency in order to help save lives, protect public health and mitigate looming disasters. Public health is at risk from a 200-square-mile toxic bloom so big it’s visible from space. In light of the threat toxic algae blooms pose to Floridians, I urge you to issue a federal emergency declaration before it is too late.

I look forward to working with your administration to ensure emergency funds are delivered, and rest assured I will help in any way possible to protect Florida from future damage.

 

Sincerely,

 

Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress

 

 

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Buchanan Urges Congress to Address Florida’s Algae Bloom Crisis

2016/07/08

“Congress Must Address This Disaster Now”

WASHINGTON – As record amounts of toxic algae blooms continue to wreak havoc across Florida, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today urged Congress to approve bipartisan legislation to help protect the state’s coastline from foul water discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

Toxic algae is covering a 33-square-mile swath of Lake Okeechobee. But high water levels have forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to release these rancid-smelling lake waters into waterways that feed into the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Buchanan, chair of the Florida congressional delegation, is a co-sponsor of legislation to require the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike and control water levels in the lake.

“The algae bloom crisis has quickly become a public safety and health concern,” Buchanan said. “Florida’s waterways, coastline, economy and fragile ecosystems are at risk.”

The recent discharges from Lake Okeechobee have infested South Florida’s beaches and waterways with thick coatings of algae blooms. Many Floridians have had to wear masks near the water and some have complained of skin rashes, headaches and respiratory issues, according to press reports. The Florida Department of Health said exposure to blue-green algae at high levels can affect the gastrointestinal tract, liver, nervous system, and skin and has recommended that people avoid contact with the algal blooms.

Specifically, the legislation would direct the federal government to complete urgently needed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike, a 143-mile dike that encompasses Lake Okeechobee. The Herbert Hoover Dike has been rated as “critically near failure” by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“This bill delivers federal funds to repair and strengthen the aging dike,” Buchanan said. “Congress must address this disaster now and pass the legislation."

The measure is backed by several members of the Florida delegation including U.S. Reps. Curt Clawson, Daniel Webster, Jeff Miller, Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz. 

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ABC 7: Rep. Buchanan Holds Anti-Heroin Roundtable

2016-03-10 17:57:59


ABC 7: Rep. Buchanan Acts To Combat Heroin Crisis

2016-02-27 15:13:23


Cox TV: Buchanan Introduces Plan To End Public Housing Scams

2016-02-03 17:36:48


WWSB-TV: Rep. Buchanan visits businesses in St. Armands Circle

2016-01-25 16:15:15


WWSB-TV: New Law To Protect Americans From Identity Fraud

2016-01-22 17:30:07


No Syrian Refugees!

2015-11-17 17:35:33


Buchanan Applauds Sarasota Memorial’s 90th Year of Service to the Community

2015-11-03 20:46:52


ABC-7 on Buchanan Presentation of Congressional Fire and Rescue and EMS Awards

2015-10-06 15:21:10


ABC-7 on Buchanan's Talk to Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

2015-09-14 23:21:30


Bay News 9 on Sarasota Iran Nuclear Deal Town Hall

2015-07-27 13:55:34


President Obama Signs Buchanan Veterans ID Card Act into Law

2015-07-21 15:31:22


ABC-7 on Buchanan's Veterans ID Card

2015-07-08 17:22:06


Buchanan Vets ID Card to Become Law

2015-07-07 19:17:46


Pastor Bezet of Sarasota-Manatee Bayside Community Church Delivers Morning Prayer before Congress

2015-06-25 15:32:15


Buchanan: Balancing the Budget is an Urgent Priority

2015-06-17 21:43:25


Buchanan Speaks on Veterans ID Card Act

2015-05-18 21:03:41


Rep. Buchanan Named to House Budget Committee

2015-03-18 16:40:43


Buchanan Hosts Venice Listening Session on Jobs and the Economy

2015-02-09 16:57:18


Buchanan Questions Treasury Secretary on Obama Economic Plan

2015-02-03 16:57:28


Buchanan Hosts Sarastota Town Hall on Jobs and the Economy

2015-01-26 20:19:21


Contact Information

2104 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-5015
Fax 202-226-0828
buchanan.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Ways and Means

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is the only Florida member of Congress to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, international trade, health care and Social Security.

A self-made businessman, Buchanan understands that America’s economic strength flows from its entrepreneurial spirit and pro-growth, free-market policies. Buchanan has worked tirelessly to enact tax incentives to help small businesses, end burdensome regulations, and limit frivolous lawsuits.

In his fourth term, Buchanan is an outspoken advocate of reforming the U.S. tax code to make it simpler and fairer. He serves on the Trade and Health subcommittees on Ways and Means.

As a member of the Trade Subcommittee, Buchanan recognizes that international competitiveness is key to revitalizing the economy. He will seek to move three free trade agreements through the Congress and conduct oversight on U.S. trade relations with the European Union, China, India, among others.

Buchanan is also a member of the Health Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare and employer-provided health insurance benefits. With 190,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Florida’s 16thDistrict, Buchanan is committed to preserving Medicare’s long-term solvency for senior citizens, as well as bringing down the cost of health care for all Americans.

And as the Chairman of the Friends of Panama Caucus, Buchanan will continue his efforts to help Port Manatee grow and capitalize on the upcoming expansion of the Panama Canal.

A strong fiscal conservative, the Congressman’s signature bill is the Buchanan Balanced Budget Amendment Act. He also introduced legislation to stop automatic pay raises for Members of Congress until the budget is balanced.

Congressman Buchanan’s previous committee assignments include the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and the House Small Business Committee, where he also served as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Finance and Tax.

Vern Buchanan grew up with five siblings in a blue collar household in a small town near Detroit, Michigan. He served six years in the Air National Guard and worked his way through college.

The self-made businessman is a respected leader in Florida’s business community. He chaired both the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Board of the U.S. Chamber, and in 2005 he was inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame.

In addition, Congressman Buchanan is a dedicated philanthropist, committing himself to diverse community causes, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, the Walk to Cure Juvenile Diabetes, the American Heart Walk, the Mote Marine Laboratory, and the Ringling Museum of Art.

A husband and father, Congressman Buchanan lives in Longboat Key, Florida with his wife of more than 30 years. Mr. and Mrs. Buchanan have two grown sons, James and Matt.


Serving With

Jeff Miller

FLORIDA's 1st DISTRICT

Ted Yoho

FLORIDA's 3rd DISTRICT

Ander Crenshaw

FLORIDA's 4th DISTRICT

Ron DeSantis

FLORIDA's 6th DISTRICT

John Mica

FLORIDA's 7th DISTRICT

Bill Posey

FLORIDA's 8th DISTRICT

Daniel Webster

FLORIDA's 10th DISTRICT

Rich Nugent

FLORIDA's 11th DISTRICT

Gus Bilirakis

FLORIDA's 12th DISTRICT

David Jolly

FLORIDA's 13th DISTRICT

Dennis Ross

FLORIDA's 15th DISTRICT

Tom Rooney

FLORIDA's 17th DISTRICT

Curt Clawson

FLORIDA's 19th DISTRICT

Mario Diaz-Balart

FLORIDA's 25th DISTRICT

Carlos Curbelo

FLORIDA's 26th DISTRICT

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

FLORIDA's 27th DISTRICT

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