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06-18-2016 Rokita Report
Thank you for the opportunity to update you on the work of the 114th Congress. I trust this finds you and your family well, as we work together to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington.
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In this week's Rokita Report
Addressing the National School Boards Association
This week, I addressed over 600 members of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), including members from Indiana, at their annual Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. My speech focused on how as Chairman of the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee, I am committed to empowering parents and local communities in education decision-making. In 2015, the subcommittee's work led to the replacement of No Child Left Behind Act with the Every Student Succeeds Act. The Wall Street Journal praised the new bill as “the largest devolution of power from the federal government in a quarter century.” That is not just in education policy, that’s in any law the Journal has seen in 25 years. The Every Student Succeeds Act delivers more authority and responsibility for local elected officials, teachers, and parents.
Every child is unique and it is our local communities, not Washington, that can best recognize these unique needs. Giving families the power to choose effective and safe schools for their children and to send dollars to education options matched to their children’s learning needs will encourage not only innovation, but improvement in our education system.
The key to a better education system is taking control away from Washington bureaucrats and giving it back to parents and teachers. Academic standards, standardized testing scores, and the criterion by which a school is judged and the solutions needed to fix struggling schools that are not performing should be left up to states and local educators. I look forward to working with stakeholders like the NSBA and others in the future to accomplish these goals.
Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour
During the month of June, Indiana Electric Cooperatives sponsor a group of students to visit our nation's capital as part of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's Youth Tour. This year, 82 students from Indiana participated in visiting Washington and Gettysburg.
I was able to speak with these students about policymaking. I focused on my role as Vice Chairman of the House Budget Committee and the importance of responsible federal spending. Although these students are too young to vote, they will inherit the ramifications of policy decisions made before their time to engage in civics. The national debt and promises made now, regarding entitlement programs, will have long term consequences.
Right after addressing these students, I spoke on the House Floor about the importance of this Youth Tour. These trips have been going on for over 50 years and are an important tool to engage future generations.
Stopping IRS Political Abuse
On Tuesday, I voted in support of H.R. 5053, the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act, which passed the House of Representatives 240 - 182.
H.R. 5053 prevents the IRS from collecting and releasing information about private donors to tax-exempt organizations. This information was used in the past for political purposes to target Tea Party and other conservative groups.
Under the Obama administration, the IRS has consistently proven itself to be untrustworthy when it comes to doing its job in a non-political way. Whether it was the targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny, or the poor handling and destruction of emails, the IRS has failed to keep the public’s trust. Prohibiting the IRS from requiring this unnecessary information is a commonsense reform that protects groups from both potential data leaks and from partisan targeting.
Tomorrow is an important day, it is Father's Day. Of all the blessings in my life, the greatest is to be the proud father of Teddy and Ryan.
Being a father is a great and rewarding responsibility. Parents serve as role models for our children. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:6 - "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Studies have reinforced these values, showing that when children grow up in a home without a father, they are less likely to succeed. Being raised in a solid family plays a vital role in ensuring that children have the greatest opportunity to avoid poverty in adulthood.
As a policymaker, I strongly believe that we must leave our children a better future. As a member of Congress, I am working for Teddy and Ryan to ensure that we get our nation's fiscal health in order. This year, the Budget Committee has passed a budget that balances in ten years and ends Washington's reckless spending that drives up our national debt. This is an unfair burden that we are passing to future generations. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, I know that parents and not Washington bureaucrats, know what is best for future generations.
In the United States, Father's Day has been recognized periodically for over 100 years and been established as a permanent national holiday since 1972 that takes place on the third Sunday of June. I hope you will spend part of the day reflecting on the role of fathers.
Thank you for your continued interest in Congress and for supporting my efforts to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington. Take care.