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06-25-2016 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
Political Stunts Delay House Work
This week, many of my Democratic colleagues engaged in a political stunt advocating for a No Fly, No Buy Bill. Their proposal would prohibit individuals on the federal Do Not Fly List from purchasing firearms. However, the Do Not Fly List is a secret list operated by the government with no oversight or due process. Being removed from the list is so burdensome that there are active lawsuits regarding the process, some of which are being led by liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. A proposal to restrict the rights constitutionally protected by our Second Amendment through a flawed system that lacks due process is a non-starter.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of this proposal is non-existent. The perpetrator of the Orlando shootings was not on the no-fly list, despite being investigated for links to radical Islamic terrorists by law enforcements agencies. Holding a sit-in to demand a vote on an ineffective and unconstitutional proposal amounts to a cheap political stunt.
Furthermore, at the start of each new Congress, the House agrees to the framework of the rules from which to operate under. These rules state that when the House is out of session, the House does not operate cameras. This is the same rule as it has been for many Congresses. The sit-in was intentionally scheduled to begin during one such recess. Not reopening the cameras was not a unilateral decision by Speaker Ryan, but one that adhered to the rules of the House. These are rules designed to encourage actual debate, not promote political stunts that were coordinated with fundraising efforts by Democratic politicians.
Also this week, back home in Indiana, an 18-year-old from Brownsburg was arrested while allegedly attempting to make his way out of the country to join with ISIS. According to investigators, he searched online for possible targets in Indiana and explored ways to make his own explosive devices - not guns. In the House, we have passed legislation to combat the attempts of ISIS to radicalize Americans. I was a member of the NDAA negotiating team last year, and the final version signed into law required the President to submit his plan on defeating ISIS to Congress. The President’s final proposal came over a month late and contained only seven pages of talking points. To prevent further tragedies, we need real solutions that address the root causes of these violent incidents – mental health and radicalization.
Readers of the Rokita Report know that I have a history of cooperating with my colleagues when they are willing to work toward real solutions. I have worked in a bipartisan fashion on many occasions. If my colleagues are interested in addressing real problems like radical Islamic terrorism and mental health, I would be eager to work with them.
Co-Chairing Hearing on Protecting Education Reforms
On Thursday, I co-chaired an Education and the Workforce Committee hearing concerning the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a bill which I co-authored and helped lead to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The hearing, titled “Next Steps in K-12 Education: Examining Recent Efforts to Implement the Every Student Succeeds Act,” is part of the Committee’s oversight of the rulemaking concerning ESSA.
As we enter the oversight phase of ESSA’s implementation, hearings help us ensure that the Department of Education is following Congressional intent, not allowing unelected bureaucrats to dictate our education policy. I am extremely proud of the work we have done through this Committee to both pass ESSA, and work towards upholding Congressional intent.
Ryan sitting in the Chairman's seat, next to my friend Ranking Member Bobby Scott.
My youngest son, Ryan, was with me in DC this week. At the hearing, Ryan was able to see how House Republicans and I are working to take more power away from Washington bureaucrats and into the hands of parents and local educators. 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 unique learning needs will encourage not only innovation, but improvement in our education system.
Conference Backs Medicaid Reforms
On Wednesday, the House Republicans’ Health Care Task Force released a blueprint of Republican policies to reform our nation’s healthcare laws. Included in the blueprint report is support for Medicaid block grants, proposals which I have promoted in the last three Congresses. I first introduced Medicaid block grants in the State Health Flexibility Act, which would save taxpayers $2.25 trillion over ten years and has garnered 131 cosponsors since the 112th Congress.
This block grant proposal would return to states in a single grant the amount of money spent on Medicaid using a base year after states transition individuals enrolled under Medicaid expansion to other coverage options. This would allow states to implement safeguards such as work requirements for able-bodied adults or stronger citizenship requirements to prevent program abuse. It would also free states from having to spend years working with the Department of Health and Human Services on waivers for their programs. Instead, each state would be able to create its own program to address the unique challenges its population faces - without interference from unelected federal bureaucrats.
With this report, we have laid out our blueprint for repealing ObamaCare and bringing power and responsibility back to the states on healthcare issues. The report’s block grant language reflects both conservative values and the work that many conservatives have championed during my tenure on the House Budget Committee. I commend and thank Speaker Ryan, the Task Force, and Task Force Chairmen on a job well-done in presenting a better way forward.
As always, I value your input on legislative matters, and I would greatly appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me on healthcare reform. Please share them with my office.
Supreme Court Ruling Rejects President's Executive Order
On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a 4-4 decision in United States v. Texas, which upholds the lower court’s decision that President Obama’s executive order regarding deferred action on illegal immigration is unlawful.
President Obama’s executive actions on immigration brazenly ignored the Constitution and the will of the American people. The decision by the Supreme Court is a victory for the rule of law and the checks and balances our founders explicitly laid out in the Constitution. Without a doubt, our immigration laws need updating, but this ruling affirms that it should not come by executive fiat. This 4-4 ruling is also a reminder of how fragile the ideological balance of the court is.
Upcoming Public Meetings - Lafayette& Brownsburg
As your representative, face-to-face gatherings are where I best get my marching orders and hear directly from you on what your priorities really are. That is why I hope you will join me at my upcoming events. These events will include a public reading of the Declaration of Independence and Congress on Your Corner.
Tippecanoe Courthouse Lawn by the Marquis de Lafayette Statue
Brownsburg Town Hall Lawn
Thank you for your continued interest in Congress and for supporting my efforts to bring Hoosier common sense to Washington. Take care.