Newsletter: June 2013
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Failed leadership at the IRS, unanswered questions about the Benghazi tragedy and the seizing of AP reporters' phone records have certainly made the last few months controversial with regard to news from Washington. In their wake we learned of a broad government surveillance program that, for many of us, raises serious questions about our balance between national security and civil liberties. I think that all of these matters require congressional investigation, as one of Congress' chief roles is oversight, and I am hopeful that their outgrowth will prevent future instances of government overreach. While attention and investigation into these matters is important, it is equally important that we keep less glamorous, yet equally concerning, challenges for our future in mind as well.
Often our nation's continued financial problems fail to steal the headlines in the way that these recent controversies, and others do. I think it is particularly important that we stay focused on the silent threat posed by year after year of high federal spending and budget deficits. America's future hangs in the balance when we refuse to confront the basic issues of spending more than we take in and not addressing our $16 trillion national debt.
So while issues like the ones surrounding the IRS, National Security Agency, and State Department are important, I would urge you to look past them to the serious financial threats to our country as well. I will do my best to work in Congress to affect these issues in a beneficial way and I ask for your input in that regard.
As part of my effort to keep you informed about our office's work to address these issues and so many more in Congress, we will work to send you updates like this e-newsletter on a regular basis. I hope that you will find these communications helpful. I also hope that you will not hesitate to share your input with me. You can find my office contact information by clicking here. If there is anything I can do to be of assistance, please let me know.
Thank you for your faith in me. It is an honor to serve you.
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REDUCING SPENDING AND IMRPOVING TRANSPARENCY
The Farm Bill
On Thursday, June 19, the House of Representatives voted down a five-year, $500 billion extension of federal agriculture programs and subsidies. Rep. Sanford joined the majority of his colleagues in opposing the overall bill. He gave the following statement on his vote:
"Today I cast my vote against the Farm Bill, because I am troubled that this bill is 56% larger than the one that was passed in 2008. Think about it, this bill proposes spending $336 billion more than the last one did. It continues to provide billions in subsidies for the agricultural industry, which is one of the most profitable sectors of our economy. The reforms proposed in the bill for food stamps are limited. Even worse, some of the substantive amendments to this bill, that would have improved it, failed narrowly. Take the Kind amendment, which would have increased the transparency of the crop subsidy program and reduced the overall cost of the program to taxpayers, which lost by a handful of votes, though it would have done nothing more than limit payments to farmers making over $250,000. A subsidy for wealthy farmers is hardly what most would consider a radical reform to a payment system began at a very different point in America's agricultural history. Ultimately, the bill failed 195-234, which in my eyes is a victory for the taxpayer and a signal to the Committee on Agriculture and Congress as a whole that substantive changes to this legislation need to be made."
Full text of the Farm Bill is available here.
Balancing the Budget
Congressional budgets outline the principles and priorities of our government. One of those principles, for which Rep. Sanford has consistently fought—is maintaining a balanced budget. A Balanced Budget Amendment is a permanent solution to reining in government spending and putting an end to this nation's spending-driven debt crisis. Rep. Sanford has co-sponsored three Balanced Budget Amendment resolutions. Each has different mechanisms by which to achieve a balanced budget. A summary of the Balanced Budget Amendments Rep. Sanford has co-sponsored is listed below.
- H.J.Res. 1 – Introduced by U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), H.J.Res. 1 requires a balanced budget and limits total spending for any fiscal year to one-fifth of the U.S. economic output. These provisions can be overridden by a three-fifths vote in each chamber. The bill also requires a three-fifths vote in each chamber to increase the debt ceiling.
- H.J.Res. 35 – Introduced by U.S. Representative Paul Broun (R-GA), H.J.Res. 35 is similar to H.J.Res. 1, save for the fact that it requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber to override a balanced budget and/or increase the debt ceiling. Additionally, the bill prohibits outlays for the total budget from exceeding the previous fiscal years' outlays plus population growth and inflation, unless that increase is approved by a two-thirds vote in each chamber.
- H.J.Res. 24 – Introduced by U.S. Representative Justin Amash (R-MI), H.J.Res. 24 not only requires a balanced federal budget, it provides a formula for reducing excess spending, over each of ten years, over the average annual revenue collected in the three prior years. By permitting the government to spend the average of its tax revenues, H.J.Res. 24 would provide a responsible way to balance the nation's budget without completely ignoring real-world financial and economic challenges—like wars, natural disasters and other unforeseen circumstances—that regularly affect national spending priorities. Additionally, the legislation provides a mechanism by which the federal government can pay down the national debt while using revenue surpluses to finance future financial 'emergencies'—without raising taxes.
Auditing the Fed
With so much of America's economic well-being tied up in the activities of a few "governors" at the Federal Reserve (Fed), it's important to eliminate any confusion and uncertainty surrounding the Fed's decisions. Rep. Sanford has co-sponsored the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, H.R. 24, which will require the Comptroller of the Currency to conduct a full audit of the Fed and its banks. Through an audit, Congress will have a better understanding of the Fed's operations and how their decision making affects the nation's financial well-being.
Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Obama NLRB Appointments
The Supreme Court announced that it would hear a case on the constitutionality of appointments that President Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without Senate approval during the 2011-2012 winter congressional recess. The case, known as the National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, will be heard in the fall. More information on the case can be found here. Rep. Sanford's official statement is available here.
Protecting Americans' Civil Liberties
Rep. Sanford signed on as a cosponsor to H.R. 2399, the LIBERT-E Act, a bipartisan bill meant to prevent another instance of broad federal surveillance on innocent Americans. The bill raises the current standard required to collect this information to include that the information sought must be relevant and material to the investigation, as well as to the individuals involved in that investigation. Additionally, the LIBERT-E Act would require the federal government to make available to all Members of Congress intelligence information currently provided only to select House and Senate committees. Furthermore, the legislation requires that summaries of "significant" opinions handed down from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court be released to the public within 180 days of their submission to Congress.
The Keystone XL Pipeline is a true "shovel-ready" project, which will not only jump start our economy by creating thousands of jobs, it will help put America on the map as an energy-independent nation. Rep. Sanford voted in favor of H.R. 3, the "Northern Route Approval Act," when it came to the House Floor for a vote. H.R. 3 would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project and eliminate the legal and regulatory barriers that could tie up its construction for years. The bill passed the House by a vote of 241 – 175. It now awaits consideration in the Senate.
REP. SANFORD'S COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
Rep. Sanford has been selected to serve on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Chaired by U.S. Representative Bill Shuster (R-PA), the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I) maintains jurisdiction over all modes of transportation—from aviation and maritime, to highways and bridges, to mass transit and railroads. T&I also has jurisdiction over national infrastructure including clean water and waste water management, flood damage reduction and the conveyance of resources by pipeline. The Committee oversees a wide range of federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Rep. Sanford will serve on the Water, Resources and Environment Subcommittee, the Coastguard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, and the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee. More information on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is available here.
The House Committee on Homeland Security is chaired by U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX). Established in 2002, the Committee provides congressional oversight over the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Committee holds hearings and develops legislation meant to better to protect the American people from terrorist threats.
Rep. Sanford will serve on the Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee and the Transportation Security Subcommittee. More information on the House Committee on Homeland Security is available here.
IN THE DISTRICT
During his first Congressional District Work Period since coming to Congress, Rep. Sanford took the opportunity to visit with two of the First District's economic drivers. Earlier this month, Rep. Sanford toured Boeing's 787 assembly plant in North Charleston. There he learned about the latest developments at the facility and listened to policy thoughts and concerns from Boeing staff.
South Carolina Ports Authority
Last month, Rep. Sanford met with officials at the South Carolina Ports Authority to discuss what needs to be done to strenghten this vital national resource.
Neighborhood Office Hours and "Open Door After 4" Events
In an effort to be as widely available as possible to his constituents, Rep. Sanford will continue to hold neighborhood office hours in the First District. He has already held four of these sessions in Mount Pleasant, Hilton Head, Summerville, and Moncks Corner. Rep. Sanford's "Open Door After 4" District Office events are hosted at his district office locations from 4:00PM - 5:00PM on announced evenings. These events are informal "open house-style" meetings where constituents can drop by and discuss the issues important to them. We will continue to publicize Rep. Sanford's upcoming neighborhood office hours and Open Door After 4 events through local papers, via social media and e-newsletter updates.
Rep. Sanford's District offices, in Charleston and Beaufort Counties, are open to all First District constituents seeking help with casework, navigating the federal bureaucracy, or just have questions. Constituent service representatives are there to help determine how Rep. Sanford's office can be of assistance and all are encouraged to stop by. District Office contact information is below:
Rep. Sanford's District Offices
530 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite 201
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
Phone: (843) 852-2222
903 Port Republic St.
Beaufort, SC 29901
Phone: (843) 521-2530
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