This week, the House passed two important pieces of legislation- the Fiscal Year 2017 funding bill and the American Health Care Act.
It is Congress’ constitutional duty to appropriate funds to keep the government open, and this bill fulfills that responsibility. There’s been a lot of misinformation about this legislation, so I wanted to take the time to send you the facts.
Many news outlets reported that this bill didn’t defund sanctuary cities, but the truth is that sanctuary cities are already in the midst of losing federal law enforcement funding. We don’t need bill language to defund sanctuary cities. Attorney General Sessions is already taking the necessary steps to defund sanctuary jurisdictions under the policy I persuaded his predecessor to implement last year using the power of the purse. Sanctuary cities will lose federal law enforcement funding this year if their policies are not changed.
The press also reported that this legislation prohibits funding for the border wall. This is not true. The bill provides an additional $772 million for border security infrastructure, which includes repairing and extending the existing wall, additional fencing, sensors and automobile barriers. This bill serves as a down payment on a border wall, and includes the largest increase in border security funding in 10 years. The omnibus also includes record levels of funding for border patrol. This funding bill provides Customs and Border Patrol $11.4 billion, and provides a record $6.4 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The legislation also includes a record number of detention beds for illegal aliens, and a record number of immigration enforcement officers and immigration judges to speed the deportation of illegal aliens.
Simply by focusing on law enforcement, this Administration has been able to deter illegal immigration so effectively that the number of people crossing the border illegally is down 70%.
This funding bill also includes a 2.1% pay raise for our military men and women, which is greatly needed. This bill also provides $76.8 billion to support our troops that are deployed in the fight against ISIS in Afghanistan, and allocates $123.3 billion to rebuild military bases and purchase technologically advanced defense equipment.
In addition to securing our border, and rebuilding our military, conservatives secured many priorities in the legislation, including;
1. Protecting life: The bill prohibits federal funding for abortions.
2. Limits EPA overreach: The bill supports a comprehensive energy strategy including a focus on coal, oil, natural gas and increasing our nuclear energy capabilities.
3. Tough on crime: The bill increases funding for the FBI, DEA and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
4. Protects Second Amendment: The bill strengthens Second Amendment protections.
5. Reforms the IRS: The legislation restructures the IRS to increase transparency, safeguard free speech and protect the tax-exempt status of non-profit organizations. The bill also freezes the IRS at current funding levels.
6. No new money for Obamacare: As Republicans continue to work on repeal and replacement legislation to fix our health care system, this funding bill does not provide new funds for the Affordable Care Act.
7. Funding for disaster relief: I also made certain that there was a significant increase in funding that could be used by flood victims in District 7 to repair damage from the flood and strengthen our flood control infrastructure.
American Health Care Act
Programs like Medicare and Social Security are headed toward insolvency and the Affordable Care Act only added strain by subsidizing, partially or completely, health care for 25 million Americans. For those that did not qualify for the subsidy, they were forced to choose between paying the individual mandate penalty or suffering under the burden of exorbitant health care premiums.
The Affordable Care Act promised to provide the American people with a stable affordable health insurance system, but instead, millions of Americans received cancellation notices for existing insurance plans, and also saw a rise in monthly premiums. Texas has faced an 18 percent increase in premiums since Obamacare went into effect. Members of Congress are also under Obamacare. My insurance premiums have risen over 500%, and my deductibles have doubled since Obamacare came into effect. Like so many other Americans, it’s as if I have no insurance at all.
Obamacare cannot be fixed, but America’s health care system can, and today’s vote was a contract with the American people that Republicans in Congress will deliver health care solutions that improve quality of care, lower costs and give them choices. The American Health Care Act is expected to lower premiums by 10%, which will open the market for people to be able to afford health care. It also repeals the individual mandate that nonsensically penalized those that were unable to afford health care by taking more of these middle class Americans’ money.
This legislation gives flexibility to the states to encourage fair health insurance premiums. Under this bill, insurance companies cannot deny you coverage based on a pre-existing condition even if the state receives a waiver. Also, as long as you’ve had continuous insurance coverage, you cannot be charged more for having a pre-existing condition. This legislation also provides added protections to help people in waiver states that have not had insurance coverage to acquire coverage.
Bureaucrats in Washington shouldn’t decide what insurance plans work for Houstonians. The AHCA will give people the freedom and control over their health care without being burdened with penalties and one size fits all plans. The goal of the AHCA is to let you buy the insurance policy that fits you best, and allows you to shop for health insurance in the same way as you shop for automobile insurance, looking for the features you want at a price you can afford.
Today’s vote was just the first step in repealing Obamacare, and laying the foundation for additional legislation and executive action that will help stabilize the market. This is a complex problem that requires complex solutions, and I am committed to working with my colleagues as we continue to fix America’s health care system.
It is an honor and privilege to represent you and Texas in the United States House.