ICYMI: FAQs at My Town Hall Meetings
In case you weren’t able to make it out to one of the four town halls I held across the First District last week, I wanted to give you a quick recap! Folks brought a lot of insightful questions covering nearly every current policy area. As the week went on, three topics came up at every single event: our national debt, school safety, and rural broadband expansion.
Here's what I had to say:
What are you doing to expand access to rural broadband?
Americans rely upon the internet to carry out everyday tasks; whether balancing our checkbooks through online banking platforms or sending emails, access to broadband services has become essential. By channeling free market principles to break down barriers currently preventing service, we can unleash untapped potential in rural areas that will kick start economic development, improve telemedicine services, and expand access to online education.
Last Congress, I fought to secure $685 million in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to expand federal support in leveraging private investment for the expansion of rural broadband deployment. This legislation created a new $600 million broadband grant and loan program implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and appropriated $7.5 million to National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to coordinate broadband mapping across the federal government.
Just this Congress, I’ve outlined how broadband infrastructure must be a component of an infrastructure package, taken on a new role as co-chair of the Rural Broadband Caucus, and supported a funding bill that directs resources for broadband expansion to rural communities. I’m looking forward to my continued work with the First District Rural Broadband Task Force where I regularly bring key federal, state, and local stakeholders, such as the FCC, NTIA, and USDA together to discuss Congressional action and items that can be accomplished through policy at the federal agency level.
What are you doing to keep our kids are safe at school?
My wife is a school teacher and I have grandchildren going to school every day, so like you, I am extremely concerned about gun violence and I believe it is absolutely critical that we continue to address this problem. No student should be afraid to go to school, and although we have made some steps in the right direction, we obviously need to do more.
I supported, and the president signed, into law the Fix NICS Act, a common sense proposal that strengthens the information contained in The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to better protect the public, protect Second Amendment rights, and curb gun violence. I’ve been strongly supportive of legislation, like the 21st Century Cures Act, that invests critical resources to improving mental health servicesand preventing an individual from reaching that crisis point. I also voted in favor of the STOPSchool Violence Act, now signed into law, to help schools and law enforcement prevent, recognize, and respond to warning signs of violence.
I recently signed on to the Mass Violence Prevention Act, which would help prevent firearm violence by ensuring local, state and federal law enforcement can better share information and coordinate responses to potential threats of mass violence.
We must be focused on solutions that address the behavior behind these events and keep firearms out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. I firmly believe preventing acts of mass violence and protecting the rights our Constitution secures are not mutually exclusive policy objectives.
Let’s face it, Washington has a spending problem, and we absolutely must take tangible steps to reduce our deficit and debt. Both our fiscal and national security are at stake here. While we can certainly start with eliminating duplicative programs, wasteful spending, and fraud, if we don’t address the system producing these irresponsible, last minute spending deals we won't ever solve this problem.
By returning to regular order—moving spending bills through the committee process where we read, debate, and vote on them—will go a long way to bring transparency back to the budget and appropriations process. However, this requires holding members of Congress accountable. That’s why I’ve put in three bills to get our budgeting process back under control:
No Budget, No Pay Act-If Congress doesn’t complete a budget by April 15, members of Congress don’t get paid. Budgeting is the most basic responsibility of Congress. If this isn’t done, no member should be cashing in a paycheck.
Stay on Schedule Resolution-If members of Congress fail to pass all 12 government funding bills by the end of July, Congress would not be allowed to adjourn for August recess. If the job isn’t done, you don’t give up and head home for vacation. The same standard should apply to Congress.
Inaction Has Consequences Act-If members of Congress don’t pass all 12 government funding bills by the end of the fiscal year, resulting in a government shutdown, members would not receive their paychecks. Members should feel the consequences, like every other American would, for failing to get the job done.
A sincere thanks to all of the constituents who took the time to join me at these town halls. Being able to hear your thoughts and concerns is absolutely critical to shaping how I represent you. To make sure you don't miss out on where I stand on the issues, sign up here.