Congressman Hunter's February Newsletter
Last night we heard the story of American revitalization. In his State of the Union address, President Trump highlighted our strong economy, job and wage growth, a surging manufacturing sector, our strengthened military and the bipartisan achievements we have accomplished over the last two years. The President also laid out a bold agenda that puts America first. And I believe that Congress has a real opportunity to come together to achieve some great things.
Together with the President, I believe that America has unlimited potential and I choose greatness. Looking forward, I will continue to work with our President to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers, to rebuild and revitalize our nation’s infrastructure, to reduce the price of healthcare and prescription drugs, to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern, and secure, and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America’s interests first.
First 100-Day Initiative
Over the course of my public service, I’ve worked consistently with constituents, community groups, and businesses to reduce the burdensome bureaucracy of the federal government. To continue these efforts, I announced a legislative roadmap of what I want to accomplish in my first three months in office, which I call the “First 100-Day Initiative.” Over the course of the first 100 days of the 116th Congress, I plan to introduce legislation in a variety of policy areas to implement common-sense reforms that will benefit the lives of everyday Americans. This plan includes steps to protect American citizens, create jobs and cut through the red tape in Washington.
Specifically, I began by re-introducing several measures which include:
- Authorizing Moderated Enumeration Responses Including Citizenship Acquisition (AMERICA) Act—Protecting the Privacy of Americans: Every year, millions of Americans are required to complete the U.S. Census’s American Community Survey. The survey collects significant personal information, which goes well beyond what is required by the census provision in the Constitution. Even worse, current law subjects citizens to criminal and civil penalties for refusing to complete the survey. Protecting personal information is why I introduced the (AMERICA) Act which will enhance privacy and ensure citizens are only required to complete a numerical count and citizenship status, as required by the Constitution.
- Burial Rights for American’s Veterans’ Efforts (BRAVE) Act—Modernizing the burial allowance benefit of veteran families. Since 1917, a government benefit program has been in place to ensure that the loved ones of veterans are able to better afford burial costs. Unfortunately, the last update to this benefit came in 1973 when the allowance was modified to reflect a service connection element. With today’s average burial cost being about $10,000, I reintroduced my legislation the BRAVE Act, which will provide changes to include an index for inflation for the $2,000 provided for death from service-connected disability and will raise the $300 provided for non-service-connected death or veterans with no next of kin to $749 as well as an index for inflation.
- Fulfilling Obligations to Families of the Fallen Act—Ensuring military families have all the resources they need during the most difficult times. Currently, men and women in the military are enrolled in Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI) automatically, however, very weak notification requirements are in place when changes are made to the policy or service members decline coverage. Circumstances have arisen where the surviving family members of deceased active-duty personnel did not learn that the service member had declined insurance coverage until after their death. It is for this reason, I reintroduced the Fulfilling Obligations to Families of the Fallen Act, which will ensure military families are aware when changes are made to their coverage involving Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI). Specifically, this bill will improve the process by requiring active duty members and their spouses to submit a notarized document acknowledging any changes or declined coverage regarding their SGLI policy.
- No Funding for Sanctuary Campuses Act—Holding jurisdictions and entities accountable if they defy federal immigration laws. Among my top priorities in Congress is advancing policies to secure our border and enforce our immigration laws. And if colleges and universities deem themselves 'Sanctuary Campuses' and deliberately ignore federal immigration law at the American taxpayer's expense, I believe that Congress must withhold federal funding until there is compliance with federal law. These backwards policies across college campuses is why I reintroduced the No Funding for Sanctuary Campuses Act, which will deny federal funds from going to institutions that refuse to cooperate with federal efforts to enforce immigration laws.
- A bill to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. Under current law, trial lawyers can bring citizen suits against local water districts, even if the problem is minor or has already been addressed. These shake-down tactics used by trial lawyers to enrich themselves do nothing to improve the environment and needlessly fleece millions of dollars from water districts and their ratepayers. My legislation will put an end to this practice. To learn more about the legislation, click here.
As your Congressman, I will continue to work across the aisle, and with members of my own party, to find common ground and bipartisan solutions on behalf of California’s 50th Congressional District and the American people. It is my hope that my colleagues across the aisle will give these bills full consideration and I look forward to introducing other measures in the coming weeks and months.
As you know, President Trump struck a deal with Congressional Democrats to reopen the government until February 15, which provides an avenue to negotiate a long-term government funding solution. In San Diego, we know first-hand that strong border infrastructure is imperative. The double layer barrier that was installed between San Diego and Tijuana works—crime has dropped, drug flows have slowed and communities near the border are now thriving. Other communities along the border deserve the same level of security. It is my hope that over the next week, Congressional Democrats will finally come to the table in good faith to seriously negotiate a bipartisan deal to fund the government and solve the crisis at our southern border.
Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Eddie Gallagher
If you have read previous editions of my newsletter, then you know that I’ve been critical of personnel cases within the armed forces. One of the most recent cases I’ve directed my attention and energy to is Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Eddie Gallagher. I have personally reviewed Chief Gallagher’s case thoroughly and my staff has met with his family and remained in consistent communication. Chief Gallagher stands accused of murder in the killing of a verified ISIS combatant in a warzone based on inconsistent testimony and without any physical evidence. It is important to remember that this ISIS combatant was engaged in an extensive firefight with Chief Gallagher’s team and was already significantly injured when captured. No credible evidence has been provided that this ISIS fighter was murdered as opposed to dying from his terrorist actions. I am significantly concerned that this is another example of the over-aggressiveness of the Navy JAG Corps showing its bias against our warfighters. It was for this reason, I wrote a letter to President Trump asking him to personally review and dismiss this case as well as a second letter with Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to express our dismay and strong concern for the pending legal matter. Just this week, Chief Gallagher made progress in his case. A military judge presiding over the case dropped two charges that he had been facing. This is good news—but he still faces serious charges, and I’ll continue to monitor this case closely.
Maj. Matt Golsteyn
Another case I’ve been focused on for several years is Major Matt Golsteyn. After a bomb maker killed three Marines in Afghanistan, the Army alleged that MAJ Golsteyn killed the bomb maker outside the rules of engagement (ROE). MAJ Golsteyn was later cleared of any ROE violation, but his case prompted a lengthy discussion on the rules for targeting the enemy. After eight years and two investigations, Golsteyn is now being charged with murder in the death of this Afghan man during his 2010 deployment. It is for this reason I stepped in on behalf of this former Green Beret, writing a letter to President Trump, asking him to review his case. I will continue to be a vocal advocate for MAJ Golsteyn, and I am proud to stand up, always, for individuals willing to risk their life for our country.
Visiting Washington, D.C.
If you’re planning a trip to our Nation’s capital, my Washington, D.C. office can help in scheduling Congressional Tours at some of the city’s most beloved historical sites. I recommend that you submit your tour request 3-6 months in advance of your visit. While you are in Washington, D.C., I encourage you and your family to stop by my office. If you have any questions, please contact my staff at (202) 225-5672. We will be happy to help you with any further requests you may have.
Are you a college student interested in getting an internship in politics or public service? Interns play an important role in constituent service, research projects, and more. To apply for full or part-time internships at my El Cajon and DC offices, please visit my website: https://hunter.house.gov.
Hearing from You!
As always, I hope to hear from you throughout the course of the year as Congress does its legislative work, in addition to providing effective oversight. Please contact my office with any questions, comments, or concerns. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter by clicking here, like my page on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to keep track of upcoming legislation and events.