Congressman Hunter's July 4th Newsletter
As we commemorate the Fourth of July, Americans take the day to gather with their friends and family and celebrate the ideals upon which our country was founded. Built upon a vision of a federal government representative of all its citizens, the House of Representatives was specifically designed to be the representation of the people.
In that light, over the past few months, the House has continued to advance legislation that will strengthen our national security, ignite our economy and reduce burdensome government regulations. During the 115th Congress, the House has passed 768 bills with 186of them signed into law by President Trump. These include:
The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act which expanded the job market and increased take home pay for working families across the country.
The INTERDICT Act, a bill to reduce the flow of fentanyl and synthetic opioids across our borders.
The Right to Try Act, a bill to give critically ill patients the ability to try innovative and potentially lifesaving therapies.
The list keeps growing. President Trump recently signed the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act, the most significant pediatric cancer research bill ever passed by Congress. As a father, I recognize the importance of this legislation, and the opportunities for childhood cancer research, enhanced quality of life for childhood cancer survivors, and increased pediatric expertise at the National Institute of Health that it will provide. The STAR Act will help deliver hope and pathways to cures for children and their families.
Another piece of legislation signed into law was the VA MISSION ACT, which builds off the Care Veterans Deserve Act, which reforms the way veterans access care outside the VA. Specifically, the bill establishes the Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP) to guarantee veterans care from outside health care providers if VA facilities cannot meet their needs.
Border Security and Immigration
With much focus on our country’s broken immigration system, I recognize that there are different viewpoints on how our immigration laws should be structured--and I welcome a vigorous debate on how to improve our immigration system.
We are a country built on immigration. From our nation's founding to the present day, immigrants from around the world come to the United States in search of opportunity and a better way of life--and they have added much to our society. No matter where someone is from, immigrants should be treated with dignity. But we are also a nation of laws, and those laws need to be followed by everyone.
Since entering Congress, I have been a staunch advocate for a secure border and strong enforcement of our immigration laws. This includes expansion of the strong border infrastructure we have in San Diego to other areas of the border, and requirements for employers to use E-Verify. We must ensure legal immigration channels are being used properly, and that employment-based visas are not being abused. Without all these common-sense reforms, any further effort to fix our immigration system will fall short of the changes needed for our country to achieve a strong immigration system, and gain control our border.
The opioid crisis affects every community. In 2016, 4,654 Californians’ lives were cut short by opioid overdose. In 2018, it is estimated that more than 2 million Americans will suffer from opioid addiction. The House took major steps in June to address this crisis by voting on dozens of bills to improve access to care for individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders, provide our health care system with tools and resources it needs to care for patients, and help prevent future misuse of opioids.
These bills will help ensure unused opioids don’t go from our medicine cabinets or health care facilities onto the streets and into the wrong hands. This is a critical step in combating the opioid crisis, especially when you consider that many people don’t use all the opioid pills they’re prescribed.
While Congress and the Trump Administration are working to address the opioid epidemic, there is still so much more work to do. To find out what Congress is doing to combat the opioid crisis, please visit www.opioidcrisis.gop.
North Korean Summit
In a historic summit, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un met in Singapore and came to an agreement that North Korea would work towards full denuclearization. This was the first meeting of the U.S. and North Korea in multiple decades. While I am pleased with the outcome of this summit, I remain aware of the past failed attempts to make deals with North Korea. I remain unchanged in my resolve that the United States must continue to modernize its ballistic missile defense capabilities. There are other threats to our nation, specifically Russia, and we must always be prepared.
National Defense Authorization Act
On Monday, June 18, 2018 the Senate passed its version of the NDAA. It authorizes a $716 billion defense funding bill and will now move into Conference for reconciliation of differences between the two versions of the bill. Among the topics to be reconciled within the joint conference committee include a reform of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the U.S. ban on ZTE, and discrepancies between numbers of ships and fighter jets authorized by the House and the Senate. I look forward to working with my colleagues to come to an agreement on a bill that will ensure our warfighters are able to defend our country from enemies foreign and domestic.
The 2018 Farm Bill
California’s farmers and ranchers are critical to our state and our district. You’ll be pleased to know that the 2018 Farm Bill strikes the right balance between fiscal responsibility and providing certainty and stability to our farmers.
The Farm Bill also reforms the SNAP program to help empower and lift people out of poverty. Among those changes is a reasonable work or training requirement for able-bodied adults without dependents. By implementing these sensible reforms, people will have the tools to improve their lives. I want everyone to have a ladder to climb to success and prosperity, but too often government programs trap people in a cycle of poverty and dependence. I believe this bill will go a long way to providing opportunities for millions of Americans and their families.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
Last week also marked the six-month anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Since its passage, we have seen significant benefits from this landmark reform of our tax code. Nearly 4 million workers across the United States received a bonus from their employers, unemployment is at an 18-year low, wages are up, and the economy is thriving.
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.