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Plain and simple: the shutdown stalemate was unacceptable. The impasse should have been resolved weeks if not months before the October 1st deadline, when in June of 2013 the House began passing funding bills through regular order and initiating discussions with the Senate. Fortunately, the debate made a turn for the positive when the Senate Leadership dropped their insistence on reverting back to irresponsible spending practices, allowing Congress to come together on a responsible path forward.
Despite my frustration with the lack of leadership from both parties, I was encouraged by the ability of several of my Republican and Democrat colleagues to forge agreement on a bill, H.R. 2775, to end the partial government shutdown and avoid a potential default on the national debt, which would have threatened the retirement savings of millions of Americans. Given the immediacy of the situation, and my commitment to protect our economy and the financial security of my constituents, I voted to support H.R. 2775, which passed both the House and Senate last week and was signed into law. The measure also protected spending reductions and will prevent fraud and abuse under the President’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), including income verification for the law’s subsidies.
As you know, I have fought hard to repeal and replace the ACA, which I believe is disastrous for the American economy and for our health care system. I have also argued that the strategy of defunding the ACA would not succeed in ending the law, primarily due to the fact that it consists largely of mandatory spending, which continues regardless of a shutdown. I did, however, believe that the debate could serve as an important tool in bringing the Senate to the negotiating table when it comes to dealing responsibly with our growing deficit and debt, which are directly tied to the increasing cost of health care – and have only been made worse by the ACA. While H.R. 2775 included far fewer reforms than I had pushed for, the bill forces Congress to address our larger budgetary issues and some of the larger flaws under the President’s health care law. I believe passage of H.R. 2775 was a positive step forward in this debate.
Please continue on for more updates from Washington, D.C., and across the 5th District of Pennsylvania.
U.S. Representative Glenn 'GT' Thompson
President Obama Continues Push for Flawed Senate Immigration Bill: This week, President Obama called on Congress to pass the Senate's flawed immigration reform proposal, a bill that fundamentally misses the point when it comes to the issue at hand. For the past three decades, America has failed to enforce its immigration laws creating a system where the rule of law is no longer respected. Today, millions of undocumented immigrants reside in the United States illegally. While these individuals have traveled to this country for a host of different reasons, they’ve done so without respect for the rule of law, or the countless individuals who have gone through the process legally. In order for us to strengthen our legal immigration system we must first deal with securing our borders, rather than award those who have broken our laws by granting amnesty, as proposed by the Senate.
On the House side, the Judiciary Committee has held nearly a dozen hearings on ways to improve our immigration system and strengthen the enforcement of our immigration laws. The full House has also taken action on several individual bills. I am a cosponsor of H.R. 2131, the Supplying Knowledge-based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM Visas Act (The SKILLS Visa Act), which passed the House in March of 2013. This bill eliminates current visa programs that do not meet the needs of our nation and reallocates those visas based on the needs of our economy, to high-skilled immigrants who will help make us more competitive.
I will continue to push for a secure border, greater law enforcement, and policies such as H.R. 2131 that protect American jobs and promote economic growth.
Medicare Open Enrollment Season: I want to make sure that all of the seniors in the 5th Congressional District know that it's Medicare open enrollment season, which runs from October 15 to December 7, 2013. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact one of my offices (click here), visit www.medicare.gov, or call 1-800 MEDICARE (TTY 1-877-486-2048).
Protecting Consumers from EPA’s New Energy Regulation: On September 20, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its decision to move forward with a new energy regulation, the New Source Performance Standard (NSPS), which will prevent the construction of new coal-fired power plants. EPA's new coal regulation represents a direct attack on the American consumer, affordable electricity, and the economic security of Pennsylvanians. Coal provides almost 44% of power generation in the commonwealth; Unfortunately, the President’s plan to eliminate coal as a source of energy in this country, through mandates that are impossible to meet, will lead to higher utility rates for Pennsylvanians and impose harm upon local economies across the country. For this reason I will be working in the House to prevent implementation of this harmful regulation (click here).
Picture: Thompson joins the Congressional Coal Caucus to rally against the EPA's new coal regulations.
Letter to White House Opposing U.N. Arms Trade Treaty: In October of 2009, the Obama administration reversed the policies of both President Clinton and President Bush by committing the United States to U.N. Arms Trade Treaty negotiations. Despite overwhelming opposition from Congress and the American people, Secretary of State John Kerry recently signed the treaty, a decision that is sure to have far-reaching consequences for American foreign policy and our Second Amendment rights. In the Senate – which must ultimately approve the treaty by a two-thirds vote – a bipartisan coalition of Senators remains united in opposition to its ratification. It is absolutely critical that these colleagues stand strong in their opposition. Last week, I joined 180 Republican and Democrat colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama voicing opposition to this misguided and dangerous policy. If we are to stop this wrong-headed policy, it's critical for you to contact all of your federal representatives and voice your opposition. Click here to view a recent floor speech on this important issue.
‘GT’ visits with high school students discusses education, career paths: "Area high school students had a face-to-face discussion with Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Howard, on Friday. The meeting at Lock Haven University was part of Thompson's annual effort to get out and meet high school seniors emerging into the work force and into political constituency. Thompson said the outreach program gives him a chance to meet as many as 600 graduating seniors and covers a broad range of topics..." (Lock Haven Express, 10/19/ 2013)
Rep. Thompson doesn’t see reason for attack on Syria: "U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson doesn’t think the United States has any business whatsoever unilaterally launching missile strikes against Syria…President Barack Obama seemed intent on calling for limited strikes as punishment for the chemical attack on Aug. 21. He’d vowed a response if Syria, whose president has been fighting with rebels for two years, crossed a “red line.” Thompson indicated he would not vote for military action..." (Centre Daily Times, 9/4/2013)
Thompson calls for end to standoff: “U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday night and called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and President Obama to end the “hard-line, no-negotiations stance”..."Today the House passed the Head Start for Low-Income Children Act, the 10th bipartisan funding bill to pass the House since the shutdown began…The program remains a priority of the President’s, yet the White House just announced a veto threat on the bill. If this isn’t a purely political move, I don’t know what is...We need to end this shutdown and get on to dealing with the challenges our constituents elected us to solve…” (DuBois Courier Express, 10/11/ 2013)
Dismantling the President’s Harmful Health Care Law: Over the past two terms, I have voted to dismantle the President's harmful health care law that is driving up costs, jeopardizing seniors’ access to care, and making it harder for small businesses to hire. Here’s a look at the bills that have passed the House and Senate and have been signed into law. The list includes measures, passed into law last week as part of H.R. 2775, that prohibit federal financial assistance from being provided to individuals who purchase health care coverage through the new state exchanges until an income verification program is in place (click here).