I am pleased to announce that we added another co-sponsor to H.R. 25, the FairTax. On February 24, 2010, Congressman Parker Griffith became the 61st Member of the House to co-sponsor the FairTax in the 111th Congress. It gives me great pleasure to have Congressman Griffith join as a supporter of this fundamental tax reform legislation. For additional information about the FairTax, please visit my FairTax website at: http://linderfairtax.house.gov/.
Taxes and Economy
On Monday, the Senate agreed to H.R. 4532, legislation previously passed by the House on February 4, 2010. I was pleased to co-sponsor this commonsense bill that actually saves the Federal government $60 million by codifying a successful demonstration project into Federal law. Furthermore, this bill simplifies the complicated claims process for individuals applying for benefits by allowing for attorney and non-attorney fees to be withheld as part of the Social Security and SSI programs. Click here to see the Statement for the Record I submitted during House consideration of this bill.
I signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 510, legislation introduced by Representative Ron Kind (D-WI) to amend the Internal Revenue Code to standardize the payment of excise taxes for industries that pay the Firearms Ammunitions Excise Tax (FAET). The FAET, levied on recreational equipment, contributed over $336 million to support conservation causes in 2009 alone. At present, small businesses and manufacturers are responsible for paying this tax on a bi-weekly basis. However, in keeping with my desire to simplify the tax code, H.R. 510 makes this tax payable on a quarterly basis, thus reducing the administrative burden facing small businesses and manufacturers. To view the text of this legislation, please click here.
On February 23, 2010, I was proud to work with my colleague, fellow dentist, and fellow co-chair of the Congressional Oral Health Caucus, Mike Simpson (R-ID), to educate our House colleagues on the use of dental amalgam, sometimes called silver fillings, by thousands of dentists across the country. For many years, dentists have been using dental amalgam to repair teeth in a safe and cost-effective manner. In fact, you probably know someone in your family who has a silver filling. Unfortunately, some Members of Congress have been trying to stop dentists from using this effective medical device, and have even suggested that it might be harmful. I am happy to say that the best scientific evidence shows that silver fillings cause no harmful health effects. I will continue to work with Representative Simpson and the American Dental Association in the future to ensure that dentists are allowed to consult with their patients on the use of dental amalgam. To view a copy of the letter, please click here.
On February 24, 2010, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4626, the inaccurately named "Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act." While some would have you believe that this bill is going to bring greater competition to the health insurance market by allowing the Federal government to prosecute health insurance companies for collusion and price-fixing, in reality, this bill was nothing more than an attempt to score political points and ignore true health reform. Health insurance companies are already regulated by the various states, and at any time, a state insurance commissioner or attorney general can sue an insurance company for violation of anti-trust laws. If the state already has this power, there is no reason for the Federal government to have it too.
There is a place for the Federal government in our society, but its place is not assuming the responsibilities of the states. This bill was a power grab by the Federal government. We have to stand up for our principles of limited government even if it seems unpopular. I am proud to have stood with 18 of my fellow House Republicans in opposing this unnecessary bill. To view the text of this legislation, please click here.
I joined my colleagues to become a co-sponsor of H.Res. 870. This bill simply expresses Congress' gratitude and appreciation to those individuals who participated in the Taxpayer March on Washington on September 12, 2009. In some small measure this bill offers a "thank you' to all the Americans who took time away from their daily lives to visit their lawmakers in Washington. To view the text of this legislation, please click here.
I co-sponsored H.R. 3380, the "Promoting Lending to America's Small Businesses Act of 2009." This bi-partisan legislation will increase the member business lending limit of credit unions from $50,000 to $250,000, thus making more capital accessible to small business owners and entrepreneurs. It is important that small business owners and entrepreneurs are afforded the opportunity to grow and improve upon their businesses for they are the lifeblood of our economy. To view the text of this legislation, please click here.
I am pleased to share with you some exciting news about our nation's military R&D program. The U.S. Army, in conjunction with the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, is leading the largest effort in regenerative medicine in the world. These studies are helping our nation's military men and women, who have lost limbs and other appendages, to regain a sense of well-being. The Military Infection Disease Research Program and Combat Casualty Care Research Program will showcase these studies on March 3 at 10am in the Rayburn House Office Building. For additional information about the regenerative medicine program, please visit: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=58088
Foreign Affairs and National Security:
This week I became a co-sponsor of H.R. 4463, the "Military Tribunals for Terrorists Act of 2010." This legislation would require that any foreign terrorist or anyone with links to terrorist networks be treated as an enemy combatant and be tried before a military tribunal as opposed to being tried in civilian court. To try these individuals in civilian court could compromise U.S. intelligence sources and our national security. These individuals are being charged with war crimes, and as such, I believe they should be tried in military court. To view the text of this legislation, please click here.
Support for the Iran Sanctions Act -- Under the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, foreign companies that provide investments over $20 million for the development of petroleum resources in Iran are eligible to be sanctioned by the United States. On February 18, 2010, I, along with 29 of my House colleagues, both Democrat and Republican, sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking that the State Department continue investigating foreign companies who may be in violation of this Act and to disclose the names of those companies to Congress. To read a copy of this letter, please click here.
On February 24, I joined my colleagues on the Water Caucus to host a series of panel discussions on water resources management. The issues are complex. Many actors are involved in the process, both at the municipal and Federal levels. At the Federal level, there are 22 Federal agencies responsible for water resources management. Rather than combine them into one bureaucratic behemoth, we have to make the government we have work better and smarter. That means that we need to increase coordination and streamline information-sharing and data. To view a copy of the panel's discussion paper, please click here.