AMERICA'S STRENGTH AND CHARACTER PREVAILS, no matter what the situation or circumstance. What occurred in Boston on Monday was tragic and the thoughts and prayers of the entire nation are with the people of Boston, the victims and their families. Video of the day was difficult to watch, but it was truly inspiring to see so many good people respond the way they did, aiding victims and comforting others. The goodness and selflessness of the American people was on display throughout Boston and it's something for which we can all be proud.
While we are never immune to danger, the post-9/11 world presents new types of adversaries and this latest incident is a reminder that domestic and international threats continue to exist. And I have full faith and confidence in the ability of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to identify who is responsible and deliver justice.
BACK IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL, there's a lot on the agenda. Immigration reform and firearm legislation are under discussion by the Senate. Meanwhile, the House has launched the Fiscal Year 2014 budget process, beginning with the passage of the budget resolution several weeks ago. The President also submitted his budget to Congress last week, prompting a cache of department secretaries, military leaders and advocates to converge on Capitol Hill and report to congressional committees on their priorities.
IMMIGRATION REFORM PROPOSAL READY FOR INTRODUCTION--that's the word from members of the Senate leading negotiations. All eyes will be on the Senate bill once unveiled and many of the questions asked over the last several months might finally get an answer. I'm eager to review the Senate bill, but what I'll be looking for first and foremost is a strong enforcement component that ensures our borders will be secured and our nation's immigration laws won't be ignored.
One testimonial sure to catch attention: an increasing number of illegal entry attempts are occurring along the Southwest border, according to the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol.
GAO ADJUSTS HEALTH CARE COST PROJECTION. A little noticed report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office signals that the new health care law, set for full implementation in 2014, could add as much as $6.2 trillion to the long-term deficit.
NEW VA LEADERSHIP WANTED. Joining with Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, I recently authored an op-ed for the Washington Post calling for new leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The basis for the call is the sizeable backlog confronting the VA that continues to accumulate, as well as unacceptable delays in the delivery of benefits and services to veterans.
DEFENSE CHIEF SCRAPS DRONE MEDAL. Following legislation I introduced in the House gaining bipartisan support from more than 100 of my colleagues, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced this week that the Distinguished Warfare Medal, intended to recognize drone operators above traditional valor awards, will be scrapped. Instead, the DWM will be replaced with a device that can be affixed to existing awards. Credit is due to Secretary Hagel for responding to the concerns of Congress, veteran organizations and military members. A 90-day review will commence, drawing diverse and independent consultation to ascertain specifics for the device.
ANOTHER TAX DAY, COME AND GONE On April 15 of every year, millions of Americans scramble to meet the tax filing deadline. Most Americans who pay taxes are all too familiar with the time and preparation involved. And we are all reminded that comprehensive tax reform is long overdue. Some numbers to think about:
$168 billion--the amount American taxpayers spend each year to comply with the tax code;
13 hours--the time it takes the average taxpayer for tax preparation;
88 percent--the representation of small business owners that rely on outside tax preparers;
400 (plus)--the number of tax forms on the IRS website; and
1913--the year the 1040 form was introduced at three pages long.
BE SURE TO FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK. Staying in touch with you is important. By liking my Facebook page, you can stay updated between newsletters.
DHS AMMO REPORT RELEASED. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service provided some clarity on ammunition purchases by the Department of Homeland Security.