Here is a quick update with the latest in what is happening in Washington. As always, please let me know whenever I can be of assistance. Keep in touch and remember to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Also, for updated information check out my virtual office and encourage your friends and family to sign-up for my montly e-newsletter, the Aderholt Address.
Robert B. Aderholt
Member of Congress
American Energy = American Jobs
House Republicans support a true all-of-the-above energy strategy that will create jobs, improve the economy, and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. As part of this effort, the House passed H.R. 1613, the Outer Continental Shelf Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreements Authorization Act on Thursday and H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act on Friday.
These bills would expand U.S. energy production by removing federal barriers that block production of our own offshore energy resources and by opening new areas to oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. Collectively these measures would generate $1.5 billion in new revenue over ten years and create over a million jobs.
Additionally, earlier this year the House passed H.R. 3, legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline. This legislation would also provide greater energy security for America, create an estimated 20,000 jobs and add $20 billion to our nation's economy. For nearly five-years this proposal has faced unnecessary regulatory roadblocks at the hands of the Administration. The time to build is now.
All three pieces of legislation now await action in the Senate. I hope my colleagues in the Senate will get to work and pass these bills, joining the House in expanding American energy production that will help our economy grow and provide jobs here at home.
Last week, H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 came to the House floor for a vote. Unfortunately, partisan politics got in the way of sensible, cost-cutting reform and the bill failed.
I think most Americans recognize that farmers, ranchers and producers are vital to our nation--they create jobs in our communities, provide food for our tables, and export goods around the world. The FARRM Act, sponsored by Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, was about making meaningful reforms to our nation's agriculture and nutrition programs, while saving taxpayers nearly $40 billion, by taking a market approach to agriculture policy and through much needed reform to food stamp programs.
Though I remain fully committed to reducing federal spending, our divided government limits those opportunities and the failure of the FARRM bill was truly an opportunity missed.
At this point the future of agriculture policy is unknown, with the current policy expiring on September 30th. However, I expect the House to bring another farm bill to the floor in July and it is my hope that the House and the Senate can come to an agreement within the coming weeks that prioritizes our producers, reforms food stamps, and ultimately saves taxpayers money.
Protecting Students' Access to Education
Ensuring students across America have access to quality, affordable higher education is an important issue. Over the last decade, average tuition rates have more than doubled, making a college education less of a reality for many students and the availability and affordability of student loans more important than ever.
On July 1st, student loan interest rates are scheduled to double, unless action is taken. That is why last month the House passed H.R. 1911, the Smarter Solutions for Students Act that would move all federal student loans (except Perkins loans) to a market-based interest rate.
Specifically the Smarter Solutions for Students Act:
Resets student loan interest rates once a year, allowing rates to move with the free market and ensuring borrowers can take advantage of lower interest rates when available;
Protects borrowers in high interest rate environments by including a 8.5 percent cap on Stafford Loan interest rates and a 10.5 percent cap on PLUS loans;
Provides stability for low- and middle-income students working to finance their postsecondary education, and prevents future uncertainty about whether Congress is going to act in time to change the interest rate.
House Republicans believe it is time to move away from a student loan interest rate system that allows Washington to use student loan interest rates as bargaining chips and we answered the President's call to action to protect student borrowers. Whether student loan rates double next month is ultimately up to the Senate now. I hope they join us in doing what's best for student borrowers and swiftly pass, H.R. 1911.
Happy Fourth of July!
Most importantly, I wish everyone a happy Fourth of July. Over two hundred and twenty five years ago, British citizens in the American colonies embarked on a course of action that culminated in the formation of the United States of America. In doing so, they established a set of principles and ideals for government that we continue to honor today. They began a call that countless men and women across our nation have answered time and time again since then.
George Washington once said, "Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country.'
From all walks of life, heroes have emerged in the service of our nation. On this Fourth of July we celebrate the freedoms that these heroes -- past, present and future -- have so valiantly secured. We recognize their service and most importantly, we offer them our thanks.
Here is wishing you and your loved ones a safe and festive Independence Day.