When the new acting IRS Commissioner, Danny Werfel, appeared before the Ways and Means Committee last week I had some simple questions for him. Who have you interviewed at the IRS that was connected with targeting conservative organizations? Who ordered the targeting to begin? Who knew about it? Who in Washington was involved? Who leaked private taxpayer information to the media and liberal organizations? Who at the IRS helped cover-up and conceal the abuse from the public and Congress?
His answers can be summed up in one phrase - "I don't know." And yet, he claimed in his recent report that there was no evidence of wrong-doing on the part of IRS employees. Really? This is unacceptable. His report was a sham and it seems that IRS employees have forgotten that they work for you - the taxpayers. The House Ways and Means Committee will continue to investigate and we will hold those guilty accountable.
In his global warming speech last week, the President proved - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that he is completely out of touch with Main Street Americans. He is proposing exactly what we don't need -- new federal regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants and more doubt for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Obama's misguided climate policies shows that pacifying global warming alarmists is more important to him than the energy independence he says he supports. Teeing up a new war on coal will cripple Texas power plants, raise energy prices and cost thousands of jobs. How is that an energy solution?
Texas can't afford the President's job-killing climate policies, so I'm working to move things in the right direction. Last week an amendment based on my More Energy, More Jobs Act was passed by the House as part of the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act. My amendment will help open up new areas for offshore drilling by compelling the federal government to act when state governors nominate areas for environmental impact and resources studies. This is just commons sense when our nation needs more jobs, affordable energy and the security of more North American-made energy.
Bury the Death Tax
What kind of government swoops in upon your death and takes nearly half of the nest egg you've spent your entire life building? Certainly not one that's interested in supporting family farms, small businesses and job creation. But that's exactly what happens over and over because of the immoral Death Tax. This tax remains the number one reason why currently more than 70 percent of family businesses do not survive to the second generation, and 90 percent of family businesses do not survive to the third generation.
Last month I joined Senator John Thune (R-SD) to reintroduce legislation in both the House and Senate which would permanently repeal the Death Tax. According to a study by former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, repealing the death tax would create 1.5 million additional small business jobs. That's almost an entire percentage point off the current unemployment rate! There's no reason to keep punishing the farmers, ranchers and small business owners with this unfair tax when it raises so little revenue, but it does drain the economy and inhibit job creation. Time to bury the Death Tax once and for all!
The Supreme Court surprised many of us last week by issuing a decision that repealed part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed by Congress by large bi-partisan majorities and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. While I was disappointed by the Court's decision, I think it's important to focus on what this law does not do.
It does not overturn state legislation, such as the law in Texas that defines marriage as being only between a man and a woman. It simply requires the federal government to respect individual state laws regarding marriage in respect to federal benefits. I want to reiterate my own belief that marriage is between one man and one woman and my commitment to protecting this sacred institution.
Protecting Our Innocent
Last month, the House passed landmark legislation to end late abortions. I am a proud co-sponsor of "The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act", which recognizes improvements in medical science. Thanks to amazing scientific advances, it's now possible for babies born at 24-26 weeks and weighing less than a pound to survive and thrive.
Our laws need to catch up with scientific knowledge on fetal pain and scientific breakthroughs that save the lives of babies born prematurely at younger and younger ages. Whether you are pro-choice or strongly pro-life, as I am, Americans can find common ground in acknowledging that abortion is no longer an option in a civilized nation like ours when babies can live outside the mother's womb or experience excruciating pain.
Bringing Texas to DC
Grant Manier, the winner of our Congressional Art Contest, was in DC last week to see his remarkable piece of art work hanging in the Capitol. It was truly a pleasure to finally meet this talented young man and his family in person.
Grant attends Focus Academy in The Woodlands and calls his work "COOLAGES" and his style "Eco-Impressionism." But what you didn't know about Grant might surprise you. Grant is autistic. However, he considers his autism a "gift," because he is doing his part "to teach environmental responsibility and raise awareness of autism talents." His autistic challenges include a repetitive behavior to tear paper, but he has channeled that challenge into beautiful art pieces. His amazing art is made from tearing scrap paper and the peeled off printed tops of discarded puzzle pieces.
Grant surprised me by presenting me with my own copy of his extraordinary art work to hang in my office, something I'll proudly do!
I love Independence Day and I'm looking forward to spending this one with my family and with the good folks in my community. We'll enjoy the festivals and fireworks, but it's the patriotic spirit that abounds on that day that truly makes it special.
"May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country!" - Daniel Webster
Happy birthday, America!