Guest Commentary: Focusing on Southwest Florida
There has been a lot of noise created by opponents of the conservative agenda about what the House of Representatives has been able to accomplish it the first six months of the 115th Congress. The House has sent 250 bills to the Senate – for example, bills to strengthen border security, to stop funding sanctuary cities, to roll back job-killing Obama era regulations, to fund Everglades and Lake Okeechobee Watershed restoration projects, to take care of our veterans and soldiers, to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a free market oriented, patient-centric plan, and to protect the lives of the unborn. I will continue to fight for the issues people care about and to counter the distractive liberal narrative.
Last November, the voters demanded enforcement of immigration laws and stronger border security, and conservatives listened. In June, I supported the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which cracks down on sanctuary cities; Kate’s Law, which strengthens penalties against deported felons who return to the United States; and funding to secure our southern border, with a wall and other technologies. The Senate needs to take action and send these bills to President Trump to ensure our safety and national security.
Perhaps the greatest success of conservatives so far is the massive rollback of the job-killing regulations enacted by the Obama Administration. By means of the Congressional Review Act, Congress and the Trump Administration have overturned fourteen burdensome regulations, creating billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. I was proud to sponsor one of these bills, H.J.Res. 67, which overturned an Obama regulation that forced employers to automatically enroll workers in government-run IRAs without the important consumer protections that private IRAs must follow. My bill was signed into law by President Trump on April 13.
Next, there is no greater impact on our local economy than the Everglades and the Lake Okeechobee Watershed. They have a $2 trillion economic impact on the state and support 55 percent of the real estate value in Florida. For every dollar invested in this ecosystem, it produces $4 in economic benefits. I have met with President Trump and key appropriators in Congress about the importance of increased funding for Everglades restoration. I remain committed to fighting for these projects.
Caring for our veterans and active-duty service members, without whom our freedom would not be possible, is a top priority of mine. This year, Congress passed reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make it more effectively serve our veterans and to hold VA employees more accountable for their performance. In another important move, the House of Representatives voted to increase pay for our troops by 2.4 percent, the largest raise in the last eight years.
Further, on May 4, the House passed the American Health Care Act, which would return care decisions to patients and provide them a means of purchasing insurance from a competitive market. While the repeal and replacement effort has stalled in the Senate, I am optimistic that the process will re-engage and the Senate will act – Obamacare and its exchanges have failed.
I am continuing to fight for the rights of the unborn. Taxpayers should never be forced to pay for abortions, an act which many find morally reprehensible. I supported the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act to make the Hyde Amendment, which bans taxpayer funding of abortions, permanent. Additionally, I voted to repeal an Obama regulation that allowed Title X funding to go to abortion providers.
While we are off to a good start, the work of conservatives is far from over. I will continue to work on reforming America’s complex and confusing tax system and on reforming the series of welfare benefits to assure that able-bodied persons who can work are required to work.
I will continue to work for our Southwest Florida community, our state and our nation to get our country back on track.
– Francis Rooney is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 19th congressional district. He serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008.