This Week in Washington

This Week in Washington – Marsha Blackburn – Congresswoman from Tennessee You will always hear the talk that things get done in DC when a deadline is looming and there is a lot of truth in that. It is important to know that there has been work and attention to those issues prior to getting to that deadline, so with consensus built, items can move forward. We had some good case in points this week. The budget process started in January with regular meetings of House Republicans. Working with Chairman Price, we brought issues forward to advocate for those policies to be included in the budget document. I succeeded in getting a few concepts included. Our budget, as passed, includes Blackburn provisions to reduce the federal workforce by 10% over the next10 years, a provision to divest the federal government of unused property and land, options for seniors on Medicare, zero based budgeting principles in the report language and establishment of the Defense and Military Readiness Deficit neutral reduction fund. This vehicle will serve as a way for us to hold the bureaucracy accountable for waste, fraud and abuse and to transfer that money to military accounts where it is badly needed. The budget version, Price 1 contained this amendment. Price 2 pre-filled the fund. $5.5 trillion less than what is currently projected is what our Republican budget will spend over the next decade. This is a solid step toward fiscal responsibility for our nation, both for today and for future generations. Our budget contains thoughtful and prudent first step reforms to begin the process of moving us away from fiscal cliffs and toward sustainable economic security. The House Budget also calls for $619 billion in total defense spending in FY2016, which is over and above the President’s request. I was pleased to work with my colleagues to ensure this budget reaffirms our commitment to maintaining a strong and robust national security policy. Many of you contacted us about H.R. 2, the Medicare bill before us this week. Our Docs caucus, led by Mike Burgess (R-TX) and John Fleming (R-LA) worked tirelessly to find a path to do away with the SGR – Sustainable Growth Rate – a budget gimmick that has never worked and has wasted billions. H.R. 2 goes to heart of this access problem by finally eliminating the flawed SGR. It’s a win-win-win for seniors, local healthcare providers, and hard-working taxpayers. This legislation is a common sense solution that will finally provide some certainty for healthcare providers and Medicare enrollees. By incentivizing doctors to keep the focus on quality over quantity of care we will keep healthcare costs down. Our rural hospitals will be so pleased to know that we finally achieved, after 10 years of work, a resolution to the TN Disproportionate share problem. This will preserve critical access in rural communities across our state. I have appreciated the opportunity to work with our local hospitals as we fought, together, through this issue. In nearly every conversation with the Congressman we have had in our district, the issues of Internet privacy, identity theft, and data security have been discussed. The Blackburn-Welch Data Security bill made its way out of subcommittee this week and is set to go to full committee after Easter. I look forward to continuing to work with all interested parties as we move this bill through the legislative process in an effort protect consumers by improving data security protections and setting a national breach notification standard for industry. You all regularly ask about the bills we are working on. This week I want to highlight one for you. It is H.R. 1673. This legislation is designed to protect hardworking American taxpayers. Currently, all profits made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are swept into the Federal Treasury and used to pay for profligate government spending. As a result, they are unable to build up the capitol reserves necessary to cover potential losses in the future. If there were a downturn in the housing market, it is very likely both Fannie and Freddie would need to be bailed out by the taxpayers once again. My legislation – H.R. 1673, the Enterprise Secondary Reserve Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act – will require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to create a secondary reserve fund that can only be used to cover losses. This will keep taxpayer dollars safe should either organization sustain losses. In our ongoing efforts to repeal and replace Obama-care, this week I also became an original cosponsor of HR 1547 the Family Health Care Flexibility Act. This legislation, introduced by Rep. Paulsen and Senator Barrasso will remove prohibitions on spending of flexible spending accounts and healthcare spending accounts. This legislation restores individual choice into healthcare and sharply contrasts with the government-run mandates of Obama-care. And speaking of the bad news about Obama-care, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read my Breitbart op-ed about Obama-care’s Five Years of Smoke and Mirrors. Palm Sunday and Holy Week are upon us. My hope is that you and your family will have time to share some special moments of joy and gratitude for the sacrifice our Savior made for us. I also am hopeful that you triumph in your annual egg hunt and partner with a child or grandchild for an egg toss. Spring is here so you will find me out shopping for plants at my local nursery!