View From the Capitol - Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler's Newsletter for the Week of May 6-10, 2013
The U.S. House took an important step, this week, in the effort to give working families the option of choosing paid time off instead of overtime wages. We’ve approved the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.
I had the opportunity to address this important subject during a U.S. House floor speech, pointing out that public-sector employees have had the flex time option for almost 30 years. It’s time private-sector workers had the same opportunity to spend more time with their families or time engaged in other interests away from the workplace.
The Working Families Flexibility Act modernizes outdated regulations to allow private-sector workers to voluntarily choose paid time off as compensation for the overtime hours they work. It will remove the obstacles standing in the way of working families better balancing work and family obligations.
The Working Families Flexibility Act will remove an outdated federal mandate that prohibits private-sector workers from benefitting from the personal option of flex time. I call on the Senate to follow the lead of the House by passing this bill.
On another matter, I am pleased that three career diplomats with knowledge of the events surrounding the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya were given the opportunity to testify before a House committee this week.
Mark Thompson, the U.S. State Department’s Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism; Gregory Hicks, the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service Officer and former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya; and Eric Nordstrom, the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Officer and former Regional Security Officer in Libya all provided insight and thoughts on what really happened when four brave Americans were killed.
As you might recall, the American people were first provided a story about a video being responsible for inflaming a group of Libyans, enraging these individuals to the point they decided to attack the U.S. consulate and murder Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The decision was then made to not disclose al-Qaeda’s role in the attack.
Mr. Hicks’ emotional account of what he experienced that night raises questions about the attack and whether more could have been done to assist U.S. personnel on the ground. And he told the committee of his shock at hearing United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice telling American TV audiences that the deadly attack grew out of a protest over the video. Mr. Hicks said of the official White House line: “I was stunned, my jaw dropped and I was embarrassed.”
The American people deserve to know the truth about what happened in Benghazi and why a team of special-operations forces was told to stand down instead of heading to Benghazi to help. The effort to learn the truth is not a “witch hunt” as some have suggested. It is an effort to determine why four Americans died that night in Libya and to inform the American people.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which has held classified briefings and sought information of its own into the Benghazi attack, I must take strong exception to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comment, when questioned about Benghazi and the killings, “What difference at this point does it make?” It makes a difference to the families of those brave Americans whose lives were lost in Benghazi. Those families and all Americans have a right to know what happened and why it happened. I will continue to work with my colleagues to shed light on this sad event and to try to prevent similar such tragedies from happening in the future.
Have a good week.