President Declares Emergency on Southern Border
On Friday, the President declared a national emergency on the southern border and announced he would be using his executive power to redirect federal funds to build additional barriers there.
This declaration was necessary to protect our border from the flow of deadly drugs into our communities and the illegal immigrants who circumvent our laws. Speaker Pelosi’s insistence on protecting illegal immigration over securing our border left the President with no choice but to declare an emergency. This could have been avoided.
I appreciate the President’s resolve and determination to protect our borders and address the dangers of the deadly narcotics and illegal immigration that threaten our families and communities. His emergency powers give him the authority to redirect funding to protect the American people, and I believe there are non-defense areas of the government where it is appropriate to do so. I stand by him on this issue, and I will continue to monitor this solution to ensure it champions national security as well as border security.
Red Light for a Bad Green Deal
Most of us can agree it is our duty to protect our complex environment and do our part to leave the world better than we found it. However, the far-reaching Green New Deal introduced by freshman U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez goes far beyond caring about the environment and instead seeks to reinvent America as a socialist society.
The Green New Deal (GND) is an example of the radicalism we have now come to expect from new leadership in the House. This initiative proposes extreme ideas such as getting rid of “farting cows,” airplanes, and most of the cars on the road today (click here for the details). It would attempt to reverse the technological strides agriculture has made in production efficiency and environmental stewardship and cost America trillions of dollars to “upgrade or replace every building in the United States with state-of-the-art energy efficiency.” The GND also promises to “guarantee a job with family-sustaining wages” to everyone. It is important to be good stewards of the earth that our kids and grandkids will inherit from us, but wise stewardship can be accomplished without imposing socialism onto these future generations with all the increased national debt, inhibited innovation, and the stifled freedom that comes along with it.
In 2017, U.S. carbon emissions were the lowest they’ve been since 1992, proving that America has successfully worked to reduce its environmental impact. While far-left radicals continue to propose unrealistic “deals,” I will continue to pursue effective solutions through common-sense policy as I have with farm bill provisions that encourage innovation and improve upon existing conservation and energy programs utilized by farmers and businesses across America.
Working Together for Missouri
State legislators and I discussed how we could work together on the issues most important important to Missourians in the Fourth District at my “Working Together for Missouri” event in Jefferson City.
Last week I had the distinct pleasure of hosting my first ever “Working Together for Missouri” event back home in Missouri. I invited state legislators that represent areas within Missouri’s Fourth District, and we came together to discuss how we can join forces to help the Missourians we represent. While together, we discussed issues ranging from drug abuse and health care to workforce development and agriculture.
Fighting the blight of drug abuse in our district continues to be an ongoing challenge, so we discussed ways that federal efforts intersected with those at the local level. I shared information about recent bills Congress has passed to help with this problem and grants that are available to help communities combat the opioid crisis. It is common-sense that we can accomplish more by working together on this front.
We also discussed health care costs, an issue that is at the forefront of most Americans’ minds. Specifically, we collaborated on how Americans can gain access to Associated Health Plans, an avenue the President has proposed to lower health care costs. Associated Health Plans allow industries similar to each other to pool their employees so they can gain access to cheaper plans on the market. The President’s proposal on this front is working nicely.
Another proposal that is working nicely for many Americans is the federal tax cuts Congress passed into law last year. This plan has resulted in hard-working men and women keeping more of their money and spending it as they see fit, which has led to a more robust economy. State legislators also cut Missouri taxes so Missourians are seeing tax breaks in two ways! While on the topic of taxes, we also discussed the issue of online sales taxes. Many cities and counties are missing out on sales tax revenue because of an unfair sales tax collection system that requires individuals to pay a sales tax when purchasing a product in a brick-and-mortar store, but doesn’t when the same product is purchased online. Many states are looking at correcting this issue so that mom and pop stores can be on level footing with out-of-state online competitors.
At the “Working Together for Missouri” event, I shared my experience visiting the U.S. Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona.
I also shared with our local representatives how I recently visited the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and saw for myself that members of the cartel are oftentimes better equipped than our Border Patrol officers. We talked about drones being used to avoid Border Patrol detection when drug-runners want to send illicit products over the border, and how the agents I visited agreed that we need better security. I shared with them details of my legislation the House passed that would give our border patrol agents the authority to take down rogue drones, and how this increased authority will help overall security.
Finally, we spoke about the Farm Bill, which state representatives and senators were eager to discuss with me, as I serve on the House Agriculture Committee and worked on the Conference Committee to settle the final version of this bill. I’m pleased to report that the 2018 Farm Bill we passed shortly before Christmas will ensure a safe, plentiful, and affordable food supply for our country, while simultaneously providing a strong safety net for farmers and ranchers across the nation.
I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet with local legislators in Missouri to discuss these important issues, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.
The State of the Union is Strong
I spoke to local TV after the President’s State of the Union speech last week, sharing my thoughts that his address was uplifting and positive.
President Trump’s State of the Union address last week laid out an optimistic agenda to move this country forward. Thanks to tax reform and a booming economy, our union is strong, but we still have important work to do. The President spoke of the need for an overhaul of our immigration system to encourage safe and legal immigration, and I agree. This can only be accomplished by securing our southern border. We must stop dangerous criminals who circumvent U.S. law by slipping across our border and put the brakes on the flow of illegal drugs coming into our country from Mexico. Having secure borders is a crucial extension of our national defense.
Confronting the Demand for Human Trafficking
Last week I introduced the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, which would help law enforcement agencies fight sex trafficking by providing them with more federal grant money. Many law enforcement agencies have initiatives in place to confront the demand for sex trafficking (prosecuting those who purchase commercial sex), but they lack the funds to make these initiatives fully effective. This bill will expand already existing federal grants to law enforcement agencies who will use the funding to fight sex trafficking demand. Law enforcement must have the tools needed to fight against this horrific problem, and this bill will help.
Better Care for Our Veterans
I introduced legislation this week to help make the VA more competitive in hiring top-quality health care practitioners to care for our veterans. This bill removes some of the barriers standing in the way of the VA hiring the best of the best health care providers. First, it authorizes the Veterans Health Administration to begin the recruitment and hiring process for health care providers up to two years prior to the completion of doctors’ required training (which is on par with the recruiting timeline for the private sector). Second, it releases doctors from non-compete agreements for the purpose of serving in in VA hospitals. And, third, it requires medical professionals to complete their residency before beginning their practice. America’s veterans deserve the best care - this is one way we can help ensure they get it.
Get Your Kicks on Route 66
One of the most famous highways in the world is Route 66, which winds its way from Chicago all the way to Santa Monica, California. The year 2026 marks its 100th anniversary, and I was pleased to support a bill commemorating this special occasion. The legislation calls for a plan to recognize the 100th anniversary, ensuring that Route 66, which is visited by people from all over the world, remains a national treasure for many years to come.
Missouri is one of the eight states that “America’s Main Street” passes through, with three of MO-4’s counties – Pulaski, Laclede, and Webster – making up part of the historic highway. I encourage you to take some time to travel Route 66 through our district and state, from St. Louis in the east to Joplin in the west. The drive is dotted with gas stations, motels, and restaurants from the past, and is sure to evoke fond memories for some and new memories for others.
This bill has now gone to the Senate for its consideration.
Photos to Share
I enjoyed checking out the cockpit of an F-18 and getting to see the advanced F-15 production line at the Boeing facility in St. Louis.
Last week I had an informative meeting with the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program about their efforts to confront the drug epidemic in the Midwest.
The Show-Me Chapter of the Association of Civilian Technicians dropped by my office in Washington to discuss with me Tricare for National Guard technicians.
I was pleased to have my Missouri staff visiting this week in Washington, so my entire team could collaborate on how we will work together to help Missouri’s Fourth District in the upcoming year.
Dose of Good News
Great news: the Missouri Department of Transportation recently announced that traffic fatalities are down from the previous year. In 2018, 918 lives were lost, while in 2017, 932 lives were lost. More Missourians are buckling up when they get into their cars and trucks, with a recent survey indicating seatbelt use is up to 87 percent. This statistic is an important contributor to our good news, as 60% of our state’s traffic deaths involve those who are not using seatbelts. Buckle up and stay safe!