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April 20, 2018

One Step Closer: the Farm Bill


On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee, of which I am a senior member, passed the Farm Bill out of committee.


This is great progress! I am pleased the Agriculture Committee was able to pass this important bill in a timely manner. Missouri farmers work hard every day to feed the world, and they need the certainty of a five-year Farm Bill. This bill strengthens safeguards for our food supply and improves public/private risk management programs that are vital to American agriculture by reauthorizing and bolstering Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs while maintaining our current crop insurance program.


“I believe we have a good crop insurance in place and it needs to stay,” Randolph County Farm Bureau President Ryan Britt said. “Crop insurance is vital to stability and the choices that we, as farmers, make. We need to have the confidence to go out there, put the crop out, and know our kids are going to have a chance to farm the same crop we do.”


The Farm Bill also makes significant investments in rural broadband, including a provision I authored to expand access to loan guarantees for broadband infrastructure in rural America and to set a minimum speed for federal investment. 


"Access to reliable broadband is essential for our rural communities to continue to grow and thrive in today's technologically-advanced world,” Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst stated. “Rural Missourians should not have to settle for less connectivity than our urban neighbors. We are pleased to see Representative Hartzler and her colleagues undertake this important task to ensure federal dollars are invested in the technology of the future, not the past.”


I also authored language in the bill to increase grazing flexibility for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands. 


“Grazing flexibility has a giant benefit to landowners and wildlife,” Glen Coleman, a Cass County landowner said. “It simplifies work for mid-management, it’s safe, and it’s good for soil health. The language Rep. Hartzler put into the bill is great.”


The Farm Bill also makes historic improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and helps recipients break the cycle of poverty. Improving work opportunities for able-bodied adults receiving federal nutrition assistance is a key development in the bill. The changes will build upon current voluntary work programs that have proven effective in our own state by providing training to every able-bodied adult on SNAP so they can get the skills they need to secure one of the six million unfilled jobs currently in our country.


“SNAP recipients in Missouri who have work requirements coupled with job training have been able to secure employment that reduced or eliminated their reliance on SNAP benefits,” Dr. Jo Britt-Rankin, Associate Dean of Mizzou’s Human Environmental Sciences Extension, said. 


Missourians have always supported giving their fellow man a hand up, and these common-sense improvements to the nutrition program will help those receiving SNAP find meaningful employment.


Wednesday was an important step to continue to give farmers stability, expand broadband in rural areas, and help SNAP recipients out of poverty. You can find more highlights of the Farm Bill here and FAQs about the SNAP program here. I look forward to the upcoming floor vote to move this process forward.

Out with the Old Tax Code, in with the New


Tuesday was Tax Day, and it was the last time that Americans had to operate under the old tax code! In December, I was pleased to join my colleagues in passing a substantial overhaul to America’s tax law. The new law, commonly known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, has simplified our tax code while providing relief for nearly everyone who pays taxes. 


The new tax code will help hard-working families in Missouri and across the United States who, for too long, have had to focus on just getting by instead of getting ahead. In particular, if you’re one of the 71% of Missourians who use the standard deduction, then you will see your exemption double this year to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. Working families will also benefit thanks to the doubling of the child tax credit to $2,000 per child.


Congress has also lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% – the highest in the industrialized world  – to a more competitive 21%.  Meanwhile, small business taxes are now the lowest they’ve been since World War II. What’s more, the new tax code keeps existing deductions for home mortgages, charitable contributions, and college tuition. 


Lastly, the new tax law repealed Obamacare’s unpopular and ineffective individual mandate. By eliminating this unfair tax, Americans will no longer be forced to buy government–dictated health insurance they don’t want, don’t need, and often can’t afford to use. They will also no longer be required to report it on their taxes. 


Fighting Russia’s War of Disinformation


Click here to view my speech on the House floor about the quiet war of disinformation Russia is waging against America.

On Tuesday, I delivered remarks on the House floor about Russia’s ongoing propaganda and disinformation campaign against the United States and our European allies.  It is crucial that we understand Russia’s objective in this campaign so we can confront it.


Retired Air Force General Breedlove, former head of U.S. European Command, told the House Armed Services Committee last month, “Russia sees the West, and in particular, a unified West, as an adversary…Exploiting divisions in U.S. society and promoting a ‘culture war’ is one key element of Moscow’s efforts to weaken the West.”


In other words, Russia has exploited and exacerbated political divisions in our country to destabilize our government and cause Americans to question the legitimacy of democracy itself. Missourians are no strangers to this effort: Russian trolls on Twitter who interfered in the 2016 election also interjected themselves into the 2015 protests at Mizzou.


It is vital that the United States develop a comprehensive strategy to counter this propaganda campaign. An important step towards this goal begins with us: we must all become critical consumers of information on the internet. The internet is now a battlefield and, as such, it is critical that we consider the source of any and all information that we consume online. 


You can view my full speech on the floor here


Hometown Hero: Army Military Child of the Year Rebekah Paxton

On Wednesday, I met with Rebekah Paxton, a 17-year-old high school senior from my very own hometown: Harrisonville, MO!  Rebekah was named the Operation Homefront Military Child of the Year® award, representing the Army this year. The award is given to military children who reflect and exemplify service, impact, and advocacy within their families, schools, and communities. 


Rebekah has seen firsthand the challenges facing veterans and their families.  Her father was a combat medic in the 82nd Airborne Division in the Army. He served for 19 years before being medically retired and he and his family have been dealing with his war injuries ever since.


As her parents dealt with her father’s condition, Rebekah became a defacto parent, taking care of her siblings and transporting them to their practices and her father to his doctor’s appointments. Through this time-period, Rebekah remained involved with The Word of Life Youth and volunteered more than 100 hours at the In the Light Dance Studio, working with children. She also babysat special-needs children twice a week, and was involved with AWANA, Girl Scouts, and Future Farmers of America. Additionally, she worked on her school’s yearbook and newspaper while competing in the University Interscholastic League. Rebekah has served as a volunteer for an extraordinary 800 hours.


It was a pleasure to meet Rebekah and I look forward to seeing what this accomplished young woman does in the future.


Putting Taxpayers First


Now that we’ve passed tax reform, it’s time to reform the Internal Revenue Services itself! This week my colleagues worked to do that very thing, passing a package of 9 bills in the House to reform the way the IRS works. This entire package was designed to put the people – not a government agency – first. 


One of the bills puts extra measures in place to protect taxpayers’ private information and overhauls the agency’s tools of enforcement to protect taxpayers. It also ensures the IRS is providing adequate resources for those who need help preparing their taxes, or at least giving taxpayers sufficient notice when a tax assistance center nearby shuts down.


The package also cracks down on the IRS selling certain types of property that they seize from taxpayers and puts extra measures in place to safeguard taxpayers’ identity. Additionally, if you have had your identity stolen, one of the bills would establish a single point of contact at the IRS with whom you can work if you have fallen victim to this sort of crime. Lastly, the bill package would require electronic filing of the annual returns of tax exempt organizations, like nonprofits, to reduce their costs and improve efficiency while also making it easier to detect when charities fraudulently spend donated money.


I’m pleased that we took important steps this week to make filing taxes and dealing with the IRS easier on American families and charities, and I look forward to the Senate taking up this important legislative package.


Interested in receiving a Harvard level education for free?

If you are a student considering attending one of our nation’s military service academies, or if you know a student who is interested, you’ll want to know about an event coming up tomorrow, on Saturday, April 21st: my annual Military Service Academy Information Day


At the event, students will have an opportunity to visit with representatives of all five service academies and learn about the schools, the application process, and the wonderful opportunity afforded by attending a Military Service Academy. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive a Harvard level education for free and to serve your country at the same time.


Any student who is thinking about applying to one of these prestigious institutions should consider attending this informational event. 


Again: it is scheduled for Saturday, April 21st from 10:30 am to 12:00 noon in Columbia College’s Lee Room, at 1001 Rogers Street in Columbia. The Lee Room is located in the cafeteria complex. All are welcome. 


I look forward to seeing you there!


And the Winner is...

On Saturday, April 21st, I will host a reception to announce the winners of my 2018 Congressional Art Competition. This year we received more than two dozen entries! 


The Congressional Art Competition is a nationwide high school visual art competition that recognizes and encourages artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. It began in 1982 and has since had 650,000 high school students participate. This Congressional Art Competition is one of the many district events I look forward to every year.


Our district’s first place winning artwork will be displayed in the underground corridor between the House office buildings and the U.S. Capitol for one year and the winner will be flown to Washington to see it unveiled compliments of Southwest Airlines. The artwork will join first-place pieces from each of the 435 congressional districts across the United States – each congressional district is allowed to display one winning piece. The second and third place winners, along with the People’s Choice Winner, will have the opportunity to have their works displayed in my offices in Washington, D.C., Columbia, and Harrisonville over the next year, where they can be enjoyed by visitors.


The reception recognizing the winners is open to the public and scheduled from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Columbia College’s Sidney Larson Gallery in Brown Hall, located at 608 Cougar Drive in Columbia. I hope you can make it!

Human Trafficking Summit in Columbia


I have a Human Trafficking Summit coming up on Monday, April 30 in Columbia. The event will occur from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Battle High School Performing Arts Center and it is free and open to the public. 


At the summit, Nanette Ward, who is a founding member of the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition, will speak alongside Emily Russell, who is the Executive Director of the Human Trafficking Task Force for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. Keaton Strong, the Human Trafficking Task Force Investigator for the Office of the Attorney General in Missouri, will also speak at the event, alongside Southern Boone County School District Superintendent Chris Felmlee and two trafficking survivors, Jessica Joy Neely and Tatianna Cruz. 


Human trafficking is a horrific crime. It is essential that lawmakers work with law enforcement, victim specialists, human trafficking survivors and others to combat this form of modern-day slavery, which is why I’m hosting this seminar to raise awareness.


I hope you can attend this program.


Photos of the Week



On Tuesday afternoon I spoke with RFD-TV about the Farm Bill and how it safeguards our nation’s food supply.


Wednesday was the big day: the House Agriculture Committee marked up the 2018 Farm Bill! This 5-year, rigorous piece of legislation will continue to help farmers who produce our food and make historic improvements to the SNAP program. 

The Good News about Tax Reform





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