Newsletter: Honoring the Bravery of Missouri Task Force 1
In this edition:
Thank you for taking the time to read my newsletter!
This week, our thoughts and prayers are with those victims of Hurricane Harvey, and those in the path of Hurricane Irma. I supported a funding bill for relief efforts earlier in the week. However, I could not support the final version due to changes that were made in the Senate which increased our debt ceiling and failed to fully fund our government and our national defense until the beginning of next year. With all the threats facing us in this country and the accidents that have occurred as well as the loss of American soldiers due to lack of training and maintenance issues on our aircraft, I felt we needed to ensure they had the funds that they needed. I was disappointed the funding bill for defense could not be included in the support package.
While I'm very supportive and glad that help will be going to our fellow citizens facing these disasters, I look forward to continuing to work with the president and with others to address the defense shortfalls and ensure they get the funding they need in the next appropriations bill.
I also honored the brave members of Missouri Task Force 1 in a speech on the House floor this week because of their outstanding hurricane relief efforts. In just one day during Hurricane Harvey, the team made more than 300 water rescues and evacuations. Deployed to Houston for 14 days, these skilled crew members risked their lives to save the lives of others in Houston. I want to thank them for putting their lives on the line to help others in their time of need. You are all worthy of our respect, appreciation and honor.
You can watch my speech by clicking here, and feel free to share it!
Enabling Lower Lunch Prices and Restoring Control Back to Schools
In a major win for students, parents and school administrators, the House passed my school lunch affordability amendment this week! My amendment restores all control over local lunch prices to the school districts and school boards. The current federal rules require many schools to raise their lunch prices even if they don’t need to. My amendment corrects this oversight and empowers local school administrators to lower lunch prices as they see fit.
If schools need to raise prices to cover their cost, that won’t change, but if a school wants to lower their prices, the federal government shouldn’t stop them. Local schools deserve permanent relief and local control, not more mandates and bureaucratically approved waivers.
Thankfully, my amendment will correct the regulatory overreach in our school lunch programs and put parents and school administrators back in the driver's seat.
Protecting Free Speech from Big Government
(I met with Barronelle Stutzman and Jack Phillips this week to announce 86 members of Congress signed on to an amicus brief advocating for free expression and an end to the latest form of big government intrusion. Jack owns and operates a bakery and Barronelle owns a floral shop, and both have become victims of government overreach trying to coerce them to act in a way that violates their beliefs.)
Religious liberty and free speech are under attack in America, and I am committed to defending these crucial freedoms that make our country great. That is why this week I led an amicus brief in the House in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a Supreme Court Case in which cake designer Jack Phillips is fighting against a government ruling that he use his creative talents to support same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Jack has owned and operated his bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Colorado since 1993. He has always taken pride in his cakes as works of art and serves all. Now he faces a lawsuit because he declined to use his artistic gift to violate his faith.
In a similar case, Barronelle Stutzman, who proudly owns and operates her floral shop Arlene’s flowers, faces legal challenges simply because she did not want to participate in a same-sex ceremony. For her entire career, Stutzman has served people who identify as homosexual, and even employed them, but when she declined to create floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding ceremony, the government came after her.
Both of these cases demonstrate what can go wrong when the government begins policing speech, and just how serious this battle has become. A government that tells you what you can’t say is bad enough. A government that tells you what you must say – and punishes you if you don’t – is frightening. That kind of state power should scare all of us, no matter where we stand on this issue.
Americans have always had the freedom to believe, the freedom to express those beliefs, and the freedom to not express beliefs and ideas they disagree with. All we’re asking is that these cherished freedoms be preserved.
(I hosted a press conference on Capitol Hill this week to support Jack Phillips and Barronelle Stutzman in their fight for free speech and religious liberty. My colleagues Rep. Mike Johnson, Sen. Mike Lee, Rep. Jody Hice and Rep. Doug Lamborn joined me. I’m thankful for their support in this fight for freedom from government control.)
I want to thank Jack and Barronelle for their courage in standing up for their beliefs. I will continue fighting to protect Americans from any attempts to make them violate their faith. Thank you for your support, and I am optimistic the Supreme Court will side with freedom and the Constitution!
Last but not least, I want to wish the Kansas City Chiefs good luck as the season kicks off. The march to Superbowl LII has begun!
Have a great week!
Yours in service,
Member of Congress