Tackling Issues For Our Families
This week, I had the honor of meeting with a high school class full of future leaders, notifying Columbia’s Samuel Ridgeway on his appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy, and speaking with the Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on the substantial progress we’ve made towards tackling this ongoing pandemic.
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler notifying Samuel Ridgeway on his appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Samuel is a freshman at the University of Missouri and attended New Franklin High School in New Franklin, MO.
As you will read below, much of my time was spent on issues which greatly impact our families at home as well as America as a whole. No matter the subject, I truly appreciate your thoughts on these matters and welcome your input to guide our district’s vast efforts.
Opposing Legislation to Enrich Politicians
On Wednesday, the House considered legislation which attempts to politicize our institutions, federalize our elections, and fund politicians’ campaigns. My office has received over 800 calls and letters from constituents urging Congress to reject this bill.
I agree with them.
For the countless time, Congress was presented with a blatantly misnamed bill which outlined a misguided agenda. It not only decimates election integrity, but pads politicians’ campaign coffers at the same time. Instead, we should work to provide meaningful reforms to improve and secure our elections, not create more opportunities for fraud and abuse.
If enacted, H.R. 1 would:
- Send government money to political campaigns — not to build roads or bridges, but to pad politicians' pockets by giving a 6:1 federal match for every campaign donation $200 or below! (i.e., If someone gives $200 to a politician’s campaign, the federal government will give that politician $1200 more!)
- Gives more government funds to Americans to donate to campaigns. Under the guise of a ‘pilot project’, voters in three states who request vouchers will receive $25 checks from the federal government so they can give it to a politician running for office. This is absurd! (And that $25 will also be matched 6:1 due to the above provision!)
- Legalize voting for convicted felons all over the country, even if they were convicted of election fraud.
- Weaken the security of our elections and make it harder to protect against voter fraud by legalizing ballot harvesting across the country and mandating same-day voter registration with no safeguards.
- Trample free speech by requiring the publishing of names and home addresses of certain donors to organizations who advocate for a candidate.
- Weaponize the Federal Election Commission (FEC) which oversees campaign integrity by making it a 5-member partisan body, instead of the current bipartisan 6-member body. This would entrench whoever is in power.
- Eliminate the need for a voter to provide photo identification with only a sworn statement verifying his/her identity. This move would leave our system wide open to increased voter fraud.
In sum: This bill is preposterous! As this legislation heads to the Senate, it is clear we must defeat this draconian bill. I will continue amplifying your voices to make sure the more aptly-named “Politician Payoff Bill” does not become reality.
Addressing Chinese Pharmaceutical Vulnerabilities
Last Congress, I was proud to introduce the bipartisan Pharmaceutical Independence Long-Term Readiness Reform Act to require the Department of Defense to identify the vulnerabilities faced by our country’s dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals, and to only purchase American-made raw materials, medicines, and vaccines for our troops. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I was successful in including part of this legislation requiring a study on the vulnerabilities in the annual National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
I am pleased that both the Trump and Biden Administrations have taken this vulnerability seriously by working to increase production of critical medical supplies and drugs in the United States. Recently, President Biden announced a 100-day review to address the vulnerabilities in our nation’s medical supply chain including using the Defense Production Act to stand up for more American-made pharmaceuticals like his predecessor. It is of vital national interest that we free ourselves from our dependence on China, especially as it relates to our health and basic safety.
Engaging with Battle High School Students
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of meeting virtually with students at Columbia’s Battle High School to discuss a wide array of issues. These 40 students are currently learning about the legislative branch and researching current issues they feel are important to the future of America.
As part of their project, we were able to connect and have a conversation with the entire class. Each student “representative” asked thoughtful questions during our time together on everything from the priorities of Congress to working in a bipartisan manner to get things done.
Engaging with our state’s youth is vitally important to empowering the next set of leaders who will guide our nation. As a former teacher, I was honored to engage with these classes and share my insights and perspective with these young, bright minds.
The State of our Children’s Mental Health
The state of our children’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being during this pandemic is truly a tragedy.
As recent reports suggest, school closures have really taken a toll on our youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the proportion of mental health–related visits for children aged 5–11 and 12–17 years old increased approximately 24 percent and 31 percent since 2019. This coincides with the fact that 63 percent of late teens and young adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic.
These troubling statistics underscore the importance of reopening our nation’s schools. While I am thankful to see that nearly 76 percent of Missouri’s school districts have returned to in-person learning, only 35 percent of America as a whole has transitioned back to the classroom full-time.
With school closures impacting approximately 55 million students throughout our nation, it is vital we make every effort to safely reopen all schools for our kids’ sake.
Tackling This Pandemic in Missouri
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, about Missouri’s COVID-19 response efforts. Next week, Missouri will be receiving around 60,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 76,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on a weekly basis in addition to receiving an initial 50,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
As our state observes cases significantly dropping for the seventh consecutive week, I was pleased to hear Dr. Williams discuss the importance of getting our kids back in school. He reinforced that the virus does not impact our children the same way it affects adults. Not having students in school impacts many other aspects of our communities, such as adding extra stress to parents trying to find childcare, with lower income families hit the hardest. It is time to fully open our schools and I am hopeful this can happen soon. It is encouraging to learn Governor Parson announced that teachers and staff will be eligible for the vaccine beginning Monday, March 15. Hopefully, this will enable every Missouri student to go back to school in-person and gain the tools, knowledge, and skills needed to build the best life possible for their future.
In other vaccine news, assistance is available to senior citizens who may need help registering for vaccinations and organizing transportation. The state is getting closer to vaccinating at least half of Missouri’s seniors, with 41 percent of aged 65-74, 33 percent of aged 75-84, and 47 percent of aged 85+ having received the shot.
More vaccines have been distributed to Missouri hospital systems, including the University of Missouri Health Care system. I encourage anyone interested and eligible for vaccinations to register and confirm their eligibility.