From the Front" Representative Steve Womack
To start off this week's From the Front... I would like to thank all of the Arkansans who stopped by my Washington office during their visits to our nation’s capital, including John Bratcher of Fort Smith, the Jones family from Russellville, John Brown of Siloam Springs, Tara Love of Springdale, Ketaki Deshpande of Fayetteville, Beth Keck of Bentonville, Rick Collins of Fayetteville, Russell Diez-Canseco of Summers, Courtney Mudge of Fayetteville, Robert Waddell of Springdale, Dolores Chitwood of Van Buren, Sharron Herrick of Fort Smith, Cammie Scott of Springdale, Loir Rogers of Pea Ridge, John Vance of Conway, Kimberly Hollinger of Sheridan, Jeffery Hill of North Little Rock, James George of Benton, George Booker of White Hall, James Arel of Cabot, Shaun James of Fort Smith, James Lawler of Barling, DeDe Long of Fayetteville, and the On-Track student group at Arkansas Tech. Safe travels back to the Natural State.
This week, the House considered and passed on suspension the Veterans Affairs Billing Accountability Act (H.R. 1972), the Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment Act (H.R. 3642), the Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act (H.R. 3832), a bill to name the VA community-based outpatient clinic in Statesboro, Georgia, the "Ray Hendrix Veterans Clinic" (H.R. 3946), the Veterans’ Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act (H.R. 4245), the Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for Ensuring Progress Act (H.R. 4830), the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act (H.R. 4958), the Service-Disabled Veterans Small Business Continuation Act (H.R. 5044), the Veterans Affairs Purchase Card Misuse Mitigation Act (H.R. 5215), the Veterans Affairs Medical-Surgical Purchasing Stabilization Act (H.R. 5418), a bill to redesignate certain clinics of the Department of Veterans Affairs located in Montana (S. 1282), the Improving Oversight of Women Veterans’ Care Act (H.R. 4334), a bill to designate the VA medical center in Huntington, West Virginia, as the Hershel "Woody" Williams VA Medical Center (H.R. 3663), the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4451), the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act (H.R. 5682), a bill authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the Greater Washington Soap Box Derby (H.Con.Res. 113), and the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research Act (S. 292).
On Tuesday, the House brought the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act (S. 204) to the floor. S. 204 authorizes the use of eligible investigational drugs by patients who have been diagnosed with certain illnesses, who have exhausted the approved treatment options, and are not eligible to participate in a clinical trial.
Arkansas was the seventh of thirty eight states to adopt Right to Try legislation. I was proud to join my colleagues in giving terminally ill Americans and their families the same hope by allowing those who have exhausted all options to try potentially life-saving experimental treatments. S. 204 was passed by a vote of 250-169 (Roll Call #214).
After the passage of S. 204, the House considered the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155).
S. 2155 would modify provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and other laws governing regulation of the financial industry, providing regulatory relief for community banks and small financial institutions overburdened by regulations written for large banks. Since its passage, Dodd-Frank and its ‘one-size-fits-all’ regulatory approach have strangled community banks and inhibited their ability to support economic growth.
By passing this legislation, we are restoring faith in our local financial institutions and paving a less-restrictive way for Americans to have access to credit, mortgages, loans, and consumer protections.
This legislation provides relief from these burdensome regulations meant for big banks and will allow small lenders to better serve their customers and better meet the needs of the small businesses, entrepreneurs, families, and individuals in their communities. S. 2155 was passed by a vote of 258 to 159 (Roll Call #216) and was signed into law by President Trump on Thursday, May 24, 2018.
On Thursday morning, the National Defense Authorization Act Fiscal Year 2019 (H.R. 5515) was brought to the House floor. H.R. 5515 increases the authorization for military funding to $717 billion, provides the biggest pay raise for our troops in nine years, and makes critical investments in our military.
One of Congress’s most fundamental duties is to ‘provide for the common defense’ of our nation. The bipartisan NDAA focuses on restoring readiness, increasing capability, and reforming the Pentagon to better prepare our country for the threats we face today and the emerging global threats of tomorrow. Congress must continue to support the men and women stationed around the world defending our great nation. H.R. 5515 was passed by a bipartisan vote of 315-66 (H.R. 230).
After votes on Thursday, the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform held its third public hearing, The Budget ResolutionContent, Timeliness, and Enforcement.During this hearing, members discussed the annual budget resolution, including its intended purpose and possible options, presented by a panel of witnesses, to bolster its impact and influence in Congress.
Panelists included Maya MacGuineas with the Committee for a aFederal Budget, Jim Capretta with the American Enterprise Institute, former Senate Budget Committee staffer Bill Dauster, and Joseph White from Case Western University.
While this hearing was focused on the annual budget resolution, the discussion would have been incomplete without acknowledging the strong link between the budget and appropriations processes. We must set both up for success. In the days ahead, I look forward to working with the Joint Select Committee to consider solutions to make the budget resolution more useful and to better engage all members throughout the entire process.
This weekend, I am heading to the United States Military Academy (USMA) to attend graduation. As Chairman of USMA Board of Visitors, I am excited to see all the young men and women, who have worked tirelessly for the past for years, graduate from West Point. Congratulations, Graduates! Thank you for your service!
On Sunday, I will be attending one of my favorite traditions here in Washington, D.C. the PBS National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. On Memorial Day, we honor those who have given it all to make traditions like this possible.
Our freedom is not free, and I am forever grateful to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation and all of our men and women in uniform.