|SITREP - June 1 2012|
This was an unusually productive – and bipartisan – week in Washington. We passed a dozen or so pieces of legislation, and I wanted to give you a rundown on some of the key ones:
First, we overwhelmingly passed H.R. 5651 – The Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012. By a vote of 387 to 5. The bill reauthorizes a number of provisions and institutes reforms at the FDA that will improve predictability, and transparency of its regulation of drugs and devises. It will also combat drug shortages and will ensure lifesaving drugs get approved in a timely manner.
Second, by a vote of 390 to 2, we passed H.R. 4201 – The Servicemember Family Protection Act. In a nutshell, the bill will change current law so that the deployment of a divorced servicemember cannot be used against that individual in custody proceedings following the divorce.
Third, we unanimously passed H.R. 1299 – The Secure Border Act of 2011. This bill will end the haphazard approach that the Department of Homeland Security has taken to border security by demanding – in law – that the Department actually present to Congress a strategy in written form that explains how the Department is going to achieve a secure border.
Fourth, by a vote of 391 to 2, we passed H.R. 915 – the Jamie Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act. The bill establishes a task force within Immigration and Customs Enforcement that is designed to facilitate collaboration among federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies – information sharing in particular.
We also unanimously concurred with the Senate in passing an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program – something that is particularly important for Florida.
And last but not least, I led the debate off on the rule for several bills including the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2013, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, and the Homeland Security Appropriations Act.
I’ll have more to report on these next week, but for now, let me just say two things: First, each of the four bills I just mentioned were reported out of committee unanimously. And each of them fulfilled the fiscal commitments we outlined in the Ryan Budget. With the way things have been going, that is a big development and I think the committee members deserve a lot of credit for coming up with consensus legislation. In particular, of those bills, I am proud to announce that the House has kept its promise and increased funding again this year for the Department of Veterans Affairs. With all of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, we are determined to make sure that the VA has the personnel necessary to handle the increasing number of disability cases, PTSD cases, and so on. When it comes to prioritizing federal spending, we don’t shortchange veterans. In my book, that’s a given.
While none of these bills can be characterized as a silver bullet for the country’s problems, I think the House can learn something from this week’s success. When folks are able to work together to find consensus, we can get some results for the American people. And at the end of the day, it is the results that really count.