114th Congress off to a fast start

Published 3:09 pm Tuesday, February 3, 2015

By U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne

As soon as I took the oath of office on Jan. 6, I was ready to hit the ground running making a positive impact on behalf of the hardworking taxpayers in southwest Alabama.

In last November’s midterm elections, the American people put forward a mandate for governing; they want to see results. Last year, more than 300 House-passed bills died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.  The American people have had enough of the stagnation in Washington.

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The tables have now turned and with the help of a Republican-controlled Senate, efforts are underway to advance an agenda of commonsense legislation addressing issues ranging from energy production to overregulation to health care.

The House has passed over 25 pieces of legislation in the month of January alone. Many of these were bipartisan bills that address a number of important issues. I wanted to briefly update you on some of those bills so you can see exactly what Congress has been focused on over the last month.

• H.R. 22: The Hire More Heroes Act: This legislation encourages businesses to hire veterans by exempting veterans who already receive health insurance through the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense from being counted toward the number of employees required by Obamacare’s employer mandate.

• H.R. 30: The Save American Workers Act: Businesses are cutting back on hours and leading far too many Americans into part-time work. This legislation restores the traditional 40-hour work week and rolls back a key provision of Obamacare by repealing the 30-hour definition of full-time employment.

• H.R. 3: The Keystone XL Pipeline Act: President Obama has run out of excuses on this job-creating project. This legislation authorizes the construction of the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline which would support approximately 42,100 jobs.

• H.R. 7: No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act: I believe every child deserves a chance to have a productive, successful life. This legislation prohibits the expenditure of funds from being used for any abortion.

 • H.R. 203: The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act: Military suicides remain a serious issue in the United States. We can do better. This legislation overhauls veterans suicide programs by increasing access to mental health care and improving the quality of care.

• H.R. 33: Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act: Volunteer fire departments are incredibly important to our nation, but particularly our area. This legislation ensures that volunteer fire departments are not counted as full-time employers under Obamacare’s employer mandate.

• H.R. 185: Regulatory Accountability Act: Excessive government regulations are causing businesses to raise prices in order to meet federal regulatory demands. This legislation helps solve the problem of overregulation by requiring the Executive Branch to execute the laws passed by Congress in the least costly way possible.

• H.R. 161: Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act: We need an all-of-the-above energy strategy. This legislation modernizes the pipeline review process by establishing firm timelines and creating true accountability for the review of pipeline applications.

Each of these bills represents a commonsense solution to the problems facing the American people. They aren’t overly complicated bills that place undue burdens on the taxpayer, but rather they focus on getting the bloated federal government out of the way.

We are just getting started. In the coming months, the House is set to consider legislation to expand individual freedom, hold the government accountable and promote greater opportunities for children and middle class families. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on our progress.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne represents the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.