News briefs from Congressman Francis Rooney

Congressman Francis Rooney statement on Syria

“The administration’s decision to remove our remaining troops from Syria is strategically short-sighted, erodes our credibility amongst our regional partners and fortifies Russia’s position in the conflict. The Syrian Kurds have been a critical ally in the fight to eradicate ISIS, and they continue to be a crucial partner in the stabilization of the region—holding thousands of foreign ISIS prisoners that our European allies refuse to accept and administering refugee camps that ISIS holdouts hope to infiltrate and exploit. Abandoning the Kurds at this time and supporting by default Turkey’s offensive military action will divert Kurdish resources now being used to stabilize the region and will erode global confidence in the US.

“I urge the President to reverse his decision of removing our troops, and to send a strong message to Turkey—along with our other NATO partners in Europe—that we support the Kurds who have been fighting with us.”

Congressman Rooney Introduces Bill That Prohibits Use of Federal Funding for State and Local Bailouts

Washington, D.C. – On Friday, Congressman Francis Rooney introduced the Government Bailout Prevention Act. This bill would prohibit the use of federal tax dollars by insolvent state, territory, and local governments to bail out and pay off their obligations.

Congressman Rooney stated, “American taxpayers do not like when their money is used to bail out failing corporations or businesses and this dislike extends to state and local governments who are fiscally irresponsible. I have consistently voted against irresponsible spending and subsidies. All levels of government; federal, state, and local, must be better stewards of taxpayer money. While I continue to fight for fiscal responsibility in Congress, I believe that state and local governments should not be bailed out for their fiscal mismanagement. It is time for accountability and honesty.”

Background:

  • Senators Young, Toomey, and Cotton introduced the Government Bailout Prevention Act in the Senate on July 15, 2019.
  • This bill also prevents the federal government, including the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury, from paying or guaranteeing state and local obligations if that government entity has defaulted, filed for bankruptcy, or is at risk of bankruptcy or default.

Congressman Rooney Votes to Terminate National Emergency Declaration

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Rooney voted in favor of terminating the National Emergency Declaration that was issued on February 15, 2019.

Congressman Rooney stated, “My vote to terminate the emergency declaration is consistent with my previous votes on this issue and consistent with the rule of law and the Constitutional separation of powers. The appropriation and allocation of money is the sole responsibility of the Congressional branch. For well over 50 years, Congressional timidity has nurtured a steady evisceration of the Article 2 powers of Congress relative to the Executive Branch.”

“My vote in no way relates to the very real need to secure our border. It is important to not only secure the border, but also to reform our disastrous asylum and immigration laws. However, the ends do not justify the means. I have sponsored, cosponsored and voted in favor of multiple bills to accomplish this and provide fixes to our broken immigration and visa systems.”

Hepatitis A awareness and prevention – Heed FLDOH and CDC directives

Washington, D.C. – With the increasing cases of Hepatitis A in the State of Florida, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkess recently declared a Public Health Emergency for the state. While Lee and Collier County currently have less than 80 cases of Hepatitis A in total, residents of Southwest Florida are encouraged to follow the directives from the Florida Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control. They are also advised to vaccinate against the virus and follow simple preventative measures like washing their hands regularly.

Congressman Rooney said: “I appreciate the Surgeon General’s leadership in combating the current Hepatitis A outbreak. It is immensely important to heed the messages from the Florida Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control. It’s encouraging to see the Surgeon General and CDC Director Redfield are coordinating their efforts to alert the public and help prevent this outbreak from further affecting Floridians and citizens across the country.

Background, via the Florida Department of Health:

To view the number of cases of Hepatitis A county by county in Florida, please visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/vaccine-preventable-disease/hepatitis-a/surveillance-data/index.htm
Since 2018, there have been more than 22,000 cases of hepatitis A in the U.S. and more than 2,500 case in Florida. On Nov. 28, 2018, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) issued a hepatitis A health advisory emphasizing awareness and prevention through vaccination.
After someone uses the bathroom—use soap and warm, running water and wash for at least 20 seconds.
Hepatitis A vaccination is the best protection against the virus. Most vaccinations come in two doses given six months apart.

Congressman Rooney Cosponsors Bill that Enhances Coordination of Veteran Suicide and Mental Health Services

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Francis Rooney cosponsored H.R.3495, the Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act. This bill would provide financial assistance to nonprofits and organizations that provide and coordinate suicide prevention services for veterans.

Congressman Rooney stated, “It’s our government’s responsibility to care for the brave men and women who have served our country. Despite significant increases in VA funding for mental health and suicide prevention services, the veteran suicide rate has continued to remain unchanged as approximately 20 veterans lose their lives by suicide every day. We must do more to act on this national crisis.”

“I am proud to cosponsor this bipartisan measure which provides for a larger community that is focused on solving this crisis. Our freedom would not be possible without the service of America’s veterans and I am thankful for their hard work and sacrifice. I am committed to taking care of our veterans and active servicemen and women.”

Congressman Francis Rooney Officially Becomes Member of the Environment Subcommittee

Congressman Francis Rooney has officially become a member of the Environment Subcommittee on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Congressman Rooney joined the House Science Committee just prior to the August recess and participated in his first meeting this week.

Ranking Member Frank Lucas welcomed Congressman Rooney to the Subcommittee. “I’m pleased to have Francis Rooney as a member of our Environment Subcommittee,” said Ranking Member Frank Lucas. “Rep. Rooney has established himself as a strong voice on the issues that impact his district and I look forward to working with him on practical policy solutions to environmental challenges.”

Congressman Rooney stated, “Southwest Florida has a tourism-driven economy that depends on clean water and a healthy environment. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over much of the non-defense, Federal environment research programs that provide innovative solutions to our environmental challenges. One of the biggest challenges for our community is the threat of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB’s). Serving on this subcommittee will allow for a more precise impact on the solutions to HAB’s and other challenges. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues on the committee to address these environmental challenges including the impacts of offshore drilling, rising sea levels and temperatures, and acidity in our air and waters.”

Rooney bill to ban offshore drilling in Eastern Gulf of Mexico passes House of Representatives

The House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 205, the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act, which would make permanent the moratorium on drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, east of the Military Mission Line. The bill passed by a vote of 248 – 180 and will now head to the Senate for consideration.

Congressman Rooney said, “Offshore drilling off the coast of Florida would create an industrial coastline less appealing to visitors, hinder our military readiness, and adversely affect our environment. I want to ensure that all areas east of the Military Mission Line in the Gulf of Mexico are permanently protected from offshore drilling, so these negative consequences do not transpire. Floridians overwhelmingly support the idea as evidenced by the 69% approval of a 2018 state constitutional amendment banning offshore drilling off the coast of Florida. The military has supported this as well, since the Eastern Gulf is America’s largest testing ground.”

“I thank Speaker Pelosi and House Leadership for taking up this bill and my colleagues who voted in favor. Hopefully our Florida Senators Rubio and Scott can accomplish moving this legislation to passage in their chamber and that President Trump will support Florida’s critical imperative by signing it into law.’

Background:

  • The Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act, H.R. 205, was introduced by Congressman Francis Rooney in January of this year.
  • The Eastern Gulf of Mexico hosts the Gulf Test Range, a 120,000 square mile range that stretches from the Florida panhandle to the Keys. The vast size allows the testing of hypersonic weapons, combat maneuvers training, drone testing, and untold future operations of weapons and platforms that will not only need space for testing, but also restricted access areas for classified operations.
  • The moratorium on drilling and exploration in the eastern gulf will expire in 2022 unless the Senate and President act.
  • Floridians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Florida Amendment 9, which would ban offshore drilling for oil and natural gas off the coast of Florida, by 69% to approve this amendment.

Rooney: We must act now to stop mass killings

Congressman Rooney stated, “As we mourn the senseless loss of life in Dayton and El Paso, we must also take action to prevent similar tragedies from occurring elsewhere. We need to commit to a serious, bipartisan review of how to avoid guns getting into the hands of unstable people. This is a multi-faceted challenge to our society.

“In the 115th Congress I voted in favor of the Fix NICS Act, which mandates that federal and state authorities report relevant information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The sex offender database offers an analogy to this process, whereby states are required to share information for proper background checks and demonstrable results have been achieved. This legislation was signed into law last year.

“In the present Congress, I am a co-sponsor of the TAPS Act, which is bipartisan legislation that offers state and local authorities the same training and support to identify mass shooters as the Secret Service and FBI. I also support instituting red-flag laws similar to those enacted in Florida following the tragedy at Parkland, and a Violent Threat Restraining Order (VTRO) process that balances the need to interdict dangerous people while preserving due process. On March 5, 2018, nineteen days after the mass killing at Parkland High School, I published a summary of a series of measures, including these, which should be undertaken to stem the violence. This summary can be found at https://francisrooney.house.gov/ .

Congressman Rooney and Senator Lee introduce HERO Act to rehabilitate higher education for the modern student

Congressman Francis Rooney introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity (HERO) Act along with Senator Mike Lee to promote alternatives to 4-year college, cap federal student loans, and hold colleges and universities accountable to student success.

Congressman Rooney stated, “Student tuition inflated 439% between 1982 and 2007, in part due to the excess of federal loans available. A 2015 study done by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed that for each additional dollar the federal government allows students to borrow, colleges and universities increase their tuition by 60 cents. The HERO Act would streamline Federal Student Loans and create caps to ensure that students can afford their education, and pay back their loans once they graduate.

“Further, education policy should be dictated at the local and state levels, and not by an out of touch bureaucracy in Washington. Many students have aptitudes and career goals that do not require and are not enhanced by college. Perhaps this is why only about one-half of college students today manage to graduate within six years. Higher education should respond to the needs of our economy and today’s job market. This legislation allows states to accredit innovative non-traditional programs like online courses, apprenticeships, or vocational schools to better prepare today’s students for the modern workforce.”

Background:

The HERO Act
• Caps undergraduate student loans at $30,000 with a 15-year repayment period
• Caps graduate students loans at $40,000 with a 25-year repayment period
• Introduces reporting measures on whether students graduate on time, how burdened by debt students are after obtaining their degrees, and the success rate for graduates in a particular major at obtaining jobs that enable them to pay back their loans
• Requires that universities repay 10 percent of the student default amount (minus the Federal unemployment rate)

Congressman Rooney Introduces Bill to Stop Government Employees from Getting Paid Taxpayer Dollars for Union Activity

Congressman Rooney introduced the Do Your Job Act to end official time, an abusive practice where government employees use paid time off to perform union duties.

Congressman Rooney stated, “Union official time is a taxpayer funded subsidy that cost hard-working Americans at least $162.5 million in 2014. Unions and federal agencies never report exactly how many federal workers are being granted official time, and at least hundreds of federal employees spend 100% of their time engaging in union activities while on the clock. This is a clear abuse of taxpayer dollars, and it does nothing to advance the interests of the American people who end up paying for it.

“The only restriction on official time is that it can’t be granted for internal union business, but it happens anyway. There’s no reason for federal workers to be paid a government salary to perform union work. I introduced this bill to stop this unfair practice and to ensure that federal employees are working for all taxpayers, not for unions.”

Background:

The Do Your Job Act would limit the amount of official time granted to a federal employee to the time that the employee is on a non-duty, or unpaid status. It also removes the current requirement that federal agencies grant official time under the Federal Labor Management Relations Act (FLMRA).