News briefs from Congressman Francis Rooney

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).

Francis Rooney Joins House Science Committee

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas welcomed Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida to the Committee.

“I’m proud to welcome Representative Francis Rooney to the Science Committee,” said Ranking Member Frank Lucas. “Mr. Rooney has been an advocate in Congress for the environmental and energy issues that impact his community. He has done an outstanding job representing Florida’s 19th District, and I’m looking forward to working with him on our Committee’s priorities.”

“I thank Chairwoman Johnson and Ranking Member Lucas for supporting me in joining the Science, Space and Technology Committee,” Rooney said. “The Committee has jurisdiction over much of the non-defense Federal research programs that provide innovative solutions to our environmental challenges, which is important to Southwest Florida. We have a tourism-based economy which relies on clean water and a pristine environment. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues on the committee to address the serious challenges our environment faces, including ocean trash, the impacts of offshore drilling, rising sea levels and temperatures, and acidity in our air and waters.”

Congressman Rooney released the following statement on the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act

Congressman Rooney stated, “H.R. 397 is putting taxpayers on the hook for a broken system. Time and again, the management of Multiemployer pensions (MEP) has proven entirely irresponsible.

“Currently, 95 percent of participants in multiemployer pensions are in plans that are less than 60 percent funded. In 2018, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that a government bailout of the MEP system would cost American taxpayers over $100 billion, but the actual shortfall of these plans exceeds $630 billion. Bailing out the corrupt and imprudent actions of private firms is not the responsibility of the American public- it lies with the employers and unions who made those promises to the participants.

“Further, an MEP bailout sets a dangerous precedent for another pension system in crisis: state pensions. The state pension system currently has a $1.28 trillion funding gap, however this deficit is not distributed equally among all states. Just like the federal government should not bail out private firms, states with mostly-solvent pension funds should not be required to bear the burden for unfunded states.

“The Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act sets a dangerous precedent that unfairly burdens hardworking taxpayers with the disastrous outcomes of risks taken by private firms. The multiemployer pension system is broken, and this bill does nothing to fix it.

Congressman Rooney votes NO on bill that massively increases our nation’s debt

Congressman Francis Rooney voted for fiscal responsibility and against a massive increase to our national debt. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 would raise spending caps by $322 billion and suspend the debt ceiling until July 31, 2021. Earlier this year, the White House proposed $574 billion in potential spending cuts, none of which are included in this legislation.

Congressman Rooney stated, “This budget act fails the American people, especially our children and grandchildren. Saddling future generations with insurmountable debt instead of making the hard decisions on spending is irresponsible legislating. Just a campaign cycle ago, Republicans across the country ran on a platform of balancing our budget and eliminating our debt. I intend to continue my opposition to out of control Washington spending.

Background:

  • According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, this bill will add $1.7 trillion to public spending over the next 10 years
  • While the bill increases spending by $1.7 trillion over the next decade but only provides $77 billion in offsets
  • The projected debt ratio approaches 100% of gross domestic product by 2029
  • The United States is currently over $22 trillion in debt – about $174,000 per household
  • The United States is on pace to hit $24 trillion by the end of 2020

Congressman Rooney votes for increased pay for workers

Congressman Francis Rooney voted in favor of H.R. 582 – the Raise the Wage Act. This bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to gradually increase the federal minimum wage for regular employees over a 6-year period. It also provides for a review by the General Accounting Office of the impact of the 1st and 2nd year increases to assure that there are no adverse consequences.

Congressman Rooney stated, “This 6-year gradual increase brings the minimum wage in line with inflation. The 6-year increases avoid disruptive changes to the workplace. Earlier this week I offered an amendment, which was rejected, to establish a “purchasing power parity option” which would allow states and cities to adjust the wages for local conditions. What $26 buys in Ft. Myers may cost $50 in New York City.  While this would have been a better option, the bill that passed will provide the gradual increases necessary to improve worker pay, keep up with inflation and mitigate the wage inequality which has increased over the last 20 years.

Background:

  • An amendment has been included to require the Government Accountability Office to submit a report to Congress, between the second and third scheduled increases, on the economic and employment impacts. The report is a safeguard which will allow Congress to determine whether further legislative action is needed to delay or modify the remaining scheduled wage increases.
  • Most CEOs support the minimum wage increase as planned – a gradual raise over a set period
  • Wage inequality is a major challenge we face, and a gradual increase will help mitigate this issue
  • The federal minimum wage has been raised 22 times since its creation in 1938, under both Republican and Democrat Administrations
  • The current federal min wage, established in 2009, is $7.25
  • The bill eliminates the separate minimum wage requirements for tipped, newly hired, and disabled employees. After a specified period, these employees shall be paid the same minimum wage as regular employee.

Congressman Rooney’s statement on “no” vote on partisan resolution to hold AG Barr and Sec. Ross in criminal contempt

Today, Congressman Francis Rooney voted against a resolution to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Jr. in criminal contempt of Congress for failing to respond to subpoenas issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

These subpoenas were issued on April 2, 2019 in relation to the addition of a citizenship question on the census, which was ruled upon by the Supreme Court on June 27, 2019. No further action is warranted.

Further, the administration has submitted over 31,000 pages of documents and Commerce Secretary Ross publicly testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform for over 6 hours in March.

Congressman Rooney votes against partisan NDAA bill that weakens our National Security

Congressman Rooney voted no on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2020. This partisan legislation included many restrictions on securing our border and weakened America’s ability to respond to threats around the world. A very different version of the NDAA was passed by the Senate 86–8.

Congressman Rooney stated, “The NDAA is generally a bipartisan measure that provides for the defense of our country, as proven by the Senate version which passed 86-8. I had hoped to see similar bipartisanship in the House of Representatives, however there were numerous poison pills inserted that made it impossible to support. We must secure our southern border, humanely care for unaccompanied minors, and allow the military a full array of options when dealing with friends and foes around the world – this legislation was counter to all of those goals.”

Background – This legislation:

  • Prohibits any use of DoD funds for any wall funding/construction/repair purposes and restricts DoD ability to respond to threats at the southern border
  • Includes a mandatory 30-day advanced notification and certification of troop deployment to the border
  • Limits funding for housing for unaccompanied children at the border
  • Significantly reduces nuclear modernization programs and hypersonic weapons programs
  • Mandates at least 23 studies and 75 reports
  • Places multiple restrictions on military aid to allies and partners

Rooney votes to support the heroes of 9/11

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Francis Rooney voted in favor of H.R. 1327, the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act.

Congressman Rooney stated, “We owe it to the brave first responders who risked their own lives to help save others, to provide them with full compensation for medical treatment made necessary by their service during the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I was honored to support this bill and hope that the Senate will pass this bipartisan legislation quickly.”

This legislation would:

  • Appropriate such sums as are necessary for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to pay claims to eligible victims through fiscal year 2090
  • Require the VCF to fully compensate claimants who have received reduced awards in the past because of declining balances in the fund