Listening to Veterans

I spoke at a veterans town hall on Saturday.

On Saturday, I attended the El Campo Vietnam Veterans of America Agent Orange Town Hall in Victoria. I gave an update on VA reform and took questions on a wide array of topics including healthcare reform, VA disability claims, the veterans choice program, dependent benefits and agent orange legislation that I'm cosponsoring including:

• H.R. 334: Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2017
• H.R. 1007: Lawrence J. Hackett Jr. Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Fairness Act
• H.R. 299: Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017

I also reported that the Victoria VA was well on its way to solving its personnel shortage by extending offers to two doctors and several other medical professionals. The town hall was announced in advance by the organizers and open to the public.

Voting to Protect Veterans

To watch my speech on the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, please click above.

Last week, the House passed two important bills to help veterans: the VA Accountability First Act and the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act.

While most employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs are diligent and strive to provide outstanding care, I’ve heard too many stories from veterans about VA employees who are failing to fulfill this promise. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to hold VA employees accountable for their actions due to the extremely complex and lengthy process it takes to discipline VA employees. That’s why the House passed the VA Accountability First Act, which provides the VA Secretary increased flexibility to demote, remove or suspend VA employees, including senior level employees, for poor performance or misconduct. Additionally, it allows the Secretary to reduce an employee’s pension if they’re convicted of a felony that influenced their job. In fact, I believe we should extend this beyond the VA, but that’s legislation for another day. This bill also reinforces whistleblower protections to ensure that good employees can easily help the VA hold bad actors accountable.

The House also voted to pass the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, which prohibits the VA from considering any beneficiary, assisted by a fiduciary, as “mentally defective” without due process. Under current practice, if a veteran or beneficiary is appointed a fiduciary by the VA, they are automatically labeled as “mentally defective” and added to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from purchasing a firearm. This rule fails to identify which veterans may pose an actual risk, and may also discourage veterans from seeking care. The current rule stereotypes people who have trouble managing their finances or have even a mild disability as dangerous and robs them of both their Second and Fifth Amendment rights.

America’s veterans deserve the highest quality of care and civil protections available, and these bills help fulfill these promises. To see my speech on the House floor about the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, please click here.

Meeting with President Trump about Health Care

I shared my concerns with President Trump on the Obamacare repeal in the Oval Office last Friday. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Last week, several of the most conservative members of the House and I met with President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss repealing and replacing Obamacare through the American Health Care Act, which the House is scheduled to vote on this week.

While I initially felt the repeal and replacement didn’t go far enough, after President Trump agreed to give more power to the states and add pro-life protection and at the president’s request, I agreed to support the legislation and work with the administration to continue to improve the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

Even though this bill is not perfect, it’s a huge step in getting rid of Obamacare which is imploding under its own terms. I’ve been working to get rid of Obamacare since I first ran for Congress in 2010. A plan the president is ‘1000% behind’ is the most likely to get the job done.

The following changes are being made to the bill:

- Providing states with the option to receive block grants for Medicaid and encouraging them to innovate
- Implementing work requirements for Medicaid recipients who are able-bodied and without dependents
- Protecting the unborn by ensuring that tax credits in the bill cannot be used to pay for abortions

To watch my interview on Fox News about my meeting with President Trump, please click above.
Class Action Reform and the FACT Act Passes House

As an advocate for tort reform, I’m pleased that my legislation, H.R. 906, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2017, was combined with H.R. 985, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, and passed by the House on March 9th. The legislation is designed to make sure trusts created by the bankruptcy of asbestos defendants are not defrauded by duplicitous claims, ensuring there are sufficient resources to pay future victims.

House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte praised the FACT Act saying, “[t]he unfortunate truth is that some dishonest parties take advantage of the asbestos trusts due to the lack of transparency within our current bankruptcy laws. This fraudulent activity can reduce the amount of funds available to deserving parties. The FACT Act requires bankruptcy trusts to be transparent like other courts. This will ensure deserving victims receive the maximum relief for their illness and injuries, while preserving privacy protections, and weeding out bad actors who would take advantage of the system.”

Right now, the Obamacare replacement has to go through the reconciliation process, & will continue to be negotiated by Congress. @bobjonescc
16 Mar 2017

In recognition of its commitment to effective urban forest management, Rockport was just named Tree City, USA.
15 Mar 2017

Debbie and I were saddened today to hear of this accident in Bastrop. Please join us in praying for their families.
8 Mar 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day! ☘

I'm ready to be done with the snow for this winter.