Congressman Brian Mast Gives a Congressional Update

At an event dubbed “A Community Conversation”, District 18 Congressman Brian Mast gave a legislative update to a welcoming and enthusiastic PBCTP crowd last evening at Abacoa.

Starting with bills he is personally submitting, he described two:

– the “Oath of Exit”, an amendment to be offered on the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which asks veterans who are mustering out to pledge support for their fellow veterans and seek help with their own problems.

– the “Veterans Homestead Act”, like the Homestead Act of the 1800’s, would provide land – 1 acre per year of service, to veterans to provide them entrepreneurial opportunities.

Individual Unemployability

On May 23, the Trump Administration’s Department of Veterans Affairs released the first budget request for Fiscal Year 2018. This budget proposal initially called for terminating Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits to those eligible for Social Security retirement benefits under the rationale that this constitutes a duplication of benefits when in fact, it does not. The Individual Unemployability program supports veterans who cannot find work due to service- connected injuries (injuries sustained while serving our country). Many have been unable to contribute to Social Security as they have been unable to maintain substantially gainful employment due to these injuries. This budget proposal would impact nearly every Vietnam-era veteran whose survival depends on the Individual Unemployability program.

Since the May 23rd proposal, veterans organizations have galvanized opposing such cuts. Congressman Mast is in agreement and would not support cuts to veterans in receipt of Individual Unemployability.

– Andrea Plescia

Although you wouldn’t know it from the mainstream media, the House of Representative has accomplished a lot in their first six months. In particular, Brian talked about:

  • Deregulation – there have been 14 Congressional Review Acts signed by the President, rolling back much of the late-term Obama regulatory state
  • The REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny), which requires Congressional approval of regulations costing more than $100M
  • Repeal of much of the Dodd Frank Financial Reform
  • The 6 month budget that provides $1.5B for the border
  • Kate’s Law
  • The sanctuary cities bill
  • The American Health Care Act, repealing and replacing Obamacare
  • The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Act that allows wrongdoers to be fired

Unfortunately, only the Congressional Review Acts have become law – the rest are gathering dust in our dysfunctional Senate. In Brian’s view, the agenda today is driven by group-think and the GOP Senators are a disappointment.

There were many questions submitted on index cards from the audience, including:

  • When will Obamacare be repealed? Brian explained that without 60 votes in the Senate (like the Democrats had in 2009) the replacement possibilities are limited. There is much misinformation – Medicaid is not being “cut” just having its growth slowed. Repeal will be a very large tax cut. Whether the Senate acts or not we will have to wait and see.
  • Is there going to be a cut to veterans’ benefits in the VA budget – specifically regarding Individual Unemployability (IU)? Brian opposes this provision, which would impact disabled veterans who become eligible for Social Security. (See the sidebar for a further explanation).
  • When will we see Tax Reform? All of Brian’s Republican colleagues know that 2018 is looming and failure to act on tax reform will be a threat to re-election. He hopes to see something this year.
  • If Senate doesn’t act on Obamacare Repeal, should we just let it fail and the Democrats take the blame? Brian does not think that is a good result for the people affected by it.
  • Should our embassy move to Jerusalem? YES – should happen now.

In closing, Brian said he is planning some townhalls during the August recess (assuming the House does not stay in session), one of which will be in Palm Beach County. He asks that all of his supporters show up and bring their friends. A lot of his townhalls in the past few months have been packed with opponents of Brian and the Trump agenda and he could really use our help to show balance.

The next PBCTP meeting will be at Abacoa on July 31 with Chris Gaubatz who will talk about “Understanding the Threat” of radical Islam in the US.

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