On The Issues
As I listen to people during meetings throughout southern, central, and eastern Oregon, Oregonians too often voice the same concerns: an overreaching federal government that ignores our pleas, overregulates our lives and depresses job growth in our communities.
That’s why I push back with legislation to address the problems we face. Seven of my proposals have passed the U.S. House so far this term—most with unanimous support—including legislation to help bring commercial air service back to Klamath Falls, provide needed funding for bridges in the Columbia Gorge, and improve rural Internet service for consumers.
The first priority of the federal government is to keep our communities safe. That’s why the Congress has taken concrete steps to combat terrorism, tightening the rules on who can enter our country and developing plans to counter radicalization at home and abroad. We’ve also boosted funding for our military, including a pay raise for our troops, so our men and women in uniform have what they need to protect us.
Our veterans deserve the highest levels of care, too. That’s why Congress passed legislation to allow veterans to get quality care outside the VA in their own communities. But we still have a long way to go to clean this up. Congress has boosted funding for veterans’ housing and health care (including mental health care and suicide prevention), and passed plans to reform the VA and hold senior managers at the agency accountable for their actions.
And we’re making progress on efforts to stop wildfires and better manage our public lands. For the fourth year in a row, the House has passed bipartisan legislation to fix broken federal forest policy, to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, put people back to work in the woods, and improve forest health.
I’m also working hard to stop a potential, massive national monument designation around the Owyhee River in Malheur County as well as wilderness proposals in the Ochocos and around Crater Lake. Efforts to lock up these lands have largely been driven by outside groups without consideration of views from local landowners and officials, and I’ll continue to oppose them.
Work to protect seniors and improve health care in Oregon is still a priority. Last year, Congress passed a law to prevent a drastic spike in Medicare premiums and to ensure that doctors are paid fairly under Medicare so that seniors get access to the care they need from the providers they know and trust. We’ve also protected Social Security disability recipients, who would have faced a 20 percent across-the-board cut this year if Congress hadn’t acted. And I’ll continue to oppose plans to cut cost of living adjustments for today’s Social Security recipients.
Too many residents in our communities are suffering from drug addiction and mental illness. The House passed a new bipartisan law that will improve drug abuse treatments, address the underlying causes of addiction, and help those most at risk. Working with law enforcement and drug prevention advocates, we can combat this epidemic.
The House has also passed a plan to help deliver better, more timely care to mentally ill patients and their families and reduce violence in communities in Oregon and nationwide. And work continues on the 21st Century Cures Act, which would boost medical research and help find cures for deadly diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. With these initiatives, we’re on the cusp of something really big and bold for Oregon families.
Congress has also acted on a long-term transportation plan to improve the reliability and safety of our roads, highways, and bridges (including my plan to help improve bridges in the Columbia Gorge). I’ve also fought for legislation to improve the safety of railroads and rail tank cars, and will continue to work to protect people who live in communities near railroads and the surrounding environments.
Finally, the fight goes on for a Constitutional Amendment to require a balanced federal budget. In recent years, Congress has enacted the most significant spending reductions in modern history. That work must continue until the federal budget is balanced—permanently. Regardless of what party is in control in Washington, D.C., taxpayers need this safeguard.
If you or a loved one needs help with a federal agency like the Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, or the Internal Revenue Service, please call my office toll free from Oregon at 800-533-3303. We will do everything we can to get results for you.
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