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Occurrences in the Congressional Record

Entry Title Date
Stop Targeting Federal Employees March 26, 2015
Robert Wittman, R-VA
"Mr. Speaker, I voted on Wednesday, March 25, in favor of H. Con. Res. 27, authored by Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, because it is my belief that Congress has a responsibility to address our nation’s fiscal crisis. This proposal is simply a visionary document and a way forward in the budgetary process so we can continue the debate about the financial challenges our country faces and return to funding the government through regular order. Like last year’s proposal, the budget plan for FY 2016 calls for significant reductions in discretionary spending, reduced taxes and the full repeal of the President’s costly health care reform law. It proposes a balanced budget in less than 10 years and recognizes that we can no longer ignore the trillions of dollars in mandatory spending on entitlement programs that almost completely consume our nation’s budget. This year’s plan also asks Members of Congress to again lead by example by cutting their own pay, benefits and office budgets in the quest to reduce our debt and put this nation on sound financial footing. Further, the proposal protects our nation’s defense and security forces. I have repeatedly said that we must get serious about the national security threats that exist in this world and what is required of our forward presence and response forces. This budget gives the United States the flexibility and capabilities that are essential to the rebalance of our security posture toward the Asia Pacific, our enduring security commitments in the Middle East, and the need to respond to contingency operations around the globe. Our nation has no greater asset than the folks who have served and are currently serving our nation, both military and civilian alike. Their dedication and service to our nation is unwavering and it is important that Congress provide the best equipment, training, and compensation so these men and women can meet their duties in full. The House budget plan restores national security spending and helps our defense maintain its current strength. These are all measures that I have and will continue to support; however, it is disappointing that this proposal, just as in past budget proposals, unfairly targets only one group of Americans for additional sacrifices: the civilian federal workforce. I have serious concerns that this resolution again forces federal employees to contribute more towards their retirement, approximately six percent, which is the equivalent of a pay cut, and eliminates their defined benefit retirement plan for deficit reduction purposes. It also goes farther than previous budget plans by proposing to decrease the rate of return on the Thrift Savings Plan’s Government Securities Fund (G Fund). America’s First District is full of hardworking and dedicated citizens who serve the people of this nation every day, such as on the front lines of the War on Terror or in support roles for our military. Still others provide invaluable services at places such as VA hospitals, cancer and Alzheimer’s research laboratories, and law enforcement agencies such as the FBI and DEA. And yet, federal civilian employees continue to see their pay cut and their benefits reduced on nearly every occasion. Federal employees have already endured a three-year pay freeze; furloughs due to sequestration; and were required to not work because of indecision and political gamesmanship that resulted in a government shutdown on October 1, 2013 lasting 16 days. In addition, employees hired since 2012 have seen required contribution increases to their retirement, bringing our federal workers’ total sacrifice to date to $159 billion over ten years. It is because of these sacrifices that I supported legislation to allow furloughed workers to receive back pay for time out of work during the 2013 shutdown. In addition, I introduced the Federal Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity Act, which would extend the tax credit available to military personnel who serve in combat zones to the civilian federal employees that work alongside them. Congress charges federal employees with important duties and expects these duties to be performed with the highest caliber of expertise, but rather than being recognized for their service, these public servants see their salary and benefits continually used as a pawn in the game of politics. We continue to ask our federal civilian workforce to do more with less. According to data collected by the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, there has been a decline in federal employee job and workplace satisfaction for the fourth consecutive year. A score sheet compiled by the Partnership for Public Service shows that government-wide, federal employee job satisfaction and commitment fell 0.9 points in 2014 to a score of 56.9 out of 100. Morale among our nation’s civilian federal workforce is at a historical low and these continued attacks keep the highly-skilled and experienced people we need from seeking a federal job. Enough is enough. I am fully ready and willing to enact deeper cuts to my own salary, benefits and congressional operations, which are provisions included in this year’s budget, but we must stop singling out federal employees simply because Congress continually fails to address the out-of-control spending. There is no question that our nation must get its spending in order, and federal employees have been and are certainly willing to continue to do their part to help in this effort. Their daily contributions to their fellow citizens and to the cause of freedom are simply innumerable, and yet during deficit reduction debate over the last several years, federal employees have been asked to contribute much more than their fair share. Our federal civilian employees live a life of selfless service and they deserve our appreciation. Mr. Speaker, I voted in support of H. Con. Res. 27 because it is Congress’ constitutional duty to budget and appropriate. Congress must get back to regular order. Congress does our federal employees no favors when governing by continuing resolution and through crisis management. We must bring more certainty to the annual federal appropriations process. This budget proposal is a means for Congress to further discuss our country’s fiscal challenges, but I will continue to push for deficit reduction efforts in the future that focus more realistically on addressing the true drivers of our debt, rather than targeting those who serve their nation every day."
Improving Regulatory Transparency For New Medical Therapies Act March 16, 2015
Frank Pallone, D-NJ
"When a new drug is approved by the FDA, a company can begin marketing the product upon its approval. However, for a subset of drugs, FDA recommends to the DEA they be included in the Controlled Substance Act—or “scheduled,” if there is abuse potential. Until DEA makes a final decision, a drug cannot be released to the public."
Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions March 12, 2015
Dianne Feinstein, D-CA
"Many recent incidents involve methamphetamine, a drug whose users face a “very high” risk of “developing psychotic symptoms—hallucinations and delusions,” according to a recent Harvard Medical School publication. A 2007 article in USA Today entitled “DEA: Flavored meth use on the rise” stated that “[r]eports of candy-flavored methamphetamine are emerging around the nation, stirring concern among police and abuse prevention experts that drug dealers are marketing the drug to younger people.” In March of 2012, police in Chicago warned parents about a drug that “looks and smells like candy,” called “strawberry quick” or “strawberry meth.” Because of the drug’s similarity to candy, police urged parents to tell their children not to take candy from anyone, not even a classmate."
Tribute To Dan Smoot February 10, 2015
Harold Rogers, R-KY
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to one of the most dedicated and respected law enforcement officials in narcotics diversion and substance abuse education in Kentucky, Dan Smoot, in honor of his 33 years of law enforcement service—12 of which were spent as a leader at an organization near and dear to my heart, Operation UNITE. After serving more than two decades as a narcotics diversion specialist for the Kentucky State Police in Eastern Kentucky, Smoot was one of the first leaders brought on board to help launch Operation UNITE, a non-profit organization designed to tackle the tidal wave of drug abuse that hit Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District with the release of powerful prescription painkillers in our rural region. Because of the unique challenges associated with prescription drug addiction and abuse, UNITE’s name reflects its three-pronged, holistic approach—Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education. As the inaugural Law Enforcement Director, he undertook the daunting task of developing and implementing law enforcement policies and procedures for UNITE’s accredited task force. Critically important to the organization’s success has been buy-in and cooperation among local law enforcement, and Smoot’s early work at UNITE was critical to forging these partnerships. He engaged with more than 30 different fiscal courts to enact interlocal cooperation agreements to provide jurisdiction for UNITE to work with local law enforcement agencies in each county. Thus far, UNITE’s task force has arrested more than 4,000 drug traffickers, taken over $12.3 million in drugs off the streets, while maintaining a 97% conviction rate in southern and eastern Kentucky. Closely collaborating with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Smoot developed an innovative debit card program to fund street-level drug purchases for local police departments and sheriff’s offices in eleven counties. Additionally, he has developed a reputation for his tireless advocacy for better drug abuse-related policy and legislation in Kentucky and surrounding states. As a result of his efforts, Smoot was named President and CEO of UNITE in 2013. Though the majority of his career has been focused on law enforcement, Smoot quickly became an advocate for UNITE’s effective education and treatment programs. It takes a special kind of law enforcement officer to commit to treatment and education programs—but Smoot immediately bought in, and it’s due in large part to his leadership, to his steadfast guidance and advocacy, and to his unwavering commitment to this critically important cause that UNITE shines as a national leader in helping individuals take back their communities from the scourge of drug abuse. He has supported Drug Court programs and spent countless hours educating community members and students about drug abuse prevention across the region. Whether he is talking to national leaders or spending time with at-risk middle school children at Camp UNITE, his passion to end the cycle of drug abuse in Kentucky is remarkable. The story of his career is now written, not only by the drug traffickers who have spent time in state and federal prisons for illicit drug activities, but also by their children and grandchildren who now realize there is hope for a better future, thanks to the valiant education and treatment programs he helped lead at Operation UNITE. I ask my colleagues to join me in applauding Dan Smoot’s incredible leadership in our life-saving and life-changing anti-drug efforts in Kentucky and throughout our Appalachian region. I have no doubt that he will carry these incredible and laudable professional and personal traits with him into any future endeavors, and I certainly wish him the very best in his new post with the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (AHIDTA)."
Privileges Of The Floor January 12, 2015
Brian Schatz, D-HI
"Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that floor privileges be granted to Jimmy O’Dea, a fellow in my office, for the remainder of the 114th Congress."

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