Fort Report: Blocking and Tackling

Sep 27, 2019

This week, I put out a tweet that read: “My advice to Congress: less drama, more work.”

The possibility of a vote on the impeachment of the President sent the media and DC into a frenzy.  Here’s another reality: Tomorrow Nebraska plays Ohio State.  Most of the game will not be a big dramatic exercise.  It will be blocking, tackling, and the basics of moving the football down the field.  My main job in Washington is to move the ball legislatively.  Here are some of the plays we are running.

I continue to fight for legislation to cover preexisting conditions without question, particularly reinsurance models for the sickest patients.  One bill I support, H.R. 289, establishes a federal invisible risk-sharing program to help those most in need.  

My CHILD Act gives communities a new pathway to health and well-being.  Through innovation, care, and prevention, local communities can keep savings from better health care outcomes and lower costs.  I am pleased that the University of Nebraska College of Public Health and Nebraska’s community health centers support this bill. 

The House of Representatives passed a measure to avoid a shutdown and keep the lights on.  The House Appropriations Committee on which I serve led the support for essential public policies in agriculture and other areas to minimize drama in the budgetary process.  Earlier, we passed a disaster relief bill for many farmers and ranchers so hurt by recent flooding.  
As part of my work on the Nuclear Security Working Group, a group of Members and I recently inspected two of our historic pieces of national security infrastructure: Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs.  I also reviewed our border security operations in the El Paso sector.  

Serving on the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee, I am responsible for national security considerations, diplomatic relations, and America’s humanitarian assistance around the world.  A lot of this activity goes on unseen to the public.

A broad bipartisan agreement exists around promoting renewable energy and protecting our wild spaces.  I support the Solar Energy Research and Development Act to rapidly expand the availability of solar energy in Nebraska and our nation, and I back the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2019 to capitalize on the Cornhusker State’s enormous wind energy potential.  We also continue to push the Administration to protect the important use of ethanol and other biofuels in our country.  

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) is the most exciting public policy development in the conservation space in decades.  It protects ecosystems.  It enhances community.  It supports recreation.  

The Challenges and Prizes for Climate Act is bipartisan legislation I endorse that encourages public-private research in five key areas: carbon capture; energy efficiency; energy storage; climate resiliency; and data analytics. 

None of these values propositions make sense unless we fix our gaze on the ultimate value––protection of human dignity.  I signed onto the Born-Alive Infant Survivors Protection Act to stop the grotesquely inhumane practice of infanticide.  As civilized people, we must do better. 

Our concern for human dignity naturally extends to persecuted people around the world.  Yazidi journalists from Northern Iraq recently visited me in DC.  They all agreed on the prime need of the region: security.  Earlier this year, I introduced the Security Resolution for Northern Iraq.  The bill has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).   

I have found a way to unite our nation!  The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act requires telephone companies to offer call-block services to persons at no charge and stop the disturbing practice of phone number “spoofing” by scammers.  It seems like a 100% issue.

To further protect you, I am supporting:

The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (CPPA) to strengthen passenger safety on cruise ships;

The Hotel Advertising Transparency Act to ensure that you have full price disclosure when searching and comparing options for your next trip;

The Protecting Americans from the Risks of Keyless Ignition Technology Act (PARK IT) to mandate automatic shut-off for cars with keyless ignitions.

Many other initiatives remain.

When we think of one person around which all Nebraskans can unify, we invariably think of Chief Standing Bear.  This civil rights icon was arrested in 1879 after trying to bury his son on the Ponca ancestral homeland along the Niobrara River.  His subsequent trial is one of the most important civil rights stories in American history.  On September 18, in a bipartisan ceremony featuring Nebraska’s congressional delegation and leaders of both parties, a commanding and evocative sculpture of Chief Standing Bear was unveiled in National Statuary Hall.  I have reintroduced a bill to mark the pathway of the forced relocation of the Ponca Tribe to Oklahoma.

Flea-flicker headlines in DC don’t always capture the full story.  Play by play, yard by yard, we can move the ball forward for our country.  I think we will show the Nebraska Way to Ohio State on Saturday.  Go Big Red.