Short week on Hill yeilds some progress

February 15, 2014

I hope everyone has stayed safe and warm over the past several days. Our state was hit by quite a storm and I’m sure many of you have been dealing with issues of lost power and dangerous travel conditions. Please remember to visit my website at for information on emergency management resources. Additionally, do not hesitate to contact my office if we can be of any assistance to you.

It was a short week in Washington, but a busy one. I was extremely disappointed that once again President Obama and his Democrat colleagues insisted on raising the debt ceiling while refusing to work with us to find long-term solutions that cut wasteful government spending, encourage job creation, and strengthen our economy. I made a promise to the people I represent in North Carolina that I would not support a debt ceiling increase without addressing the underlying drivers of our debt that threaten our economy and the well-being of future generations.

Still, we did manage to work across the aisle to address an important issue. In the bipartisan budget deal reached this year I was opposed to a provision that temporarily reduces the annual cost of living adjustment by 1 percent for working age retirees. With that said, I felt that a failure to tackle government spending as a whole could ultimately lead to a collapse of multiple forms of retirement programs that our veterans and millions of other Americans rely on. Since then I have worked tirelessly with my colleagues to come up with a plan to restore these benefits in a responsible manner and have joined with a group of 61 other members to restore benefits for those disabled and most at risk. I am pleased to report that on Tuesday, I joined with 325 of my colleagues in voting to eliminate the 1 percent cut for everyone who joined the military beffore Jan. 1. 2014.

Last week, I also had an opportunity to work on one of my primary concerns when it comes to helping veterans in the 8th District — eliminating the backlog at the VA. I signed on to be an original cosponsor of H.R. 4031, the VA Management Accountability Act — a bill that increases direct accountability of VA executives by making it easier to get rid of bad employees. It is absolutely shameful that our veterans are forced to wait sometimes for years in order to receive the basic benefits that they deserve. We spend more today on the VA than at any point before, but too much of this money is spent on the bureaucracy in Washington and not enough at our hospitals and most importantly on veterans themselves. In the 2014 spending bill that recently passed, I voted to ensure resources were being used exclusively to cut down on the backlog and that accountability measures such as audits and public monthly reporting on individual backlogs at each office are available.

Americans everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans, those currently serving, and families of these military men and women for the sacrifices they have made for our country. Each and every day, our soldiers risk their lives, devoting themselves fully to defending the United States in the face of the enemy. May we always remember and commemorate their valiant sacrifices. I will always fight for our American patriots who dedicate their lives to defend our freedom, secure our homeland, and protect our democracy.