It was a busy few weeks as constituents from Kentucky's fourth district traveled to D.C. to advocate for a variety of important issues. Meanwhile, Congress debated healthcare, infrastructure, tax reform, the Paris Climate Agreement and other legislation. I also introduced two pieces of legislation, and had the opportunity to speak at a Veterans Suicide Awareness program in Northern Kentucky.
Veterans Suicide Awareness
I had the honor of speaking at the Veterans Suicide Awareness event in Covington, KY. Sadly, over 8,000 veterans commit suicide every year.
Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association’s Legislative Summit
In 2007, the Veterans Crisis Hotline was established (1-800-273-8255) and since then, has answered nearly 2.8 million calls and dispatched emergency services nearly 74,000 times. President Trump announced last week that they are setting up a Veterans Complaint Hotline in the White House for all veterans (855-948-2311). These resources are an invaluable tool to protect the well being of our nations heroes.
We have to ask ourselves- why is this issue more prevalent now than ever?
It may have something to do with our engagement in the longest overseas war in our history, Afghanistan, and the changing nature of our enemy.
I am concerned that Washington has continued engaging in wars without defining the goals or what winning would actually look like. In fact, 80% of the current members of congress have not taken a vote on whether or not we should be at war in Afghanistan-. That is irresponsible and unacceptable, which is why I have been working with Congressman Jones to try and force this debate.
The decision to commit our troops to war is one of the most important acts of Congress. I will never take this decision lightly.
During my speech, I discussed legislation i've supported to help veterans, such as the bill to allow veterans to get a physical at a VA facility for their Commercial Drivers License(CDL).
I also explained how the Murray/Ryan balanced budgets agreement in 2013, which I voted against, originally cut veterans benefits. Thankfully, public resistance was able to get that provision rolled back.
This event was also a memorial for Matthew Winkler, a Covington veteran who committed suicide last year. His mother Deb has been championing veterans suicide awareness ever since his passing, and her courage has been awe-inspiring.
Thank you to Mayor Joe Meyer, Deb Winkler, Howard Berry and everyone involved in today's program for inviting me to speak about this important issue.
I met with Doug Cain, the CEO of Mubea. Mr. Cain was in town for the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association’s annual Legislative Summit. Mubea is a leading motor vehicle supplier and an employer of over 1300 people in Northern Kentucky. We discussed the need to reduce the tax burden on small and mid-sized businesses to allow them the opportunity to flourish. Thank you to Doug Cain for taking time to meet with me!
Hearing Aid Association of Kentucky
I had the pleasure of meeting with the Hearing Aid Association of Kentucky. We discussed their concerns regarding H.R. 1652, the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act. I appreciate them taking the time to meet with me while they are in D.C.
Kentuckians for Better Transportation
I delivered remarks to members of Kentuckians for Better Transportation. Kentuckians for Better Transportation (KBT), which was formed in December 1977, advocates for improvements in all modes of transportation to encourage economic growth for all Kentucky communities.
As the only member of Kentucky's congressional delegation on the Transportation Committee, I believe a strong infrastructure network is a federal priority and one of the few things Congress should spend more on.
I updated KBT members on the issues coming down the pipeline at the federal level, such as my Passenger Facility Charge bill, the potential privatization of air traffic controllers, and the need to update the Water Resources Development Act every two years.
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Annual Congressional Shoot-Out
I had the opportunity to attend the Annual Congressional Shoot-Out sponsored by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has a mission to work with Congress, governors, and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping. This annual event pits the Republicans vs. the Democrats to determine who the “Top Guns” are in Congress.
I was on "Team Ruger" with Dick Heller (second from the right above) who was responsible for the landmark Supreme Court case D.C vs. Heller, which reasserted an individual constitutional right to bear arms.
For the second year in a row, Republicans claimed the title of “Top Guns." I appreciated the opportunity to meet with other Members of Congress and organizations who support the 2nd amendment.
U.S. Representative Massie Re-introduces the Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act
Congressman Thomas Massie re-introduced the Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act (H.R. 2552), which would eliminate income taxes on Social Security benefits. The bill would boost the retirement income of millions of older Americans.
Justice Safety Valve Act
Original co-sponsors include Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA), Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA), Congressman Alex Mooney (R-WV), Congressman Steve Knight (R-CA), Congressman Daniel Webster (R-FL), and Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ)
“Social Security is financed with Americans’ tax dollars, so taxing Social Security is double-taxing by the Federal Government,” said Congressman Massie. “Taxing Social Security reduces benefits to seniors.”
Dan Weber, President of AMAC, the Association of Mature American Citizens, expressed his strong support stating, “To tax the very benefit an individual has been taxed all their life to receive, is not only nonsensical, but it reduces the Social Security benefit millions of seniors rely on in their retirement. This important bill rightly eliminates the income tax levied on Social Security benefits in an effort to stop excessive and unnecessary taxation. AMAC is pleased to offer our organization’s full support to the Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act.”
The purpose of Social Security is to provide people with financial support during retirement, not to be another source of tax revenue for the Federal Government. Under this legislation, Social Security benefits would neither be taxable nor reportable on individual tax returns, thus restoring the integrity of the program.
“Taxing these benefits is an accounting sleight of hand that redistributes portions of the Social Security trust fund to other areas of government,” Congressman Massie concluded.
I joined Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) to introduce the Justice Safety Valve Act. The Justice Safety Valve Act would give federal judges the ability to impose sentences below mandatory minimums in appropriate cases based upon mitigating factors.
The one-size-fits-all approach of federally mandated minimums does not give judges the latitude they need to ensure that punishments fit the crimes. As a result, nonviolent offenders are sometimes given excessive sentences. Furthermore, public safety can be compromised because violent offenders are released from our nation's overcrowded prisons to make room for nonviolent offenders.
Read more about the Justice Safety Valve Act here.
Massie in the Media
I joined Kennedy of Fox Business to explain how the #deepswamp uses "weapons of mass distraction" to try to keep President Trump from achieving his agenda. You can watch the full interview here.
I also joined Tom Roten on NewsRadio 800 WVHU to discuss my support for President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, tax reform, and my PRIME Act that will allow farmers to sell beef easier to local consumers. You can listen to the full interview here.
Thank you for reading my newsletter!
Congressman Thomas Massie