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Posted by | July 18, 2014
I wanted to update you on the bill I wrote to you about last month to ban state and local governments from taxing Internet access. 

I am pleased to tell you that the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act passed the House this week by voice vote.

Posted by Randy | July 17, 2014
Earlier this month, hostilities between Hamas – a Palestinian militant group – and Israel escalated following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers.

Hamas fired rockets from the Gaza Strip, a Hamas-controlled territory, toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and Israel struck back with a series of air strikes

In an effort to end the violence, Egypt proposed a cease-fire agreement; however, it failed to gain support from Hamas.  As a result, Israel resumed air strikes to combat the continual firing of rockets.  

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a resolution by unanimous consent, condemning the attack on Israel and reaffirming support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens.

Question of the week:  Should the U.S. affirm the right of Israel to defend itself? 

( ) Yes.   
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.
( ) Other.  

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.           
Posted by | July 16, 2014
Last month, a Veterans Affairs hospital in Michigan was ordered to conceal all Christian symbols inside of its chapel due to a VA policy handbook published in 2008, which states, “When VA Chaplains are not providing or facilitating a religious service for a particular faith group, the chapel must be maintained as religiously neutral, reflecting no particular faith tradition.”

In response, I joined 22 of my colleagues in sending a letter to the VA inquiring about the policy implementation in 2008 and urging the VA not to scrub its chapels of all religious symbols.

We are a nation founded on the freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Over time, this important concept has been distorted, and its misapplication has led the public to believe that the Constitution’s intent was to confine religion to the four walls of the church.  But the Constitution does not require the elimination of religious symbols from the public square – rather, it protects the free exercise of religion for every American. 

The 101 members of the bipartisan Congressional Prayer Caucus, that I founded, are in the thick of the fight for religious liberty every day. Learn more about our most recent efforts, here
Posted by | July 15, 2014
I believe that we should work to reduce the federal footprint in education by eliminating strict standards and penalties, and putting control back in the hands of state and local leaders.  The responsibility for student achievement is best handled by the states and individual school districts, thereby enhancing local flexibility, protecting taxpayers’ investments in education, and strengthening state and local autonomy.

I’m supporting a bill, H.Res.476, which strongly denounces the President's coercion of states into adopting the Common Core standards, and restores and protects state authority and flexibility in establishing and defining student academic standards and assessments.  
Posted by | July 14, 2014
According to the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Homeland Security – the third largest federal agency – has failed to properly manage the systems and programs used to secure our borders, protect our shores, and monitor goods coming into the U.S.

The federal government must be accountable to the American people for how their hard-earned tax dollars are being spent. An oversized, wasteful government is a serious threat to the stability and success of our nation. That’s why I supported the DHS Acquisition Accountability and Efficiency Act, H.R. 4228, which requires the DHS to streamline its acquisition process and hold its programs accountable.

When it comes to national security, our federal agencies have a responsibility to keep our nation safe from those who would wish us harm, whether they are from within the United States or from other countries seeking to get into our country. However, national security must not come at the cost of the fiscal integrity of our country. 

Posted by | July 14, 2014
I wanted to share with you a new bill I introduced.  The Independent Research and Repurposing Act, H.R.4287, encourages the development of new medical treatments by repurposing existing drugs to address new ailments, conditions, or diseases. 

Drug repurposing research is already underway in many disease areas, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, depression, sleep disorders, and Post-Traumatic Stress. 

Whether it is a servicemember suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress, or a relative recently diagnosed with cancer, discovering treatments and cures for the diseases afflicting many Americans is a priority that transcends politics. Encouraging drug repurposing is a critical avenue for discovering ground-breaking ways to combat - and ultimately cure - these devastating diseases.

I have also introduced the Patients First Act, H.R.1740, to intensify research and human clinical trials using stem cells that are ethically obtained and that show evidence of providing near-term clinical benefit for human patients. This bill recognizes that the twin goals of scientific advancement and the protection of human life are not mutually exclusive; rather, they should be one in the same.
Posted by Randy | July 11, 2014
In 2009, two organizations representing the heads of state education departments and the nation’s governors developed the Common Core State Standards to provide consistent learning goals across states for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.

Currently, all but seven states – Virginia, Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Indiana – have adopted the Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English.  As an incentive, states that implement the standards have an increased chance of receiving federal grant money.  

The goal of the academic benchmark is a focus on comprehension and critical thinking; however, critics believe that tying tests to these standards will actually harm this goal because teachers will teach to the tests rather than working to ensure their students receive a well-rounded education.

Question of the week:  Do you support the Common Core State Standards or other universal sets of academic benchmarks to measure learning?

( ) Yes.
( ) No.
( ) I don’t know.  
( ) Other. 

Take the Poll here.

Find the results of last week’s InstaPoll here.
Posted by | July 11, 2014
Since 1998, the Department of Commerce has exercised control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a private, non-profit organization that manages basic functions of the Internet.  Earlier this year, however, the Administration announced its intent to relinquish control of ICANN to the global Internet community. 

In response, I sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Pritzker to request important information about the Department’s plans to relinquish United States oversight of the Internet. It is vitally important that we put policies in place that are in the best interest of the American people - a free Internet is one I will continue fighting to protect. 

During floor consideration of the annual funding bill for the Department of Justice (H.R. 4660), I also supported an amendment to prohibit funding for the transfer of ICANN. The bill passed the House and is now awaiting action in the Senate.
Posted by | July 11, 2014

Friend – Wanted to share this article with you written by Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Bob Goodlatte from Virginia. Chairman Goodlatte recently led a bi-partisan trip to the U.S.-Mexico border to witness firsthand what is happening with the surge of children, teenagers, and families attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.  In the editorial below, Mr. Goodlatte lays out the many tools the President has at his disposal to quell the activity at the border and put an end to this crisis in leadership, crisis in national security, and crisis in common sense.

The answers to our problems are not to throw money at it. Billions of taxpayer dollars in additional resources are no substitute for actually enforcing America’s immigration laws and securing our border.

Exclusive – Goodlatte: How Obama Can Stop the Border Crisis

By: Bob Goodlatte
July 10, 2014

There is a surge of unaccompanied children, teenagers, and families from Central America—largely from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—that are arriving in unprecedented numbers in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

They are making a dangerous journey through Mexico and then walking miles across a hostile border environment, assisted by smugglers, and coming to the United States in violation of the law.

This crisis at the border is a disaster of President Obama's own making. The Obama Administration's lax immigration enforcement has given confidence to parents who are in the U.S. illegally that they can stay and now they are finding ways to bring their children, who are still in Central America, to the United States unlawfully.

President Obama's policies have caused the crisis at our southern border and he has tools at his disposal to fix it. Here are several steps the President can take now to stop the surge at the border:

Send the strong, public message that those who enter illegally will be returned. President Obama needs to use his bully-pulpit to send the clear message that those who are seeking to enter the U.S. illegally will be returned to their home countries and that subjecting children to the perilous trek northward to our southern border will no longer be tolerated. Unfortunately, most of the money requested in the President's emergency supplemental seems geared toward processing Central Americans rather than stopping the surge itself. With Obama's current policies, this just means that more illegal border crossers will be eligible to stay in the U.S.

Stop abusing his prosecutorial discretion authority. Over the past five years, President Obama and administration officials have abused "prosecutorial discretion," a tool meant to give the Executive Branch flexibility in individual cases. Instead he has stretched this authority beyond all recognition in order to shield entire categories of deportable aliens from facing the law. This sends the message to the world that if you get into the U.S. illegally, you will not be deported.

Stop releasing convicted criminal aliens from detention. In Fiscal Year 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released over 36,000 criminal aliens from detention who were in removal proceedings or had been ordered removed, in the large majority of cases purely as an act of discretion not compelled by any federal court or immigration judge. These 36,000 criminal aliens had nearly 88,000 convictions, including 193 homicide convictions, 303 kidnapping convictions, 426 sexual assault convictions, 9,187 dangerous drug convictions, and 16,070 drunk or drugged driving convictions. This sends the message that not even aliens with criminal convictions will be detained.

Crack down on fraudulent asylum claims. The House Judiciary Committee obtained an internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report which shows that at least 70% of asylum cases contain proven or possible fraud. The Administration has refused to take steps to stop asylum fraud, which has encouraged more aliens to come to the U.S. and make false claims. Yet the Obama Administration continues to set records for approving claims. In fact, in 2013 under the Obama Administration immigration judges granted 74% of all affirmative asylum claims.

Implement tougher standards for "credible fear" claims. In order to thwart "expedited removal" proceedings, family units caught along the border or at ports of entry often claim a "credible fear" of persecution in their home countries and seek a hearing before an immigration judge (usually years later). While awaiting the hearing, they are released into the U.S. and receive work authorization while their case is pending. The Obama Administration is granting approximately 92% of all "credible fear" cases decided on the merits in Fiscal Year 2013. In fact, credible fear claims have increased 586% from 2007 to 2013 as word has spread about the rubberstamping of applications. The Obama Administration has not effectively curbed "credible fear" abuse, which has dramatically encouraged more illegal border crossings.

Detain asylum seekers until their claims are proved valid. One way to deter fraudulent asylum claims is to detain asylum seekers apprehended at the border while the government determines whether their case is legitimate, rather than releasing them into the U.S. Most non-detained asylum seekers who lose their cases and are ordered back to their home country simply disappear into our communities. This must stop.

Restore agreements with local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws. About 5,000 ICE agents have the duty of enforcing our nation's immigration laws. These agents have to deal with at least 11 million unlawful immigrants in the United States and many thousands of aliens who have committed deportable crimes. We need help. Currently, there are over 730,000 state and local law enforcement officers in the United States. Under current law, DHS is allowed to enter into agreements with states and localities - commonly referred to as the 287(g) program - under which state and local law enforcement officers who have been trained by DHS can assist in the investigation, apprehension and detention of removable aliens. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration effectively killed this commonsense program. The Administration should reverse this foolish decision and allow state and local law enforcement officers to help with enforcing our immigration laws. This would send the message that the United States is serious about enforcing our immigration laws.

Employ diplomatic resources to stop the border crisis. President Obama should exhaust all diplomatic resources to end this crisis. He needs to work with the Mexican government to help secure its southern border with Guatemala and he also needs to work with the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to help them dissuade their citizens from making the dangerous journey to the U.S.

Give Border Patrol agents access to federal lands. Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector cite restrictions that bar access to federal lands as a significant stumbling block to securing the border. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture currently have rules that prevent Border Patrol agents from accessing federal lands near the border under the guise of environmental preservation. As a result, federal lands along the border provide drug traffickers, human smugglers, and unlawful immigrants effective routes and hiding places where Border Patrol agents cannot reach them. President Obama should reverse this foolish policy.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.


Posted by | July 10, 2014
I wanted to share with you an article I read that focuses on students’ relationships with technology.  In today's world, our students’ lives revolve around the computer – studying, perusing social media sites, etc.  However, many students don’t consider computer technology as a career path.  

Over the next ten years, 70% of new jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) will be for computing professionals.  I believe that we must encourage students to get involved in STEM at an early age, not only to develop their interest in those subjects, but to allow them to see that what they enjoy doing – like playing on computers – can be what they do for a living.

I supported the Academic Competition Resolution, H. Res.77, to establish an academic competition to spur student interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.  Read more about the competition here.