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Private Property Protections and Veterans Transportation - Mac's Video Mailbox
Posted by on May 21, 2015

Dear Friends,

I’d like to update you on two important pieces of legislation that will greatly impact many folks in our area.

Private property rights are vital to our American way of life. It is the foundation for our homes, our livelihoods, and our opportunity to provide a better future for coming generations. That is why alarms sounded when rights to Texas land were called into question by the federal government. Senator Cornyn and I introduced legislation to help protect the property rights of landowners who own property along the Red River that was claimed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Many of these land owners possess deeds and have been paying taxes on this property for decades. 

Originally claiming 90,000 acres along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River, the BLM has now lowered its estimates of land it may own to 30,000 acres. Only 6,402 of those acres have actually been surveyed by the federal government. 

“The Red River Private Property Protection Act” (H.R. 2130) seeks to eliminate any cloud of uncertainty for landowners once and for all. For more detailed information, click here

Recently, I cosponsored another bill, the “Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act of 2015,” (H.R. 2291), that would permanently authorize the VA’s ability to transport veterans to and from their healthcare appointments. It is a cost-effective program to help veterans access healthcare by saving on ambulance costs and offering mileage reimbursements.  This program allowed the Amarillo VA to transport 6,047 veterans to and from appointments between October 1, 2014, and March 31, 2015.

This bill also reauthorizes a grant program for five years to support Veterans Services Organizations that transport veterans in highly rural areas who are seeking medical care, like many in our area. I also adds new mileage reimbursement for veterans traveling to Vet Centers, where they can receive post-war readjustment counseling.

Improving veteran access to healthcare does not only mean having enough providers. It requires us to ensure that veterans are able to get to their appointments with those providers. We owe it to those who faithfully served our country. For more detailed information, click here.

I will continue to keep you updated on these bills and other legislation as the year progresses. You can watch my latest video mailbox about them by following the link below.

Click here for Mac's Video Mailbox



Thank you for watching my latest video mailbox.  Have a question you would like answered?  Please contact me by phone, letter, e-mail, on Facebook, or on Twitter. 
 
As always, I appreciate hearing from you. 

Sincerely,
Mac
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A Step Forward for Landowners - Mac's Video Mailbox
Posted by on July 25, 2014
Private property rights are vital to our American way of life.  It is the foundation for our homes, our livelihoods, and our opportunity to provide a better future for coming generations.  That is why alarms sounded when rights to Texas land were called into question by the federal government.  Last December, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it was reviewing and updating its management plan for any land the federal government might own along the Red River – land that has been in families for decades.

To help settle the issue, I recently introduced legislation with Senator John Cornyn that would legally settle the question of ownership once and for all.  The “Red River Private Property Protection Act (H.R. 4979)” requires the BLM to provide quit claim deeds to any property owner who can demonstrate his or her ownership through a county deed and tax records.  It would also prevent the BLM from including any private property in its management plans now and in the future.  Landowners deserve the certainty that their land will be protected and their ownership secure.

Upon introduction, the bill was sent to the House Natural Resources Committee to await further review.  I am pleased that the Committee announced a hearing on the bill will be held next Tuesday, moving it one more step closer to hopefully getting to the House floor for a vote.  At the hearing, one of our local landowners will give his perspective on how the issue directly affects him and his land.  Listen below to learn more.

If interested, you can tune into the hearing live from your computer by clicking here. To learn more about the history of the issue and my most recent actions to protect Texas landowners, please visit my website.

Click here for Mac's Video Mailbox: July 25, 2014
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Crisis on the Border - Mac's Video Mailbox
Posted by on July 11, 2014

Thousands of unaccompanied children and other migrants are flooding our southern border.  As Texans, this is an issue that hits close to home and one that requires immediate attention and decisive action.  It is the topic of this week's video mailbox.

The first job of the federal government is to protect the country and part of that means knowing who and what comes across our borders.  If we are unable to control the border, we put the safety of our own people at risk.  Tens of thousands of children from Central America – particularly Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador – are flooding our borders unaccompanied.  In fact, the Border Patrol has apprehended more unaccompanied children in the past six months than it has in any of the past five years.  The current number apprehended has nearly doubled that of 2012.  And without question, the Obama Administration’s immigration policies – and failure to enforce the law – have contributed to the problem.

The facts show that increases of migrating children and adults are connected to the Administration’s announcement of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in June 2012.   DACA provides certain children temporary protection from deportation, which helps fuel the misconception that if people send their children to America, they can come and stay.  This perception must be changed, and the Administration must make it clear that no one can enter our country illegally and hope to stay.  That is done by enforcing the law.  Until we communicate the message strongly and clearly with action, the flow will continue.

Not only is this massive flow of children crossing the border a humanitarian disaster for these children who have to travel long distances in life-threatening conditions, but it is also a national security threat to the United States.  With these children come the threat of disease and the danger that drug gangs or even terrorists could enter the country.  When so much of our time and resources is focused along one section of the border, other areas are not getting the attention they need.    

The bottom line is this crisis must be handled quickly and strongly.  Therefore, I urge the President to do his job, enforce the laws, and protect our borders.  The children must be returned as quickly as possible.  America’s health and safety are at stake.

You can click here to see a letter I sent to the President with my House colleagues calling for his immediate action.

Click here for Mac's Video Mailbox: July 11, 2014

 

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Root Out VA Abuse - Mac's Video Mailbox
Posted by on May 30, 2014

Across the political spectrum, there has been outrage at the mismanagement and coverup at the Veterans Administration (VA).  These problems must be fixed – whatever it takes. 

Across party lines, we can agree that our country owes a debt to the men and women who risk their lives to keep us safe.  After serving our country, our veterans deserve a government that will serve them when they come home.  Stories of extended wait times and veterans failing to receive care – or, in some cases, even dying because they failed to receive care – shocks us all.  Congress, as well as the Administration, has a responsibility to root out the problem and reverse this travesty.

Last week, the House passed a bill to give the Secretary of the VA the authority to fire senior level employees who fail to put the treatment of our veterans first.  This week, the House passed another series of bills to improve conditions for our veterans.  Read more information here.  And today, VA Secretary Shinseki resigned his post.  Before doing so, he removed senior leaders at the Phoenix facility and canceled bonuses for senior VA executives across the Department. 

Although these are steps in the right direction, I’m afraid the problems at the VA run deeper.  I believe a major cultural shift in the VA must take place, and that will take major reform.  Funding is not the problem – funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs has grown faster than any other government department in recent years.  In fact, since 2000, annual spending has nearly tripled to meet increases in demand for health-care and other costs.  Funding has increased far faster than the number of veterans served.
 
Listen below to this week's video mailbox to hear how I hope to get to the bottom of this systemic problem.
Click here for Mac's Video Mailbox: May 30, 2014
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Building a safer, stronger America - Mac's Video Mailbox
Posted by on May 13, 2014
In this edition of my video mailbox, I will update you on two important issues — our nation's security and government regulations.

Last week the House Armed Services Committee approved the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4435) to allocate funding for our troops and other national security priorities.  Specifically, the bill would authorize $521.3 billion for the Department of Defense and the nuclear weapons programs at the Department of Energy, plus $79.4 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations.

When any of us turn on the news, we can see that the threats to our security are growing and getting more complex all around the world.  This strong, bipartisan bill tries to meet these threats within a constrained budget and helps lay the groundwork for our efforts to get more defense for our dollars in the years to come.  The brave men and women who fight for our freedom deserve to have the resources they need to keep our people safe and our nation strong. 

Locally, the defense policy bill authorizes funding for programs at Sheppard Air Force Base, Bell Helicopter, and Pantex.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Bell Helicopter projects funded at $1.845 billion for the V-22 Osprey program, including 19 new aircraft, and $904 million for the Huey and Cobra (UH-1Y/AH-1Z) helicopters, including 26 new H-1 series helicopters.

  • Bill increases funding for nuclear weapons activities—much of which is performed at Pantex—by $143.7 million.  

  • Increases funding for recapitalizing deferred maintenance programs by $39 million to help address the backlog of deferred maintenance on physical infrastructure in the nuclear weapons facilities, including Pantex.

The defense policy bill is expected to be considered by the full House before Memorial Day.  For more information on the bill, please click here.

Much of our country's potential for economic growth and progress is hindered by overbearing federal regulations.  More regulations do not produce a better quality of life for Americans, but actually the reverse.  Federal regulations make it harder for business to keep their doors open, stunting the growth our economy needs.  In addition, our farmers and ranchers should never have to worry about the federal government infringing upon their personal property or harming industries vital to their livelihoods, like the oil and gas industry and coal industry for example.

Tune in to my video mailbox to hear more about our efforts to combat overbearing regulations and build a better, safer, and stronger America.
 
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Getting to the bottom of Benghazi - Mac's Video Mailbox
Posted by on April 11, 2014
I continue to receive letters, phone calls, and emails from folks asking for the truth about Benghazi.  Setting the facts straight is important to our national security and to ensure this never happens again.  We owe it to the Americans who lost their lives, their families, and those who continue to bravely serve today.  They deserve the whole truth, our complete support, and the assurance that their government has their best interests in mind.
 
Congress will continue to hold hearings until we get to the bottom of Benghazi.  Just recently, the House Intelligence Committee had former Deputy Director of the CIA, Mike Morrell, testify publicly about editing the Administration's talking points regarding what happened on the ground.  Click here to view my questions at the hearing.

In this edition of my video mailbox, I will answer some of the concerns and questions that I have heard and read from the people in our part of Texas about Benghazi.

As I mentioned in the video, if you want to see the facts for yourself, please visit www.gop.gov/benghazi/ to view collected transcripts and other documents.
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The Effort to Stop ObamaCare Will Continue - Mac's Video Mailbox September 25, 2013
Posted by on September 25, 2013
Dear Friend,

I continue to receive many letters, phone calls, and emails from folks about Obamacare.  It is by far the number one issue that people are calling and writing into my offices about.  Folks all over our district want to know what we can do to prevent it.  In this edition of my video mailbox, I want to answer some of the questions and concerns that I have heard and read from people in our part of Texas about Obamacare. 

Stopping the President’s health care law has been a priority in the House since the day the Democrats forced the bill through the Congress over the objections of the American people.  The House has tried a variety of approaches—complete repeal, dismantling it piece by piece, delaying the law, and defunding it.  We continue to look for any way to get the job done, and halting the law is at the heart of any debate concerning government funding, sequestration, or raising the debt limit.

Let me know what you think about the issue by sharing your opinion here. I hope you'll tune in to this edition by clicking the image below and keep the questions coming.



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Have you missed an edition? Click an image
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I invite you to learn more about this issue and others by visiting my website here. Have a question you would like answered?  Please contact me by phone, letter, e-mail,on Facebook, or on Twitter.
 
As always, I appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,




*Please note, this email was sent from an unattended mailbox.*  

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Stopping Obama's Blizzard of Regulations - Mac's Video Mailbox
Posted by on July 29, 2013
Dear Friend,
 
I continue to receive many letters, phone calls, and emails from folks about the blizzard of regulations we have seen from the Obama Administration.  It seems that there is no aspect of our lives that Washington is not trying to reach into and regulate.  This week the House will be voting on ten different bills meant to reduce or prevent much of this overreach by the federal government.
 
In this edition of my video mailbox, I want to answer some of the questions and concerns that I have heard and read from people in our part of Texas about this important issue.  You can watch by clicking the image below.




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You can read brief summaries of the bills we will be considering this week in our effort to reduce and stop many of these regulations.
 
H.R. 2009, Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act –Would prevent the IRS from implementing any portion of Obamacare.
 
H.R. 367, Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act – Requires Congressional approval of regulations that cost over $100 million.
 
H.R. 2711, Citizen Empowerment Act – Ensures that individuals have the right to record their meetings and telephone exchanges with federal regulatory officials engaged in enforcement activities and requires that individuals be notified of such right.
 
H.R. 2579, Government Employee Accountability Act –Allows agencies to place employees on unpaid leave when they are under investigation for certain serious offense (Currently, senior federal officials under investigation for misconduct can only be put on paid leave).
 
H.R. 1660, Government Customer Service Improvement Act – Requires agencies to adopt customer service standards and to use customer service feedback in agency and personnel reviews.
 
H.R. 313, Government Spending Accountability Act –Increases transparency with respect to taxpayer funded conferences, places limits on federal conferences, and requires agency head approval for the most expensive conferences.
 
H.R. 1541, Common Sense in Compensation Act – Would place limits on the size of bonuses but also limit the number of senior agency employees who may receive bonuses in any given year.
 
H.R. 2565, Stop Targeting Our Politics IRS Act – Would provide for the termination of employment of IRS employees who use their official position for political purposes.
 
H.R. 2769, Stop Playing on Citizen's Cash Act – Imposes a moratorium on IRS conferences until the IG’s recommendations are implemented.
 
H.R. 2768, The Taxpayer Bill of Rights - Amends the authorizing law that creates the position of IRS Commissioner to make clear that it is the duty of the Commissioner to ensure that Internal Revenue Service employees are familiar with and act in accord with certain enumerated taxpayer rights, including a right to privacy and confidentiality.
 
I invite you to learn more about this issue and others by visiting my website here. Have a question you would like answered?  Please contact me by phone, letter, e-mail,on Facebook, or on Twitter.
 
As always, I appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,


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Real Immigration Reform Begins with Border Security - Video Mailbox
Posted by on July 12, 2013

Dear Friend,

I have received many phone calls, letters, and emails recently about immigration reform. In this edition of my video mailbox, I want to answer some of the questions and concerns that I have heard and read from people in our part of Texas about this important issue. 

America is a nation of immigrants, and a nation of laws.  It is clear that our immigration system is broken and that reform is vital to our country’s national security and economic future.  But a rush to pass immigration reform just for the sake of doing so would be foolish.  So the House will not be taking up the massive, comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate.   For any proposal to pass the House, it will have to make America stronger and safer.

In my view, there are four key issues that must be addressed to accomplish that goal:

1. Securing our borders and enforcing our laws;

2. Fixing our legal immigration system to attract and keep highly skilled and highly trained immigrants in the U.S. workforce;

3. The need for a guest worker program for those who want to come here for a limited time to work;

4. Addressing what happens to the approximately 10 to 12 million people who are already here illegally in a way that is fair to everyone and does not encourage more illegal immigration - blanket amnesty is not an option.

Continue reading below...


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Without controlling the borders, other attempts to set immigration policy are useless.  We have to control who and what comes across our borders, but we also have to be able to enforce the laws inside our country, and real reform will help make that possible.  It means that we need to improve the verification system for employers and ensure that illegal immigrants do not receive benefits meant for citizens. 

Any immigration reform must benefit our nation.  It should stop illegal immigration and also improve our legal immigration system.   The current process for people who want to follow the law and immigrate here legally is a nightmare.  It discourages highly educated, highly skilled workers from joining our workforce after graduating from American universities, and it encourages people to overstay their student or tourist visas with little consequence.  

In fact, about 40 percent of illegal immigrants in our country are those who came here legally with a visa but stayed after their visas expired.  We should replace the random lottery system that brings 55,000 people to the United States each year with a system that is designed to attract foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degrees into the American workforce.

To discourage the illegal immigration of those who simply want to work in the U.S. for a limited time, we need a guest worker program.  If done properly, American farmers and businesses can benefit from a strong labor force and so can the individuals and their families who come here to work temporarily. 

Once we have taken the necessary steps to secure our border and enforce our laws, we will ultimately have to decide how to deal with the 10 to 12 million people who are already in the U.S. illegally in a way that makes sense.  I oppose any type of blanket amnesty, and as I have said before, we must manage immigration in a way that promotes our national interests.  That will continue to be my goal in working on this important issue. 

I invite you to learn more about this issues by watching this edition of the video mailbox. Have a question you would like answered?  Please contact me by phone, letter, e-mail,on Facebook, or on Twitter.
 
As always, I appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,


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Prairie-Chicken and Border Patrol - Mac's Video Mailbox
Posted by on March 28, 2013

Dear Friend,

In this edition of my video mailbox, I want to answer some of your questions about the potential closures of Border Patrol stations in Texas and the Fish and Wildlife Service's upcoming decision on the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. 

I continue to hear from many folks in our area who are concerned about the proposed Border Patrol station closures in Texas, including the one in Amarillo.  Since last July, my office, along with other Texas House and Senate offices, has been working to prevent the proposed station closures.  We have also been listening to local law enforcement officials' concerns about the gap in immigration enforcement the closures will cause.  

The most recent success to halt the closures came with the latest government funding bill that specifically prohibits Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) from closing Border Patrol stations in Texas.  Unfortunately, this will only halt the closures until September, but I will continue to push CBP on this issue and insist on a realistic plan to fill any enforcement gaps.

I have also received many letters, emails, and phone calls about the Fish and Wildlife Service potentially listing the Lesser Prairie-Chicken as a threatened species.  The decision could have far reaching effects on land owners, farmers, and energy producers.  There are a lot of encouraging efforts being made at the state and local level to protect the Lesser Prairie-Chicken.  I am hopeful that those efforts, along with the input of folks from our part of Texas, will be enough to prevent the federal government from coming in and creating restrictions on what we can do with our private property.

I invite you to learn more about these issues by watching this edition of the video mailbox. Have a question you would like answered?  Please contact me by phone, letter, e-mail,on Facebook, or on Twitter.
 
As always, I appreciate hearing from you.

Sincerely,



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*Please note, this email was sent from an unattended mailbox.*  

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