As the year comes to a close, I want to share with you some highlights of 2017.
With tax reform in the news right now, it’s easy to forget the other successes Congress has had this year. To date, Congress has sent President Trump more than 92 bills that have been signed into law, including 15 under the Congressional Review Act, aimed at specifically overturning Obama-era rules and regulations. This regulatory reform has resulted in over $60 billion in cost savings. I also remain committed to strengthening immigration enforcement, national defense, and rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.
Back at home, my team remains dedicated to delivering high-quality constituent services, working to help residents of the 50th Congressional District cut through red tape at the VA, or assist with Social Security and Medicare issues.
Thank you for giving me that honor in 2017, and I look forward to continuing to serve you in 2018.
Jobs & Tax Reform
Among my top priorities is promoting job creation and economic growth so all Americans can prosper. For the first time in over 30 years, Congress passed comprehensive tax reform which will unleash economic growth and put more money back in the pockets of taxpayers like you ~ who can better decide how to spend it.
The tax legislation lowers rates for both individuals and businesses and eliminates loopholes and complex deductions to simplify the code and encourage job creation and economic growth. With this bill, a family of four earning a median income of $73,000 will receive a tax cut of $2,059.
This once-in-a-generation legislation was sent to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law. It makes our tax code internationally competitive and simple to understand.
I’m confident the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will provide direct benefits to the constituents of California’s 50th Congressional District.
Over the past two weeks, devastating wildfires have affected our district and communities across California. I have been working with House Leadership and my colleagues to bring resources to our state. I am pleased to report that tax benefits for disaster victims and funding for the recovery was included in the tax bill and a supplemental appropriations bill considered by the House this week.
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Earlier this month, the House passed H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. I proudly voted in favor of the bipartisan legislation, of which I am an original cosponsor. The long overdue legislation ensures that law-abiding citizens that have obtained a state-issued concealed carry license or permit for their firearm may carry a concealed handgun in any other state that allows concealed carry, as-long-as the individual is properly following the laws of that state.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I was pleased to see President Donald Trump sign the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law earlier this month which reaffirms our nation’s commitment to a strong national defense. Specifically, this bipartisan legislation authorizes critical military programs and provides our warfighters with the tools they need to complete their mission and keep us safe at home.
Other important provisions of the FY18 NDAA include:
Increasing troop levels over FY17 levels of 15,700+ active duty personnel over the four services;
Enhancing missile defense $4.4 billion over initial Presidential budget request;
Authorization for the first polar icebreaker to begin the recapitalization of the existing U.S. Coast Guard fleet;
Support for upgraded communication technology on the MV-22 Osprey, which has been called a game changer for our warfighters;
Ensuring critical naval components are made by American workers and American businesses;
Salary increase of 2.4% for service members.
Enhancing Veteran Care
California's 50th District is home to over 58,000 veterans and active duty service members. I am grateful and proud of their service. Earlier this month, the House passed S. 1266, the Enhancing Veteran Care Act, which authorizes the VA to contract with non-profits to investigate wrongdoing or substandard care practices. This bill would streamline the investigation process, ensuring that veterans get timely access to the quality care they deserve. We’re almost there, next up: the president’s desk to be signed into law.
Coast Guard and Homeland Security
Earlier this year, the nation saw on full display what I’ve already come to know as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. The Coast Guard saved 11,000 lives in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Crews have continued to provide relief to those affected by the hurricanes including the inspection of port facilities, transferring supplies such as food and water, and conducting search and rescues. I will continue to work with my colleagues on the subcommittee to ensure that the Coast Guard continues to look for ways to improve efficiency and improve maritime safety and security.
The Coast Guard also has an important role as the first line of defense in protecting our Maritime border. I strongly believe the first priority in immigration reform must be to strengthen border security and ensure verifiable enforcement. Without those two things being achieved, I will not support any immigration reform effort, including DACA, that does not address border enforcement and put national security first. Period. I have also joined several of my congressional colleagues in introducing two important pieces of legislation critical in the ongoing effort to curb illegal immigration; the Legal Workforce Act and the Immigration in the National Interest Act.
Education and the Workforce
As a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, I understand that we need to modernize the Higher Education Act to meet the specific needs of students. It is an essential step to rebuilding America’s middle class and providing a new era of opportunity for students. It is for this reason I introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R. 4078, the Expanding America’s Workforce Act of 2017, which would establish various programs to ease the financial burden on workers who are seeking to further their education. I have also re-introduced the bipartisan Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, alongside a Senate version led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in November. With the cost of higher education rapidly rising, this bill would allow students and their families to have access to more data to base their decision on where to pursue a higher education.
Finally, I want to remind seniors that the monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase 2.0 percent in 2018. The 2.0 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to Social Security beneficiaries in January 2018 and increased payments to SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 29, 2017. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). For more information about how COLA is calculated please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola. Information about Medicare changes for 2018 will be available at www.medicare.gov.
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As we enjoy the Christmas season, I hope you will join me in remembering the men and women who serve in our nation's military, especially the service members who are deployed abroad and unable to spend the holidays with their families. I am so grateful for them and their service.
I look forward to returning to Congress in the New Year, and I am eager to work with my colleagues to advance policies that will help keep America strong and competitive. As House Republicans prepare to begin the second session of the 115th Congress, I will continue to focus my efforts to move our country forward. Your concerns remain my priority.
As always, I hope to hear from you throughout the course of the year as Congress does its legislative work, in addition to providing effective oversight.
Duncan Hunter Member of Congress
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