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Legislative updates from Lamar Smith

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

House District 21 Congressman Lamar Smith provided the following updates for his constituents in the Hill Country in general and Bandera County, in particular:
• Timely care at VA
Since providing timely health care to veterans affects both Republicans and Democrats, Smith led a bipartisan group of Texas Congressional members in sending a pointed letter to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald.
The letter requested answers and action on reports of scheduling wait time manipulation at VA facilities in Austin, San Antonio and Temple.
According to Smith, the VA is simply not meeting the needs of Texas veterans. “Now, more than ever, the VA and its employees must make changes to assure that the men and women who served our nation are provided timely access to health care.”
Since the VA scandal erupted in Phoenix, Arizona, only four people were fired because of VA waiting list manipulations. Describing “complex bureaucracy” as the root of the problem, Smith wrote: “The system that is inhibiting real accountability ad perplexing the public must be restructured under your leadership.”
The letter was also signed by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Rep. Bill Flores, Rep. Henry Cuellar, Rep. Roger Williams and Rep. Joaquin Castro.
• The Science of Zika
As chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, Smith is paying close attention to the Zika virus.
During a recent hearing, the committee reviewed mechanisms for preparing for a potential Zika epidemic in the continental United States, including forecasting, controlling, preventing and testing for the disease, as well as basic research into mosquito viral transmission.
Testifying at the hearing, Dr. Stephen Presley of Texas Tech noted the importance of prevention through education and ensuring that everyone is protected by taking precautions such as draining standing water.
• Obamacare failings
A United States district judge recently ruled that the administration’s subsidy funding scheme for Obamacare was unconstitutional. This decision marked a major victory in an on-going effort to dismantle the President Barack Obama’s failed healthcare law.
However, all three major news networks ignored the ruling, leaving many Americans in the dark about the latest development involving Obamacare.
Smith recently spoke on the House floor to highlight the latest failure of the President’s signature health care law. He noted that last year, it was reported that Obamacare had created or hiked 13 additional taxes, yet this revelation was ignored by the three major networks.
“It is no wonder that only 6 percent of Americans trust the media to give them balanced news,” Smith said. “The liberal media should not ignore important information just because it conflicts with their political agenda.”
Smith concluded, “Americans deserve all the facts about Obamacare and its negative impact.”
• Restoring integrity to refugee program
According to Smith, this nation’s refugee system is broken, which has allowed terrorists to exploit the nation’s refugee programs and enter the US and aid ISIS.
Smith’s Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act ensures that Congress – not the president – sets the annual cap on the number of refugees allowed into the United States each year.
The bill also empowers state and local communities to reject refugee resettlement; enhances the integrity of refugee program; curbs fraud; and strengthens public safety and national security.
“This critical legislation has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and it is my hope that it will soon be brought up on the House floor for all members to vote on,” Smith said.