Columns

Blaine's Bulletin: Reforming Housing Policies, Halting Operation Choke Point, And So Much More

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Washington, February 5, 2016 | comments
The House of Representatives was designed to be the chamber of government closest and most responsive to the American people. Work in the House of Representatives is fast paced. A typical day involves debating legislation on the House floor, listening to and questioning witnesses in committee hearings, and, mostly, meeting with the many constituents from Missouri who travel to Washington.
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The House of Representatives was designed to be the chamber of government closest and most responsive to the American people. Work in the House of Representatives is fast paced. A typical day involves debating legislation on the House floor, listening to and questioning witnesses in committee hearings, and, mostly, meeting with the many constituents from Missouri who travel to Washington.

As your liaison from the 3rd District to Washington, one of my jobs is ensuring you always know what the House is working on and how it impacts you. In the last seven years, my colleagues and I have spent a lot of time fighting against the president’s agenda on behalf of our districts. While it may get a little less attention, we’ve also been working hard to pass our own bold, innovative, bottom-up agenda that contrasts greatly to the top-down approach that has so often been used.

This week was particularly busy week in the House. I had meaningful discussions with the many Missourians who visited my office, including members of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys who stopped by to discuss criminal justice issues.  It was also a pleasure meeting with the young Missourians who traveled to DC as a part of the Council for Drug Free Youth group. The group shared stories of how drug abuse has affected their schools and classmates and they told me what they are doing to enhance education to prevent drug usage among their peers. I was also updated on the challenges that rural hospitals face from the employees of Lake Regional Health System.

In addition, the full House considered a number of bills, including two that I authored.

The first, the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act, is legislation that reforms housing policies in America for the first time in decades. It will streamline policies and eliminate duplicative programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service. I am proud to say this legislation was not only comprehensive in nature, but also bipartisan. It passed the House with a vote of 427-0 and, most importantly, the Congressional Budget office reported this bill would save the taxpayer $311 million over five years.

The second bill that I authored that was considered by the House this week is an issue that I have been working on for a couple of years now. The Financial Institution Customer Protection Act would prevent federal agencies from abusing executive power and blocking the access of legally-operating businesses to financial services. There is a need for my legislation to be codified into law so federal agencies can’t restrict access to needed services for businesses that they simply don’t like or ideologically don’t agree with. We’ve seen both the Department of Justice and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation engage in these very practices under the name Operation Choke Point, and, with passage of this legislation, we can halt this unconstitutional program.

The House also passed the Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, which would prohibit the president from lifting financial sanctions currently in place on key Iranian officials unless the White House certifies to Congress that these individuals were not involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program or terrorist activities. This key piece of legislation also ensures that Americans and Members of Congress are granted more oversight in the president’s dealing with key Iranian officials.

Now that this week is over, it is time to get back to work on other issues I have been working on – reining in the actions of the president in regards to gun control, ensuring the flood recovery in the 3rd District is going smoothly, and getting ready to pass out the thousands of valentines so many graciously sent to my offices to be delivered to Missouri veterans!

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2230 Rayburn HOB Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-2956 tel (202) 225-5712 fax
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2117 Missouri Boulevard Jefferson City, Mo., 65109 (573) 635-7232 tel (573) 635-8347 fax
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113 East Pearce Boulevard Wentzville, Mo., 63385 (636) 327-7055 tel
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516 Jefferson St. Washington, MO 63090 (636) 239-2276 tel (636) 239-0478 fax
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