Columns

Blaine's Bulletin: Updating You With What is Happening in Washington and the 3rd District

Washington, April 8, 2016
This week’s bulletin will touch on three very different issues: the failure of our nation’s immigration officials to enforce the law, a new rule from the Labor Department that will restrict access to investment advice for many Americans, and the upcoming Congressional Art Competition.

This week’s bulletin will touch on three very different issues: the failure of our nation’s immigration officials to enforce the law, a new rule from the Labor Department that will restrict access to investment advice for many Americans, and the upcoming Congressional Art Competition.

As you may recall, in March, Pablo Serrano-Vittorino, who entered our country illegally, was arrested after allegedly murdering four people in Kansas and one in Montgomery County, Missouri.  Shortly thereafter Kansas Representative Kevin Yoder and I contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and discussed these murders and the failures of our nation’s immigration officials to enforce our laws on the books. Had our laws been enforced, this alleged killer would have been deported long before these terrible tragedies took place.

Serrano-Vittorino was deported from our country once and, after illegally re-entering it, had numerous run-ins with law enforcement, but was never deported again. It has been reported that ICE was notified at least twice that Serrano-Vitorino had been arrested by local law enforcement in the 18 months preceding these murders, and yet he was allowed to be released. Unfortunately, this is not the first instance that a dangerous criminal has slipped out of ICE’s grasp and that will not be tolerated.

Needless to say, Rep. Yoder and I were left deeply unsatisfied with our discussion. As a result of our numerous questions that went unanswered, Rep. Yoder and I formally demanded that  Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson provide us answers as to how this happened, why our laws weren’t enforced, and how Homeland Security will make sure that this never happens again. What happened is unacceptable and we are demanding that Secretary Johnson not only enforce our laws, but make substantive reforms to ensure these dangerous criminals are deported.

Many Americans were also rightly concerned this week when the Labor Department finalized a new rule restricting access to investment advice. Like many rules, it is a solution in search of a problem.

As a result of this new “fiduciary” rule, families and small business owners and employees will see higher costs and restricted access to financial advice, particularly for those in rural or low-income areas. Many investment advisors and financial planners across Missouri have told me that they will be unable to provide advice unless clients already have significant assets. With our federal retirement programs lurching towards insolvency, we should make sure the American people have access to professional financial planning, not restrict it. The fact that the Labor Department is even involved in retirement planning at all makes no sense and raises numerous red flags. This is the same agency that wanted to prohibit children from helping out on their neighbors’ farms, so it’s not a surprise that it would finalize a rule that is so out of touch with the retirement needs of the American people.

Adding to the confusion, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is working on its own definition of fiduciary. Since financial products and investment advice have generally come under SEC jurisdiction, the House even passed bipartisan legislation sponsored by my Missouri colleague Ann Wagner that would allow the SEC to go first in issuing its rule before the DOL issues its own, completely different definition, but the White House and its allies have thus far stopped this commonsense bill from even being debated in the Senate.

Lastly, I wanted to update you on this year’s Congressional Art Competition. In just a couple of weeks my office will announce the winner, as selected by a local artist. My district offices have received pieces of art from high school students from across the district and I am excited to make the announcement and showcase the artwork in the United States Capitol.

There is a lot happening in the 3rd District and in Washington. If you ever would like to receive additional information or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact any of my offices.