Our economy is supposed to be in recovery, but average Americans are having a hard time telling the difference, and many have simply given up looking for work. Unfortunately, in large measure due to policies by this Administration, unemployment rates throughout Southwest Virginia remain higher than in many other parts of the country.
During the largest budget deficits in U.S. history, the national debt has skyrocketed to more than $19 trillion. The government is out of money. We need solutions that promote job creation and rein in government spending, resulting in economic growth.
One of the best ways to create jobs is to get the government out of the way. The hard work and determination of our people made this country into the great nation it is today. Many parts of Southside and Southwest Virginia have experienced higher than average unemployment rates for years. Lower taxes, sensible regulation, and a playing field not tilted so heavily towards foreign countries will allow private enterprises in the Alleghany Highlands, Southside, and Southwest Virginia to regain their competitive advantage due to innovation and a strong work ethic.
Along with my team, we support and encourage Workforce Development coordinators in their plans to strengthen readiness for Advanced Manufacturing Skills for our existing workforce; encourage Planning District Commissions, cities, counties and towns to work together on regional planning concepts for attracting new manufacturers and businesses to the area.
Along with my team, we coordinate with and assist the Regional Economic Development organizations as well as individual city and county Economic Development Directors to identify and attract manufacturers and businesses to locate in the Southwest, Southside Virginia and the Alleghany Highlands.
Along with my team, we work with cities, counties, and towns to strengthen the relationships with our existing businesses and find opportunities to help them grow. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities and I will continue to support them anyway we can.
I was an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More (RECLAIM) Act (H.R. 4456). This bill aims to accelerate $1 billion in existing available funding in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation (AML) Fund to revitalize coal communities hardest hit by the downturn of the coal industry. The AML program, established as part of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), promotes the reclamation of certain sites that were mined and then abandoned. The RECLAIM Act is an important bill to help reinvigorate coal communities throughout Appalachia struggling with reclaiming and restoring abandoned mine sites in a way that would help put people back to work.
Further, I offered an amendment, which was adopted and passed, to the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (Interior Appropriations bill, H.R. 5538), to expand on the Administration’s POWER Plus program, a program which acknowledges the damaging effects of the Administration’s regulatory onslaught in coal-producing communities. My amendment provides an increase in grant funding to Appalachian states for the reclamation of abandoned mine lands in conjunction with economic and community development and reuse goals. The House Interior Appropriations Committee initially recommended that Virginia receive $5 million when expanding these grants. Believing additional funding is needed to assist with economic development work in Appalachia, my staff and I worked closely with the Committee on the amendment to double that amount to $10 million. While I continue fighting to defend the reasonable, rational use of coal and working to counter the ongoing regulatory onslaught on our coal regions, I continue my efforts to advance economic development strategies as well.
Original cosponsor of Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2015 (H.R. 427). This legislation would requires an up-or-down vote on “major rules” (those rules that have an annual economic impact of $100 million or more) by Congress before they can be enforced on the American public. The REINS Act would restore congressional accountability by requiring Congress and the President to approve major rules before they can be enforced against the American people. It would improve the regulatory process by making Members of Congress accountable to their constituents for the regulations that go into effect, and would prevent unnecessary regulations that the American people do not want.
Introduced H.R. 2250, the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, to make sure the EPA got regulations right on boilers for businesses, manufacturers, hospitals, universities, and municipalities without imposing unnecessary costs. My bill passed the House of Representatives on October 13, 2011 with bipartisan support with a vote of 275-142. Similar legislation in the Senate garnered the support of 42 members from both sides of the aisle. The final “Boiler MACT” rules finalized by the EPA in December of 2012 clearly reflected some of the concerns that I expressed that earlier Boiler MACT regulations were unworkable, and the EPA showed a willingness to work with businesses using wood products and byproducts as fuel.
Led a letter with Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) to President Obama calling for strong, enforceable protections against currency manipulation in the final Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. 154 other Members of Congress signed on to our letter. We cannot get a good trade deal with countries if they continue to manipulate their currency and leverage an unfair trade advantage which hurts our American economy and decimates our businesses and jobs.
Cosponsored the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2015 (H.R. 465). H.R. 465 amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow private sector employers and employees to establish agreements that provide for compensatory time off in lieu of monetary overtime compensation – an option that is currently available for federal, state, and local government employees. Specifically, H.R. 465 authorizes compensatory time off at a rate of no less than one and one half hours for each hour of overtime worked. Employees face significant challenges as they balance work, family and personal obligations. Workers in the private sector should have choice and flexibility when it comes to caring for their families and juggling the demands of their career. Unfortunately wage and hour laws currently prohibit private sector employers from offering non-exempt employees the option of paid time off in lieu of overtime payments. H.R. 465 is a commonsense proposal that will remove unnecessary federal restrictions and help more Americans balance family and work.
Introduced the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act (H.R. 3434), with Rep. Robert Hurt and Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from blocking permits for industrial parks and other economic development sites that do not yet have an identified end user. The Corps was blocking a permit for the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre in Henry County, which is a proposed development to attract in new industry and create jobs. By working together, we were able to convince the Army Corps to finally grant this permit so Henry County can begin the work of developing the sites and attracting new businesses into Southside and Southwest Virginia.
Voted in support of the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act (H.R. 1732), which would require the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw their overreaching Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. This controversial rule redefines the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act. In doing so, it vastly expands EPA’s authority over various wet areas. I remain opposed to the WOTUS rule, and will continue working to fight this and other overreaching EPA actions.
Supported the Resilient Federal Forests Act (H.R. 2647), legislation that would reopen federal forest land for responsible timber harvesting, cut down on costs and planning time for forest management projects, and allow more revenue to flow to rural counties.
Cosponsored the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (H.R. 235) to permanently prohibit taxing Internet access. I support an open and free Internet with minimal government regulation, and I do not want to see new taxes imposed on one of the most dynamic aspects of our economy and culture.
Cosponsored and voted in favor of the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 30) to define a full-time employee as one who works an average of at least 40 hours per week. Obamacare’s employer mandate requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees (which, in the case of Obamacare, applies to employees working 30 or more hours each week) to provide health insurance coverage to employees, or face a penalty tax up to several thousand dollars per employee. The employer mandate went into effect in January 2016. Even before January, many employers began reducing their employees’ hours to less than 30 hours per week in an attempt to avoid the considerable expense of complying with Obamacare. Hours have been cut as a result of this rule by the Commonwealth of Virginia; localities, including some in the Ninth District; and businesses. Such a reduction obviously creates economic hardships for the employees affected.
Supported legislation to fully repeal Obamacare (H.R. 596) and voted to defund Obamacare. Obamacare is contributing negatively to the already sluggish economy, as implementation costs are rising and people are losing their health insurance plans, only to find them replaced with plans that cost more and have higher deductibles.
Original co-sponsor of the Virginia Jobs and Energy Act (H.R. 1840), which would fast track oil, natural gas, and other energy development off Virginia’s coasts.
Voted to support the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015 (H.R. 1734), which would provide for the safe management and disposal of coal combustion residuals by setting enforceable federal standards while allowing states to craft their own permitting programs. H.R. 1734 would also prevent EPA from classifying coal ash as a hazardous substance. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule in 2015 to regulate fossil fuel combustion wastes, otherwise known as coal ash or fly ash, and has left open the possibility of classifying these byproducts as a hazardous waste in the future. This designation, if pursued, would completely stop American businesses from recycling these materials into a number of useful products, such as concrete mixtures for our roads, bridges, and buildings. Such a move by the EPA would destroy jobs, raise electricity prices, and increase costs for several industries that beneficially reuse coal ash.
Voted to support the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act (S. 1), which would approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline by removing the requirement for a Presidential permit and would grant additional federal permits required for the project. I voted to clear the way for the Keystone XL pipeline because of its contributions to our energy security and the jobs it would create for the American people. There is no question that construction of the Keystone XL would be a major American job creator. The Senate and the House of Representatives both passed S. 1 with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the President used his pen to veto this pro-jobs bill and the Senate was unable to override this veto. In November of 2015, the President officially rejected the pipeline application.
Received the “Guardian of Small Business Award” from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) for the 112th,113th and 114th Congresses - 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Recognized as a Hero of Main Street in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 by the National Retail Federation. (Award was established in 2013).
Received the National Association of Manufacturers’ Legislative Excellence Award for 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 (112th,113th,and114th Congresses), which recognizes Members of Congress whose legislative records support policies that enable American manufacturers to compete in the global marketplace.
Received the U.S Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award for 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
Named “Legislator of the Year” in 2015 by the American Composites Manufacturers Association in recognition of work that I have done in Congress in support of the composites industry.
Member of several Congressional caucuses, including the Coal Caucus, Dairy Farmers Caucus, Steel Caucus, Textile Caucus, and E-Tech Caucus, all of which serve to promote American job growth in their respective workforce.
Washington, DC Office 2202 Rayburn HOBWashington, D.C. 20515T (202) 225-3861 F (202) 225-0076Abingdon District Office323 West Main StreetAbingdon, VA 24210T (276) 525-1405 F (276) 525-1444Christiansburg District Office17 West Main StreetChristiansburg, VA 24073T (540) 381-5671 F (540) 381-5675Big Stone Gap OfficeFederal CourthouseBig Stone Gap, VA 24219T (276) 525-1405 - By Appointment Only