Virginia Business, – September 10, 2021 (Short)
The Virginia Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization program intends to award funds to eight economic development projects across Southwest Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam and U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, announced Friday.
The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, which will be renamed the Virginia Department of Energy on Oct. 1, administers the program. The U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement will review the projects and must approve them before the funds are officially awarded.
The following funding awards have been recommended:
- Norton will receive $2.5 million for Project Intersection Phase IV, an industrial site development aiming to attract new manufacturing businesses.
- Buchanan County will receive $2 million for Buchanan County Solar, a commercial solar development on a reclaimed surface coal mine.
- For the Elam Farm Property Infrastructure Development, an industrial site for light manufacturing facilities, Wise County will receive almost $1.71 million.
- The Southwest Virginia Energy Research and Development Authority is set to get $975,000 for Project Innovation, a regional project to create an “energy lab” for researchers in the energy industry.
- Lee County was granted $500,000 for the Lee County Indoor Farm-Greenhouse project to create a pad for an indoor grow farm.
- Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority will receive $500,000 for Project Thoroughbred Phase II, a grain processing, storage and distribution terminal.
- Wise County is receiving $371,000 to make improvements and upgrade the existing baseball and softball facility at Veldon Dotson Recreation Park into a travel ball field for tournaments.
- Dickenson County will get $300,000 to add a swimming pool and update restrooms at the Breaks Interstate Park’s waterpark.
The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has received $10 million in federal funding each year to develop abandoned mine land sites in the region since 2017.
Current Position: US Representative since 2011
Candidate: 2021 US Senator
Former Position(s): State Delegate from 1993 – 2010
Source: Government page
Morgan Griffith was first elected to represent the Ninth Congressional District of Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives on November 2, 2010, and is currently serving his fourth term. Morgan is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over some of the most important issues facing Virginia’s Ninth District including public health and federal regulations.
For the 115th Congress, Morgan was named Vice Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. In addition, Morgan serves on its Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Energy.
Prior to his election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Morgan served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1994 to 2011, where he represented the Eighth District. In 2000, Morgan was elected House Majority Leader, the first Republican in Virginia history to hold that position.
Morgan is a graduate of Salem’s Andrew Lewis High School and an honors graduate of Emory & Henry College. After completing studies at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, Morgan returned to Southwest Virginia where he practiced law for nearly three decades.
Morgan is married to Hilary, and together they have three children.
Howard Morgan Griffith (born March 15, 1958) is an American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 9th congressional district since 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party and the Freedom Caucus.
He was the majority leader of the Virginia House of Delegates and represented the 8th District, serving from 1994 until 2011. The district included all of Salem, Virginia and parts of Roanoke County.
Griffith was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but his family moved to Salem, Virginiawhile he was a baby. He attended Andrew Lewis High School, graduating in 1976. He attended Emory and Henry College, graduating in 1980. Griffith completed his education with a J.D. from the Washington and Lee University School of Law in 1983.
After law school, Griffith settled in Salem where he worked as a private attorney with a focus on traffic violations and DUI. On June 23, 2008, Albo & Oblon LLP, a law firm run by fellow Republican delegate Dave Albo, announced that Griffith was joining the firm as head of its new Roanoke/Salem office.
Griffith is married to the former Hilary Davis. The couple has three children. He is Episcopalian.
Albo & Oblon LLP
- Honors graduate
Emory & Henry College
Washington and Lee University School of Law
Washington DC Office
2202 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3861
Fax: 202) 225-0076
323 West Main Street
Abingdon, VA 24210
Phone: (276) 525-1405
Fax: (276) 525-1444
17 West Main Street
Christiansburg, VA 24073
Early political career
Griffith first became seriously involved in politics in 1986, when he was chosen as the chairman of the Salem Republican Party. He held that position from 1986 to 1988 and from 1991 to 1994.
Virginia House of Delegates
In 1993, Griffith was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, defeating Democrat Howard C. Packett. He served as the Vice-Chairman of the Rules Committee in the House of Delegates. He served on the Courts of Justice Committee, and was the chairman of its Criminal Law Subcommittee. He also served on the Commerce and Labor and the Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committees. He was elected House Majority Leader in 2000 and was the first Republican to hold that position in Virginia’s history.
U.S. House of Representatives
Griffith was the Republican nominee to face longtime U.S. Congressman Rick Boucher, who was first elected in 1982. His home in Salem was just outside the 9th’s borders at the time; it was in the 6th District of fellow Republican Bob Goodlatte. However, most of his House of Delegates district was in the 9th.
Griffith jumped into the race after Boucher voted for the cap and trade bill. Boucher made much of the fact that Griffith didn’t live in the district. In turn, Griffith branded Boucher as a rubber stamp for Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. Griffith narrowly won the election.
Griffith defeated Democratic nominee Anthony Flaccavento 61.3 percent to 38.6 percent.
2018 US Representative
|Morgan Griffith (R)||160,933||65.16%|
|Anthony J. Flaccavento (D)||85,833||34.75%|
|Write In (Write-in)||214||0.09%|
2016 US Representative
|Morgan Griffith (R)||212,838||68.6%|
|Derek W. Kitts (D)||87,877||28.3%|
|Janice Allen Boyd ()||9,050||2.9%|
|Write In (Write-in)||562||0.2%|
2014 US Representative
|Morgan Griffith (R)||117,465||72.1%|
|William Ray Carr, Jr. (D)||39,412||24.2%|
|Write In (Write-in)||5,940||3.6%|
2012 US Representative
|Morgan Griffith (R)||184,882||61.3%|
|Anthony J. Flaccavento (D)||116,400||38.6%|
|Write In (Write-in)||394||0.1%|
2010 US Representative
|Morgan Griffith (R)||95,726||51.2%|
|Rick C. Boucher (D)||86,743||46.4%|
|Jeremiah D. Heaton ()||4,282||2.3%|
|Write In (Write-in)||166||0.1%|
Source: Department of Elections
GRIFFITH, H MORGAN has run in 11 races for public office, winning 11 of them. The candidate has raised a total of $7,083,599.
Source: Follow the Money
See: Vote Smart
- To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to compounding pharmacies, and for other purposes.
Also see Government Website
- I believe that Congress has a responsibility to the American people to rein in wasteful and excessive spending. Currently, the national debt is more than $21 trillion. High debt means a future of high interest, high inflation, and low jobs. We cannot sustain this path.
- My generation elected the officials who made the decisions to excessively spend and borrow. My generation received whatever benefits were had from all the spending. Therefore, my generation of political leaders has an obligation to solve the nation’s debt problem and not simply pass the burden onto our children and grandchildren.
- Supports a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would control spending by prohibiting the Federal Government from spending more than it receives in revenues. Virginia and many other states already operate under similar guidelines.
- Co-sponsored H. J. Res. 1 and H. J. Res. 2 in the 115th Congress, which would require that Congress not spend more than it receives in revenues, require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress, and require a 3/5 majority vote to increase the national debt limit. I voted in support of H. J. Res 2, which was brought to the House floor for a vote in April 2018, but unfortunately it did not pass.
- Original co-sponsor of the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, which would direct the Government Accountability Office to conduct a complete audit of the Fed within one year of the bill becoming law.
- Original co-sponsor of the Agency Accountability Act, which would direct all fines, fees, penalties, and other unappropriated proceeds to the Treasury, making them subject to the appropriations process. This legislation would reinstate Congress’s proper oversight and funding role by bringing these funds under Congressional appropriation.
- Led an effort to change the rules of the House of Representatives to give Members of the House the ability to offer amendments on the floor to cut the amount of money an agency could receive, the number of employees the U.S. government or its agencies could have, and the amount of money that could be paid to an employee of the U.S. government. It is impossible to get serious about cutting spending and setting priorities in Washington when our own rules prevent us from doing so. This rule was passed for both years of the 115th Congress but was not renewed by the Nancy Pelosi-led Democrat majority.
- The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” While some may disagree, I believe the plain language of this Amendment guarantees the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.
- I introduced H.R. 358 to strengthen federal protections for law abiding Americans traveling with firearms. Current law includes protections for individuals transporting firearms between places where they are legally allowed to have them. However, some states continue to harass and detain travelers who are abiding by federal law. My bill, which is endorsed by the NRA, puts an end to these practices and makes it clear that the rights of American citizens can no longer be ignored.
- I opposed efforts by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring to end reciprocity agreements and stop recognizing concealed carry gun permits from 25 states, including Tennessee, which was to take effect on Monday, February 1, 2016. This action would have had a significant impact on our region, and would have regrettably left concealed carry permit holders from states such as Tennessee without the ability to protect themselves or others from harm. I held a press conference with Rep. Phil Roe to discuss the effects Attorney General Herring’s decision would have had on our constituents who regularly cross state lines – some who do so by simply walking across the street – as well as local law enforcement tasked with carrying out the policy. I am encouraged that the Governor and Attorney General backed off of this misguided decision and were able to negotiate an agreement with Republican leaders of the Virginia General Assembly.
- I am a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which works to protect and preserve the interests of our nation’s sportsmen, including hunters, shooters, and anglers.
- I believe the Constitution is the bedrock foundation of the United States of America. It enumerates the rights of individuals and the express limitations of government.
- I take seriously my oath to support and defend the Constitution. With its guidance, I look forward to finding solutions for critical issues to the people of the Ninth District of Virginia and the country as a whole.
- Member of the Congressional Constitution Caucus, a bipartisan group that seeks to restore limited government to safeguard individual liberty as prescribed by the Constitution.
- Member of the House Liberty Caucus, a congressional caucus dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets, and individual liberty.
- I pushed to restore the democracy envisioned by our Founders by introducing a resolution (H. Res. 431) disapproving of the Senate’s modern filibuster rule that allows a minority in the Senate to block congressional action. I believe that eliminating the modern filibuster/cloture procedures will allow more bills to be voted on. More voting will, in my opinion, lead to more compromises, and more compromises will allow the legislative branch to make more progress on the important issues of the day such as growing jobs and our economy.
- Original co-sponsor of the Separation of Powers Restoration Act (H.R. 76), which would overturn the Supreme Court’s 1984 decision in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., which has added to confusion in the courts, Congress, the legal bar, and legal academia regarding whether, when, and how courts should defer to federal agencies’ interpretations of the statutes they administer, a practice known as “Chevron deference” or “administrative deference.” The legislation would work to restore the balance of power between all three branches of government and codify measures to rein in the executive branch.
- I introduced the Reclaiming Congress’s Constitutional Mandate in Trade Resolution, legislation to establish a Joint Ad Hoc Congressional Committee on Trade Responsibilities which would be tasked with developing a plan to move to the legislative branch functions and responsibilities of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which would be in accordance with Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution. Congress has ceded broad responsibilities for negotiating trade deals and import duties to the USTR. Article 1, Section 8 establishes that Congress shall have power “To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises…” and “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations…” I believe my bill will make the USTR more responsive to American people and businesses.
- I voted against the National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 because in each instance the NDAA legislation arguably expands the original Authorization of the Use of Military Force, which was enacted in the aftermath of 9/11. I was particularly concerned with these bills because, I believe, the NDAA would permit the U.S. military to detain American citizens on American soil without all of their Constitutional guarantees. When language isn’t absolutely clear, and there is an issue of liberty for U.S. citizens, if I am to err, I choose to err on the side of liberty.
- I joined other Members of Congress in filing a brief in the Supreme Court case United States v. Texas to oppose President Obama’s abuse of authority through his unconstitutional immigration actions.
- 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. 1731). 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 theSurface 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.
- Cosponsor of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 26). 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.
- Introduced the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act (H.R. 3434), with former Rep. Robert Hurt and Sens. 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.
- Supported legislation to repeal Obamacare 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. 1756), which would fast track oil, natural gas, and other energy development off Virginia’s coasts.
- Received the “Guardian of Small Business Award” from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) for the 112th,113th,114th, and 115th Congresses – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.
- Recognized as a Hero of Main Street in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018 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, and 114th 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, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.
- 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.
• The goal of tax legislation should be to let hard-working Americans keep more of their money, stimulate economic growth, and encourage hiring and investment here.
• The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, enacted in December 2017, significantly improved upon the old tax code. It lowered rates for most individuals, got rid of many loopholes, and encouraged businesses to bring back money from overseas.
• The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been good for American jobs and pocketbooks. Any new tax legislation should build on this success, including making the recent tax cuts for middle-class families permanent.
• Voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017.
• Encouraged the tax reform conference committee to retain the Historic Tax Credit, which benefits the economy of some of our older towns and cities. The credit was retained. For this, I was recognized as a “Historic Tax Credit Champion” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
• Co-sponsored H.R. 4886, the Permanent Tax Cuts for Americans Act, which would make the individual provisions of tax reform permanent.
• Voted for the Retirement, Savings, and Other Tax Relief Act, the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act, the American Innovation Act, and the Family Savings Act as part of additional efforts to reform the tax code.
• Original co-sponsor of H.R. 937, the Universal Savings Account Act, which would permit individuals to set up a tax-free savings account and for which withdrawals – for any reason at any time – are tax-free. This legislation would allow up to $5,500 in contributions to the account each year.
- I believe teachers, parents, and local school boards are in the best position to assess the needs of their students.
- While the states and local school districts should be given more flexibility, the Federal Government continues to play a critical role in providing part of funding for educational opportunities for disabled and low-income children.
- A high-quality education, especially in a more complex and dynamic economy, is something every child should have access to. This includes quality education for those children who desire to pursue a traditional college education and those who desire career and/or technical education. Our country’s economic growth is driven by a well-educated, well-trained, and well-rounded workforce
- Voted to support the Every Student Succeeds Act in the 114th Congress. The Every Student Succeeds Act replaced No Child Left Behind and established state-determined accountability systems, which will give states and school districts the authority to measure student performance. The bill increased the flexibility of states and school districts to develop school improvement strategies and rewards, but maintained the requirement that states and school districts distribute yearly report cards that contain information on graduation rates and student achievement. In an effort to promote a more reasonable role for the Federal Government in our education system, the Every Student Succeeds Act also eliminated some elementary and secondary education programs while consolidating others. This bill passed both the House and the Senate and was signed into law on December 10, 2015.
- Strong supporter of the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which offsets costs incurred by counties and cities as a result of federal lands in their jurisdiction. Since federal lands aren’t taxable property, these PILT payments are intended to make up for this lost revenue to the local government and to cover expenses such as education, etc.
- Member of the Congressional Rural Education Caucus. The caucus is a bipartisan group of Members interested in working together to promote greater awareness of the unique needs and functions of rural school systems.
Energy and Environment
- I support an “all of the above” energy strategy that serves American economic and security interests. Coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, hydropower, domestic oil, and biomass all may play a critical role in America’s energy future. The United States possesses a tremendous amount of natural resources, and we must take full advantage of all options to unlock America’s full potential.
- I support coal use and production. Coal is a vital component of the American economy, with a third of the nation’s electricity being generated from it. We need to increase current coal production and eliminate overly burdensome regulations that hurt the industry with little to no environmental gains. I also support research into technologies to burn coal more efficiently.
- I support common sense policies that safeguard our ability to have clean air and clean water without unreasonably jeopardizing thousands of jobs or burdening American families with unbearable energy costs.
- Secured funding for a pilot program to reclaim abandoned mine lands for economic and community development in Virginia. Several awards have already been issued in the Ninth District under this program, including:
- $3.5 million for a 200-acre industrial park in the City of Norton. The park is a product of regional cooperation in the Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority (RIFA), which consists of Norton and the Counties of Lee, Scott, Wise, and Dickenson. An unstable highwall will be removed and onsite material will be used for earthwork.
- $3,199,553 to create an industrial site in Russell County. The site to be cleaned up once hosted the prominent Moss No. 3 coal preparation plant and a coal fines pit. It will become part of an industrial park encompassing 232 acres. Some old structures will be removed while others, such as rail siding and electric lines, will be repurposed to support the industrial site.
- $1.5 million for the Pocahontas Exhibition Mine in Tazewell County. Funding will support improvements to the mine and museum as well as reclamation of adjacent abandoned land for commercial development, enhancing the experience of future visitors.
- $711,100 to close nine old mine portals and convert an access road to a trail that connects with the Cranes Nest Trail in Dickenson County. The Cranes Nest Trail is available for hiking, biking, and equestrian use.
- $88,302 to improve the Devil’s Fork Loop Trail in Scott County. The trail showcases the famous Devil’s Bathtub. Funding will close an old mine portal, improve the trail, and expand parking at the site.
- Introduced a bill to reform the complicated New Source Review permitting program governing upgrades to emissions sources such as factories and power plans. It was the subject of a legislative hearing in May 2018.
- Introduced H.R. 2880, the Promoting Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower Act, to streamline how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licenses certain hydropower projects. This bill passed the House of Representatives in December 2017. This legislation was signed into law as a part of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 on October 23, 2018.
- I sponsored H.R. 446 and H.R. 447, legislation to extend the deadlines for commencement of construction of hydroelectric projects at the Gathright Dam in Alleghany County and the Flannagan Dam in Dickenson County. These projects would generate power by utilizing the flows that are normally released by the Army Corps’ operation of the dams and will have an estimated combined capacity of 5.5 megawatts. Both H.R. 446 and H.R. 447 passed the House of Representatives and the Senate and were signed into law on July 23, 2018.
- Support increased funding for the Department of Fossil Energy and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Cosponsored the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act (REINS) Act, which would require Congress to approve of all new major regulations that cost $100 million or more, or which result in a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, industries, or state and local government agencies.
- Obamacare has helped some people get insurance, I consistently hear from constituents that due to increases in co-pays, deductibles, and the base cost of their insurance, they believe they were better off financially – and had better insurance – before the onset of Obamacare.
- I support fairness for all Americans when it comes to their personal health care. I oppose the Federal Government meddling with the doctor-patient relationship by mandating what medical services will and will not be covered for senior citizens through Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB was repealed in February 2018 with the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act.
- I believe in health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and in protecting and promoting access to health care for rural Americans.
- I believe in empowering patients to receive quality, affordable health care that meets that patient’s individual health care needs and removing federal barriers that exist to this care, especially for those with terminal illnesses who are willing to take risks with new and experimental treatments.
- Introduced the FAST Act, which will expand access to certain stroke telehealth services. The FAST Act was signed into law on February 9, 2018. Prior to it being signed into law, Medicare only allowed for coverage of telestroke in the most rural, underserved areas. The FAST Act allows reimbursement for telestroke consultations under Medicare regardless of where the patient happens to be located. Through telestroke, a patient having a stroke can gain access to specialists through the use of interactive video-conferencing, even if the hospital at which the patient is receiving treatment does not have a stroke neurologist available around the clock. It can expand the diagnoses of ischemic strokes, thus allowing patients to more quickly be treated with Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA), a “magic, clot-busting drug” that helps dissolve blood clots and reverse disability if administered promptly. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke and receiving treatment promptly are crucial when attempting to minimize the harmful impact of a stroke. tPA and telestroke ought to be more readily available to help improve patients’ chances of recovering from a stroke.
- Supported the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), which was signed into law in October 2018. This package of bills addresses the nation’s ongoing efforts to combat our nation’s opioid and drug abuse crisis. This issue is especially critical in Southwest Virginia, which has been disproportionately affected. This legislation included two bills which I authored: the CONNECTIONS Act, which improves federal support for state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) and provides for enhanced collection of substance abuse data, and the Medicaid PARTNERSHIP Act, which incorporates PDMP data into the clinical workflow of Medicaid providers.
- As Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2017-18, I helped lead the investigation into how the practices and failures of specific opioid distributors and manufacturers may have fueled the opioid epidemic. We also investigated the failures of agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in properly dealing with potential opioid problems.
- Was the Republican lead on the Improving Access to Mental Health Services Act, which was signed into law as part of H.R. 6 in October 2018. This legislation will allow National Health Service Corps members, who are behavioral and mental health professionals, to practice in schools, at community-based organizations, and allow for home-visiting, in order to best meet the needs of their patients and communities. These changes will especially help improve access to mental health care for children living in rural areas.
- Community pharmacists have been increasingly charged retroactive fees (DIR fees) after prescriptions are filled, which hurts, and sometimes destroys, their business. A majority of these pharmacists said they receive no information about when DIR fees will be collected or their size, while many also noted that DIR fees can total thousands of dollars each month. In response to this, I introduced the Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act, which would ensure our community pharmacists receive reimbursement at the rate posted at the time the prescription is filled. This bill would guarantee that pharmacists know exactly what they will be reimbursed when you get your prescriptions filled.
- I hosted an Opioid Roundtable with Congressman Roe (R-TN), which engaged law enforcement, health care providers, and political leaders in a discussion about the opioid epidemic and how to best collaborate to fight this growing crisis. One of the concepts discussed at the roundtable – permitting certain additional people (pharmacists, doctors, etc.) to take back expired, unused, or unwanted prescription opioid drugs – was included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which was signed into law in July 2016. This measure will help decrease opportunities for individuals to acquire drugs that are not theirs.
- Introduced legislation to ensure that our coal miners can keep their expanded Black Lung benefits should Obamacare be repealed. I believe it is wrong to take away the Black Lung benefit improvements included as part of the health care law.
- Introduced the Compassionate Freedom of Choice Act, which would allow terminally ill patients to use drugs, treatments, and devices that have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration if their physicians certify that such patients have no other treatment options and the patient gives written, informed consent that they are aware of any potentials risks of the treatment. For patients whose doctors have exhausted current medical options and the patient has been told that the end of life is nearing, I do not think the government should care what treatment the patient may choose, and these patients should have the freedom to decide if the risk of an experimental drug is worth it for themselves. While not going as far as I would have liked, the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act was passed and signed into law with my support. S. 204 aims to address the challenges terminally ill patients face when seeking unapproved treatments, similar to my bill.
- Introduced the bipartisan Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act with Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) to allow any willing pharmacy located within medically underserved or health professional shortage areas, like our rural communities in Southwest Virginia, to participate in Medicare Part D preferred networks. While Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy network plans were designed to make prescription drugs more affordable for beneficiaries, these plans have created confusion for seniors and put community pharmacies at a competitive disadvantage. Some seniors, especially in rural areas, have reported having to travel upwards of 20 miles in order to get their medications from a preferred pharmacy network because their local community pharmacy was not given the opportunity to participate in such a network. For me, this is an issue of fairness for all those who make their home in rural America.
- Introduced the Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act (LUMMA). This bill would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug and would also prohibit the Federal Government from preventing the prescription, possession, transportation, and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes in compliance with applicable state law such as the Virginia medicinal marijuana law that has been on the books since 1979. LUMMA does not involve the recreational use of marijuana – which I oppose – but instead would put marijuana in the same category as drugs like codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, and others which are currently accepted for medical use, which would allow for further research into the risks and benefits of marijuana as a treatment for cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, and other illnesses.
- Co-sponsored and voted to support the 21st Century Cures Act, which will help to modernize our health care system, improve FDA processes, and accelerate the discovery, development, and delivery cycle of new cures and treatments for diseases. This legislation was signed into law in 2016.
- Co-sponsored and voted to support the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act, which would permanently repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB is a 15-member board of non-elected officials charged with recommending Medicare spending reductions. This would result in bureaucrats, not doctors, making health decisions for seniors.
- Supported the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, which amended Obamacare to allow states to continue to treat business with 51-100 employees as small businesses. This policy change protects small to mid-sized employers from significant premium increases that would’ve been imposed under Obamacare’s expansion of the small group market to include groups with up to 100 employees.
- Original co-sponsor of the Protect Medical Innovation Act, which repeals the medical device tax. The medical device tax, included in Obamacare, would raise the cost of medical devices, which includes prosthetics, knee replacements, and x-rays, for consumers as well as job creators.
- Member of Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse and Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamines.
- Like so many other things in Washington, legal immigration by fully vetted immigrants who want to contribute and share in the American Dream has become too difficult. While it is appropriate to vet immigrants in order to minimize the risks of terrorists entering the country under the guise of immigration, some of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services rules and regulations are merely burdensome and nitpicking, thus making the process more expensive, burdensome, and time consuming without providing additional security to those in the United States.
- The lack of security on our southern border has become a humanitarian crisis. Those who decide to make the trip north face an extremely costly and dangerous journey. Illegal immigrants face the threat of being trafficked and sexually assaulted. In fact, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 31% of women and 17% of men making this journey are sexually assaulted. There are also legitimate fears, because of past occurrences, that unaccompanied minors, whose arrivals increased by 25% from 2017 to 2018, will be released to adults who pose a threat to their safety and well-being. Methamphetamines, trafficked across the border by these cartels into places across the country including Southwest Virginia, increased by 38% from fiscal year 2017 to fiscal year 2018. That same period saw a 22% increase in heroin and an astonishing 73% increase in fentanyl. These statistics are extremely concerning. Building a wall, in some places a physical wall, but in other areas smart fences and other technology, will help reduce human trafficking and the flow of illegal aliens and illicit drugs that now cross the border with relative ease. We must also make sure that appropriate measures are in place to protect all ports of entry across the country.
- I support the use of the E-Verify system. Federal law mandates that employers only hire individuals who are eligible to legally work in the United States. The E-Verify system “compares information from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility.”
- Voted in support of the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) and the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act (H.R. 6136). H.R. 4760 would have authorized money for border security, ended the visa lottery program, cut funds for sanctuary cities, and mandated E-Verify to ensure a legal workforce. H.R. 4760 also would have protected Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients. H.R. 6163, in addition to the above solutions, also included provisions to address problems with returning H-2B visas and created a new guestworker program for the agriculture industry. It also included a provision to protect children from being separated from their parent or legal guardian when apprehended at the border. Unfortunately, both of these bills failed to pass the House when voted on in 2018.
- Congress must provide the long-term predictability that states need to undertake major construction projects. The short-term extensions to the highway transportation law have been necessary to keep current projects running. However, comprehensive transportation legislation is needed.
- I believe states need to be provided more flexibility and regulatory certainty to determine their own unique infrastructure priorities, including highways, bridges, tunnels, economic development sites, recreational trials, and walking and bicycling paths.
- The safety of our nation’s highways and bridges must be improved. Among other things, a finalized transportation plan must encourage private investment through public-private partnerships so that we can use the least amount of taxpayer dollars and accelerate the construction of priority projects.
- Co-sponsored the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, which would block the EPA’s attempts to regulate modified motor vehicles used for racing and outlaw the modification of street vehicles into race-only vehicles. This bill protects automobile racing, which has a strong presence in the Ninth District including but not limited to the Martinsville and Bristol Speedways, the Motor Mile, and Rural Retreat.
- Opposes certain NAFTA long-haul trucking provisions. For instance, foreign truck drivers have less incentive to pay traffic fines they receive on U.S. highways. A comprehensive record of a foreign truck driver’s safety violations can be difficult to obtain. Finally, unfamiliarity with local terrain (like our hills and mountains) can lead to more accidents and increased frustration.
- Social Security has proven to be a very successful program, keeping millions of Americans from suffering extreme poverty in their retirement.
- Cuts to Medicare that were included in Obamacare, and the failure to enact long-term reform to Medicare’s physician payment system will be detrimental to seniors, as some doctors will find it too expensive to continue to provide care to Medicare patients.
- I believe that there are common-sense approaches to addressing Medicare’s long-term financing challenges. We can start with reforms that target waste and fraud in the system.
- I strongly support efforts to make prescription drugs more affordable and preserve beneficiary access for Medicare Part D.
- Burdensome federal regulations are making access to our domestic energy sources more difficult and expensive. Higher energy prices means higher prices on food, gas, medicines, and the cost of housing, which is placing financial hardships on America’s seniors.
- While the cost of many goods has decreased, many staples in senior lives have not. In particular, health care costs and energy costs continue to take a bigger and bigger bite out of many folks’ Social Security benefits.
- I believe that because the number of retired workers is projected to double in less than 30 years as baby-boomers enter retirement age, it is vital that we take action to improve and strengthen health care for current and future retirees.
- Introduced the bipartisan Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies Act (H.R. 1939) with Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) to allow any willing pharmacy located within medically underserved or health professional shortage areas, like our rural communities in Southwest Virginia, to participate in Medicare Part D preferred networks. While Medicare Part D preferred pharmacy network plans were designed to make prescription drugs more affordable for beneficiaries, these plans have created confusion for seniors and put community pharmacies at a competitive disadvantage. Some seniors, especially in rural areas, have reported having to travel upwards of 20 miles in order to get their medications from a preferred pharmacy network because their local community pharmacy was not given the opportunity to participate in such a network. For me, this is an issue of fairness for all those who make their home in rural America.
- Original co-sponsor of and voted for the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act (H.R. 849), which would permanently repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). The IPAB is a 15-member board of non-elected officials charged with recommending Medicare spending reductions. This would result in bureaucrats, not doctors, making health decisions for seniors.
- Many seniors like to use their local pharmacies because they have seen their pharmacist for years. However, community pharmacists have been increasingly charged retroactive fees (DIR fees) after prescriptions are filled, which hurts, and sometimes destroys, their business. A majority of these pharmacists said they receive no information about when DIR fees will be collected or their size, while many also noted that DIR fees can total thousands of dollars each month. In response to this, I introduced the Improving Transparency and Accuracy in Medicare Part D Spending Act (H.R. 1038), which would ensure our community pharmacists receive reimbursement at the rate posted at the time the prescription is filled. This bill would make it so pharmacists know exactly what they’re getting paid when you get your prescriptions filled.
- I am grateful to the men and women who have served our country. Generations of men and women have fought with great valor to preserve and protect our nation. Unfortunately, many take for granted the freedoms we hold so dear and forget that those freedoms are not free. We will forever be indebted to those who have served.
- Ensuring affordable, quality benefits for military retirees is a priority of Congress. Many of our military retirees were promised health care for life when they joined the military. Veterans should receive the benefits they deserve in a fair, consistent, and timely manner.
- I have been horrified by reports in recent years of delays in basic medical screenings at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals or clinics throughout the country, which may have caused serious injuries or led to the deaths of a number of veterans. This is completely unacceptable, and these systemic failures must never again happen at the VA to the detriment of those the agency serves – our nation’s veterans.
- My office stands ready to assist with any specific issues that veterans may have with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Supported the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act. This legislation consolidates several VA programs into one community care program and continues the VA Choice Program until the consolidation is complete. It also establishes a review process to modernize and realign the VA’s medical infrastructure, and it improves the VA’s ability to recruit and retain health care professionals. President Trump signed this legislation into law in June 2018.
- Original cosponsor of the Working to Integrate Networks Guaranteeing Member Access Now (WINGMAN) Act, which provides congressional staff with more access to the benefit claim process to streamline the claims process with the VA. This legislation passed the House in February 2017.
- Cosponsor of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which would extend benefits to Vietnam-era sailors and airmen who were exposed to Agent Orange, as well as to the foreign-born children of Americans born with spina bifida as a result of the exposure. This bill passed the House in June 2018.
- Cosponsor of the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act, which would end the so-called “Widow’s Tax.” Current policy requires surviving spouses of service members killed in the line of duty or from a service-connected cause to forfeit the Survivor Benefit Pension annuity. This creates a substantial burden for the surviving spouses of those brave service members that have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty or from a service-connected cause.
- Supported the Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act, which allows for the greater sharing of information between VA and state-based prescription drug monitoring programs. This bill passed the House in May 2018.
- Agriculture and forestry are an integral part of Southside and Southwest Virginia and the Alleghany Highland’s economy and heritage. Virginia’s agriculture industry is by far the largest industry in the Commonwealth, generating $52 billion annually and providing more than 311,000 jobs. It is also the largest industry in the Ninth Congressional District.
- I believe the tradition of hunting and fishing is a part of Virginia’s rich heritage, and was proud to support an amendment to recognize it as such in the Virginia Constitution while I was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. I recognize the need to preserve hunting and fishing as one of the great traditions of this nation. It should be done in a manner that meets the highest standards of ethics and sportsmanship.
- We must preserve and protect the health and vitality of this industry and avoid unnecessary and burdensome regulations that are not based on sound science or have failed to undergo comprehensive economic impact studies.
- I believe in the importance of thorough and accurate information relating to food and reasonable food safety regulations.