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Wednesday, December 13th, 2017   |   Español

Author Archives: Martha Roby

  1. Back from Afghanistan (Martha Roby)

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    Over Mother’s Day weekend, I once again had the opportunity to travel to Afghanistan to meet with our service members and get a status check directly from Afghan and U.S. military officials. This marked the fourth straight year I visited Afghanistan around Mother’s Day, and the third time I have led the bi-partisan women’s Congressional Delegation.

    While in Afghanistan, I always make it a priority to meet Alabamians deployed in service to our country. This year I visited with members of the 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard, which is based out of Montgomery. As you may know, the 187th is famous for its “Red Tails” heritage and reputation as a well-trained and organized unit. I’ve also met many Army aviators who trained at Fort Rucker. I am pleased to report that our service members are doing great work and their spirits are high.

    Our region has a proud presence in the war against terrorism, and it is an honor to be able to visit deployed Alabamians. I know I was able to speak for all of us here in Alabama in wishing them a successful mission and a safe return home to their families.

    Our annual Mother’s Day trip allows us to spend time with military moms deployed overseas. This year we visited Marmal Air Base near Mazar e Sharif, where soldiers with the International Security Assistance Force are stationed. We hosted them for a Mother’s Day luncheon and brought them cards made by school children from Alabama. We listened to their stories and learned of the special challenges deployed military moms face. These women warriors are a special kind of brave who have a unique appreciation for what they are fighting for.

    An important part of our Congressional Delegation to Afghanistan is to observe human rights gains made by the Afghan people, especially Afghan women. Under the Taliban regime, Afghan women were denied basic rights and protections, barred from pursuing education or employment. Thanks to the sacrifices of American, Afghan and coalition forces, the quality of life for women is improving rapidly. They are going to school, seeking careers, and even service in the government and military. New laws criminalize violence toward women and offer them unprecedented legal protections. The struggle is far from over, but these women are now participants in a society that once systematically subjugated them.

    It is easy for war weary Americans to think that the status of the Afghan women is inconsequential to us here at home, but I would disagree. The status of Afghan women and girls has implications far beyond their borders. The status of women in Afghanistan directly affects our national security and the security of other countries in the region, like Israel.

    After all, an Afghanistan that is more committed to human rights is less hospitable to terrorism.

    Just this past week, President Obama announced that American troops will remain in Afghanistan beyond his original withdrawal goal of this December – about 10,000 stationed there until 2015, with a smaller contingent remaining until 2016.  Some special operations forces will continue to focus on counter-terrorism missions, while other forces will concentrate on critical Afghan military training.

    No one wants our troops to stay in Afghanistan one moment longer than is necessary. I certainly want our deployed Alabamians to come home as soon as possible. However, at this critical juncture when the stability of Afghanistan hangs in the balance, our nation must not vacate its responsibility to ensure a lasting peace – not just for Afghanistan, but for ourselves and our allies.

  2. Don’t Forget Meaning of Memorial Day (Martha Roby)

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    Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor the brave Americans who sacrificed their lives in defense of this great nation. A special day set aside for all of us to stop and acknowledge those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy. 

    I hope you and your family are able to take time over the holiday weekend to commemorate this solemn occasion. I hope you’ll also take the opportunity to share the true meaning of Memorial Day with children and teenagers in your family. It is easy to allow the excitement of a three-day weekend or the beginning of Summer to distract from the reason we have this holiday to begin with.

    Let’s not take for granted those who were willing to lay down their lives to win and preserve the freedom we have today. On Memorial Day and everyday, let’s remember and honor their sacrifice. 

    Unfortunately, this Memorial Day comes at a time when our country is appalled by the shameful way some military veterans have been treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system.  Reports of negligence and malfeasance at some VA facilities have become a national outrage, and deservedly so. The more that is revealed the more disgusting it becomes: secret waiting lists, veterans waiting months to receive care, falsified data to make VA facilities look good on paper while veterans suffered and died without treatment.

    I fear that a systemic lack of accountability within the VA has led to a culture of complacency, and that must change. But, actions speak louder than words, so here’s what we’re doing about it:

    • This week, the House passed the VA Management Accountability Act, a bill I co-sponsored, by an overwhelming 390-33. It removes legal barriers for swiftly firing senior-level VA bureaucrats who aren’t getting the job done. 
    • We recently passed an appropriations bill increasing funding for veterans health services, with special funding directed toward mental health care, suicide prevention, and fixing electronic records problems that have contributed to the backlog. 
    • I also am working to get the Department of Veterans Affairs to utilize its Patient Centered Community Care program, which allows VA medical centers to contract with local hospitals or clinics to get veterans care quickly and efficiently. I hear from veterans everyday who are waiting on services from the VA. We know there is increased demand, probably more than current VA resources can handle. So why not utilize this existing program to contract with local providers and get veteran patients the care they need, especially when the alternative is putting a veteran on a waiting list.

    This situation is past the point of being just a problem. It is a crisis, and I’m tired of hearing excuses for why we can’t fix it. Ensuring real accountability, directing funding to address priority problems, and tapping into local healthcare resources through Patient Centered Community Care are just some ways we can address the issue right away. 

    It has been said that the willingness of future generations to serve in the military and fight for this country will be depend on how they perceive those who served in earlier wars have been treated and appreciated by our nation. That’s true, and if you’ve watched the news lately, you know we have a lot of work to do on that front.

    This is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It is an American issue, and we have to work together to address it. I’m committed to finding solutions by seeking the changes necessary to make the VA work.

    On Memorial Day we remember those we’ve lost giving what President Lincoln called that “last full measure of devotion” in defense of freedom. Let’s not forget the veterans who are still with us and not allow this nation to fail or forsake them with broken bureaucracy. 

  3. Why I’m Serving on the Select Committee to Investigate Benghazi (Martha Roby)

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    House Speaker John Boehner recently asked me to serve on the Select Committee to Investigate the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, a significant and solemn responsibility that I accepted.

    This was not a decision I took lightly. The Benghazi attack was a terrible tragedy, and we still mourn the four Americans that were brutally murdered that day. Some have asked why further investigation is needed on Benghazi after multiple existing committee inquiries into the matter – including one I led.

    One reason is that the Administration’s explanation for exactly what happened that day and why has been far from clear – both in the immediate aftermath and months later.

    Recently we learned the White House withheld important Benghazi documents from Congressional investigators. These documents reveal a campaign-focused White House in spin control mode, and the failure to disclose them raises questions as to what else has been hidden from the public.

    Such a lack of transparency is unacceptable. It is the duty of Congress to seek answers on the government’s activities on behalf of the American people, particularly when government officials attempt to obscure the truth.

    Another reason this Select Committee is needed is that the multi-jurisdictional nature of the Benghazi issue makes it difficult to investigate across the existing committee structure. You may remember that during my time as chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I led the inquiry into military activities surrounding the Benghazi attack.

    While we were thorough in our investigation, our jurisdiction was limited to the Department of Defense. There are many more layers to the Benghazi story, including our intelligence community, the State Department, and, of course, the White House. And, while other committees have made inquires in those areas, no group has had the authority to investigate all aspects of the Benghazi situation at the same time – until now.  A select committee with broad jurisdiction will better connect all the dots and produce a clearer,  more complete picture.

    Lingering questions about the Benghazi attack combined with continued White House obstruction and the narrow scope of existing House committees compel us to form this Select Committee and continue the search for truth.

    Speaker Boehner has tapped my friend and colleague, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) to chair the Select Committee. Trey is a perfect fit to lead this process. He’s a tough prosecutor, but also fair and judicious. I can tell you he understands how important it is to keep politics out of this investigation and dedicate all of its the energy toward searching for truth on behalf of the American people. I am committed to working with Chairman Gowdy and my colleagues on the Select Committee to conduct a thorough, judicious and unbiased pursuit of facts.

    As can be the case in Washington, tension over the Benghazi attacks has at times become a political issue. That is true on both sides of the aisle. As Chairman Gowdy said, politics will have no place in this process. Facts aren’t Republican or Democratic. Facts are stubbornly impartial, and I’m committed to pursuing the facts wherever they lead.

    It is important that you know that my involvement on this Select Committee will not affect my commitment to serving the people of Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Taking care of the needs of my constituents – particularly our active duty military and veterans – remains my highest priority.

    I have heard from countless constituents pleading for Congress to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi. As a member of this Select Committee, I promise to leave no stone unturned in the search for truth.

  4. Government Must Play By the Rules Too (Martha Roby)

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    There’s an old saying that, in life, nothing is certain but death and taxes. It’s true that paying taxes is a fact of life, one that ordinary Americans accept and dutifully take care of every year. We play by the rules when interacting with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and if we step out of line there are consequences. So shouldn’t we demand the same accountability for those serving in the IRS?

    Of course we should. That’s why the stonewalling from Lois Lerner, former IRS Director of Tax Exempt Organizations, is especially troubling. You probably remember last year it surfaced that the IRS was targeting certain groups for extra scrutiny based solely on their political beliefs. It was revealed that the IRS focused increased scrutiny on groups that “criticized how the country is being run” and expressed an interest in public awareness “on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

    Actually, a group from Alabama was among those singled out: the Wetumpka Tea Party, based in Elmore County. Whether or not your agree with the group’s views, we can all agree they should be able to express those views without fear of selective targeting from the federal government.

    For the IRS to target groups or individuals based on political beliefs isn’t just wrong, it is un-American. Actions of this nature erode the public’s trust not only in the IRS, but in government as a whole. That’s especially true when those responsible refuse to answer questions about what happened.

    Numerous emails from Lerner indicated that she was actively involved in the targeting and that it was not just “rogue” employees, as some had suggested. Given her clear role in the IRS targeting scandal, Lerner was called to testify before Congress. During the hearing, Ms. Lerner elected to exercise her right to avoid self incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, though many believe she had previously waived that right. The better question is this: if Ms. Lerner did nothing wrong, as her lawyers allege, then why is she so unwilling to share the facts and clear her name?

    Lois Lerner was trusted with immense responsibility to ensure fairness under the rule of law, and instead it appears she used her position of authority to project a political agenda. Even now she continues to hide information from Members of Congress who are simply seeking the truth.

    Her actions left us no choice but to act. Last week, the House of Representatives passed a resolution finding Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress, making her one of only five government officials to be found in contempt by the full House of Representatives.

    I wish it hadn’t come to this. I wish Ms. Lerner had been forthcoming from the beginning about why her agency targeted groups and individuals because of their political beliefs. By dodging questions and obstructing the truth, Ms. Lerner left us no choice but to publicly condemn her behavior and hasten the Justice Department to act.

    In a further effort to get answers, the House also passed a bill calling on Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate the IRS targeting scandal.

    The Justice Department had a chance to prove it was truly committed to accountability by swiftly and aggressively investigating this issue, and prosecuting those who were responsible. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. It is that lack of accountability that has allowed Lois Lerner to think that she can “plead the fifth” to Congress without consequences. Our vote to hold her in Contempt of Congress showed that isn’t the case.

    I believe in the rule of law because it ensures fairness for everybody. If ordinary Americans have to play by the rules, then so must government officials. No one is above the law, and it’s my responsibility as your Representative to make sure those who abuse positions of trust and power are held accountable.

  5. Working to Improve Veterans Healthcare (Martha Roby)

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    There is no greater duty we have as a nation than to care for our veterans. Thousands of doctors, nurses, and public servants at the VA work hard to give veteran patients the best healthcare we can offer. But, too often, our system fails those it was created to help.

    An outrageous backlog at the VA has caused veterans to wait months for answers on disability claims. The same is true of VA medical services, where waiting lists for some critical services are terribly long. In some instances, veterans have died waiting for health services from the VA.

    That is simply unacceptable in the United States of America, and we need to do something about it. That’s why I’m pleased Congress recently passed an appropriations bill providing critical funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, while also seeking systemic changes to improve service.

    This bi-partisan bill increases funding for veterans programs by $1.5 billion for fiscal year 2015 while remaining below recently enacted budget caps. Specifically, the bill provides funding for medical care, mental health services, suicide prevention activities, traumatic brain injury treatment, homeless services and job training. The bill also contains more than $344 million to modernize the VA electronic health record system and more than $173 million to update the paperless claims processing system – both of which are badly needed to deal with the claims backlog.

    As a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, I was proud to work with my colleagues on this funding measure that will ensure proper resources for our veterans assistance programs. I’m also proud that the bill passed the full House of Representatives by an overwhelming 416-1 vote.

    Of course, money alone won’t solve the backlog problems, which is why the bill contains important measures increasing oversight of and accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    One way I believe we can greatly improve the timeliness and quality of veteran health services is to further develop the Patient-Centered Community Care program, which allows the VA to contract with local health providers. Some services that our veterans need aren’t always offered at their local VA hospital, or if they are, the waiting list for service might be really long. In these cases, it only makes sense for the VA to contract out services through local providers and get the veteran patients the care they need.

    I hear often from veterans who have been forced to wait a long time or travel great distances because of gaps in the VA system. Why should a Vietnam veteran and cancer patient in Ozark have to travel to Atlanta for oncology treatments when a non-VA hospital or clinic closer by can provide it? Why should an Iraq veteran in Tallassee who needs physical therapy have to wait weeks or months for treatment at the VA when he could be helped right away at a non-VA facility?

    Under the Patient-Centered Community Care program, those alternative treatment arrangements can be made on a contractual basis, reducing the physical burdens on the veteran patients and actually reducing the burden for taxpayers as well by eliminating unnecessary travel and lodging costs. Everyone can agree that offering better care to veterans while saving taxpayer money is a win-win situation.

    Patient-Centered Community Care is still a relatively new program so it is not yet widely available. We’ve asked the Department of Veterans Affairs to document its successes and efficiencies so we can make the case for allowing more veterans to take advantage of this innovative program in the future.

    Our state is home to a great many veterans who answered the call of duty and honorably served our country. Now it is our duty to provide them the care we promised, and I’m working every day in Congress to do just that.

  6. Meeting with You (Martha Roby)

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    With Congress out of session for the Easter recess, I spent time visiting with constituents throughout Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Meeting with constituent groups, touring local businesses, and checking out our area’s schools are some of the most important and rewarding parts of my job. Check out a recap of our stops below.

    Andalusia

    I traveled from Montgomery to Andalusia for a meeting with the Andalusia Rotary Club. We talked a lot about job creation in Alabama and our changing economy. I explained why I believe it should be a top priority for our state to produce a skilled workforce that is suited for the new manufacturing jobs in our area. One of best ways to do that is through career and technical education programs, which help prepare students for the workforce through real-world, hands-on training.

    After the Rotary Club lunch, we headed to Lurleen B. Wallace Community College to meet with their staff, students, and faculty and learn more about their campus. I was especially impressed by the work LBWCC does on multiple campuses to prepare students for their next steps in life, be that college or career. Now, the college is working with area high schools to connect high school students with career paths before they even graduate. I appreciate President Riedel and the staff for the informative visit.

    Montgomery

    This week I hosted several informative meetings in my Montgomery office. I enjoyed talking with Dr. Walter Hill, Provost of Tuskegee University and Dean of the College of Agriculture, about some great programs Tuskegee has to promote agriculture in our state. Next, I met with a group of homeschool students and parents from Houston County. The group was very sharp and asked great questions about our nation’s system of government.

    I also met with the Montgomery chapter of the Medical Group Management. We talked about how ObamaCare has affected their industry, as well as some conservative solutions to make health care work for more Americans. It is so beneficial to hear directly from those who deal with the particulars of health care policy.

    I was excited to finally meet the winners of this year’s Congressional Art Competition in my Montgomery office.  This year’s winner is Karvarus Moore, a junior at Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery. His winning artworkwas a ink, watercolor, and colored pencil drawing entitled “Dream.” His painting will go on to hang in the U.S. Capitol.

    Justin Sloan, a senior from Prattville High School, was named runner-up for his drawing titled “A Trip Back.” Justin’s drawing will hang in my Washington D.C. office.

    The annual art competition is open to high school students in Alabama’s Second Congressional District. It is my honor to promote and support the many artistic talents of Alabama students.

    Elmore County

    On Wednesday I drove up to Millbrook for a meeting of the Millbrook-Coosada Kiwanis Club. We had a great conversation about efforts in Congress to rein in executive overreach. I talked specifically about our efforts to get answers on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) program targeting the southeastern automotive industry. It is wrong for the Obama administration to use a federal agency to advance a political agenda, and I will continue to fight against overreaching activity in federal agencies, especially those that threaten jobs in this already difficult economy.

    Later that day I visited Holtville High School, which recently won the impressive distinction of being named a National Blue Ribbon School. It was easy to see why Holtville won such an honor once I met their teachers, staff, and students. Holtville has some very impressive career and technical education programs which help prepare students for the workforce. A special thank you to Principal Jimmy Hull and his staff for their hospitality during the informative visit.

    Greenville

    On Thursday I travelled down Interstate 65 to Greenville. I met with new Butler County Schools Superintendent Amy Bryan and visited the “Bright Beginnings” Pre-K program there at the central office. It was such a treat to visit with the children and learn about their top-notch Pre-K program, including their partnership with AmeriCorps.

    Next I visited with Mayor Dexter McLendon at city hall about some of the new economic development projects in Greenville. Mayor McLendon took me to Ozark Materials, which produces thermoplastic. Thermoplastic is the material used to stripe roads across our state. From there, we headed to the Greenville YMCA where I learned about how the community is bringing public and private entities together to help children and families in need. As a life-long YMCA supporter, it was inspiring to see what a difference they are making in Greenville.

    The Week Ahead

    Next week, the House is expected to begin full consideration of the two appropriations bills which passed out of committee a few weeks ago. As you may remember, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act has important language I advocated for that supports a new health care program for veterans and prioritizes air traffic control tower construction projects.

    Additionally, the House is expected to consider:

    • H.R. 4486, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act;
    • H.R. 4487, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act;
    • H.R. 4414, the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act; and
    • H.R. 4194, The Government Reports Elimination Act.

    As always, please feel free to contact one of my offices if we can ever be of help to you. Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your representative.

  7. Another ObamaCare Delay (Martha Roby)

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    I have heard from many constituents who have had their health plans cancelled, premiums increased, or choice of doctor restricted – all after President Obama repeatedly promised none of that would happen. This is not fair, and people are understandably angry about it.

    Since the President’s healthcare law was enacted in 2010, the Obama Administration has unilaterally delayed or carved out special exceptions in the law more than ten times. Most recently, on March 25, the Obama Administration announced the final enrollment deadline, originally set for March 31, would be extended.

    This latest delay came after officials from the Obama Administration repeatedly emphasized that the enrollment deadline would not be pushed back. Two weeks ago, I sat in a committee hearing when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said point blank that the deadline would “not be delayed.”

    The exchange between Secretary Sebelius and my colleague, Representative Chuck Fleischman from Tennessee went like this:

    Mr. Fleischmann: And I want a yes-or-no answer: Will you or will you not delay the individual enrollment deadline on any other aspect of Obamacare?

    Secretary Sebelius: The enrollment deadline will not be delayed, as I said yesterday…But the enrollment deadline, which was set out to end March 31st, will end March 31st.

    Mr. Fleischmann: Okay. So then we agree that there is no statutory authority to extend these deadlines and that they will not be extended.

    Secretary Sebelius: The enrollment deadline will be March 31st.

    If President Obama’s chief healthcare administrator isn’t going to tell the truth to Congress, he shouldn’t send her to testify.

    We all want as many Americans as possible to have affordable health insurance, but the deadline was there for a reason. Removing it introduces even more uncertainty into the marketplace and makes it difficult for providers to distill metrics and set future rates. This latest delay serves to hide the reality that ObamaCare is fundamentally flawed and cannot be fixed through small tweaks or executive orders. That is why I believe we need to repeal the law and replace it with patient-centered reforms that actually lower costs and improve care.

    However, I do not believe it is enough to just say we want to repeal ObamaCare. We must come behind it with a plan that makes sense and actually works. A group of conservative lawmakers – several of whom are doctors – is working on this important task right now. I will keep you updated as the specifics take shape over the next few months. A great way to stay informed is to sign up for my weekly E-Newsletter by visitingwww.Roby.House.gov.

    Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative in Washington. As always, please let me know if my staff or I can ever do anything for you.

  8. Notes from the Road (Martha Roby)

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    I travelled throughout Alabama’s Second Congressional District to listen first hand to the concerns of my constituents, and there were plenty of timely issues to discuss.

    Tuesday morning I visited Samson High School in Geneva County. I met the teachers and administrators, and had the treat of visiting with students from the senior government class to discuss civic leadership. I was impressed by the informed questions from students on current events, including the situation in Ukraine.

    Every American should be concerned about Russia’s actions and what it means internationally. Vladimir Putin is trying to bully an entire region of the world, and we have to be willing to stand up to him. I support President Obama’s decision to levy sanctions on Russian leaders, but I’m not sure we have gone far enough. The United States must rally our NATO allies and bring our combined pressure to bear. No matter what, we have to be willing to back up our rhetoric with action, and it’s time for President Obama to show he can do that.

    On Wednesday, I traveled to Dothan to meet with Mayor Mike Schmitz and officials from the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce about some economic development projects in the area. Chamber President Matt Parker and his team do an outstanding job for Dothan, and I appreciate them keeping me informed about various prospects in the area and ways that I can be of help.

    One common impediment to economic development is aggressive regulation from Washington. Whether it is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or other agency, local businesses are seeing a more aggressive and even activist tilt from federal agencies when it comes to implementing and enforcing regulations. Such actions inhibit existing businesses from growing and prevent new companies from locating in our area. Among my top priorities in Congress is to seek out overreach from executive agencies and rein it in.

    From Dothan we headed up Highway 84 to Enterprise for a meeting with the Republican Women of Coffee County. We had a great discussion about a number of important issues, including ongoing problems with the healthcare law.

    I’ve heard from many constituents who have had their health plans cancelled, premiums increase, or choice of doctor restricted – all after President Obama repeatedly promised that none of that would happen. It’s not fair, and people are understandably angry about it. ObamaCare can’t be fixed through small tweaks or executive orders.

    But, it’s not enough just to say we want to repeal Obamacare. We have to come behind it with a plan that makes sense. A group of smart lawmakers, including several doctors, are working on this right now. I believe it will be our job to explain our conservative healthcare alternative to the American people.

    On Thursday, I was honored to be on post at Fort Rucker for the Change of Command Ceremony. General Kevin Mangum was recently promoted and reassigned after serving two years as post commander. The new commanding general at Fort Rucker is Brigadier General Michael Lundy. I can’t say enough about General Mangum and the leadership he has shown at Fort Rucker during an especially difficult time. His impressive promotion speaks for itself. It was a pleasure to meet General Lundy, and I am confident he will serve with distinction as the new post commander.

    Fort Rucker is a special post with a uniquely valuable mission for the U.S. Army, and I will continue to do all I can to make sure our Armed Forces have the resources they need to protect this country. We cannot allow more defense budget cuts to continue to hollow out our military forces. That’s why I came out strongly against a Senate plan to strip the military of even more funding and send it overseas to prop up the International Monetary Fund.

    Our military has already been cut to the bone. The additional cuts proposed by Senate Democrats would further inhibit our readiness and send the wrong message internationally. Now is a time for the United States to project strength in the world, not further erode our military capabilities.

    It is an honor to represent you in Congress. Please do not hesitate to contact my office to ask a question, relay a concern, or seek assistance with a federal agency. My staff and I work for you.

  9. Combating Executive Overreach (Martha Roby)

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    When Alabamians have trouble with the federal government, my job is to step in and try to help. That’s exactly what happened when a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation imposed costly inspection and compliance requirements on Alabama farmers.

    For years, EPA regulations for fuel storage on farms authorized under the Clean Water Act of 1972 applied only to very large fuel tanks, or those with a history of spills. Now, the EPA is applying the regulations to smaller tanks and farming operations with no history of accidents.

    Agriculture is the top industry in Alabama, employing more than 580,000 of our citizens. Like in many industries, aggressive agriculture regulations from Washington increase costs, stifle opportunities, and make life difficult for farmers.

    Thomas Adams from Henry County was one such farmer who was impacted. The new EPA rules would force him to spend thousands of dollars for special equipment and services to certify that his fuel tanks were compliant. Thomas told his story in an interview with WTVY News, which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/RepRoby

    Americans are tired of the endless stream of heavy-handed regulations coming out of Washington. I worked with my colleague Representative Rick Crawford of Arkansas on the FUELS Act, which seeks to rein in EPA farm regulations to truly reflect risk. Specifically, the FUELS Act would exempt fuel tanks under 10,000 gallons from the regulation and allow larger tanks without a history of accidents to self-certify.

    I am pleased to report that the House passed the FUELS Act on March 11 in a unanimous voice vote. I was proud to work on behalf of Thomas Adams and all Alabama farmers to find a solution to this problem and help provide some much-needed relief. Now, we are urging the Senate to pass this bi-partisan legislation without delay.

    This is just one example of the harmful impact overreaching federal regulations can have on small businesses, farms, and individuals. If you know of an overly burdensome regulation that is hurting you or your business, please write to me or visitwww.Roby.House.gov to let me know.

    Combating Executive Overreach

    On of the most frequent questions I am asked by constituents is what Congress is doing to address the pattern of executive overreaches and disregard for the law by President Obama and his administration. Good, God-fearing Americans who work hard, pay their taxes, and obey the law are understandably frustrated by a president who acts as if he is above the law.

    I believe in our Constitution, and I believe it’s worth fighting for. That’s why I was proud to support to bills passed this week by the House designed to rein in the Obama Administration and open the door to legal action to challenge particularly egregious abuses of power.

    Watch my House floor speech in support of the ENFORCE the Law Act online here: https://www.youtube.com/RepRoby

    While the separation of powers may not always be convenient for President Obama’s political goals, they are necessary to ensure government still derives its authority from the people – not the other way around.

    The Week Ahead

    It was a busy week in Washington last week. Officials from the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, the Dothan City Commission, Alabama Farmers Federation, Electric Cities of Alabama, and a number of local businesses all came by the office to share what legislative items are important to them. I appreciate all of those who took the time to meet with my staff and me.

    This week, I will once again hit the road to make a number of stops throughout the Second Congressional District. I’m scheduled to visit with students at Samson High School, meet with officials in Houston and Coffee Counties, attend the change of command ceremony at Fort Rucker, and visit the Civil Air Patrol at Maxwell Air Force Base. I hope to see some familiar faces while I am on the road.

    It is an honor to serve as your voice in Washington. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can ever be of assistance to you.

  10. Americans Deserve Relief From Rising Energy Bills (Martha Roby)

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    Too many American families are still struggling in this tough economy, and rising energy bills are squeezing family budgets even more. One of the coldest winters in years has made matters worse, driving up heating costs nationwide.

    That’s why the House acted this week to lower energy costs through commonsense reforms that will boost domestic energy production, reduce red tape, and encourage energy efficiency.

    One bill – the RAPID Act – streamlines the environmental review process for new construction projects and cracks down on junk lawsuits. Another bill – the Electricity Security and Affordability Act – is aimed to combat the Obama Administration’s “war on coal” by reining in overreaching regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    Another energy bill passed this week addresses the propane availability problem that many Alabama farmers have faced this winter. I’ve heard from many farmers who have had difficulty acquiring propane this winter. It’s especially a problem for our poultry farmers who need the propane to heat their chicken houses. The HHEATT Act eases restrictions that have hindered the transportation of propane and put our farmers at risk.

    House Republicans and a growing number of Democrats also continue to put pressure on the Obama Administration to finally approve development of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In addition to lowering costs and creating jobs, approving the Keystone Pipeline would also be a key step towards decreasing American reliance on foreign sources of energy.

    President Obama said in 2008 that under his environmental plan, “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” and that new regulations would “bankrupt” coal producers. Unfortunately, President Obama and other environmentalists would have middle class families foot the bill for their radical agenda.

    Americans experience the pain of high energy costs every time they fill up at the pump or pay the power bill. We need an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes the development of American oil and natural gas, alternative energy sources such as solar, hydropower, wind, and nuclear, and the continued development of clean coal. More information on our comprehensive energy plan can be found online at www.gop.gov/energy.