The following is news from the office of Arkansas Congressman French Hill. It’s taken directly from his email newsletter. If you’re interested in MySaline posting this on a regular basis, let us know in the comments. –Shelli
As the year comes to a close, I’m dedicated to exposing and reining in government waste, passing legislation that helps keep Arkansans and Americans safe, and monitoring the implementation of net neutrality.
Keeping Arkansans Safe
I am pleased that, as a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I have the opportunity work on legislation that has a direct effect on the safety and protection of Arkansas and American families.
Iran poses one of the greatest threats to our nation and allies. I supported two pieces of legislation this week that provides stronger oversight over Iran’s financial transactions in an effort to stop their sponsorship of terrorism. These two bills help stop the flow of funds to Iran – known as the foremost sponsor of terrorism and a habitual money launderer.
The safety of Arkansans and Americans is a top priority for me when it comes to making important policy decisions, which is why we will continue to assess how we can change laws to block money used to finance terrorism.
I strongly supported these bills, and I gave a speech on the House floor this week in support of the Strengthening Oversight of Iran’s Access to Finance Act. Click here to watch.
Reining in Government Waste
Originally introduced by Democratic U.S. Senator from Wisconsin William Proxmire in March of 1975, the Golden Fleece Award was a monthly bulletin on the most frivolous and wasteful uses of hardworking taxpayers’ dollars. The Golden Fleece Award became a staple in the U.S. Senate during this time, and Senator Robert Byrd once stated that the awards were “as much a part of the Senate as quorum calls and filibusters.”
When I took office in 2015, I revived the Golden Fleece Award to remind taxpayers about the need for necessary, commonsense reforms to our federal spending.
This month’s recipient of my Golden Fleece Award is the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), led by Director Kathleen McGettigan, for wasteful spending on an idle data warehouse. Starting in 2010, OPM has spent over 10 million dollars to build a data warehouse for health claims data of federal beneficiaries, data that OPM does not have.
I understand that the intention of this data collection is to develop ways to cut costs and improve the care of beneficiaries of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), but I question the wisdom of spending million of taxpayer dollars on a data warehouse for data OPM does not have guaranteed access. I also question whether OPM should be allowed access to this data given the 2015 discovery that Chinese hackers had breached OPM’s security and gained access to 21.5 million OPM files. Once again, we have a “ready, aim, fire” approach to spending our hard-earned tax dollars.
I sent a letter to Acting Director McGettigan to raise these concerns with her, and I look forward to receiving a response.
Providing Arkansans with Internet Services – Net Neutrality
The principles of a free and open Internet have led to leaps in advancement and innovation, facilitated the founding and success of hundreds of Internet start-up companies, and provided countless outlets for economic growth.
I have heard from many of you about the vote at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this past Thursday on December 14th regarding net neutrality. For two decades, we have had a rapidly growing, innovative internet with ever-increasing speed and a variety of content. Remember the AOL floppy disks and 28k modem speed?
After two years of declining broadband investments, the FCC voted to return to the 1990’s Clinton policy. The FCC believes that filing the internet under Title II would lead to increased and overly burdensome government regulation that could stifle the innovation and success that the Internet has provided.
Internet Service Providers (called ISPs) have committed to the principles of not blocking or throttling, and if they violate their commitment, they will be held accountable by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Congress.
It is important to note that broadband investment is down two years in a row since the Title II decision. This is a real barrier to broadband deployment, and I am committed to supporting the right policies that encourage rural broadband investments and maintain open innovative access.
Legislation is the only way to end the back and forth on net neutrality rules depending on which administration is in charge. Congress has been debating this issue since the early 2000’s, and House Energy and Commerce Committee continues to hold hearings on this issue with the goal of finding a bipartisan agreement.
Their committee continues to work towards a solution that benefits consumers, protects the future of the internet, and puts a stop to ever-changing FCC rules.
In January 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai formed the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) for a two-year period in order to provide advice and recommendations for the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access.
Arkansas is forunate to have Little Rock Executive Elizabeth Browles as the President and Chair of the BDAC. She has been doing a fine job leading the council in finding innovative ways to ensure rural communities across Arkansas and our nation have an equal competitive footing.
It is a privilege to share these updates with you. Thank you for taking time to keep up with the work I’m doing on your behalf. I hope you are enjoying a great holiday season!
Representative French Hill
Week in Review
Proud of all the talented, bright students in Central Arkansas who participated in this year’s Congressional App Challenge. I want to congratulate Anne Li from Central High School for taking first place. I appreciate the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub for allowing us to use their venue to host this great event, and for every student who brought a lot of creativity and put a lot of hard work into creating their apps. Thanks to all the encouraging teachers and supportive principles, like Central High’s Nancy Rousseau.
Click here to watch Anne Li’s presentation on her winning app called “Carcheck,” which is designed to help parents remember to take their children out of the car.
Always good to visit with the next group of agricultural leaders in our state. It was great joining my colleague, Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-AR), and talking with the Arkansas Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Committee about how we can support policies that help their industry like open markets and pro-growth tax policies. With these young leaders, the future of agriculture in Arkansas is bright!
We have service members from Arkansas deployed across the globe, including our Arkansas National Guard units. To wish our service members Merry Christmas and thank them for their service, the American Red Cross hosted the “Holiday Mail for Heroes” event where Members of Congress and their staff wrote hundreds of letters to our troops. The Red Cross will be delivering our Christmas cards to them over the next two weeks. I sure appreciate and respect all those serving in the U.S. military – especially during this holiday season.