Weekly Columns

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  • Memorial Day
    Posted in Weekly Columns on May 25, 2016 | Preview rr

    On Monday we will pause for Memorial Day to remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. These brave heroes and their families are in my thoughts and prayers, not just Memorial Day, but every day of the year. We should always remember and honor our fallen, our veterans and our servicemembers. As a member of Congress, I take my duty to serve our veterans and servicemembers very seriously. I’ve always said there are three groups of people I will never apologize for f... Read more

  • The Fight Against Zika
    Posted in Weekly Columns on May 18, 2016 | Preview rr

    I am extremely concerned about the uptick in patients being diagnosed with the Zika virus, particularly because of the possibility that a pregnant woman infected with the virus can develop a serious birth defect called Microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where a newborn baby’s head is smaller than average. This can occur because a baby’s brain has not fully developed during pregnancy, or – in some cases – when a baby’s head stops growing after birth. Microcephaly can be mild or severe, wit... Read more

  • PTSD & Veteran Suicide
    Posted in Weekly Columns on May 11, 2016 | Preview rr

    Recently, I spoke at American University with my colleague, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA), about many of the issues veterans face as they transition back into civilian life. One issue we discussed that has been of interest to me since I’ve served on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee (HVAC) is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and veteran suicide. This week, the HVAC will hold a hearing to evaluate efforts to prevent veteran suicide. We’ll hear from representatives from the Iraq and Afghanis... Read more

  • Bringing the Fight Against Opioid Abuse to Congress
    Posted in Weekly Columns on April 27, 2016 | Preview rr

    Did you know that Tennessee has the second highest rate of prescriptions per person in the United States? According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) 2014 report, nonmedical pain reliever use is the second most common type of illicit drug use in the United States. In 2014, an estimated 27 million Americans aged 12 or older had used illicit drugs, including the nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers, within a month of being surveyed. Further, the r... Read more

  • Two Years After Phoenix, the VA is Still Failing Veterans
    Posted in Weekly Columns on April 20, 2016 | Preview rr

    This week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the actions the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) should take to improve newly enrolled veterans’ access to primary care. The report was completed as part of the GAO’s ongoing effort to investigate VA practices and at the request of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, a subcommittee I am proud to serve on. GAO’s audit looked at the experience of 180 newly enrolled vet... Read more

  • Tax Day
    Posted in Weekly Columns on April 13, 2016 | Preview rr

    This year, Tax Day falls a few days later because of Emancipation Day, but April 18th is still a day many Americans, myself included, dread. In their most recent annual report to Congress, the Taxpayer Advocate found that, in fiscal year 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collected over $2.8 trillion dollars net of refunds – equal to over 90 percent of federal receipts. Additionally, the Taxpayer Advocate found that 47 percent of federal revenue comes from individual income taxes. To me, t... Read more

  • President Obama Should Present a Real Plan to Defeat ISIS
    Posted in Weekly Columns on April 6, 2016 | Preview rr

    On March 22, radical Islamic terrorists struck Brussels, Belgium. My thoughts and prayers are with the Belgians as well as the people of all nations who have been affected by cowardly acts of terror. Too often we’ve seen terrorists strike, and it always shakes us to our core, but the attack in Brussels hit especially close to home. The cowards who carried out these attacks robbed a young Tennessee native and his bride of their lives, and while we were still struggling to comprehend these heinous... Read more

  • Honoring & Serving Our Veterans
    Posted in Weekly Columns on March 23, 2016 | Preview rr

    I want to begin this week’s column by continuing to send my thoughts and prayers to the people of Belgium after the senseless attacks in Brussels this week. Make no mistake, the Western world is at war with ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism. The United States must stand with our allies and work together to eliminate this evil from the world, and I will continue to press the administration for a concrete and strategic plan to defeat ISIS. On Tuesday, I participated in a House Veterans’ Affairs s... Read more

  • Fighting for the Constitution
    Posted in Weekly Columns on March 16, 2016 | Preview rr

    In 2014, President Obama took executive action to make sweeping changes to our immigration system. Most notably, these actions would allow up to 5 million illegal immigrants to stay in the United States. Now, 25 states are standing up to the president’s executive amnesty and this week House Republicans are taking an unprecedented step to stand with these states and protect our Constitution from President Obama’s reckless agenda. Last February, the United States District Court for the Southern Di... Read more

  • Brick MACT Sets Dangerous Precedent for Future Rulemaking
    Posted in Weekly Columns on March 9, 2016 | Preview rr
    Tags: Energy

    Since 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working to regulate air pollutants from the brick and clay ceramics manufacturing industries through the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule. It is estimated this rule could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs around the country, and is especially consequential to General Shale, whose corporate headquarters is located in Johnson City. Commonly referred to as Brick MACT, the first final rule was promulgated by the EPA in ... Read more