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Guest Observer Archive

Former House Members Unite to Curb Federal Prison Growth | Commentary

In recent years, public awareness of our nation’s overcrowded and inefficient state prisons has grown considerably. But what is often overlooked is this country’s bloated federal prison system, which continues to operate beyond capacity, endangering staff and inmates alike and costing taxpayers nearly $7 billion in fiscal 2014. That’s one-quarter of the Justice Department’s entire budget. Although the federal prison population recently decreased for the first time in more than three decades, we are far from declaring victory.

Congress' HITECH Act and Good Patient Care | Commentary

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act’s incentive to encourage “meaningful use” of electronic health records has helped hundreds of thousands of eligible providers begin using EHRs to store patient data, coordinate and communicate about their patients’ care, engage in data measurement, quality monitoring efforts designed to improve outcomes and lower costs. Unfortunately, behavioral health and substance-use treatment providers were never fully included in this program. As a result, they have limited access to EHRs and the essential tools they provide.

Congress Can, and Should, Address Student Loan Debt | Commentary

More and more jobs today require at least some type of higher education, whether it’s a four-year degree, an associate’s degree or a certificate from the local community college.

What Obama's Amnesty Means for the American Worker | Commentary

Work permits for millions of illegal aliens is just the beginning of President Barack Obama’s unlawful attack on American workers at every skill level.

A Surgeon General for the 21st Century | Commentary

Our health care system is undergoing profound changes in how we pay for and deliver care. Yet some of our most intractable health problems — such as obesity, diabetes, tobacco use and emerging diseases — require creative public health approaches as well as high-quality, efficient care. Addressing the health issues that matter to Americans will require bipartisan compromise guided by strong leadership from medical professionals.

Why the Senate's Pro-Business Agenda Should Club Patent Trolls | Commentary

It has been one year since the House of Representatives passed legislation to protect businesses from the scourge of the digital age: patent trolls. Yet in that year, as the Senate allowed patent reform legislation to languish in committee, trolls have continued to extort legitimate businesses, collectively draining $80 billion from the U.S. economy.

A Smart Energy Policy Could Help Democrats Take Back Congress | Commentary

The recent midterm elections were really bad for Democrats, but it wasn’t shocking. Democrats had no platform or legislative priorities to campaign on.

Congress Must Demilitarize Our Police Forces If the President Will Not | Commentary

Two police officers in two weeks have escaped indictment for the death of two unarmed black men. News broke on Dec. 3 that Officer Daniel Pantaleo of New York, like Officer Darren Wilson of Ferguson, Mo., will not face trial for a death caused by his actions. Perhaps coincidentally, this news comes closely on the heels of the Obama administration’s reveal of its plan to address police militarization. The verdict is now in for the president’s plan — it is nowhere near good enough.

Congress Should Approve Ebola Funding | Commentary

I’m with the Kentucky Air National Guard and recently returned from a humanitarian mission in Senegal, West Africa, to fight Ebola. We established a cargo hub to distribute medical supplies to African countries treating patients. I’m proud to serve our country and be at the forefront for fighting Ebola. I volunteered for this mission because it was essential to provide public health resources not only at home, but abroad as well. Since I’m a resident of Florida, I understand that we are merely one flight away from infectious diseases being introduced into the population. And, I’m a firm believer that we should be assisting with public health efforts globally to any country or continent in need.

Attacking Hillary's Strengths: Lame Duck GOP Oughta Take a Holiday Break | Commentary

The holiday season has arrived and Americans are decorating trees, taking toys for their children out of layaway and planning holiday parties. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be celebrating the holidays for the first time with her brand new grandbaby. ’Tis the season for family, reflection and worship. Republican operatives, though, are busy attacking Hillary Clinton. They are stuffing their stockings with hopes that Clinton will decide not to run for president.

The Next Secretary of Defense Needs to Rein In the Pentagon | Commentary

One theory for why Chuck Hagel stepped down as secretary of Defense is that President Barack Obama wanted someone who would be a better salesperson for increasing Pentagon spending. If that’s the case, the president has crafted the wrong job description for the individual who will be called upon to manage the government’s most expensive, least-accountable agency.

Congress: Don't Turn Back the Clock on Healthy School Meals | Commentary

When it comes to obesity, my home state of Alabama is usually the bearer of bad news. Only 10 states have a higher childhood obesity rate than we do and only seven states have a higher rate among adults. Our rankings are even worse when we talk about causes of obesity and related health conditions — we have the highest rate of adult diabetes in the nation.

FBI Database Is Anything but a Gold Standard for Employment Screening | Commentary

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners applauds Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., for their commitment to protecting vulnerable populations from predators through stringent background screening (“Keeping Our Kids Safe From Predators: A Challenge With a Bipartisan Solution,” Roll Call, Nov. 17). We take issue, however, with their editorial in which they characterize the FBI’s fingerprint database as the “gold standard” for use in employment or volunteer screening. In reality, the FBI database is far from perfect and should never be regarded as the most reliable source for comprehensive and accurate background screening.

Congress and the President: Set Your Sights Low | Commentary

In the aftermath of the upheaval on Capitol Hill caused by the recent elections, the president and congressional Republicans laid out their various priorities for the coming two years: immigration reform, alterations to Obamacare, lifting environmental regulations, a Pacific trade deal and revisions to the tax code. No doubt this list is likely to expand in the coming weeks, as more D.C. insiders try putting their favorite issues on the political radar.

The Most Bipartisan and Popular Bill Sits Before Congress: It's Time to Pass It | Commentary

For the past eight years, I have been working to pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (HR 647, S 133), legislation that will lead to a brighter future for millions of Americans living with disabilities. Commonly referred to as the ABLE Act, the bill opens this door by amending the tax code to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. And, in so doing, it provides them with the same type of financial planning tool available to other Americans.

Congress Must Modernize Communications Regulations to Protect Competition and Consumers | Commentary

A year ago today, the House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Greg Walden, R-Ore., launched the #CommActUpdate, an ambitious effort to overhaul the federal laws that govern America’s communications. Three hundred and sixty-five days later, on the heels of a Republican takeover of Congress and a public endorsement of the effort by soon-to-been Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, John Thune, R-S.D., this necessary effort seems destined for significant progress in 2015. Given the outdated 1934 laws are in today’s digital economy, this should be welcome news for all stakeholders in the communications landscape, including Internet companies, consumers and legislators looking to promote modern, constructive public policy. And with a long history of bipartisan success in this area, unlike other contentious policy areas in Congress, the #CommActUpdate is not only feasible, but realistic.

Stop Veteran Suicide: Pass the Clay Hunt Act Now | Commentary

The all too familiar story of a piece of legislation’s life cycle began on July 10. With the usual fanfare and traditional press releases, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act was introduced by a bipartisan group of members in the House.

Immigration Is About People. That's an Opportunity for Republicans | Commentary

Emotions are running high following President Barack Obama’s announcement Thursday of executive action on immigration.

Waking Up to the U.S. Role in Central America's Crisis | Commentary

What does a military training school in Georgia have to do with our immigration crisis — in particular the flood of young people, mothers and infants who crossed our southwest border into the United States from Central America over the summer? And why does Congress continue to fund such an institution?

Time Running Short to Extend Terrorism Risk Insurance Act | Commentary

Congress has much to do and not much time to do it before year’s end. Fortunately, leaders on both sides of the aisle have made it clear that renewal of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, or TRIA, is a “must-do” before Congress adjourns. The program, first enacted in 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, has been extended twice because lawmakers understand it is a vital component of our national defense and economic security, and is fundamental to thwarting the economic goals of terrorism.




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