Fix the Broken Budget Process

When the Republican House majority came to Washington four years ago we sought to increase transparency, implement a more open process, and end the closed door practices that marked the Nancy Pelosi era. Yet this week we were presented with a 1,600 page spending bill with 48 hours to review it before funding runs out. We were given no opportunities to change the bill.

While I appreciate the work of the House Appropriations committee and recognize there are many good provisions included in this bill, it did not include protections for West Virginia’s coal miners, so I voted against the bill and the broken process that produced it.

Next year, with new leadership in the Senate hopefully we can break the cycle of last minute deals formulated behind closed doors. Congress needs to return to an open process that allows members to provide input and make changes. With willing partners in the Senate we will be able to reduce spending and change damaging policies on everything from the EPA to health care to immigration.

With this latest hurdle behind us I hope we can focus on working together in an open manner to address the challenges our country faces.


Helping Volunteer Emergency Responders

Earlier this week I introduced legislation, along with Rep. Dave Loebsack(D-IA), to help volunteer firefighters and other first responders who keep our communities safe. This bill creates a tax deduction for volunteer first responders and will help Volunteer Fire Departments and other public safety organizations recruit and retain volunteers.

Small towns across West Virginia and the country rely on volunteers to respond to fires, accidents, and other emergencies. Yet these same men and women are often forced to raise money to simply have adequate equipment and training. We can do more to help them.

We’ve had a number of meetings with Volunteer Fire Departments across West Virginia, and the number one issue they have is recruiting volunteers and keeping them. This solution will help fix that problem and demonstrates the respect earned by volunteer emergency personnel.

The bill provides a tax deduction for hours of service each year volunteered for fire-fighting and prevention services, emergency medical services, ambulance services, civil air patrol, and emergency rescue services.


Coal Ash: Protecting Jobs and the Environment

The House Energy and Commerce Committee this week released a report highlighting the need for a solution on coal ash disposal. Since coming to Congress in 2011, I have worked hard to protect and promote the use of coal ash and stop the EPA from labeling it as a hazardous material.

This recent policy paper is based off of legislation I have spearheaded in the House, the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act(HR 2218). The House has passed this legislation six times, and the coordinated effort appears to have influenced the EPA’s direction on regulating coal ash. Even so, the fight is not over.  

The EPA’s proposal to designate coal ash as a hazardous material would put 316,000 Americans out of work overnight. My bill encourages the recycling of coal ash, gives states the authority to set their own standards for the disposal of coal ash with oversight by EPA, and protects jobs and the environment.

For over thirty years, there had been no progress on this issue.  With the help of allies in the recycling business, we have been able to educate Congress and the American people about its importance. This policy paper is just one more example.


National Debt Reaches New High

With all the drama surrounding federal government funding dominating the headlines this week, you may have missed this piece of news: the national debt rose above $18 trillion dollars for the first time.  To put this in perspective, in the early 1980s, the debt was roughly $2 trillion. 30 years and five presidents later, we are now deeper in the red than ever.

Coming to Washington in 2011 confirmed what I already knew - Washington does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.  In fact, in 2013, the federal government collected more revenue from taxes than in any year in our nation’s history.  Just this week, the U.S. Treasury announced that it was raking in tax dollars at a record rate in November, as the federal government closed out the first two months of fiscal year 2015 by collecting over $400 billion.  Yet, over the past five years, trillion dollar budget deficits have been the norm for our federal government.  The more Washington spends money it does not have, the more we burden our children and grandchildren with the consequences of this debt.   With new leadership in the United States Senate, Congress must commit to creating a fair and balanced tax structure, making real cuts in federal spending, and reforming programs that may be increasing our nation’s debt.


‘Tis the Season

Each year my office celebrates the Holidays by donating to the Toys for Tots Foundation. The United States Marine Corps organized the drive.

If you are ever in the Washington D.C. office please drop in and say hello. If you want an appointment just give my office a call at 202-225-4172, or submit a request on my website at www.mckinley.house.gov.

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