Preventing the EPA from Hurting Hardworking Americans

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA)announced it would withdraw its plan to garnish wages from individuals who have been accused of violating regulations.  The announcement came just days after I introduced legislation to prevent the EPA from reaching into the pockets of Americans without a court order. 

Earlier this month, the EPA quietly claimed that it has the authority to unilaterally garnish the wages of individuals who have been accused of violating its rules up to 15 percent of the “disposable pay” of anybody with debt to the agency, such as fines for violating regulations. 

The EPA should not act as the judge and jury when dealing with hard-working Americans. There needs to be due process. Too often, the EPA operates like a bully in a schoolyard with heavy handed tactics of threatening miners, farmers and American families. The Alt’s of Hardy County know about the agency’s threats, first hand.

This is just another example of overreach from a rogue agency. Congress needs to continue to protect individuals from regulatory abuse by this agency and its Administration.  We don’t need the EPA taking power it doesn’t have away from American citizens.

Keeping America Going

Earlier this week the House voted to keep construction workers on the job and improve America’s roads, highways and bridges by passing an extension of the Highway Trust Fund.

For months, the House has been conducting bipartisan negotiations to continue the funding of the Highway Trust Fund without raising taxes. The passage of this bill was critical in keeping more than 700,000 construction workers on the job and improving the safety of roads, bridges and highways.

With a background of over 40 years in the construction industry, I understand the importance of funding the Highway Trust Fund and voted for its passage.  The extension also did not raise taxes, unlike some plans offered by the Democrats.

Where a long term solution that provides certainty over a period of five to six years would be preferable, that wasn’t the plan that was presented to us. We need to continue working together to develop a plan that will make long term investments in our infrastructure.

Supporting Charities and Charitable Donations

Donations through charities and foundations help individuals and communities across the country. There are numerous provisions in the tax code that encourage giving, and this week the House passed a package bill ensuring that some of these provisions are made permanent, so individuals, businesses and farmers can donate and give back more.

The America Gives More Act(H.R. 4719) passed the House this week on a vote of 277-130. This bipartisan bill included five different provisions, including:

  • An extension and expansion of charitable deduction for contributions of food inventory(H.R. 4719).
  • Certain tax-free distributions from Individual Retirement Accounts(IRAs)for charitable purposes(H.R. 4619).
  • Deductions for contributions of conservation easements(H.R. 2807).
  • An extension of the ability to make tax deductible charitable contributions through April 15th for every tax year(H.R. 3134). The usual end of the tax year is December 31st.

The goodwill of the American people is unmatched, and we should do everything we can to encourage everyone to give more, enabling charities, nonprofits, foundations and schools across the country to expand their reach and serve the most in need.

Reining in the IRS

The House approved the fiscal year 2015 Financial Services Appropriations bill this week. This is the 7th appropriations bill passed by the House this year; the Senate has yet to consider an appropriations bill.

This legislation prioritized programs critical to enforcing laws, maintaining an effective judiciary system, and helping small businesses, while targeting lower-priority or poor performing programs – such as the Internal Revenue Service(IRS)– for reductions.

This bill keeps the IRS in check when it comes to spending tax dollars and fulfilling its duties by:

  • Prohibiting the IRS from targeting individuals based on their political beliefs
  • Prohibiting the IRS from inappropriate conferences or videos
  • Prohibits the IRS from adopting a regulation to determine tax-exempt status for section 501(c4)organizations, which would infringe on Americans’ First Amendment Rights
  • Prohibiting employee bonuses or awards unless employee performance is considered

In addition to this, the bill also makes the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau(CFPB)accountable to American taxpayers, freezes pay for the Vice President and senior political appointees, and maintains funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program to fight drug crimes. This bill now moves to the Senate for action.

Promoting STEM Education

America needs to ensure that the next generation has the scientific and mathematical skills to strive and thrive in our increasingly technology-based, global economy.  A healthy and viable Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics(STEM)workforce, literate in subjects such as computer science, is critical to American economic output and competitiveness.

As an engineer, I understand the importance of STEM education.  My office recently received a visit from the Morgantown FIRST Robotics Team, who experienced success on a national level this year.  The team updated us on their activities, their efforts to bring STEM education to local high school students and our nation’s need to invest more in STEM. We need to encourage more students to enter these fields.

This week, the STEM Education Act passed the House with broad bipartisan support.  This legislation will broaden the definition of STEM subjects to include emerging fields like computer science, bolster research at the National Science Foundation and offer more educators in STEM fields a chance to get mentoring, training and financial support.  The STEM Education Act is another “jobs bill” that ensures that federal education and workforce programs are aligned with the needs of today's students and our future economy. 

Constituent Meetings

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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Do you think the EPA has the authority to unilaterally garnish the wages of individuals who have been accused of violating its rules?

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