Following the recent start of a new Congress, I want to provide you with regular updates about what’s going on in our nation’s capital and throughout the 4th District of Kansas. In the first few months of 2019, we have been busy.
In January, I was selected to serve on the House Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over taxes, trade, Social Security and health care. I am honored to be the only Member of Congress from Kansas to serve on the committee in the 116th Congress. As a former state treasurer and engineer, I look forward to solving problems and being a champion of lower taxes, free and fair trade, and affordable health care.
Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act and Protect Life Rule
Several key items occurred in the fight to defend the unborn recently.
First, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized the Protect Life Rule, new guidelines for Title X family planning grants. Last year, I helped lead the effort in Congress to call on the Trump administration to administer the new rule which will ensure family planning tax dollars don’t go to abortion providers but to facilities focused on women’s health care.
While the Protect Life Rule will not cut any funds from family planning services, it will divert tax dollars from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, which currently receives $60 million annually in Title X grants.
To continue our efforts to protect life, I am proud to cosponsor the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act – a common sense bill that ensures children who survive a botched abortion receive the same medical attention and care as any other child would be given. This legislation is needed now more than ever – especially given the recent debate around late-term abortions and infanticide in states like New York and Virginia. I am working with my colleagues to make sure it gets a vote on the House floor and will continue to defend life in Congress.
Homeless Veteran Families Act
To support veterans, earlier this year I cosponsored H.R. 95, the Homeless Veteran Families Act. The act authorizes the VA to pay a partial per diem for veterans’ minor dependents to community-based agencies that provide transitional housing programs for homeless veterans. The VA currently only pays for the veteran. This act will allow veterans and their families to achieve residential stability, increased life skills and income, and greater self-management.
Government Funding and Border Security
Following the partial government shut down earlier this year, President Trump signed a bill to fully fund government and took action to secure our border through a national emergency declaration.
While the budget bill Congress approved provides a start to securing our border, it stops short of including all of the funding and tools needed to build a barrier and secure the border in the way that Homeland Security experts and the president requested – funding only 55 miles out of the recommended 200-plus miles of a barrier. In addition, the bill handcuffs law enforcement by decreasing the number of illegal immigrants ICE can detain and does nothing to address the spending problem in Washington. Although Speaker Nancy Pelosi passed a rule at the start of this Congress requiring 72-hours notice before voting on a bill, they unfortunately did not honor that pledge in this process, giving Members less than one full day to analyze the 1,169-page budget bill.
For those reasons, I voted against the funding bill, as I believed it fell short of the expectations of constituents in the 4th District.
I also voted against the resolution to oppose a national emergency declaration issued by President Trump.
Just as every president since Jimmy Carter has done, President Trump is rightfully exercising his ability to declare a national emergency to protect our border. The crisis on the southern border impacts every corner of our country through crime, human trafficking, drugs and a basic disregard for the rule of law. Rather than President Trump needing to declare an emergency to protect our country, Congress, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, should have done its job to provide increased border security. However, I support the president’s actions to address this crisis and will continue working with President Trump and Congress to further secure the border and fulfill our promises to the American people.
Protecting the Second Amendment
Just recently, the House voted on two measures – H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112 – that stripped law-abiding citizens of their second-amendment rights and did nothing to address the root causes of gun violence like theft of firearms, straw purchases or the underground market. These bills would expand the required days to wait for a background check and require every transfer of a firearm go through a government agency, including lending a gun to a friend to shoot trap or to a domestic abuse victim to protect themselves. This legislation would turn innocent people into felons and lead to pointless delays and government overreach for law-abiding citizens seeking to exercise their rights instead of protecting victims and focusing on the core issues of gun violence.
While I oppose these bills, I’m proud to cosponsor the Mass Violence Protection Act of 2019 to ensure local, state and federal agencies work together to keep guns away from criminals. I will continue to fight for the Second Amendment rights of all Kansans to defend themselves, their families and their homes.
Connect with Me
Interested in getting regular updates about what’s going on in Congress? Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter at https://estes.house.gov/ and please don’t hesitate to reach out to my District Office in Wichita at 316-262-8992 if you have questions or concerns.
Ron Estes is a 5th generation Kansan and represents Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.