Hoeven Updates Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber on Short-Term, Long-Term Objectives in Congress
Senator Outlines His Work on Budget, Energy, Agriculture, Flooding, Health Care
FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today provided an update to business leaders on his short-term and long-term work in Washington at an event hosted by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce. The senator outlined his work on the short-term challenges of retaining affordable flood insurance, passing the farm bill, and securing Grand Forks as a test site for the Federal Aviation Administration’s new program to integrate Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace.
Over the long-term, Hoeven said he is working to address the nation’s debt and deficit, pass a national energy plan and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a sensible, market-based plan that respects patient choice. Following his talk, Hoeven answered questions from the audience and joined attendees at Business after Hours, a trade-show and networking event hosted by the Chamber.
Passing the Water Resources Development Act
The Senate recently passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (WRDA), which is currently being considered in conference committee. This bill includes authorization for permanent flood protection in the Red River Valley, an important step in moving towards the construction of the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion project. Hoeven said he is working to implement permanent flood protection, while continuing to work to address upstream concerns, in order to move past the cost and hardship of annual flooding in the area.
The legislation also includes the States’ Water Rights Act, a provision the senator introduced that blocks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from charging residents and businesses a surplus water fee for access to Missouri River reservoirs.
Hoeven and a bipartisan group of senators also recently introduced the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act, a measure that would prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from steeply increasing flood insurance rates. The measure will help ensure affordable premiums for millions of Americans. Also included in the legislation is the Hoeven-Heitkamp Flood Safe Basements Act, which makes sure homeowners receive credit for floodproofed basements when flood insurance rates are determined. Fourteen North Dakota communities are currently approved for the residential basement floodproofed rating credit, as well as 40 additional communities across the country.
Farm Bill Negotiations
As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a conferee on the farm bill conference committee, Hoeven outlined his priorities for the upcoming farm bill. He stressed that strong farm policy has enabled our country to have the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world. Both the Senate and the House versions of the farm bill include enhanced crop insurance, a priority for Hoeven and North Dakota producers. The Senate farm bill also saves $24 billion to help reduce the deficit and debt. The savings, he said, could be a part of a comprehensive deficit and debt reduction agreement. Hoeven said the most challenging issue yet to resolve in conference is determining appropriate reforms in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Securing Grand Forks as an Unmanned Aerial Systems National Test Site
Hoeven continues to work with the North Dakota Airspace Integration Team (AIT) and the Grand Forks Base Realignment Impact Committee (BRIC) to advance the Grand Forks Air Force Base’s bid to become one of six pilot test sites for integrating UAS into the National Airspace. As both governor and U.S. senator, Hoeven has worked to make Grand Forks the premier northern hub for the UAS industry. In last year’s Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill, Hoeven introduced a measure creating the sites across the nation. The senator says an announcement on site selections could come soon.
Addressing the Nation’s Deficit and Debt
During his presentation, Hoeven covered the upcoming deadlines on a variety of budget issues, including the joint House-Senate budget conference committee deadline on December 13, the expiration of the current Continuing Resolution on January 15 and the expiration of the debt limit on February 7. Hoeven said the key to addressing the nation’s fiscal challenges is finding savings combined with economic growth. He also favors passing a balanced budget amendment, which North Dakota and 48 other states have.
Hoeven emphasized that we need to preserve the savings already achieved in discretionary spending, which have been rolled back to 2008 levels, while also addressing the issues of mandatory spending and tax reform. The senator said he is now working on reforms that will help create jobs, grow the economy and make Social Security and Medicare solvent for future generations, all of which will help the nation get its fiscal house in order.
As a member of the U.S. Senate Energy Committee, the senator is working to implement a comprehensive, states-first, all-of-the-above energy policy that will make use of America’s energy resources, reduce cost and make our nation energy secure. The senator has introduced the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (DEJA), the Empower States Act and a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, among others.
DEJA is a wide-ranging package of 12 diverse energy bills that addresses both traditional and renewable development, designed to streamline and simplify regulations, boost domestic energy supplies, build American energy infrastructure and safeguard America’s supply of critical minerals used in modern high-tech manufactured products such as cell phones and computers. It establishes an American energy development plan, an all-of-the-above energy program for federal lands by reviewing the nation’s energy needs and goals for federal land energy production.
The Empower States Act would ensure that states retain the right to manage hydraulic fracturing and gives them the ability to respond first to any violation. It includes provisions to prevent loss of jobs or harm to consumers and the economy, to prevent arbitrary regulation from federal authorities and to ensure good environmental stewardship. This legislation recognizes that individual states are the first and best responders to oil and gas issues because they know their land and have a stake in protecting their environment.
The Keystone XL pipeline is a vital energy infrastructure project that will create 42,000 jobs and deliver 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, including 100,000 barrels from the U.S. Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. The project has the support of more than 80 percent of the American people, as well as bipartisan, majority support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Hoeven said the pipeline will provide more revenues for local, state and federal governments to address our fiscal issues and invest in priorities.
Hoeven said the nation needs to repeal and replace the government-run approach to health care in Obamacare with a market-based approach. He said we need market-based reforms that reduce cost, improve access and empower people to choose their insurance and health care providers. The senator outlined alternatives to President Obama’s health care reform law.
These include providing state-run high-risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions or who lose employer-sponsored health insurance, requiring transparency in health care costs and billing, reforming tort laws at the state level to prevent wasteful lawsuits, and empowering families and individuals to save for health care costs over the long-term through expanded and improved Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Hoeven said approaches like these will be more effective at improving our nation’s health care system rather than the centralized, government-run and costly system that is being implemented presently.
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