It was a pleasure to engage in constructive dialogue with a number of individuals who stopped by my District Office last week for a protest. Open, civil, and honest conversation is the most effective way of tackling our pressing issues.

The District

Hello again! I just spent the last week in the Second District meeting with constituents and visiting different parts of the city to hear what people are concerned about, and what they want to see happen during this session of Congress. 

During this recent short recess, I spent time learning from constituents about issues that affect their businesses. One of my priorities on the Small Business Committee is to find ways to ease the regulatory burdens on these businesses as they provide over 55% of jobs in the country. I started by visiting the Fair Deal Village Marketplace near 24th and Burdette Streets, which includes a grocery market, the Fair Deal Café, It’z Poppin, Fashun Freak and other stores. The Omaha Economic Development Corporation was instrumental in launching this effort, which is located on the site of the original Fair Deal Café. Following my visit, we toured nearby housing developments that the Nebraska Investment Financing Authority, Habitat for Humanity and others are involved in. It is wonderful to see how neighborhoods are being revitalized through greater access to low interest financing.

I also visited the Nebraska Innovation Campus; a partnership between the University of Nebraska and private-sector businesses designed to connect the talents of experts, companies and the university. Innovative ideas ranging from agricultural research to laboratories for manufacturing to nutrition and food research abound in this atmosphere. The agricultural research was of particular interest to me because of my work on the Agriculture Committee, and I was very impressed after meeting with University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds and Executive Director of the National Strategic Research Institute, General Bob Hinson. Those two institutions are collaborating to leverage and expand the Nebraska University system’s research capabilities to develop new solutions to state and national challenges. I also met with the Nebraska Agri-Business Association to find ways to improve profit margins in our agricultural sector through reducing the financial burdens from over-regulation. Additionally, our farmers are seeking more and better ways to train growers and producers as part of the Food Safety Act requirements.

While I have been meeting with organizations related to my committee assignments, I also met with constituents to discuss a variety of issues including healthcare, taxes and immigration. I met with the president of the National Alliance for Retired Americans and made a commitment to pursue no caps or lifetime limits on expenses in the replacement of the ACA. I also spoke with three constituents who visited my office to let them know I share their views on making sure those with pre-existing conditions are covered under any new healthcare plan put forth by Congress, and that children under the age of 26 can receive coverage under their parent’s insurance. Additionally, I met with Voices for Children, a group of organizations who desire stronger provisions for Medicaid coverage of our children who need it and qualify.  I met with the foremost Nebraska State Legislator on healthcare policy and issues to discuss legislation and solutions that would best meet the healthcare needs of Nebraskans. 

I visited with the Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition, which is a program of Family Housing Advisory Services, which seeks to improve housing opportunities for all people through education, counseling and advocacy. The Coalition promotes programs teaching optimal tax strategies through quality volunteer tax preparation assistance, education, and tools. 

Finally, I met with a group of students from Creighton University. I was touched that they signed cards thanking for me for co-sponsoring the Bridge Act (H.R. 496) and for joining the Climate Solutions Caucus. I look forward to working on both of these enabling efforts. 

There are many more visits and opportunities in the future that I will be utilizing to speak with constituents in the second district. In particular, an upcoming Town Hall will enable more than 100,000 in the district to share insights and ask questions. To stay aware of the details for this event and other future events, please sign up for email updates on our website. Also, if you or your organization would like to request a meeting with me or my staff, please contact me at our website:

Back in Washington

Last week, Congress was out of session as to let the members go back home and work in their districts. Though I spent a majority of my time meeting with constituents back in the district, I was still able to make strides back in Washington from the Second District.

With the debate of healthcare policy on the forefront of everyone's mind, I am proud to be taking proactive steps as a cosponsor of H.R. 878, the Right to Try Act, introduced by Representative Andy Biggs, to ensure access to affordable healthcare for all citizens. This legislation would permit the federal government to allow manufacturing, distribution, prescribing, and dispensing of experimental drugs, biological products, and medical devices for terminally ill patients, as long as the actions are authorized under state law.

Congress is in session for the next six weeks, and I look forward to tackling our most pressing issues. We need to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and we need to do it now. Republicans have promised for years to get it done, and I am ecstatic to be a part of this process.

Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act we have seen a decrease in the uninsured, yes, but a drastic increase in costs. Having insurance is not the same as having healthcare. If you cannot afford your insurance rates and deductibles, though you may have insurance, you cannot receive healthcare. Our goal is not just to provide insurance, but affordable insurance—something the current law has not accomplished. 

Upon the law’s enactment, 4.7 million people lost their preferred plans. I have spoken to a number of constituents who have seen their premiums double, even triple, under today’s market. One lady I spoke to said her premium had increased to $1,700 per month! Another couple was paying $30,000 a year for the two of them.

There are a number of provisions I'd like to retain. I'd like to ensure that children have the ability to remain on their parent's plans until they are 26 years of age. We will ensure pre-existing conditions are covered and we will also ensure a stable transition period for those who are using ACA policies now.

In order for prices to drop, we must have competition and allow individuals to carry their plans across state lines. One-third of all states only have one insurance provider, which reduces options and competition, allowing for prices to skyrocket. It is not fair to our consumers for the federal government to mandate the type of plans and where they can be sold. 

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