News from Representative Ryan Costello

Thank you for reading my weekly e-newsletter. I was back in Washington, where we officially reached our first 100 days in office. Here is a recap of another busy week, where the focus was aimed at getting the government off the backs of taxpayers and reforming the institutions that serve them:

First 100 Days in Office: April 13-17, 2015

Cracking Down on the Dysfunction at the Philadelphia VA Regional Office

On Wednesday, the much anticipated Inspector General’s report on the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Regional Office was released. Sadly, the report was as troubling as anticipated. It highlighted that data was manipulated, claims were disregarded, and duplicative payments were made. It is clear that purposeful wrongdoing and managerial incompetence permeate the workplace at the Philly VA Regional Office. As the facility continues to implement the suggestions of the IG report, one thing is clear: it is time for a complete culture change—starting with firing those responsible for the dysfunctional daily operations that have grossly failed our veterans.

As a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will continue to thoroughly examine the 35 recommendations from the Inspector General and their ongoing implementation. I am fully committed to ensuring the wrongdoings are fully righted as expeditiously as possible. ICYMI, I was on NBC 10 Philadelphia on Wednesday night to share my thoughts. You can also check out a few of the news articles on the release of the report from the Associated Press and the Philadelphia InquirerIn additionthe Southeastern Pennsylvania delegation released a joint statement. You can view that here.

Finally, I have authored two pieces of legislation to promote transparency within the VA. My bill HR 1038: the Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act passed the Economic Opportunity Subcommittee this week and will now head to the full Committee. H.R.1067: U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Reform Act was presented to the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs for initial consideration.  I am pleased to see that my efforts to improve the VA are moving through the legislative process! 

Tax Day Reform

For most Americans, April 15th marks one of the least favorite days of the year: Tax Day. I, like many of you, found that the tax forms are getting more and more complicated. When you need more than 40 pages of instructions to complete the least complicated tax return, you know you’ve got a system in desperate need of real reform. 

But if maneuvering through the tax code's complexity isn't enough of a frustration, ongoing reports about the widespread culture of misconduct and abuse at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prove that the status quo is intolerable. Whether it's the targeting of taxpayers for their political beliefs, the seizing of bank accounts from law-abiding business owners, or the rehiring of hundreds of IRS employees previously fired for misconduct, scandal and abuse continue to erode the IRS's credibility and compromise taxpayers' resources, privacy, and trust.

Americans deserve better. With my help, the House passed a series of commonsense bills that would begin to restore trust in America's most despised federal agency including: 

Each of these bills passed the House this week with unanimous support. I will continue to seek solutions to make Tax Day less burdensome in the future than it is today.

Preserving Consumer Choice and Protecting Financial Independence 

As a result of rising compliance costs due to the Dodd-Frank Act, many consumers, including small businesses and rural homeowners, are facing an overbearing regulatory environment that is prohibiting access to necessary financial products and services.  To address growing concerns about the adverse impact of Dodd-Frank implementation, the U.S. House of Representatives passed several bills this week to fix this excessive regulatory burden including:

Protecting the Delaware River Basin 

This week, I helped to introduce legislation to protect the Delaware River Basin.The Delaware River Basin is a critical body of water that provides a safe habitat for over 200 species and drinking water to more than 16 million residents.  In fact, it is the only watershed that supplies drinking water to two of the five largest cities in the U.S.— New York City and Philadelphia. 

In Pennsylvania, the Basin drains more than 6,000 square miles of land in Pennsylvania.14% of Pennsylvania's land area falls within the Basin's boundaries, and it is home to 43% – over 5.4 million – of the Commonwealth’s residents. Many residents of PA-6 are impacted by the Delaware River Basin and it is important to protect our local watersheds. 

With this legislation, Delaware River Basin restoration and preservation activities can be implemented across the basin through a competitive grant program to support the environmentally important work by state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and universities. I am proud to help lead the effort to protect the Basin and joined my colleagues at a press conference to express our support. Watch it here:

ICYMI—Legislative Update: H.R. 2: the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act

In late March, I informed you of the House passage of H.R. 2: the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. I am pleased to say the Senate passed this legislation on Tuesday, and yesterday it was signed into law by President Obama. This bipartisan Medicare reform legislation protects access to healthcare for seniors by permanently repealing its flawed physician payment formula known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) and cracks down on the rampant fraud, waste, and abuse in the program that so many area seniors rely on. It also ensures the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program for two years. This is the first true entitlement reform we have seen in decades, and it is a big step towards patient-centered healthcare. I penned an op-ed with Alain Oliver, the executive director of the Maternal and Child Health Consortium of Chester County (MCHC), on the passage of this historic legislation. Read the op-ed here.  

The First 100 Days

It has been a busy 100 Days since I was sworn into office. I have hit the ground running, working hard in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to modernize our transportation systems and in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to improve the VA.  I am proud to have helped the full House of Representatives pass dozens of pieces of legislation that will help families and businesses in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Significant legislation we have passed that would:  

  • Promote mental health care and suicide prevention for our veterans -- signed into law by the President 
  • Strengthen 529 college savings plans
  • Combat human trafficking 
  • Restore the 40 hour work week 
  • Approve the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline 
  • Balance the budget 
  • Reform Medicare and extend the CHIP program – signed into law by the President
  • Provide tax relief for small businesses 
  • Encourage small businesses to hire our veterans 
  • Strengthen our passenger rail lines including Amtrak and the Northeast Corridor  
  • Make permanent the conservation easement tax incentive
  • Promote charitable giving 
  • In addition, we examined reauthorizing ESEA, including the Costello-Bonamici Amendment which calls for streamlining school testing 

And many more.

Back in Pennsylvania, I have two district offices up and running in West Chester (Chester County) and in Wyomissing (Berks County), and my staff is eager to assist you. We’ve also held a number of Community Office Hours in Lebanon and Montgomery Counties, bringing my office directly to your community. Please always stay up to date with my work in Congress on my website (Costello.house.gov), my Facebook page, my Twitter account and on Instagram.

While our work is far from finished, I am confident that we will continue to pass legislation to help families in PA-06. I am honored to serve you in Congress and look forward to the next 100 days! 

Sincerely,


Ryan Costello
Member of Congress

 

 


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