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Congresswoman Comstock Post-August Work Period Update 

Happy Labor Day!

We had a busy August Work Period, traveling around the 10th District and seeing thousands of our constituents at county fairs, "National Night Out" neighborhood events, workplaces, farms, coffee shops, cultural celebrations, places of worship, and more. Now we return to Congress for a busy Fall that has been made even busier with the recent nearly unprecedented disaster with Hurricane Harvey.

Initial Focus For Congress This Fall:

Virginia Task Force One
Hurricane Relief Package
 
We have all seen the devastating images of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.  We saw people from all over the country join First Responders and Relief Workers to rescue over an estimated 8,500 people from the flood waters.  In this once in a lifetime weather event, Virginians have answered the call with Virginia Task Force One mobilized and deployed to the Houston area.   Virginia National Guard also deployed eight helicopters to help in the search and rescue efforts, and the Virginia Red Cross deployed disaster relief personnel to the region.

It is estimated by FEMA that 450,000 people will be seeking disaster assistance and that the region suffered an estimated $190 billion in damages. Restoration of the region will not just take weeks or months, but years, and we must provide the assistance that our fellow Americans need.

We need to get the Hurricane Relief package done quickly so that the thousands of families facing physical and financial devastation have a path back to a normal life.  Having lived in Houston during High School with my family (our home and neighborhood are one of the ones that was under water), we have heard from so many families about the devastation - including my in-laws who are housing friends who've lost their home.  Now is a time to come together and honor the spirit of service and collaboration we saw in Texas with neighbor helping neighbor, and people all over the country pitching in with help or resources.



Passing the Remaining Appropriations Bills
With the September 30th deadline for appropriations coming up, I will be working with my colleagues to pass the remaining appropriation bills and keep the government open in these challenging times.  We have seen FEMA and many of our federal agencies called into action with Hurricane Harvey and we know the national security threats are keeping our national security and homeland security professionals working harder than ever.  Shutting down the government causes millions in costs and a recent Standard & Poor's analysis puts the drag on the economy at $6.9 billion per week if the federal government were to shut down.  It was estimated that the 2013 government shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion.  A government shutdown is unacceptable and I will work with my colleagues to do our work in a timely manner.

 

Rep. Comstock with Small Business Owners
Tax Relief for Our Businesses and Our Families
 
This fall Congress will start the process of reforming the tax code.  America's tax code has not been reformed since 1986 - before we routinely used cell phones or emails - before our tech explosion and our 21st century economy.  We have the highest business tax rate in the world and our current tax code is making the U.S. increasingly non-competitive.  That is why we need a lower, flatter, fairer tax code to bring jobs back to our country and spur economic growth and put American businesses on equal footing with their competitors on the world stage.  We also need tax relief for our hardworking families.  Earlier this year I introduced H.R. 4846, legislation that would amend the Internal Revenue Code when it comes to the popular child tax credit.  My bill has three parts (1) increase the allowable amount of such credit from $1,000 to $2,000 for each qualifying child, (2) raise the modified adjusted gross income threshold amount at which the phase-out of the credit begins, and (3) increase such threshold amount by $15,000 for each qualifying child of the taxpayer beyond the first child. I will work with my colleagues for tax relief for our businesses and families as we take up tax relief this Fall.

 

Reinforcing Support for the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force to Tackle the MS-13 Gang Problem
In July I introduced the Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program Authorization Act, which would establish a grant program to provide resources to state and local entities to curb the rise in gang activity and violence.  This legislation authorizes $70 million annually with 20 percent going directly to already-established gang task forces, like the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, who are experiencing elevated transnational gang activity from gangs such as MS-13.  I will be working with my colleagues so we can get this important funding to the Gang Task Forces so they can do their jobs and combat MS-13 and other gangs in our region.

Rep. Comstock with Loudoun Firefighters
Reauthorization of SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) and AFG (Assistance to Firefighters) grants
 
As Chairwoman of the Research and Technology Subcommittee, the reauthorization of the SAFER and AFG fire grants come under my jurisdiction in Congress.  This fall we will be marking up this legislation that will continue these important grant programs so that fire departments have the adequate staffing and tools to do their jobs of saving lives and protecting property.  We have worked closely with our local firefighters and understand the importance of these grants. As firefighting technology continues to improve, this funding will go toward finding new and innovative ways to protect our first responders and find more efficient ways to protect us all.



Rep. Comstock at the Leesburg Airport

21st Century AIRR Act for FAA Reform
This legislation is a 6 year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that includes major reforms to reduce red tape in the FAA's certification process for aircraft and aviation products, improve the safety of air travel, improve the flying experience for consumers, foster innovation in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), fund the Nation's airport infrastructure, and separate our antiquated air traffic control (ATC) service from the federal government and help finally modernize the system.  This bill will provide the safe and efficient, 21st century aviation system the flying public deserves while keeping America the leader in aviation and innovation.

This legislation also includes a number of my provisions and priorities, including a provision to create the Remote Air Traffic Control Tower Pilot Program.  Currently, Leesburg Executive Airport is home to the first installation of this innovative technology, which is undergoing a certification process.  Another of my provisions adds the Washington, DC metropolitan region to a list of areas from which the FAA Administrator must choose to study health effects to aircraft noise.

Reauthorization of The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
This important program helps states insure low-income children who are ineligible for Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance.  CHIP has been reauthorized under both Republican and Democrat led Congresses and administrations and I will work with my colleagues to make sure that CHIP is reauthorized so that we have continuity of care for these children.

Moving Forward
We will be busy working on these issues in the coming weeks.   Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with our activities this Fall. 

Thank you,

Barbara Comstock
Member of Congress

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