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2017 Accomplishments 

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!  I hope you all have had a blessed holiday with loved ones.  As Congress finishes the First Session of the 115th Congress, I wanted to share with you some of our key priorities over this past year.  My staff and I have met with thousands of constituents, local elected officials, businesses and advocacy groups and have had hundreds of meetings throughout our District with constituents to find critical solutions to problems that affect us all. Some of our highlights:

Tax Relief For Working Families And Businesses

  In December, Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act a pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-family tax relief package that featured the $2,000 child tax credit that I advocated for, as well as business tax relief so hardworking families and businesses will have a healthier economy.  With this historic tax cut and the 14 regulatory reform bills that were signed into law this year, we have helped unleash strong economic growth and we are now heading into the third consecutive quarter of above 3% growth.  The regulatory reform bills are estimated to save $3.7 billion. You can read more about the details of the tax cuts here.

Strengthening Our Defense And National Security And New Sanctions Against Russia

Visiting with service members
at the Osan Air Base in South Korea
Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2018 in December.  The NDAA provides much-needed funding for our troops to carry out their missions, including a 2.4% pay increase for our troops; over $28 billion to address readiness concerns including aviation, naval, and ground forces, as well as support for those impacted by PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury; and $8 billion in funding for cyber operations to fully support both offensive and defensive needs. This year, with the help of thousands of U.S. troops, the ‘caliphate’ of the Islamic State suffered tremendous losses.  While we still continue to battle Islamist terrorism and the Islamic State, their territorial base has been removed and that also reduces their recruitment base. The many defense, cyber, and national security experts who work both in the government, and in our private defense related businesses, have our commitment for increased resources for their innovative work protecting our national security and homeland.  The NDAA also continues, via my amendment, to provide support for STARBASE, a STEM education program that serves 10th District students.

 In February, I was one of the first Republicans to co-sponsor H.R. 1059, Russia Sanctions Review Act.  In July this legislation was combined with the Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act, and a number of other provisions from previously considered legislation and resolutions relating to Iran. H.R. 3364, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act was signed into law by the President this summer. It establishes new sanctions and enhances existing sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, as well as entities dealing with those governments. It also strengthens sanctions in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Moscow's interference in the U.S. presidential election.  

Supporting Our Firefighters And First Responders

Meeting with Loudoun County Firefighters 
In December Congress passed my bipartisan legislation that ensures our nation’s firefighters and paramedics will have the tools and training they need to safely fight and prevent devastating fires.  Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department Chief Keith Brower praised the legislation noting: “These programs greatly assist localities in the areas of firefighter safety, fire and life safety education and improved resourcing for tactical fire operations… This bill is tremendous for career and volunteer firefighters alike.”  The President will soon sign this legislation into law.

Leading In The Battle Against Sexual Harassment

Rep. Comstock with Dana Perino
The House of Representatives passed my bipartisan Resolution to combat sexual harassment in Congress.  The resolution mandates educating the Congressional workforce, from Members to the interns, on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace and having zero tolerance for sexual predators.  This was just an important first step, and I am currently working on legislation that will fundamentally reform the outdated 1995 Congressional Accountability Act to protect victims, bring much needed disclosure to the process, and stop any lawmaker from using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment claims. I have also co-sponsored legislation to allow victims to publicly disclose information about any Members who have previously settled sexual harassment lawsuits at taxpayer expense. 

Visiting FEMA Disaster Operations

Rep. Comstock visiting FEMA in Winchester
In November, I met with staff at FEMA’s Disaster Operations Center  in Winchester to thank these dedicated federal workers for all of their hard work in helping Americans in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands after the devastating hurricanes from this past summer. FEMA employees, who have been working around the clock, are still on 10 hour shifts helping those who are still in need.  Congress has passed a number of funding bills to help with the recovery.

Cracking Down On MS-13

  The House of Representatives passed my bipartisan legislation, the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act, which will provide additional tools to our law enforcement to combat the transnational MS-13 street gang. This legislation identifies gang membership and participation in gang activity as grounds for inadmissibility and removability from the country.  In June, Fairfax Supervisor, Pat Herrity, and I went on a ride along with the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force where four suspected MS-13 gang members were arrested. According to law enforcement there are 3,000 to 4,000 MS-13 gang members in our region.  You can read more about the MS-13 gang problem in an op-ed I wrote for the Loudoun Times here.  My legislation to provide additional funding to our regional task force has also advanced through the Judiciary Committee with bipartisan support and should soon be voted for on the House floor. 

Addressing Our Transportation Needs

In early December, I introduced the METRO Accountability and Reform Act, the largest legislative reform package introduced since Metro’s inception. The legislation has the backing of over 30 business groups including the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce, the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce, the Federal City Council, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and more.  The Washington Post Editorial Board said of the legislation “Barbara Comstock offers a realistic lifeline for Metro”.

In early December, Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke heeded our call for action and announced $227 million for the full rehabilitation of Arlington Memorial Bridge. The bridge carries 68,000 vehicles daily – many 10th District constituents among them - and if these repairs were not addressed in a timely matter than the bridge could have been closed by 2020 causing major traffic disruptions throughout the region.  For the past three years, my office has been working to support a number of efforts to secure these much-needed funds.

On the Transportation Committee, on which I serve, we have also started the important work for a larger infrastructure and transportation bill that we will turn to in the New Year.

Leading On STEM Education

Visited Briar Woods High School for 
“Take Your Legislator to School Day"
Congress passed my bipartisan legislation the INSPIRE Women Act which was one of the first bills this year President Trump signed into law. The legislation will provide more resources at NASA to young women who aspire to succeed as scientists, engineers, astronauts, mathematicians, and in many other STEM careers.

 The House of Representatives also passed my bipartisan legislation the Research and Education Effectiveness and Transparency Act which provides better information on how to make taxpayer-funded investments in STEM and Research and Development more effective, transparent and fair.

Addressing Hate Crimes

In April, I introduced House Resolution 257, which condemns ethnic, religious, and racial hate crimes.  The resolution is the House companion to Senate Resolution 118, which passed unanimously in the United States Senate.  The resolution cites trends in violent incidents targeting Jewish, Muslim, African-American, Hindu, and Sikh communities.  The resolution calls on federal law enforcement, working with state and local officials, to investigate all credible reports of these occurrences in the United States, hold perpetrators accountable, and bring them to justice. The resolution has strong bipartisan support of cosponsors ranging from Congressman David Brat to Congressman Don Beyer.

Seeking Additional Funding For Childhood Cancer Research

Rep. Comstock with Roya Giordano
for the annual Team Mathias 5k fun run
In April I introduced the Kids First Research Act 2.0 that would redirect approximately $320 million of federal funds to the Pediatric Research Initiative Fund at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with the intent to be used for childhood cancer research and other pediatric diseases. The funding for this bill will come from the redirecting of unused election matching funds to cancer research. Three years ago, Congress passed, The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act (H.R. 2019; 113th Congress), which provided funding for research into pediatric cancer through the NIH.  Gabriella’s parents Mark and Ellyn Miller have been strong advocates for childhood cancer research through the Smashing Walnuts Foundation, which provides funds for research.  This legislation is a continuation of this effort. Roya and Chris Giordano, who lost their son Mathias, have also worked with us on this legislation and through Team Mathias they support the many families in our region who are battling childhood cancer.

Continuing The Fight Against The Opioid And Heroin Epidemic

Opioid Roundtable in Loudoun
This summer, I hosted two opioid roundtables, one in Loudoun County with Sheriff Chapman and the other in Winchester headed up by Lauren Cummings, Executive Director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition.  The roundtables brought together local, state, and federal stakeholders to discuss the current state of the opioid epidemic in the region and featured Lawrence “Chip” Muir, Acting Chief of Staff and General Counsel for the Office of National Drug Control Policy so that we can continue to build relationships and coordinate our multipronged efforts (law enforcement, social services, medical community and faith community) to battle the heroin and opioid epidemic.  We continue to meet with our local law enforcement, service providers, and activists to best coordinate the diverse resources needed to battle addiction in our communities.

Working With And For Our Veterans

Rep. Comstock visiting
with a veteran during an honor flight
In November my office, along with Loudoun County Supervisor Tony Buffington, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that a “Vet Center Community Access Center” will be opening in Loudoun County.  The facility will be located in Leesburg and will serve Veterans as well as active duty military personnel and their families. This effort grew out of our work at our Veterans Job Fair where we engaged with our entire Veterans community on solutions to improve the lives, job opportunities and health of our Veterans. Over thirty different companies and veterans service organizations participated in our Veterans Job Fair, including U.S. Veterans Administration who we collaborated with on this project.  This spring, I was honored to be named “National Legislator of the Year” by the Virginia Council of the Military Officers Association of America.  For a full list of the sixty-six veterans bills that we have worked on this year and I have cosponsored, supported, and voted for in the 115th Congress, see here.

Bipartisanship In Fighting Cyber Threats

In March I introduced legislation with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) to help state, and local governments more effectively counter cyber threats. The State Cyber Resiliency Act would set up a cybersecurity grant program that would provide resources for states to develop and implement effective cyber resiliency plans. The House of Representatives already has passed the NIST Small Business Cybersecurity Act, which I cosponsored. The legislation would help small businesses identify, assess, manage, and reduce their cyber risks.

Working To Combat Human Trafficking

As a member of the Human Trafficking Caucus, I work with my colleagues to promote legislation to provide more tools and funding to law enforcement to crack down on predators.  In 2017, the House has already passed 6 bills including the No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act, legislation I cosponsored that disqualifies someone from operating a commercial motor vehicle for life for a human trafficking crime.  This legislation is set to be signed into law by the President.  In November, I joined a human trafficking awareness seminar at the Madeira School which was sponsored by the Great Falls Rotary. Read more about the program here in the McLean Connection.

Mentoring Young Women

Young Women Leadership Program event

Over the summer we held our annual 10th Congressional District Young Women Leadership program. Since the summer of 2015 we have over 1000 young women in Middle School and High School from all parts of the district participate and learn from successful entrepreneurs, businesswomen, doctors, scientists, astronauts, military, law enforcement, government officials, and other women leaders in a wide range of fields.  This year we were very fortunate to have NASA astronaut Sunita Williams address the young women about her climb to being one of the most successful female astronauts at NASA.  Sunita holds the female record for total cumulative hours in spacewalk time. Read more about the Young Women’s Leadership Program in a Loudoun Now article here. We are already starting to plan for the 2018 summer program to apply, see here.  

Our staff also addresses casework from assisting with complicated foreign adoptions, to helping with emergency passports for our diverse population, to working with the Veterans Administration, Social Security or Medicare, on facilitating resolution of a benefit claim.  If you need help with a federal agency go online here or call my District office at 703-404-6903. I wish you and your family very Happy New Year in 2018.

Thank you,

Barbara Comstock
Member of Congress

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