YEAR END REPORT
JEFF FORTENBERRY PROUDLY SERVING THE FIRST DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
2 0 1 9 Y E A R E N D R E P O RT
TABLE OF CONTENTS
WELCOME......................................................................................... 1 COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS............................................................... 2 GETTING IT DONE . . ............................................................................ 3 FLOODS . . ........................................................................................... 6 FARMING ......................................................................................... 9 HEALTH CARE...................................................................................12 PROTECTING AMERICA....................................................................16 HUMAN DIGNITY............................................................................. 19 NEBRASKAâ€™S FIRST PEOPLES . . .......................................................... 22 IMMIGRATION ................................................................................ 23 SERVING OUR VETERANS................................................................ 24 THE ECONOMY . . .............................................................................. 29 ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY............................................................ 31 CONSUMER PROTECTION. . .............................................................. 33 HOW CAN WE HELP? ..................................................................... 35 STAY IN TOUCH................................................................................ 38
WELCOME I am honored and privileged to represent you in the United States House of Representatives. This 2019 Year-End Report was prepared for you as a review of the work of my offices in Washington and Nebraska. It contains an overview of important initiatives across various policy lanes, including health care, agriculture, national security, environmental security, human dignity, and consumer protection. While I hope you read the entire report, let me highlight three things. First, this past Spring, our state was hit with a 500-year flood. In typical Nebraska fashion, we came together, neighbor helping neighbor, with help from state and local agencies, and—it’s important to say—a huge lift from the federal government. Also, I took on a new role as Ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Most Americans don’t think much about the hard work of farmers and ranchers and the sound public policy that allows us to have the lowest food prices in the world, as well as protections for the most vulnerable who experience food insecurity. While policy and process matter, so does reflection and remembrance. What an amazing moment when we welcomed Chief Standing Bear to the U.S. Capitol. The towering and evocative depiction of this early civil rights pioneer now holds pride of place in Statuary Hall. I urge you to come see it. Thank you again for entrusting me to represent you, your family, and our incredible community—for the enduring Nebraska values we hold dear. Sincerely,
As a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I retain frontline responsibility for how Washington spends your money. As part of this work, I serve on two important subcommittees. As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), my portfolio touches the lives of almost every Nebraskanâ€”food and drug safety, agricultural assistance, rural connectivity, and more. As a Member of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, I oversee the funding of
diplomatic, humanitarian, security programs.
My other work in Congress is centered around a caucus structure. I am co-chair of the International Conservation Caucus (ICC), the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, the House Trails Caucus, the Egypt Caucus, and the Soils Caucus. I am also a Member of the Organics Caucus and am the founder and leader of the bipartisan Congressional Nuclear Security Working Group, which works to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons.
GETTING IT DONE Legislation I helped lead in 2019.
H.R. 660 — The CHILD Act encourages health care innovation by allowing local communities to keep savings from better health outcomes and lower costs.
strategy to prevent targeted violence through behavioral threat assessment and management. H.R. 3562 — The Farm to School Act increases grants and scope of projects in order to connect the rural to the urban, farmer to the school, and open up new markets for ag producers while teaching young people the provenance of their food.
H.R. 5479 — Protecting patients with preexisting illnesses; assuring no patient is denied access to health insurance. H.R. 5382 — Reducing insulin prices; assuring patients receive access to insulin at net prices.
H.R. 3145 — The Protecting Americans from the Risks of Keyless Ignition Technology Act (PARKIT) mandates automatic shut-off for cars with keyless ignition to prevent accidental death from carbon monoxide poisoning.
H.R. 5480 — The ALS Placebo No More Act ensures that ALS patients have access to treatment within clinical trials. H.R. 2789 — Federal invisible risk-sharing to bring down insurance premiums.
H.R. 962 — The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act requires appropriate medical care for children who survive abortion procedures, imposes strong criminal penalties for failure to provide such care, and protects women, upon whom abortions have been performed, from prosecution.
H.R. 3742 — The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a creative, bipartisan upstream solution to downstream habitat and species loss—for the benefit of all who enjoy the great outdoors. H.Res. 259 — Security Resolution for Northern Iraq supports the repatriation of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq to their ancestral homelands.
H.R. 3220 — The Kids Eat Local Act brings local food into school cafeterias without raising program costs and removes burdensome red tape to make it easier for schools to flexibly source local food.
H.R. 3560 and H.R. 3561 — Legislation to provide critical assistance to the Lewis and Clark Visitor Center in Nebraska City.
H.R. 3375 — The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act requires telephone companies to offer callblock services to persons at no charge and
H.R. 838 — The Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act (TAPS) develops a national
GETTING IT DONE
stop the disturbing practice of phone number “spoofing” by scammers.
research, development, and demonstration of important renewable energy technologies.
H.R. 726 — The National Discovery Trail Act designates the American Discovery Trail (ADT) as a critical component of the National Trails System and creates a new category of long-distance trails.
H.R. 4091 — The ARPA-E Reauthorization Act helps test the viability of renewable energy innovations before they are brought to market. H.R. 784 — The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act prohibits any person from performing an abortion on an unborn child who is 20-weeks old or older.
H.R. 2014 — The Conscience Protection Act prohibits federal, state, or local government from penalizing or discriminating against a health care provider who is unwilling to participate in abortion. No one should be forced to act against their sincerely held, deeply reasoned beliefs.
H.R. 4489 — The Hotel Advertising Transparency Act ensures that persons have full price disclosure when searching and comparing options for their next trip. H.R. 5096 — The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (CPPA) strengthens passenger safety on cruise ships.
H.R. 3100 — The Challenges and Prizes for Climate Act encourages public-private research partnerships to develop creative solutions for our natural security in five key areas: carbon capture; energy efficiency; energy storage; climate resiliency; and data analytics.
H.R. 2208 — The Cabin Air Safety Act protects airline passengers and crew from toxic jet fumes. H.Res. 531 — Protecting Children Involved in Cobalt Mining: Resolution.
H.R. 3961 — The Renewable Energy Extension Act extends clean energy tax incentives for wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
H.Res. 387 — Peace in the Central African Republic: Resolution. H.R. 2490 — A bill to move toward creating a national historic trail to honor Chief Standing Bear.
H.R. 3597 — The Solar Energy Research and Development Act and H.R. 3609, the Wind Energy Research and Development Act, fund
GETTING IT DONE
Appropriations Achievements for Nebraska Defense Offutt Air Force Base Base Rebuilding ..................................................................................... $141M RC-135 Infrastructure Replacement ..................................................... $205M Nebraska National Guard Camp Ashland Recovery ......................................................................... $48M New Bellevue Readiness Center ............................................................. $29M Military Pay Raise: 3.1%
Agriculture Rural Broadband .................................................................................. $642M University of Nebraska Drought Mitigation Center ................................. $3.3M Farm-to-School Program ...........................................................................$9M Rural Broadband Livability Program ............................................................$1M Value-Added Producer Grant Program ............................................... $29.5M Rural Micro-entrepreneurship Assistance Program (RMAP) ......................$6M Long-Term Agro-ecosystem Research (LTAR) ........................................ $18M Local Foods ........................................................................................ $55.4M
Energy Wind for Schools Program ..........................................................................$1M Sustainable Energy and Efficiency ...........................................................$2.7B Biodiesel Tax Credit Restored
Healthcare Ebola Training and Education Consortium .................................................$11M FDA Generic Drug Program ................................................................. $27.1M Smoking/Vaping Age to 21
Other Highlights Increased School Safety........................................................................ $125M Election Security................................................................................... $425M
FLOODS The most destructive Nebraska weather event in most of our lifetimes.
It’s pretty hard to get the mind around a 500year flood. Standing on the ridge at Offutt Air Force Base, where the Platte River meets the Missouri River, I saw how rain on top of snow on top of frozen ground unleashed an unprecedented force of water. As the rushing water hit the bank on the Iowa side, it blew out the levee and scoured a hole 62-feet deep. A third of the base was covered.
Corps of Engineers and asked, “What’s the number?” Without hesitation, he looked me right in the eye and shot back: “It’s going to be a lot.” In the most destructive Nebraska weather event in most of our lifetimes, a perfect storm of factors enabled the dislocation and distress we saw around us. True to our character, we humbly came together to help each other out. The remarkable response of local leaders, of neighbor helping neighbor, made a huge
As a member of the Appropriations Committee in Congress, I turned to the commander of the
Offutt underwater. 6
difference. Individuals and communities, however, cannot solve this problem alone or solely through state and local government resources. They need assistance from their federal government.
relief for Nebraska. In both the Appropriations Committee and before the whole House, key amendments to the supplemental disaster assistance bill were passed to help our farms, communities, and Offutt Air Force Base.
Weeks after the floods, I was pleased to get funding for much-needed emergency disaster
We directed $120 million to Offuttâ€™s immediate cleanup and operational needs and moved
Viewing flood damage in the district. 7
additional funds into the Emergency Watershed Protection Program to restore scarred lands and infrastructure. This will reshape eroded stream banks, repair water control structures, fix levees, and restore conservation priorities. We addressed the loss of on-site grain stores and assisted in the multi-agency effort to help farmers ready their damaged fields for planting. I continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Natural Resources Districts to repair levees. Importantly, the disaster bill included $2 billion in funding to repair damaged Corpsâ€™ projects across the nation.
The decimation caused by the calamitous flooding is matched by our strong-willed and resilient communities. Nebraskans are moving forward; our communities are getting back on their feet. With federal help to address serious and long-lasting damages to our infrastructure and land, we will recover and remain Nebraska strong.
REMEMBERING JAMES WILKE As we continue to recover from the massive flooding, so many beautiful stories of neighbor helping neighbor and personal sacrifice have emerged. One particular story of heroism stands out. James Wilke was a farmer from near Columbus who gave his life during the rushing flood waters in order to help a person who was stranded. I spoke about the heroic effort of Mr. Wilke on the House floor. I also sent a letter to President Trump asking that he kindly consider Mr. James Wilke for the Presidential Citizens Medal. In an extraordinary act of solidarity, thousands of Nebraskans signed an online petition asking for this consideration.
FARMING Supporting those who feed America and the world.
NEW LEADERSHIP ROLE IN AGRICULTURE
In Nebraska, agriculture is essential to our economic well-being, our way of life, our culture, to who we are as a people. For many Americans, it’s easy to overlook the efficiency and productivity of our farmers. Our grocery bills are the lowest in the world, food is readily available, our safety net well considered. It comes down to this: The vastness of our land, the quality of our soil, and the gritty ingenuity of our farmers are the foundation of American prosperity, stability, and vitality.
In January, I was privileged to be named the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This policy space is central to food production, rural development, conservation, nutrition, as well as related authorities critical to food and health safety. It’s also full of opportunities for innovation.
AGRICULTURE BUDGET Provisions in the recently enacted FY20 budget bill provide important support to our nation’s farmers and ranchers, humanitarian relief for persons recovering from disaster, and protection for those vulnerable to food insecurity. The bill includes funding streams for the building and rebuilding of critical infrastructure needed in our rural communities—from housing to utilities to economic development. Specifically, this measure includes $555 million for the ReConnect Broadband Program we started just two years ago. It also includes an additional $87 million for other rural broadband initiatives that help bridge the digital divide and create an ecosystem of livability for telework, 9
FA R M I N G
telehealth, precision agriculture, and a host of other beneficial outcomes.
The new budget also ensures support for various forms of financial assistance to smaller agricultural enterprises like the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program.
Beyond food, this bill includes responsibility for a portion of our nation’s health care policy. We support initiatives at the Food and Drug Administration to enhance blood safety, stop opioid abuse, reduce generic drug prices, and further food safety. Continued investments in generic drug competition will help bring drug prices down for the health care needs for all. One other new provision will reduce nicotine use by our youth as the sale of tobacco and vaping products moves to 21 years of age.
FARM TO SCHOOL The Farm to School Program feeds kids, teaches kids, and inspires kids about healthy food choices and farm life, while helping them understand the sources of their food. A nutritional, novel, and locally sourced school lunch menu keeps our students alert and inquisitive throughout the day. Currently, more
Our nation’s Farm to School Program at work in Lincoln. 10
FA R M I N G
Future Farmers of America.
than 23 million students at over 42,000 schools are involved in Farm to School programs, including many in Nebraska.
To provide opportunities for success, we must expand high-speed, high-capacity internet access for farmers, ranchers, small businesses and other residents of Rural America. Earlier this year, the USDA released its Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report, which stressed the critical value of e-connectivity and offered recommendations for improvement. The report noted that 80 percent of American households lacking reliable, affordable high-speed internet service are in rural areas.
In the House, I am working on two bills that build upon this important program by creating further economic opportunities for our nation’s farmers, while connecting the rural to the urban and the farmer to the student. H.R. 3526, the Farm to School Act, increases the size and scope of projects; prioritizes beginning, veteran, and other underserved farmers; helps high-need student populations; and increases access among Native American schools to farm-fresh and traditional foods, especially from tribal producers. H.R. 3220, the Kids Eat Local Act, will bring more local food into school cafeterias without raising the cost of school meal programs, while removing burdensome red tape to make it easier for schools to flexibly source local food. Helping further the Farm to School Program was a priority of mine in the recent budget bill.
More money isn’t the fullness of an answer. That’s why I have been working to ensure that broadband resources are properly used to increase the social and cultural capital of rural communities.
HEALTH CARE Advancing innovative solutions to dif ficult challenges, while protecting the most vulnerable.
Health care remains a paramount concern for Nebraskans. I have heard many Nebraskans’ personal stories of struggle and tragedy. Congress must reach across party lines to bring down prescription drug prices, simplify health care, and find ways to further healthy living.
Working with receptive friends across the aisle on invisible risk-sharing, I cosponsored H.R.1425—The State Health Care Premium Reduction Act. This is a smart way to reduce health care premiums and protect patients with preexisting illnesses.
THE HIGH COST OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
Many of our neighbors are quietly fighting cancer or managing ALS or raising children with behavioral and mental health issues. Others are disabled waiting for Social Security benefits. Many more hardworking Nebraskans call about the unaffordability of medicine for a child diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Too many seniors are burdened by ever higher-priced medications.
We have a huge problem in America—big pharmaceutical companies and middle management responding to bad government policy have created a huge mess in the prescription drug space. The average annual cost of a brand-named drug has more than tripled in the past decade. Families with diabetic children, seniors on Medicare, and others facing prohibitively high expenses for lifesaving drugs deserve better.
Farmers had a blow this year when a federal court in New York, acting on behalf of old laws supporting large employers, sided against individuals in the health insurance market. The Nebraska Farm Bureau’s cooperative health plan was saving farmers $7,000 annually. Many of these Nebraskans will now have to look elsewhere.
Part of the solution is to accelerate generic drug approvals. According to the FDA, when generic competition exists, prices are often 8095 percent less than brand-named drugs. With 90 percent of generic prescriptions available for less than $20 for patients with insurance, that translates into real savings for families and healthier lives for all Americans. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) says
This year alone, there were over 2,000 bills dealing with health care introduced in the House. The main issues of access and affordability have been difficult to fix. 12
H E A LT H C A R E
that generics can save the U.S. health care system over one trillion dollars per decade. I am pleased that my colleagues and I significantly helped the FDA accelerate generic drug approval.
In December of this year, Congress voted on two bills to allow the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs. One allowed price controls that could impede innovation. The other kept payments to costly middlemen. Neither will become law. Complex 400-page bills are hard for Americans to understand. Americans just want the drugs they need at a price they can afford.
Another important piece of legislation allows pharmacists to tell patients about therapeutically equivalent but less costly drugs, as well as alternative methods of purchasing drugs that are less expensive.
The problem we hear about the most is the high cost of insulin. Thirty million Americans suffer from diabetes. The cost for a vial of insulin has risen by almost 300% in the past 20 years. When one looks deeper, most of that increase goes to middlemen. It seemed logical that if we can solve the insulin cost problem, we might be able to resolve the high cost of prescription drugs overall.
To further get at the root of prescription drug cost drivers, we need to change how we procure drugs in large public programs. The United States federal government, through Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and other programs, is the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the world. There is broad bipartisan agreement in Congress, and from the White House, that this policy needs to change. 13
H E A LT H C A R E
HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: THE CHILD ACT
My strategy is a simple one-line bill, H.R. 5382â€”Insulin Manufacturers Can Sell Directly to Patients for the Net Price. I invite you to review my comments about this legislation in my Fort from the Floor: The System is Sick.
Hereâ€™s another idea: the Community Health Improvement, Leadership and Development Act (the CHILD Act). A portion of this bill was included in the recent Appropriations bill. It calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to collaborate to provide communities with their own health data, including truly local rates of disease and associated costs. When a community knows their own health information, they can more effectively determine what prevention activities are most useful to them.
H E A LT H C A R E
Discussing my one-line insulin pricing bill with Greta Van Susteren.
Ultimately, the CHILD Act will allow communities across Nebraska to work towards their best health. When savings are verified in our state’s Medicaid program, communities will receive 70% in a Community Shared Savings Account to invest in things they believe will help prevent even more illness. I am grateful that Nebraska’s community health centers and the University of Nebraska College of Public Health have chosen to support this legislation.
treatments. Recent medical trials are showing promise for some patients. We have worked closely with other Members of Congress and our health agencies to ensure that all patients in trials will always gain access to a promising treatment. At the end of 2019, I introduced H.R. 5480, the ALS Placebo No More Act, to ensure that ALS patients in clinical trials are never only given the placebo in place of active drugs. It’s only fair.
DISEASE RESEARCH This year, we added another $2.6 billion to disease research, superseding last year’s increase by $600 million. We understand the importance of these research dollars from the many Nebraskans who come to Washington to advocate for rare diseases without effective treatments.
RIGHT TO TRY We hoped Right to Try would make a difference for patients with life-threatening diseases. As part of our work on ALS, we have partnered with the Senate to write legislation that will address the financial issues that impede Right to Try. The goal is to create a fair system for patients suffering from rare or terminal diseases who want access to drugs in development that are safe and effective.
One such disease is ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. A number of constituents have written about the need to accelerate new ALS
PROTECTING AMERICA The most important duty of the United States government is keeping you safe.
OFFUT T AIR FORCE BASE
There is no other military in the world that can stand toe-to-toe with the American men and women in uniform. We have the best training, the best equipment, and fiercest fighting force on earth. In Nebraska, STRATCOM and Offutt Air Force Base are serious parts of our nation’s security infrastructure.
Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue serves America in multiple ways. It houses USSTRATCOM, the strategic nerve center of America’s nuclear enterprise, which now has a new $1.3 billion headquarters. Offutt’s 55th Wing provides intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and “precision awareness” to our military leadership and to our soldiers around the globe. Offutt is home to the 557th Weather Wing, the 595th Command and Control Group, and a satellite laboratory of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
In recognition of the importance of recruiting and retaining a well-trained military force, Congress increased the salaries of our military personnel by 3.1% for 2020. This follows a 2.6% increase in 2019.
P RO T E C T I N G A M E R I C A
USSTRATCOM Commander John Hyten, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, and Congressman Jeff Fortenberry.
It has been a year of transitions for Offutt. We are in the midst of a major runway replacement that will see critical upgrades made to Offutt (and to the Lincoln Airport as well). The challenge to recover from the March floods prompted us on the House Appropriations Committee to secure the necessary funding to rebuild. The total amount to support Offutt is $465 million.
The Specifics: • Base Construction: $141 million • RC-135 training infrastructure: $205 million • Nebraska National Guard, Camp Ashland: $48 million • Nebraska National Guard, new Bellevue Readiness Center: $29 million
NUCLEAR SECURIT Y I co-chair the bipartisan Congressional Nuclear Security Group. Dedicated to increasing awareness of the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation and terrorism, the caucus works to bolster the nuclear expertise of lawmakers and their staff. It also broadens congressional engagement on the role of nuclear science in military readiness and human well-being. There is a clear need to focus on the role nuclear Welcoming Offutt’s new Commander Colonel Gavin Marks. 17
P RO T E C T I N G A M E R I C A
plays in energy and health as well as its inherent risks. The caucus has grown into an important forum focused on developing and implementing sound policy solutions.
(NDAA). It was signed into law by the President on December 21. This annual legislation sets policy on matters such as military personnel, health care, programs, and construction. The measure sets military priorities and funding targets, while the appropriations bill establishes the actual funding levels. This year’s NDAA established the Space Force as the sixth branch of the military. The bill abolished the unfair “widow’s tax,” allowing a surviving military spouse to receive the benefits they deserve. And it gave our military personnel a 3.1% raise.
This type of issue should transcend any political disagreement. It really is about life and death— the future of civilization itself.
NATIONAL DEFE NSE AUTHORIZATION AC T In December, Congress finalized action on its FY20 National Defense Authorization Act
HUMAN DIGNITY Nebraska’s compassion is playing a big role.
None of the values propositions we hold dear make sense unless we fix our gaze on the ultimate value—protecting human dignity.
Nadia Murad is from a small village in Northern Iraq that was ransacked by ISIS in 2014. ISIS rounded up her entire village, separated the men from the women, and forced Nadia to watch as six of her brothers were massacred. Her mother was also executed, along with eighty older women.
RE LIGIOUS MINORITIES Our concern for human dignity naturally extends to persecuted people around the world. Nevertheless, we sense that we can’t keep fighting other peoples’ wars—at great cost in blood and treasure—with many challenges here at home. But, as this year further verifies, we must proceed with great caution in exiting this messy corner of the Middle East in order to prevent the horror of ISIS 2.0, Turkish over-aggression, and a destabilization that endangers religious minorities.
Nadia and the rest of the women were taken to Mosul to be sold as sex slaves—a sickening ploy used by ISIS to recruit younger men to join its ranks. Nadia’s dreams of becoming a history teacher or a beauty salon owner were shattered, along with the hopes of an entire people. I was first introduced to Nadia by friends in the Lincoln Yazidi community. In 2018, Nadia received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in raising awareness of the ISIS genocide. This year, Nadia was my guest of honor at the State of the Union.
Lincoln is home to the largest community of Yazidis in America. Here’s the hard reality: 400,000 Yazidis from Northern Iraq are still trapped in tent structures unable to safely return home. Iraq used to be home to over 1.5 million Christians. Now, around 250,000 hold on. Militias are wreaking havoc in the very lands that these communities have called home for millennia.
Nadia and I spent an hour with a reporter from the Washington Post. Nadia answered the questions with graceful but purposeful resolve, as her husband Abid lovingly brought forth the full meaning of her words. When asked what the Yazidis of Northern Iraq needed most, she replied: “Security.”
Yazidi journalists from Northern Iraq recently visited me in DC. They all agreed on the prime need of the region: security. 19
With Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad.
THE SECURIT Y RESOLUTION FOR NORTHERN IRAQ
work with the Iraqi government to integrate local religious minorities into Iraqi national security forces.
ISIS is now territorially defeated. Its founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was hunted down this year by U.S. Special Forces and specially trained canines, one of whom, a Belgian Malinois named Conan, was injured in the raid. Conan later received a medal and plaque from the President and First Lady. While we have shifted substantial aid to organizations to directly help the beleaguered minority communities that ISIS targeted, it will not be sustainable without security.
This is a first step to creating the conditions necessary for the safe return of people to their ancestral homelands. If we donâ€™t get this right, out-migration to Europe will continue, permanent refugee camps will dot the landscape, foreign-backed militias will continue to meddle in the region, and ISIS could regenerate.
PROTEC TING THE UNBORN
A form of my security solution made it into the State and Foreign Operations portion of the budget bill just signed into law by the President. It calls upon the United States government to
Sadly, there is no greater divide in our country than over the issue of abortion. I have always held that we should be loving enough, big enough, and, we certainly have resources enough, to help persons no matter how hard the circumstances. This year, I signed onto the Born-Alive Infant Survivors Protection Act to stop the grotesquely inhumane practice of infanticide. As civilized people, we must do better.
PROTEC TING CHILDRE N’S ONLINE PRIVACY
collected data on the online habits of tens of millions of children under the age of 13 and sold that data to marketers in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Protecting human dignity in the physical world must also extend to the virtual world. Last year, I sent a letter to search engine giant Google, challenging them to maintain proper protections for children’s online privacy. I was inspired by twenty-three child and privacy advocacy groups, who, in April, 2018, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (F TC) arguing that Google’s YouTube online video and advertising network systematically
This September, Google and its subsidiary YouTube agreed to pay a record $170 million to settle allegations that YouTube illegally collected personal data on children without parental consent. While a $170 million fine is a drop in the bucket to Google, it is ten times larger than all previous COPPA fines combined.
SECURING AMERICA: DEFENSE, DIPLOMACY, AND DIGNITY
Pleased to welcome President of Italy Sergio Mattarella to the U.S. Capitol.
With my good friend Vice President Mike Pence.
With the King of Jordan. 21
NEBRASKA’S FIRST PEOPLES What an amazing moment when we welcomed Chief Standing Bear to the United States Capitol.
In 1877, the Ponca Tribe was forcibly removed from their ancestral homeland in northeast Nebraska and relocated to Oklahoma. In 1879, Standing Bear was arrested after fulfilling a promise to his dead son to bury him back along the Niobrara River. In the ensuing trial in an Omaha courtroom, in one of the most important civil rights stories in American history, Standing Bear raised his hand and declared: “I am a man. God made us both.” Chief Standing Bear changed history, as Native Americans were declared persons under the law. On September 18 of this year, in a stirring bipartisan ceremony featuring Nebraska’s congressional delegation and leaders of both parties, a commanding and evocative sculpture of Chief Standing Bear was unveiled in National Statuary Hall. I invite you to watch a video of the deeply moving public ceremony.
“I am a man. God made us both.” 22
IMMIGRATION America is a kind and welcoming nation, but charity cannot flow from border chaos.
In May alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stopped 132,000 persons trying to cross the border illegally, the highest monthly total in over ten years. March, April, and June saw apprehensions of over 90,000 people. While the recent success of the U.S. and Mexican governments in diverting illegal immigrants away from the southern border has reduced illegal crossings, the numbers would be unsustainable even if they were cut in half.
witnessed first-hand the decency of border patrol agents who want to keep our country safe as they also deal humanely with massive numbers of individuals who have come here illegally. You too have likely seen the dramatic, painful images of the brokenness of our immigration system. In response, on June 27 of this year, the House voted to provide emergency humanitarian assistance and security at our southern border. I voted yes for two reasons: It took care of the children and helped stop illegal activity by giving U.S. Customs and Border Protection necessary resources. On July 1, President Trump signed this legislation into law. This bill, however, is only a short-term fix.
To get a personal understanding of these dynamics, this year I traveled to the El Paso sector of the border to witness the complexities facing America at our border. I saw the unaccompanied children, other persons who have been detained, old barriers, new barriers, places with no barriers, and the consequences for each. I reviewed our surveillance systems and the conditions faced by our Border Patrol. I saw how migrants were processed and housed at various checkpoints, and the dangers they face in making their perilous journey. I also
A vibrant, just, and humane immigration system depends upon order: a secure border, internal enforcement, new foreign policy considerations to our south, and modernization of our laws. This is about more than the televised trauma at our one-yard-line with Mexico. It’s about trauma for persons in their home countries and trauma to our governing systems in America. The origin of the name “El Paso” means passageway to the North. What is needed is a passageway to a reasoned set of policies— respectful of persons, respectful of law, and respectful of our country.
Border Patrol with supplies for people in need. 23
SERVING OUR VETERANS Keeping our promise to those who stand on the front lines to protect our nation.
Our unprecedented standard of living, our complex and nuanced systems of government, our breathtaking and ambitious cadre of worldleading entrepreneursâ€”these world-historical achievements do not happen by accident. They happen because at several critical hinge moments, when everything was on the line,
brave men and women stepped forward to defend our country. As Americans, we all have a sacred obligation to care for the ones who came home, and, just as important, support the families of those who never came back.
S E RV I N G O U R V E T E R A N S
Bellevue continues their great tradition of honoring our veterans.
VETERANS DAY AND HONOR FLIGHTS This summer, I joined members of the Purple Heart Honor Flight for their pre-flight dinner before they left for their trip to DC. It was particularly special to see Nakia Howe, Gold Star Wife of U.S. Army Specialist Darren Howe, and their two children. Shaye-Maleigh was three-years-old when Darren lost his life in service in 2005. Gary-Dean was only one year old. What a pleasure to see the kids so grown up. The Gold Star families and the Purple Heart recipients give witness to the reality of ongoing sacrifice made by our veterans.
Howe family. 25
S E RV I N G O U R V E T E R A N S
THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY
I sought out the gravesites of two Creston, Nebraska brothers, Julius and Ludwig Pieper. Both served aboard the Landing Ship Tank (LST) 523 Stardust, which joined 7,000 vessels amassing for D-Day’s Operation Overlord. On June 18, 1944, Stardust hit an underwater mine as it approached Utah Beach, killing the Pieper brothers. Ludwig was recovered and buried. Julius was lost; his name inscribed on the cemetery’s Wall of the Missing. Two days before the brothers’ death, their parents received a letter from their twin sons. It read: “Do not worry about us, we are together.”
In June, I accompanied the largest Congressional delegation to ever participate in the 75th anniversary of D-Day landings in Normandy, France. My grandfather fought in World War II, giving the ultimate sacrifice on this hallowed ground. While at D-Day festivities on the beaches of this French coastal province, my fellow congresspersons and I joined thousands of fellow Americans, veterans, and grateful French gathered to pause, reflect, and remember those who gave their all in defense of the values we hold dear. Our American cemetery at Omaha Beach is a peaceful, beautiful, and noble place where 9,388 war dead lie. To walk among the quiet rows of crosses and Stars of David is to move from the fascinating history of the battle into the poignant reality. Each marker represents a story. A sacrifice. A mission. Sons. Fathers. Brothers.
Thanks to the diligence of Vanessa Taylor, a then high school student from Ainsworth, Nebraska, and her teacher Nichole Flynn, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency identified Julius’ remains in 2017. Julius and Ludwig are together again, side by side for eternity, in Normandy.
At gravesite of Creston, Nebraska twins Julius and Ludwig Pieper. 26
S E RV I N G O U R V E T E R A N S
75TH ANNIVERSARY OF D-DAY, NORMANDY, FRANCE
Chance meeting, Lincoln High students, Utah Beach.
First American flag planted on D-Day with Mayor of Sainte-Mère-Église, France.
Native American veterans.
Omaha Beach Cemetery. 27
S E RV I N G O U R V E T E R A N S
VETERANS HISTORY PROJEC T
especially our young, who will hopefully never face the kinds of brutal, scarring conflict faced by their parents, grandparents, and greatgrandparents.
During Thanksgiving week this year, I held two Veterans History Projects events in Nebraska. Created by Congress in 2000, this is an important effort by the Library of Congress to collect and preserve first-hand interviews of Americaâ€™s service members. The Veterans History Project has thus far collected the histories of over 100,000 vets nationwide. It is an invaluable resource for all Americans,
If you would like to know more about the Veterans History Project initiative or know a veteran who would like to participate, please call my Lincoln office at 402-438-1598. You can also find more information about the Veterans History Project at www.loc.gov/vets.
THE ECONOMY The economy remains strong, and meaningful opportunities for employment continue to grow.
In his signature book, The Wealth of Nations, “The Father of Capitalism” Adam Smith articulated how free-market capitalism operates through an “invisible hand” to lift all boats. You may not have heard of Smith’s other major work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. In it, the famed Scottish economist and philosopher articulated the necessary precondition of human values essential to a properly functioning market. All over the world, we see examples of capitalism devoid of Smith’s moral sentiments.
noted, in the long run, the market takes care of all problems. The famous economist John Maynard Keynes retorted: “In the long run we are all dead.” Thus, a regulating moral force (properly informed government) is needed to ensure that the market operates fairly.
JOBS Healthy competition births innovation. I saw that this year in meetings with a range of first district entrepreneurs. Their success and our nation’s success has been so strong that many of our businesses are searching for good people to keep up with demand for their products. To keep the Nebraska economic engine strong, we need to find ways to keep our young people right here at home where their technical prowess, amazing ingenuity, strong work ethic and relational empathy are always in demand.
In our American experience, we naturally accept that the private market system accelerates possibility and economic opportunity for human well-being and flourishing. We also recognize that the “free” market can be distorted, manipulated, stacked, unfair. Herein lies the tension. As some economists have
UNITED STATES-MEXICOCANADA TRADE AGREEME NT
sections dedicated to digital trade and digital innovation, while maintaining America’s high standards for intellectual property protection, especially for life-saving biologics. The agreement also includes much stronger enforcement provisions to ensure compliance with all aspects of the agreement, including factory and facility inspections.
Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and manufacturing workers will be pleased we finally have a good deal that builds upon the markets for their products. After months of negotiations, the House of Representatives passed the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement. The USMCA will spur over $68 billion in new economic activity, creating over 176,000 new jobs after six years, including 76,000 new automotive sector jobs over five years, as well $34 billion in new auto plants.
Finally, it ensures the continuity of strong labor, workplace, and environmental standards throughout the three-nation trading zone. And it will prevent countries from using artificially low wages as an unfair trading advantage. The USMCA is not the fullness of an answer on trade, but it’s a start. And it’s proof that, amid the partisan drama in Washington, Republicans and Democrats can work across the aisle to achieve something deeply important for America and the world.
Thanks to the USMCA, our ag producers will be able to expand sales of American dairy, wheat, chicken, eggs, and turkey into the lucrative Canadian market. In a first for any trade agreement, the USMCA includes major
Sing it. 30
ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY Smart, Savvy, Green. Reclaiming our heritage, protecting our world.
Nebraska is the home to a uniquely diverse ecosystem. We are situated in the heart of the Great Plains, yet our natural resources vary from fertile fields and farmlands, to the Rainwater Basin, to the Sandhills, to rich, planted forests. We are the home of Arbor Day, pioneered by former Agriculture Secretary J. Sterling Morton. Conservation and preservation of our precious natural resources is in our DNA. Innovative thinking and proactive policy are required to restore wildlife, combat natural challenges, and reform our approach to environmental security. Nebraska is a leader in this field.
enables the federal government and the states to work together to prevent further erosion of our natural resources. This measure has attracted more than 160 bipartisan cosponsors as well as support from a diverse range of groups—from hunters to anglers to hikers, boaters, birders and others who care about the great outdoors. With continued momentum, we hope to pass this historic bill and see the President sign it into law very soon. I invite you to view my speech on RAWA at a bipartisan press conference held on its behalf.
RECOVERING A MERICA’S WILDLIFE AC T This year, my colleague Debbie Dingell and I re-introduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). This is the most exciting public policy development in the conservation space in decades. It protects ecosystems. It enhances community. It supports recreation. Congress has undertaken important work with the Endangered Species Act, but RAWA tackles potential problems before they become critical. It seeks to replace litigation and regulation with collaboration and cooperation. RAWA
E N V I RO N M E N TA L S E C U R I T Y
TOWARD A MORE SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
key areas: carbon capture; energy efficiency; energy storage; climate resiliency; and data analytics. Clean energy prize competitions have historically yielded major technological advances and transformed industries and markets.
Nebraska is well-positioned to lead the renewable energy revolution. Our natural resource base, the advanced research capabilities of our university system, and the drive and ingenuity of our renewable energy entrepreneurs are already transforming our state into a renewable energy leader.
H.R. 3609, the Wind Energy Research and Development Act, and H.R. 3597, the Solar Energy Research and Development Act, promote research, development, and demonstration of important renewable energy technologies.
We have protected the important use of ethanol and biodiesel as a critical part of our renewable energy mix. I am also actively supporting several measures in the House designed to promote sustainable energy.
H.R. 3961, the Renewable Energy Extension Act, extends clean energy tax incentives for wind, solar, and geothermal energy.
The bipartisan H.R. 3100, Challenges and Prizes for Climate Act, encourages public-private research partnerships to develop creative solutions for our environmental security in five
H.R. 4091, the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act, helps test the viability of renewable energy innovations before they are brought to market.
CONSUMER PROTECTION Maintaining the guardrails of free enterprise.
I found a way to unite our nation! Stopping the pernicious epidemic of robocalls. This year, I supported legislation to require telephone companies to offer call-block services to persons at no charge and stop the disturbing practice of phone number “spoofing” by scammers. The bill just passed the Senate and is on its way to the President’s desk for signature.
to tell you a story that never gets easier, and I’ll try to be as quick as possible. “On April 24th, I took my mom out for lunch, she and my dad. It was three days before her 80th birthday, and it was a fantastic day. They were scheduled to go on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate my mom’s birthday.
“We found their bodies in their home thirteen days later here in Bellevue.”
This past summer, at a town hall in Bellevue, Sharon gracefully stood, steadied herself to keep from crying, and softly spoke: “I am going
Sharon’s parents—Thomas (a disabled veteran) and Ann (a proud American of British birth)— had died in their bedroom from the fumes
C O N S U M E R P RO T E C T I O N
of their 2017 Hyundai Tucson that Ann had accidentally left running in the garage. Everyone in the packed Bellevue University Military Veteran Services Center grew quiet.
for a reasonable period, in order to prevent accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. I had not heard about the PARK-IT bill until Sharon spoke.â€„Having since reviewed it, I believe it is solid, smart legislation that deserves wide support.
Sharon came to the town hall to tell her story because she wanted my support of the Protecting Americans from the Risks of Keyless Ignition Technology (PARK-IT) Act. With keyless ignition, the driver must have the key fob within a short range of the vehicle and use a dashboard button to turn the car on and off. Since a driver doesnâ€™t have to manually use a key, occasionally a driver leaves the car, having forgotten to push the button that turns it off. Among other things, the PARK-IT bill would mandate automatic shut-off for cars with keyless ignitions, after the car had idled
OTHER CONSUMER BILL S To further protect you, I am also supporting: The Cruise Passenger Protection Act (CPPA) to strengthen passenger safety on cruise ships; The Hotel Advertising Transparency Act to ensure that you have full price disclosure when searching and comparing options for your next trip.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
My two main duties in Congress are to develop good public policy and to serve as your voice in the federal government. My office works diligently to help Nebraskans every day. In order for us to do this effectively, we have offices in Lincoln, Norfolk, and Fremont, and a person based in Bellevue. You are always welcome to contact me with ideas, comments, or questions through phone, mail, e-mail, or by setting up in-person meetings.
you know, is interested in applying to a service academy, please contact my Lincoln office.
NE BRASK A BREAKFAST Every Wednesday morning, when both houses of Congress are in session, your entire federal delegation hosts a breakfast for our visitors to Washington. This time-honored tradition offers the opportunity for you to meet with the entire Nebraska delegation and hear about important legislative updates. This past year marked the Nebraska Breakfast’s 77th anniversary, making it the oldest such gathering on Capitol Hill. In 2020, my office will be hosting the Nebraska Breakfast. If you’d like to attend, please contact my DC office or click on the Nebraska Breakfast tab under “Services” on my website.
ACADEMY NOMINATIONS Our nation’s service academies are elite institutions that build character and grit, while training students to excel in academics and military affairs. This year, we were fortunate to have another dedicated group of young people apply to serve our country. If you, or someone
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Intern Pranav Rajan (right).
Community College this fall on a Chief Standing Bear Scholarship. Congratulations Morningstar. Your art holds pride of place in our nation’s capitol.
From high school to college students, we had a number of very bright interns in both my DC and Lincoln offices! Our interns have the opportunity to learn first-hand about the operations of Congress and its role in our nation’s government. And now they get paid! We have had some outstanding interns over the years who have gone to achieve enormous success. Should you know of a young person who would like to intern in my office, please encourage them to apply.
CONGRESSIONAL ART COMPETITION
With Congressional Art Competition winner, Morningstar Roundstone.
The U. S. House of Representatives hosts an annual high school art competition. It was honor to meet Morningstar Roundstone, Member of the Omaha Tribe and winner of the 2019 Congressional Art Competition for the First District of Nebraska. I was deeply taken by her beautiful and evocative pencil drawing of her niece Skareh. A resident of Walthill, and graduate of Bancroft-Rosalie High School, Morningstar started at Norfolk’s Northeast
HOW CAN WE HELP?
COMMUNIT Y TOWN HALL FORUMS
by ensuring that you receive the answers and help you need from your government. We can assist with a variety of issues, including Social Security, Medicare, farm programs, military issues, immigration and veterans’ affairs. This year alone, we helped to resolve more than 500 individual cases. When you are unable to resolve an issue with the federal government, my office is here to assist.
Many Members of Congress have chosen not to hold town hall meetings any longer. I refuse to believe that in Nebraska we cannot have a civil discussion, even if sometimes it is hard. This year, I held town hall meetings throughout the First District. The meetings were held in Bellevue, Lincoln, Fremont, Norfolk and Columbus, and drew hundreds of Nebraskans. From health care to trade, immigration to the Farm Bill, we discussed a host of pressing issues that were of deep concern to local communities.
YOUR WASHINGTON ADVE NTURE Our nation’s capital offers a wide variety of historic landmarks and museums, making it an excellent place for Nebraskans to visit. If you are coming to Washington, we are happy to give you information to make your trip more enjoyable. If I had to pick just one thing to do in the Washington area it would be the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
We also held regular “town halls by telephone” throughout the year. These opportunities ensure that I hear the concerns and address the questions of constituents who are not able to attend a town hall meeting or come to my office.
CONSTITUE NT SERVICES
We can also help you navigate the House and Senate chambers and their historic surroundings. Should there be an opportunity, I can make a concerted effort, no matter where I am on the Hill, to meet you.
It can be challenging to know when to start and how to navigate through today’s federal bureaucracy. I remain dedicated to serving you
STAY IN TOUCH
When I’m driving on long roads past barns, trees, and open fields, our beautiful state inspires and grounds me. As I often tell my staff, “Let’s think like this: ‘Nebraska First.’” It’s a guiding principle for us in Washington and back home on your behalf.
I invite you to sign up for the weekly Fort Report newsletter on my website. Or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for real-time updates. I value you. I value your input. And I look forward to hearing how we can continue to put Nebraska First.
641 N. Broad Street Fremont, NE 68025
301 South 13th Street Suite 100 Lincoln, NE 68508 (402) 438-1598
506 West Madison Avenue Suite 2 Norfolk, NE 68701 (402) 379-2064
WASHINGTON, DC 1514 Longworth House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-4806
S T AY I N T O U C H
Always great to see Larry the Cable Guy at the Nebraska Breakfast.
ESPN College Gameday.
With our unofficial Thai Ambassador Surat Suwannikkha and my predecessor Doug Bereuter. 39
We are living in a new age when we are appropriately calling for tolerance while ridding ourselves of the vestiges of discrimination and injustice that affected many of our people for too long.
— Congressman Jeff Fortenberry