By Gus Bilirakis Member of Congress
Dear Neighbor, Last week, I spent three days in Washington, D.C. participating in the Energy & Commerce Committee Mark-Up hearings. The hearings lasted all day long and into the early morning hours.
To say the experience was frustrating would be a significant understatement. What has been dubbed as the “Build More Inflation Act” allocates $3.5 trillion dollars in a manner that will exacerbate the financial problems Americans are currently facing and exert control over every aspect of our lives. Inflation is already on track to be at its highest level since 1981.
It is wiping out pay raises for Americans and hurting small businesses. Yet, this massive spending package will only cause inflation to continue rising. For example, the bill includes a natural gas tax which will impact nearly every part of the economy, making it more expensive to heat homes, buy foods, and manufacture products.
It will also likely cause more jobs to be shipped overseas. Additionally, Democrats blocked every commonsense amendment to make the bill better, including items that have previously enjoyed widespread bipartisan support. Instead, they insisted on cramming through extremely liberal social policies while failing to address traditional infrastructure needs.
Below, I will provide more details about what is in the package and what was rejected on a party-line vote. The next step for this terrible package is the House Floor.
I know many of you share my outrage and frustration. Please be assured that I will continue to fight for my constituents and to sound the alarm on how these policies will hurt our country. However, unfortunately it does appear that Speaker Pelosi has the votes she needs to push it through.
Please continue reading for other updates on issues impacting our community. Listening to Small Business Owners In a recent survey, 86% of my constituents and 77% of small business owners in my district reported feeling negative impacts of inflation over the past year. Several small business owners took the time to share what they have encountered over the last year.
More than 50% of all Americans are employed by small businesses, which means that their experiences will have an impact on many individuals and our economy as a whole. I appreciated the chance to read through their stories and was able to share their perspective with my colleagues while working on the legislation last week.
I have provided a few examples of what they have been enduring below. I also recently had the opportunity to tour Astra Products Co. Inc., a local manufacturer in Oldsmar.
Astra is a proud leader in the design, development, qualification, and manufacture of the highest quality electronic and mechanical products for the U.S. Government, including SecureAire Technologies filters.
These highly specialized filters are designed for commercial and residential air handlers to prevent the transmission of pathogens and microbes, including COVID-19. I appreciated the chance hear about the challenges this company is facing considering rising inflation and labor shortages, which has been a universal problem for most small businesses in our area. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy.
We must help them cut through the red tape and innovate. Ensuring Access to Effective Treatments I recently joined Governor DeSantis to discuss the importance of monoclonal treatments.
During the event, I shared my positive experience taking Regeneron after being diagnosed with COVID-19 early this year. It was very helpful.
For more information about monoclonal treatments, please visit www.patientportalfl.com. Protecting our Children Our country is experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis, particularly among our children and teens.
We have seen a disturbing spike in rates of depression, self-harm, and suicide attempts and death among teens, with teen depression in particular rising by more than 60%. Emergency department admissions for self-harm and suicide among girls between 10 and 14 tripled between 2009 and 2015.
This is in no small part due to the isolation caused by social media. Last week the Wall Street Journal published a story, with leaked studies conducted by Facebook on the negative effect Instagram has on teen girls. I’m incredibly concerned about these new revelations.
Big Tech is keeping us online longer than ever and lying to do so; all with the purpose to polarize and monetize us. They must stop the poisonous practices that are driving depression, isolation, and suicide.
This is a public health crisis and the deception from social media is unacceptable. Though Democrats blocked my amendment last week to address this concern, I will keep fighting to empower parents and protect our children. Also, last Wednesday was Tackle Kids Cancer Day.
Pediatric cancer remains the number one disease that leads to the death of American children. While survival rates have improved for some types, thousands of children are lost each year to cancer. I am a proud coauthor of the Gabriella Miller Kids First 2.0 Research Program which will help develop better treatments.
It will redirect penalties collected from pharmaceutical, cosmetic, supplement, and medical device companies that break the law to pediatric cancer research. Advocating for our Heroes I recently had the chance to participate in a screening of 100 Yards for Hope, a joint initiative of FORCE BLUE, which is comprised Special Operations Veterans and leading scientists from around the state. Together, they are working on a Coral Reef Protection and Restoration Program.
Participating Veterans described the therapeutic value of using the skills they learned during their service to help protect America’s natural resources and our shores during storms and hurricanes.
Click here to learn more. Also, Veterans suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus can receive free captioned telephone service overseen by the FCC.
To learn more about how to access free, high quality communication technology, click here. Supporting Seniors A large percentage of my constituents choose to participate in a Medicare Advantage program.
During the markup this week, I spoke on the importance of protecting this valuable program and ensuring this liberal spending plan is not paid for on the backs of our seniors. Click here to listen to my comments.
Also, we understand it is vital to have high-quality options available for seniors as their needs and living circumstances change.
During National Assisted Living Week, we celebrate the dedicated professionals working hard to provide compassionate care within our community. Promoting Tourism A new national poll of Americans shows the impact the pandemic has had on our travel and tourism industry and the need for action. As Co-Chairman of the Congressional Travel and Tourism Caucus, I understand the impact that this industry has on our economy which is why I am working on legislation to help support tourism.
Drawing Attention to the Concerns with the Spending Package In addition to the problems described above, the $3.5 trillion spending package includes a federal takeover of America’s electricity program. The bill creates a $150 billion program to dictate how we power our homes, businesses, and everyday life. It will make energy more expensive and undermine our grid reliability by forcing an over-reliance on weather-dependent sources, like wind and solar.
The bill also asserts influence over the cars we drive by pushing electric vehicles, which are on average $19,000 more expensive than average gasoline powered vehicles. This is a command-and-control agenda over people’s lives.
We have to look no further than California to see how well this approach worked there. You know who does benefit from these intrusions into our life– The Chinese Government. The Chinese Communist Party controls the world’s supply chains for the critical minerals in solar panels and electric vehicles. What’s worse is these supply chains are linked to slave labor, child labor and genocide. During our hearing last week, we tried to hold China accountable for its human rights abuses and prioritize American interests over Chinese. For example, we offered amendments to: Prohibit the use of critical minerals from China and the Taliban Prohibit the use of any critical minerals that were mined using child and slave labor in a foreign country, including China Prohibit grants to entities controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. All these amendments were blocked by Democrats.
Public safety was another frustrating topic during last week’s hearing. Democrats continue to advance their radical defund the police agenda. We know crime rates are surging in major cities across America and attacks against law enforcement officers have spiked this year.
Yet, Democrats refuse to stand up to radical extremists disrespecting our law enforcement and making our communities less safe. We offered an amendment to prohibit Next-Generation 9-1-1 funds from going to entities that have supported efforts to defund or eliminate law enforcement.
Every single Democrat voted against his amendment and in support of defunding the police. I hope you share my concern about these extreme positions.
I will continue to sound the alarm, so the American people have an understanding of what is actually included in this package. Democrats voted, along party lines, to do each of the following: Supporting Small Business Small businesses are the backbone of our economy.
Each week we have the chance to highlight the success of businesses in our community that have recently opened or expanded.
Congratulations to all our local job creators and best wishes for continued success in your venture! My team loves the opportunity to celebrate alongside you.
Congratulations to Dr. Ronak Parikh on the recent opening of BayBreeze Dental in Wesley Chapel! Constituent Corner The message below was recently sent from a constituent after my team helped her with a passport renewal.
I just want to bring it to your attention that James went above and beyond as my assigned caseworker. I received my passport on September 2nd.
But, I just want to let you know that James was attentive to my case which eased my anxiety throughout this whole process. I just want to say thank you again to your office for helping me. This is just one example of the work we do each day.
Constituent services are a critical element of our congressional office. The federal government is a massive operation, and my office is available if you ever need assistance in navigating the bureaucracy or cutting through red tape. We are here to serve you! Sincerely, Gus Bilirakis Member of Congress