Rep. Kelly’s Bipartisan Leadership on Key Issues Highlighted by Magazine

Sep 20, 2018
Rep. Kelly’s Bipartisan Leadership on Key Issues Highlighted by Magazine

Spotlight on Kelly-sponsored bills to support health care affordability, infrastructure improvement, debt reduction

WASHINGTON — Legislative action taken by U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – a member of the House Ways and Means Committee – was recently featured in a profile published by The Ripon Advance, “a daily publication that provides news, information and updates on and about our elected leaders, their work within government, and their ideas and initiatives on public policy.”

U.S. Rep. Kelly leads bipartisanship in health care, infrastructure improvement, debt reduction

By Ripon Advance News Service

—Excerpted—

A master communicator, U.S. Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA), who has represented Pennsylvania’s 3rd congressional district since 2011, oftentimes manages to compare his bipartisanship efforts on Capitol Hill to those at the family-owned car dealership he took over from his father in the mid-1990s.

​“Bipartisanship just makes sense. It’s about building personal relationships and getting to know people. We all have so many issues in common, we just have different ideas on how to resolve them,” the 70-year-old lawmaker told The Ripon Advance in a Sept. 6 interview.

“It’s like working out a problem back home at the dealership,” said Kelly, referring to Kelly Chevrolet-Cadillac Inc. in Butler, Pa. “When I worked with people and we both could agree there was a problem, we would put our heads together and ask, how do we fix it?”

“It’s not any different than running a business,” he said. Bipartisanship is about “building trust between people and agreeing mutually to fix and move forward on a problem.”

In Washington, D.C., for instance, Rep. Kelly wants to convince the full House to support the Employer Relief Act of 2018, H.R. 4616, which he co-sponsored last December. The bill would amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, to provide a temporary moratorium on its high-cost plan tax, popularly known as the Cadillac tax.

The Cadillac tax is a 40 percent excise tax on employer-provided health insurance plans exceeding $10,200 in premiums per year for individuals and $27,500 for families that is scheduled to take effect in 2020.

“Its name comes from the delusion that only those with the most luxurious ‘Cadillac’ plans will be taxed,” Rep. Kelly explained in an opinion piece published on April 24 in The Hill. “Trust me: this Cadillac tax has nothing to do with fancy cars or extravagant health plans — it has everything to do with punishing hard-working Americans and their families.”

Rep. Kelly said the Cadillac tax unfairly forces employers to reduce health benefits for their employees, who end up paying higher out-of-pocket costs. “It’s a double whammy,” he told The Ripon Advance.

And in his home state, where 55 percent of the Pennsylvania workforce (more than 6.6 million residents) are covered by employer-sponsored health insurance, the pinch is already being felt from the forthcoming tax “as their employers are painfully forced to narrow networks and slash other benefits to avoid being smothered by a 40 percent tax,” Kelly wrote.

H.R. 4616 would delay the Cadillac tax until 2023, providing temporary relief to American workers, as well as the employers offering them coverage. It’s an issue that unites both Republicans and Democrats, Kelly said, and H.R. 4616 “is good progress.”

But what the congressman really wants is a full repeal of the Cadillac tax, which he said continues to hang over the heads of the 175 million Americans who receive health insurance through their jobs.

The bipartisan Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2017, H.R. 173, which Kelly introduced on Jan. 3, 2017, would do just that on a permanent basis. And the bill has 302 cosponsors.

In July, Rep. Kelly also introduced bipartisan legislation to expand consumer-directed health care and lower insurance premiums for Americans.

The Bipartisan HSA Improvement Act of 2018, H.R. 6305, would amend federal law to improve health care access through modernized health savings accounts (HSAs). The measure, which is cosponsored by U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), was marked up and approved, 26-13, on July 11 by Kelly and his colleagues on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, which sent the bill to the full House for a vote.

“Americans should be able to afford these types of programs and there should be less government intervention in people’s lives,” he said.

“HSAs are very important to people and give them options for spending their money. And they may not be aware of wellness programs, which are incredibly important to the overall health of the population,” the congressman added. “The key to not getting sick is putting yourself in a healthy lifestyle.”

The nation’s infrastructure also needs to be kept in tip top shape.

In another bipartisan bill Kelly introduced on June 14, the Generating American Income and Infrastructure Now (GAIIN) Act, H.R. 6104, Rep. Kelly proposes that the U.S. Agriculture Secretary be required to sell distressed notes and other obligations held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

If enacted, H.R. 6104 would authorize the U.S. Treasury Secretary to establish the terms for such sales. Fifty percent of the proceeds from these sales would be deposited in an account designated for infrastructure projects in low-income communities, according to the text of the bill in the congressional record.

The Treasury Department could use the other 50 percent of the proceeds to reduce the nation’s deficit under H.R. 6104.

“USDA has more than $2 trillion in nonperforming assets. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Kelly said. “We will never get our money back.”

But a window of opportunity exists to take these troubled assets and put them up for sale on the open market and let people buy them at reduced prices, he said. Then the federal government could take that money and put into hard hit communities for infrastructure improvements.

Jobs to make repairs and improvements would subsequently get created and the leftover monies would go back into the Treasury to lower debt, Kelly explained.

U.S. Reps. Ted Budd (R-NC) and William Lacy Clay (D-MO) are original cosponsors of H.R. 6104.

“You know it doesn’t really matter that Lacy’s in the Black Caucus, and I’m in the Republican Study Committee, or that Ted Budd is part of the Freedom Caucus,” Kelly said during a June 24 joint television interview on the Matter of Fact program.

“What does matter is when Americans can look at their government and say, You know what? This is working because we have the right people, at the right place, and on the right issues, and they’re working for us,” he said.

H.R. 6104 also would require that a portion of the workforce for each of the infrastructure projects come from the communities being improved, in turn making employment opportunities available for impoverished communities around the nation.

 

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