Rep. Kelly Releases 2014 Year-End Report for Constituents

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) released the following report today, to be e-mailed to his constituents throughout Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District, to serve as a year-end overview of his office’s legislative achievements and constituent relations throughout 2014.

Dear Constituent:

Over the past twelve months, I had the extraordinary privilege of continuing to represent you in our nation’s capital during the second and final session of the 113th Congress.

Next week, I will be sworn in for a third time as the Representative of Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District. As with my first two terms in office, all of my work in the House of Representatives will be guided by Western Pennsylvania values—hard work, common sense, and straight talk. I see my service as bringing Western Pennsylvania’s voice to Washington, and never the other way around.

As I prepare to enter the 114th Congress with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, please remember that your priorities are my priorities, and that every day I will continue to work as hard as possible to accomplish them for you.

With every new challenge that 2014 brought us, there also came many great opportunities. My staff and I worked diligently to meet all of them head-on with the best results for you and your neighbors. The following report is meant to provide you with an overview of the most important legislative business that we conducted on behalf of Western Pennsylvania from last January until now.

Meeting the Needs of Our Constituents All Year Round

Here is a run-down of how my offices and staff were able to help me assist and communicate with my constituents in 2014. We…

  • Toured 30 local businesses and factories to meet with employers and employees about issues affecting their industries;
  • Helped 2,130 constituents with navigating the federal bureaucracy;
  • Answered more than 46,300 pieces of mail, e-mail, faxes, and calls;
  • Maintained 3 full-time constituent offices and 3 satellite offices;
  • Hosted 5 tele-town hall meetings to address a range of issues including health care concerns, help with filing tax returns, and Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period; overall, the tele-town halls included 30,397 participants from the Third District; we left a total of 108,252 messages on constituents’ answering machines to invite them to join us;
  • Attended/organized more than 200 constituent outreach meetings with different individuals, groups, schools, hospitals, etc. throughout the Third District;
  • Sent 1,544 American flags to constituents;
  • Assisted with 150 tours of the U.S. Capitol; 60 tours of the White House; 37 tours of the U.S. Supreme Court; 20 tours of the Library of Congress; and dozens of other tours to popular Washington destinations including the Kennedy Center, the FBI Education Center, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing;
  • Expanded my social media presence, ending the year with more than 11,650 fans and 4,940 followers on Facebook and Twitter respectively; and
  • Conducted hundreds of interviews with local, regional, and national newspapers, radio shows, and television programs.

Strengthening Our Economy & Paving the Way for New, Family-Sustaining Jobs

Since my very first day in office, my main priority has been to help foster an environment that strengthens our economy and generates more jobs with family-sustainable wages for our region and our country. I’ve proudly supported every measure to achieve this outcome, and opposed any obstacle to reaching it.

Of course, having to deal with an obstructionist Senate has not been easy, since most of the jobs bills that we passed in the House – usually with bipartisan support – have ended up getting trapped on (soon-to-be-former) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s desk. That said, my House colleagues and I still did not hesitate to pass as many pro-jobs initiatives over the past year as possible.

One of these was H.R. 4, the Jobs for America Act, which included a package of 15 commonsense, bipartisan bills to rebuild our economy by removing government barriers to private-sector job creation. I was proud to be a co-sponsor of many of these bills, a full list of which can be viewed here.

Defending Coal & Promoting American Energy

When President Obama ramped up his war on coal by commanding the Environmental Protecting Agency (EPA) to roll-out a controversial new regulatory plan for coal-fired power plants, a call to action was sounded.

In addition to supporting more than 40,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, coal also provides 40 percent of America's electricity—more than any other fuel. The Associated Press has rightly called coal “the workhorse of the U.S. power system” that “helps keep prices stable and power flowing even when demand spikes.” When federal regulations force mines and power plants to shut down, as is already happening at a historic rate, manufacturing costs rise, employment plummets, and electricity bills skyrocket.

In response to the EPA’s radical proposal, I joined with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to introduce H.R. 4808, the Coal Country Protection Act. The legislation would halt any new regulations by the EPA on America’s power plants until the following four outcomes are guaranteed: 1.) No job losses; 2.) No loss in GDP/economic growth; 3.) No higher electric rates; 4). No interruption in energy delivery. This bill was just the beginning.

In addition to touting the need to defend coal multiple times on television, in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, and at a public press conference with Sen. McConnell and dozens of other leaders from both parties, I formally extended an official invitation to President Obama to visit a Western Pennsylvania coal mine himself. Such a trip would allow him to meet and speak with the hardworking men and women whose livelihoods are most in jeopardy under his administration’s anti-coal crusade. When the EPA held a public hearing on its proposal in Pittsburgh, I made sure coal had its day in court.

Even though the Coal Country Protection Act was not able to pass Congress this year, and despite the fact that President Obama declined my personal invitation to don a hard hat, I pledge to you that the fight for coal’s future will continue. After all, this battle is not just about coal country—it’s about our whole country.

Speaking of our whole country, I spent much of 2014 continually promoting the possibility of a 21st century American energy renaissance—and the critical need to achieve it. In September, I was particularly thrilled to support H.R. 2, the American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act. This bipartisan legislation included 14 separate bills to expand domestic energy production, including a bill to finally approve the construction of the widely popular Keystone XL Pipeline. A full list of these commonsense measures can be viewed here.

Making the Tax Code Work for Western Pennsylvania

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I am strongly committed to making our nation’s outdated tax code fairer, simpler, and less costly for individuals and families of all sizes.

Pro-growth tax reform would simplify the tax code, lower tax rates, and make the United States the most attractive place to do business once again. This would no doubt strengthen our economy, which in turn would mean new jobs, higher pay, and more money in the pockets of American families and workers.

While the momentum for major tax reform is still building, this past year I was able to introduce and/or co-sponsor the following individual bills to improve taxes especially for Western Pennsylvanians:

  • The America Gives More Act (H.R. 4719), which was passed by a bipartisan vote of 277-130. The legislation includes a package of five bipartisan charity-related bills, including the text of H.R. 3134, the Charitable Giving Extension Act, which I originally introduced in September 2013. (According to Independent Sector, Pennsylvania is home to more than 68,500 non-profit organizations which employ 727,200 people, almost 13.3 percent of the state’s workforce; generate $96.8 billion in annual revenues; and hold assets of $208 billion. Pennsylvania foundations give a total of $1.3 billion annually.)
  • The Conservation Easement Incentive Act of 2013 (H.R. 2807). This bill was included in the passage of the America Gives More Act. (Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, one of the largest land trusts in the country, has conserved more than 235,000 acres of farm and natural lands throughout Western Pennsylvania. H.R. 2807 would help the Conservancy continue preserving open spaces in the Third District and throughout Pennsylvania.)
  • The Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014 (H.R. 4935), which was passed by a bipartisan vote of 237-173. The bill would modify the child tax credit in several meaningful ways to help hardworking Pennsylvania families keep more of their hard-earned money.
  • The Powering American Jobs Act of 2014 (H.R. 5775). This bipartisan legislation extends certain expiring tax incentives for the energy sector, including important propane and biodiesel provisions. Many of these extenders were included in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015 that was signed into law on December 16, 2014.
  • The Kelly-Kind Retirement Provision, which was included in the Omnibus budget, and which codifies the definition of “normal retirement age” as either 30 years of service or the current tax code’s definition of 62 years old. Because the IRS changed its retirement definition to include only the latter description, 10,000 rural electric coop beneficiaries throughout the nation would have otherwise lost their retirement benefits, including 16 in the Third District.

Pushing Back Against the Imperial Presidency

This year saw President Obama take executive power to a frightening new level, from making unilateral changes to Obamacare, environmental policies, and immigration laws—all without any involvement from Congress, where laws are meant to be decided.

At the beginning of the year, after President Obama pledged to use his “pen and phone” to “take executive actions and administrative actions,” I sent a letter co-signed by 20 Members of Congress to Attorney General Eric Holder seeking Constitutional justification for the president’s plans. In February, I discussed the letter with host Megyn Kelly on The Kelly File on Fox News.

In March, the House took legislative action to rein-in the imperial presidency in the form of H.R. 4138, the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of (ENFORCE) the Law Act, and H.R. 3973, the Faithful Execution of the Law Act of 2014, both of which I was proud to co-sponsor.

In July, the House took another stand against President Obama’s lawlessness by approving litigation against him. The system of checks and balances within our Constitution is far too precious and important to maintaining the freedom of our republic for any president to ever ignore or diminish. Speaker Boehner was left with no other option than to introduce H. Res. 676, a resolution to sue President Obama for his breach of authority. You can read more about it here.

After President Obama announced his plan to grant amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants in November, I publicly condemned it as outrageous and unconstitutional. I consider it a direct challenge to our system of government that must be opposed. That is why I voted to pass the Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act (H.R. 5759) and co-sponsored an amendment to the Omnibus appropriations bill which would have banned any funding for the president's order. Because of the unlawful nature of the president's unilateral action, the House ultimately ensured that the budget only funds the Department of Homeland Security – which handles immigration – until the end of this coming February. By then, conservatives will fully control both houses of Congress and will have the stronger ground necessary to stop the president's illegal order without Harry Reid thwarting our actions.

Most recently, I was proud to co-sign an amicus brief filed by the American Center for Law and Justice in support of the lawsuit brought by 24 states against President Obama's executive order earlier this month.

Fighting Ebola Before It’s Too Late

As you know, the second half of this past year saw the deadly Ebola virus finally reach our shores and claim American life. From the onset, I argued that this was a Paul Revere moment for the American people, and that every citizen from coast to coast should be alert, informed, and totally engaged in our nation’s fight to thwart this horrific disease.

On October 7th, I sent a letter to President Obama urgently requesting information regarding his administration’s handling of the Ebola outbreak and details of a comprehensive strategy to stop the virus from affecting Americans. On October 9th, I sent a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Sylvia Burwell, and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tom Frieden, expressing my deep concern about the possibility of the Ebola virus spreading to Pennsylvania. (The letter was copied to Governor Tom Corbett.)

On October 20th, I called on President Obama to finalize a rule proposed under the Bush administration in 2005 to update and revise regulations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to “prevent the introduction, transmission or spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States from one State or possession into another.” According to the federal register, the code of federal regulations that deals with foreign arrivals has not been updated since 1985. According to USA Today, the Obama administration scrapped the proposal in 2010 after objections by the American Civil Liberties Union over “potential passenger privacy rights violations and the proposal's ‘provisional quarantine’ rule.”

On October 21st, I had an in-depth phone conversation with Dr. Peter Piot – the doctor who first discovered the Ebola virus in 1976 in the Republic of Congo – about necessary action to stop the virus and protect Americans. As a result of our discussion, I joined with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to introduce H.R. 5746, the Keeping America Safe from Ebola Act, on November 20th (the same day Sen. Rubio introduced his Senate companion). Simply put, the bill would prohibit any alien from a country with a widespread Ebola virus outbreak from obtaining a visa to enter the United States. An extended list of the bill’s provisions can be viewed here.

Standing Up for the Great Lakes

As co-chairman of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, I am constantly involved in making sure the Great Lakes are properly cared for by the federal government. I consider the Great Lakes a gift from God—one that is directly tied to 128,000 American jobs, more than $33.6 billion in annual revenue, and three percent of our nation’s gross domestic product.

In May, my House colleagues and I passed the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014, by an astounding bipartisan vote of 412-4. Through WRRDA, Congress authorizes the key missions of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, including developing, maintaining, and supporting the nation’s economically vital waterway infrastructure and supporting effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs.

This major package will guarantee that our port in Erie is dredged, which in turn will make sure that the workers at Donjon’s shipyard in Erie can keep doing their job. It will ensure that Presque Isle’s pristine beaches are protected, which will keep tourists coming and commerce flowing for generations to come. Overall, three of the Third District’s most important industries – tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture – are directly improved by this incredibly important bill. That’s why Ray Schreckengost, Executive Director of the Erie-Western PA Port Authority, referred to WRRDA as “groundbreaking legislation for the Great Lakes.”

On July 10th – the same day President Obama signed WRRDA into law – I introduced an amendment to H.R. 4923, the Energy and Water Appropriations Act, 2015, to ensure that the bill complies with a provision in WRRDA that requires 10 percent of federal dollars allocated for harbor maintenance funding be prioritized for the Great Lakes Navigation System (GLNS). The amendment, co-authored by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), was passed unanimously.

Earlier this month, I was proud to co-sponsor H.R. 5764, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2014, which was also passed by the House unanimously. This bipartisan legislation amends the Clean Water Act to authorize the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for Fiscal Years 2015 – 2019.

The GLRI was an inter-agency program launched by President Obama in 2009 to implement a regional collaboration strategy developed in 2005 through a process established by an executive order from then-President George W. Bush in 2004. The GLRI had not previously received congressional authorization. Without increasing federal spending, this bill would authorize the GLRI at $300 million (the amount already appropriated over the past four fiscal years) each year for the next five years.

Last year, with the help of GLRI, Presque Isle Bay was removed from the EPA’s list of Areas of Concern. Additionally, the GLRI has been instrumental in keeping Asian Carp from invading the Great Lakes and threatening its world class fisheries. 

Keeping the Internet Free, Our Sovereignty Secure, & Our Rights Protected

Much like last year, 2014 saw the First and Second Amendments of our Bill of Rights – along with the spirit of liberty they represent – come to the forefront of some very important legislative initiatives.

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In March, the Obama administration announced that it will not renew the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), thereby turning over America’s stewardship of the Internet’s crucial functions to “the global multistakeholder community.”

According to media expert Gordon Crovitz, writing in The Wall Street Journal, “Russia, China and other authoritarian governments have already been working to redesign the Internet more to their liking, and now they will no doubt leap to fill the power vacuum caused by America's unilateral retreat.”

In June, I authored a guest op-ed for Red Alert Politics describing the stakes of surrendering American stewardship of the Internet to a multinational body or any other entity. In July, I hosted a policy briefing on Capitol Hill on the future of Internet governance in light of the Obama administration’s announcement. The hearing was attended by dozens of Congressional staffers and featured professional analysis by three field experts.

On November 19th, I introduced H.R. 5737, the Defending Internet Freedom Act of 2014. The legislation would prevent the Obama administration, or that of any future president, from relinquishing the critical functions of the Internet to any other entity without enhanced congressional oversight and until explicit, freedom-protecting requirements are met. It is being co-sponsored by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), who also serves as chairman and co-founder of the Congressional High Tech Caucus.

Under our care and our values, the Internet has been able to safely expand to unthinkable horizons, enabling new ideas to spread and new markets to grow all over the world. Keeping the Internet free and safe from hostile powers overseas who by their very nature despise freedom is not just a moral responsibility—it is a thoroughly American duty.

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Over the summer, I joined with Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming to introduce H.R. 5285, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014, which would ensure that all faith-based institutions and individuals can continue to provide child welfare services to those who need them.

For decades, faith-based organizations have played a downright heroic role in caring for the most vulnerable among us, including infants, expectant mothers, children, teens, and needy families in Western Pennsylvania and across our country. Our bill would simply prevent these service providers from ever being denied federal assistance based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. Ultimately, it is about defending religious liberty as well as ensuring that everyone who wants to help provide foster or adoptive care to our nation’s children is able to have a seat at the table

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In September, the House passed three new pieces of legislation to limit the power of the IRS in the wake of ongoing investigations into the agency’s unlawful targeting of conservative organizations. As a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, I was very proud to be the sole original co-sponsor of each bill.

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Just last week, the dangerous United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) went into effect on Christmas Eve, 90 days after it was ratified by 50 nations. Thanks to our opposition in Congress, the United States is not one of them (even though the Obama administration misguidedly signed the treaty in 2013).

As I have long argued, the ATT is an outrageous agreement that would force the United States – the world’s most important defender of peace and democracy – onto equal footing with the world’s worst dictatorships and terror-sponsors. Ominously, the treaty excludes any specific protection for, or even mention of, the fundamental right of individuals to keep and bear arms, which only opens the door wider to future gun control impositions.

Most recently, I was able to secure a provision in the final version of the FY 2015 Omnibus budget that bans any federal funding for the implementation of the treaty for one full year.

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As I’ve said time and again, representing you and your neighbors in the House of Representatives has been the honor of my lifetime. Any time my staff can help you with a federal matter in any specific way, please do not hesitate to contact me via the information and locations listed below.

I humbly thank you for the opportunity to serve you, and look forward to having your back in Congress in 2015.

Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Mike Kelly

 

ERIE DISTRICT OFFICE

208 E. Bayfront Parkway

Suite 102

Erie, PA 16507

Phone: (814) 454-8190

Fax: (814) 454-8197

 

BUTLER DISTRICT OFFICE

101 East Diamond St

Suite 218

Butler, PA  16001

Phone: (724) 282-2557
Fax: (724) 282-3682

 

SHARON DISTRICT OFFICE

33 Chestnut Street

Sharon, PA  16146

Phone: (724) 342-7170

Fax: (724) 342-7242

 

WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE

1519 Longworth HOB

Washington, DC 20515

Phone: (202) 225-5406

Fax: (202) 225-3103

 

CRAWFORD COUNTY OFFICE

By appointment on Wednesdays

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

908 Diamond Park

Meadville, PA 16335

Phone: (814) 454-8190

 

ARMSTRONG COUNTY OFFICE

By appointment on Thursdays

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

300 South McKean Street

Kittanning, PA 16201

Phone: (724) 282-2557

 

LAWRENCE COUNTY

Every Friday

9:00 a.m. – 4: 00 p.m.

Lawrence County Courthouse

430 Court Street

New Castle, PA  16101