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Reconnecting Congress with America

The Reconnecting Congress with America Initiative is a package of Congressional reforms that aims to overhaul our system of governing, restore confidence in Congress and reconnect Congress with the American people. Many Americans believe that their elected representatives have become a ruling class of elites that does not feel the personal impact of the legislation they pass. This Initiative addresses simple yet meaningful reforms in order to instill a culture of servant leadership to replace Congress’ current ruling class mindset and to restore accountability to our broken system in Washington.  This Initiative includes the following features: (i) implements term limits, (ii) adjusts Congressional pay to fit private sector response to economic difficulties, (iii) modifies Congressional benefits to conform to current private sector structures, and (iv) requires Congress to abide by the laws it enacts.

I originally released The Reconnecting Congress with America Act in the 112th Congress. I am working on re-introducing this legislation with additional measures.

The Reconnecting Congress with America Initiative for the 112th Congress includes:

Term limits: I was a cosponsor of H. J. Res. 20 (Platts, R-PA), which proposes an amendment to the Constitution limiting the consecutive number of terms to two for Senators and six for Representatives.

Congressional pay: I am the author and sponsor of H.R. 3565, the Reconnecting Congress with America (RCWA) Act, which establishes base rate of pay for Members of Congress (Members), ties Member salary to the Federal budget deficit and repeals the automatic pay adjustment. If the Federal deficit is equal to or greater than 3% of gross domestic product (GDP), then Members’ base salary would be cut by 20%. If the Federal deficit is less than 3%, Members’ base salary would be cut by 10%. In a case of no Federal deficit, or if a surplus were to exist, Members would receive 100% of their base salary. This way, Congress will be much more in touch with the economic situation that the American private sector employees feel every day.

Congressional benefits:
Retirement: the RCWA Act increases Member contribution to the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) from 1.3% of pay to 6.2%.  This provision puts Members in a position where they are paying the same amount for their retirement benefits that private sector employees pay into Social Security.  The Federal government contribution would be offset by this amount.

I was a co-sponsor of the H.R. 3480 (Griffin, R-AR), End Pensions in Congress Act (EPIC Act)--this is the ultimate solution that I would like to achieve with respect to Congressional benefits.

Living under the laws enacted by Congress:
The RCWA Act includes two associated provisions:
  1. Insider Trading: Prohibits commodities and securities trading by Members and employees of Congress and employees of Executive branch agencies based on nonpublic information related to their official duties. This incorporates three provisions from H.R. 1148, the STOCK Act (Walz, D-MN).
  2. Expresses the sense of Congress that Members of Congress and Senators live by the laws that they enact.
I am also a co-sponsor of the STOCK Act, H.R. 1148. (Walz, D-MN).
Reconnecting Congress with America (RCWA) Act, H.R. 3565, Section-by-Section Summary

Press Release: Flores Introduces 'Reconnecting Congress with America' Act

Media:

Bryan Eagle: Reconnecting Congress with us
Op-ed
by Rep. Bill Flores
January 15, 2012
"When I ran for Congress, I became aware of the frustration of many Americans who believe their elected representatives have become a ruling class of elites who do not feel the personal impact of the legislation they pass. That is why I launched the Reconnecting Congress with America Initiative."
To read the full article, CLICK HERE.

Waco Tribune-Herald: Waco Rep. Bill Flores takes a stab at congressional reform
Editorial
by Bill Whitaker
December 11, 2011
"For those who really hate Congress, its gridlock, its grandstanding and especially its many perks, Congressman Bill Flores’ 'Reconnecting Congress with America' legislation must seem like a long-awaited Christmas present."
To read the full article, CLICK HERE.  
 
The Hill: Hill Poll: Voters want to cut lawmaker pay and make them work longer
by Elise Viebeck
December 5, 2011
"More than two-thirds of likely voters think members of Congress should work more for less pay. A large percentage of voters say lawmakers should have their salaries cut and their pensions eliminated, and they should also work longer, according to a new poll commissioned by The Hill."
To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
 

CBS News: Congress: Trading stock on insider information?
November 13, 2011
Steve Kroft reports that Members of Congress can legally trade stock based on non-public information from Capitol Hill.

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June 19, 2020 Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Liberation Day, is an unofficial American holiday and an official Texas state holiday, celebrated annually on the 19th of June in the United States to commemorate Union army general Gordon Granger's reading of federal orders in the city of Galveston, Texas, on 19 June 1865, proclaiming all slaves in Texas were now free. Slavery had legally ended in 1863 but wasn’t announced in Galveston until 1865. Background of African Americans and Texas Politics Did you Know? • The Republican Party was formed in 1854 after the Democrats voted to protect and to extend slavery. • The 1860 Democrat platform declared its support for the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision. • The 13th Amendment passed without a single Democrat vote in Congress for civil rights for African Americans. • The Republican Party of Texas emerged in Houston on July 4, 1867 with 150 African Americans and 20 Anglos. The same year, the Ku Klux Klan actively began to attack African Americans and Republicans. • Two of the first three statewide leaders of the Republican Party of Texas were African Americans. • The first 42 African Americans elected to the Texas Legislature were all Republicans. • From 1865-1869, Texas Democrats passed “Black Codes” to prohibit African Americans from voting, holding office, and serving on juries. They also refused to acknowledge Juneteenth and even drafted a new State constitution requiring that State Representatives and Senators only be “of the white race.” • When the Republicans gained the Texas Legislature in 1869, they established a system of free public schools to educate all the children of the State (something Democrats had refused to do) and started a Texas State Militia and a Texas State police in which African Americans proudly served. • When Democrats recaptured Texas government in 1872, Democrat Governor Richard Coke’s election was described as “the restoration of white supremacy and Democratic rule.” • Texas Democrats engaged in bizarre gerrymandering specifically to prevent African American members from being re-elected to the Legislature. When African American Republican legislator Robert L. Smith departed in 1897, no African American was elected in Texas until 1966, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered Texas Democrats to redraw districts. • Texas Democrats enacted a poll tax that reduced African American voter turnout in Texas from 100,000 to only 5,000 and passed white-only primary laws as well as Jim Crow segregation laws. • As victims of Democrat racism and segregation, African Americans were loyal to the Republican Party they started. In fact, Republican President Herbert Hoover received more than three-fourths of the African American vote over his Democratic challenger Franklin D. Roosevelt. • Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to appoint an African American to an executive position on the White House staff. • A higher percentage of Republican Members of Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 than did Democrats. • African Americans made their most significant political and civil rights progress while affiliated with the Republican Party. Happy Juneteenth!

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Yesterday I testified before the @China_TaskForce about H.R. 6885, a bill I introduced to move our pharmaceutical s… https://t.co/wgUUimUOzg