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Washington Update

Howdy Texans!

Over the past week, the House worked to pass legislation to ensure our veterans get help when they need it most, to help those Americans who were hurt by Obamacare’s CO-OP failures, and to keep the federal government funded, open, and working for the American people. In addition to highlighting another portion of our “A Better Way” agenda, I would also like to spotlight legislation that I have been working on during the 114th Congress.

No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered
The former director of the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line has reported that over one-third of all calls to the hotline are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems at the VA. This is unacceptable. The House has passed the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act, which improves the Veterans Crisis Line by ensuring that those veterans that call get timely and appropriate help. Our nation’s veterans answered the call to serve our country and the VA should always be answering their calls for help. It is time that the culture at the VA is changed to one that puts the care of our nation’s veterans first.

Helping Those Hurt by Obamacare CO-OPs
Obamacare has been fundamentally flawed since its inception and has been harming America’s families and businesses. As of July 2016, $2.4 billion has been awarded to 23 Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans (CO-OP). These heavily subsidized CO-OPs have been problematic and a financial drain from the start. Currently, only six of the original 23 CO-OPs remain in operation. An estimated 800,000 Americans have lost their insurance coverage due to the collapse of these plans. Now, these Americans are being forced to choose new insurers and could possibly be penalized for failing to comply with Obamacare’s individual mandate while they are left without coverage. It is absurd for the government to penalize consumers, who tried to comply with the law, but could not do so due to the law’s own innate failures. The House has passed the Co-Op Consumer Protection Act, which provides relief from Obamacare penalties to taxpayers who lost their insurance coverage due to the failures of the CO-OPs. Americans deserve better. They deserve commonsense health care reforms that increase access to affordable, high quality care and give American consumers a say in their health care.

Funding the Government
On Wednesday, Congress passed a bill to fund the federal government through December 9th. This continuing resolution provides funding for our military, improves care for our veterans, provides needed resources to fight the Zika virus, and allocates $500 million to states hit by recent floods, including Texas and Louisiana. While this bill averted a government shutdown in September, I was disappointed that important conservative provisions were missing from the bill. In particular, I believe that two riders that should have been included are (1) halting the Obama administration's transfer of U.S. oversight of the internet to other international parties and (2) stopping the influx of non-vetted refugees from areas impacted by radical Islamic terrorism. Looking forward, I will continue to work to include conservative priorities when we tackle fiscal year 2017 government funding again in December.

A Better Way  – The Economy
The cost of complying with Washington’s complicated and overly broad regulations is one of the biggest burdens on American small businesses and manufacturers. In 2015, regulations cost us $1.9 trillion in lost productivity and growth. The economy portion of the “A Better Way” agenda works to lessen these burdens through smarter, sensible regulations that improve economic growth. This includes delivering affordable and reliable energy, ending taxpayer bailouts and Washington’s “too big to fail” mentality, preserving internet innovation, cracking down on frivolous lawsuits, and setting forth a regulatory system that works for small businesses – not against them. This agenda promotes a stronger and more robust economy. It is time that the federal government works to encourage competition and to put the interests of hardworking American families over big government bureaucrats.

The House has already passed bills that build upon the principles set forth in the economy portion of the “A Better Way” agenda. This action on behalf of all Americans includes the Ozone Standards Implementation Act, which is described below. I remain committed to ensuring that federal regulations are aimed at promoting the interests of the hardworking American families. To learn more about the economy portion of our “A Better Way” agenda, please visit

Reining in Costly and Conflicting Ozone Standards
Over the last 30 years, ozone levels have decreased by over 30%. Despite this continuing record of improving air quality, the EPA continues to move the goal posts with ozone standards. Their current implementation of two competing standards has the potential to be the most cumbersome and economically devastating federal regulations ever imposed on the U.S. economy. In order to halt this overreaching behavior, I coauthored the Ozone Standards Implementation Act, which recently passed the House with bipartisan support. This bill protects American jobs, manufacturing, and economic growth by giving states needed time to fully implement two different ozone standards sequentially in a smooth and coordinated manner. It harmonizes the EPA’s conflicting ozone regulations and provides for a more efficient implementation process while still protecting public health. It is important that we continue to provide our states and communities with much needed relief from the Obama administration’s onslaught of job-killing, overreaching federal regulations.

Looking Ahead
For the next six weeks, the House will be in its Fall District Work Period. I will be taking this time to attend several meetings, speak to groups, and tour facilities all throughout the district. I am looking forward to this district work period as it allows me an opportunity to see and hear firsthand what is really important to the constituents of the 17th Congressional District of Texas.

As always, I encourage each of you to continue praying for our country during these challenging times, and for our military personnel and first responders who protect us each day.

With great respect,

Bill Flores
Member of Congress

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