Bill to help active service members get home loans passes the Senate

Bill to help active service members get home loans passes the Senate

June 14, 2019

The U.S. Senate Wednesday night passed the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, which included Southwest Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s bill to make home mortgages more affordable for active duty service members wounded in combat.

The measure now moves to President Trump’s desk for a signature to become law.

The legislation waives the funding fee for active-duty Purple Heart recipients for loans guaranteed under the home-loan program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a press release.

Currently, the home loan fee is only waived for veterans, or their surviving spouse, who are receiving VA compensation for a service-connected disability, according to Herrera Beutler’s office. Under the new legislation about 8,000 men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces who have been awarded a Purple Heart could now be eligible for the home loan funding fee waiver.

“It’s an honor to assist our military service members on the home front as they fight for our freedom on the front lines. Helping Purple Heart recipients and their families achieve the dream of home ownership is one thing we can do to repay them for their service,” Herrera Beutler said in a prepared statement. “I’m thrilled Congress passed this legislation to honor the tremendous sacrifice of those who continue to serve our country, even after being wounded in combat, and I look forward to the president signing it into law in the coming days.”

The Purple Heart is awarded to U.S. military personnel wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917.

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U.S. House passes Herrera Beutler bill on ocean acidification

The Columbian

A bill that would allow institutions researching ocean acidification to compete for $50 million annually in federal prize money passed the U.S. House of Representatives after being introduced by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, earlier this year.

The Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, or H.R. 1921, coasted to victory Wednesday morning with 395 “yay” votes to 22 “nays.” Its next stop is the Senate, where the bipartisan legislation is expected pass.

Under the bill, federal agencies would be able to use existing funds to conduct prize contests — awarding competitors who find better ways to research, monitor and manage ocean acidification.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would free up $30.5 million per year through 2024 for the prize money, according to the bill’s text. The National Science Foundation would supply an additional $20 million per year.

Prize money is a carrot commonly dangled by the federal government to boost research and investment into environmental science. Last year, for instance, the U.S. Department of Energy launched a $3 million series of prize contests for entrepreneurs developing new solar technology.

Herrera Beutler represents Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, which stretches to the West Coast and includes a vast fishing and shellfishing community in Pacific County.

“Shellfish and fishing industry jobs in Pacific County are jeopardized by the detrimental effects of ocean acidification,” Herrera Beutler said in a media release.

About a quarter of the country’s oysters are harvested in Southwest Washington. In 2010, the Washington Shellfish Initiative estimated the regional industry provided 2,700 jobs and $184 million.

As the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the water’s pH level drops and it becomes more corrosive. That can spell disaster for coral reefs, which in a sensitive ocean ecosystem affects the entire marine food chain.

Organisms that create shells are especially vulnerable to acidification: oysters, mussels and pteropods, especially, all of which are interwoven into the food chains for salmon and orcas.

In championing the issue, Herrera Beutler appears to be following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Democratic Rep. Brian Baird.

Baird made ocean acidification something of a personal linchpin near the tail end of his 12-year run in the 3rd District seat, and as chairman of a House Energy and Environment subcommittee overseeing federal research grants, he was vocal on its impacts.

The former congressman also attracted national press coverage when his research trips to the Galapagos Islands, Australia, and the South Pole racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer tabs. For better or worse, the coverage further spotlighted the issue of ocean acidification.

Herrera Beutler’s new bill was created in collaboration with the XPRIZE Foundation, a nonprofit group that organizes public competitions targeted at solving existential global problems.

The organization’s causes are varied and vast. Last year, for instance, the Women’s Safety XPRIZE awarded $1 million for a cheap, inconspicuous device that can trigger an emergency alert if a woman is facing a threat. Before that, the Google Lunar XPRIZE awarded $20 million to the best long-term model for affordable transportation to the moon.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, joined Herrera Beutler in introducing the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act in March. The bill has since picked up co-sponsors in Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.

“This bipartisan legislation promises to spark innovative solutions to this serious threat facing our coastal communities, and I’m pleased that my House colleagues gave it their strong approval,” Herrera Beutler said in the media release. “The next step is approval by the U.S. Senate, and I’ll continue advocating for this legislative approach to protecting fishing businesses and jobs.”

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Herrera Beutler secures funding for salmon treaty

Southwest Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, and Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) secured $30 million to implement the newly-ratified Pacific Salmon Treaty.

The duo also secured $25 million to support Mitchell Act hatchery activities, an increase of more than $4 million, according to a press release issued Thursday. The funding will be included in the 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill, which was approved by the Appropriation Committee Thursday by a 30-22 vote.

“As I travel around Southwest Washington listening to folks talk about their livelihoods, I consistently hear the same thing from sportsmen, commercial fishermen and tribes: We must increase the hatchery production of salmon on the Columbia River,” Herrera Beutler said in the release.

Herrera Beutler also said that salmon are an invaluable part of life in the Pacific Northwest.
Herrera Beutler backs bill to raise smoking age

Herrera Beutler backs bill to raise smoking age

The Columbian

A resolution that would raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 nationwide was co-sponsored by a Republican congresswoman from Washington, a state that last month joined a growing list of individual states making the switch.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, quietly signed on to the Tobacco to 21 Act when it was introduced to the House floor by Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. Herrera Beutler was one of six original bipartisan co-sponsors, a group that’s since grown to 11 representatives.

The resolution, H.R. 2411, would make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, including smoking and vaping products.

“Jaime supports this measure to curb the rise of cigarette-smoking and vaping among youth,” Angie Riesterer, Herrera Beutler’s communications director, wrote in an email. “Many (18)-year-olds are still in high school, with a high probability of passing on tobacco products to younger students and siblings.”

It’s a new position for Herrera Beutler, who in the past hasn’t been vocal one way or the other about raising the legal age for tobacco use nationwide. Riesterer said the congresswoman decided to co-sponsor the legislation based on new developments in the tobacco industry.

Vaping — in which a smokeless electronic cigarette heats a solution of nicotine and flavoring — is on the rise among young people, even as traditional cigarette use continues to drop. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in February that about 37 percent of high school seniors vaped last year, compared with 28 percent in 2017.

“Vaping and e-cigarette use among youth has exploded in recent years,” Riesterer wrote. “Jaime has heard from many Southwest Washington residents concerned about this issue, including a recent group of high schoolers who urged her to sponsor this legislation and help prevent premature illnesses and deaths among youth.”

Until now, individual states have relied on a piecemeal approach to tackle the issue.

State Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, took the lead in Washington. In 2018, Harris, a cancer survivor, sponsored a bill raising the tobacco age to 21, which died in the state Senate. Last month, he had more success, ferrying a similar bill all the way to the governor’s desk.

On April 5, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the legislation, raising Washington’s smoking age to 21, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Illinois, Virginia, Delaware, Arkansas and Maryland (and Guam) already have age bumps on the books, while Utah is working on a similar law.

“A dozen states have already passed legislation to raise the age to 21, including here in Washington state where Rep. Paul Harris successfully championed the effort to take this life-saving step,” Riesterer wrote. “Our proposed federal legislation reinforces those states’ efforts to prevent youth from tobacco-related illnesses.”

Opponents of raising the smoking age point to other things 18-year-olds can do as legal adults with personal freedom — vote, get married, go off to war — and consider raising the legal tobacco age an overreach of the “nanny state.” Supporters point to the public health benefit of making tobacco use illegal among young adults. They also point out that the legal cap for alcohol (and marijuana in some states) is 21, not 18.

“While substantial gains have been made since 1964, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, responsible for more than 480,000 premature deaths each year,” H.R. 2411 states. “National data show that about 94 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21. The ages of 18 to 21 are a critical period when many smokers move from experimental smoking to regular, daily use.”

After its April 30 introduction on the House floor, the Tobacco to 21 Act was referred back to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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Herrera Beutler appointed to joint committee

The Goldendale Sentinel

Congressional leadership announced yesterday it has appointed U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler to serve on the U.S. Joint Economic Committee, a bipartisan panel of members of Congress from both the House and Senate. The primary tasks of the committee members are to review U.S. economic conditions and make needed policy improvements to benefit American families.

“Since I was first elected to Congress, I have been laser-focused on creating a better economic future by championing legislation to spur better-paying jobs, lowering taxes to help employers reinvest capital in their workers, and seeking solutions to improve health care for Southwest Washington families. It’s an honor to serve on the U.S. Joint Economic Committee where I will continue to seek solutions that result in higher paychecks and plentiful job opportunities,” Herrera Beutler said.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy appointed Herrera Beutler to this committee with this statement:“Jaime is leading American workers into the 21st Century with vision and strategy. Most recently, Jaime reintroduced the bipartisan Championing Apprenticeships for New Careers and Employees in Technology (CHANCE in Tech) Act, which aims to create training programs in STEM fields to address a growing skills gap that is leaving middle class Americans behind while American technology companies charge forward. With this foresight, along with her history of supporting small businesses that create jobs in southwest Washington, Jaime will bring a unique and experiential perspective to the Joint Economic Committee.”

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Children’s Hospitals Applaud U.S. House Introduction of Bipartisan ACE Kids Act of 2019

Children’s Hospital Association

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The bipartisan Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act of 2019 (H.R. 1226) was introduced in the U.S. House by lead co-sponsors Reps. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash. Children’s hospitals applaud these leaders for prioritizing children’s health by championing legislation to help our nation’s sickest children.

The ACE Kids Act supports better coordination of care for children with complex medical conditions in Medicaid, reducing the burden on families. It enables care closest to the families’ homes and communities, reduces unnecessary hospitalizations, and provides more seamless access to specialized care the child may need across state lines. This legislative effort follows the ACE Kids Act of 2017, which achieved strong bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, passing the House late last year by an overwhelming majority.

The Senate introduced their own version of the ACE Kids Act (S. 317) last week. Children’s hospitals look forward to working with lawmakers to advance this critical bipartisan legislation on behalf of children and families across the country.

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