|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 9.18.17
Monday, September 18, 2017 â€“
Bringing Back Options for Health Insurance
Obamacare was a poorly designed piece of legislation. It should never have passed. By now, the United States Senate should have passed a replacement bill. As predicted, the consequences of these two actions are now having significant consequences on the availability of health insurance in the United States and particularly in rural western Virginia. As a consequence, I am currently working on legislative language to patch Obamacareâ€™s Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) program under the belief that the Senate will not be able to advance a plan that replaces Obamacare.
I donâ€™t like that the Cost Sharing Reduction program was improperly funded, as a federal judge found in U.S. House of Representatives vs. Burwell (still in the courts now as U.S. House of Representatives vs. Price), but I hate that people in the Ninth District recently had to worry that they would have no health insurance carrier because of the above listed failures. So like a parent cleaning up after a messy baby, I will hold my nose and work to get the job done.
If he were alive today, Henry Ford might see some similarities between the car you drive and the Model Ts that rolled off his assembly line over a century ago. But he would likely be astonished if he saw any car, whether one he designed or one on the road today, roll up with no driver.
Self-driving cars once seemed far-fetched, but now they may not be far from the roads you drive. Earlier this year, a car designed by Torc Robotics, based in Blacksburg, drove from Virginia to Washington state and back.
Simply put, the arrival of self-driving cars will change transportation. Over 40,000 people died as a result of auto accidents in the United States last year, mostly in incidents resulting from human error. Self-driving technology is expected to cut down on the number of accidents. It also promises to expand mobility for people such as some seniors who currently have difficulty driving to get around. Economic opportunities thanks to self-driving technology will surely abound as well.
But to get the most out of this promising technology, Washington has to make the right decisions. Old laws and regulations were not developed with driverless technology in mind. They need updating to allow the technology to flourish. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which I serve, took the lead on this step. In July, the Committee unanimously passed the SELF DRIVE Act, and the House of Representatives as a whole passed the bill by voice vote in September.
The SELF DRIVE Act makes sure that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has access to the data it needs to set safety standards. It also distinguishes how states and the Federal Government will regulate self-driving cars, leaving to states powers such as registration and licensing while NHTSA regulates the safety of the design, construction, and performance. I believe this legislation strikes the right balance, both between state and federal roles and between regulation and freedom to innovate.
The SELF DRIVE Act has yet to pass the Senate, but with the right laws and regulations in place, I look forward to the opportunities driverless technology will deliver.
The last major federal tax reform passed over 30 years ago. Since then, the tax code has increased in length and complexity. Average Americans spend hours doing the paperwork required to file their taxes, if they donâ€™t pay for a preparer to do it for them. Businesses are deterred from making choices that would grow the economy. Our country deserves better.
President Trump and the House majority have made tax reform in this Congress a priority. Although a final plan has not yet emerged, any tax reform we pass will be guided by certain principles, such as affordability, simplicity, and competitiveness. For more information on how House Republicans plan to improve the tax code, visit If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at