|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 8.5.13
Monday, August 5, 2013
The NSA and You
Since the story broke of the massive National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs collecting the phone records of all Americans, some have stood up in defense of these programs, insisting that Members of Congress have broad oversight over their implementation. However, I have tried for the past six weeks to read the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court) opinions that have been discussed in the press. At the time of the writing of this column, I have not been able to get access to those opinions because it takes a majority vote of those few Members of Congress who serve on the Select Intelligence Committee. This dilemma was recently reported in the British media by reporter Glenn Greenwald, and other outlets.
I believe a broad âgeneral warrantâ violates the Fourth Amendment and, in order to do my job as your Congressman, I want to know the Courtâs reasoning. We can both protect our civil liberties and protect our society, but I cannot look for that balance if I do not know the Courtâs reasoning. I will continue to pursue my job of upholding the Constitution, but ask that you keep in mind when you hear people say âCongress has oversightâ that, in reality, we currently have a Secret agency applying to get your personal information from a Secret court overseen by a committee that meets in Secret, and the Secret courtâs opinions are being denied even Members of Congress.
Ninth District Virginians in the News: Marilyn Tavenner and Jayma Mays
In the news in the news as the Obama Administration continues working to implement its health care reform law is Henry County native Marilyn Tavenner, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Administrator Tavenner recently appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee at a hearing in on the status of Obamacareâs implementation, particularly important after the Administration announced in early July that it is delaying enforcement of the lawâs employer mandate.
Many of my colleagues on the Committee told Administrator Tavenner of situations in their districts where employers were limiting hours or laying off employees in preparation for the implementation of Obamacare and its employer mandate. Administrator Tavenner insisted that âweâre not seeing folks changing their hoursâ and that situations like this are âisolated incidents.â
I asked Administrator Tavenner about the Commonwealth of Virginiaâs law limiting the hours of many State employees before the Administration announced on July 2 that it would be delaying enforcement of the employer mandate. I noted a Richmond Times-Dispatch article and a Washington Post article. These articles estimated that between 7,500 and 10,000 part-time Commonwealth of Virginia employees could have their hours cut. I asked Administrator Tavenner, âyou wouldnât consider the Commonwealth of Virginia as an âisolated incident,â would you?â
Administrator Tavenner replied along the lines of, âit would be one of the isolated incidents.â
âUp to 10,000 employees that are being impacted would be isolated?,â I replied in disbelief.
Administrator Tavenner told us that she would be happy to set up conversations to hear Americansâ stories about the impact of Obamacare. If you happen to be an employer or an employee experiencing one of Administrator Tavennerâs so-called âisolated incidentsâ and wish to share your experiences with her, please do not hesitate to send us your contact information so Administrator Tavenner or her staff can be in touch.
Smurfy Friends in the Ninth
Also in the news, the recent release of The Smurfs 2. With lead actress Jayma Mays, hailing from Buchanan County. According to a 2009 Bristol Herald Courier article, Ms. Mays was born at Bristol Memorial Hospital and raised in Grundy, Virginia. Her father, James, taught at Grundy Senior High School and also worked in the coal industry for around 25 years. Ms. Mays graduated from Radford University before heading to California to pursue her dreams. My kids are looking forward to being âsmurfedâ when we go to see The Smurfs 2 and see Ms. Mays in action.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office by email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.