|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 9.15.14
Monday, September 15, 2014 ‚Äď
Defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
I agree with Senator Tim Kaine‚Äôs (D-VA) comments last week that, ‚ÄúI don't believe that the President has the authority to quote ‚Äėgo on offense‚Äô and wage an open-ended war on [ISIS] without Congressional approval.‚ÄĚ
ISIS is a dangerous terrorist organization, and the threat they pose is real and growing. The evil being spread by ISIS must be stopped, and very serious discussions regarding the strategy to defeat and destroy ISIS are ongoing.
I agree with the President that we must take action. When he proposed training forces on the ground, such as the Free Syrian Army, I believe this was a proper but perhaps too modest a plan. Since then, a report out of the Middle East indicates that the Syrian rebels have entered into a non-aggression pact with ISIS. No matter what his or her party, I want to be able to support our Commander in Chief, the President, when dealing with such a dangerous foreign entity. But I have grave concerns that this plan won‚Äôt work unless President Obama can secure the commitment of Middle Eastern Islamic countries to put their soldiers into the battle against ISIS.
Respectfully, I seek your prayers for discernment and your input as this situation continues.
Protecting Health Care Choice
On Thursday, September 11, the House of Representatives passed the Employee Health Care Protection Act (H.R. 3522) with my support. This bill would allow health care plans that were on the group market in 2013 to continue to be offered through 2018, enabling more Americans to keep their health care plan if they like it.
Despite being promised by President Obama and other supporters of Obamacare that ‚ÄúIf you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period,‚ÄĚ new reports last week indicate that up to 250,000 Virginians will be notified in the coming months that their plans will be cancelled for not complying with Obamacare. Of course, these folks can replace these policies with Obamacare-compliant plans, but I and others suspect these plans will unfortunately have higher premiums and deductibles.
I will continue working to see that more Americans are able to keep health care plans of their choice, and was pleased that the Employee Health Care Protection Act passed the House. It is unfortunate that bills of this kind are even needed. We wait for the Senate to act on this legislation and 371 others.
House Condemns Unlawful Transfer of Taliban 5
I was disturbed by the Obama Administration‚Äôs exchange of five senior Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay to Qatar this summer, concerned that their release may put Americans‚Äô safety at risk while also setting a troubling precedent on how the United States deals with terrorists.
To add insult to injury, President Obama failed to follow the law and notify Congress 30 days before any transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Don‚Äôt just take my word on that: as Politico reports, ‚Äú‚Ä¶a Government Accountability Office [GAO] report released in August ‚Ä¶ concluded the Pentagon did in fact violate the law by not notifying Congress. The GAO said the Pentagon spent $988,400 in unauthorized funds to transfer the detainees.‚ÄĚ
On September 9, I joined 248 of my colleagues ‚Äď including 22 Democrats ‚Äď in supporting H.Res.644, which condemned the Administration for not giving Congress at least 30 days‚Äô notice of the swap as is required by law. I support this and other efforts to hold accountable those that do not follow and/or enforce the laws as written.
100 Years of Graham High School
Congratulations to the students, faculty, and alumni of Bluefield‚Äôs Graham High School, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary! What an impressive milestone. Over the years, the school‚Äôs great alumni have enjoyed championships including football, basketball, creative writing, and more. I am confident that current and future Graham students will continue its legacy of success.
As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices. 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 www.morgangriffith.house.gov.