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Jul 29, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04), RSC Budget and Spending Task Force Chairman Jim Banks (IN-03), and 100 additional members of the RSC published a letter committing to defend American values, fight the Left’s calls for socialism, and take action to address the nation’s $26.5 trillion national debt. The letter, which is signed by more than half of all House Republicans currently serving in Congress, states:

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic fallout, America’s debt trajectory was on an unsustainable path. It has now reached a point of crisis…As the U.S. economy continues to recover and rebuild in aftermath of the pandemic, we must begin to seriously address our debt. The Republican Study Committee is committed to restoring our nation’s fiscal health and to preserving [liberty, fiscal responsibility, national security, and safety net solvency].

“The alternative path being offered by Democrats would surrender our freedoms in favor of socialism, neglect our national security, require massive tax increases on nearly all Americans to fund big government priorities, jeopardize our safety net programs and those who rely on them, and ultimately bankrupt the country. We reject their dangerous agenda and we will fight it at every turn

“Keeping our republic for future generations will require principled leadership and difficult choices in the days ahead and we stand ready to meet these challenges.”

To view a PDF of the signed letter, click here. The full text of the letter can be viewed below:

***

July 29, 2020


Fellow Americans,

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, one of America’s most prominent founding fathers was asked by a bystander: “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Benjamin Franklin famously responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

It has been the duty of every successive generation to do just that—both in times of prosperity and especially in the face of trials. Today our country is facing unprecedented challenges that threaten the very fabric of our republic and the American way of life. Among the largest threats is the explosive growth of our nation’s debt caused by soaring annual deficits and bloated government.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic fallout, America’s debt trajectory was on an unsustainable path. It has now reached a point of crisis. Since the turn of the century, our national debt has nearly quintupled to around $27 trillion (representing a debt of $204,000 per household), and will continue to grow exponentially in perpetuity. Without decisive action now, this debt will consume more and more of our economy, leaving Americans with an insurmountable and crippling financial burden.

As the U.S. economy continues to recover and rebuild in aftermath of the pandemic, we must begin to seriously address our debt. The Republican Study Committee is committed to restoring our nation’s fiscal health and to preserving these essential pillars and principles:

Liberty: America was founded upon the ideals of individual freedom, limited government and the free enterprise system, and our continued success depends upon them still.

Fiscal Responsibility: Congress must substantially reduce reckless spending on wasteful federal programs, refuse to subsidize special interests, and eliminate the multiple layers of taxation currently imposed upon individual savings and investment.

National Security: Congress must prioritize national security investments to fulfill the federal government’s constitutional duty to “provide for the common defense.”

Safety Net Solvency: Congress must advance substantial reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to avoid draconian cuts and preserve these programs for those who need them.

The alternative path being offered by Democrats would surrender our freedoms in favor of socialism, neglect our national security, require massive tax increases on nearly all Americans to fund big government priorities, jeopardize our safety net programs and those who rely on them, and ultimately bankrupt the country. We reject their dangerous agenda and we will fight it at every turn.

Keeping our republic for future generations will require principled leadership and difficult choices in the days ahead and we stand ready to meet these challenges.

Jul 1, 2020

 

WASHINGTON – Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) today briefed the House Republican China Task Force on The RSC National Security Strategy (click here to view the full report), which includes 48 “tough but targeted” policy recommendations to hold China accountable for human rights abuses, intellectual property theft, and its malign influence campaigns in the United States and abroad. 

The solutions-oriented proposal, developed over the past year and a half under the leadership of RSC National Security & Foreign Affairs Task Force Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02), calls for imposing the toughest sanctions against the Chinese Communist Party ever proposed by Congress. The Republican Study Committee is the largest caucus of conservatives in the House of Representatives with 149 members.

 

To watch video of Johnson testifying before the China Task Force, click here. An excerpt of Johnson’s testimony can be viewed below:

“The CCP – the Chinese Communist Party – has already publicly denounced our report which is a good indication that we’re on the right track. In a nutshell, we believe the old approach to China has failed.  

“As I know [Chairman McCaul] has made clear on a number of occasions, and all of us have, the idea that free trade and engagement with the CCP was going to somehow lead them to democratize or improve their behavior was clearly incorrect. In fact, the opposite has happened. As we know, China, under Xi Jinping has become more aggressive on the world stage and they’ve become much more repressive to their own people. 

“President Trump is the first President in my lifetime who has brought moral and strategic clarity to the issue of our relations with China which has been illustrated by his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress has the opportunity to do more now to help push President Trump’s agenda through Congress… 

“The RSC looks forward to working with you all to pursue our common goals and we hope you’ll consider including a number of this report’s carefully considered 48 policy recommendations with regard to China in your final recommendations.”

To view all 48 China-related policy recommendations in the RSC National Security Strategyclick here. A summary of those recommendations can be viewed below:

 

SUMMARY

Communist China: A New Strategy for Countering America’s Top Threat

  • Preserving American leadership: The strategy stands up to the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to reorient today’s world order to one based in authoritarianism by standing strongly for American values of freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and open markets.
  • A tough but targeted approach to China: The strategy offers the toughest package of sanctions ever proposed by Congress on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It would specifically sanction the entire United Front Work Department and senior CCP leaders, including members of the Politburo for their malign influence campaigns, internment of Uyghurs, and assault on Hong Kong. The strategy proposes targeted measures rather than broad-based tariffs that may hurt the U.S. economy.
  • A multifaceted strategy to protect American innovation and ideas: The strategy would enhance U.S. laws safeguarding American intellectual property (IP), modernize the Foreign Asset Registration Act (FARA), block Chinese propaganda efforts, and ensure a whole-of-government effort to stop the transfer of critical technology to China.
  • Bold free trade expansion around the world: The strategy proposes bilateral free trade agreements with democratic partners facing increasing threat or malign influence from China, including Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Brazil, Kenya, and others. 
Jun 10, 2020

JOHNSON, WILSON UNVEIL RSC NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY

Proposal offers 130+ solutions to counter China, Russia, Iran and other U.S. adversaries


 

WASHINGTON – Today, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) – the largest caucus of conservatives in the House of Representatives – released The RSC National Security Strategy: Strengthening America & Countering Global Threats (click here to view the full proposal). Spearheaded by RSC Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) and RSC National Security & Foreign Affairs Task Force Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02), the proposal is a conservative, solutions-oriented plan for preserving American leadership around the globe and promoting a U.S. foreign policy that advances the interests of the American people at home and abroad. 

The product of over 1.5 years of policy development, The RSC National Security Strategy offers over 130 solutions to counter America’s most aggressive global adversaries, including the TOUGHEST SANCTIONS EVER PROPOSED by Congress against the Chinese Communist Party, Russia and the Putin regime, and Iran. The proposal also includes commonsense, result-oriented reforms to counter authoritarian influence within the United Nations (U.N.), ensure U.S. foreign aid is working to promote American interests and values, and modernize U.S. diplomacy and the State Department. 

To view a detailed summary of The RSC National Securityclick here or scroll to the bottom of the page. 

“With the release of the RSC National Security Strategy, conservatives are making crystal clear to both our allies and adversaries that we are committed to standing for America's core principles of liberty, human rights, free markets and maintaining peace through strength, and against authoritarianism and aggression,” Johnson said. “It’s time for America to fully reclaim its role as the greatest force for good the world has ever known. Undoing the damage inflicted by eight years of failed policies under President Obama isn’t easy but it is straightforward. Congress must follow President Trump’s lead and advance a foreign policy that embraces the things that make us great – our leadership, and, most importantly, our values. With this plan, we have delivered a smart and effective blueprint for accomplishing those objectives.”

“As Chairman of the Republican Study Committee National Security and Foreign Affairs Task Force, I have worked for over a year meeting with top experts on foreign affairs for focused conservative solutions to the frustrating foreign policy challenges in the world. I am grateful that this effort has led to our package of over 130 policy proposals for Congress, tackling many important issues,” Wilson said.  “President Donald Trump has restored American credibility in the world after eight years of weakness and withdrawal during the Obama Administration which coddled dictators and abandoned our allies. In the past year, I’ve visited with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and with officials in London and Washington. I have seen firsthand appreciation of President Donald Trump’s success promoting our alliances. American leadership is needed now, more than ever. The U.S.-led order based in freedom, human rights, and rule of law is at risk from China, Russia, Iran, and others. This package of tough but targeted proposals would impose the toughest sanctions on the Chinese Communist Party, Russia, and Iran in history and reassert Congress’ role in foreign policy. I look forward to continuing to work to push these vital initiatives to support President Trump’s efforts to keep our country safe and strong.”

 

 

SUMMARY

The RSC National Security Strategy:

Strengthening America & Countering Global Threats

 

Communist China: A New Strategy for Countering America’s Top Threat

  • Preserving American leadership: The strategy stands up to the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to reorient today’s world order to one based in authoritarianism by standing strongly for American values of freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and open markets.
  • A tough but targeted approach to China: The strategy offers the toughest package of sanctions ever proposed by Congress on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It would specifically sanction the entire United Front Work Department and senior CCP leaders, including members of the Politburo for their malign influence campaigns, internment of Uyghurs, and assault on Hong Kong. The strategy proposes targeted measures rather than broad-based tariffs that may hurt the U.S. economy.
  • A multifaceted strategy to protect American innovation and ideas: The strategy would enhance U.S. laws safeguarding American intellectual property (IP), modernize the Foreign Asset Registration Act (FARA), block Chinese propaganda efforts, and ensure a whole-of-government effort to stop the transfer of critical technology to China.
  • Bold free trade expansion around the world: The strategy proposes bilateral free trade agreements with democratic partners facing increasing threat or malign influence from China, including Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Brazil, Kenya, and others. 

 

Russia: Rolling Back Aggression Through a Strategy of Deterrence

  • Stopping Putin’s aggression: The strategy offers the toughest package of sanctions on Russia ever proposed by Congress, including secondary sanctions on Russian oil and gas projects, sanctions on Russian sovereign debt, sanctions on Russian proxies in other countries, and designating Russia as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
  • Communicate with the Russian people: The strategy would call for the creation of a strategy to communicate directly to the Russian people and support their aspirations for democracy and human rights. 

 

Advancing American Interests in the Middle East: Confronting Iran & the Jihadi Terrorist

Movement

  • Enhancing the President’s maximum pressure campaign on Iran: The strategy proposes the toughest sanctions on Iran ever proposed by Congress. It codifies many of the President’s successful efforts into law, blocks additional sectors of Iran’s economy, and sanctions Iran’s regional proxies, including its militias in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, the Assad regime in Syria, as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon.
  • Deplete the resources of Iranian proxies: The strategy would prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding Iran’s proxies in Lebanon and Iraq by ending aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.
  • A new clear authorization to pursue terrorist groups: The strategy pushes back against House Democrats’ efforts to limit the President’s war powers by offering for consideration a new AUMF that would allow the President to go after any State Department designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
  • Directly confronting the Salafi-jihadi ideological movement: The strategy would prevent the creation of Salafi-jihadi safe havens and cut off financing and state support for associated groups. It would codify President Trump’s efforts to deplete terrorist’s resources and designate additional terrorist organizations.

 

Maintaining an International Order Based on American Values

  • Elevating human rights and democracy: The strategy would elevate these values in American foreign policy by strengthening human rights sanctions and codifying the Ministerial on Religious Freedom. It would support Secretary Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights and reject attempts by international organizations to redefine human rights and curtail economic and religious liberties.
  • Competing to win at the U.N. and other multilateral organizations: The strategy would counter China and Russia’s efforts to control international bodies. It would also urge Congress to support President Trump’s efforts to withdraw from irreparable organizations and replace them with new mechanisms of multilateral cooperation with democratic countries.
  • Promoting accountability at the U.N.: The strategy would mandate that U.S. Ambassadors meet annually with their host governments to discuss that country’s voting record at the U.N. It would also audit the use of U.S. funding by the U.N. and condition funding to U.N. bodies on implementation of accountability reforms. The U.N. must cut off assistance to dictatorships such as humanitarian aid that is being diverted to the Assad regime in Syria.

 

Results-Oriented Approach to Foreign Aid and International Diplomacy

  • Aligning U.S. foreign aid with U.S. foreign policy: The strategy would help assistance reach more people while better advancing our international interests. It supports replacing the Foreign Assistance Act with new legislation reducing legislative directives for foreign assistance, placing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) inside the Department of State, and empowering Ambassadors to have a stronger role in administering foreign aid.
  • Modernizing the Department of State: The strategy would strengthen diplomacy by ensuring the State Department concentrates on its core competencies. It supports replacing the Foreign Service with a new diplomatic corps rooted in merit rather than tenure, as well as eliminating duplicative bureaus and programs, and elevating human rights, democracy, and multilateral affairs.
  • Strengthening public diplomacy, international broadcasting, and counter disinformation efforts: The strategy would reconstitute the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and empower it with U.S. public diplomacy and counter disinformation efforts. The USIA’s mission would be to promote American ideals of democracy, human rights, and open markets, and undermine U.S. adversaries such as China, Russia, Iran, and others. The USIA would be able to contract with private entities to assist in counter-disinformation efforts.

 

May 12, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, in a letter to House and Senate leadership, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) Budget & Spending Task Force expressed its opposition to any federal bailout of mismanaged state and local governments made under the guise of COVID-19 relief. The letter, led by Task Force Chairman Jim Banks (IN-03), is the 38th policy proposal released under the RSC’s pandemic-focused Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity (click here for more information). Statements of support from conservative leaders with Heritage Action for America, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Prosperity can be viewed below.

In the letter, the Task Force argues “[s]uch bailouts would fail to directly address the immediate threat of the pandemic and carry with them a number of perverse incentives and consequences. For instance, they would reward states that have mismanaged their budgets, incentivize future bailouts and reliance on federal funding, invite a bailout of underfunded pensions, fail to push states to enact spending reforms, and feed the Left’s ultimate goal of consolidating power in the federal government rather than empowering states.”

Citing the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars currently being directed to COVID-19 relief efforts, the Task Force notes “[a] direct federal bailout would also ignore the fact that state and local governments already have a variety of fiscal options available to ensure that they can continue to provide essential services to their citizens while also addressing the current pandemic.”

The Task Force also argues that “many of the states and localities that are making these requests have historically demonstrated a lack of respect for federal law and constitutional rights, and more recently a penchant for overly restrictive shutdown orders… A bailout of these jurisdictions would only serve to condone these actions and encourage economically oppressive restrictions on American people and businesses.

To view a signed copy of the letter, click here.

 

STATEMENTS

“Hoosier taxpayers should never be on the hook to bail out many years of mismanagement and poor leadership in states like Illinois,” said Task Force Chairman Banks. “They’ve made promises to workers with pensions and other benefits that they can’t keep. States like Indiana that are fiscally responsible shouldn’t be punished.”

“Rep. Banks and the RSC Task Force are absolutely right to oppose a federal bailout of state and local governments,” said Heritage Action for America Executive Director Jessica Anderson. “The federal government has already sent $320 billion in direct aid for coronavirus relief, and trillions more in indirect aid. Sending unrestricted money not related to coronavirus relief to states and cities would paper over past wasteful fiscal practices and encourage them to continue economically damaging lockdowns at a time when America should be working to reopen. Irresponsible state bailouts won’t help the economy recover — letting America get back to work will.”

"A direct bailout for state and local governments must be put entirely out of discussion,” said FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon. “If there is one thing that the right should agree on, it is that there is no circumstance under which states' fiscal irresponsibility should be aided and abetted by more fiscal irresponsibility from Congress. The RSC once again is taking charge on issues that matter, not only for our fiscal health, but for our Constitution's integrity."

“The national debt just exceeded $25 trillion – the last thing Americans need right now is to be on the hook for a trillion-dollar bailout to pay for decades of irresponsible policymaking,” said Americans for Prosperity Chief Government Affairs Officer Brent Gardner. “Another trillion-dollar boondoggle will only dig us deeper into this economic crisis and further erode our chances of a quick economic recovery. We applaud the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force for believing in order to rebuild a stronger economy you must remove barriers to growth and opportunity, not reward politicians who have made bad policy choices.”

May 1, 2020

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, in a letter to House and Senate leaders, a coalition of conservative leaders representing 18 free-market and grassroots organizations expressed support for the Budget and Spending Pillar of the Republican Study Committee’s Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity. Those recommendations include offsetting future COVID-19-related deficits and implementing a long-term spending control mechanism (click here for more information).

The letter is signed by leaders from the following groups:
Heritage Action for America, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, FreedomWorks, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, R Street Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, The Heartland Institute, Eagle Forum, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Independent Women’s Forum, Independent Women’s Voice, American Transparency, ForAmerica, American Conservative Union, National Taxpayers Union, ALEC Action, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and AMAC Action

Click here to view the full letter. An excerpt of the letter can be viewed below:

“Earlier this week, Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Johnson and Representative Jim Banks, chairman of the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force, sent a letter to congressional leaders calling for offsets to future COVID-19-related spending and for a long-term spending control mechanism. We applaud and add our support to their efforts.

“The RSC has long been a voice of fiscal responsibility in Congress. In 2011, at the height of our nation’s focus on out-of-control spending, the RSC developed a three-part plan for lowering spending levels and reducing our debt. Known as ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance,’ their plan heavily influenced congressional leaders and played a large role in pushing Congress to adopt the Budget Control Act. While certainly not at the level of spending control necessary at that time, it had a positive impact on our overall spending for several years.”

 

Background

  • On April 27, the RSC released the Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity. The proposal adapts more than a year of internal RSC policy development to provide Congress with a solutions-oriented, 37-point blueprint for leading America though the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic recovery. Click here for an overview of the full framework.
Apr 27, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) – the largest caucus of conservatives in the House of Representatives – presented House and Senate leadership with its Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity. The framework adapts more than a year of internal RSC policy development to provide Congress with a solutions-oriented, 37-point blueprint for leading America though the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic recovery. If enacted, RSC’s commonsense recommendations will help to:

  • Eliminate barriers to employment and get Americans back to work
  • Flatten the debt curve and protect the nation’s fiscal health
  • Hold China accountable for its harmful actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Strengthen the U.S. health care system and ensure health care providers have the supplies they need
  • Improve efficiency and accountability in the federal government’s ongoing response to COVID-19   

RSC Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) issued the following statement:

“Prior to the coronavirus crisis, the Republican Study Committee invested fifteen months in building a lengthy playbook of commonsense, conservative solutions to solve many of our nation’s toughest problems. While the completion of that comprehensive publication has been paused temporarily, we have adapted much of that thought and valuable work product today to address the most immediate threat to the health and prosperity of the United States in generations--the COVID-19 pandemic. Now is the time for members on both sides of the aisle to work together to implement smart, effective policy solutions to the unprecedented challenge before us. With the Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity, RSC has delivered to Congress a blueprint to lead our nation through this pandemic, help Americans get back to work, and revive the U.S. economy. We have no time to waste."

RSC’s Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability, and Prosperity is comprised of five pillars, representing the work of RSC’s five policy task forces. Below is a sample of key recommendations presented in each section:
 

RSC American Worker Task Force Pillar

Rep. Andy Barr (KY-06), Chairman

Objective: Advance conservative policies that support and empower American workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Key Policy Recommendations (click here to view a detailed list of policy recommendations)

  • Enact the NEW GIG Act, by Rep. Tom Rice (SC-07), to create a safe harbor for gig economy workers to qualify as independent contractors for income and employment tax purposes.
  • Promote worker upskilling opportunities by allowing businesses to deduct their investments in education services for employees seeking career advancement.
  • Encourage states to eliminate unnecessary employment barriers by suspending occupational licensing requirements for health care workers across state lines, and enacting the Board Immunity Act, by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), to incentivize occupational licensing reforms.
  • Enact the RAISE Act, by Rep. Dusty Johnson (SD-At Large), to allow employers to pay individual workers more than is specified in a union contract, which could provide much-needed compensation during the current crisis and eventual economic recovery.
     

RSC Budget & Spending Task Force Pillar

Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03), Chairman

Objective: Provide Congress with a conservative blueprint to flatten the nation’s steeply climbing debt curve while it works to provide necessary COVID-19 relief.

Key Policy Recommendations: (click here to view a detailed list of policy recommendations)

  • Offset future COVID-19-related deficit spending.
  • Implement a long-term spending control mechanism that restricts growth of both mandatory and discretionary spending, does not rely on tax increases, and stabilizes our nation’s debt.
     

RSC National Security & Foreign Affairs Task Force Pillar

Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02), Chairman

Objective: Hold the Chinese government accountable for any harmful actions it may have taken related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Policy Recommendations: (click here to view a detailed list of policy recommendations)

  • Authorize sanctions against any foreign official who is found to have been involved in a COVID-19 cover-up, as would be authorized by the Li Wenliang Global Public Health Accountability Act, by Rep. John Curtis (UT-03) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
  • End all visas for Chinese government officials and their immediate family members to come to the U.S. whether for education, leisure or other purposes, until China retracts its statements blaming the U.S. for the virus.
  • Press the Chinese government to permit access to China for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to better respond to theCOVID-19 pandemic.
  • Undertake a congressional probe of the World Health Organization (WHO), its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its relationship with China.
     

RSC Health Care Task Force Pillar

Rep. Roger Marshall, M.D. (KS-01), Chairman

Objective: Strengthen our health care system in a way that puts patients first, equips health care providers with the supplies they need, and fast-tracks the development of COVID-19 treatments.

Key Policy Recommendations: (click here to view a detailed list of policy recommendations)

  • Suspend the requirement that HSAs be tied to a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).
  • Establish a Pharmaceutical Chief Negotiator at the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to identify and address protectionist measures that could disrupt supply chains or freeload on innovative investments. 
  • Remove regulatory barriers to the production of drugs, pharmaceutical ingredients and medical devices in America to support the onshoring of manufacturing.
  • Further expand the availability of telemedicine services and encourage licensing reciprocity to allow for telemedicine delivery across state lines.
     

RSC Government Efficiency, Accountability & Reform Task Force Pillar

Rep. Greg Gianforte (MT-At Large), Chairman
Objective: Increase efficiency and accountability in the federal government’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Policy Recommendations: (click here to view a detailed list of policy recommendations)

  • Streamline hiring and optimize pay for high-skilled federal employees.
  • Enact the Eliminate Agency Excess Space Act, by Rep. Greg Murphy (NC-03), to ease the transfer of unused federal buildings to support health care workers serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Enact the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act, by Chairman Gianforte, to prevent the disbursement of COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments to deceased individuals.
  • Streamline the federal permitting and regulatory process to facilitate a speedy economic recovery.
Apr 26, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, in a letter to House and Senate leadership, Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) and RSC American Worker Task Force Chairman Andy Barr (KY-06) outlined a conservative blueprint to support and empower American workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (click here to view the signed letter). The proposal is one of five pillars that make up RSC’s 37-point Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability and Prosperity (click here for more information).

More than a year before the emergence of COVID-19, the Task Force began examining policy ideas and developing a plan to target the problems and factors that adversely affect America’s job market. As a result, the Task Force stands fully prepared in these unprecedented times to lead the effort in Congress to foster new opportunity and get Americans back to work.

To that end, the Task Force urges lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to work together to quickly implement the following worker-centric solutions to eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment and revive the U.S. economy:

  1. Enact the NEW GIG Act. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the gig economy’s importance like never before and hit many of these workers particularly hard. At a time when many gig economy workers are struggling to make ends meet, Congress should reduce barriers that hinder them from making a living. One way to do so would be to enact the NEW GIG Act, sponsored by Rep. Tom Rice (SC-07). The bill would ensure that a worker is classified as an independent contractor for income and employment tax purposes so long as they meet three objective tests set forth by the legislation: (1) the worker is treated as an independent contractor and not an employee; (2) the customer is not treated as the employer; and, (3) if a third party facilitates payments and transactions, the third party is not treated as the employer.
     
  2. Promote Worker Upskilling Opportunities through Tax Deductibility. While federal tax policy allows for large deductions for some types of investment spending, these deductions are very limited for education services for workers, such as upskilling. The imbalance for these deductions harms workers and disincentivizes hiring and job training. Congress should equalize the tax treatment of all types of investment by allowing businesses to deduct their investments in education services for their workers that train them for higher employment. This would move the tax code further towards pro-growth optimization and would remove this harmful imbalance against employees.
     
  3. Enact the Restoring Board Immunity Act. Every day across the country, thousands of people are prevented from entering industries due to onerous occupational licensing laws. Members of the regulatory boards who establish the standards for the licenses are often members of the regulated profession. Moreover, strict occupational licensing laws are regressive making it difficult for “the most economically disadvantaged among us to acquire a license due to the time, fees, and education necessary to acquire one. The result is that millions of would-be workers are locked out of the workforce because they lack the means to obtain a license.” Thus, the Task Force recommends enactment of the Board Immunity Act, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), which would grant anti-trust immunity to actions by these boards only if they adopt reforms designed to prevent runaway occupational licensing restrictions.
     
  4. Suspension of Occupational Licensing Requirements for Health Care Workers Across State Lines. In the present health care crisis, occupational licensing barriers put up by states can mean life or death since key personnel cannot easily shift between outbreak epicenters. For nurses and doctors, their credentials are already certified by a trusted national organization in addition to states’ individual licensing boards. A number of states have already taken the wise step of reducing licensure barriers for practicing medicine within their borders. The Task Force stresses the importance of other states undertaking these actions as well.
     
  5. Enact the Working Families Flexibility Act. While many employees seek higher pay as their top priority, a growing number of American workers place a higher value on the ability to spend more time with family. During an emergency, employers may need certain workers to perform longer hours. Under current law, private employers are required to pay employees overtime at 1.5 the employee’s regular rate of pay, and do not have the opportunity to offer comp time instead. To provide employees with more options, the Task Force recommends implementing the Working Families Flexibility Act, introduced by Sen. Lee, to provide more flexibility for employers and employees with regard to compensatory time off. Under the bill, employers would have the option of offering comp time or overtime pay. Employees could voluntarily elect to receive comp time in lieu of overtime pay, which would empower employees to select the option that best fits their individual needs. This could allow employees significant time off that may be needed to address issues at home during the present crisis or in its aftermath. 
     
  6. Enact the RAISE Act to Reward High Performing Workers. In times of emergency, certain industries and their employees are in higher demand and endure higher levels of stress than normal. Under current law, union contacts set both a wage floor and a wage ceiling. As a result, individual workers cannot be given raises, including performance-based raises, by their employers. The Task Force recommends allowing employers operating under a union contract to award bonuses and pay raises to employees without having to obtain permission from union bosses. The Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees Act (RAISE Act), introduced by Rep. Dusty Johnson (SD-At Large), would allow employers to pay individual workers more than is specified in the union contract, which could provide much- needed compensation during the current crisis and eventual economic recovery.
     

The Task Force also believes that innovative approaches to education policy and certain economic support programs will be crucial for easing many Americans’ transition from unemployment to a paycheck. To that end, the Task Force also recommends that Congress advance the following policy solutions:
 

  1. Enhance Portability of Housing Vouchers. Presently, portability restrictions on the Housing Choice Voucher program make it difficult for beneficiaries to use their benefit outside of the jurisdiction of their local Public Housing Authority (PHA). These restrictions can limit the ability of an individual to accept employment that would offer a path to self-reliance and economic stability, if the job offer requires the individual to move outside of their local PHA jurisdiction.  Congress should temporarily relax restrictions on Housing Choice Voucher portability, so that Americans who are economically displaced by government policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic may use vouchers to secure housing where they are able to secure job opportunities. Specifically, HUD should be temporarily required to grant portability requests, even when the 12-month residency requirement is not met, if the move is required for a new job (i.e., a “special family need”). Any costs that may be associated with this pro-work proposal can be addressed through the $1.935 billion in additional FY 2020 funding made available for Tenant-based Rental Assistance and the Public Housing Operating Fund in the CARES Act. Additionally, Congress should allow a certain portion of a recipient’s Section 8 vouchers to be used to cover moving expenses and to put down a security deposit to acquire housing. This expanded use would alleviate burdens on people who seek to move to new communities to better their economic livelihood and become more self-reliant.
     
  2. Extend Financial Aid Eligibility for Short-Term Programs. Congress should allow short-term career and technical education programs to access the same federal funding opportunities, especially Pell Grants, for which traditional four-year college students and long-term technical education program students qualify. In times of economic uncertainty, lawmakers should seek ways to afford Americans ample opportunities to develop their talents in a way that results in a meaningful career with less student loan debt. These faster programs could help more people transition from the swollen unemployment rolls into well-paid jobs much more efficiently and serve as a better response to crisis than traditional 4-year degree programs. In particular, the Task Force recommends enactment of the Pell Flexibility Act, introduced by Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03). 
     
  3. Allow Access to 529 Education Savings Accounts for Homeschooling Expenses. The COVID-19 outbreak revealed the relative weakness in the ability of many school systems to provide educational services and instruction while students are forced home. Parents have been required to fill the need with their own resources, which were already stretched due to the economic downturn. A smart and relatively easy-to-implement solution would be to allow Internal Revenue Code Section 529 educational savings plans to pay for these unexpected homeschooling expenses. Gaps in a student’s educational development can be detrimental and this could help many parents address critical homeschooling needs with funds already set aside for education.  
     
  4. Expand the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program under HUD. In times of crisis such as these, local public housing authorities may not be nimble enough, or may be too overwhelmed, to properly service their increased volume of requests. To encourage private investment in public housing, Congress should expand the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program and remove the statutory cap on the program to continue to allow housing authorities to leverage public and private debt and equity to reinvest in public housing stock. Congress should also explore other ways to increase the rate of voluntary conversions by PHAs of their public housing units to voucher-based housing.  
     
  5. Ensure an All-of-the-Above Approach to Ending Homelessness. Congress should not allow this crisis to further prevent successful providers of homelessness assistance from serving their communities. The CARES Act includes language preventing homeless service providers funded by the HUD Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program from requiring program participants to utilize supportive services (e.g., job training, financial literacy, substance abuse treatment). This excludes emergency shelter programs and faith-based organizations who successfully rely on a model of accountability. Data suggest an exclusive reliance on the ‘Housing First’ model may not be as successful as a comprehensive approach that includes wraparound services. Congress should embrace an all-of-the-above approach, and direct funding through a competitive process based on history of transitioning people out of homelessness. Additionally, Congress should reject efforts by some to cancel HUD’s Continuum of Care (COC) grant competition in a veiled effort to require an exclusive reliance on ‘Housing First’ policies. 
     

STATEMENTS

“As the U.S. economy begins to reopen, Congress should be doing everything in its power to help American workers get back on their feet and into jobs,” said Johnson. “America’s workers are the backbone of our nation. It is their strength and determination that built this country, and it is their faith and optimism that holds it together. All they ask for is a fair shot at a useful education, dignified work, and a hand up when times are tough. Congress can ensure these things by working together to enact the smart, conservative solutions presented by the American Worker Task Force.”

“This past year, I led the American Worker Taskforce in developing policy initiatives to strengthen workforce development, improve resources for and flexibilities for education, and increase opportunities for American workers and families,” said Barr. “Thank you Chairman Johnson and my colleagues on the Taskforce who worked with me on these efforts. The policies outlined in this proposal are timely, and will help provide a partial road map to engineer the great American comeback for workers, families, and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Apr 26, 2020

WASHINGTON – Today, in a letter to House and Senate leadership, Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) and RSC Government Efficiency, Accountability, and Reform (GEAR) Task Force Chairman Greg Gianforte (MT-At Large) outlined a conservative blueprint to increase efficiency and accountability in the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic (click here to view the signed letter). The proposal is one of five pillars that make up RSC’s 37-point Conservative Framework for Recovery, Accountability and Prosperity (click here for more information).

The Task Force’s proposal builds upon its Feb. 2020 government reform plan – Power, Practices, Personnel: 100+ Commonsense Solutions to Better Government – to advocate for policies which will empower the federal workforce, optimize the utility of existing government facilities, and streamline federal rules to facilitate our nation’s economic recovery.

In light of those objectives, the Task Force urges members from both sides of the aisle to work together to ensure any future legislation related to COVID-19 advances the following ideas:

  1. Streamline Federal Hiring and Optimize Pay for High-Skilled Employees. The challenge of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best in many of America’s federal personnel. These patriotic civil servants, along with countless experts in the private sector and generous volunteers, have done their best to respond to an extraordinary global crisis. Still, the need for more highly trained and specialized workers to join the federal ranks has been made apparent. The CARES Act specifically waived the Title 5 federal hiring requirements for the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow for streamlined hiring. This commonsense provision must be expanded. Thus, the Task Force recommends that federal managers across government be empowered to recruit and hire the most talented individuals who can fill these vital roles to ensure our workforce is better equipped for emergency response. The Task Force also recommends reform of the General Schedule (GS) wage scale to allow for improved compensation for individuals with critical skills and the expanded use of meritorious bonuses to reward excellent performance by federal employees.
     
  2. Enact the Eliminate Agency Excess Space Act. Beyond unleashing the federal workforce, the government should optimize the utility of existing federal infrastructure to combat COVID-19. In particular, the Task Force recommends enactment of the Eliminate Agency Excess Space Act, sponsored by Rep. Greg Murphy (NC-03). This bill would eliminate antiquated laws that limit the sale, lease, or donation of federal office space. This simple reform would ease the transfer of unused federal buildings to support health care workers serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 crises.
     
  3. Enact the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act. The CARES Act provides standard Economic Impact Payments of $1,200 for many Americans. The Task Force urges that these funds be administered carefully to minimize the chance of fraud or waste that plagues other government programs. Particularly relevant is the fact that in 2015 the Social Security Administration Inspector General found 6.5 million deceased individuals who were still active recipients of Social Security benefits. Because current recipients of Social Security benefits will not be required to file an abbreviated tax form to receive the $1,200 tax rebates, there is reason for concern that these payments will be made to deceased individuals. Thus, the Task Force recommends the enactment of H.R. 2543, Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act, introduced by GEAR Chairman Rep. Greg Gianforte (MT-At Large) and Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17). This legislation would grant all federal agencies the same access to the death data base and would require states to share their death data with the Social Security Administration. This would remove the gaps in data that lead to countless dollars being wasted on improper payments to deceased individuals.
     
  4. Streamline the Permitting Process. While the federal government continues to focus on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also important it consider how to best facilitate a speedy economic recovery by streamlining government regulatory processes. We cannot allow government red tape to unnecessarily slow down job creation, project management, and private investment. Specifically, the Task Force urges enactment of two important pieces of legislation: (1) the Critical Habitat Improvement Act, a bill that would require critical habitat designations be made only with land where the Secretary of the Department of Interior (DOI) has identified what elements are necessary for the survival of an endangered species, thus limiting burdensome restrictions on land use; and (2) the Federal Permitting and Jobs Act, a bipartisan bill that would streamline National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by creating a two-year deadline for agencies to finalize permitting


STATEMENTS

“In the best of times, cutting red tape and streamlining the federal bureaucracy saves time and money. In the worst of times – as we’ve seen during this pandemic – it can also save lives and livelihoods,” said Johnson. “Under President Trump’s leadership, our federal agencies and patriotic civil servants have accomplished extraordinary things over the past few months. With the reforms and recommendations put forward by the GEAR Task Force, we can ensure they are even more effective in the fight against COVID-19. These are commonsense solutions that should have been adopted a long time ago. I hope can Congress can work together to enact them without any further delay."

“As America continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, the federal government should implement common sense reforms to improve its response, keep Americans healthy, and safely get them back to work as soon as possible. Folks across our country are hurting and struggling because of this outbreak. The federal government has a responsibility to increase its efficiency and accountability as it addresses this public health crisis,” said Gianforte. “I urge members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to join us to improve the federal government’s response, protect Americans’ health and safety, and help us come out of this stronger than we were before.”