I wanted to share with you an update on some recent activities in the Third District and some things going on now in Washington, DC.
Rest in Peace, Butler Derrick
First, I hope you will join me in remembering former Third District Congressman Butler Derrick. Congressman Derrick passed on May 5th at his home in Easley after battling a fight with cancer. A few years ago, Congressman Derrick was gracious enough to visit with me and share some of the insight he gained from his many years of public service. To this day, I still hear stories throughout the Third District about how Butler impacted someone’s life in a positive way. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.
A few weeks ago I wrapped up a tour of the district, where I had the opportunity to visit small businesses and community organizations to learn about their priorities and talk about economic opportunity and job creation. I also attended grand openings at the Piedmont Tech Abbeville Campus and Laurens County Community Care Center, talked with students at AR Lewis Elementary about the American Dream, and addressed the Anderson Pregnancy Care Center at their annual banquet. I greatly enjoyed this time in the district and am already looking forward to my next district week.
Problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs
As many of you are aware, the Department of Veterans Affairs is currently experiencing massive problems – problems with disbursing veterans benefits, mismanagement of medical records, months-long doctors visit wait times, and hundreds of thousands backlogged VA cases. Some of you may have experience these problems personally. Others of you may have loved ones or friends who have been affected by this. These heroes deserve better and were promised better when they signed up to honorably serve this nation.
The House of Representatives recently voted to address these problems in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act. This bill provides the Military and Department of Veterans Affairs with funding for regular operations and prioritizes fixing these problems by concentrating efforts to end the current backlog, holding VA offices accountable through office performance measurements, and increasing medical services for veterans. The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act also prioritizes the timely and accurate exchange of medical data, updating of the VA health record system, and ensuring the system is operable with the Department of Defense. I had an opportunity to speak in support of this legislation on the House Floor, which you can watch here.
Furthermore, if you or a loved one requires assistance with any veterans issues I am here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact my Laurens office at 864-681-1028.
Benghazi Select Committee
Speaker John Boehner recently announced that the House of Representatives will create a select committee to investigate the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, after years of the Administration withholding information from Members of Congress and the public. Even more, Speaker Boehner said he would be appointing South Carolina 4th District Congressman, and my good friend, Trey Gowdy to lead the select committee. I congratulate Congressman Gowdy, and wish him much success in creating accountability and forcing transparency upon the Administration. His bulldog-like tenacity and prosecutorial skill is exactly what is needed to get to the bottom of what happened before, during, and after the attacks in Benghazi.
Town of Greece v. Galloway
On May 5th the Supreme Court made a ruling on the case Town of Greece v. Galloway, a case questioning the Constitutionality of opening government meetings with prayer. The Supreme Court found that this practice does not violate the First Amendment, giving local governments around the nation freedom and peace of mind to begin public meetings in prayer. To put it simply, I was very pleased with the Court’s decision and had previously signed onto an Amici Curiae in support of the town’s right to pray.
While the ruling will not stop some from pushing ‘Freedom from Religion’ instead of ‘Freedom of Religion,’ I hope it will some bring some resolve to local communities that want to begin their public meetings in prayer.
Lastly, I would like to wrap up by saying thank you. Thanks for staying in contact with me and for your participation and activities on social media. Through this we have grown our Facebook participation rate to over 20,000 ‘Likes,’ Twitter to 18,000 ‘Follows,’ and Instagram to almost 300 ‘Follows.’ These online tools are a great way to keep in constant communication, provide an opportunity for constituents to see what is going on in Congress on a daily basis, and give me a way to keep a constant eye on what is going on in South Carolina at no cost to the taxpayer. If you haven’t yet, I would encourage you to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.
Thank you, and I hope to see you soon around the District.
Blessing and Liberty,
Member of Congress