Posted by on October 03, 2014
By TODD J. GILLMAN
WASHINGTON — Pressure mounted Friday for a ban on travel from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa — a step the White House and top health officials resist as counterproductive and an overreaction to the virus’ arrival in the U.S.
The potential for the virus to spread farther, in Dallas and to other U.S. cities, has amplified calls for a ban.
On Friday, a hospital in Washington put a Nigerian traveler in isolation with suspicion that he, too, is infected. Public health experts say more cases will inevitably crop up, and the White House deployed top administration officials to offer assurances to an increasingly jittery public.
“Swift action must be taken to ensure that this deadly virus does not spread inside our nation,” said Rep. Kenny Marchant, whose district includes Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan arrived Sept. 19.
Marchant, R-Coppell, called for an immediate ban on all non-Americans coming from Liberia, citing “inadequate screening” of departing passengers and the serious risk to the American public. Sen. Ted Cruz also wants to limit or halt travel from West Africa.
“It is imperative that the FAA take every available precaution in preventing additional cases from arriving in the United States,” Cruz wrote FAA administrator Michael Huerta.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has insisted that a travel ban isn’t a good idea.
“I wish we could get to zero risk by sealing off the border, but we can't. The only way we're going to get to zero risk in this country is by controlling it in Africa,” he told Fox News on Friday.
Lisa Monaco, the top White House adviser on homeland security, added: “Right now we believe those type steps actually impede the response.”
A number of African countries and a handful of airlines have curbed or banned air travel to countries wrestling with Ebola — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
From Monrovia, the Liberian capital, Duncan flew to Brussels and Washington on his way to D/FW to visit relatives. Liberian officials say he lied before departure by denying exposure to Ebola. But he had no fever, and didn’t become sick — and contagious — until a few days after his arrival in Texas.
“You may be able to slow it down a bit” and prevent contagious patients from infecting others in transit, Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, told reporters. “The idea that you can stop a virus at the airport or before it gets on an airplane is as much an antique as the notion that Ellis Island will screen out all disease among the immigrants.”
Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham, among others, has called for a travel ban.
“Politics trumps security, safety, health security,” Ingraham told her listeners Wednesday. “Obama — familial connection with Africa. … It doesn’t make any sense not to have stopped these flights from coming in.”
U.S. and international public health authorities concede that more Ebola cases are likely to surface in the United States and other developed countries. But with the medical infrastructure to prevent a wide spread of the disease, the tradeoff is worth it, they contend.
At the World Health Organization, spokesman Daniel Epstein said that what Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone need most, he said, is outside help.
“It makes everything much more difficult if the airlines have to stop flying into and out of these countries,” he said, adding that cutting off air connections wouldn’t stop Ebola from spreading anyway. “People could go by land. You could block trains and they’ll go by a boat.”
Marchant has asked House Speaker John Boehner to pursue a travel ban legislatively. He also has asked House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Austin, to hold hearings on implementing such a ban.
Congress isn’t scheduled to return to work until Nov. 12, after a seven-week recess. Boehner’s office declined to weigh in on the matter.
McCaul stopped short of calling for a travel ban but called the Dallas case “a wake-up call.”
He said he’s been in contact with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and the CDC director “to urge them to reassess our screening efforts at U.S. ports of entry to ensure we are doing all we can to prevent the importation of additional cases into the United States.”
On Friday, Sen. John Cornyn asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske for more information on the agency’s screening process.
“Under current protocols, what specific events or indicators would justify an enhanced screening process by CBP? Is CBP currently considering additional plans to increase enhanced screenings of incoming passengers?” Cornyn wrote.
The customs agency declined to comment Friday but said it would respond to the Texas Republican.
For epidemics, travel bans have been tried before with mixed and often disappointing results.
Garrett, from the Council on Foreign Relations, recalled that at the height of the swine flu epidemic, Asian countries “quarantined entire jet-loads of Americans and Mexicans.” Many spent weeks in hotels.
Yet “every country, no matter what measures they took, ended up getting flu within their borders,” she said.
Staff writer Kimberly Railey contributed to this report.
Follow Todd J. Gillman on Twitter at @toddgillman.To view this story on the dallasnews website, please click here.
Posted by on August 22, 2014
By Kristin Tate
August 22, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas -- A new letter from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) admits that illegal aliens were being allowed to board planes using Notice to Appear forms received after entering the U.S. illegally. The revelation directly contradicts a TSA statement last month denying such allegations to various media outlets, including Breitbart News. In July Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby broke the news that the TSA was letting illegal aliens board planes using Notice to Appear forms; subsequently, a TSA spokesperson publicly attacked Darby on Twitter, insisting that his report was "completely wrong."
The newly-surfaced TSA letter was penned on August 7, according to the Gateway Pundit. It was reportedly sent from the TSA to Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX), a member of the Border Security Caucus. The letter confirms that illegal aliens are being allowed to board planes using a Notice to Appear form (also known as I-862), as Darby revealed in July.
Hector Garza, a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) told Darby that Notice to Appear forms can "easily be reproduced or manipulated on any home computer. The Notice to Appear form has no photo, anyone can make one and manipulate one. They do not have any security features, no watermark, nothing. They are simply printed on standard copy paper based on the information the illegal alien says is the truth."
According to the Gateway Pundit, the August 7 letter from the TSA admitted, "If a passenger does not have an acceptable form of identification, then the passenger is allowed to present two other forms of identification. One of the two forms of identification must bear the individual’s name and other identifying information such as photo, address, phone number, social security number, or date of birth. TSA may assess a variety of government issued documents to establish passenger identity. The I-862 form may be used along with another form of identification in this instance."
It continued, "If a passenger can only present a Form I-862, TSA will attempt to establish the passenger’s identity through DHS partner Components, such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)."
Despite the letter's admissions, the TSA had previously insisted that Darby's report--which detailed the acceptance of Notice to Appear forms at airports--was untrue.
TSA Press Secretary Ross Feinstein took to Twitter to attack Darby and the NPBC. After claiming that Darby's report was "completely wrong," Feinstein falsely stated that no one had “contacted us for a statement and/or info before publishing story."
Darby responded to Feinstein, showing a screenshot which proved that he had, indeed, attempt to reach out to the agency via email prior to the publishing of his article.
The TSA continued to deny Darby's allegations. The agency said in a statement to multiple news outlets, "These reports are false. A Notice to Appear, issued by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), is not an acceptable form of ID at the TSA checkpoint."
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.
Posted by on August 19, 2014
Congressman Marchant honors 72 Eagle Scouts
Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2014
BY MARTY SABOTA
IRVING — Congressman Kenny Marchant, who represents the 24th Congressional District — which includes Colleyville, Grapevine and Southlake among other districts — recently hosted the 10th annual Eagle Scout Ceremony where a record was set.
The Aug. 7 event gathered a record 72 Boy Scouts from the district who attained the rank of Eagle Scout over the past year.
The ceremony, which was held at the National Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, was structured to highlight each Scout by providing them the opportunity to describe their Eagle Scout project to their peers, Scout leaders and family members.
Nearly 300 people attended.
Projects included renovating public buildings, assisting the homeless, public landscaping and retiring thousands of American flags through the proper ceremonial procedure.
Marchant, who represents cities in Northeast Tarrant County and Northwest Dallas County, congratulated each Scout on his achievement following each Eagle Scout project presentation.
“I was honored to recognize over 70 new Eagle Scouts at our largest event to date,” the congressman said. “Each Eagle Scout made a special presentation about their contributions to the community and then was recognized of their achievement. I am very proud of them.”
Bill Steele, director of the National Eagle Scout Association, joined the ceremony as keynote speaker. He congratulated the Eagle Scouts on their distinction and spoke about the value of their achievement.
The Eagle Scout rank is the highest honor in the Boy Scouts of America program. To achieve this honor, the Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges, develop and oversee a community service project and fulfill a pledge to live according to the Scout oath.
According to the National Eagle Scout Association, less than five percent of Scouts earn Eagle Scout rank each year.
The honored Eagle Scouts included 16 from Grapevine, eight from Southlake and four from Colleyville.
Colleyville: Joseph Campbell II, Troop 4; Brian Lang, Troop 98; Alec Reuter, Troop 905; and Luke Sheppard, Troop 28.
Grapevine: Adam Alexander, Troop 1905; Nik Bacon, Troop 700; George Carson, Troop 700; Tom Cassady, Troop 4; Alvin Christensen, Troop 240; Joshua Copeland, Troop 7; Connor Croak, Troop 740; Cole Deters, Troop 700; John Failor, Troop 7; Alex Luce, Troop 700; Michael Obenhaus, Troop 28; Dillon Rathman, Troop 905; Ryan Roop, Troop 845; Mark Swope, Troop 928; Nick Walker, Troop 28; and Sawyer, Troop 28.
Southlake: Austin Brannon, Troop 937; Michael Dachniwsky, Troop 928; Austin Hintze, Troop 700; Connor McTaggart, Troop 928; Brooks Ragsdale, Troop 928; Paxton Riney, Troop 7; Nolin Wheeler, Troop 928; and Colton Williams, Troop 928.
Of those, three were from Grapevine’s historic Troop 7: Riney, Failor and Copeland.
Those Scouts were among nine teenage Scouts and three adult leaders from Troop 7 who recently completed a twelve day, 100-plus mile hiking adventure through the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range at the world’s largest youth camp — Philmont Scout Ranch.
Bill Norton, Scoutmaster of Troop 7, said it was a fun trip that added to the troop’s decades of memories.
“Last year, we celebrated 100 years of Scouting for possibly one of the first chartered Scout troops west of the Mississippi,” Norton said.
On the recent excursion to New Mexico, the crew climbed thousands of feet high up steep mountains, slipped down mud-caked valleys in torrential rain and braved bears, mountain lions and other hazardous wildlife.
They carried more than 40 pounds of gear on their backs.
Life Scout Lane Tschirhart of Troop 7 wrote about their adventure.
“After making the two-day drive to the camp’s location in Cimarron, N.M., the troop began packing all the supplies, including tents, pots, clothes, sleeping bags and several gallons worth of water into large hiking backpacks for the journey,” Tschirhart said.
The Scouts would wake around 5:30 a.m. every day, break down camp and begin a hike that usually ranged between six and 12 miles.
The troop often stopped for rock climbing, fly-fishing, tomahawk throwing, shooting and other educational activities, he said.
They mostly ate beef jerky, energy bars, crackers and other dehydrated food and would boil water to cook rice, beans and spaghetti.
After hiking into one campsite staffed by Philmont personnel, they were surprised with a chuck wagon chili dinner with peach cobbler.
“At night the troop would stuff their food, toiletries, Gatorade-carrying water bottles and other smellables into bags and hang them from trees so that bears did not raid the camp and steal their food,” Tschirhart said.
Troop 7 also participated in a conservation project that helped preserve Philmont’s trails from falling into disrepair.
Among the peaks the troop climbed were the Tooth of Time — Philmont’s iconic rock formation — and Mount Phillips, which was the tallest mountain the crew climbed at 11,742 feet above sea level.
“While climbing up the steep switchbacks to Lookout Peak, a sudden rainstorm broke out and soaked everyone,” Tschirhart said. “At one point, lighting struck dangerously close to the open meadow the boys were crossing. “
On the way back to base camp, they had to cross two flash floods that were running over the trail.
“There was no way around, so a few boys crossed and held onto a rope to keep the other boys from being swept away by the water,” Tschirhart said. “By using teamwork, the boys made sure that not only their own group, but other Troops from Dallas, Seattle and other cities crossed safely.”
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367To read this story on the Southlake Journal website, please click here.
Posted by on December 02, 2013
GOP demands Treasury secretary testify before debt-ceiling hike
Posted by on November 11, 2013
Gov. Perry’s father gets long-delayed medals with help from Rep. Kenny Marchant
By Nick Swartsell
Published on November 11, 2013
Click here to view the orignal article on dallasnews.com.
Posted by on May 14, 2013
Worst parts of Obama’s unpopular healthcare law coming soon
Kenny Marchant (R-TX-24)
May 14, 2013
When President Obama and Congressional Democrats drafted their healthcare reform law, ObamaCare, they front-loaded what they considered “popular” provisions in order to make it more palatable to the American public before the rest of the law would take effect in 2014. These provisions included allowing “children” up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance plan and creating an underfunded insurance pool for people with preexisting conditions.
How did this front-loaded plan fare? Well, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, ObamaCare today remains deeply unpopular among Americans, with only 35 percent holding a favorable view of the law. This should be very concerning to Democrats, and reports of Senate Democrats voicing their frustration and concerns with the law have been streaming into the news. One of the bill’s chief architects, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), even went as far as to predict a coming “train wreck” for implementation of the law, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) echoed that sentiment days later.
It seems like each day a new study or report is released that finds serious consequences coming from the law’s implementation. The law is significantly raising insurance premiums, will add to our federal deficits, reduce the quality of healthcare Americans receive, and it is already having dramatic consequences on our economy as businesses wrestle with the law’s onerous penalties and regulations. This was evidenced in the latest jobs report, which showed an increase in the number of part-time workers and a decrease in the average number of hours worked each week.
Recently, it was even reported that members of Congress were looking for ways to carve out an exemption from the law for themselves and their staffs. I will oppose any such efforts, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has made it clear that he will not sneak any legislation into bills to solve the Democrats’ healthcare problems. Democrats in Congress are now realizing what Americans and businesses across the country already knew — this law is going to severely affect their own healthcare options. Rather than carve out an exemption for themselves, why not exempt all Americans from this coming train wreck?
House Republicans are preparing to once again vote on a full repeal of this disastrous healthcare law. Some will chastise this as a futile exercise, but it is not. A recent Fox News poll found that even 56 percent of Democrats nationwide now find the 15,000-plus pages of ObamaCare regulations “way over the top.” Congress has now had the chance to see first-hand how flawed this bill is, and this will give members in the House an opportunity to change their position. Furthermore, this will give freshman Republicans and Democrats an opportunity to show where they stand on the issue.
That Kaiser poll also found that 49 percent of Americans say they don’t have enough information yet to understand how ObamaCare will affect their own families. This should terrify proponents of the bill. Since the popular provisions were front-loaded, what is left to come are penalties, premium hikes, less jobs, reduced hours and a decline in the quality of our healthcare. This makes it difficult to see how the law becomes more popular over time.
So, with everything we know now about the law, do Democrats still support ObamaCare? Let’s find out.
Marchant is a member of both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
To read on The Hill’s website, click here.
Congressman Marchant's Dallas Morning News Op-Ed: It’s high time we tamed our out-of-control tax codePosted by on April 15, 2013
Each year during tax season, American citizens and businesses are often surprised to learn the amount of their annual tax bill. This uncertainty is a direct result of a staggering 4 million-word tax code filled with confusing deductions and loopholes that make it difficult to understand and file tax returns.
In fact, the IRS’ own taxpayer advocate estimates that only 10 percent of individual filers will complete their own returns this year, with the rest choosing to pay someone else or purchase commercial software to help them.
What’s the cost? Each year American businesses and individuals spend over 6 billion cumulative hours complying with tax filing requirements at a cost to the economy of as much as $400 billion. Making this untenable situation worse is Obamacare. Not only does it increase current taxes and invent new taxes, but it requires every taxpayer to prove adequate levels of health insurance coverage to the IRS.
The basic fact is that the tax code is overly complex and out of date. It places an enormous burden on families and businesses and needs to be reformed and simplified. That’s the goal of Congress’ chief tax writing body, the House Ways and Means Committee, on which I have the privilege to serve. This year we are moving forward to achieve comprehensive, revenue-neutral tax reform.
Indeed, Speaker John Boehner has given our tax reform bill the coveted legislative designation of HR 1, signaling that this is the top priority of House Republicans this year.
Recently, I was fortunate to be selected by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp to chair the Tax Reform Working Group on Debt, Equity and Capital. It’s one of 11 bipartisan working groups created by Camp to study policies that can help achieve revenue-neutral tax reform. My group is collecting information from constituents, stakeholders and policy experts, then will relay our findings to the full committee. They will use our findings on issues ranging from business debt and equity to capital gains and carried interest to help write a comprehensive simplification of the entire federal tax code.
Our tax code has not had a major rewrite in over 25 years, when in 1986 President Ronald Reagan worked with congressional Democrats to achieve a historic reform that simplified the tax code, lowered rates and broadened the tax base without imposing a higher tax burden on the U.S. economy.
Today our corporate tax rate is the highest of any nation in the world, and many small businesses are burdened by federal tax rates of almost 40 percent. This is not a recipe for economic growth and is why the issue must be addressed now.
Accomplishing tax reform will not be easy. Competing interest groups that have long enjoyed certain loopholes will seek to protect deductions. But with an economy growing at just 0.4 percent, with 12 million Americans out of work, with a national debt approaching $17 trillion and with 48 million Americans on food stamps, we must simplify the tax code to help strengthen the economy. Families and businesses paying taxes throughout the year should not be burdened by an additional round of time-consuming and expensive tax filing headaches. Americans deserve better.
Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and chairman of the Tax Reform Working Group on Debt, Equity and Capital. He can be contacted through marchant.house.gov.
Posted by on April 08, 2013
Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) says the new ObamaCare insurance brokers known as “navigators” are likely to cost more than they’re worth because of "inflated" salaries.
Marchant's questions stem from a recently released Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposal outlining the specifics of the navigators, a fleet of individuals that will help Americans without employer-provided insurance figure out how to use the new healthcare exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.
In an April 4 letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Marchant expressed concerns with the estimated hourly wages for the positions.
“In an attempt to reduce health care costs, the greatest possible portion of taxpayer funds should go to treating patients rather than being absorbed by administration and public relations,” wrote Marchant, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
The Federal Register document says assistance workers will be paid $20 per hour, project leaders will be paid $29 per hour and executives will make about $48 per hour.“These seem to be inflated hourly wages compared to corresponding positions in the private sector,” he said. “I am very concerned that tens of thousands of navigators will be hired at a time when thousands of current federal employees are being placed on furloughs to reduce our budget deficit.”
There are an estimated 337,000 private-sector insurance sales agents currently working in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average hourly wage is $30.50, or $63,400 per year.
The administration did not specify how many of these navigators would be hired in the proposed rule. But the federal government would only be offering grants for the ones working in states that opted to use the federal healthcare exchanges. States using their own marketplaces would have to supply their own navigators.
The new workers would not be able to enroll individuals into health coverage, but rather serve to guide them through the process. Whether working for the federal or state exchanges, the navigators are prohibited from being paid by insurance companies.
“I have great concerns over the lack of need and the significant resources that the navigator program and its support staff will consume,” Marchant continued. “Hiring tens of thousands of new workers that cannot treat patients, nor even by definition actually enroll citizens in a qualified health plan, appears to be a significant misuse of taxpayer funds.”
Posted by on February 01, 2013
Posted by on October 05, 2012
I can’t think of an issue that more perfectly captures the national debate than the one right now regarding the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. At the end of this year, current tax rates will expire and taxes will go up if nothing is done. The powerful Way and Means Committee, the chief tax writing committee in Congress of which I am a member, has already taken the lead and passed through the House of Representatives yet another extension of current rates for all taxpayers.
Some would have you believe this debate is about pitting rich and poor against each other. In truth, however, the expiration of current tax rates (and our subsequent plunge over the fiscal cliff) would have dire consequences for everyone, particularly the middle class. To be sure, failure to extend current rates would prove calamitous for our already fragile economy.
Recent surveys of small businesses have shown that economic uncertainty is hurting our fiscal recovery. From new, unnecessary regulations and taxes imposed by the President’s healthcare law to executive agency rule-making, almost no sector of the economy has been left untouched. And, as I travel throughout the 24th District, the primary message I receive from local small businesses is they want to know that their success will not be punished by the federal government.
Whether it’s a local manufacturer, a healthcare professional, or small mom and pop shop, they all seem to agree: The federal government needs to get out of the way. They talk of how they are unable to expand their operations and make hiring plans because of lingering uncertainty. They are unsure of new taxes and regulations the current administration is contemplating and they want current rates to be extended, if not made permanent.
The uncertainty fostered by this debate surrounding tax rates has brought to a head a critical issue that has momentum both on Capitol Hill and around the country, including the 24th District: the need for comprehensive tax reform. If achieved, comprehensive tax reform for individuals, families, and businesses can and will unleash a robust recovery in the American economy. What does reform mean? This means lowering all rates, eliminating most deductions, and simplifying the code into fewer tiers.
Comprehensive tax reform is a win-win for all involved. For individuals and families, this means fewer hours preparing tax forms and more discretionary income. For small businesses, this means less time spent with accountants and more time planning expansion and hiring. And for advocates of smaller, more accountable government, this means far fewer loopholes and a less intrusive IRS.
The fiscal cliff is something we must address by extending current rates in the near term. But it also allows us to have a debate about tax reform and the proper size of government. Does anyone really believe that the current tax code is desired by and beneficial to job creators and families? A tax code that requires an army of tax professionals to navigate does no one any good.
Yes, loopholes should be closed. Yes, most deductions will be eliminated. But with our economy slowly plodding along, families struggling to keep their heads above water, and American companies at a competitive disadvantage, I can’t think of a better time or reason to enact bold tax reform that lowers rates, simplifies the code, and brings clarity to a tax system that has grown out of control.
There is no doubt that Congress must avert the fiscal cliff. If, however, the goal continues to be punting the problem for another year, we will have missed a clear opportunity to make reforms that will help American families and businesses get back on the path to prosperity.