Conservatives on Offense: Opportunity for All, Favoritism to None

The culture in Washington must change.

And if we do the right things in the coming months conservatives have a real opportunity to start calling the shots. It’s time to go on offense. That is why we created a road map called the Conservative Policy Agenda.

Policy experts at The Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action’s team have designed a new Conservative Policy Agenda that focuses on building three core ideas: a strong economy, a strong society, and a strong America.  Our goal is to create opportunity for all, but favoritism to none.

But we didn’t stop there. Our Capitol Hill team made sure than all 535 Representatives and Senators got a boarding pass–a pocket-sized summary–before they left town for the August congressional recess.

And here’s your version: the boarding pass we handed Members of Congress for the August recess.

We encourage you to discuss these policies with your Members as you attend meetings and town halls over the next few weeks. Please reach out to our team if you have questions.

Read the Full Conservative Policy Agenda

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August Recess: Time for Real Accountability

August is here and that means it is recess for Congress.

But now is not the time for conservative accountability to take a break. With Members of Congress back at home holding events, having meetings, and making public appearances, August is the perfect time to meet them and talk about their voting records.

You can use the Heritage Action Scorecard as your guide on what to talk about during your meetings with Members of Congress.

In typical Washington fashion, Congress saved three “must pass” items — a bailout of the federal highway trust fund, legislation that claims to fix our failing VA system, and action to address a border crisis caused by President Obama’s refusal to enforce the law — for the last minute.

So last week, with four days left and a full plate, many Members of Congress had to choose between standing for principle and a quick ticket home for recess.

Five of last week’s votes are now live on our scorecard: 3 in the Senate and 2 in the House.


Lee Transportation Amendment (Transportation Empowerment Act)

Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014

Miller-Sanders Veterans Bill


Miller-Sanders Veterans Bill

Blackburn Amendment to Freeze DACA Program

The common thread in these five votes is the choice they presented to Members of Congress: take the easy way out and support “patches” and flawed legislation, or push for real conservative reforms that would actually solve the issues.

Check out our Scorecard to see how your Members of Congress voted and make sure to hold them accountable and as you meet with them during the congressional August recess.

See How They Voted

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Obama’s Lawless Actions

Heritage Action CEO Michael A. Needham discussed President Obama’s lawlessness on Fox News Sunday.   The panel also included the Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel, Fox News contributor Juan Williams, and National Journal’s Ron Fournier.   Watch the exchange below.

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Borders: Call Your Representative Now

Update: this vote has occurred.

See How Your Representative Voted

More than 57,000 unaccompanied minors have illegally crossed America’s southern border this year.  Their presence in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico is putting pressure on Congress to grant the President’s $3.7 billion request for emergency funds.

Heritage Foundation policy analyst David Inserra has broken down the proposals in the House’s immigration working group here, and noted that “the U.S. does not need to throw money at the problem but rather carefully consider the better policies that more effectively enforce the law and contribute to border security.”

>> Call your Representative to share the message that any “border fix” that does not include addressing DACA should be opposed.

If any funding at all is to be allocated, it must be on the condition that the package addresses the root causes of the unlawful immigrant surge.

Rarely is the link between a policy and a problem as clear as with President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the current situation at our southern border. Despite the overwhelming consensus that executive decree has caused the crisis, Congress and the White House are refusing to end DACA.

>> Call your Representative to oppose border spending that doesn’t fix the problem.

The House is now preparing to vote on a bill to authorize $659 million for border and immigration spending. The problem is this spending bill doesn’t address the root cause of the problem. Fortunately, some lawmakers are pushing to include language to stop Obama’s lawless DACA program, but we only have a few hours to make a difference.

See How Your Representative Voted

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Congress Rushing to Create New Veterans’ Overload

As a veteran myself, I consider care for our nation’s heroes a top priority. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been in disarray for too long, leading to unconscionable standards of care, wait times, and mass inefficiency.

To try to fix this system, the House and Senate VA committees have released a conference report full of new provisions. The most troubling of these is a new program that will permit veterans facing a certain wait time to seek care outside of the VA program, at a private facility. Congress has proposed $10 billion to kick start this program, which will not be offset by any savings, but spent under an “emergency” designation.

I think we can all agree, in this state of our nation’s fiscal climate, this seems unwise, especially given previous assurances any new spending would be paid for.  What’s more, the dysfunction and red tape-laden bureaucracy that the media has reported on these last six months will remain intact, and in addition, Congress will call upon taxpayers to layer a new entitlement on top that looks like it could grow unchecked into the distant future.

A quick note on that $10 billion authorization.  It is held under an artificial cap that does nothing to actually limit the size, scope or real cost of this new program. Once the money dries up, Congress will face immense pressure to allocate more “emergency” funds to refill it, piling onto the deficit without any reforms to the underlying VA system.

The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that this entitlement provision sideshow will encourage other eligible vets, currently enrolled in other systems, to transition to VA coverage, expanding the pool of participants. This means that once again the system will have to bear the burden of overloads, putting the vets most in need of care at a disadvantage.

A functional, cost-effective VA health care system is crucial not just for the vets of this generation, but to tomorrow’s servicemen and women, as well. Any solution that is not sustainable in the long term leaves future veterans in the lurch. Rather than spend blindly to achieve a quick result, Congress must legislate from the premise that all generations of heroes are deserving of our gratitude, and will benefit from effective and responsible governing.

The reality of this massive expansion bill is far from patriotic or compassionate. The VA system is woefully inefficient and routinely challenged by backlogs, disorganization and a misallocation of resources. Rather than attempt to reform its weaknesses and target the federal aid, Congress is seeking to add to the heap of clutter with a costly new program that will expand the population dependent upon it and run up an unimaginable tab.

As former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen has declared repeatedly, “the single biggest threat to our national security” is the national debt. Those who take up the great cause of defending the liberty and security of our homeland deserve the best from their leaders; this bill is a poor substitute, indeed.


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