Barletta bill aimed at saving taxpayers $500 million a year passes House

A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta that he says could save taxpayers at least $500 million a year was approved Monday by the House of Representatives.

H.R. 4487, the Public Buildings Reform and Savings Act of 2016, would reform the handling of federal office space and real estate. It passed the House on a voice vote and now heads to the Senate for its consideration.

“Within five years, half of all federal leases will expire,” Barletta, R-11, Hazleton, said in a news release. “How we replace these leases has a huge impact on the costs to the taxpayer.

To offer perspective, Barletta said the government leases 100 million square feet of space, which is equivalent to 32 new World Trade Centers in New York. More than half of that is in commercial leased space, he said, costing the taxpayers more than $5.5 billion each year.

The legislation increases accountability and oversight of the agency responsible for securing and protecting thousands of federal buildings.

Barletta said it could result in a 20 percent reduction in lease costs and save taxpayers more than $500 million annually, even without accounting for savings through reductions in space.

The bill also includes language that would give the General Services Administration a better ability, where appropriate, to use public-private partnerships to meet space needs, leveraging private dollars to offset costs.

“When we reduce the amount of office space agencies are leasing, it directly reduces the costs to the taxpayer,” Barletta said. “And, with the large number of leases expiring in the near future, we now have a ripe opportunity to save even more by negotiating better rental rates and concessions.”

Barletta is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.

Read more here.

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Barletta seeks to control cost of federal disaster responses

(Washington, D.C.) — A Congressman from Pennsylvania is spearheading an effort to ensure that spending for federal disaster responses is both necessary and cost-effective.

Republican Congressman Lou Barletta is the author of a bill to reform disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

He says disaster losses have grown considerably over the last 30 years, with FEMA spending 178 billion dollars for over 1,300 presidential disaster declarations.

However, Barletta says the sheer number of disasters is not alone responsible for the cost.

“75 percent of all declared disasters account for only 7 percent of costs.  In other words, we could eliminate three quarters of all federally declared disasters and barely cut 7 percent of federal disaster spending,” he said.

Barletta’s bill passed the House of Representatives in February. He’s hoping to continue the discussion into ways to make sure federal disaster assistance is delivered quickly and efficiently.

Read more here.

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Barletta bill protecting opioid addicted newborns unanimously passed in U.S. House

WASHINGTON, DC – In a rare unanimous vote, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation from Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) protecting opioid-addicted newborns and their caregivers. The Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act (H.R. 4843), which Barletta authored with Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), requires that states which receive federal funds for child protective services comply with federal law and enact certain guidelines for the welfare of children exposed to opioids. The category of opioids includes a variety of pain medications or other drugs, such as heroin.

The legislation does not seek to persecute the mothers of the children, so as not to dissuade parents from allowing their newborns to access appropriate care. The bill passed the House by a bipartisan, unanimous vote of 421-to-0.

“Every 25 minutes in America, a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal. It’s an eye-opening statistic, and the more you consider what it really means, the more tragic it becomes,” Barletta said. “Every 25 minutes, a child enters the world having already been exposed to drugs. Every 25 minutes, a newborn has to pay the price for something he or she was defenseless against. Every 25 minutes, another infant becomes a victim of the national opioid crisis. These are the victims this bill will help protect.”

“Through a number of commonsense measures, this bill strengthens protections for infants born with illegal substance exposure, improves accountability related to the care of infants and their families, and ensures states will have best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe,” Barletta said. “These are commonsense reforms we should all embrace. By working together and advancing this legislation, we help ensure these children, mothers, and their families have the help they need and the care they deserve.”

This legislation would:

— Require the department of Health and Human Services to review and confirm states have put in place policies required under the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).

— Strengthen protections for infants born with illegal substance exposure by clarifying the intent of safe care plans.

— Improve accountability related to the care of infants and their families by requiring additional information on the incidents of infants born with illegal substance exposure and their care.

— Provide states with best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe.

— Encourage the use of information made available through other child welfare laws in verifying CAPTA compliance.

CAPTA was enacted in 1974 to coordinate federal efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. The law provides states with resources to improve their child protective services systems. In order to receive funds under CAPTA, states are required to assure the Department of Health and Human Services that they have implemented certain child welfare policies. Such policies include requiring health care providers to notify state child protective services agencies when a child is born with prenatal illegal substance exposure, as well as requiring the development of a “safe care plan” to protect these newborns and keep them and their caregivers healthy. A recent Reuters investigation revealed some states are receiving federal funds without having the necessary policies in place, resulting in shocking and deadly consequences.

Read more here.

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Congress should approve this bill protecting babies born addicted to opiates: Lou Barletta

By Lou Barletta

This coming September, Brayden Cummings would be celebrating his second birthday in Lehighton, Pennsylvania.

Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to see that young age, because he died of asphyxiation when he was only six weeks old.

Police say his mother, who was addicted to heroin and high on other drugs at the time, fell asleep on top of the boy and smothered him to death.

If there had been better policies in place to protect babies born addicted to opiates – and better support for their caregivers – Brayden Cummings might still be alive today.

Countless stories like this led me to introduce the Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act with my colleague, Rep. Kathleen Clark, a Democrat from Massachusetts. That’s because protecting children should always be a bipartisan issue.

Our bill requires states which receive federal funds for the treatment of opioid-dependent babies comply with federal law and enact certain guidelines for child welfare.

Under the bill, we define opioids as drugs such as heroin and certain pain medications that are taken illegally without proper prescriptions.

Every 25 minutes in this country, a baby is born already exposed to drugs and suffering from opiate withdrawal.

And make no mistake — this legislation does not seek to persecute the mothers of the children, so parents are not dissuaded from allowing their newborns to access appropriate care.

Substance abuse is a problem that afflicts millions of Americans. And while its damaging effects are felt across our society, the most tragic cases are those involving newborns.

Children who are exposed to illegal substances before they’re born are helpless in avoiding the pain and suffering caused by addiction, and so many infants enter this world without even a fighting chance.

In fact, every 25 minutes in this country, a baby is born already exposed to drugs and suffering from opiate withdrawal.

These children will pay the price for something they had absolutely no control over – something they were defenseless against.

Federal policies have long supported state efforts to identify, assess, and treat children who are victims of abuse and neglect.

One of those policies, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), was enacted in 1974 to provide states with resources to improve their child protective services systems.

Programs include requiring health care providers to notify state child protective services agencies when a child is born with pre-natal illegal substance exposure, as well as requiring the development of a “safe care plan” to protect these newborns and keep them and their caregivers healthy.

In order to receive the federal funding, states are required to assure the Department of Health and Human Services that they are in compliance with CAPTA.

Unfortunately, even with this process in place, it’s become clear that the system is failing some of our most helpless children and their families.

Some states are not following federal law, yet are receiving the dollars meant to support these very important child welfare policies.
The result is that taxpayer funds are being wasted, and worse, children and families who need help are not getting it.

Our bill demands that federal agencies do better when it comes to enforcing policies meant to protect children from abuse and neglect.

It requires review and confirmation that states have put in place policies required by CAPTA.

The bill also strengthens protections for infants born addicted to opiates and it improves accountability related to the care of those infants and their families.

It also includes provisions to provide states with best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe and to encourage the use of information made available through other child welfare laws in verifying CAPTA compliance.

Early in May the House of Representatives will consider and, hopefully, pass this important legislation, and I call on the U.S. Senate to approve it as well.

It’s important to remember that not only did Brayden Cummings need help when he was born, but so did his mother.

And in a nation as great as ours, we must do all that we can to provide protection to the most vulnerable among us.

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican, represents the Hazleton-based 11th Congressional District.

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Barletta proposes bill to ensure babies dependent on opioids get care

(Washington) — At least 3,700 hundred babies were born dependent on opioids in Pennsylvania in 2013 and 2014.

A midstate congressman wants to make sure those infants are getting proper care.
Republican Lou Barletta has proposed legislation to require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to make sure states are following the law.

A 1970’s federal law requires states to develop plans to get care to infants who are born dependent on opioids like OxyContin, Percocet or heroin.

The news organization Reuters found many doctors and hospitals fail to tell social service agencies about cases, and states don’t punish them for these reporting failures.

Barletta says there’s a domino effect.

“As a result, some states are getting federal funds without having the necessary child welfare policies in place. That means taxpayer dollars are being wasted, and more importantly, children who need help aren’t getting it,” he says.

Alerting social service agencies to infants who are dependent on opioids is critical because in many cases, the babies can recover with proper care.

Adds Barletta: “This proposal demands that HHS do better when it comes to enforcing policies meant to protect children from abuse and neglect.”

A House committee recently approved the legislation.

It still needs to make it through the full chamber.

Barletta represents Columbia County and parts of Cumberland, Dauphin, Northumberland and Perry counties.

Read more here.

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Barletta Thanks Voters and Volunteers for Overwhelming Support

Thank you to the nearly 92,000 Republican voters of the 11th Congressional District for their overwhelming support in yesterday’s primary election and the countless volunteers who have dedicated their time and effort to advance our campaign. I am inspired to see so many people participating in our political process. Voters are sending a message that they are ready to take their country back, and I look forward to continuing to lead this fight in Congress.

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Barletta Endorses Trump for President

Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today endorsed Donald Trump for president:

“Like millions of Americans, I want our next president to be a leader who fights for the American people and gets things done, not a politician who tries to say all the right things but will never be able to deliver on more broken promises. Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump has proven that he is the leader our country needs to change the way Washington does business, and I am proud to give my full endorsement and support to his candidacy. I think that Donald Trump has the ability to attract Democrats and Independents who are frustrated with Washington and is our best candidate to defeat Hillary Clinton in November.

“Americans are frustrated that Washington has turned its back on them. Both Republicans and Democrats are tired of Congress working for special interests instead of the national interest, and talking about our nation’s problems instead of fixing them. I share these frustrations. I came to Congress to work for the American people, not just do or say things that please the Washington structure.

“When I was Mayor of Hazleton, I introduced the first law of its kind cracking down on illegal immigration. Since coming to Congress, I have continued to lead the fight to secure our border and enforce our immigration laws. Donald Trump was criticized, the same way I was criticized, when he addressed this important issue. I hope that together we can tackle this critical national security challenge and stand up for working Americans.

“As I have said before, I am discouraged that certain members of the Republican Party have spent more time trying to figure out how to stop Donald Trump than they have trying to understand why he is so popular in the first place. Voters are smart. We need to listen to the voters instead of elitists trying to tell us right from wrong. In state after state, voters have made it clear that they want change and are tired of the way things are being done in Washington. I think Donald Trump is the best person to bring the change that Americans are demanding.”

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Barletta Honored with National PTA Award

Originally published by the Shippensburg News-Chronicle

Congressman Lou Barletta, R-11, was honored recently as the lone member of the House of Representatives to receive the 2016 Congressional Voice for Children Award from the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Barletta was singled out for his leadership in saving federal funding for after-school programs, such as SHINE (Schools and Homes in Education), a successful and growing program in Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill counties he has championed with state Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon). Also honored was Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).

“Through the leadership of Congressman Barletta, legislation has advanced that prioritizes family engagement in education and will make a difference for children, families and schools,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “We applaud them for being champions of change that will improve education and the lives and futures of our nation’s youth. We are thrilled to honor them with our 2016 Congressional Voice for Children Award.”

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Congressman Lou Barletta: ‘How many more Asher Potts are there?’

Originally posted by PennLive. Click here for video.

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta is citing the case of Artur Samarin, the 23-year-old Ukrainian who attended Harrisburg High under the name Asher Potts, as proof of potentially dangerous holes in the visa system.

“How many more Asher Potts are there?” Barletta, a Republican from the 11th Congressional District, asked Wednesday during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing. “Nationwide, my question is, how many individuals have overstayed their visas, falsified their identities, lied about their age, and are sitting in school classes today?”

Barletta also is renewing a push for his legislation that would increase penalties for overstaying a visa, including criminalizing such an act, according to a news release from Barletta’s office.

Samarin is facing multiple charges and has been accused of falsifying documents to stay in the United States after his work and tourist visas expired. Samarin attended Harrisburg High School under the name Asher Potts, and, with the help of his “adoptive mother,” he fraudulently obtained a Pennsylvania driver’s license under the name Asher Potts, according to his criminal complaint. It said he also obtained a Social Security card in the name of Asher Potts and a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania delayed birth certificate.

When Stephayne and Michael Potts, Samarin’s “adoptive parents,” met with reporters last week, they brought new claims that Samarin, a stellar student who allegedly visited the Pentagon at one point, became angry and talked about “blowing up the school.”

“Nothing could be more chilling than the thought of terrorists enrolling as students,” Barletta said. “Previously, we have heard of terrorists taking flying lessons. But imagine them sitting next to your kids in algebra class. The fact that this has happened in central Pennsylvania shows how serious this is.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he agreed with the “spirit” of Barletta’s question on how many people have overstayed visas, taken on false identities and are now attending schools.

Johnson said, in the “current threat environment, the potential for fraudulent travel documents is a big concern.” Though, he said he was primarily concerned about issues with fraudulent travel documents due to “the migration crisis.”

“I’ve done a lot to support DHS’s fraudulent documents lab, which we have,” Johnson said. “We have the capability to detect fraudulent documents. I also have asked our folks to — now that we have some better clarity on visa overstays — develop priorities for enforcement with regard to visa overstays.”

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Congressman Lou Barletta helps promote senior safety

Originally published by FOX 43.

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Pennsylvania Congressman Lou Barletta is teaming up with local law enforcement to promote safety for seniors in the community.

Congressman Barletta and State Police Trooper Rob Hicks spoke to a crowd at the Lower Paxton Friendship Senior Center in Dauphin County. Their presentation focused on several topics which included driving safety, crime prevention, as well as telemarketing fraud and identity theft.

Barletta says people should be on the look out for IRS phone scams.

“[The] Federal government will not call you for taxes or any other reasons,” Barletta said, “So, if you’re getting a call from somebody that claims to be from the IRS, or they may have actual information about you, if it sounds authentic, do not give them any information.”

The discussion also focused on skimming devices and other financial crimes.

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