Category: In The News

Walorski in The Hill: Reforms are needed to fix Social Security Disability Insurance backlog

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

Reforms are needed to fix Social Security Disability Insurance backlog

By Rep. Jackie Walorski

The Social Security Disability Insurance program (DI) was created 61 years ago with a worthy goal: to create a backstop to help workers pay bills and make ends meet if an illness or injury leaves them unable to work for a year or more.

Unfortunately, bureaucracy, mismanagement, and a lack of permanent leadership at the Social Security Administration (SSA) have greatly reduced the program’s effectiveness. As a result, the wait time for a hearing decision by an administrative law judge on eligibility for DI benefits has seen a steady, crushing uptick. In fiscal year 2012, the average nationwide wait time for a hearing decision was 353 days. Now? It’s 605 days.

The average worker applying for DI benefits has paid into the program for 22 years. However, 1.1 million Americans are stuck in this outrageous backlog, with devastating consequences. The person’s health worsens. Their financial situation deteriorates as they draw down their savings or turn to family and friends to help pay bills. Sadly, thousands die waiting – just over 10,000 people died before getting a hearing in 2017. This is unacceptable. Congress has provided the SSA $90 million to address the backlog, most of which will be used to hire much-needed judges and support staff. However, even with this infusion of funds, the SSA estimates the backlog won’t return to reasonable levels until 2022.

… While there’s plenty of blame to go around for this crisis, there are also reasonable, affordable, and workable options to help people with legitimate, qualifying disabilities get decisions faster and more efficiently. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee as we continue to explore sensible reforms to improve the DI program and eventually eliminate the backlog.

Read the rest of the op-ed here

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In The News: WSBT: Elkhart police chief calls on Congress to renew funding he says helps families

 Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

Elkhart police chief calls on Congress to renew funding he says helps families

By Hilary Powell

It’s a program local lawmakers say Congress is running out of time to fund.

The Child Health Insurance Plan expired in September.

… Congress failed to renew the bi-partisan program in September.

It was then Congresswoman Jackie Walorski addressed the House about how the bill funds the Healthy Families program.

“With the help of Healthy Families, she turned those long odds into success. She called Healthy Families a miracle,” said Walorski.

In a statement, Walorski says the House recently passed bills to renew both MIECHV and CHIP saying, “I’m optimistic Congress will send legislation to the president’s desk to ensure Hoosier families continue to get the help and support they need to thrive.”

… Walorski says the funding for home visits has helped 800 Hoosier families every year.

A spokesperson for the Congresswoman says Congress needs to reauthorize the CHIP legislation to ensure funds are available through next year.

Read the full story here.

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In The News: Roll Call: Proposed Measure Would Prevent Harassment Settlements Using Office Funds

 Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

Proposed Measure Would Prevent Harassment Settlements Using Office Funds

Conyers revelations came from documents suggesting he paid a settlement with Hill account

By Lindsey McPherson

Legislation introduced Friday would prevent sexual harassment and misconduct settlements from being paid out of members’ office budgets.

The measure introduced by GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana comes after sexual misconduct allegations against Rep. John Conyers were first brought to light through documents related to a wrongful dismissal complaint he settled with a former employee who had claimed she was fired for rejecting Conyer’s sexual advances. The employee, Marion Brown, was paid $27,000 in wages from Conyer’s office budget after being fired.

Walorski’s bill would prevent members from using their representational allowances to settle sexual harassment and misconduct claims against members or their staff. The measure would retroactively require the accused individual to repay office funds used in such settlements.

The measure would also direct the House Administration Committee to disclose any new settlements it approves involving sexual harassment, posting online a description of the violation, the identity of the person the claim was filed against and the amount of the settlement. The identity of the accuser would be kept private.

“Taxpayer dollars should never be used to cover up wrongdoing,” Walorski said. “It’s time to put an end to secret, taxpayer-funded settlements over harassment claims in Congress.”

Read the full story here.

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Walorski in The Hill: Congress needs to take the lead on fighting sexual harassment in the workplace

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

Congress needs to take the lead on fighting sexual harassment in the workplace

By Reps. Karen Handel (R-GA) and Jackie Walorski (R-IND.)

The recent revelations of sexual harassment by elected officials from across the country have revealed a throw-back culture in the halls of Congress that has virtually institutionalized sexist and vulgar behavior — and worse. For decades, misconduct has been swept under the rug. Secret settlements have been paid with taxpayer money, while many turned a blind eye, and victims have been forced to keep quiet in the aftermath.

This culture has been tolerated for far too long. And it has to end. Now, it’s time to get our House — and Senate — in order.

Some say Congress is incapable of leading on this issue, but we believe that Congress MUST lead on this issue.  How can we ask Americans to trust us as their elected leaders on the most important issues facing this country if we are unwilling to hold ourselves and our colleagues to at least the same standard as every other working American?On Wednesday, the House passed new rules mandating sexual harassment training for every Member and all personnel. Rep. Barbara Comstock is to be commended for her leadership. The House Committee on Administration also has plans to bring additional reform bills to the House floor in the coming days and weeks. These are good first steps, but they are not nearly enough.

… Being trusted to serve in Congress is a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. With the honor of representing Americans in Congress, we must be willing to hold ourselves and those around us to the higher standard that this country deserves. It’s clear that this trust has been shaken, and the integrity of this institution is at stake. Reforms must happen – and they must happen now.

Read the rest of the op-ed here

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Walorski in South Bend Tribune: Time to Fix the Broken Tax Code

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

Viewpoint: Time to fix the broken tax code

By Jackie Walorski

We’ve all heard the reasons why we need tax reform: Our tax code hasn’t been updated in 31 years. It’s complicated, antiquated, and unfair. It’s holding our economy back.

But you don’t have to read all 70,000-plus pages of the tax code to know it’s hurting American workers and families.

Hoosiers know this system is broken. You send too much of your hard-earned money to Washington and spend too much time figuring out your taxes. The tax code favors special interests, not hardworking Hoosiers like you.

It’s time to change all that.

When I joined the Ways and Means Committee, I set out to give Hoosiers a voice in this once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix our broken tax code. We worked with President Trump to come up with a plan that puts families, small businesses, manufacturers, and farmers first.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will finally deliver the fair and simple tax code you deserve — one that cuts taxes for middle-class families and once again makes America the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

This bill will give workers and businesses a better chance to succeed. It will simplify the tax code by eliminating special-interest loopholes. And it will let you keep more of the money you earn.

Read the rest of the op-ed here

You can learn more about the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act at walorski.house.gov/taxreform.

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In the News: RV Business: Relief May Be in Sight for Lauan Wood Importers

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

Relief May Be in Sight for Lauan Wood Importers

By Rick Kessler

While there are still more hurdles to clear, two recent actions could spell relief for those RV companies whose operations depend on the import and use of lauan wood.

The actions, one legislative and the other deep within the minutiae of the federal government, look to reinstate lauan wood as part of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a trade program that lowers tariffs on imports from nearly 120 developing countries. In 2015 the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which oversees the GSP, removed lauan wood imported from Indonesia – its primary source – from the program following what’s called a “Limited Product Review” conducted that summer as required by legislation.

… The legislative remedy is called the Competitive Needs Limitation Modernization Act (HR4608), and was introduced by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.-2), Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.-15), and Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.-1) – all co-chairs of the House RV Caucus. Essentially, it would update the CNL waiver process used by USTR in determining whether a potential GSP-eligible item is “like or directly competitive” to a domestic product. Specifically, the bill would change the test to look back at domestic production for the past three years instead of comparing it to products made on Jan. 1, 1995, as is the case under the current statute.

… The legislation is currently under review by the House Ways & Means Committee, and it’s expected to be part of an overall GSP reauthorization legislative action.

“Northern Indiana is known as the RV Capital of the World, so Hoosiers know just how vital manufacturing is to our nation’s economy,” said Walorski. “We should never let outdated laws get in the way of building American-made products. This common sense bill will make small but important fixes that allow our manufacturers to save time and money they can spend investing, growing, and hiring.”

Read the full story here.

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In the News: Washington Examiner: Republican slams $7.25M IRS contract with Equifax: ‘Abject failure’

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

Republican slams $7.25M IRS contract with Equifax: ‘Abject failure’

By Joseph Lawler

IRS officials on a scheduled visit to Congress Wednesday bore the brunt of GOP criticism of the agency for Wednesday’s revelation that it awarded Equifax a $7.25 million no-bid contract to maintain taxpayers’ confidentiality.

“This is an abject failure,” said Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind. “This is beyond abject failure, it’s a management failure.”

Walorksi was one of several Republicans to grill IRS officials, including chief information officer Gina Garza, at a Ways and Means Committee oversight hearing on IRS efforts to modernize its information technology.

At issue was the decision to award Equifax the contract as the credit reporting company revealed that hackers had breached the data of 145.5 million Americans. Other congressional committees are scheduled to hold hearings on that breach Wednesday.

“If nothing it shows the IRS structurally needs some reform and needs major change,” Walorski said.

“We have contracts being signed right in the middle of these investigations of the biggest data breach in the history of the country,” she added.

Read the full story here.

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In the News: Ripon Advance: Republicans lead Ways and Means hearing to improve male workforce participation

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

Republicans lead Ways and Means hearing to improve male workforce participation

A steady decline over decades of men in the workforce that has resulted in a record number of job openings was the subject of a recent hearing by a House Ways and Means subcommittee, which is working toward reforming welfare programs to help more people enter the labor force.
U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, convened the hearing to explore reasons for the decline in working-age male participation in the labor force, and possible solutions to address them. U.S. Reps. Mike Bishop (R-MI) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN), both members of the subcommittee, highlighted the impact of opioid and substance abuse on the workforce.

… Walorski noted that in her district in northern Indiana, there currently is one county that has 30,000 jobs available. “There are plenty of reasons for this, but I hear it every day from everybody and their brother: they can’t hire workers that can pass a drug test. This is in relation to this latest onslaught of opioid addiction.”
Walorski questioned Brent Orrell, the vice president of family and economic stability at ICF International, about the link between opioid addiction and unemployment. Orrell pointed to a complex series of factors.

Read the full story here.

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In the News: Elkhart Truth: Congresswoman Talks Tax Reform at Goshen Chamber; Recognizes Member for Service

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

Congresswoman talks tax reform at Goshen Chamber; recognizes member for service

Rep. Walorski visits Goshen Chamber to meet with business community; receives award and gives recognition

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Enterprise Award for her support of policies that promote strong economic growth and job creation, according to a press release from her office.

“Hardworking Hoosiers deserve every opportunity to achieve the American Dream, and I am committed to fighting for a strong business climate and good-paying jobs in northern Indiana,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “I’m grateful for the important work of the Goshen Chamber of Commerce and all our local Chambers to make our communities strong and keep Indiana the best place to live and work in the nation.”

Walorski addressed local business owners at the Goshen Chamber of Commerce meeting and updated them on pro-growth tax reform and other developments in Congress. She also honored David Daugherty for his recent retirement after 14 years as president of the Goshen Chamber and congratulated Nick Kieffer on becoming the Chamber’s new president.

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Walorski is working with her colleagues and the Trump administration on comprehensive legislation to overhaul the nation’s tax code for the first time in 31 years.

Read the full story here.

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In the News: Ripon Advance: Walorski bill would ensure air medical service availability, quality in rural areas

Congresswoman Jackie Walorski

Walorski bill would ensure air medical service availability, quality in rural areas

Medicare reimbursement rates for air medical service providers would be updated to ensure rural areas have continued access to critical emergency services under bipartisan legislation that U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) recently introduced.

Currently, ground and air ambulance service providers are among the only providers that do not report cost data to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and air ambulance reimbursement rates are far below the costs of providing the services.

To address the issue and ensure continued air ambulance service coverage, the Ensuring Access to Air Ambulance Services Act, H.R. 3378, would require providers to begin reporting cost data in 2019. Rates would be periodically increased through 2021, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would then determine reimbursement rates based on the two years of available cost data.

“In critical medical emergencies, the difference between life and death is often a matter of minutes, which is why air ambulance services save lives,” Walorski said. “Unfortunately, outdated Medicare reimbursement rates that don’t fully address the costs of air medical transport put these services at risk. This bipartisan bill ensures Hoosiers, especially those in rural areas, continue to have access to the air ambulances they depend on for emergency medical care.”

Read the full story here.

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