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BLOG: Banks' Washington Update - June 19, 2017

June 20, 2017
Blog Post

Last Wednesday, a shooting occurred at a Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, VA. Congressman Steve Scalise was among five wounded.

Shooting at Congressional Baseball Practice​

Last week was an emotional and tragic week on Capitol Hill due to the shooting that occurred during a Republican practice for the annual Congressional baseball game. While I was not at the practice and do not play on the team, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. I continue to pray for a swift recovery for all of those injured in the attack, and I look forward to seeing my friend and colleague Steve Scalise, who was severely injured, back in the House of Representatives soon.

I am grateful for the men and women of our law enforcement who selflessly put their lives on the line every day to protect members of Congress and their staff. On Thursday, I was proud to support House Resolution 383, which my colleagues and I passed to thank the U.S. Capitol Police officers whose actions saved many members of Congress, staffers, and other citizens present at the practice.

VA Accountability Bill Passes House

Last week I voted for a bill to hold Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees accountable while simultaneously protecting whistleblowers. The legislation passed the House 368 to 55 and now heads to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

On average, it takes six months to a year to remove a permanent federal worker. This legislation would allow the VA to use an expedited process to fire, demote, or suspend poorly performing employees. Previously, an expedited process only applied to senior executive service employees. Additionally, this legislation will protect whistleblowers from retaliation by prohibiting the VA secretary from using this process to discipline an employee who has filed a complaint with the VA Office of Special Counsel.

It’s time to make it easier for our veterans to get the care they deserve. We need to hold poorly performing VA employees accountable because mediocrity is unacceptable when it comes to caring for the men and women who have served our country. This bipartisan bill is an important step in the right direction.

Preparing to introduce my bill to direct HHS and NIH to prioritize life-affirming stem cell research that would refrain from destroying human embryos.

Bipartisan Bill to Bolster Life-Affirming Stem Cell Research

I recently introduced a bipartisan bill to direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to prioritize life-affirming stem cell research with near-term benefits for human patients and to refrain from creating or destroying human embryos in the process. If enacted, this legislation would direct HHS to prioritize stem cell research that has the greatest potential for near-term benefit in human patients. The bill also prohibits such research from creating or destroying human embryonic stem cells in the process.

This bipartisan bill prioritizes stem cell research that has a real impact on patients suffering right now while ensuring that research is conducted ethically without destroying human embryos. HHS and NIH both perform important life-saving research and promoting research that protects life has support on both sides of the aisle. Read more about the bill here.

I questioned Secretary James Mattis on troop levels in Afghanistan during a House Armed Services Committee hearing last week.

Questioning Secretary Mattis

President Trump took a critical step in delegating responsibility for Afghanistan troop levels to Defense Secretary James Mattis. I recently discussed this with Secretary Mattis, and I am glad that those with the proper experience, expertise, and perspective have now been empowered to make decisions on how best to achieve success in our Afghanistan mission. You can view my full conversation with Secretary Mattis here.

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