Chairman Brady Opening Statement at Markup of Health, Tax, and Social Security Legislation

July 13, 2016 — Opening Statements   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at today’s Full Committee markup of health, tax, and Social Security legislation.

Remarks as delivered:  

“Good afternoon and thank you all for being here. As you all know, our Committee has been focused on working through regular order to advance Member-driven solutions that deliver results for the American people. We are continuing that work today with the consideration of several important health, tax, and Social Security bills.

“We’ll start with our two health care bills – both of which are bipartisan. 

“First is H.R. 5659, the ESRD Choice Act by Congressman Jason Smith. This legislation expands access to high-quality, affordable health coverage options for Americans suffering from serious kidney illness. It removes a harmful federal restriction that has – for too long – blocked patients with End Stage Renal Disease from enrolling in Medicare Advantage plans.

“Our second health care bill is H.R. 5713, the Sustaining Healthcare Integrity and Fair Treatment Act by Health Subcommittee Chairman Pat Tiberi.

“This legislation takes two key actions – it provides essential regulatory relief to Long-Term Care Hospitals, and it closes a program integrity loophole that makes Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP more vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse. 

“Next, we’ll consider H.R. 3608, bipartisan tax legislation developed by Congressman Tiberi. As Congress acts this week to extend Federal Aviation Administration programs and associated ticket taxes, this bill would resolve potential ambiguities in the ticket tax by codifying the current IRS practice regarding the treatment of aircraft management services.

“Finally, we will cap off today’s markup with H.R. 5320, the Social Security MAIL Act jointly sponsored by Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson and Congressman Renacci.

“This bill helps combat the growing problem of identity theft – a crime Mr. Renacci has personally been a victim of – by requiring the Social Security Administration to remove Social Security Numbers from all mailings and justify when the inclusion is necessary.

“The other Social Security bill noticed for this markup was H.R. 711, the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act – bipartisan legislation I authored with Congressman Neal.

“For over 30 years, Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision – or ‘WEP’ – has arbitrarily reduced the monthly benefits of some teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public servants.

“Today, over 1.7 million people are subject to the WEP’s flawed benefit calculation formula, which can reduce their Social Security benefits by over $400 a month.

“It never seemed fair to me that public servants who earn a pension at work and also in Social Security – whether it was a second job, summer job, or a second career – that they should be docked Social Security benefits. These are those who teach our child, those who keep us safe, those who race to our rescue when in need.

“The Equal Treatment for Public Servants Act would have repealed the current WEP and put in place a formula that is fair by calculating benefits using a teacher’s, firefighter’s, or police officer’s actual earnings history.

“This bill is about getting equal treatment for public servants. However, it has become clear over the past several days that public servants are not in agreement about this legislation. We need the community to come together on what they can all support or the consequence, unfortunately, is to see the current WEP harm people on a daily basis that frankly don’t deserve being harmed. Meanwhile, we will postpone consideration of H.R. 711 until that agreement is found.

“I want to thank all the Members on both sides of the aisle who worked hard to develop the legislation before us today. These bipartisan solutions will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans, and they are a testament to what we can achieve by working together through regular order.

“At this time, I recognize the Ranking Member for any opening comments he may have.”