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House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) today issued the following joint statement after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores:
Religious freedom is a fundamental right our nation has always protected. No American should be punished by the federal government for refusing to violate his or her moral beliefs, yet that is precisely what the Obama administration sought to do. The Supreme Court is to be commended for reversing the administration’s assault on religious liberty and for safeguarding the First Amendment protections we hold dear.
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The other day I came across a workbook from a seminar a friend of mine attended back in 2009. The speakers were Shawn Achor and Elizabeth Peterson, both with a company called Aspirant, an applied research consulting firm using psychology to foster positive and productive lives. The seminar was focused on the results of positive thinking.
My friend lent me the handbook and I read through it, enthralled, then tucked it away in a drawer to collect dust. What a tragedy. I’m happy I was in a cleaning mode and uncovered this beauty!
Did you know:
I could go on and on…but I think you get the drift…it pays mentally, physically, spiritually and financially to be positive. To think positive. To breathe in positive. It can change your life. What if you could start small and focus on the 7 points made above? If tackling the above 7 seems to vast, Start small… Consider setting your day with a positive intention every day for 21 days, watch the magic happen. See your potential unfold!
So this morning you woke up late, dealt with bad traffic on the way into the office and spilt coffee all over your shirt. Oh yeah, and it’s not even 9:00 am.
I know after a morning like this, it’s easy to fall into negative thoughts for the whole day. Your tone changes, you become short with people, and are constantly on the defense. Now, that doesn’t sound like a very good, not to mention productive, state of mind. If only there was a simple app that could help you deal with these setbacks in a more positive light. I’m not saying that there wont be traffic in the future, but maybe, some empathy might help you get through it a little easier.
This is exactly what the app Happier aims to do. Rooted in true positive psychology, the app teaches you 5 key skills that have been identified as underpinning happiness; Savor, Thank, Aspire, and Empathize (STAGE).
The skills are taught through a series of activities and games such as keeping a gratitude journal, engaging in their positive community or participating in an interactive course. The goal with these activities is to help you work out those emotional muscles so you can enjoy your day-to-day and deal with setbacks more readily. By participating with this app, you create the positive habits that help you flourish, feel fulfilled and truly satisfied with your life.
Even the company who developed the app use the activities offered to better their workplace. They say that is as actually led to a more positive corporate culture. Happier employees equal productive employees which means a better work environment for all.
So whether you’re looking for a lift in your work day, or just a way to keep calm fighting traffic, Happier is definitely an app you want to check out.
WASHINGTON, DC – House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) released the following statement after again hearing from the Obama Administration that no enrollment data or metrics exists for the health care law’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP):
“The mismanagement of the Small Business Health Options program is very frustrating,” said Graves. “The Administration isn’t able to answer even the most basic questions about the program’s enrollment or its progress. Going back to last year, the program’s delays and lack of choices have contributed to headache after headache for small businesses who are trying to follow all of the twists and turns of the program. It’s astonishing how little information has been disclosed about a law in which the taxpayers are investing billions. What is the Administration hiding?”
Earlier this month, Graves wrote to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to request information about the SHOP enrollment for the second time this year. The Administration responded this week with general information about the program, but shared no enrollment data or timetable.
In January, Graves requested enrollment numbers and related information from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The Administration responded in March, a month after the requested deadline, that the metrics were unavailable, but would be available at a later date.
This list of delays and mismanagement of SHOP:
• On April 1, 2013 the Obama Administration announced that the employer health insurance choice on the federal SHOP exchanges would be delayed until 2015, limiting employers to one single plan.
• In June, 2013 a GAO report requested by Chairman Graves confirmed the administration was ill-equipped for the implementation of the SHOPs, showing potential for “implementation challenges going forward.”
• On September 26, 2013 the Health and Human Services Department announced the SHOPs online enrollment would be postponed from October 1 until November, forcing small businesses to enroll using paper forms. That same day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney clarified the enrollment would begin on November 1, 2013.
• During a Ways and Means Committee hearing on October 29, 2013, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the SHOPs would be operating at the end of November.
• On November 22, the administration extended the Obamacare federal exchange signup deadline (for January 1 coverage) from December 15 to December 23.
• On November 27, 2013, the day before Thanksgiving, the Administration announced a fourth SHOP-related delay, postponing online enrollment for a full year.
• On June 10, 2014, CMS delayed the employee choice option until at least 2016, further limiting the breadth of choice.
The president’s unprecedented action was one of many intended to further his own partisan agenda by circumventing the Constitution and side-stepping Congress. Thankfully the Supreme Court has helped rein in his abuse of power and restored some checks and balances to our system of government.
Unprecedented indeed. As the Wall Street Journal notes:
The Supreme Court handed President Obama his 13th unanimous loss in two years on Thursday, and this one may be the most consequential. All nine Justices voted to overturn Mr. Obama's non-recess recess appointments as an unconstitutional abuse of power.
Over nearly 238 years of American history, the Supreme Court has never had to review the President's authority to temporarily fill vacant executive offices when Congress is adjourned. Mr. Obama's 2012 maneuver to void the Senate's advice and consent role triggered a judicial intercession, and defeats at the High Court are seldom as total as this one…
But the true import of Noel Canning is that even liberal Justices are alarmed that Mr. Obama's executive law-making is visiting real damage on the Constitution. This will not be the last legal torpedo aimed at the hull of his increasingly willful Presidency.
The impact of this unconstitutional overreach extends beyond the Supreme Court’s hallowed chamber. Hundreds of decisions were issued by an unconstitutionally-appointed board and those decisions need to be reviewed. As Chairman Kline and Rep. Roe explained:
Now the board will have to begin the process of reconsidering hundreds of decisions issued by the unconstitutionally appointed members. These cases must be a top priority for the board, not the pursuit of controversial regulatory schemes that will simply wreak further havoc on our nation’s workplaces. The men and women who were thrown in limbo by the president’s unconstitutional overreach have waited long enough for the justice they deserve.
The committee intends to closely follow the NLRB’s response to the court’s decision to ensure the rights of those individuals harmed by the president’s unconstitutional action are protected.
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House Education and the Workforce Committee members today introduced the first in a series of legislative proposals to reform the nation’s higher education system. The bills were introduced following the release earlier this week of a committee white paper outlining key principles for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act.
“I want to thank all of my colleagues for their hard work crafting these commonsense proposals, and am pleased to see bipartisan consensus starting to emerge,” said Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “We are committed to strengthening America’s higher education for students, families, and taxpayers. The legislation introduced today will begin to help improve a system that is too bureaucratic, too costly, and outdated. I look forward to continuing to move this process forward in the coming weeks as we look to keep the dream of postsecondary education within reach for all Americans.”
The committee outlined in its white paper a number of principles that will guide the HEA reauthorization process, including simplifying and improving student aid and empowering students and families to make informed decisions. The legislation introduced today reflects these important principles for reform:
Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act. Introduced by Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ed Royce (R-CA), H.R. 4982 will reform the federal student aid process to help students make timely financial decisions about their education. To learn more about the legislation, click here.
Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. Introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luck Messer (R-IN), H.R. 4983 will help students gain access to the facts they need to make an informed decision about their education. To learn more about the legislation, click here.
Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. Introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), H.R. 4984 will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid. To learn more about the legislation, click here.
To learn more about the committee’s effort to reform the Higher Education Act, visit edworkforce.house.gov/HigherEd.
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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Tourism, Competitiveness, and Innovation will hold a hearing titled, “The State of U.S. Travel and Tourism: Government Efforts to Attract 100 Million Visitors Annually”, on Thursday, June 26, 2014, at 10:30 a.m.
The Subcommittee will examine the federal government’s role and efforts to support the U.S. travel and tourism industry, especially in relation to the 2012 National Travel and Tourism Strategy’s goal of attracting 100 million international visi...
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, IV, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today introduced the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2014 to give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) enhanced capabilities and increased resources that will enable the agency to better protect the driving public. Rockefeller is taking action after a series of tragic deaths resulted from faulty ignition switches in GM vehicles, and a wave of recent recalls from various automakers, which have hi...
Across the country, tuition costs continue to go up and the job prospects many graduates face remain bleak. It has never been more critical for individuals to make responsible choices regarding how to pay for their postsecondary education. Unfortunately, many students are simply not equipped to make sound financial choices about their college careers. It’s not surprising considering the confusing maze of loan and grant programs students must navigate at the state and federal levels, not to mention assistance available at each institution and within the private sector.
Additionally, many students never receive meaningful financial literacy assistance as they try to review their options to pay for college. A survey of current students and recent graduates with a high level of student loan debt found that more than 40 percent could not recall having received financial counseling, even though counseling is already required before students can receive their first federal loan. Current policies are failing to equip individuals to make wise financial decisions. As a result, many students graduate unable to manage the loans they used to finance their education, leading to significant hardship for borrowers and greater risk for taxpayers.
To help students make smart decisions about financing their higher education, Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. As part of a broader effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the legislation will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid.
EMPOWERING STUDENTS THROUGH ENHANCED FINANCIAL COUNSELING ACT:
The Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act will deliver students the tools and information they need to borrow and repay their student loans in a responsible way.
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Despite repeated attempts to enhance transparency in the higher education system, students and families still struggle to access important information that will assist in their search for the right college or university. The federal government provides financial assistance for millions of students to use at the institution of their choice. Yet students and families face a deluge of data that often provides little to no useful information as they try to make this important decision.
To make matters worse, data that is available often ignores a large portion of students enrolled in the postsecondary education system or fails to capture crucial information students and families need to view the entire landscape of higher education. Despite numerous initiatives underway at the federal level that are supposed to provide clarity to prospective students, these efforts often add more confusion and uncertainty by presenting conflicting information with limited opportunity to compare different education options.
To help provide students and families with the information they need to make smart decisions about higher education, Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, this proposal would improve consumer information to provide a more complete picture of all student populations, streamline existing transparency efforts at the federal level to reduce confusion for students, and require better coordination by federal agencies to avoid duplication and confusion.
STRENGTHENING TRANSPARENCY IN HIGHER EDUCATION ACT:
The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act will take an important step toward strengthening the higher education system by improving transparency and ensuring all students have access to the information they need to make the best decision about their education.
To read the bill text, click here.
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For many students and families, federal financial aid makes a postsecondary education possible. The time when a family begins the process of applying for financial aid is critical to ensuring students access the full range of assistance available to them. Unfortunately, the current process is not serving the best interests of students and families. A student’s application process starts when he or she submits the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who wish to enroll in fall classes are encouraged to begin applying for aid in January. However, the FAFSA relies on income tax data from the previous year that is not readily available at the time students should start filling out their applications.
This flawed process results in significant delays in the submission of FAFSA forms, which leaves financial aid administrators little time to put together aid packages for incoming students. More importantly, students do not learn in a timely manner what their financial aid packages will ultimately be, which makes it more difficult to plan for the cost of their education. Some students may even miss opportunities to receive state and institution-based aid as these limited resources are often awarded on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Further complicating matters is an overly complex FAFSA form. The current application runs 10 pages long and includes 108 questions on topics such as income, expenses, family size, and assets. Some families are so overwhelmed they fail to apply, which disqualifies students from aid they may otherwise be eligible to receive.
To streamline and improve the student aid application process, Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced the Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act. As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the bipartisan legislation will help students make timely financial decisions about their education.
SIMPLIFYING THE APPLICATION FOR STUDENT AID ACT:
The Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act will help students access the full range of federal financial aid to turn their dreams of a postsecondary education into reality.
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The Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade, under the chairmanship of Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO), today conducted a hearing to examine the disparity between the growing rate of domestic crude oil production and a limited refining capacity, as well as how that mismatch impacts small energy businesses, energy costs, and the broader economy.
“In contrast to a decline in oil production on federal lands, oil production on private lands is growing rapidly. However, the U.S. is not able to enjoy the full economic benefits from this surge because our refining capacity can’t keep up due to bureaucratic barriers,” said Chairman Tipton. “To address our unstable energy and gas prices, we must unleash our abundant energy resources.”
“Today’s discussion on solutions to this emerging problem, whether its easing regulations on refiners or lifting the export ban on domestically produced crude oil, was substantive. The testimony also confirmed that Washington must remove expensive and time-consuming construction and operational permitting requirements and regulations so our energy industry can safely produce and refine oil in a cost-efficient manner, which will reduce foreign imports of crude oil, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and help drive down gas prices for overstretched consumers and small businesses.”
Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.
Russell Smith, Senior Vice President of Quantum Energy in Williston, ND said, “If there is a bottom line message in my testimony today, it is that government regulations have a very real impact on our business and our business planning for the future. Perhaps most important is that uncertainty about overall federal policy toward crude oil refining and market availability has an indisputable impact on how all investors view business opportunities in this sector.”
Jared Blong, CEO/President of Octane Energy in Midland TX said, “While some may think that this [oil and natural production] growth can be attributed exclusively to the “majors” – that is, the larger, independent or integrated oil and gas companies -- let me suggest that the vast majority of the nearly 10 million Americans who work in the energy sector are small business entrepreneurs like me, dedicated to conservation, innovation, efficiency and stewardship -- and our contributions are and will continue to be, instrumental to America’s energy future.”
Kevin Book, Managing Director of ClearView Energy Partners, LLC in Washington, DC said, “My testimony today suggests that even as many Americans celebrate the renewed production of light, sweet crude oil, current production trends may be creating an unstable equilibrium. Domestic crude supply appears poised to outgrow its available outlets under current export policy, creating uncertainty for upstream and downstream investments. Producers may soon see deeper discounts relative to global prices, while refiners must consider whether to commit capital to new infrastructure predicated in large part on these feedstock discounts. In my view, moving as quickly as possible towards a clear and durable policy decision regarding crude oil exports appears to in the interest of all parties.”
“Rising gasoline prices harm small businesses and slow the economy. In fact, small businesses face a ratio of energy costs per sale that is 2.7 times what a large company pays. When costs go up, they have to cut jobs, raise prices or postpone major investments in equipment, and the economy suffers as a result. In contrast, developing America’s own energy resources creates good jobs, strengthens national security and boosts the economy. While much of America’s abundant oil and natural gas supply has remained off limits, the average price of a gallon of gas has roughly doubled under President Obama’s red tape policies. This legislation helps streamline the bureaucratic tangle to reduce the price at the pump and create jobs. Small businesses will benefit from a responsible ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy that expands production from America’s vast onshore and offshore oil and natural gas sources.”
“Today’s hearing in the Small Business Committee examines the regulatory roadblocks and refining impediments that limit the benefits of domestic energy production and hold back the job-creating innovations that small energy businesses offer.”###
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) today issued the following joint statement after the Supreme Court struck down President Obama’s unconstitutional appointments to the National Labor Relations Board:
For more than two years, workers, employers, and unions have lived under a cloud of uncertainty because of the president’s unconstitutional appointments to the board. The president’s unprecedented action was one of many intended to further his own partisan agenda by circumventing the Constitution and side-stepping Congress. Thankfully the Supreme Court has helped rein in his abuse of power and restored some checks and balances to our system of government.
Now the board will have to begin the process of reconsidering hundreds of decisions issued by the unconstitutionally appointed members. These cases must be a top priority for the board, not the pursuit of controversial regulatory schemes that will simply wreak further havoc on our nation’s workplaces. The men and woman who were thrown in limbo by the president’s unconstitutional overreach have waited long enough for the justice they deserve.
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The U.S. is home to 28 million small businesses.
WASHINGTON – Today, the Office of Advocacy, an independent office within the Small Business Administration, released a report entitled Small Business Profiles for the States and Territories, an annual analysis of each state’s small businesses. The new and improved state profiles include information on the number of firms, employment, demographics and other topics using the most recently available government data.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security will hold a hearing titled, “NextGen: A Review of Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities for Improving Aviation Safety and Efficiency”, on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.
The Subcommittee will examine the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) progress toward implementing NextGen, including a review of initial benefits, the agency’s efforts to implement relevant provisions from the FAA Modernization an...