Our First 100 Days
Over 100 days into my first term as your Congressman, I wanted to take a moment and highlight for you all the work we've done for South Jersey in just a few months.
- Town Halls & Open Houses
- Legislation Introduced
- Meetings & Events
- Initiatives I Led in Congress
- Floor Speeches
- Co-Sponsored Legislation
- Looking Ahead
Your team in Marlton and Toms River is dedicated to helping you and other South Jersey residents, especially if you are having a difficult time working with a federal agency like FEMA, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the Social Security Administration. I'm especially pleased to share that in our first 100 days, my offices have closed 125 cases, and we are working on many others to help people all across South Jersey.
We've had the opportunity to help individuals in a variety of different situations. In one case, we were able to help an Ocean County veteran get back several thousand dollars Medicare had wrongfully charged. In Marlton, we helped another veteran get access to health care, and in Mount Holly, we ensured the VA was giving full benefits to a disabled airman. In Toms River, FEMA tried to overcharge one woman for her flood insurance – we were able to intervene and make sure FEMA treated her fairly.
Navigating the overwhelming federal bureaucracy can be exhausting and intimidating. But I'm here to fight on your behalf and ensure that each and every citizen of our district is treated fairly and receives the benefits or support they deserve.
Town Halls & Open Houses
A major part of serving as your Representative is being open and accessible so we can talk about what's important to you. That's why I've held 5 Town Halls and Open Houses in my first 100 days.
Disaster Assistance Fairness and Accountability Act: My first bill prevents FEMA from unfairly recouping funds from Sandy victims. I've been fighting to get these common sense solutions passed, and just last week, a major provision of my bill was passed and is on its way to becoming law.
Burlington County Times: Tom MacArthur introduces first bill to protect Sandy victims
Veterans' Mental Health Care Access Act: Tragically, 22 veterans commit suicide every day, 17 of whom never accessed care at a Veterans Affairs Facility. This bill will allow a veteran to seek mental health care anywhere, anytime, ensuring we're taking care of the men and women who served our country.
Meetings & Events
It's amazing all the different meetings and events we packed into 100 days! Here are just a few samples of some of the hundreds of meetings and events I particularly enjoyed:
Caring for the Mental Health of All:
In a meeting with the Ocean County Human Services Advisory Council, I learned about the important work that our psychiatrists do in South Jersey. Additionally, at this meeting, we discussed the growing crisis of veterans suffering from mental health illnesses. That drove me to introduce the Veterans' Mental Health Care Access Act to give these men and women flexibility in seeking care.
Talking to Job Creators in Burlington County:
I always enjoy meeting with business leaders in South Jersey, as they're the people on the ground creating jobs and growing our economy. "The Freshman Forum" was hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mt. Holly.
Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.:
On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year, I visited with community leaders and the congregation of Second Baptist Church in South Toms River as they honored Dr. King's legacy. I shared some thoughts on the idea of service that Dr. King spoke about, and also wrote about them in a letter to the editor, which you can read here.
Supporting the Joint Base with the Defense Enhancement Coalition:
One of my top priorities in Congress is to ensure that Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst continues to serve our district, employ over 45,000 people, and support our military through its unique missions and capabilities.
That's why I have regular meetings with the Defense Enhancement Coalition, a group focused on efforts to protect the future of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. There are so many leaders in government and the private sector working around the clock to ensure the strength and stability of the Joint Base, and I'm proud to be one of them.
Preserving and Protecting Medicare and Medicaid:
I've said repeatedly that we must fight to keep Medicare and Social Security benefits intact for those in or nearing retirement. I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss this and other issues with members of the AARP at a town hall.
Learning about Life with Diabetes:
I learned a lot and was deeply inspired by the young people from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation who met with me to talk about their lives with diabetes.
Initiatives I Led in Congress
Protecting Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst from Cuts:
The President's budget for 2016 included a new round of the military base closure and realignment commission (BRAC). I knew we couldn't let that happen, so I led my colleagues in calling on the Department of Defense to oppose a new round of BRAC. Closing our bases would be short-sighted and dangerous, and I was pleased to see that it was not included in the budget that passed the House or the yearly defense bill my committee, Armed Services, is working on right now.
Star Ledger: NJ congressman leading effort to stop new round of military base closings
PolitickerNJ: MacArthur urges Hagel, Pentagon to oppose new round of possible base closures
Burlington County Times: MacArthur says another round of base closures would be a mistake
Courier Post: MacArthur is fighting to save base
Stopping FEMA Fraud:
A "60 Minutes" report revealed that many Sandy survivors had been the victims of fraud and corrupt practices at the National Flood Insurance Program and FEMA. I was outraged to hear this, and led the call for an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. I was joined by all 12 Members of the New Jersey Delegation in this effort.
MacArthur Letter to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
USA Today: NJ House members seek Sandy hearings
Star Ledger: NJ delegation seeks congressional hearings on FEMA payments to Hurricane Sandy victims
Press of Atlantic City: New Jersey's 12 US Reps call for hearings on FEMA fraud
Calling Out Russian Aggression:
During an official Armed Services trip to Eastern Europe, I saw firsthand how countries there have struggled under the oppressive thumb of Russia and are fighting to preserve freedom and democracy. That's why when Russia announced that they had lifted the ban on the delivery of an advanced missile defense system to Iran, I had to speak out. Putin's thuggish disregard for international law and the stability of the Middle East has gone on too long, and I called upon Secretary of State John Kerry to use any means to block this arms deal.
PolitickerNJ: MacArthur Condemns Russia's Arms Deal with Iran
Speaking on the House floor is an opportunity to share with my colleagues the importance of issues I'm working on. I've given two speeches on the House floor, one about my bill to help Sandy survivors, and one about the importance of our friendship with Israel.
I've been pleased to join with my colleagues on a number of measures I think are critically important. Forming relationships and working with other Members of both parties is a key way to accomplish our priorities in Congress, and I'm always happy to stand up and fight alongside others for issues I believe will benefit South Jersey and our country.
Promoting Job Creation
- H.R. 22: Hire More Heroes Act: The first bill the House passed was a great measure that encourages small businesses to hire veterans by changing some of the provisions of Obamacare for veterans who already have health insurance.
- H.R. 527: Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act: This bill will require government agencies to take a closer look at how their rules will impact small businesses, and most importantly, gives small business owners greater opportunity to offer input and ask questions throughout the rule making process.
- H.R. 413: Partnership to Build America Act: Our bridges and roads in New Jersey are in poor shape. Investing in infrastructure is a great way to create jobs – which is why I was pleased to support this bipartisan bill. Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) came up with a creative way to fund infrastructure, by giving companies a way to bring back their overseas earnings. He was open to my suggestions for improving the measure. (Read more: Star Ledger: How bad are NJ bridges? 6th worst in US, new stats)
Supporting our Veterans
- H.R. 1384: Honor America's Guard-Reserve Retirees Act: This bipartisan bill will ensure that all National Guardsmen and Reservists who served our country have the right to call themselves veterans.
- H.R. 1133: To amend the Federal Credit Union Act: New Jersey has the highest rate of veteran unemployment in the country, and I'm always searching for ways to help reduce that number. This bill will expand the types of loans that veteran entrepreneurs can get from credit unions to start small businesses, putting these men and women back to work.
Creating Patient-Centered Health Care
- H.R. 596: Repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: The Affordable Care Act doesn't work for South Jersey. I was pleased to co-sponsor this bill that passed the House because it not only repealed the Affordable Care Act, but it required relevant House Committees to create a framework for a new, patient-centered and market-based law
- H.R. 160: Protect Medical Innovation Act: This bill repeals a disastrous tax that was included in Obamacare – a 2.3% tax levied on all medical devices, from wheelchairs to defibrillators.
Preserving and Protecting the Environment
- H.R. 641: Conservation Easement Incentive Act: This bill eventually passed the House as part of a larger incentives package, but I thought it was critical to co-sponsor, as it preserves incentives for individuals to protect our natural resources. Read more in my letter to the editor here: Asbury Park Press: Tax incentive bill can help preserve land
- H.R. 1772: Delaware River Basin Conservation Act of 2015: This bipartisan bill will protect our important natural resource, the Delaware River Basin. (Read more: Times of Trenton: Delaware River Basin Conservation Act protects important natural resource)
- H.R. 944: National Estuary Program Reauthorization: Preserving and protecting Barnegat Bay is one of my top priorities. This bill, which provides funding for the program that cares for the Bay, is much needed in that fight.
Standing up for Human Rights
- H.R. 1782: Cuba Human Rights Act of 2015: This bill calls upon Cuba to stop oppressing the rights and freedoms of their own people, and calls upon the President to stop attempts to "normalize" relations until Cuba respects its own citizens. This comes on the heels of the President's actions to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terror, despite knowing that the country still harbors terrorist cop-killer Joanne Chesimard. (Read more: Roll Call: New Jersey Republicans set stage for fight on US-Cuba relations)
As we move forward, I have a number of priorities I will focus on and these haven't changed since the beginning. We have to create jobs for South Jersey and grow our economy, protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, fight for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and our district's 65,000 veterans, and stand up for victims of Superstorm Sandy. And we have to do this by working with everyone - Republicans and Democrats - for the good of our country. Throughout all of this, I am committed to offering first class constituent services and remaining open and accessible so you can share your thoughts and weigh in on important issues of the day. As always, please reach out with any questions, and I hope to hear from you soon.