WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) defended small family farms against unnecessary regulation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA is prohibited by law from using funds to regulate growing, harvesting, and “related activities” of farms with 10 or fewer employees. However, the agency published a memo in 2011 indicating that grain “handling” did not meet the definition of an activity directly related to growing and harvesting and could thus be subject to OSHA regulation. The memo has since been broadly interpreted to allow OSHA inspectors to regulate the activities of small farms.
In a letter to Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, Congressman Jones and 82 of his colleagues expressed their concern with OSHA’s interference on small farms and requested that action be taken to ensure that OSHA adheres to the intent of the law, which is to prevent regulation of any aspect of a farming operation with 10 or fewer employees. The signers of the letter further clarified that the only manner in which OSHA could be given authority to regulate small farms is through a law passed by Congress.
“OSHA’s decision to unlawfully regulate family farms is just one more example of the federal government’s overreach into American lives and businesses,” said Congressman Jones. “The last thing Eastern North Carolinians need is more government regulation. Instead, I am committed to working to create jobs and grow the economy – and that means less unnecessary government interference.”
The full text of the letter is available at the link below.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) joined a bipartisan coalition of 71 House members and 15 senators in filing an amicus curiae brief in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a case in which the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the mandate in the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, that requires corporations to provide health insurance that covers contraceptives – even if those contraceptives violate the corporation owner’s religious beliefs. The brief argues that Congress has a long history of bipartisan efforts to defend against attacks on religious freedom, with the most notable example being the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). Hobby Lobby and its owners should be protected from Obamacare’s infringing on their First Amendment rights by the RFRA, which states that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”
“Forcing an individual to provide employees with health coverage that offends their religious convictions is clearly unlawful under the First Amendment,” said Congressman Jones. “It is my hope that the court will recognize that the Obamacare law violates not only the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but one of our nation’s founding principles – the right to religious freedom.”
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. on March 25, 2014. Congressman Jones voted against Obamacare each time it was considered in the House, and he has cosponsored every bill aimed at repealing all or part of the law.
A copy of the brief is available at the link below.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) continued the fight against wasteful spending of American resources in Afghanistan. In a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Congressman Jones expressed his concern over reports that not only have billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars been spent to fund Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s corrupt government, but tax money has been further misused to air advertisements on TV in Afghanistan in support of a continued United States military presence after 2014.
“Mr. Speaker, insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” the letter reads. “Yet after 12 years, the U.S. Congress keeps raising the debt limit so that, among other things, the federal government can continue to throw tens of billions of dollars a year down the rat hole in Afghanistan.”
The full text of the letter can be found at the link below.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) called on President Barack Obama to immediately go further in enacting reforms to federal surveillance activities, particularly those of the National Security Administration (NSA). In a letter led by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, Congressman Jones and five of his colleagues pointed out that although the president has promised greater transparency, he has not yet taken sufficient action to protect the American people’s constitutional right to privacy and prevent bulk collection of information on U.S. citizens. Furthermore, the president has allowed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to continue in his position despite having lied to Congress under oath by denying that the NSA was collecting data on millions of Americans, when in fact it was.
The letter calls on President Obama to address not only bulk collection of telephone records under the Patriot Act but also government programs involving encryption data, which pose a hazard to Internet freedom. In addition, the signers of the letter expressed the necessity of a clearly defined standard to which intelligence agencies must adhere before collecting data, particularly from private companies.
“When it comes to reforming surveillance activities, the American people need more than just another empty promise from this president,” said Congressman Jones. “Considering the government’s history of abusing its power and violating the constitutional rights of millions of Americans, immediate action must be taken to hold our intelligence-gathering agencies accountable and prevent future breaches of privacy.”
Congressman Jones has been a consistent champion of internet freedom and limiting government surveillance of the American people. He has voted against every reauthorization and extension of the Patriot Act since it became law in 2001 and has voted against CISPA, SOPA, and the FISA Amendments Act.
The full text of the letter is available at the link below.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) led a coalition of House members in urging the Obama administration to carefully consider the impact of their proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement on U.S. fisheries and fishing communities. The agreement is widely expected to reduce or eliminate duties on imported fish products from countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, and Japan. Among other things, this could significantly cut funding for the Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Act grant program, a U.S. research and development program that benefits American fisheries. Since its passage nearly 70 years ago, the S-K Act has authorized allocation of 30 percent of duties on imported fish products toward competitively-awarded projects that improve U.S. fish stocks, reduce bycatch, and help fishing communities in every coastal region of America.
In a letter signed by eight of his colleagues, Congressman Jones implored United States Trade Representative Michael Froman to keep the potential negative impact on S-K revenue in mind as TPP negotiations continue. Furthermore, the signers of the letter requested that a detailed estimate of the effect of the TPP on S-K revenue be provided to them before the final TPP agreement language is sent to Congress.
“U.S. fishermen just want a level playing field, but this TPP agreement threatens to tilt the field even more toward foreign fish imports that are often heavily subsidized and contaminated,” said Congressman Jones. “Fishing is a vital component of the economy in Eastern North Carolina and the coastal United States, with the industry providing tens of thousands of domestic jobs. Those jobs are supported by the Saltonstall-Kennedy program, and the administration needs to keep these facts in mind and act accordingly when it comes to the TPP negotiations.”
The administration has been negotiating the TPP free trade agreement with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam for over three years and is hoping to finalize the deal this year.