WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan introduced 10 bills on the opening day of the new Congress, laying out priorities that include reopening the economy and creating jobs, protecting Social Security and Medicare, addressing veterans’ health and combating red tide.

Buchanan, co-chair of the 29-member Florida congressional delegation, said he will work with his colleagues to help the economy recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic so that people have greater job opportunities. 

“2021 will be a year of recovery and rebuilding,” Buchanan said. “We need to make sure people are safe and have jobs to return to.”

Buchanan just ended the two-year 116th Congress with six of his legislative initiatives enacted into law, bringing to 23 the total number of legislative initiatives he has passed since taking office in 2007. He also had several other priorities that he either co-sponsored or pushed for signed into law as a part of the year-end government funding bill.

As a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Buchanan will play a role in developing a major infrastructure bill involving public-private partnerships that could create tens of thousands of new jobs. 

The 10 bills Buchanan introduced include:

  • The Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act, which would create a new federal office responsible for stockpiling adequate supplies of critical medicines and encourage companies to ramp up the manufacturing of those drugs. The coronavirus has exposed how dangerously reliant our medical supply chain is on China and other countries, which is why we must take immediate take steps to become less dependent on foreign countries for life-saving drugs.
  • An amendment to the Constitution of the United States that requires Congress to balance the federal budget. Balancing the budget is an urgent priority as the U.S. national debt has reached $27 trillion and continues to grow.
  • The No Pay Raise for Congress Act, which prohibits pay raises for members of Congress in any fiscal year they fail to balance the budget.
  • The Protecting Local Communities from Harmful Algal Blooms Act, which would amend the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to include algal blooms in the definition of a “major disaster”. This change would require the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to provide both technical and financial assistance to states suffering from outbreaks of Harmful Algal Blooms like red tide. Southwest Florida is uniquely vulnerable to red tide, as it has seen this type of algae bloom occur more than twice as often as any other area in the state.
  • The Veterans Overmedication and Suicide Prevention Act, which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to study the link between addictive opioids and the alarmingly high rate of suicides among veterans. Veterans are twice as likely as civilians to die from overdoses of opioid painkillers.
  • The Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act, which prohibits gang members from entering the U.S. and allows them to be deported if they are already here. The legislation also disqualifies these dangerous individuals from receiving asylum or temporary protected status.
  • The Thin Blue Line Act, which toughens penalties against anyone who murders police officers and other first responders. The bill, which passed the U.S. House in the 115th Congress, would make the murder or attempted murder of a first responder an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations.
  • The Sunshine Protection Act, which would end the twice-a-year clock change that takes place every November and March. Florida is one of 14 states that has voted to eliminate the time change and move to permanent daylight saving time, but congressional approval is required.
  • The Comprehensive Access to Robust Insurance Now Guaranteed (CARING) for Kids Act, which would permanently extend funding for the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to ensure kids continue to receive the health care they need. Under current law, the CHIP program needs to be reauthorized every few years, which places its funding in jeopardy and makes it a bargaining chip in legislative negotiations.
  • The CREEPER Act 2.0, to protect children from predators. The legislation will help reduce pedophilia by banning the sale of lifelike child sex dolls used by predators to “normalize” their behavior.

The Congressman said he will also soon reintroduce the American Innovation Act, which removes some of the initial barriers to creating a business, putting money back in the pocket of our state’s best job creators – setting start-ups on a path toward success. 

As a senior member of the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security and Medicare, Buchanan will continue to fight to protect these programs. In 2016, the president signed into law Buchanan’s proposal to preserve certain Medicare Advantage plans.

Buchanan said he will also work in the House Ways and Means Committee on legislation to help Americans save for retirement. According to USA Today, the average American has less than $4,000 in savings while nearly 60 percent of adults have less than $1,000 to their names. Last Congress Buchanan’s Retirement Security for American Workers Act, which makes it easier for small businesses to offer retirement plans for workers, was signed into law.

Buchanan said he will also focus on several other issues important to his constituents. These include: protecting Florida’s coastline and environment, supporting law enforcement, creating jobs and balancing the federal budget. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce rated Congressman Vern Buchanan top in Florida for his record of bipartisanship and creating jobs. Buchanan won a perfect 100 percent score on the group’s 2019 voting scorecard and a 94 percent for bipartisanship — highest in both categories among the 29-member Florida congressional delegation that includes U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. In addition, Buchanan was awarded the “Champion for Healthy Seniors” award by a leading advocacy group for protecting Medicare and fighting for lower prescription drug costs.