Congressman Mark Sanford
December 16, 2017 View Online
Weekly Review



December 9

The Taylor Force Act: Did you know that, since 2008, the United States has averaged $400 million per year in foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority?

Over the past ten years, the Palestinian government has received more than $4 billion in American assistance...in spite of the fact that the Palestinian Authority devotes about 8% of its budget to supporting the families of Palestinian terrorists, including those killed during attacks and those in prison.

I don’t think I’m old fashioned in saying that this sort of indirect American aid is not exactly the will of taxpayers that I talk to along the coast of South Carolina. It’s another of those things that makes one scratch one’s head in saying how can this be. We send aid that is then used to pay for the families of terrorists?

We took an important vote toward common sense on Tuesday night in the form of H.R. 1164.

The bill was actually called the Taylor Force Act, named after a 28 year old, former U.S. Army officer named Taylor Force who was killed in March 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist who attacked a group of tourists in Tel Aviv. In the presence of his family, the House passed the bill.

This is quite similar to a bill I introduced earlier this year with Congressman Ted Budd called the No Bonuses for Terrorists Act. This bill would cut off American aid to the Palestinian government until the Secretary of State has certified that the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization have stopped paying benefits to the families of terrorists that aren’t available to the Palestinian population at large.

In Taylor Force’s case, the attacker, who was killed by police, was praised in Palestinian Authority media, and his family was awarded a generous monthly stipend. This is a part of a broad program in Palestinian law that encourages Palestinians to attack Israelis and other citizens and offers a sliding scale of benefits for the attacker and their families. In essence, the bigger the attack, the bigger the monetary reward.

Specifically, H.R. 1164 would limit foreign aid to the West Bank and Gaza until the State Department certifies the Palestinian Authority (PA) has taken two, concrete steps. First, it must end acts of violence against U.S. and Israeli citizens by individuals under its jurisdiction. Second, it must terminate any and all payments to any individual who has committed an act of violence or their families.

Again, this bill ultimately was not about Israel or Palestine...or any of the other actors in that region. Instead, I believe it was about common sense and guarding against the at-times nonsensical ways that American taxpayer money is used and abused.


December 11



Click above to read the full Op-Ed


Minnesota's Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest Act: I can’t quite ever seem to keep up with posting about all the votes that are occurring...but I try my best. In that realm, can I circle back around to an interesting recent vote on a bill that renews two copper-nickel mining leases on national forest land in Minnesota. In this case, the leases are held by a Chilean-owned mining company, and I think disturbingly what would be done for them would fundamentally alter the federal government’s ability to issue mineral rights leases and enforce environmental laws and regulations in Minnesota going forward.

Let me expand a little more.

I’ve long believed that conservatism should apply to more than just financial resources. Teddy Roosevelt’s belief is one that I share, and I think is shared by many people along the coast of South Carolina...that conservatism should as well apply to natural resources and being conservative with them.

In this regard, what was at play was my grandmother’s notion of moderation in all things. This bill failed on both of these fronts and, I think, was found wanting. For that reason, I voted against H.R. 3905, the Minnesota's Economic Rights in the Superior National Forest Act, which still passed the House 216 to204.

It did three things that are harmful beyond the general concepts that I just described above... Click to read more...


December 12


Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of dropping by the local American Red Cross office in North Charleston to drop off several hundred holiday cards for our service members, veterans, and their families.

I wanted to say thank you to those of you who dropped by my district offices to participate in this program - Red Cross’s Holiday Mail for Heroes, which started a decade ago in 2007.

A holiday card is a simple but heartfelt way to show our troops, veterans, and their families just how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice. I’m consistently impressed by the sense of community and spirit of giving that pervades the Lowcountry, and I’m happy to help spread this spirit to our service members this Christmas season!


December 14

Net Neutrality: 
Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is scheduled to vote on the Obama-era net neutrality rules...a set of regulations that govern Internet services.

To state the obvious, this is an issue that has attracted much attention, and my office has gotten a lot of correspondence on this front, as people want to be able to continue to get content and information through the internet as they do now.

In many ways, what is happening now on net neutrality is a reflection of the larger political climate we are now living through in Washington. One administrator adds or subtracts; the next one does the opposite. I think all of this begs the larger question of how we can avoid getting whipsawed on a whole host of issues - and for me, this means legislative clarity on what should come next.

I believe Congress needs to clarify its stand on the internet.

In the absence of legislation from Congress, we simply respond to rules that the FCC sets and promulgates...but their doing so exceeds the agency’s statutory mandate. The FCC is not an independent regulatory entity that can create statute; their job is simply to enforce the law, which in their case is in large measure rooted in the Federal Communications Act of 1934. This Act and the legislative enhancements that have come since then do not give the agency a mandate to impose pricing and content management rules on internet providers. We may want that, we may wish for it, but I think it’s important that we simply adhere to statute. And this makes it vital that Congress update the law so that it reflects the age of the iPhone and Netflix.

I’ve said consistently that the executive branch needs to be trimmed in, and this is true for Democratic and Republican presidents alike. It was in no way the Founding Fathers’ intent that the executive branch could make unilateral decisions in moving us into war, for instance. Their belief was that it was only Congress that could declare war, but these are not the times in which we live. Congress needs to reclaim its authority in being the only branch of government charged with the creation of laws. It is Congress, through the representative process, that hopefully hears from people and is attentive to those voices in creating statute.

So, my concern over the Obama Administration’s change to net neutrality rules is not on the grounds of the debate itself - but rather who should be making that decision. Chairman Pai’s current proposal to reverse a 2015 decision - restoring the old rules over the internet - is consequently something I agree with...again, not based on content but on the grounds of process.

I don’t think this will be the end of the process, however.

This issue will be debated within Congress given its importance to people’s lives. As that debate unfolds, I will certainly be open-minded to all viewpoints.

Philosophically, I’m starting from a strong belief in the markets, and I would simply make this point: competition, relatively light overall regulation, and even the absence of net-neutrality rules have been at least a part of the formula in making the internet the idea and content generating catalyst that it is today. Where that competition stands out as uneven or unfair or disruptive to minority viewpoints, I will be pushing back against it. But I do think that we want to see competitive forces at work as a part of the formula in driving the innovation that we’ve indeed seen in this sector of the American economy.

For a little bit more on this debate, I’m sharing this National Review article, which I think does a good job of discussing the issue.


Click above to read the article

     

 
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