By Congressman Andy Barr

In March, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated, “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.” I voted no on both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump because the case is neither compelling nor overwhelming, and the only thing bipartisan about this impeachment is the bipartisan opposition to it.

Democrat law professor Jonathan Turley, who openly admits he opposed the election of President Trump, said this impeachment is based on the “thinnest” record ever to go forward in American history. That’s because in all three previous cases of impeachment—those involving Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Clinton—there was at least an allegation of a crime or a violation of a statute. In this case, none of the Democrats’ witnesses testified to having any direct evidence of bribery, extortion, or any high crime or misdemeanor. The articles themselves don’t even allege the commission of an actual crime.

And yet, less than one year before the next election, and after three years of careening from one baseless impeachment theory to another, Democrats in Congress remain obsessed with undoing the will of the American people.

Most disturbing of all is that House Democrats impeached the President for following laws that they themselves voted for. No less than five times in the last six years, Congress has passed legislation imposing on the Executive Branch an affirmative duty to seek and obtain assurances from the government of Ukraine that it is bolstering the institutions of democracy and countering corruption. Most House Democrats, including the man leading the impeachment effort against President Trump, Adam Schiff, voted for all five measures. Democrats supported these bills for good reason. Ernst & Young reports that Ukraine – a vulnerable state in frozen conflict with Russia – is among the three most corrupt nations in the world.

Keep in mind that the central argument offered by Democrats in support of impeachment is that by withholding security assistance to an ally, President Trump compromised U.S. national security in order to advance his own personal political interest. Putting aside the fact that Zelensky publicly and repeatedly said he felt no pressure to investigate the Bidens, that Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified President Trump said he wanted “nothing” other than “Zelensky to do the right thing,” and that the security assistance ultimately flowed to the Ukrainian government without any specific investigation into the Bidens, the Democrats’ false narrative of an “abuse of power” ignores both the law and the actual factual record.

As several of the Democrats’ witnesses testified, the Trump Administration’s policies have shown greater commitment and support to Ukraine than those of the previous administration. Ambassador Kurt Volker explained that President Trump’s policy of providing lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine has been “extremely helpful” in deterring Russian aggression. Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs Fiona Hill testified that President Trump’s decision to support Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank missiles was a “stronger” policy than the Obama Administration’s policy of withholding such weapons. Ambassador William Taylor characterized President Trump’s policy as a “substantial improvement.” And even Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, whose testimony has been characterized as hostile to the President, agreed that “our policy actually got stronger over the last three years.”

Congress rightly intended the President to urge foreign leaders to investigate corruption within their countries, especially when that corruption might implicate the reliability of a country as an ally deserving of U.S. taxpayer assistance. In the case of Ukraine, the argument for requiring anti-corruption efforts is particularly strong, where hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars were at stake in a nation with a troubling history of corruption and a newly elected and untested government.

And, the new government in Ukraine actually implemented several sweeping and historic anti-corruption reform measures. Following the seating of Ukraine’s new parliament, the Rada, on August 29, the Zelensky government appointed a new prosecutor general and opened Ukraine’s Supreme Anti-Corruption Court. On September 3, the Rada passed a bill that removed parliamentary immunity. The Rada then approved a bill streamlining corruption prosecutions and increased focus on high-level corruption cases. Far from compromising our national security, President Trump’s actions advanced our interests by encouraging Ukraine to undertake reforms that strengthened our ally to better counter Russian aggression.

Through this flawed, sham process, Democrats have voted to fulfill their hyper-partisan, three-year plan to impeach President Trump.Even before Inauguration Day, Democrats in Congress embraced the “Resistance” and touted their plan to reverse the results of the 2016 election. House Democrats did not impeach the President because of the facts or any crime. They impeached the President because they don’t like him.

By Congressman Andy Barr

The recent observance of Veterans Day reminds us all that veterans make up the very heart and soul of every community throughout the Commonwealth. Their sacrifice to our country in defense of our freedoms is a debt that we will never be able to repay. As a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the grandson of two WWII Veterans, and the son of a Vietnam-era veteran, I have the privilege of diligently working with veterans across the country to address the issues that matter most to them. Thankfully, we have made great strides in the modernization of policies that will ensure our veterans are taken care of after returning from service. 

I am proud to work directly with veterans in Central and Eastern Kentucky through the Sixth District Veterans Coalition, which meets quarterly with me to discuss their input regarding legislation impacting veterans and military matters. Meeting with this group gives me the opportunity to hear first-hand what concerns our veterans have and discuss legislative proposals to address their needs. After hearing the concerns of the veterans in the Sixth District, I come back to Washington and collaborate with my colleagues in the House of Representatives and on Committee to address the issues at hand.

Working with other members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I was an original cosponsor of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act (H.R. 299). This legislation restores the presumption of service connection for Blue Water Navy Veterans exposed to Agent Orange during their service, ensuring they receive proper treatment for the health conditions they acquired in service to our nation. This bill was signed into law by President Trump on June 25, 2019, giving these Navy Veterans the healthcare they deserve.

Last Congress, the MISSION Act was signed into law and on June 6 of this year its Community Care Program went live.  This important program gives veterans greater access to high quality, timely health care close to them, allowing them to use community providers if VA services are difficult to access or too far away. In my role on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I have been able to ask VA Secretary Wilkie about the rollout to ensure the VA is properly funded and make sure there is no gap in veterans receiving care.  I was proud to vote for the MISSION Act to provide veterans with access to quality care that fits their personal needs.

Earlier this year I introduced legislation (H.R. 2196) to improve the Forever GI Bill to help provide additional GI Bill eligibility to student veterans who are pursuing an undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degree. The improvements of my bill passed the House and Senate unanimously and were signed into law by President Trump on July 31st. We have already seen student veterans access this additional benefit and take advantage of this program at universities in the Sixth District. 

Finally, I am a cosponsor of the IMPROVE Act to provide grants to community organizations to help combat veteran suicide. Of the approximately 20 servicemembers and veterans who die by suicide every day, only six sought care from the VA in the two years preceding their death. We must move the needle on this heart-wrenching statistic and it is time we support community organizations who are able to reach veterans who do not interact with the VA. And as such, I have been a chief advocate for innovative therapies for veterans like Equine Assisted Therapy that allows veterans with mental, social, or physical impairments to work with horses on their road to recovery. In a recent Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, I discussed with VA Secretary Wilkie the role Equine Assisted Therapy can play in suicide prevention efforts and secured his support of the program.

Since the Commonwealth’s inception, Kentuckians have continued to volunteer in engagement after engagement, war after war, putting on the uniform to go to faraway lands to defend our nation and our Commonwealth. They are following in the bootsteps of frontiersmen, militiamen, and soldiers who have bravely fought and sacrificed over the years so that you and I may enjoy the freedoms unique to the United States of America. We cannot relegate remembering our veterans to one day out of the year, but must stand up daily for their needs and build upon the sacrifices they have already made.

 

Thanks to tax cuts, deregulation, policies promoting energy independence and bipartisan reforms easing restrictions on community financial institutions, the American economy continues to grow. Unemployment is at a fifty-year low, real wages are up and the American consumer is strong. But the Federal Reserve is poised to lower interest rates again in response to several headwinds. These include a slowing global economy, partisan politics in Washington and lower business investment due to trade uncertainty.

Fortunately, President Trump has kept his promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in favor of a more free, fair and reciprocal trade deal with Canada and Mexico. This rebalanced trade agreement, known as the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) is good for American workers, farmers, consumers and employers.

To be sure, we need a more fair-trading relationship with China. But a rebalanced trade deal for North America would be even more impactful. Trade with Canada and Mexico represents twice the volume and five times the exports as trade with China for the United States. Mexico surpassed Canada to become the United States’ largest trading partner earlier this year and the two countries account for over one-third of total U.S. exports and imports annually. Trade with Canada and Mexico supports 12 million American jobs in every state in the Union and every state but one counts Canada or Mexico as one of their top three export markets.

USMCA recommits our North American trading partners to reciprocal free trade with the United States, addresses longstanding trade imbalances by granting American businesses greater freedom to sell their goods and services in Canada and Mexico, and incorporates modern and strengthened rules of trade and investment for North America. The agreement not only keeps most tariffs between the three countries at zero, it also does more than any prior agreement to eliminate non-tariff barriers and unfair subsidies.

According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, implementing USMCA would create 176,000 additional American jobs and further grow the United States economy by over $68 billion. This includes an estimated $34 billion in new automotive manufacturing investments and 76,000 new automotive industry jobs in the United States in the next five years.

These statistics demonstrate why Kentucky’s bourbon distillers and agriculture community are positive about the USMCA.

The agreement makes structural changes that would better protect American intellectual property. American innovators would receive ten years of protection for agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biologics.At the same time, USMCA would shorten America’s inventors’ wait for patents, preserving valuable time and dollars in getting new, innovative products to market and preventing foreign competitors from getting an unfair advantage.

The agreement would streamline customs procedures and inefficiencies at the borders, saving time and money for American businesses and consumers in all three countries.

A new digital chapter would better enable data to be transferred cross border, facilitating electronic transactions and financial services. USMCA would expand markets in Canada for American dairy, poultry, eggs and alcohol. And it contains zero tariffs on automotive imports with increased rules of origin requirements which will result in 75% North American content for new automobiles and light trucks.

Finally, passage of USMCA would give U.S. trade negotiators momentum and leverage as they continue to work on better deals with the European Union and China.

Every day of delay by Congress hurts American jobs and selling made-in-America products to customers abroad. Mexico has already approved the agreement; Canada is waiting on the United States and there is bipartisan support in Congress to approve USMCA under existing trade promotion authority.

The only question remaining is whether Speaker Pelosi is willing to put aside her impeachment obsession and stand up to the far left of the Democrat Party in Congress, who appear to be more concerned about denying this President a “victory” than actually doing the work of the American people. Now is the time to pass the USMCA, and I will continue to call on the Democrat Majority in the House to work with Republicans to give us a vote and continue this economic expansion for American workers, businesses and families.

Kentuckians have a deep interest in the production, cultivation and sale of industrial hemp and hemp derived products. Maybe our enthusiasm for this crop is rooted in the Commonwealth’s history. The Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, recognized the potential of hemp and grew it to make rope and bagging. Or, perhaps it’s because we recognize the enormous opportunities the industry provides for entrepreneurship and job creation. Either way, it’s clear, the hemp industry in the Commonwealth is booming.
Imagine going to turn on the lights in your home to find there is no power or rushing a loved one to the emergency room not knowing whether the life-saving medical equipment will work. If Congress adopts impractical policies in response to climate change, this could be our reality.
I am honored to represent the Horse Capital of the World, and throughout my time in Congress I have worked diligently to enact polices that will promote economic growth and investment in this key Kentucky industry. I continue to believe that the future prosperity of the sport depends in part on implementation of national uniform medication standards and testing procedures.
I recently returned to the nation of Israel—the United States’ most important strategic ally—to get an update from U.S. and Israeli officials on the ever evolving security environment in the Middle East. It was my first visit to the region since 2015 when the Obama Administration was negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, and since the Trump Administration withdrew from that agreement and announced the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
I am proud to represent the people of Central and Eastern Kentucky in a seat in Congress that has existed for more than 200 years. It is a seat which has been occupied by many great statesmen including the Great Compromiser, Henry Clay. I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of these statesmen, serving the heart of the Bluegrass and recognizing my responsibility to fight for its future through various bipartisan roles in the House.

COLUMN: Here to serve

January 1, 2019

As we embark upon a New Year, I want to first express my sincere appreciation for the confidence you have once again placed in me by allowing me to serve another term as your Sixth District Congressman. It’s an honor to represent my Kentucky home in Washington, D.C., and I’m grateful to have the continued privilege to serve, work and fight for you in the United States House of Representatives.