Home Politics Fitzpatrick raises $900,000 July 1-Sept. 30, introduces several pieces of legislation

Fitzpatrick raises $900,000 July 1-Sept. 30, introduces several pieces of legislation

Legislation works to help disabled veterans, fitness centers impacted by COVID-19 and more

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1st dist). raised more than $900,000 from July 1 to Sept. 30.

Fitzpatrick has more than $1.3 million cash on hand leading up to the Nov. 3 election.

“It is no coincidence that in the very same year that Brian Fitzpatrick earned the highest independence score ever recorded in U.S. history, he likewise is setting all-time district fundraising records,” said Fitzpatrick spokeswoman Kate Constantini. “People across our community and across our nation are completely embracing Brian’s higher calls for unification, bipartisanship and problem-solving. Brian believes this to the very core of his being. People see and sense his authenticity, and they are responding to it in a very big way. Team Fitzpatrick is building more momentum every single day. We believe in him.”

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Reps. Fitzpatrick, Derek Kilmer and Gerry Connolly introduced legislation to help ensure disabled veterans are able to fully utilize their benefits amid disruptions in veterans’ health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, the pandemic caused many Veterans Affairs health care facilities to cancel or delay non-emergency in-person appointments, including a significant number of the elective/non-essential medical procedures. Now, as VA facilities begin to work through a backlog of nearly six months of canceled or rescheduled appointments, many disabled veterans are at risk of not being able to fully utilize their benefits due to previous rules limiting disabled veteran leave.

The Disabled Veteran Leave Extension/Restoration Act will extend the ability of veterans to use their disabled veteran leave and restore leave that has already been lost.

“Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country, and many returned home with lasting injuries. They deserve all the help that we can provide them,” Fitzpatrick said. “Allowing disabled veterans to take leave for medical treatment would allow them to live happier, healthier lives. These men and women sacrificed so much to defend our freedoms, and I am proud to support them with this bipartisan, common-sense legislation.”

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Fitzpatrick was one of four House members who led a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Interior to abandon proposed regulatory rulemaking reinterpreting a century-old law protecting more than 1,000 species of migratory birds across North America. Their letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt follows a recent federal ruling that found the administration’s reinterpretation efforts were unlawful. The reinterpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, based on a 2017 DOI solicitor’s opinion, would remove the ability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to mitigate incidental bird deaths due to industrial or commercial activities.

In the letter to Bernhardt, members wrote that the federal court ruling, “ … unambiguously found that the legal rationale and the outcome of the [DOI] Solicitor’s Opinion does not align with the law that Congress passed and intended. Congress passed the MBTA, and the United States signed four bilateral migratory bird treaties, in order to broadly protect and conserve our nation’s bird populations. Moving forward with a regulation that continues to avoid and undermine this obligation is not a viable path forward.”

The MBTA has been used for decades to mitigate, through permitting of industrial and commercial activity, incidental bird deaths. Even when these deaths have not been avoided, the MBTA has invested the penalties toward the recovery of impacted species. The MBTA fines from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which killed more than 1 million birds, resulted in $100 million for wetland restoration to benefit waterfowl and other birds through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

In addition to the 52 congressional signatories, the letter was supported by numerous conservation and wildlife groups.

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U.S. Reps. Fitzpatrick, Brad Schneider, John Katko, Brad Sherman and Ted Deutch introduced H.R. 8494, legislation reiterating American commitment to Israel’s qualitative military edge in the face of reports of U.S. arms sales to the region.

This legislation reiterates the requirement for congressional consultation on arms sales to the Middle East that could impact Israel’s QME. It also would require the president to consult with the Israeli government to ensure QME concerns are settled, and would require the president to submit a determination to Congress on the QME impact of a given sale within 60 days of its formal notification.

“The recent negotiations and signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain is a historic step towards a lasting peace in the Middle East, a region that has seen constant conflict for generations. For decades, Israel has been a key strategic ally and friend of the United States, and it is crucial that we do everything we can to support our allies,” Fitzpatrick said. “Despite the incredible steps towards peace that have been made, there are still plenty of entities that wish to harm Israel. This is why it is so important that we support Israel and help to preserve its Qualitative Military Edge, to ensure the safety of the Israeli people and maintain stability in the region.”

The legislation comes amid the Abraham Accords normalizing relations between Israel and both the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and amid reports of U.S. sales of advanced defense technology to the region.

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Fitzpatrick announced that Shamrock Reins in Pipersville was awarded $172,347.36 by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The award came as part of the VA adaptive sports grants program to assist in equine therapy treatment.

Programs funded through these grants will offer adaptive sports and activities to more than 13,000 veterans and members of the armed forces who have disabilities. The VA has allocated $1.5 million to be used in the support of organizations that offer equine-assisted therapy to foster and advance the mental health of veterans. Grant recipients may use the funds for planning, developing, managing and implementing adaptive sports programs.

“Every day, 20 veterans take their own lives and the majority of those 20 never had access to care at the VA or any psychiatric treatment. Janet Brennan and the entire team at Shamrock Reins have changed the lives of many former service members and first responders as they use equine-assisted therapies to help in the healing process, provide comfort and aid in adjusting back into civilian life,” Fitzpatrick said. “Our ability to assist organizations like Shamrock Reins to assist those veterans is a small step in letting our former service members know that their country has their back, and I am proud to have supported Shamrock Reins throughout this process. We should explore every avenue to protect the lives of those who have already given so much for our great nation and ensure they have access to necessary care.”

Since 2014, Shamrock Reins has offered equine therapy to help veterans and first responders recover from PTSD. Founded by Brennan, a registered nurse whose father served in the Vietnam War, Shamrock Reins uses a range of equine services, including riding therapy, to help assimilate servicemen and women back into society following their tours of duty.

In August 2019, Fitzpatrick, along with Rep. Conor Lamb, visited Shamrock Reins. The meeting served as an opportunity for the staff of Shamrock Reins to meet with Lamb, who serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

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Reps. Fitzpatrick, Brad Schneider, John Katko and Brad Sherman reintroduced legislation to hold Russia and other entities accountable for election interference. H.R. 8463, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act, is a House companion to S. 1060, which was introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen.

The act would require the Director of National Intelligence to determine within 30 days after an election whether a foreign government interfered in the electoral process. Should the DNI determine one or more states interfered in the election, the act would automatically trigger the imposition of comprehensive sanctions on these bad actors. This legislation would also require the president to provide Congress with regular briefings on past and current efforts to interfere in U.S. elections.

“Our nation must never, and will never tolerate Russia or any other foreign nation interfering in our elections. It is well documented that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, and they are actively doing so again in 2020,” Fitzpatrick said. “We must sanction bad actors that seek to undermine our democracy as soon as possible, and deter future instances of election interference.”

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Fitzpatrick joined 18 Democratic colleagues, Sen. Bernie Sanders and nine Democratic senators in a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services Alex Azar to promote the use of community health workers in local responses to COVID-19.

According to those who wrote the letter, community health workers can help combat coronavirus through public health messaging and contact tracing while also addressing broader social, economic, behavioral and preventive health needs. Furthermore, expanding the profession can help create economic opportunities for those seeking work, particularly in hard-hit “disadvantaged” communities. They can also help curb rising health care costs. Randomized clinical trials have shown that community health workers can save $4,200 per Medicaid beneficiary. Community health workers are cost-effective workers who can help strengthen the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and contain health care spending.

“Given their potential to contribute to all aspects of a successful national recovery, we urge you to expand the utilization of community health workers within existing programs at the Department of Health and Human Services to fully leverage their expertise and skills,” the letter read, in part.

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Reps. Fitzpatrick and Mike Quigley introduced the Health and Fitness Recovery Act of 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, health and fitness centers have been shuttered. This has put thousands of jobs at risk.

“Few industries have been as devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic as the fitness industry. From the very beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, state and local governments moved quickly to shut down health and fitness businesses, in order to enforce social distancing safety measures,” Fitzpatrick said. “Unlike many other businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, health and fitness clubs could not pivot to new revenue streams and many in the industry failed to qualify for assistance in the first CARES Act. The men and women who work in the fitness industry need and deserve our help.”

The Health and Fitness Recovery Act of 2020 establishes a $30 trillion recovery fund to help gyms and fitness clubs devastated by the current pandemic.

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