From the Desk of Congressman Kurt Schrader
We had over 600 folks show up in Milwaukie and nearly 1,000 in Salem last week to participate in town halls. And the week before that, we had almost 3,000 participants in a telephone town hall that I hosted while I was back in Washington, D.C. It’s been energizing and humbling to see such a high level of engagement from our communities. Keep it up and stay involved! Be sure to click here for information on upcoming in-person and telephone town halls I’ll be hosting.

I want to highlight a brave group of people, pictured to the left, who came out to our town hall in Salem. These young folks presented me with a stack of more than 100 letters from DACA recipients throughout our district. Every one of these stories matters and needs to be shared. Recent policies from the new administration will only serve to tear families apart & destroy American businesses. Oregon isn't going to turn its back on our immigrant community, and neither will I.

You may have read last December about an internal Pentagon report that had been covered up which showed $125 billion dollars that was being inefficiently spent on administrative waste and obsolete technologies at the Department of Defense. This week, I reintroduced a bill to declassify the entire report and implement the report’s suggested ways of cutting or reallocating that money. It’s our duty in Congress to make sure taxpayer money is being used wisely, and that we are keeping our troops well supplied to serve our country, keep us safe, and defend freedom around the world.

This past week, my Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on generic drugs, and looked at a number of bipartisan bills that seek to lower drug costs for patients. Included in that is my Lower Drug Costs Through Competition Act, which incentivizes drug makers to create more generic drugs, and streamlines the process for them to get those generics to the market. Increasing competition on the market will ultimately bring down the cost of drugs like the EpiPen, which you may remember caught attention last summer when the price was hiked up from $100 to $600 over just a few years.

If there’s one constant refrain I hear from our small business owners it’s their concern and anxiety with what feels like an overly burdensome regulatory environment. Between both state and federal rules that are layered one on top of another, the bureaucracy can be overwhelming. As a former small businessman, I’m extremely sensitive to the toll that can take on a business’ ability to grow and be successful. This month I had the opportunity to vote in support of a few bills that would require federal agencies to increase transparency and ensure adequate public input on new proposals; as well as to create a commission to identify and recommend existing regulations that are redundant, outdated, or create unnecessary costs for business owners.

Two weeks ago, I reintroduced the Molalla River Wild and Scenic Rivers Act which would designate a 21-mile stretch of the Molalla River as “recreational” under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The beauty, history and ecosystem of our Molalla River deserve to be protected. Receiving this designation provides a positive economic, social and cultural boost to the surrounding local area.

Along with 163 of my colleagues in the House, I sent a letter to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and the Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Kevin Brady (R-TX) calling on them to use their authority to request the President’s tax returns. I’ve also cosponsored a resolution that would require the administration to hand over any and all communications related to any foreign conflicts of interest. Transparency from our government is a foundation of our democracy, and the American people deserve answers.

I joined Laural Porter on KGW’s ‘Straight Talk’ last weekend to talk about all of the town halls we’re hosting at home, the work we’re doing in the House to protect the ACA, and my bill to declassify the Pentagon report showing $125 billion in waste. You can watch part one of the interview by clicking here, and part two of the interview by clicking here.

Do you know anyone who didn’t file a federal tax return for 2013?  If they had a refund coming, the window for making that claim is approaching soon. The statute for filing 2013 claims expires on April 18, 2017. There is about $14,188,000 waiting for an estimated 15,500 taxpayers in Oregon who did not file a 2013 federal income tax return.  Remember, there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund. If they do not file a return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury.

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