Representing approximately 700,000 people in the U.S. House of Representatives can mean I receive a lot of correspondence. Constituents contact me with numerous concerns, whether by phone, email, letter, or social media message.
Your comments and inquiries are an asset as I do my job. While I cannot read or respond to each individually, my team collects them and lets me know what people in Virginia’s Ninth Congressional District think about the issues facing our country and our region. When we respond, we strive to do so with as much specificity as possible.
Much of the correspondence my office receives addresses a general topic or issue, but some encourages me to support a specific bill. In two recent instances of veterans’ affairs bills, I added my name as a cosponsor after they were brought to my attention by constituents.
One is H.R. 5073, the Revising and Expediting Actions for the Crisis Hotline (REACH) for Veterans Act. The other is H.R 4571, the Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans In Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act.
The REACH for Veterans Act seeks to improve the mental health support our country provides active servicemen and -women and veterans. The Veterans Crisis Line offers a free, confidential, around the clock resource for them, and the REACH for Veterans Act would enhance this service by boosting staff training and promoting quality control.
The SERVICE Act would extend certain health care services to a group of veterans that had previously not been protected. Female veterans who had encountered burn pits and other toxic exposures during their service are more susceptible to cancer, but mammogram screenings are not covered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The SERVICE Act would fix this gap in coverage, making sure these veterans are not deprived of the health care services they need.
These bills are worthwhile efforts to fix problems afflicting men and women who risked their lives to protect us. I appreciate those constituents, some of whom may have personal experience with the problems they aim to correct, who took the time to contact my office in favor of this legislation.
Other messages urge me to oppose bills that could come up for vote or to speak out against proposals from presidential administrations.
Lately, I have heard overwhelming opposition to a proposal from the Biden Administration that would empower the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to monitor the bank accounts of average Americans with account balances of over $600, or simply more than $600 in transactions during a year.
The Administration suggests this would help crack down on tax evasion among high earners, but the preposterously low threshold would ensnare many working people and place a tremendous burden on community banks and other small lenders. Further, the immense quantities of data that would be collected under this proposal would be at risk of exposure or misuse.
Many constituents have contacted my office to express their concerns about this proposal. I agree that it would be an invasive and unnecessary expansion of power for bureaucrats who have not shown they can be trusted with it.
The proposal has not been finalized and is still under consideration by the Biden Administration and congressional Democrats as they write their multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation bill, but anything they come up with along the lines they have suggested would have my opposition.
Similarly, the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate proposals have met with significant negative constituent feedback. I am vaccinated and encourage others to do so, but a government mandate is just plain wrong.
Like the IRS bank account monitoring proposal, these mandates infringe on the privacy rights of Americans. It is as if the Biden Administration’s personnel read George Orwell’s 1984 and came away thinking Big Brother is the hero.
The government is your government. Representation in our republic based on democratic principles depends upon an active and informed citizenry making its views known. I cannot personally respond to each contact my office receives, nor will I agree with every request or concern, but I am listening.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my Abingdon office at (276) 525-1405, Christiansburg office at (540) 381-5671 or via email at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.