April 22, 2019
January 8, 2019
December 13, 2018
In an op-ed for the National Review, Congressman Warren Davidson writes that the farm bill Congress passed yesterday should have included more reforms to benefit farmers and welfare recipients. He explains that approximately 80 percent of the farm bill will be spent on food stamps, with only 20 percent directed to the farm economy.
Congressman Davidson introduced a bill last year to consolidate more than 90 welfare programs which cost taxpayers almost $1 trillion a year.
Every year Congressman Davidson hosts Farm Forum in Piqua, Ohio. The event, which was started by former Congressman John Boehner, gives those involved in farming the opportunity to hear industry experts share updates in agriculture from across the state as well as nationally.
Click here to read Congressman Davidson’s op-ed.
It’s Time to Reform Food-Stamp Policy
With no work requirements, the farm bill offers more of the same
A strong farming industry is vital to America’s economy and national security. With the ongoing tariff battle, there is no question that some federal assistance can help protect America’s farm economy. However, the farm bill passed yesterday by Congress undermines the interests of America’s taxpayers.
During the Great Depression, farm subsidies were created to keep family farms afloat and ensure a stable national food supply. Today, the farm bill has less to do with helping family farms than with maintaining the status quo and administering a plethora of food-assistance poverty programs as if the economy were still in crisis.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, total farm-bill spending from 2018 to 2028 is estimated to be $867 billion. Approximately 80 percent of that will be spent on food stamps, with only 20 percent directed to the farm economy. The farm bill should really be renamed the food-stamp bill. According to data from the Department of Agriculture, at a time when the economy is thriving and unemployment is at its lowest level in decades, more than 40 million people in the U.S. are using food stamps — more than the entire population of Canada.
America is a generous country. Americans want to help their neighbors in need. But welfare is a two-way street. Healthy adults without children at home should have to work to receive welfare benefits. The reason is simple: Work requirements work. Individuals who hold full-time employment are ten times less likely to be poor than people who are out of work during at least part of the year.
In 1996, President Bill Clinton implemented welfare reforms that were bipartisan. The success of these reforms has since been repeated in Maine, Kansas, Alabama, and Indiana, where the total number of able-bodied adults on welfare rolls decreased by as much as 60 to 80 percent. What’s more, those who left welfare have seen major increases in their income. In Maine, for example, those who left welfare for the workforce more than doubled their family income.
Despite evidence in support of welfare reform, work requirements that the House passed in June were eventually killed in conference committee with the Senate’s version of the farm bill. But consider this: Welfare reform is a winning issue across the country. According to a poll taken in April 2018 by the Foundation for Government Accountability, over 80 percent of Americans support work requirements for welfare recipients. Instead of lifting individuals out of poverty, Congress is maintaining the status quo and leaving millions of able-bodied adults on the sidelines of our strong economy.
Meanwhile, the farm portion of the farm bill expands subsidies to corporations and “off-site” farmers. The conferenced farm bill contains language that will significantly increase access to farm subsidies, allowing extended-family members of farmers who are “actively engaged” in farming operations to qualify to collect farm subsidies.
Language in the farm bill will also expand an existing loophole that, according to the Government Accountability Office, would allow 10 percent of farmers, corporations, and agribusinesses to receive 70 percent of federal subsidy payments. Many of these recipients are millionaires living in places such as New York City. This is fiscally irresponsible and callously unfair to the small family farmers the subsidies were meant for.
Our nation is more than $21 trillion in debt. Failure to hold recipients of taxpayer dollars accountable only exacerbates America’s spending crisis.
Finally, the House-passed language helped Ohio farmers by providing a clear legal definition of the term “waters of the United States” (a.k.a. “WOTUS”), over which the EPA has jurisdiction. The Obama administration used rule-making based on this phrase to massively expand federal jurisdiction over all the nation’s waterways. This action was so expansive that it was blocked by the federal courts as unconstitutional. Unfortunately, this leaves the Trump administration to make a new rule. While the new rule accomplishes similar results as the House-passed language, it will prove temporary and be subject to future executive redefinition. Congress should have provided legislative clarity by passing the House’s binding legal definition of WOTUS. Instead, Senate Republicans surrendered to Democrats.
As representatives of the American people, we have a responsibility to enact policies that will help and benefit everyone, not just a select few. Elected officials must steward taxpayer dollars responsibly. As leaders, we must help those in need to rise out of difficult circumstances. At every level, this bill undermines the ideals of the American people who sent us here in the first place, and we have done them a disservice by passing it in its current, weakened form.
Congressman Warren Davidson represents Ohio’s eighth district in the House of Representatives and serves on the House Financial Services Committee. He is a member of the House Freedom Caucus.
August 2, 2018
By Warren Davidson
Prior to becoming a congressman in a special election two years ago, I spent 15 years starting, acquiring and growing manufacturing companies. I have experienced bad trade policy firsthand. Consequently, when Donald Trump campaigned on promises to fix our broken trade deals, like most of my colleagues in manufacturing, I was energized.
Of course, trade affects far more than manufacturing. Ohio’s 8th Congressional District is also one of the top agriculture districts in America. Though smaller and less well known, the region is an innovation hub going back further than the Wright brothers. We know how vital trade is to America’s economic power, and how critical economic strength is to military power. Indeed, before America was powerful militarily, America was powerful economically.
Many of the principles of war apply to trade. Perhaps the most basic is that, from Sun Tzu through WWII and more modern wars, multiplying your enemies never results in victory. Instead, effective strategy should multiply allies. Peter Navarro, and perhaps others, have poorly served our president and America’s national interest by employing poorly conceived means that have alienated our allies, multiplied and united our adversaries, and made victory less certain in this noble mission. Fortunately, there is a better way on trade.
First, Congress must restore its integral, constitutional role on trade. Earlier this year, I sponsored the Global Trade Accountability Act in the House. This bill keeps the president’s essential role in negotiating trade; however, it requires congressional approval within 90 days of implementation for changes to tariffs to become effective.
Were this bill already law, the administration would likely collaborate closely with Congress to make law more enduring and effective than an executive action. Collaboration would lead to better execution and better outcomes. For example, if Congress did support uniform tariffs, there would certainly be a better framework in place to approve exemptions. Presently, there are more than 20,000 companies in the queue and only six employees reviewing requests — one company at a time.
Second, like warfare, we should seek to minimize collateral damage and prevent harm to the innocent. Mr. Navarro’s flawed approach treats every country as an enemy, maximizes collateral damage and provokes harmful retaliatory strikes on otherwise well-functioning sectors (the innocent). His method is akin to fire-bombing major population centers to target a few enemy combatants.
Tariff wars not only harm our adversaries, they harm our closest allies, and they harm America’s economy (American companies and America’s consumers). Consumers are already paying higher prices, and companies that have been driving the strong growth rate are changing their plans and cancelling capital investments. Without a change of course, Mr. Navarro’s flawed approach will create a recession. Maybe that fear can work to force negotiations, but at what cost? Thankfully, there is a better way on trade.
A better way on trade would minimize the use of tariffs and unite our allies to implement targeted sanctions against bad actors. We already use this framework to target our adversaries, and it works. Using a more targeted sanctions regime instead of uniform tariffs, we could be precise enough to target companies — perhaps Chinese state-owned steel makers — and key executives.
These actions have downstream effects, but only for those directly aiding and abetting bad actors. For example, shipping companies refuse to transport the products of bad actors and banks refuse to hold and transfer their assets. Sanctions have a withering effect on targets. They are also much easier to escalate and deescalate as fast-moving negotiations warrant.
Just like modern warfare, a better way on trade is not only more just, it is also more effective. It creates allies, minimizes enemies, makes use of proven tools, and conserves resources. Applying effective strategy is how we accomplish missions. The mission of improving America’s broken trade deals should begin by uniting our allies against bad practices and against those who carry them out.
President Trump should change course now. Mr. President please part ways with Mr. Navarro, reject his flawed approach, engage with Congress and win this just cause with just and effective means — a better way on trade.
• Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio, a Republican, is a former Army Ranger.
February 14, 2018
Washington, D.C. – In case you missed it, Congressman Warren Davidson’s op-ed in today’s Cincinnati Enquirer focuses on the FISA program and talk concerning the recently released “memo”. Rep. Davidson has been involved in the FISA issue and will continue to play a role as Congress plans to readdress safeguards surrounding the program in the future. His piece further explains the program and its impact on Ohioans.
The full op-ed is below and can be accessed here.
Will FISA write the epitaph of the Fourth Amendment?
Congressman Warren Davidson (OH-08)
Although Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was just reauthorized for six years, I joined a broad coalition of Republicans and Democrats who share Constitutional concerns about the current program and the re-authorization bill. While each Member opposed may have individual differences about the ideal solution, we coalesced around one alternative, the USA Rights Amendment sponsored by Justin Amash, which would have restored the warrant requirement for searches related to American citizens. Unfortunately, our efforts failed 183 to 233. Despite substantial bipartisan support for the USA Rights Amendment, House leadership refused to consider other amendments, excluding all five of the amendments I offered. Each was more stringent than the reauthorization bill that passed, but less stringent than the USA Rights Amendment that failed.
Make no mistake, the overall program serves a vital national security objective. I understand the essential role intelligence gathering plays in defending the U.S. from foreign threats, but there needs to be strong safeguards in place to protect citizens’ privacy rights. Our point was not to end the program, but rather to ensure that in the effort to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance that we continue to respect the Constitutional rights of all Americans. The Constitution of the United States does not apply to non-citizens, but citizenship matters and Americans are supposed to be protected by the Constitution of the United States.
In 1978, Congress passed FISA to establish procedures that protect the privacy rights of U.S. persons when they are being monitored for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence. Under these procedures, law enforcement officials must get a court order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to search an American’s communications, and they must comply with certain procedures that protect the anonymity of U.S. persons.
Following 9/11, the federal government wanted to gather intelligence on terrorist networks by searching through and capturing enormous amounts of electronic communications such as emails, text messages, phone calls, and more. Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act created procedures for targeting non-citizens located outside of the United States. In order to collect the information, these FISA amendments created a different set of laws that gave law enforcement officers permission to collect data on Americans without having to go through the warrant system. This means that family members innocently conversing by email about a news story could have their data collected, stored, searched, and used against them – all without a warrant.
Government agencies like the NSA, CIA, and FBI can search through this data using search terms relating to American citizens. The FBI can use FISA derived evidence to start criminal investigations and use as evidence in court, even if the crime is unrelated to national security. Backdoor searches have allowed law enforcement officers to circumvent privacy protection guarantees to American citizens by the Fourth Amendment.
Rather than hand another blank check for the FISA program, Congress should have at least implemented reporting requirements to make sure agencies are following and enforcing statutory requirements and administrative guidelines set by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
Moments before the vote reauthorizing Section 702, President Trump shared his concerns over twitter about the Steele dossier placing responsibility on FISA. The NSA has a history of gathering huge amounts of private communications, including from citizens like Ohioans Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Jim Traficant (D-OH). Moreover, according to Department of Justice’s own FISA reports, obtaining a warrant has an almost nonexistent denial rate. Of the nearly forty thousand warrants issued only 51 have been denied – a .12 percent denial rate. Now, it seems possible that FISA’s warrant process was abused to target another political figure, then candidate and President-elect, now President Donald Trump.
Americans should be concerned that the federal government has the ability to abuse its capacity to gather foreign intelligence by needlessly spying on its own citizens. Unless we the people support and defend our Constitution, what’s next? Without serious reforms to FISA, the Fourth Amendment will exist as nothing more than a very distant memory. As Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” In light of all that has transpired since the reauthorization of FISA, I feel that Congress has a duty to revisit this issue to both sustain an essential intelligence program and to guarantee Constitutional protections for every American.
May 16, 2017
Note: This op-ed first appeared in Piqua Daily Call.
The United States enjoys the world’s best markets for goods, services, capital, intellectual property and more. This is no accident. America’s history of people with diverse backgrounds coming together to embrace common values of economic liberty and limited government enshrined in our Constitution created the unique conditions that allowed us to fulfil our promise of leaving our next generation off better than we were.
Growing our economy is central to this sacred promise and essential to the American Dream. It is our best hope for navigating the debt crisis that generations of status quo politicians have amassed. We cannot spend our way out of debt, but we can grow, save and invest.
As a member of Congress, serving on the House Financial Services Committee I have a front seat role directly influencing policy here, while contributing across the policy spectrum to represent Ohio’s 8th District. The Financial Services Committee passes legislation that provides the framework for the American Dream with its oversight of our financial sector: currency, monetary policy, international finance, banking, insurance, mortgages, capital markets, saving and investing. Americans commonly use these tools to make their financial dreams a reality. Lastly, the sub-committee on illicit terrorism financing protects civil liberties while working to maintain a framework that detects everything from terrorism funding to the fraud of identity theft.
Financial services are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities. When you clear away all the jargon, the financial services sector is simply about connecting individuals and businesses that have resources to individuals and businesses that need them. It connects borrowers to savers and investors. A well-functioning financial sector performs this task in the most efficient way possible, where everybody wins, resources are allocated efficiently, and the economy grows.
After the Great Recession, President Obama and congressional liberals loaded up regulations that inspired the “too big to fail” logic that sent our tax dollars to bail out Wall Street banks. Targeting Wall Street, they passed the Dodd-Frank Act, a 2,300-page law that claims to fight financial complexity, but delivers government complexity. Rather than ending “too big to fail” and protecting taxpayers from future bailouts, Dodd-Frank anointed a new generation of Wall Street firms that will benefit from government support in the event of their financial distress.
All across our District, small community banks tell me time and time again that these misguided regulations are crushing them and other smaller financial institutions. As regulatory costs rose, small business loans declined 11 percent. Banking fees have grown 111 percent, as those banks that have continued to lend passed on the added regulatory costs to consumers. These statistics reflect the stories constituents on the customer side have told me. Free checking and other services that used to be standard are only offered by 37 percent of banks now. No wonder there are actually more people today who do not even have bank accounts than there were before Dodd-Frank.
We can do better and hardworking Americans deserve better. Consumers win with good policy and competitive markets. Over the next year, Congress seeks to repeal Dodd-Frank and replace it with simple, easy-to-understand rules that help Main Street. Honest businesses should be able to grow without micromanagement from the government. Banks and financial institutions that make bad bets and cannot survive, should not expect taxpayer funded bailouts. With common sense rules and basic market discipline, our financial system will be safer, more innovative and more responsive to customers.
As we roll up our sleeves in the Financial Services Committee, I am confident we can end the era of “too big to fail,” unleash economic growth, and provide Ohio families with financial security and peace of mind. In short, we can restore confidence in the American Dream and Make America Grow Again!
Congressman Warren Davidson represents Ohio’s 8th Congressional District. He lives in Troy with his wife, Lisa, and two children.
Note: This op-ed first appeared in War on the Rocks.
Anyone who has served in the U.S. armed forces is familiar with completing an Operations Order (OPORD). Spelling out the situation, mission, execution, sustainment, and command and control enables our Army to “fight and win our Nation’s wars.” For our troops in harm’s way in Syria right now, the mission has not been spelled out and Congress, by ignoring its responsibilities to authorize and exercise oversight over the use of military force, is responsible. History has shown us that when Congress neglects its duty, our troops are at an avoidable strategic disadvantage.
For a prime example of this dynamic, we need look no further than the Vietnam War. In the jungles of Southeast Asia, the United States gradually built up its activities with no clear direction from Congress. The result of this legislative negligence was a bloody, deadly, and tragic waste of resources. One does not have to look hard to see the parallel in Syria. Over the years, a steady trickle of troops were committed as the United States sought to train “moderate rebels.” Where does this path lead?
In the wake of the failures of Vietnam, Congress attempted to reassert its authority over war-making with the 1973 War Powers Resolution. Seeking to prevent further failures in Syria, Congress likewise needs to reclaim its war powers through a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The time for this is now.
The 2001 AUMF, with its vaguely worded authorization targeting the 9/11 attackers and their associated forces, forms the legal justification for many of our current military operations in the Middle East, including those directed against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The mismatch between the 2001 AUMF approved by Congress and the reality of current operations on the ground is not just a theoretical constitutional issue. Congressional negligence and neglect on this front is a recipe for failure.
Congress must take ownership of the fact that the United States is currently engaged in a different war than the one it authorized 16 years ago. The Global War on Terror was focused on ousting al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters from Afghanistan and shutting down affiliated jihadist cells in Southeast Asia and North Africa. Today, ISIL and al-Qaeda compete around the globe for affiliates, whether by attempting to establish cells in more stable nations such as India or taking advantage of the increasing number of failed states such as Yemen and Libya. While ISIL shares the same Salafi-jihad ideology as al-Qaeda, it is a distinct organization with different capabilities, leadership, structure, and strategies.
There are clear differences between defeating ISIL in 2017 and defeating al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2001. These different dynamics were most recently on display in the U.S. attack on the Shayrat Airbase in Syria. Are American actions in Syria focused on defeating ISIL or regime change in Syria? Was Trump’s cruise missile strike retaliation for crimes against humanity or was it aimed at reestablishing deterrence against chemical weapons use? Listening to various senior administration officials in the days following the attack, all of these were offered as explanations. It was clear that no objectives had been elucidated and agreed upon even within the administration.
The White House seemed to settle on the positon that the purpose of these strikes was to send a signal to our adversaries that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. This may be sensible, but unfortunately it has nothing to do with the aims laid out in the 2001 AUMF. Under what authority were these strikes carried out?
The landscape of threats and challenges in the Middle East and elsewhere indicates we are fighting in a very different battlespace than the one envisioned in 2001. We need a foreign policy that reflects that reality. And should that foreign policy require the use of force, Congress must take the lead and reclaim its constitutional prerogatives by debating and passing a new AUMF. Critics might argue that this will only hamstring our military from actually winning on the battlefield, but this is not the case. Congress can and should craft an AUMF that is narrowly tailored and spells out the mission clearly, but also gives our leaders room to adapt and ensures that our commanders have reasonable autonomy with respect to rules of engagement.
America’s men and women in uniform deserve decisive leadership from Congress. When the United States commits these lives and resources to an effort, we need to ensure that it is not in vain and make clear that America intends to win. We cannot determine if we have won if we do not define what winning looks like. Now is the time to define clearly what an “America First” foreign policy looks like. It is time to reverse Obama-era failures to take our enemies seriously. But the United States should also reject the neoconservative approach that envisions American military power solving every problem in the world to affect regime change and take on doomed nation-building, projects.
A new AUMF would place war power authority squarely where the founders intended it: in the hands of Congress. The founders rightly understood the serious nature of waging war and the lives and resources our government asks to be put on the line in the process. War needs buy-in from the people and should be openly debated by Congress where the people are most directly represented. Members of Congress have sworn to uphold the Constitution and need to begin acknowledging the weightiness of that oath with respect to authorizing combat, declaring our wars, and providing accountability for victory.
It could not be more important for Congress to perform this most basic duty of reclaiming its constitutional war powers. Executive branch overreach, no matter who is president, should be of concern on both sides of the aisle. The status quo of allowing for uninterrupted war without following the constitutional framework has paved the way for the imperial presidency, making Congress complicit in taking away the voice of the American people. This dereliction of duty threatens to tear apart the fabric of our republic, to the dishonor of all who have fought to defend and preserve our freedoms. Now is the time for deeds, not words. Congress must act and support our president, our troops, and the American people by providing an updated AUMF specific to the fight against ISIL.
Congressman Warren Davidson (R-OH) was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a June 2016 special election. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, he had the honor of serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment, The Old Guard, and the 101st Airborne Division.
November 16, 2016
Note: This op-ed first appeared in the Troy Daily News.
What is your American Dream? For millions of Americans, starting a business or farm is an integral part of their Dream and their own identity. Someone starts with an idea and after years of hard work and ingenuity, they turn their idea into reality. Their small businesses create jobs for millions of people across America in the process.
Unfortunately, the American Dream is being dismantled by business-strangling taxes and regulations. The latest U.S. Census Bureau data reports that while 400,000 new businesses are created annually, 470,000 fail. It should be no surprise then that over half of our next generation tell pollsters they think the American Dream is dead.
The latest assault on the American Dream is a new regulation announced by bureaucrats at President Obama’s Department of the Treasury. They want to increase the death tax on family farms and businesses by their own authority. Their idea alone is bad enough, but the means they seek to do this are equally bad. This change to our tax code is an unmistakable part of President Obama’s attempt to rule by executive action rather collaborate with Congress – as required by our Constitution.
The entire principle of the tax on estates is immoral. Building a business, growing a farm, and growing wealth is hard but meaningful work. There is joy in it, but even greater joy than knowing you can leave your children better off than you were. As a small business founder and owner, I can say with certainty that those who start their own farms or businesses don’t do it to hand off 40 percent of their life’s work to the government. Hillary Clinton thinks the number should be 65 percent, by the way.
Furthermore, the problem with the Department of Treasury reinterpreting a generation or more of tax policy should be obvious. Congress is supposed to write our laws. This ensures that the will of the people is represented in our lawmaking. Allowing the IRS to change tax rates, and pull more estates into the death tax trap is like letting the fox guard the henhouse. Our Founders created a separation of powers that our president and his appointees hold in contempt. Congress was clear that the death tax should be abolished when the House of Representatives voted for H.R. 1105 last year with a bipartisan majority of 240-179. Rather than respect our Constitution and the will of the people, these bureaucrats are seeking a stealth increase to this immoral tax.
To make our economy grow we need to encourage business growth and capital formation, not punish it. We need more people to make the sacrifices that launch, grow, and preserve businesses and farms. There are rewards for success, but our government should not attempt to steal the biggest reward of all. The death tax has that effect not only in it monetary cost, but too often the business or farm must sell to pay the tax – ending the dream. Lastly, leaving our country better off than we found has to mean we respect our Constitution. Every member of Congress swore an oath to support and defend it.
Last month, I introduced the Protect Family Farms and Businesses Act (H.R.6100) to halt the Obama Administration’s backdoor tax increase. It will prohibit the new Obama Administration’s rule, or any like it, from going into effect. The bill already has over 60 cosponsors in Congress, support from over a hundred businesses organizations, many in our district, and a companion bill in the Senate introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio. Too much is on the line for too many for Congress to stand idle. The American Dreams is at risk, but we can take this one small step to save it.
Congressman Warren Davidson represents Ohio’s 8th Congressional District. He lives in Troy with his wife, Lisa, and two children.