There’s something going on in Congress that some people don’t want you to know about. You don’t see it on the news. You don’t read about it in the paper. You don’t hear it on the radio. You’d think it was like a Bigfoot sighting in the Uwharrie Forest. It’s not a mythical creature or folklore — it’s bipartisanship. In Congress.
As your congressman, I may be known as a strong conservative, but I’ve also made it a priority to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find solutions to issues we all care about. I’ve always said you could put me in a room with nearly any Democrat and give us a problem, and I bet we could find a solution — without compromising either of our core principles.
Earlier this year, a local paper in North Carolina applauded the bipartisan work of G. K. Butterfield, a Democrat from Wilson, and me, saying “… there are thoughtful, hardworking lawmakers on both sides of the aisle working mightily to fix what’s broken.” Last week was no different as we made substantial bipartisan progress on several fronts.
On Wednesday, the Energy and Commerce Committee advanced 25 bills to combat the opioid crisis, including two important bipartisan bills that I authored. One of the bills is the Securing Opioids and Unused Narcotics with Deliberate (SOUND) Disposal and Packaging Act (H.R. 5687) — legislation supported by my Democrat colleague G. K. My bill would encourage and promote improved packaging and disposal methods with respect to opioids and other medications. Addressing leftover opioids on the front end with packaging and on the back end with disposal will help eliminate the leftover drugs that find their way from medicine cabinets to the streets.
Another important issue that should cut across all political lines is supporting our military. As you know, the United States currently has military personnel stationed around the world to conduct both combat and peacetime operations. When a soldier is deployed to a combat zone, he or she receives what’s called the Combat Zone Tax Exclusion (CZTE) which pays soldiers tax-free while they are in combat. This is a simple way we show support for those who are willing to risk their lives to defend our nation.
However, there are locations outside of combat zones where soldiers regularly conduct combat operations. Generally, these operations fall to our Special Operations Forces (SOF) who are conducting counter-terrorism missions. These elite soldiers put their lives on the line, and they deserve the exact same tax relief as every other solider who serves in a combat zone.
To correct this, I introduced a bipartisan bill last week that would allow any service member who is deployed under these circumstances to receive the Combat Zone Tax Exclusion during their deployment, ensuring our soldiers get what they were promised, no matter where their mission takes them. By expanding the Combat Zone Tax Exclusion, we will modernize the law to reflect the current realities of warfare and ensure fairness for service members who serve in combat situations.
At the end of the day, I identify as a conservative Republican. My colleague might identify as a liberal Democrat. But we are first and foremost proud Americans working to better our country, and that’s the perspective we should take into the work we do on your behalf in Congress.