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Our nation faced many challenges this year, from abuses uncovered at the Department of Veterans Affairs to ongoing strife in the Middle East. As 2014 comes to a close, I wanted to update you on some of my work on behalf of our community throughout the past year. It is an honor to serve you in Congress, and I look forward to championing South Florida's priorities in 2015.  Until then, please accept my warmest wishes for a happy and healthy New Year! 

- Ted Deutch

 

In 2014, Congressman Ted Deutch continued his efforts to defend the constitutionally-protected rights of women from attacks on the House Judiciary Committee. During a hearing on legislation aimed at forbidding women from using their own private health insurance plans for abortion services, Ted delivered what the national blog ThinkProgress called a "passionate speech," in defense of women's rights. During his remarks, Ted urged his colleagues to put aside divisive attacks on women's health and instead focus on a real women's agenda that includes equal pay for equal work and access to affordable child care. Watch here.

 

Congressman Ted Deutch is the author of legislation to fix Social Security's broken cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) formula, which has resulted in meager and often non-existent benefit increases for Social Security recipients. In February, Ted scored a major victory on behalf of seniors when President Obama dropped a controversial proposal known as the "chained-CPI" from his 2015 budget plan. The chained-CPI would actually make the COLA problem even worse by shrinking retirees' benefits as they age. Click here to watch Rep. Deutch voice his opposition to the chained-CPI.

 

On March 18, 2014, Congressman Ted Deutch attended the White House ceremony in which President Obama presented the Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans who may have been overlooked due to previous prejudice in the military against their race, religion, or national origin. These heroic soldiers were discovered during a review of Pentagon records mandated by Congress in response to the efforts of Mitch Libman, a South Florida man who worked for decades to find out why his childhood friend, the late Private First Class Leonard Kravitz, never received a Medal of Honor for his valor during the Korean War. In November 2013, Ted passed legislation enabling the 24 extraordinary soldiers identified during the review to finally receive the Medal of Honor they earned. In the photo above, Ted presents a congressional record to Mitch Libman commemorating his efforts at a town hall meeting in Coconut Creek, Florida.

 

Congressman Ted Deutch is committed to advancing medical research and expanding services for families affected by autism and other developmental disorders. In April, Ted recognized World Autism Awareness Day with a visit to Rising Tide Car Wash, an innovative small business in Parkland, Florida that employs individuals with autism spectrum disorders. During the event, Ted discussed the ABLE Act, a bill he co-introduced to help families caring for disabled children better manage their financial needs. In December, Ted had the opportunity to join a majority of his colleagues in the House and Senate to pass the ABLE Act and send it to the President's desk for signature. 

 

As a member of the House Judiciary Committee and strong proponent of privacy rights, Congressman Ted Deutch was deeply disturbed to learn that the NSA had relied on secret laws never passed by Congress to justify abuses in its surveillance programs. In May, he voted with a bipartisan majority of his colleagues to pass the USA Freedom Act, which stands for Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act. Though the bill eventually fell victim to a Republican filibuster in the Senate, Ted remains determined to work across the aisle in 2015 to protect Americans' civil rights and liberties. 

 

Congressman Ted Deutch became Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee's influential Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa at the start of the 113th Congress. This June, Ted was on a fact-finding mission in the Middle East with Subcommittee Chariman Illeana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL) when three innocent Israeli teens, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frankel and Eyal Yifrac, were murdered by Hamas terrorists. After attending the funeral of the victims, Ted condemned their killings as well as the murder of a Palestinian teen in the days thereafter. After Hamas launched a campaign of rocket attacks aimed at killing innocent Israelis, the terrorist organization used Palestinian civilians as human shields in an effort to incite international criticism of Israeli Defense Forces' operations. A staunch ally of Israel, upon returning to Washington Ted introduced a resolution condemning the use of human shields by Hamas and other terrorist groups. The resolution passed Congress in the weeks that followed. 

 

In July 2014, Congressman Ted Deutch unveiled the Democracy for All Amendment, a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would restore legitimacy to laws that limit the influence of money in politics. Ted's constitutional amendment was crafted to unite members of the House and Senate behind a proposal to address the explosion of outside spending unleashed by the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision. The Democracy for All Amendment would also overturn the Supreme Court's 2014 ruling in McCutcheon, which held that donors have a First Amendment right to exert more influence over public officials than voters. Since its introduction in July, more than 120 members of Congress have signed on as cosponsors of the Democracy for All Amendment. Watch Rep. Deutch discuss the amendment here.

 

Championing investments in South Florida's infrastructure will always be a top priority of Congressman Deutch.  In August, Ted had the opportunity to see how some of those investments are paying off when he visited the Fort Lauderdale Air Traffic Control tower, which was named Air Traffic Facility of the Year by the Federal Aviation Administration. In the photo above, Ted gets a look at some of the state-of-the-art communications, weather, and safety technologies that are helping keep the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport running safely, smoothly, and efficiently. Earlier in the summer, Ted met with local officials to discuss additional infrastructure improvements authorized by the Water Resources Reform and Redevelopment Act of 2014. The passage of this law authorized more funding for several South Florida projects related to Everglades Restoration, freshwater supply, flood control, and environmental conservation. 

 

While at home in South Florida, Congressman Ted Deutch has pursued unique ways to engage students of all ages in civic life and the democratic process. In September, Ted launched his 2014-2015 Congressional Youth Cabinet, made up of high school students from throughout Florida's 21st district with an interest in public service. As one of just two programs of its kind in the country, the Congressional Youth Cabinet meets regularly to participate in legislative simulations, hear from guest speakers, and explore federal policy issues. Ted also holds "Congress in the Classroom," events at elementary, middle school, and high schools throughout the district to walk students through the legislative process and provide a firsthand glimpse of what it is like to serve in Congress.

 

In October, Congressman Ted Deutch hosted Veterans Jobs Fairs in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach to help local veterans polish their resumes and connect with employers throughout the area. During the event, Ted also updated our servicemen and women on the passage of the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014. Congress passed these reforms in response to the widespread delays and abuse discovered within the VA health system. To meet the growing demand for care from veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to better serve our aging veteran population, this law includes funding for the VA to recruit more doctors, nurses, therapists, and other medical professionals, open more service locations, and allow veterans dealing with long wait-times to seek community-based alternatives for care.

 

With Medicare fraud always a top concern in South Florida, this November Congressman Ted Deutch introduced the Stop Schemes and Crimes Against Medicare and Seniors Act (Stop SCAMS Act) of 2014. Cosponsored by Congressman Peter Roskam of Illinois, this bipartisan legislation aims to stop providers with a history of defrauding Medicare from making their way back into the system. Ted is also the author of the bipartisan Seniors Fraud Prevention Act, which would bolster efforts at the Federal Trade Commission to protect retirees from financial fraud that targets their assets.

 

In December, President Barack Obama signed the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act into law. This bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch, Ranking Democrat on the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Subcommittee Chairman, establishes Israel as a major strategic partner of the United States and enhances U.S.-Israel cooperation on a multitude of fronts, including cybersecurity, defense, agriculture, energy, and trade. At a time of intense volatility in the Middle East, Ted will continue to champion a strong U.S.-Israel relationship in Congress grounded in our mutual interests and shared values. 
 
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