Press Releases

Sinema Supports Legislation to Hold VA Accountable, Fire Poor-Performing Employees

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema voted with a bipartisan majority to pass the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016, legislation reforming the VA benefits claim process and giving the Secretary of Veterans Affairs new authority to hold VA employees accountable and improve performance at the VA.

“It took more than two years to remove three leaders responsible for the tragedies at the Phoenix VA,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “It’s outrageous that it takes this long to fire employees responsible for the poor treatment of veterans. Today’s legislation gives the Secretary of the VA the authority to hold employees accountable and change the culture of the VA to finally put veterans first.”

The VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016 authorizes the VA to remove or demote a VA employee based on performance or misconduct. It also strengthens protections for whistleblowers and allows the VA secretary to recoup bonuses from poor-performing employees.


Sinema Statement on Passing of Governor Mofford

PHOENIX – Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema released the following statement on the death of Governor Rose Mofford:

“Governor Mofford embodied the true meaning of public service – a tireless, thoughtful leader who always put the people of Arizona first. She was a trailblazer and an Arizona legend. She was a dear friend and role model for me. Governor Mofford’s legacy will live on in Arizona forever.”

 

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 Sinema, McSally Legislation to Stop Tax Hike on Arizona Seniors, Middle Class Families Passes House

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act (H.R. 3590), legislation introduced by Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema and Congresswoman Martha McSally to prevent a tax increase on out-of-pocket medical expenses for Arizona seniors and middle class families.

“Arizonans continue to struggle with increasing health care costs,” said Congresswoman Sinema.  “This commonsense legislation allows Arizona seniors and families to deduct more of their out-of-pocket health care expenses, a relief sorely needed during tough economic times.”

“Many Arizona seniors have saved their entire lives in the hopes of a secure retirement. It would be completely unfair now to hand them the bill for the runaway spending of the past few years,” said Congresswoman McSally. “Our bill stops this looming tax hike before it hits seniors and rolls it back on middle class families already being squeezed by it." 

“Many Arizona seniors already face high out of pocket medical costs,” said AARP Arizona State Director Dana Marie Kennedy. “Increasing this tax deduction threshold on them will only cost them more.  AARP is proud of the bipartisan work of Congresswoman McSally and Congresswoman Sinema to preserve this important medical deduction and help ensure seniors in Arizona with high health care costs do not also get hit with tax hikes.”

Previously, taxpayers could deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of their adjusted growth income (AGI). The Affordable Care Act increased this threshold to 10 percent for individuals under 65.  For individuals 65 and older, the increase is scheduled to occur in 2017. The Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act prevents that increase and returns the AGI threshold to 7.5 percent for all individuals.


Congresswoman Sinema spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of the bill:

Congresswoman Sinema full remarks here:

Thank you Congresswoman McSally for working with me to introduce this bipartisan legislation.

I rise today in support of H.R. 3590, the Halt Tax Increases on the Middle Class and Seniors Act.

As the cost of healthcare shifts onto households, Congress must act to make sure that hardworking families can make ends meet.

H.R. 3590 provides commonsense and needed relief for hardworking Arizona families.

This legislation returns the adjusted gross income threshold for claiming the medical expense deduction to 7.5 percent and prevents a looming tax hike on seniors.

According to a 2014 CRS report, medical expenses are the second largest deduction for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of under $50,000. 

Middle income families who itemize deductions are more likely and more able to claim this deduction than high income earners.

According to 2014 IRS data, 98% of those claiming this deduction have incomes less than $200,000, and 84% claiming this deduction make less than $100,000. More than half (54%) of those who claim this deduction earn less than $55,000.

If we talk dollars, 94% of the dollars that went back to hardworking families to cover medical expenses went to filers who make under $200,000.

While the annual growth in healthcare spending has slowed to historically low rates, the out of pocket costs for hardworking families continue to rise.

This legislation provides modest relief for middle class families and seniors, which is why it is strongly supported by AARP.

Again, I thank my colleague from Arizona for her bipartisan work on this bill.  

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – In recognition of Suicide Prevention Month, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema hosted the fourth annual bipartisan special order hour in the U.S. House of Representatives to raise awareness of veteran suicide.

“Typically, time in the House chamber is split – Republicans have one hour and Democrats have another,” said Congresswoman Sinema in her remarks. “This issue is too important to be overshadowed by partisan politics. That’s why tonight we’ve brought together members from both sides of the aisle – to show our commitment to solving this problem together and finding real solutions for our veterans.”

Congresswoman Sinema introduced the Sergeant Daniel Somers Classified Veterans Access to Care Act to fix VA mental health care and ensure veterans with classified experiences have appropriate access to mental health services. The bill passed the House of Representatives in February.

“No one who returns home from serving our country should ever feel like he or she has nowhere to turn,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “I am committed to working on both sides of the aisle to ensure no veteran feels trapped like Sgt. Somers did and all our veterans have access to appropriate mental health care.”

“No one who returns home from serving our country should ever feel like he or she has nowhere to turn,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “I am committed to working on both sides of the aisle to ensure no veteran feels trapped like Sgt. Somers did and all our veterans have access to appropriate mental health care.”

Special Order Hour


Sinema Visits General Dynamics Missions Systems


Scottsdale, Ariz. – Through her Kyrsten Means Business Program, Congresswoman Sinema heard from employees and toured the facilities at Scottsdale’s General Dynamics, an AZ-09 aerospace and defense company.

“General Dynamics is a leading producer of new, innovative technology,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “Their groundbreaking equipment is used on the battlefield to improve communication and keep our troops safe.  They also continue to create high-tech, high wage jobs for Arizona families. We’ll continue working to support defense companies like General Dynamics to protect our country and improve our economy.”

The equipment built in Scottsdale defends networks against dynamic threats by developing, deploying and sustaining encryption products, systems, and services. General Dynamics has established a global presence in secure communications systems, command and control systems, imagery sensors and cyber products.

Scottsdale is a top facility for design, engineering, production and testing. The facility has approximately 2,300 employees manufacturing some of the nations most advanced equipment, including the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) and Manpack Radio.

The WIN-T delivers voice and data communications wherever and whenever soldiers need them without the need for fixed infrastructure. The AN/PRC-155 Manpack radio is the U.S. Army’s first fielded two-channel, software defined radio that connects to the new Mobile User Objective Satellite (MUOS) network, providing soldiers with clear, smartphone-like voice communications wherever they are deployed. Congresswoman Sinema has been a champion for full or increased funding to the WIN-T and Manpack Radio programs.

 

 

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Sinema Visits Ability Dynamics through Kyrsten Means Business Program

 

TEMPE, Ariz. – Through her Kyrsten Means Business Program, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema heard from employees at Tempe’s Ability Dynamics, a medical device company that manufactures and distributes innovative prosthetic feet.

“Ability Dynamics is an example of the incredible medical innovation happening in Arizona’s 9th district,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “These groundbreaking prosthetics are improving the lives of patients, including veterans in Arizona and across the country.”

The RUSH foot previously met the reimbursement criteria under Medicare, private insurance, and the VA.  Earlier this year, the VA made changes to their reimbursement codes leaving veterans who were prescribed the RUSH foot unable to obtain the device.

Congresswoman Sinema led a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald asking for an explanation for the coding change and a justification for the difference between the VA’s reimbursement determination and Medicare’s reimbursement determination.

"We share the same goals of efficiently using taxpayer dollars to provide veterans with the best possible care," wrote Congresswoman Sinema. "We look forward to working with you to improve transparency and accuracy in coding, and to improve the overall quality of care available to veterans."

Read the full letter here.

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Sinema Joins Arizona Seniors for SilverSneakers Workout


PHOENIX – Today, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema joined the Coalition for Medicare Choices and Arizona seniors for a Healthways SilverSneakers workout and discussion about the Medicare Advantage program.

“When I meet with Arizona seniors to talk about health care, they are concerned most about rising costs and decreasing choice,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “I will continue to work across the aisle to find commonsense solutions that drive down cost, increase choice, spur innovation, and improve the quality of care provided to our seniors.”

Congresswoman Sinema was named a 2016 Medicare Advantage Champion by the Coalition for Medicare Choices for her leadership to strengthen Medicare Advantage for Arizona seniors.

More than 444,000 Arizonans and 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in Arizona’s 9th district choose Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans consistently receive high customer satisfaction ratings and help to control cost, drive innovation and improve health outcomes for seniors.

  


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Sinema, Fitzpatrick Legislation to Combat Terrorist Financing Passes House

Washington DC – Today, a bipartisan counter-terrorism bill introduced by Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) and Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) unanimously passed the House of Representatives. The National Strategy for Combating Terrorist, Underground and Other Illicit Financing Act (H.R. 5594) directs the Secretary of the Treasury, in coordination with other federal agencies, to establish a comprehensive strategy to combat the financing of terrorism and related forms of illicit finance.

“Terrorist organizations pose a serious threat to our national security, and it is critical that we cut off the funding that supports these groups,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “I regularly hear from Arizonans who are concerned about the safety of their families and fellow Americans. This legislation is a commonsense solution that ensures the United States denies funding to terrorists and protects America and our allies.”

This legislation creates a strategy that assesses the effectiveness of the United States’ current efforts to fight terrorist financing and aligns future efforts with broader national security goals. It will improve coordination between law enforcement at all levels and establishes priorities and objectives for preventing terrorist financing.

Congresswoman Sinema spoke about her legislation on the House Floor:

Full remarks below:

Thank you Chairman Hensarling and Ranking Member Waters.

Over the course of the past year, the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing has found that US government efforts to counter the financing of terrorism lack sufficient coordination, and that the United States has no unified national strategy to guide our counter financing efforts.

The federal government must change its approach and mindset to counter the financing of terrorism.

This is why Chairman Fitzpatrick and I introduced bipartisan legislation to direct the Secretary of the Treasury, in coordination with relevant federal agencies, to establish a whole-of-government strategy to combat the financing of terrorism and related forms of illicit finance.

This strategy must include:

  • a critical assessment of the effectiveness of U.S. efforts to fight terrorist financing;
  • ways to improve coordination with international, state, and local law enforcement, and the private sector; and
  • a comprehensive discussion of threats, goals, objectives, and priorities for disrupting and preventing terrorist financing.

The strategy should enhance detection, deterrence and prosecution, and ultimately strengthen our broader national security goals.

Our legislation forces the federal government to create a whole-of-government strategy to counter terrorism financing that improves the effectiveness of our efforts and better aligns these efforts with our broader national interests.

Terrorism is an undeniable threat to our country’s security and global stability. Terrorist networks constantly develop new ways to finance their deadly operations and threaten America.

The Islamic State is one of the world’s most violent, dangerous, and well financed terrorist groups. To keep our country safe, we must be one step ahead of IS, cutting off its funding and stopping its efforts.

Thank you Chairman Fitzpatrick and Congresswoman Velazquez for working with me on this important legislation. Thank you Chairman Fitzpatrick and Ranking Member Lynch for your leadership on the Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to keep money out of terrorists’ hands and build on our progress to strengthen America’s security.

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Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema’s bipartisan legislation to protect seniors from financial fraud unanimously passed the House of Representatives. The Senior$afe Act (H.R. 4538) helps law enforcement track down financial criminals who target seniors.

“Americans lose billions of dollars each year to financial fraud, and seniors are a top target,” said Congresswoman Sinema.  “These financial crimes devastate their bank accounts and often go unreported. Seniors deserve to retire with dignity, and they shouldn’t have to worry that their hard earned savings are at risk of fraud. This bill is a commonsense solution to help identify, report, and stop financial abuse of Arizona seniors.”

Recent studies estimate nearly 1 in 5 American seniors may be a target of financial fraud or abuse. Even when financial institutions suspect abuse, the abuse may go unpunished. Current laws lack the necessary flexibility to allow financial institutions to report suspected abuse to authorities.

The Senior$afe Act, introduced with Congressman Bruce Poliquin (ME-02), Congressman Patrick E. Murphy (FL-18), and Congressman Mick Mulvaney (SC-05), helps individuals and financial institutions communicate with the appropriate agencies when they suspect financial abuse of seniors. It also encourages firms to train employees to identify and stop financial fraud.

 

House Financial Services Committee Passes Sinema Legislation to Protect Arizona Seniors from Financial Fraud

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Financial Services Committee passed Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema’s bipartisan legislation, the Senior$afe Act, to help law enforcement track down financial criminals who target seniors.

“Seniors deserve to retire with dignity, and they shouldn’t have to worry that their hard earned savings are at risk of fraud,” said Congresswoman Sinema. “Our commonsense legislation ensures that financial institutions can identify fraud, report it, and stop financial abuse of the elderly. We’ll keep working to protect seniors and strengthen consumer protections for hardworking Arizonans.”

Recent studies estimate nearly 1 in 5 American seniors may be a target of financial fraud or abuse. Even when financial institutions suspect abuse, the abuse may go unpunished. Current laws lack the necessary flexibility to allow financial institutions to report suspected abuse to authorities.

The Senior$afe Act, introduced with Congressman Bruce Poliquin (ME-02), Congressman Patrick E. Murphy (FL-18), and Congressman Mick Mulvaney (SC-05), will help individuals and financial institutions communicate with the appropriate agencies when they suspect financial abuse of seniors. It also encourages firms to train employees to identify and stop financial fraud. 

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