Greetings to the Constituents of Florida Congressional District 22 and all Americans, what an incredible and momentous week this has been. It is with great, and humbling, honor that I send this first weekly update as your Congressional Representative.
First of all, I’d like to send my thoughts and prayers to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, her staff and her family as well as all of the victims of this terrible tragedy in Arizona. My family grieves for those innocent lives lost and prays for the recovery of those brave individuals still fighting for their lives. This horrible tragedy is a reminder that we are all Americans first. Congresswoman Gifford’s will to survive is a testament to her strength and courage. As we go forward, I will continue to make myself available to my constituents through monthly town hall meetings and other venues. I will continue to follow the direction of the Sergeant of Arms Office in how to best secure my public meetings, but in no way will this incident deter me from being available to the very people who elected me. One more thing, for anyone to say this tragedy is a result of any kind of political dialogue is a tragedy in itself. The shooter was a very disturbed individual and it appears there were so many warning signs that he was going to do something horrible. We should be focusing on the mental health crisis in our country, not politics.
Now on to the congressional news of the week. There is so much to share with you all but first let me just say thanks to all those who took the time to come up for the swearing in ceremony and also to those of you who watched from the District. Special recognition and gratitude to Joyce Kaufman for broadcasting her show from our campaign headquarters and hosting the dedicated Go West team members.
Last week got off to a thrilling start with an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to express my positions on the critical economic issue which we face. It was extremely important for me to convey to Mr. Wallace that I do not believe in fear-mongering leadership. No one follows an individual who panics or instills fear in tough situations, people are drawn to those who calmly outline a vision for success and victory.
Angela, Aubrey, and Austen arrived to Washington DC on Monday evening and we all met on Tuesday. It was so special having the girls up here.. It is imperative for each generation of American to set a new course and direction for their subsequent generations. I pray that I can truly give more to my daughters, as well as all of your children and grandchildren, as Herman and Elizabeth West left for me.
Special thanks to Eyta, Laor and Renee and Danny Kaufman for the wonderful reception they hosted on Tuesday evening. I finally made my way there after the reception at The Florida House where I was able to congratulate Senator Marco Rubio. In between these two receptions, I was able to visit with the Republican Jewish Coalition and meet so many wonderful people, to include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who made it possible for me to become Congressman West.
Swearing in day began as a Soldier would have it, a 0500 hrs run with two friends, Brendan Barry and Vince Virga along the National Mall from the Capitol down to the Lincoln Memorial. It was a nice 7 mile run for me but enabled me to put all this into perspective. As an American Warrior, my life has been spent standing upon freedoms rampart guarding the institutions of liberty for our Constitutional Republic. Later that day, I would again take the oath first taken on 31 July 1982 but this time I would be serving inside one the institutions that make America great, yes, exceptional. The middle Son of Buck and Snooks (my parents’ nicknames) would soon be walking among places of greatness.
The first ceremony of the day was to be sworn into the Congressional Black Caucus, the first Republican in almost 20 years. It was the right thing to do and regardless of the media attention, all went well and the reception was just fantastic. When Representative John Lewis came up that day to shake my hand, I reminisced the days when my parents voted for him…and I told him such. I let him know that I attended Henry Grady High School and he let me know that his dry cleaners is the one across the street from my Alma Mater, which I clearly remember. Incoming CBC Chairman Rep Cleaver spoke about “rebuilding the wall”, and I told him that after having stood as a sentinel upon the external wall of freedom…….I am ready to take my post on the wall of restoring our Republic, recommitting to our principles, and reclaiming our American pride.
The swearing in ceremony was spectacular and sitting to my right was former Congressman Clay Shaw, who pinned on my 112th Congressional lapel pin. It was great to enable Congressman Shaw, a true American Statesman, to return to the House floor and be remembered and honored by his former colleagues. Up in the gallery, sat Aubrey and Austen, and I pray this was a moment which they shall never forget. Members of my extended family from both sides came up as well as so many of my friends that I served with in the military. It was a great moment for me to take that first picture with the family and especially with my young nephew, Captain Herman West III, who was in his Army dress blue uniform. God bless you all from all over the district, Florida, and America who shared this moment with me.
The cherry on top of the sundae of swearing in day? When former Commandant of the Marine Corps General Carl E Mundy, an Atlanta native as well, honored our office with a visit to wish me well!
On Thursday, a very special honor came, I read the last part of Article I, Section 8 of our United States Constitution, also known as the “Necessary and Proper” clause. To have been part of a historic event, the first ever reading of the Constitution on the House of Representatives floor will never be forgotten.
So enough of that memorable stuff, you all sent me up here to work so here are some key points;
– I had a meeting with the Obama Administration Deputy Director for Legislative Affairs to the US House, Dan Turton, on Thursday. We presented him with a letter outlining three major focus areas, small business growth, Afghanistan (to include concerns about Rules of Engagement and our heinously imprisoned American soldiers), and relations with the State of Israel.
– I had my first two House GOP meetings with the Armed Services and Small Business Committees. I will be canvassing for small business owners who wish to come and testify before the committee. As the schedule permits, I will be taking a CODEL (Congressional Delegation) visit to Afghanistan.
– I signed on as a co-sponsor on several pieces of legislation, some as an original cosponsor; Repeal of Obamacare, Balanced Budget Amendment, Prohibition of Federal funding to Public Broadcasting, End of Lame Duck Act, Repeal of Obamacare Individual Mandate, Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition (ending federal taxpayer funding to abortions), and the Birthright Citizenship Bill (prohibiting use of 14th Amendment for children born to illegal immigrants in America), and Stand Alone requirement for Defense Appropriations (MILCOM/Veterans Affairs) Bills.
There has been a lot of media attention given to me and you all must realize that I shall always be straight and to the point. One thing I have seen here already is that truth seems to be subjective and relative in the D.C. world. And as Jack Nicholson’s character COL. Nathan Jessup stated in the movie “A Few Good Men”, there are those who cannot handle the truth.
The strangest things this week: First, the taxpayer funded Institution of Peace. Funny, I thought that was the business of the Pentagon. It is a lovely building just off the back corner from the Lincoln Memorial.
Second, standing at the media interview area in the Cannon rotunda and watching a Democrat Congressman apply makeup on his face, and it was his own personal makeup. If anyone ever sees me applying makeup to myself, you have explicit orders to ask a Capitol Hill Police Officer to arrest me.
I was in the district through this past Tuesday morning and attended the Palm Beach Police officers ball Saturday and the Zionist of America meeting in Boca Raton on Sunday. Saturday morning, I had an appearance on Fox and Friends.
In closing, it is an honor to serve all of you, those who voted for me and those who did not.
Steadfast and Loyal,