Working in a highly partisan and polarized chamber where gridlock is the norm, Congressman Vern Buchanan champions bipartisanship while still maintaining his conservative credentials by regularly voting the Republican Party line. His commitment to issues with major impacts in the 16th Congressional District makes his public service stand out.
He also continues to pursue and advance policy priorities he set years ago, advocating for senior citizens, military veterans and small business. Buchanan, a Longboat Key resident, has been a valuable friend to his constituents since his first election in 2006, on legislation, constituent services and frequent town halls.
His success with his values and policies earned compliments from his Democratic opponent in this contest to represent the 16th Congressional District. Unlike many political contests, Jan Schneider, a Sarasota attorney, and Buchanan, a successful businessman, discussed policies in a civil and even collegial manner during the Herald/METV candidate forum this month.
The redrawn district includes all of Manatee County and stretches from Englewood to the south to southern Hillsborough County in the north.
Buchanan’s work on behalf of Floridians includes his longtime opposition to oil drilling closer to the state’s Gulf Coast. As Congress prepared to adjourn last month, he fought for additional funding to curb the country’s deadly heroin epidemic, a crucial concern in Manatee County — the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County recorded more heroin-related deaths per capita than any other Florida county in 2014. Soon after President Obama requested $1.9 billion for emergency Zika funding, Buchanan recognized the virus as a major public health threat in Florida and supported the full amount. Months later, the House and Senate agreed on $1.1 billion.
In September, the House approved his bipartisan legislation to help Florida orange growers in their ongoing crusade against the devastating citrus greening disease. Buchanan’s “Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act” provides tax incentives to growers to make it less costly to replace trees damaged by the incurable bacterial disease. He also protested the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to downgrade the manatee from endangered to threatened, calling the action “misguided and premature” in light of the threats to the iconic Florida animal.
Of particular importance to a large segment of the district’s population, Buchanan vows to protect Social Security and Medicare. There are 190,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the 16th District alone. He is pushing for a non-partisan Blue Ribbon Commission to make recommendations about how best to guarantee Social Security and Medicare’s long-term future. Buchanan also co-authored the bipartisan Seniors Fraud Prevention Act to help crack down on scams targeting seniors. The bill awaits further action.
Also a major advocate for veterans and one himself, Buchanan is a co-sponsor of the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act — designed to restore accountability for Veterans Affairs employees, strengthen protections for whistleblowers and revamp the agency’s crippled disability benefits appeals process.
But his highest priority remains job creation and boosting the U.S. economy. His mission is reforming the U.S. tax code to reduce the tax burden and government intrusion on small businesses and allow people to keep more of their money. A restructuring of the tax system to produce a simpler, flatter and fairer tax code is a key goal.
As Florida’s only member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which presides over tax policy, international trade, health care, welfare, Social Security and Medicare, Buchanan is well positioned to promote the bulk of his agenda.
A firm advocate of the Second Amendment, Buchanan nonetheless supports sensible restrictions to keep firearms from criminals, terrorists and the mentally ill. To that end, he backs legislation to prevent individuals on the no-fly and terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns and providing financial incentives to states for submitting the records of the people with serious mental illness to a federal database. These are reasonable measures to advance public safety.
All of the aforementioned goals and achievements serve important state and national interests. They also demonstrate Buchanan’s commitment to the various constituencies in the community, and his town halls reflect that, too.
For the 16th Congressional District, the Herald Editorial Board recommends Vern Buchanan.
Candidates who do not receive the Herald Editorial Board’s endorsement are invited to submit a response of up to 300 words by noon two weekdays days after the endorsement appears in print. The deadline for candidates who have not submitted responses from earlier endorsements have until noon Tuesday. Responses can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 745-7097.
View candidate forums
The Herald, in partnership with Manatee Educational Television, has videotaped candidate forums in these contested races. These forums can be viewed on www.youtube.com/manateeeducationaltv (click on Videos). METV is also regularly airing all the forums, and the station can be viewed on Brighthouse channel 614, Verizon FIOS 31 and Comcast 19. For METV air times, visit www.metvweb.com.