Jan 12 2016

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, meanwhile, said he was pleased with his work on the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees. That work included globetrotting to numerous countries and meeting several dignitaries, such as King Abdullah of Jordan. He said his office also focused on constituent services, fielding more than 300,000 constituent letters and handling thousands of cases -- primarily focused on issues for veterans.
 
"Outside of the Senate chamber, things moved quickly," said Tillis, a Republican elected in 2014 after serving eight years in the state House, including four as state House speaker.
 
Tillis, meanwhile, has had one bill -- to ensure benefits paid to those whom the government sterilized without consent decades ago aren't counted as income when factoring welfare eligibility -- pass the Senate. It has bipartisan support and is expected to pass the House and be signed by the president early this year, his office said.
 
"We were pleased to get that done," he said.
 
Tillis said he is also pleased with work toward establishing increased benefits, including educational opportunities, for veterans. A Republican, Tillis has reached across the aisle to form something of a partnership with Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio to extend veterans benefits.
 
"Those were the kind of things we wanted to get done this year," he said. "Those sorts of things are important."
 
But Tillis said he is hoping to work toward establishing rules for introducing appropriations bills earlier to avoid having such sweeping -- and often controversial -- bills introduced at the last minute to avoid possible government shutdowns. And he said it should be easier to get bills, especially routine ones, to the floor.
 
"It takes months to do what should take weeks," he said.
 
Both are making their votes count. In their first year, Rouzer missed just two of the more-than 700 votes taken by the House in 2015 and Tillis missed just one out of 339 votes taken.
 
…For his part, Tillis said he rents a place.
 
"I don't sleep in my office nor do I have patience for those who do," he said.
 
The end of 2015, along with the beginning of this year, has included votes that show how convoluted Congress can be.
 
They included the omnibus spending package, which Rouzer and Tillis voted for. It restored defense spending cut by sequestration reductions a few years ago but also funds Planned Parenthood, something Rouzer, Tillis and many other congressional Republicans vowed to fight. A subsequent bill to strip Planned Parenthood of funding and repeal the Affordable Care Act -- commonly known as Obamacare -- passed the House and Senate, but were vetoed by President Barack Obama.
 
"There were a lot of things in the omnibus bill I didn't like," Tillis said.

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