Thursday, February 23, 2006

Congressman Jefferson Response to Katrina Report

The White House report makes some very good points about the federal government’s failures before, during and after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. While you cannot prevent storms of this magnitude, you can predict and plan for them. Our federal government must do a better job planning for natural disasters and it seems the White House has acknowledged that much.

However, the report does not go far enough to recommend what I believe will be the key to successful preparedness and disaster management in the future: FEMA must have cabinet level authority, allowing the director to have the federal resources to adequately respond in times of natural disaster.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ford: Congress should pass legislation blocking

Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. today issued the following statement in response to President Bush’s veto threat of legislation that would block the transfer of operations of six U.S. ports to a state-owned company located in the United Arab Emirates:

“In the six years he has served as president, George W. Bush has not vetoed one piece of legislation, and in spite of the fact that this Congress has passed legislation that has resulted in trillions of dollars in debt, the President has not vetoed one spending bill.

Statement by Congressman Chaka Fattah: Put the Brakes on Port Security Takeover

The United States should not be outsourcing the essential functions of government. That most emphatically includes the security of our ports.

It was not widely known that many of our ports were operated by a British company. Now the operational controls are poised to move even further from our shores, to Dubai Ports World, owned by the United Arab Emirates.

Cummings: Port Security Must Be Top Priority

Today, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md) released the following statement after Governor Robert Ehrlich held a news conference on the proposed sale of Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O), which is responsible for managing operations at several of the public terminals at the Port of Baltimore.

"I am surprised that Governor Ehrlich has not taken a more aggressive stance in opposing the sale of the Port's stevedore company to a firm owned by the government of Dubai. As the State's Chief Executive Officer, he is responsible for the Maryland Port Administration, which oversees the public terminals at the Port of Baltimore."

Congresswoman Brown Strongly Believes Security Must Precede Profits

“I was simply flabbergasted to learn that the Bush administration has decided to trade the security of our nation’s ports for profit by placing the management of six major U.S. ports in the hands of a state-owned company in the United Arab Emirates. The idea of putting state-controlled Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates in charge of managing sea ports here in Miami, as well as in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, in light of 9-11, is incomprehensible, and I believe that the Bush administration should immediately put a hold on this deal. "

Friday, February 17, 2006

Hastings “Ecstatic” About Donation and Installation of Emergency Trailers in Pahokee

U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) today applauded the City of Pahokee, Palm Beach County, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for donating and funding the installation of 21 emergency trailers in Pahokee which have been desperately needed since Hurricane Wilma.

“I am ecstatic that we have found a solution to this problem,” said Representative Hastings. “21 Pahokee families will finally have a safe place to live by the end of this weekend because all levels of government figured out a way to work together. This is what happens when compassion and reason cut through bureaucratic red tape.”

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Butterfield Offers Legislation to Close IRS-created Foreign-Business Tax Loophole

Congressman G. K. Butterfield this week offered bipartisan legislation aimed at eliminating a newly created tax loophole that could flood the U.S. with imported biodiesel fuel and hurt the nascent domestic industry.

“Congress created a tax incentive specifically to reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy, not to subsidize foreign farmers and biodiesel producers,” Butterfield said.

Tubbs Jones Joins CBC in Expressing Concern over Government

Today, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones joined the Congressional Black Caucus during a press conference expressing concern over the government's preparedness and response to Huricane Katrina. Members discussed the findings of both the report of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, also known as the "Davis Report," and the Additional Views report submitted by Reps. William Jefferson (LA-2) and Charlie Melancon (LA-3). She released this statement:

"From the 'Davis Report' we see that there were tremendous failures on all levels of government in the preparedness and response to Hurricane Katrina, including failure to execute evacuation plans, lack of centralized and coordinated communication, collapse of law enforcement, and lack of medical care for victims. This report highlights a failure of leadership and exposes the disjointedness of our federal, state and local governments and should serve as motivation for us to take a serious look at how we prepare and respond to natural disasters so that we never experience a tragedy such as this."

Jefferson and Melancon Release Views on GOP Katrina Report

Today, as the Republican House Select Committee on Katrina releases its final report, “A Failure of Initiative,” Representatives Charlie Melancon and William Jefferson, who participated in the panel’s investigation but were not appointed to the committee, released a supplemental report expressing their additional views. Melancon and Jefferson reinforced the need for further investigation into the aftermath of Katrina and called for a bipartisan, independent commission investigation. They also stressed the need to focus on present needs and priorities for recovery and rebuilding efforts.

“Overall, the majority report is a comprehensive, detailed recitation of the problems that occurred in responding to Hurricane Katrina,” Melancon and Jefferson wrote. “The majority report rarely assesses how these problems occurred, why they were not corrected sooner and who in particular was responsible.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The success of the drug benefit depends on how many people enroll. So far, that's not many.

In the short term, the success of the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan depends critically on enrollment. Yet voluntary enrollment in the benefit has been disappointing to say the least. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that only 25 million of the 42 million eligible Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled.

However, included in that 25 million are about 10 million federal retirees and Medicare-age retirees who receive prescription drug coverage through their former employers, and another 10 million people who were auto-enrolled. Only 5.3 million people have voluntarily enrolled in the program.

“As it stands, the complicated design and poor implementation of the benefit program has doomed the rollout to fail,” Cleaver said. “At the Town Hall I hosted this week to talk about the issue, what I heard was frustration. People were sold this plan as a benefit and all it has given them is grief.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Butterfield Calls for Joint Strike Fighter Hearing

Congressman G. K. Butterfield today called for a hearing to highlight the long-term costs and disadvantages to creating an engine-production monopoly for the Joint Strike Fighter.

“History shows that a secondary engine source produces better, safer, more reliable and less expensive aircraft,” Butterfield said. “Relying on a monopoly could prove to be a step backward that jeopardizes future readiness. It’s a short-term savings could lead to huge long-term costs.”

Friday, February 10, 2006

Congressman Jefferson Reacts to Former FEMA Director Michael Brown’s Senate Hearing Testimony

“I was appalled to learn today that over 20 agencies were aware of the levee breaches in New Orleans as early as Monday, August 29th – the day Katrina hit. It is clear that if the Administration knew sooner that our levees had breached, they should have acted sooner. By providing major federal resources immediately, the Administration could have avoided the major loss of life and property with which our city must now cope. Obviously, the delay in federal action made the situation much worse."

H.R.4728: The Community Integration Act

H.R.4728 Title: To authorize the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide caseworker assistance to persons evacuated from their homes as a result of Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita. Sponsor: Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30] (introduced 2/8/2006) Cosponsors (1) Latest Major Action: 2/8/2006 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Congressman Scott Praises Delta Addition of Routes to Africa

Today Congressman David Scott (GA-13) applauded the announcement by Delta Air Lines of plans to link the world’s largest airport in Atlanta to Dakar, Senegal and the growing South African capital city of Johannesburg by becoming the only U.S. air carrier to provide scheduled service between the U.S. and Africa beginning December 2006.

The Congressional Black Caucus Monitor, February 2006, Report Card #2

"CBC Monitor is a challenge both to the CBC themselves but also Black America to get more active in making the American political system function in its benefit. Our report cards are just that: scheduled, timely assessments meant to criticize and reward performance." Jared Ball, co-Founder of the CBC Monitor in

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

European Markets Could Open to N.C. Farmers

Congressman G. K. Butterfield is applauding a World Trade Organization’s ruling that a six-year European ban on genetically engineered crops violated international trade rules.

“Hopefully the European Union will now begin to quickly dismantle food bans and let science-based policy prevail,” Butterfield said.

A WTO panel ruled yesterday that the European Union and six of its member states violated international trade rules by imposing a six-year ban on the import of agricultural products and food containing genetically modified organisms.


Today Congressman Melvin L. Watt (D-NC) joined college and stock car racing officials to introduce the NASCAR-HBCU Consortium, a partnership between the National Association of Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that will provide opportunities for minorities to participate in the automotive industry. Congressman Watt is an original co-sponsor of the joint House and Senate resolution that recognizes and supports the initiative.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Statement Concerning Black Belt Church Fires

“Congressman Davis is deeply concerned about the rash of church fires that have occurred in recent days in Alabama. Today, it has been reported that four more churches were burned overnight, all within the boundaries of the 7th Congressional District. Our hearts go out to the pastors, families and communities impacted by this tragedy, and we each should offer a prayer that they be comforted during this trying time.”

Monday, February 06, 2006

Mayor Brings Operation Safer Streets Into Communities

Speaking to large crowds throughout the City, MayorJohn F. Street on Saturday unveiled the City’s new comprehensive, citywide violence prevention and reduction plan – Operation Safer Streets.

Flanked by Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson and an array of city officials, community activists and clergy, the Mayor appeared at six meetings in neighborhoods across the City, delivering the same message at each stop to overflowing, engaged crowds.

“ Philadelphia is safer today than it’s been in a long time,” Mayor Street said at Faith Assembly of God Church in Frankford. “Remember Operation Safe Streets? We shut down 309 open-air drug markets. Serious crime declined. However, the recent uptick in gun violence in our City is unacceptable, and we will not allow it to continue. We have a plan to prevent violence, but the police cannot solve this problem alone. Violence is everybody’s problem, and we must all be a part of the solution.”

Friday, February 03, 2006

City of New Orleans Issues Notification of Future Property Demolition

The City of New Orleans has begun issuing notification to property owners of structures, portions of structures, or partially or wholly collapsed properties that floated off their foundations, as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita, and are now on public property including streets, sidewalks or rights of way.

Lobbying and Ethics Reform in the 109th Congress

We must institute reforms with an eye towards common sense and avoid reactionary responses that will ultimately prove counterproductive. With this in mind, I believe some key elements of various ethics reform measures should be implemented to produce a meaningful reform bill.

Rangel's Bill Honoring Tuskegee Airmen Nears Passage

H.R.1259 Title: To authorize the President to award a gold medal on behalf of the Congress, collectively, to the Tuskegee Airmen in recognition of their unique military record, which inspired revolutionary reform in the Armed Forces. Sponsor: Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] (introduced 3/10/2005) Cosponsors (267) Related Bills: S.392 Latest Major Action: 8/24/2005 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

City's campaign-finance law comes under candidates' fire

"It appears there are several instances where the contribution limits have been exceeded," City Controller Alan Butkovitz said at a news conference. He singled out U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) as the "most egregious" offender, saying that just 4 percent of the $353,342 Fattah had raised in a mayoral exploratory committee complied with the caps.

Barbara Lee Calls on Bush to Increase Global AIDS Funding

"The ongoing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria pandemics represent the greatest humanitarian challenge in the world today. In the interests of social stability, economic productivity, nationally security, and most importantly, a sense of compassion for others, we have a moral duty to act to prevent the spread of these diseases and treat those who are infected. $7.54 represents the United States fair share to addressing three pandemics and is really just a drop in the bucket compared to the $6 billion a month we are spending to fight the war in Iraq.”

H.R. 1631, the Rail Infrastructure Development and Expansion Act for the 21st Century (RIDE 21)

Hastings to President Bush on the State of the Union: “Stop hiding behind 9-1-1, give us the 4-1-1!”

“Everywhere you look, the President’s priorities are in the wrong order. The ship of our state is sinking under the weight of red ink, and the President is like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. He views himself as above the law, and his policies reek of corruption, bought and paid for by the highest bidding special interest. Civil rights are disregarded, as the President’s wiretaps are warrantless, and his justifications baseless. Tonight is an opportunity for the President to stop hiding behind 9-1-1 and give us the 4-1-1 on the real state of our Union, which is anything but strong."

Introducing The Black Policy Wire ...

We've talked about and constantly reformatted our eagerly anticipated "Black Policy Wire" for a few months now, occassionally hyping it on our weekly radio show ASCENT LIVE! Looks like we've arrived at a comfortable daily pace of information gathering for this new service since we have to consider the limits of our small, taxed and dedicated staff. That will change in due course ...

In the meantime, we present something that might be a little more digestible for our audience. The problem with the weekly wire was its length - it was just way too long. It overwhelmed the reader. This daily wire will use the spontaneous blog format - it will, any given time of the day, simply post the latest announcements, events, remarks or news involving African American elected officials on all levels that we can find in our routine browsing of cyberspace.

We want to present the information without losing you while simultaneously encouraging everyone to dig further, to click deeper, to surf new frontiers of boundless Internet beyond As you do that, feel free to offer any comments, suggestions or news by contacting us at

Mayor Lays Out Plan for Operation Safer Streets

Operation Safer Streets is a four-pronged approach to preventing and reducing violent crime that will employ smarter, targeted policing to flood “hot spots” with officers, gun reduction efforts to get guns off our streets; increased community engagement to prevent violence and share information, and violence prevention efforts through increased social service services. Here are its four main components:

Obama Demands Answers on Illinois’ Last-in-the-Nation Job Placement Rate for Veterans

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today demanded answers from the Labor Department on why Illinois ranked dead last among the 50 states for job placement of veterans. In 2005, only 34 percent of all Illinois veterans who sought job placement assistance through the department were able to find jobs. That is roughly half the national average of 62 percent.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Obama Calls on Congressional Leadership to Immediately Pass Meaningful Ethics Reform

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today called on the Congressional leadership to immediately pass meaningful ethics reform that will reduce the influence of lobbyists and help end the culture of corruption in Washington.

Norton Files Bill For More Funding to UDC

H.R.4693 Title: To amend title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include the University of the District of Columbia as an eligible graduate institution, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] (introduced 2/1/2006) Cosponsors (None)

Congresswoman Tubbs Jones Supports the Passage of the Rail Infrastructure Development

RIDE 21 reauthorizes and expands an existing program of general fund grants for planning and technology development related to high-speed rail corridors. The legislation also authorizes $12 billion in tax credit bonds and $12 billion in tax exempt bonds for rail infrastructure projects over the next ten years.

Ford bill calls for Pentagon to consult Governors and Congress before restructuring National Guard

H.RES.665 Title: Honoring the service of the National Guard and requesting consultation by the Department of Defense with Congress and the chief executive officers of the States prior offering proposals to change the National Guard force structure.

Ford opposes anti-competitive and

“Last night the President had some soaring rhetoric and lofty goals, but today, the Congress responded by telling students they would have to pay more for their student loans, business leaders that their interest rates will go up, seniors that their health care is going to be cut, and parents that their child support may be cut. We can do better. America needs a real competitiveness strategy that balances the budget, makes health care easier and cheaper to get and cuts taxes on the middle class. This budget moves us in the other direction."

Conyers Urges Defeat of Draconian Republican Budget Reconciliation Legislation

“Republican House and Senate negotiators agreed to change the budget so as to save the health insurance industry $22 billion over the next decade. At the same time, Republican negotiators let stand deep cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, student loans, and other important services for the poor. The priorities that this bill puts forth – while helping to finance billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans – simply abandon our nation’s commitment to its disadvantaged citizens."

District Ends FY 2005 with $1.5 Billion Fund Balance

Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi today released the District of Columbia government’s fiscal year 2005 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), showing the District ended FY 2005 with a $1.5 billion dollar fund balance and a $370 million local fund surplus.