Wednesday, May 31, 2006

President Commits to Rwanda

Reuters is reporting that President Bush today reiterated his commitment to Rwanda to sign a bill that is before Congress that would give $300 million to Rwanda for peacekeeping in Darfur

Meeting today with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the White House, the US president said "we will honor our commitments." Rwanda has about 2,000 troops in the African Union peacekeeping force serving in Sudan.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

H.R. 5417 - Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006

The bipartisan bill would guarantee our right to "net neutrality" -- the principle that Internet users should be able to access any web content they choose and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet service provider. "Net neutrality" may sound obscure and wonky. But it is crucial if the Internet is to remain a forum for us to talk to one another, to access web sites for information, to read, write and comment on blogs, to engage in political forums, or to donate money and learn about political candidates. There is a real risk that telephone and cable companies, which provide access to the Internet for 95 percent of U.S. consumers who go online, will use their market power to transform the Internet into largely a vehicle for selling us things - entertainment, games and goods. And even then, only those goods and commodities from which they can extract the most profit will be most accessible. . . . The nonprofit and noncommercial sector could be distinguished from the for-profit sector of the online community in terms of services offered, and would suffer because they cannot compete in an environment where they have to pay for better service.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pelosi to Jefferson: Resign from Ways and Means Committee

Washington, D.C.– House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today released the following letter she sent to Congressman William Jefferson this morning:

May 24, 2006

Congressman William J. Jefferson
2113 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Jefferson:
In the interest of upholding the high ethical standard of the House Democratic Caucus, I am writing to request your immediate resignation from the Ways and Means Committee.

Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

H.R. 5338 - Congress Leads by Example through Alt-Fuel Resources Act

Title: To prohibit the use of amounts in a Members' Representational Allowance to provide any vehicle which does not use alternative fuels.
Sponsor: Rep Cleaver, Emanuel [MO-5] (introduced 5/10/2006)
Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 5/10/2006 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on House Administration.


Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05) introduced the “Congress Leads by Example through Alt-Fuel Resources Act” or CLEAR Act. This legislation would prohibit the use of official funds from Members’ Representational Allowances to provide for any vehicle which does not use alternative fuels. The CLEAR Act has been designated HR 5338 by the Clerk of the House.

Taking to the floor of the House to press his point, Cleaver called on his colleges to lead by example, “The CLEAR Act will position the U.S. House of Representatives as a body of serious advocates for a national consciousness of energy efficiency. As the House entertains a plethora of energy-related bills, the U.S. public will surely come to recognize the need to move toward purchasing automobiles that use renewable fuels and alternative sources of energy such as hydrogen and electricity.”

H.R. 4705 - Mathematics and Science Teaching Corps Act of 2006

Title: To establish the Math and Science Teaching Corps.
Sponsor: Rep Saxton, Jim [NJ-3] (introduced 2/7/2006)
Cosponsors (9)
Latest Major Action: 5/1/2006 Referred to House subcommittee.
Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Education Reform.

Mathematics and Science Teaching Corps Act of 2006 - Amends the Department of Education Organization Act to create a Math and Science Teaching Corps to significantly improve mathematics and science achievement among secondary school students in the United States.
Requires the Director of the Corps to carry out a program that awards: (1) Math and Science Teaching Corps Fellowships for Prospective Teachers (MSTC Fellowships) who possess comprehensive subject area knowledge; (2) grants to partner institutions to pay the tuition, fees, and overhead costs of the fellows; and (3) grants to participating local educational agencies to pay the expenses associated with facilitating the induction and professional development services for the fellows. Requires MSTC Fellowship recipients to: (1) receive specified pedagogical training; and (2) teach mathematics or science in a secondary school, for which they shall receive a stipend, and participate in induction programs of participating local educational agencies, for four years.

Requires the Director to carry out a program that awards Math and Science Teaching Corps Fellowships for Experienced Teachers (MSTC Master Fellowships). Requires an MSTC Master Fellowship recipient to: (1) continue to teach mathematics or science in a secondary school of a participating agency for at least five of the seven years after receiving such fellowship, for which he or she shall receive a stipend; (2) serve as a leader within the individual's department and school; (3) mentor other recipients; and (4) attend subject or pedagogy workshops offered by the participating local educational agency.

H.R. 5058 - Small Business Investment and Promotion Act of 2006

Title: To provide support for small business concerns, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Allen, Thomas H. [ME-1] (introduced 3/30/2006)
Cosponsors (6)
Latest Major Action: 4/19/2006 Referred to House subcommittee.
Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tubbs Jones Addresses Recent Findings of Inaccuracies in Wal-Mart Bank Application

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones released this statement in response to recent news articles citing potential discrepancies in Wal-Mart’s application for a Utah industrial loan corporation (ILC) charter.

"Recent news articles have called attention to discrepancies in Wal-Mart's testimony regarding their ILC application to the FDIC.

"In their testimony Wal-Mart stated that it had no plans to replace community banks in its stores that currently had branches. Additionally, they stated that they had no plans to enter full-service banking citing leases signed by banks in its stores as evidence that renewal of leases was at the banks discretion alone. However, news media obtained copies of lease documents that require both the bank and Wal-Mart to agree to renew their leases. This provision would allow Wal-Mart to simply choose not to renew a bank's lease, making way for them to open their own retail bank.

"Yesterday, American Banker reported that Wal-Mart had posted a job advertisement seeking a 'senior product manager' to oversee 'mortgages, strategic banking and access cards.' Wal-Mart claims that this new hire would oversee Wal-Mart's mortgage program for employees with Nationwide Advantage Mortgage and their relationship with Atlanta's Sun Trust Banks, Inc. Yet, it seems odd that a company that claims to not be interested in entering retail banking would seek to hire a banking specialist who would receive a six-figure salary and report directly to senior Wal-Mart executives.

Norton Arrested at Sudanese Embassy Decries Rwanda II

As she was arrested today for trespassing at the Sudanese Embassy, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) recalled Thanksgiving Eve 1984, when she and three other prominent Washingtonians began the South Africa embassy arrests by visiting the ambassador “on false pretenses, inquiring about progress in his country.” Also arrested today were Mel Watt (D-NC), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and five other Members of the CBC. The thousands of arrests at the South African Embassy resulted in American sanctions, but Norton said, “as urgent as the elimination of apartheid in South Africa was, it did not rise to the level of the continuing unabated genocide in Darfur today.” She said that the cut in half of rations to only 1,050 calories per person because our allies have not contributed promised funds to the United Nations World Food Program added cruelty to the continuing genocide.

Obama Statement on President Bush's Speech on Immigration Reform

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) Monday released the following statement about President Bush's speech on immigration reform:"The first priority of any immigration reform should be to secure our nation's borders. In that respect, the President's proposal has merit as a temporary solution. After three years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, our National Guard is stretched dangerously thin, and so we must know how long they will be there and when they will be replaced with trained border patrol agents that can provide permanent security. "We also know that border security is only one side of the equation. Comprehensive immigration reform cannot succeed without a plan to bring the undocumented out of the shadows and offer them a path to citizenship, after they pay a substantial fine and back taxes, learn English, satisfy a work requirement, and pass a background check. Whether or not the President can repair the divisions in his own party so that we can pass this type of reform will be the true test of our ability to secure our borders in the months to come."

Scott Responds to Bush border plan

I am glad that the President is finally speaking to the nation about this urgent issue. Constituents from all parts of my district continue to share their concerns with illegal immigration with me.

Before we address the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S, we must secure the porous border between the U.S. and Mexico. I agree with the President that additional security is needed at the border, including the use of the National Guard.

However, this is only a temporary solution. There are 1,000 fewer Border Patrol Agents than were proposed in the 9/11 Act. In fact, the Border Patrol participated in the jobs fair that I hosted this past Friday. I believe that Congress should fully fund the Border Patrol, increase surveillance technology and erect fencing where needed to strengthen the border. Once that is done, we can begin to deal with the immigrants currently in the country.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Rep. John Lewis Says Extend Deadline for Medicare Prescription Drug Program

Today is the last day for eligible citizens to sign-up for the Medicare prescription drug program, known as Medicare Part D. Though Congressman Lewis agrees that a prescription drug program is a necessary Medicare benefit, he believes that Part D is deeply flawed legislation that needs to be fixed. Numerous news reports on the implementation of this benefit reveal it is incredibly confusing, so confusing many physicians and attorneys cannot comprehend the program.

This confusion is compounded by the fact that the Medicare Hotline, a service supposed to help seniors navigate the program’s complexities, has been found by the GAO to deliver faulty responses to seniors’ questions. Further, most seniors are still unaware that they will be penalized at the rate of 1% per month if they do not sign-up by today’s deadline.

“Healthcare should be considered a right in America,” said Rep. Lewis, “not a privilege. It should not depend upon the size of a person’s wallet or the numbers in a zip code. I firmly believe that all Americans need and deserve to have access to medical coverage in order to ensure the `life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’ that our government is supposed to enable.”
“However, this legislation penalizes the poor, the sick, the elderly and the disabled more than it helps. Half of seniors are unaware that they need to sign up by today, and only a quarter of those who need it the most have enrolled. Americans need to question their representatives to find out whom this Congress serves. Is it interested in serving the health insurance industry above American citizens? If its goal is to serve the people, then the answer is simple. We need to extend the deadline for this prescription drug program and waive the penalties until beneficiaries can make informed choices about whether to participate. Finally, we need to fix this prescription drug benefit so that it meets the needs of the vulnerable American citizens it is meant to protect.”

Congressman Towns Proposes Call for Joint House Senate Bipartisan Commission To Review Immigration Practices

The nature of the current debate on immigration has taken a divisive direction. Competing bills exist not only in the Senate and in the House, but in many state legislatures as well. We seem to have forgotten that immigration is basically a human concern. It's about the lives of millions of people-- both illegal immigrants and existing citizens. We have to get it right and for that we should gather all the best information and practices available.

Towards that end, I propose a ceasefire on the immigration debate currently going on in Congress. With congressional members split on a wide range of issues related to immigration, I recommend a Joint Senate and House bipartisan Commission with the power to conduct formal congressional hearings, conduct site visits, and gather the latest data with the objective of completing its final report in six months or less.

Representative Watson: We Do Not Need to Militarize Our Borders

Dispatching troops to patrol the border is bad policy because the U.S. military is already overused and under-equipped. It’s not just my opinion. It’s also the assessment of General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who stated in a recently leaked classified report that the President has already overextended U.S. forces in the Middle East. The National Guard, which would undoubtedly be charged with handling a large part of the new border security portfolio, is stretched thin as well. Not only is the Guard extended to the breaking point, but Guard units deployed to Iraq have consistently reported shortages of equipment and lack of proper training. Many National Guard units here at home suffer the same fate.

Friday, May 12, 2006


U.S. Representative Artur Davis (D-Birmingham) today announced a $200 thousand grant for Kid One Transport of Birmingham from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The rural healthcare transportation system for children will use these resources to expand its free services. The project is expected to provide 4,000 trips to health professionals in a 23-county area, with 706 of these trips for children and expectant mothers in distressed counties including the Black Belt.

“I can think of no more noble mission than the one assigned to the people of Kid One Transport,” Congressman Davis said. “Working to help children receive the medical attention they need is a wonderful, worthwhile cause. People throughout the Black Belt are especially appreciative of their efforts, and I’m pleased to see their good work continue.”

Congressman Fattah Commends Philadelphia Leaders for Two Bold Steps

“I want to commend the public and private leadership of Philadelphia for two forward- looking efforts this week that well represent the future of our city.

“On Tuesday, the Philadelphia 2016 Working Group put forward a compelling and well-planned presentation to the U.S. Olympic Committee to bring the 2016 Summer Games to Philadelphia. On Thursday, City Council unanimously approved the nation’s first citywide high-speed wireless Internet connection.

“These two separate initiatives share a positive, can-do approach and show what Philadelphians can accomplish with dedicated leaders on every level.”


The United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an amendment by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to the Defense Authorization Act that includes the number of deployments as a factor for determining whether a reservist is recalled to duty. Other factors include family responsibilities and length and nature of previous service. “The frequency of assignment must also be taken into consideration. As we have seen, our reservists are brave citizens and soldiers who have willingly traveled to the other side of the world to defend their homeland,” stated Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

The amendment makes no qualitative or quantitative judgment about type or occurrence of service and frequency of assignment must be included when recalling a reservist to duty, just as are family responsibilities, previous length and nature of service, and employment consequences. Forty percent of the American troops in Iraq are from National Guard and Reserve units. For many, the financial sacrifices are great. Many lose the salaries they were earning in the private sector, and their families are struggling to pay bills.

Congresswoman McKinney Fights for Constituents and Slain Public Servant

Congresswoman McKinney joined with the family Sheriff elect Derwin Brown to call on Governor Sonny Purdue to make available state funding as compensation to the Brown family. Sheriff - elect Brown was gunned down outside his home in December 2000. The murder of was planned and carried out by outgoing Sheriff Sidney Dorsey. Dorsey and two other DeKalb County Sheriff’s employees were convicted for their part in the assassination. The family is continuing to fight for justice in this matter.

Wynn Votes Against Republican Tax Cut Bill

Congressman Wynn voted against the Republican Tax Reconciliation Bill. The bill was the result of a deal between House and Senate Republicans for a five-year, nearly $70 billion tax package that would extend President Bush's tax cuts on dividends and capital gains.

According to the Tax Policy Center, under the Republican tax cut deal, if you make more than $1 million dollars, your average tax savings will be approximately $42,000 dollars. If you make $50,000 to $75,000 then your average tax savings will only be $110 dollars. Also, if you make $20,000 to $30,000 then your average tax savings will be a whopping $9.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is part of a congressional effort to provide small businesses with needed assistance to deal with unplanned costs in increases to heat and oil prices. The Congresswoman is cosponsoring the Small Business Investment and Promotion Act of 2006. Soaring energy costs have adversely impacted business all over our nation, but it is small businesses that have incurred the most harm, since they’re unable to absorb unplanned costs. The current average prices for heating and oil are 30 to 60 percent higher than last year and small businesses are not able to keep afloat.

The legislation would create a two-year tax credit on fuel purchases. The bill also increases the IRS Standard Mileage Rate tax deduction on fuel from the current 44.5 cents per mile to 60 cents for small business owners and independent contractors who use their own vehicles for work. In addition to changing the statutory formula to expand contracting opportunities for small businesses by including federal overseas contracts; the bill also shortens the tax depreciation period on improvements to restaurants and small retailers from 39 to 15 years.

"In light of rising heating and oil prices, HR 5058 is crucial to the survival of small businesses everywhere. Because we encourage competition and depend on small business for much of our revenue, we should support legislation that attempts to alleviate some of the burden currently placed on small businesses. Unfortunately, because there is little we can do to eradicate all of the current economic and social instability felt across our Nation, we should encourage passage of legislation that aims to provide businesses with the help they need to ensure their survival during the current economic instability," said Congresswoman Johnson.


Congresswoman Gwen Moore today decried the decision of the House Committee on Appropriations to remove Milwaukee’s Zablocki VA Medical Center from a list of veterans medical facilities slated to receive funding for significant technological upgrades and structural refurbishments. Zablocki, a major veterans’ facility in Wisconsin’s Fourth Congressional District, had been placed on a priority list by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in February to receive $32.5 million for a new Spinal Cord Injury Unit (SCI) in the 2007 budget.

“I am shocked and saddened that the Appropriations Committee has gone against the recommendations of the VA, of the Administration, and over half of the Wisconsin Congressional Delegation. The Administration placed Zablocki on a priority list to receive funding because the veterans at Zablocki are a priority,” said Congresswoman Moore. “We’re talking about our nation’s veterans—heroes by any measure—who have lost the use of their legs and arms and often the ability to live independently. The least we can do for these veterans is honor their sacrifices by providing them with an up-to-date medical center to facilitate their healing and ensure their comfort.”

Norton Support of D.C. House Vote Bill

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) culminated their efforts of almost four years with an announcement of an agreement they reached almost two months ago on the D.C. Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act of 2006. The bill, which was then shared with the relevant Democratic and Republican Members, is the first with good indicators for passage, including mark-ups in two committees and the required elements, “the essential metric [for] both parties…no partisan gain and no partisan disadvantage,” according to Norton. She said that the pattern of party equivalence was set in the nineteenth century and has been dominant throughout U.S. history, notwithstanding “a democratic right as basic as representation in the legislature that taxes your citizens and sends them to war.”

Rep. Waters’ Amendment to Help Soldiers Rejected by Republican Leadership

Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ (CA-35) amendment to strengthen the Department of Defense screening process for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for active duty soldiers was rejected by the House Rules Committee, a Committee which is largely an extension of the House Republican Leadership.

“I am extremely disappointed that the Rules Committee did not make my amendment in order,” said Congresswoman Waters. “Post traumatic stress disorder can be among the most debilitating effects of war. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged. Many soldiers have trouble holding jobs; others become violent and/or addicted to drugs and alcohol.”

Friday, May 05, 2006

Ford: “Invest Now, Dividends Tomorrow"

Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. announced today he is co-sponsoring the Mathematics and Science Teaching Corps Act of 2006 (MSTC). This bipartisan bill will create a federal fellowship program to recruit, train and retain outstanding math and science teachers across the country. Congressman Ford made the following statement:

“Leadership in science and math fueled the engine of the American economy in the 20th century. The kind of discovery and invention taking place at research centers across our state like Oak Ridge, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the University of Tennessee, FedEx and Meharry Medical College has driven business and helped create entirely new industries, from farm-based fuels to neutron science to genetic engineering. In turn, these new industries have created the kind of high paying jobs that improve all of our communities."

Norton Introduces Free and Equal D.C. National Guard Deployment Bill


Title: To extend to the Mayor of the District of Columbia the same authority with respect to the National Guard of the District of Columbia as the Governors of the several States exercise with respect to the National Guard of those States.

Sponsor: Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] (introduced 5/4/2006)

Cosponsors (None) Latest Major Action: 5/4/2006 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Government Reform, and in addition to the Committee on Armed Services, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Meek Bill Would Establish Haitian Heritage Month

Title: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives, in recognition of the contributions of the Haitian people to the history and culture of the United States, by establishing "Haitian-American Heritage Month".
Sponsor: Rep Meek, Kendrick B. [FL-17] (introduced 4/25/2006)
Cosponsors (1) Latest
Major Action: 4/25/2006 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Government Reform.

SAFE Port Act

Title: To improve maritime and cargo security through enhanced layered defenses, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Lungren, Daniel E. [CA-3] (introduced 3/14/2006)
Cosponsors (80) Related Bills: H.RES.789, S.2008, S.2459 Latest Major Action: 5/15/2006 Read the first time. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under Read the First Time. House Reports: 109-447 Part 1

Rep. Scott Supports SAFE Port Act

Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott supported the Security and Accountability for Every (SAFE) Port Act.

Rep. Scott represents the Newport News/Hampton Roads area of Virginia, which is home to the Virginia Port Authority. The Virginia Port Authority controls terminals in Norfolk, Newport News, and Portsmouth and has more than 75 international shipping lines and one of the most frequent direct sailing schedules of any port. The facilities that encompass the international terminals of Hampton Roads play a vital role in the transport of global commerce. That role is expanding each year and is expected to do so for the next 20 years. Rep. Scott also represents the future home of the major East Coast Maersk APM Terminals to be located in Portsmouth.

"This means the enhanced security and safety of our port and harbor is paramount, and I want to do my part to ensure that the Virginia Port Authority has what it needs to remain safe and secure

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kinston Granted $1.85 Million Low-Interest Federal Loan

Congressman G. K. Butterfield today announced that the city has secured a $1.85 million low-interest federal loan needed to renovate the City Hall Complex.

“This is an important project for the city and the community,” Butterfield said. “I’m certainly pleased to be a part of it.”

Butterfield said that he included waiver language in the Fiscal Year 2006 Agriculture Appropriations bill to allow Kinston to access the loan. Under federal guidelines, Kinston’s population and income level were too high to qualify for a community facility direct loan from USDA Rural Development.

The funds will be used to renovate the existing City Hall Complex to provide administrative offices for the city’s public safety department and the law enforcement division. In requesting the loan, city officials said that this would allow the department to be more efficient and productive.

H.R. 5235 - The Environment and Public Health Restoration Act


Title: To direct the President to enter into an arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences to evaluate certain Federal rules and regulations for potentially harmful impacts on public health, air quality, water quality, plant and animal wildlife, global climate, or the environment; and to direct Federal departments and agencies to create plans to reverse those impacts that are determined to be harmful by the National Academy of Sciences.

Sponsor: Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] (introduced 4/27/2006) Cosponsors (None) Latest Major Action: 4/27/2006 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Resources, and Agriculture, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Statement of Rep. Melvin L. Watt (N.C.-12) on VRA ...

I stand here today together with my colleagues from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus because together we have worked with Chairman Sensenbrenner and Ranking Member Conyers towards this momentous occasion: the introduction of a bill to strengthen and renew the Voting Rights Act of 1965.This bill is very important to the members of our caucuses because it not only reauthorizes the Voting Rights Act, it also restores it to its original intent to secure and protect the rights of minority citizens to participate equally at the ballot box. Specifically, the bill bars voting changes that have the "purpose" of discriminating against minority citizens and it restores the ability of minority communities to elect candidates who share their values and represent their interest as originally intended by Congress. Upon the introduction of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson noted that the Voting Rights Act is like no other piece of civil rights legislation because "[e]very American citizen must have an equal right to vote." "About this," he said "there can and should be no argument."So the Voting Rights Act is different from other civil rights bills because it preserves the core right of our democracy - a right that does not and has not changed over time - that is, the right to participate fully and fairly in the political process. But we believe that, like other landmark civil rights bills, the renewed and restored bill that we introduced today is good for all Americans. It is not a Republican bill, it is not a Democratic bill, it is not a House bill or a Senate bill. And it is not a bill solely for minorities. This is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that unites us as a country by ensuring that all Americans may have their voices heard. This is a solid bill, and together, we the members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus pledge our commitment to continue to work tirelessly to ensure its passage.