LETTER FROM THE CONGRESSMAN
As our economy continues to boom, gas prices are falling to the lowest levels in 2006. Additionally, the stock market has reached record levels, the Dow Jones Industrial average crossed 12,100 for the first time and reached a record close on Monday. This strength can be attributed to the pro-growth policies that have been implemented by Congress and President Bush.
Last week I was pleased to discuss these and other issues with constituents throughout the District. Immigration and border security remains a priority issue. I discussed my thoughts on border security at a Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute conference and met with my Hispanic Advisory Council to discuss options for moving forward on the immigration debate. I was also pleased to honor our first responders during an event announcing a $1.8 million grant for the Killeen Fire Department. As Principal for a Day at Cedar Park High School, I had the opportunity to discuss education priorities with students and teachers. I want to thank the high school for allowing me to visit, and I commend the teachers and administrators for all their hard work.
Until next week,
Education is Key to Our Nation's Future
Providing students an opportunity to succeed is critical to our nation's future. In Congress, we have made investing in education a priority, and students and parents are seeing results. Republicans in the House believe that true education reform requires the reinforcement of high standards, accountability for results, increased parental involvement, and strategic funding. Today, more money is being spent on education than anytime in our nation's past. But more funding can only be effective if it is coupled with true reforms to strengthen our education system. This year we have taken action on a number of policies that benefit our nation's students.
I supported reforms to student aid programs in an effort to expand college access for low- and middle-income students. Most recently, the Higher Education Extension Act of 2006 was passed into law. The extension of this bill ensures that colleges are more affordable, that the student aid process is simplified, and that students receive a quality higher education. Further, this bill reforms and strengthens federal student aid and higher education programs, adding new benefits for student loan borrowers, greater accountability to empower consumers, and stronger protections for American taxpayers. The College Access and Opportunity Act and the Deficit Reduction Act also include important student loan reforms that provide strong protections for students and taxpayers.
In addition, Congress worked to reduce student loan payments by repealing a federal rule that limited the ability of consumers to shop for the best deal on student consolidation loans. As a result of the repeal, students with loans will now have the ability to shop around with other loan providers to find the best terms and services. This ensures that the original loan holder competes in order to retain the loan.
We have also expanded the opportunity for parents to save for their students' education through 529 college saving plans. College 529 plans allow parents to invest after-tax dollars in state-sponsored funds, acting like an education IRA. These plans are now permanent, rather than expiring in 2010. This is a great tool in helping parents save for their children's education.
Another education priority facing the House is rejecting efforts by the Senate to allow states to provide in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants. It is ludicrous to me that students who legally reside in another state would have to pay more for school than somebody who has broken laws and is living in our country illegally. This proposal is unfair to American students, and I will continue to fight against this proposal in Congress.
Significant reforms to education policies have been backed by unprecedented levels of resources. This year, states and local school districts will receive $23.3 billion in federal funds to help implement No Child Left Behind (NCLB)-a one-third increase in federal elementary and secondary education funding since President Bush signed NCLB into law. Further, Title I aid for disadvantaged students has increased 45 percent since NCLB was signed into law. For higher education, the commitment is just as strong, with $90 billion in federal resources heading to students this year alone. That's nearly triple what it was just a decade ago. Included in that $90 billion is a record $13 billion for Pell Grants for low- and middle-income students. We will remain committed to examining the successes and challenges of No Child Left Behind to ensure that student achievement continues to exceed that of previous years.
The severe damage caused by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina is still being felt along the Gulf Coast. Significant assistance and relief has been provided to help the educational systems affected by the hurricanes. Schools throughout Texas have opened their doors to thousands of displaced students. Congress ensured that schools that enrolled displaced students in the aftermath of the storms also received assistance. Funding has also been provided to colleges and universities in the damaged region and those higher education institutions enrolling displaced students. This relief effort was built upon initiatives to provide more flexibility on behalf of students, families, and schools.
Although these are just a few of the achievements Congress has made on behalf of our students and our education system, our dedication to the future of America is clear. I will continue to promote education policies that support our teachers, students, and parents so we might continue to lead in the 21st Century economy.
PHOTO: Congressman Carter answers questions from a Cedar Park High School government class while acting as Principle for a Day. Congressman Carter visited classes, toured the school, and spoke to teachers during his visit.
Carter, Congress Working to Keep Gas Prices Down
Every American is dependent on oil and gas, whether to fuel a car, heat a home, or cook dinner. Therefore, gas prices have a significant impact on our nation's economic and national security. The gas prices have been falling, providing welcome relief to individuals and families throughout the U.S.
In the past several weeks the price of gasoline has dropped rapidly, with average prices now around $2.26-and I have seen even lower prices while driving around the 31st District. Lower energy costs are not only noticeable at the pump, but will also be enjoyed by families heating their homes. It has been reported that residential customers may see their heating bills drop by as much as 20 percent. Further, oil prices have fallen by more than 20 percent since the peak in July of over $78 a barrel.
While this immediate relief is a result of changes in the market, it is important that we provide long-term solutions to our nation's energy needs. The United States is twice as dependent today on foreign sources of energy as it was 30 years ago. In Congress, we have been committed to implementing common-sense energy policies to lower gas prices and reduce our nation's reliance on foreign sources of energy, while creating more jobs for Americans.
One of the keys to reducing our dependence on foreign oil is developing new sources of energy that are clean, abundant, and, most importantly, produced here at home. The House recently passed a bill to help protect the American people from volatile global oil markets by expanding our nation's use of alternative energy. The Alternative Energy Research and Development Act calls for increased research and development in a wide range of cutting-edge energy technologies, including hydrogen, solar and wind. The bill also calls for research to help develop new methods of producing ethanol and supports research to convert coal into methane fuel.
Expanding domestic oil exploration is another important component to securing our nation's energy future. This year, both the House and Senate have passed proposals that support responsible deep ocean energy production to help lower gasoline prices for American consumers. The House passed the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act (H.R. 4761), which would allow for the exploration of the vast energy resources in the outer-continental shelf, helping our country to become more energy self-sufficient. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this legislation that would create thousands of family-wage American jobs and allow more of America's massive energy resources to be produced in the deep seas on the outer-continental shelf (OCS) while also empowering coastal states like Texas to protect their coastlines.
Just over one year ago, the President signed into law a comprehensive energy package that has made critical improvements to our nation's energy policies. The Energy Policy Act (EPA Act) was the first comprehensive energy bill in more than a decade, touching on nearly every aspect of U.S. energy production and consumption, including traditional oil and gas drilling, the electrical grid, hybrid cars, and incentives to develop new energy sources. This law is helping boost domestic fuel supplies and provide relief over the long term from high energy prices.
These are just a few of the measures that the House has passed to address our nation's energy needs. I will continue to work with my colleagues to promote policies that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, including increasing domestic supplies of crude oil, expanding our nation's refining capacity, promoting conservation and greater fuel efficiency, and developing alternative sources of energy.
PHOTO: Cong. Carter joins area leaders in a ribbon cutting ceremony for an on-site energy plant that will power the Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas. The Mueller Energy Center is the first of its kind, with very low emissions and high energy efficiency.
PRESIDENT SIGNS DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION
Act Supports Troops, Funds War on Terror Priorities, blocks TRICARE Increases
Last week, I applauded President Bush for signing into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007. This important piece of legislation will give our troops the support they need as they fight terrorism and defend our freedom.
The President's signing will allow for the implementation of the $532.8 billion act that sets the policies, programs, and funding levels for the nation's military. More specifically, this act provides a much deserved military pay raise, additional funding for force protection needs, and blocks TRICARE fee increases. I am proud to consistently support the needs of our U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.
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