The Friday Faxline Issue 497
Bush awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam veteran
On Monday, President Bush awarded the Medal of Honor to Lt. Col. Bruce Crandall for his tremendous acts of heroism as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. In November 1965, Crandall helped transport a battalion of soldiers to a landing zone in Vietnam's la Drang valley. When the battalion began taking on withering enemy fire, Crandall remained on the ground far longer than required in order to load wounded soldiers and fly them back to safety. He then loaded his helicopter with ammunition and other supplies and flew back into the battle to re-supply the troops on the ground and evacuate more of the wounded. Despite having to change helicopters multiple times due to damage incurred from enemy fire, Crandall kept up these re-supply flights for more than 14 hours. The Medal of Honor, America's highest military decoration, is reserved for acts of courage above and beyond the call of duty and at the risk of one's life. Lt. Col. Crandall certainly meets these requirements, and we all owe him our gratitude for his courageous service to his fellow soldiers and his country.
Republicans object to Rep. Jefferson's appointment
The Democratic leadership decided this week to appoint Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) to the House Homeland Security Committee, despite the fact that he continues to be under federal investigation for bribery. Normally, committee assignments are routinely approved by the full House, but given the access to sensitive intelligence information that Jefferson would have on the Homeland Security Committee, Republicans plan to insist on a vote for his approval. In a statement, Republican Leader John Boehner said, "The Democrats previously determined Congressman Jefferson is unfit to serve on the Ways & Means Committee, which oversees the nation's finances and trade, so it is difficult to comprehend how they can approve of Congressman Jefferson's fitness for a seat on the Homeland Security Committee, with access to America's most sensitive and closely-guarded intelligence information." A vote on his appointment is expected as early as next week.
Democrat labor bill draws support from Communist party
On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 800, a bill that would restrict workers rights by doing away with the secret ballot process used by workers to decide whether or not to form a labor union. The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote, with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed. A number of organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police lined up against the bill, but were ultimately unable to sway enough members to defeat it. Among the supporters of the legislation was the Communist Party USA, who urged its passage in an article published in People's Weekly World. The secret ballot process is foundational to free elections. It guards against voter intimidation, whether from employers, union bosses, the government, or anyone else. By denying secret ballots in the decision to unionize, this bill harms workers' rights, and that's why I opposed it.
New travel regulations boost wait-time for passport applications
New government regulations now require a passport for all foreign travel within the Western Hemisphere, including Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The only exception is children under age 16 traveling with a parent, or kids ages 16-18 traveling with a school or athletic group by land or sea to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. They can use a birth certificate. Anyone traveling abroad by air must have a passport, regardless of age. These new regulations are requiring more travelers to obtain passports, meaning longer wait-times for passport applications. You can now expect a normal passport application to take at least 8 weeks to process. Because of this, the U.S. State Department strongly urges travelers to obtain their passport before booking any nonrefundable foreign travel. My office may be able to help expedite an application, but even the expedited process now takes longer than it did before these new regulations were put in place.
Quote of the Week
"Never an option."
- Vice President Dick Cheney, responding to a question about whether he considered changing his travel itinerary after a suicide bomber detonated himself outside the military base in Afghanistan where Cheney was staying.