Congressman Bob Filner's Congressional Update
In this Issue:
* As The Iraq War Enters Its Fifth Year, Congress Votes for A Change in Course
*House Passes the Wounded Warrior Assistance Act; Bill Ensures Troops Experience the Seamless Transition They Deserve
*Veterans Groups Join Democrats in Support of Budget Resolution
* Introducing the Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act (H.R. 1073)
* Enhancing Affordability and Competitiveness of Specialty Crops
* Calling on ISO to Help Remove the South Bay Power Plant
*Constituent Mail Bag
* Useful Website: Track Your Tax Return
As The Iraq War Enters Its Fifth Year, Congress Votes for A Change in Course
In the November election, the American people spoke and demanded a new direction in Iraq, making it clear that the country must turn away from the failed policies of the Bush Administration. As the Iraq war entered its fifth year last month, it is long past time for Congress to take action to set a new direction.
The Iraq war is already longer than U.S. participation in World War II, World War I, the Korean War, or the Civil War. The war increasingly strains our military - now creating a genuine crisis in U.S. troop readiness and our ability to respond to new threats. As we begin the fifth year of the war, the price we have paid is high - with more than 3,000 U.S. troops dead, more than 20,000 U.S. troops wounded, and more than $400 billion of taxpayer dollars spent.
The House of Representatives has made their decision. No longer can we endorse the President's open-ended commitment to the Iraq war.
House Democrats are bringing forward a plan that provides for a change in course on Iraq. Our plan will protect our troops on the battlefield and at home, require accountability from the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government, and set a responsible timeline for a phased redeployment of U.S. troops - with a date certain, by August 2008 at the latest, for U.S. combat troops to be redeployed from Iraq.
Adoption of the Democrats' plan would answer the plea of the American people - to turn away from the President's open-ended commitment to U.S. participation in this Iraqi civil war and instead provide a responsible, phased plan for requiring the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future.
House Passes the Wounded Warrior Assistance Act; Bill Ensures Troops Experience the Seamless Transition They Deserve
I am proud to announce that the House of Representatives has passed H.R. 1538, the Wounded Warriors Assistance Act of 2007. This legislation is a cooperative effort between the House Armed Services Committee and the House Veterans' Affairs Committee to address the problems facing wounded service members and to improve their transition from the military to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Our test as a Congress and as a nation is how we are going to respond to the problems we have learned about in military and veterans' health care. The Wounded Warriors Assistance Act is a great first step towards providing a seamless transition' between active duty and veterans' status: one physical evaluation for both exit (from active duty) and entrance (to VA system) and one system for electronic health care records.
The Wounded Warrior Assistance Act provides the people, training, and oversight mechanisms needed to ensure that our wounded warriors feel secure that they will always receive committed quality care and that the system will not fail them. The legislation also sets the stage for much needed reform of administrative processes that will restore confidence in the integrity and efficiency of the disability evaluation system and begin the process of achieving a truly seamless transition of service members to the Department of Veterans Affairs programs.
Veterans Groups Join Democrats in Support of Budget Resolution
Last month, I was joined by veterans service organizations, Chairman of the Committee on the Budget John Spratt (D-SC), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Chet Edwards (D-TX), and members of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee to unveil a significant budget that begins to address the needs of America's veterans.
The House of Representatives approved a budget for 2008 that increases VA health care by $6.6 billion over 2007 figures. This increased funding is $3.5 billion over the Administration's request. Democrats have demonstrated unwavering support for our nation's veterans by working for the largest annual increase in VA health care spending in 77 years.
A number of veterans' service organizations have offered support for the budget proposal, including The American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans.
In the first three months of this Congress, we have demonstrated that Democrats recognize veterans' health care as a cost of war. In February, we passed a Continuing Resolution that included $3.6 billion above the 2006 baseline. Then, last month the House passed a Supplemental Appropriations Act for 2007 that included $1.7 billion for key veterans programs.
I want to thank Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Spratt, Chairman Obey, Chairman Edwards, the members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee and the countless veterans and veterans groups that have worked tirelessly to ensure that this budget recognizes the importance of veterans. As a Congress, we are acting on behalf of a grateful nation. This budget shows the respect, love and dignity that our veterans deserve.
Introducing the Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act (H.R. 1073)
It is my honor to re-introduce H.R. 1073, "The Law Enforcement Officers Equity Act." The purpose of this bill is to give law enforcement status to all federal law enforcement officers.
Many federal officials--for example, the Border Patrol--are classified as "law enforcement officers," for the purposes of determining salary and retirement benefits. But many other officers--such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Inspectors, Veterans' Affairs Police Officers, U.S. Mint Police Officers, Internal Revenue Officers, and police officers in about two dozen other agencies--do not have equal pay and benefits status.
The simple fact is that these officers have dangerous jobs and deserve to be recognized as law enforcement officers because they share the same level of risk as those who are so recognized.
Enhancing Affordability and Competitiveness of Specialty Crops
I am proud to announce that I am an original sponsors of H.R. 1600, the EAT Healthy America Act. The bill reinforces previous efforts by Congress to assist with the challenges faced by specialty crop farmers in areas such as marketing, nutrition outreach, international trade, research for improvements in crop production and pest and disease control, and conservation practices.
This bill is an investment in our nation's public health. It bolsters marketing and promotion campaigns aimed at increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables across the nation--an integral component to a healthy lifestyle.
H.R. 1600 expands upon previous congressional efforts to ensure an abundant and affordable supply of fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, and other specialty crops for American consumers and international markets, to enhance the competitiveness of United States-grown specialty crops and to recognize their vital role in American agriculture. This bill helps farmers in Imperial Valley by ensuring that our farmers stay on top of the competition, both in the domestic and international marketplace.
Calling on ISO to Help Remove the South Bay Power Plant
I have contacted the California Independent Systems Operator (ISO), urging them to remove the South Bay Power Plant's reliability must-run (RMR) designation, which means it is needed for grid reliability. The California Independent System Operator has the authority to change its status.
This is the critical next step inn efforts to remove the plant from Chula Vista's bayfront. The plant is no longer needed to generate power, and the citizens and leaders no longer want the plant in the community.
I am a part of a growing coalition which includes the Chula Vista City Council, the Environmental Health Coalition, and other leaders opposed to power plants on Chula Vista's bayfront.
Recently the Chula Vista City Council voted unanimously to remove the plant from the bayfront, and San Diego Unified Port District supported that move by also voting against any power plants on Chula Vista's bayfront.
Constituent Mail Bag
From San Ysidro
Dear Representative Filner:
I support the outspoken opposition of House leaders to President
Bush's dangerous escalation of the war in Iraq, and I urge you
to support Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bill calling for redeployment
of troops out of Iraq starting in March, 2008.
Our troops have sacrificed enough. In the four years of this
war, 3,200 American soldiers have been killed and more than
Now we need to support our troops by making sure they have the
health care and equipment they need and by beginning their
Therefore I urge you to vote for the U.S. Troop Readiness,
Veterans Health, and Iraq Accountability Act so that we can end
the Iraq war and to begin the redeployment of U.S. troops!
Congressman Filner replies:
Thank you for contacting me to express your support for H.R. 1591, the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountability Act.
I wholeheartedly support changing course in Iraq and bringing our troops home! I voted for H.R. 1591 because the bill sets benchmarks for progress and a deadline for withdrawal of our troops. The bill will also provide much needed funds for active-duty and veterans' health care!
By working together, we can end the disastrous war in Iraq!
Contact My Office
Useful Website: Track Your Tax Return!
Have you already filed your tax return for the year? Does the Federal Government owe you money? Are you tired of waiting for your return without knowing when it will be sent? This year the IRS has provided a website for you to check the status of your refund while it is processing. Additionally, the IRS website is a great resource for preparing your tax returns, paying your fees, and getting information for your returns.