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Garrett Gazette - June 18, 2007

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Garrett Gazette - June 18, 2007

Dear Friends:

Last week, House Republicans scored an enormous victory for the American taxpayer. We stood firm and forced the new House leadership to adhere to their promises of transparency and accountability in federal spending.

Specifically, at issue are earmarks, or project-oriented spending requests made by Members of Congress. Earlier this year, I was pleased that the House adopted many of the earmark reforms that I had pressed for in the previous year. The entire process of spending should be open and transparent - all spending should be subject to full public scrutiny and debate, but that is especially true of earmarks, which have far too often been used by Members to curry favor with special interests or voters. You may recall the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, which spent millions of your tax dollars to build a bridge in Alaska that would serve only a few dozen people.

Well, our new House leadership talked a good game - instituting those new rules in January that subjected all earmarks to open debate. But, when push came to shove, leadership was prepared to drop those rules by the wayside. When the first spending bill came to the House floor last week, the Appropriations Committee Chairman announced - with the full support of his leadership - that all spending bills would include slush funds of undesignated money that would later be used for earmarks to be determined by appropriators without any debate. That would mean that no earmarks would be subjected to any scrutiny. There would be no transparency and no accountability in the spending process.

As Public Citizen's Craig Holman noted, "It violates the whole spirit of the reform itself. We really did expect that earmark requests were going to be an open book so that all of America could sit there and take a look at who is requesting what earmark."

As CNN's John Roberts put it, "The question people are asking today is ‘what happened to the Democrats' promise to shed light on the earmarks' because this plan as announced seems to do the opposite."

House Republicans used every procedural tool available to us to force leadership to return to the high standards passed with bipartisan support by the House in January. And, we were successful. All spending bills will now move forward with all earmarks fully disclosed and subject to debate on the floor of the House. There will be no more bridges to nowhere airdropped into bills in backroom deals and disclosed days later on CNN. If a Member of Congress wants to request such funding, he or she must be prepared to explain why that project deserves priority taxpayer spending.

Sincerely,

Scott Garrett

Member of Congress

ISSUE OF THE WEEK: GARRETT SEEKS IMPROVEMENTS FOR STATE VETERANS HOMES

All across the nation, aging veterans are living in veterans homes run through a federal-state partnership. In fact, nearly 30,000 veterans live in 126 veterans homes in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. And, those numbers are projected to increase through the year 2020. These veterans not only receive the medical and assisted living care that they need in these facilities, but they also receive the emotional support and camaraderie that help make the golden years for these brave men and women a little more comfortable.

The Veterans Home in Paramus is just one of these facilities. I have visited the Paramus Home on many occasions and I am always impressed by the sense of community the staff, the residents and their families, and the larger veterans community have engendered there together.

Many of these homes are older and desperately need updating and expansion, particularly as the Greatest Generation gets on in years and needs this type of care. Federal funding is available to help these homes with these important projects. In fact, last year, I was able to help secure some funding for a much-needed update of the fire alarm system at the Paramus Veterans Home.

This federal funding is very competitive, and there is currently a $500 million backlog in projects all across the nation. About half of those waiting projects are considered priority one, because they address important health and safety needs. I sponsored an amendment to the appropriations bill funding the Department of Veterans Affairs that would have transferred $10 million from the administrative offices of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to the State Homes Construction Grants Program.

Regrettably, my amendment failed narrowly by a vote of 206-211. I believe that veterans homes, like the one in Paramus, are an important part of the network of support that we owe our brave veterans and I will continue to be a strong advocate for this program and the veterans who utilize them.

CONGRESSMAN SCOTT GARRETT'S OFFICE COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU:

Congressman Garrett's staff will be holding Mobile Constituent Service Hours in a number of Fifth District towns this week. The Congressman's Constituent Service Officers are trained to act as your liaisons with Federal agencies. But, it's not always easy to make it out to one of the Congressman's district offices - in Paramus and Newton - to meet with one of them, especially when you are dealing with government red tape. These Mobile Constituent Service Hours sessions bring the Congressman's office to you. So, if you are having trouble with a Federal program, such as Medicare, veterans benefits, Social Security, or more, please feel free to come by. And, please bring copies of any relevant paperwork with you to facilitate their work.

Tuesday, June 19th

Blairstown

10:00 am to noon
Municipal Building, 106 Route 94

Tuesday, June 19th

Hillsdale

10:00 am to noon
Borough Hall, 380 Hillsdale Avenue

Tuesday, June 19th

Westwood

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Borough Hall, 101 Washington Avenue

Wednesday, June 20th

Ridgewood

10:00 am to noon
Borough Hall, 131 N. Maple Avenue

Wednesday, June 20th

Sandyston

10:00 am to noon
Town Hall, 133 Route 645

Wednesday, June 20th

Allendale

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Borough Hall, 500 W. Crescent Avenue

Thursday, June 21st

Bloomingdale

10:00 am to noon
Council Chambers, 101 Hamburg Pike

Thursday, June 21st

Dumont

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Borough Hall, 50 Washington Avenue


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