Arlen Specter's E-Newsletter
Thank you for reading my e-newsletter. You can also watch my video address by clicking here.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote next Tuesday on the nomination of former Federal Judge Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General of the United States. It is very important that we have a new Attorney General because the Department of Justice right now is dysfunctional. It is very much in need of new leadership to handle the very important problems that it must administer in the law enforcement of the United States. There has been a controversy as to whether Judge Mukasey has gone far enough in condemning waterboarding as a practice. It is my hope that in the intervening time between now and next Tuesday that there will be some additional clarification so that we can vote Judge Mukasey out of committee to have his nomination considered by the full United States Senate, on the floor of the Senate.
This week the Senate passed legislation increasing funding for Amtrak, which is very important for moving people around the United States and for commerce and taking people to their jobs. As part of the reauthorization, which increases Amtrak's funding to enable it to do a better job, there have been some requirements imposed that Amtrak will have to make some reevaluations of their operations and some efficiencies, but I think it is good news that Amtrak will continue to provide America with a very essential transportation service.
The Congress is moving ahead on the so-called S-CHIP program to provide medical care to children and people who are in the lower economic brackets. That is a very important program. The President and Congress are at odds as to how much the program should be. The Congress has come in at a $35 billion figure over five years. The President thinks it ought to be at $5 billion, so there is a considerable difference, but the President has offered to negotiate to try to reach agreement with the Congress, and I am optimistic that those negotiations will take place. That's a part of the legislative process, where there are differences of opinion. There is general agreement by both the President and the Congress that the program is necessary. It is just a question of how it is going to be precisely structured and how much it is going to cost, but I think that negotiations will ultimately produce an agreement.
It is very unfortunate that US Airways has announced another cut in service at Pittsburgh (see the letter I sent to Doug Parker Wednesday). This comes on top of very considerable cuts which have been made in the past several years. The Pittsburgh airport was designed to the specification of US Airways - a billion dollar project and a very substantial tax-payer investment. US Airways has gotten very substantial help from the Pennsylvania congressional delegation. This goes back to the time when Senator Heinz and I worked together, and the delegation has been very supportive since. We feel that US Airways is not treating Pittsburgh the way it should... (Read more on US Airways)
As always, the concerns of my constituents are of great importance to me, and I rely on you and other Pennsylvanians to inform me of your views. Please visit my Senate website to learn more about issues and to share your views with me.