Jordan Column: Congress's To-Do List For July
Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) today released the following column.
Last week was the first time in a long time that I was able to share good news about what was going on in Washington.
After months of stalling, the House finally passed an updated version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is critical in tracking phone calls from known or suspected foreign terrorists to points inside this country.
It was ill-advised for Congress to allow this important law to expire in the first place, as the threat of terrorism does not "expire" at the whim of Congress. Its passage is a step in the right direction of providing our intelligence community with the tools it needs most to effectively protect our homeland.
I was also pleased to report that after months of grandstanding, a bipartisan majority in Congress finally agreed to a funding package that provides needed resources for our troops on the battlefield. Unlike prior bills proposed by House Democrats, the legislation contains no politically motivated restrictions on funding that would impair the ability of commanders in the field to conduct the war. This bill was long overdue, and it was terrible for some in Congress to deny our soldiers what they need to do their job and return home safely.
The troop funding package also modernizes the G.I. Bill to provide veterans with more user-friendly educational benefits. The legislation would make G.I. Bill benefits transferable to a veteran's spouse and children, allowing more flexibility in helping these veterans meet the needs of their families.
These were welcome accomplishments, but there is still much work for Congress to do--particularly in the area of energy policy.
Gas is more than $4.00 a gallon in most parts of our district. There are a number of reasons for this, including growing world demand for oil and America's lack of new domestic energy sources to keep pace with demand.
These prices affect each and every one of us, and I believe it is long past time for Congress to act. But rather than moving quickly to lower prices by promoting America's energy independence, the majority of Congress has spent its time and energy trying to "fix" the problem by raising taxes on American oil companies.
Clearly, higher taxes on American companies won't do a thing to lower prices at the pump.
I believe we must act boldly and decisively to implement a comprehensive energy response that includes increasing our supply of traditional fuels, promoting renewable and alternative fuels, and reducing our dependence on unstable sources of oil from places like Venezuela and the Middle East.
Because Congress refuses to take action on these important points, I have joined with a number of my colleagues to start a "discharge petition" to force an up-or-down vote on several bills. Following is that "to-do list" of energy bills that I am urging Congress to vote on before we return home for the August recess:
· H.R. 3089, the No More Excuses Energy Act of 2007, an "all-of-the-above" bill to allow environmentally safe drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the Outer Continental Shelf; to encourage construction of American oil refineries; and to invest in clean, renewable energy sources.
· H.R. 2279, to streamline the process of establishing new refineries and to provide incentives for refineries to be located on closed military bases.
· H.R. 5656, to expand the availability of new sources of alternative energy like oil shale, tar sands, and coal-to-liquid.
· H.R. 2208, to encourage expanded use of clean coal-to-liquid technology that has already helped produce innovative transportation fuel.
· H.R. 2493, to rescind certain fuel blend requirements, known as boutique fuels, if they contribute to unaffordable gas prices.
· H.R. 6107, to open 0.01 percent of ANWR to environmentally safe drilling, with revenue received from the leases to be invested in long-term alternative energy.
· H.R. 6108, to open areas more than 100 miles offshore to environmentally safe drilling, while maintaining the authority of coastal states.
Failing to act on these commonsense bills gets us no closer to solving our energy problems. And, although they won't cut energy prices in half overnight, these bills are a good start toward adopting a truly comprehensive energy strategy that puts us on a path toward energy independence.