eNews - 1-18-2008
1. Frelinghuysen back from South Pole scientific journey
2. Tax Hike on the Horizon???
3. Emergency Energy Assistance
4. Unfinished Business - Closing the Terrorist Loophole
5. Mt. Arlington Train Station Opens this weekend
6. Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King
Frelinghuysen back from South Pole scientific journey
"I am in awe of both the physical attributes of Antarctica and of the heroic men and women of science and the military who toil each day on the coldest, windiest, snowiest, harshest continent on the planet."
These were the words of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen as he returned from a grueling five day visit to Antarctica and the South Pole. He traveled at the invitation of the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Arden Bement, to observe firsthand a series of ongoing scientific operations and experiments and participate in the dedication of the new Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The visit came as the NSF and other federal agencies reach the halfway point in the "International Polar Year" - a global research effort to better understand the polar regions and their climatic effect on the Earth.
"The NSF and other federal agencies are conducting hugely important research and education activities in Antarctica on an ongoing basis," said Frelinghuysen, the ranking Republican member on the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee, which oversees the National Science Foundation. "It was important to see their work and the research Congress is supporting."
The NSF was created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense..." With an annual budget of about $5.92 billion, NSF is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. In many fields, such as mathematics, computer science, and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.
As part of the International Polar Year (IPY), more than 200 scientific expeditions are being conducted over a two year period to study changes to permafrost, the melting of polar ice sheets, and marine life in the cold and dark. The research completed during IPY will provide a baseline for understanding future environmental change.
"Congress provides critical support to the NSF mission in Antarctica," said Frelinghuysen. "This research in the polar regions entails massive logistical challenges. I applaud the young scientists who are doing incredibly important work on a range of important topics and the men and women of the military who make their work possible."
Tax Hike on the Horizon???
New Jersey's middle-class families and small businesses are feeling squeezed by rising costs of living, with gas prices skyrocketing, costs of health care rising, and home mortgages becoming more volatile. In fact, a U.S. Labor Department report released this week reported that wholesale inflation was up 6.3 percent last year, "reflecting a huge increase for the year in various types of energy costs ranging from gasoline to home heating oil."
With the House returning to session this week, these concerns sit atop the 2008 Congressional agenda. But as the new Majority begins planning an "economic stimulus package", Americans are rightly growing concerned about the prospects for a tax hike to be included in the legislation or imposed later in the year, mirroring one proposed in 2007.
Such a tax increase would have a devastating impact on the economy and on consumers, according to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, who testified before Congress last fall that tax hikes "tend to be a drag on consumer spending and on the economy" and "would probably not be advisable."
"The last thing the hardworking families of New Jersey need is another tax," said Rep. Frelinghuysen. "The federal government needs to go on a New Year diet and learn to live within its means."
"There are a number of actions Congress and the White House could consider in the next few weeks," he said. "The first action is to prevent a massive tax increase on families and businesses and Congress should signal today that it will make the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent. Maintaining lower taxes on labor and capital will encourage both labor and capital to work harder now when we need the greater economic activity. Any economic stimulus package must be bipartisan and must be vetted for its short- and long-range effects on families and small businesses and large employers."
Emergency Energy Assistance for Low-Income Residents
The Department of Health and Human Services this week released $450 million to help eligible low-income homeowners and renters meet home energy costs. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds will provide states with heating assistance for the winter months ahead. Over $25 million will be dispatched to programs in New Jersey.
"The LIHEAP program is critically important for states in the snow belt like New Jersey," said Rep. Frelinghuysen. "These funds will help human service providers in our part of the state ensure that no one is left out in the cold."
LIHEAP helps eligible families pay for home cooling, heating and insulation in summer and winter months. Every year, more than five million low-income households across the country receive assistance under LIHEAP.
Including block grant allocations, the money released this week through the LIHEAP contingency fund brings the total delivered to approximately $2.22 billion this fiscal year. $160 million remains available for unanticipated events in the emergency contingency fund.
Last month, Rep. Frelinghuysen wrote to President Bush urging him to fully fund the LIHEAP program in his next budget which will be unveiled in two weeks.
Unfinished Business - Protecting America from
Violent International Terrorists
In August, Congress closed for six months the terrorist loophole in our surveillance laws and entrusted intelligence officials - not government lawyers - with protecting our national security. Instead of closing that loophole permanently in December, the new Majority continues to push a fatally-flawed bill that would re-open the loophole and bar American officials from acting quickly on vital intelligence to protect our troops and the American people. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) definitely needs to be permanent.
"Congress must act by February to make sure that our government retains the ability to continue to monitor violent international terrorists, wherever they may be plotting and planning their next attack," said Frelinghuysen.
Mt. Arlington Train Station Opens this weekend
After years of planning and 18-months of construction, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Mayor Art Ondish of Mount Arlington and New Jersey Transit will formally open the new Mount Arlington train station for commuters on Sunday. The station is located adjacent to the junction of Interstate 80 and Howard Boulevard near the Roxbury border.
"It's no secret that our highways are clogged at just about every hour of the day," said Rep. Frelinghuysen. "In order to remove cars from the road, though, people must have other options for their travel. This impressive new Mount Arlington station provides an important new alternative."
Planning for an intermodal (rail, bus, auto) commuter hub at the Mount Arlington site started as one of the proposals of the Route 80 Mobility Task Force nearly ten years ago. Frelinghuysen commended Morris County Freeholder Director Margaret Nordstrom and her colleagues for recommending that these federal dollars be directed to the Mount Arlington site.
Construction on the $16 million station started in June 2006. Rep. Frelinghuysen secured significant federal funding for the station, which will feature two 285-foot platforms. New Jersey Transit has added 57 parking spaces to the existing 228-space lot at the site, which is currently used by bus commuters and carpoolers.
New Jersey Transit trains will "officially" begin using the Mount Arlington Station on Monday, January 21.
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen will participate in the Morristown Martin Luther King Observance Committee's 38th Anniversary Celebration. An excerpt from his remarks:
"It was Dr. King himself who sai, "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
"In other words, achieving human progress is hard work. It takes effort. It takes commitment. It takes time.
"That's why this celebration - now in its thirty-eighth year - is so important. This gathering of friends gives us the opportunity to recommit ourselves to achieving his dream of peace and justice for all.
And I specifically commend Dr. Felicia Jameson for her leadership in hosting this breakfast and for keeping Dr. King's dream alive. "