Budget and Taxes Update:
I joined my Republican colleagues from the Committee on Ways and Means to send a Views and Estimates letter, which conveys our perspective on legislative proposals that have budgetary impact, to the House Budget Committee. As required annually, the full Committee sends a letter to the Budget Committee, but the Republican letter provides an opportunity for our alternative views to be expressed. The Republican Views and Estimates letter addresses our view that millions of Americans and employers face increased taxes because of expanded Federal assistance programs and proposed climate change legislation, Social Security and Medicare spending are unsustainable, and tax code simplification and expanded trade could enhance our economic growth and prosperity.
Environmental Protection Agency:
On March 2, 2010, I co-sponsored House Joint Resolution 77, along with 89 other Members of the House of Representatives. This measure would express Congress' disapproval of a rule submitted by the EPA that classifies carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant harmful to human health and allows it to be regulated under the Clean Air Act. Think about what the EPA is really saying here. It is saying that carbon dioxide, a gas that every human on the planet expels from our bodies thousands of times a day and prompts plants to grow, is really a poison that is harmful to our health. Sounds ludicrous to you? It certainly does to me. This is just one more way that the Obama Administration is trying to control the daily lives of Americans through needless bureaucratic regulation. To read an in depth discussion of H.J.Res. 77 by House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX), please visit: http://joebarton.house.gov/NewsRoom.aspx?FormMode=Detail&ID=562.
I would like to draw your attention to an upcoming water awareness initiative in Washington, D.C.: "Fix a Leak Week" March 15-21. Trillions of gallons of water fall on each one of our nation's states each year, yet our aquifers are being pumped dry and our citizens are often subject to stringent water restrictions. Why? One of the reasons is because the technology used to distribute the water to our agriculture is both outdated and aging. Another reason why we are faced with critically low water levels is because older cities are losing approximately 20 percent, on average, of the water carried through their pipes each day. New York City loses 36 million gallons per day to leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct, while Philadelphia loses 85 million gallons per day to leaks in city pipes. The city of Boston is not far behind that number in terms of daily water loss. According to engineering experts, household leaks can result in the loss of more than 1 trillion gallons of water a year nationwide.
Some have estimated that by 2016, over half of our nation's pipes will be in very poor condition, if not completely unusable. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that it is now going to cost us several trillion dollars to repair and improve our nation's water infrastructure in the future. We clearly need to do a better job with our conservation efforts, and fixing leaky pipes is one easy way to do that. We should also promote water audits to more systematically identify such problems.
Since 2001, I have been calling on my colleagues in Congress to pass my bill, H.R. 135, the "Twenty-First Century Water Commission," to help us begin the process of addressing our nation's increasing water resources management and infrastructure problems. There is no reason why we should allow another drop of water to run to the sea unused even once, or spend millions and millions of dollars to treat our water only to see it leak out of a pipe and immediately run out to the street before it ever reaches a plant or a faucet. H.R. 135 would tackle these issues head on. To read more about "Fix a Leak Week," please visit: http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/water_efficiency/fix_a_leak.html. To read the text of my legislation, please click here.
Foreign Affairs and Military News:
This week, I was proud to co-sponsor H.R. 4649, the "Iran Human Rights Sanctions Act." This bill directs President Barack Obama to impose financial sanctions on any person determined to be complicit in human rights abuses committed against Iranian citizens. As has been reported so widely in the media, hundreds of peaceful protesters have been arrested, incarcerated, and some even sentenced to death for participating in post-election protests last year and earlier this year in Iran. According to the New York Times, one protester has been sentenced to death for engaging in anti-government demonstrations on a Shiite holy day and another for throwing rocks during a rally last December. We cannot stand by while a basic human right, like the right to peacefully assemble and protest, is stripped from the citizens of Iran by an increasingly dictatorial government. To view the text of this legislation, please click here.
On March 2, I joined my colleagues in the House to support passage of H.Res. 812, of which I am a proud co-sponsor. This bill recognizes the significant contributions of the Military Working Dog (MWD) Program to the U.S. Armed Forces. The Military Working Dog Program helps improve the quality of safety for our military men and women by providing dogs that have been trained to help them detect Weapons of Mass Destruction before they are detonated. The individuals that have put the time and effort into making this program viable have saved countless numbers of our nation's soldiers and made it possible for our service men and women to return home safely to their families once they have completed their mission overseas. To view the text of this legislation, please click here.
Blog of the Week:
Here is a story worth taking a look at: a family left Germany and was granted political asylum in the United States because German law does not allow families to home school their children--which this family does. In fact, German Federal law stipulates that parents could potentially lose custody of their children if they are caught home schooling them. Families in Germany and various other countries in the Western world are mandated by law to send their children to public school or else choose from a limited selection of alternative schools.
As I'm sure you know, home schooling is allowed in all 50 states. You can send your child to public school, private school, military school, or open up a text book and teach them yourself. It's your choice.
Now apply this same principle to health care. Imagine being forced--against your beliefs, your economic circumstances, or even just personal preference--to subscribe to a health care plan that the Federal government decides is in your "best interests." Sound familiar? America is not a country that rams a "choice" down your throat. Choosing your health care plan, where your children go to school, what kind of car you drive or what kind of house you buy is your freedom in this country.
I say all of this in order to ask that the next time you ponder to yourself the kind of policy you would like to see coming out of Washington; remember that there are well-to-do families in the developed Western world, seeking asylum--a word typically reserved for victims of severe human rights violations--for the very freedoms our Administration and Democratic leadership are trying to take away with this destructive health care legislation.