It's been a busy few weeks in your 8th District Congressional Offices.
We facilitated a meeting in Kannapolis between representatives of the Army Surgeon General and the North Carolina Research Campus. It is imperative people entrusted with the health, nutrition and general well-being of the brave men and women in the U.S. Army see first-hand the groundbreaking research being done right here in NC at the Research Campus.
Col. Gaston Bathalon, incoming commander of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, and Col. George Dilley, Chief Dietitian for the Army, toured the campus and met with several professors from the campus's university programs in an effort to find opportunities to improve the health and nutrition of our Armed Forces. It was a successful meeting and I'll continue to keep you updated on our progress in developing this partnership.
On July 6, I organized a meeting at Fort Bragg between the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport Commission and members of the base command. Since 1942, the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport has provided services for the community and the military. As the airport completes plans to repair the runway, the Airport Commission is considering options to expand. The meeting provided an opportunity for the Airport Commission to present its plans and potential to Fort Bragg for an improved runway that can accommodate heavy military aircraft. I have requested federal funds in this year's National Defense Authorization Act for the planned upgrades at the airport, and I believe this facility can serve as an engine for more economic growth for Scotland County and a key component in the training of our troops at Fort Bragg.
On the legislative side, I have worked with colleagues to sponsor important bills to help ensure people get the help they need during these difficult economic times. This week these included the Dental Coverage Value and Transparency Act of 2010 which brings consumer protections for folks in group health plans and the High-Risk Pool Fairness Act which gives people losing their COBRA coverage access to the high-risk health insurance pool program.
Our office works hard to make sure Veterans receive the benefits due to them. The latest bill I've sponsored for Veterans and their families is the Disabled Veterans' Surviving Spouses Home Loan Act. It would allow the surviving spouses of totally-disabled veterans to be eligible for housing loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. We can't forget our reservists on whom we have depended heavily. I recently cosponsored legislation to ensure members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces who have served on active duty or performed active service since Sept. 11, 2001 receive credit for their service in determining eligibility for early retirement.
This week, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk visited the 8th District, touring farms and holding discussions with business and agriculture leaders. I am pleased that Ambassador Kirk got to see the opportunities available in the 8th District. Together, we hosted a meeting with a cross section of business and community leaders at UNCC. I believe it was important for the Ambassador to hear directly from our district how trade has impacted us. We want to make sure trade starts working for us, not against us. I'm working to make sure we get fair, enforceable trade agreements that bring investments and jobs to the 8th District. It is long overdue.
Another thing I have been working on to bring jobs and capital back home is a series of meetings I call reverse trade missions. Last month, members of the Israeli Embassy met with representatives of 8th District businesses. As we continue to move forward in pursuing fair trade and protecting American jobs, we need to focus our attention on American exports and allow the innovations of American business to compete in the global marketplace. Among our next visitors to the 8th District will be representatives from Singapore and a Swiss-German delegation to our area to see first-hand the opportunities available here.
As part of my effort to protect, enhance and expand American manufacturing and industry, I asked Treasury Secretary Geithner to open an investigation into a Chinese steel company, and their investment in an American steel company. The Chinese company, Anshan, has grown into China's fourth largest steel producer, and is owned and controlled by the Chinese central government. Anshan is now being directed by its Communist Chinese overlords to invest in the U.S. market with resources sufficient to damage the competitiveness of American steel companies, all with the financial backing and political blessing of the Chinese government.
The U.S. steel industry plays an important role in our national defense, and in building and maintaining critical infrastructure. Any acquisition by a foreign government-controlled and subsidized entity that does not follow market principles is cause for concern. This investment could provide the Chinese government with access to, and information about, U.S. infrastructure projects critical to Homeland Security and National Defense. I will continue to keep you informed about this issue.
It is the honor of a lifetime to serve as your representative in Congress. I am proud of the work my staff and I have done on your behalf to help bring economic opportunity home to the 8th District, and I assure you we will continue to fight for jobs, industry and investment in the coming months.