As summer approaches there remains much work to do in Congress during the coming "dog days."
One of the most frustrating parts of the legislative process is the waiting. Right now we are waiting on the Senate to complete important legislation on financial reform, the reauthorization of the COMPETES Act and the American Jobs and Closing the Tax Loopholes Act of 2010.
We all know that we must do more to hold the financial sector accountable for its past bad practices so as to never have a repeat of the financial meltdown of 2008. It is imperative that this legislation be signed into law as soon as possible so Wall Street can be made to play by the rules and take responsibility for its own poor decisions. We must have legislation that ensures the American taxpayer doesn't get forced to bail out big banks ever again.
The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loophole Act of 2010 will help create or save more than one million American jobs. It restores credit to small businesses, extends tax incentives for American research and development, rebuilds failing American infrastructure, expands summer job programs for young people and provides tax relief for middle class families. It also extends unemployment insurance benefits to millions of Americans who are still desperately trying to support their families as they look for jobs in an economy that has just recently begun to show signs of improvement.
This bill will also prevent corporations from shipping jobs overseas and sticking taxpayers with the bill. It closes a tax loophole for investment fund billionaires on Wall Street, and makes the oil industry pay to ensure sufficient funds to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
I have long opposed the opening of new offshore drilling sites, knowing the technology to clean up a spill was nowhere as advanced as the technology to drill for oil. The spill in the Gulf has proven this to be true. Since oil companies are allowed to extract our natural resources and take unlimited profits in the process, we must make those companies more accountable for these types of catastrophic failures, and ensure that the American people are not left holding the bag, and paying the bill, for these companies' reckless practices.
As summer rolls around, it is certain that rising gas prices will strain the already stretched pocketbooks of hard-working Americans. I will continue to push to end our dependence on foreign oil with legislation like the NAT GAS Act, which provides incentives for production and development of natural gas as an alternative fuel source, as well as supporting research on other fuel alternatives through biofuels and biomass. As we continue to search for sources of new alternative fuels and develop applications to use those sources, it is imperative that we take precautions never to repeat the type of gas crises we have faced in last few years. We have to be smart about ending our dependence on foreign oil.
Last summer, I introduced legislation to develop a National Strategic Gas Reserve with the capacity of 10 million barrels of regular unleaded gasoline. This reserve would ensure folks don't face tremendous gas shortages and skyrocketing prices as well as price gouging during cases of catastrophes like hurricanes and the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf. I will continue working to push this bill through Congress.
The COMPETES Act helps to boost America's competitiveness by strengthening the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. We have to continue to do everything we can to protect and support American industry, especially manufacturing. Americans have always been innovators, and we must continue to support this type of creativity and development.
I authored an amendment to the COMPETES Act to help small businesses by instructing the Secretary of Commerce to consider the amount of the loan when setting an application fee as part of the new Innovative Technologies in Manufacturing Loan Guarantee Program. Many times small businesses are unable to utilize these programs due to exorbitant application fees. We cannot expect a small business to pay a $75,000 application fee, especially when there are no guarantees they will receive the loan.
The Agriculture Committee is already starting the proceedings for the 2012 Farm Bill as we continue to work to enact the 2008 Farm Bill. In order to review how farm policy is working and to consider new ideas regarding federal food and farm policy, the Committee will hold field hearings across the country. As a member of the Ag Committee, I took part in a field hearing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and look I forward to welcoming members of the Committee to Fayetteville later this month for another field hearing. A diverse group of agriculturists from our District and across North Carolina, representing many different facets of the North Carolina Agriculture, have been asked to testify to the Committee.
From my position on the House Armed Services Committee, I will continue to work hard to ensure our region is prepared for the BRAC transition during the next several months. While the move of Force Command to Fort Bragg will bring much economic opportunity to our area and we welcome them with open arms, our communities face significant challenges in providing sufficient services and infrastructure to accommodate the growth. I will continue to work with the North Carolina Congressional Delegation and State leaders to ensure we are fighting for the funds required to assist with this transition.
This summer, my office is forming a Congressional Youth Council. As a former teacher, I love the idea of getting young people involved in public and community service. Any student between 14 and 19 from the 8th District is welcome to apply to be involved in the Youth Council, and the application can be found at www.kissell.house.gov or call the Concord District Office at 704-786-1612.
We are starting to see small gains in our economic recovery, but the real work is just beginning. We must be ever vigilant that we not only do not fall backward, but that we continue to move forward toward meaningful economic stability. I continue to work with leaders on the federal, state and local levels to promote the district, and make sure that we are taking advantage of the opportunities available during the nation's economic recovery.
I remain committed to bringing more and better jobs to our district, and to keep fighting every day to level the playing field and eliminate bad trade deals so American workers and businesses have a fair shot to compete in the global economy. Nothing is more critical to our economic security as a nation.