The World War I Centennial Commission Act is now on its way to the President -- and is expected to soon be signed into law. I promised constituents this was a priority for me -- and after a long battle in Congress filled with many delicate negotiations -- Missouri's Fifth District is now victorious.
What this means is that our World War I Veterans will get the recognition they deserve and Kansas City will get worldwide attention as the home of the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. In addition, a centennial commission will be established and will meet regularly at the Liberty Memorial.
While the Liberty Memorial and the museum are located in Kansas City, the intention behind my legislation has always been to benefit all of Missouri's Fifth District. Each of us will share in the inspiration and accomplishments of this commission and the focus soon headed to Missouri.
In the midst of what has become an unfortunate story of dysfunction in Washington, this is a monumental example of bipartisanship and success for our district. After years of work and several attempts, I am thrilled to finally be able to report passage of this legislation.
I often speak of the importance of civility. It is a quality and a respect for others that allows us to get along at home, at work, and in all we do, through compromise. Sadly, we haven't seen enough of it in our elected leaders. But, I believe this legislation not only marks an important moment for Missouri's Fifth, but also for Members of the House and the Senate. The success of World War I Centennial Commission Act required cooperation, regardless of political party, to act in doing the right thing for those who sacrificed so much.
This legislation will establish a twelve member commission. That commission will develop and carry out activities and programs surrounding the centennial celebration in Kansas City in 2014. This will ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of World War I, which will take place in Kansas City in 2014. The commission will share in the responsibility of bringing the eyes of the nation, and indeed, the world to Liberty Memorial in honor all of those who served so selflessly to protect our country.
This legislation was forcefully supported by Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill, who led the effort to ensure passage in the Senate. 2013 is off to a great start for Missouri's Fifth District, and working together, we have many great successes yet to come.
FISCAL CLIFF -- WHAT THE AGREEMENT WILL AND WILL NOT DO
When I grew up, Americans hoped for the best from their leaders. Now, they just hope we avoid the worst. I reluctantly and cautiously voted in favor of H.R. 8, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, also known as the legislation to avert the fiscal cliff, because I believe it is in reaching out and finding compromise that we find a way to move forward, keep our economy on the right track, and increase employment for hardworking people in Missouri's Fifth District.
For the first time in 20 years, Congress has acted on a bipartisan basis to vote for significant new revenue. This means millionaires and billionaires will pay their fair share to reduce the deficit, through a combination of permanent tax rate increases and reduced tax benefits. And this agreement ensures that we can continue to make investments in education, clean energy, and manufacturing that create jobs and strengthen the middle class.
The deal to avert the fiscal cliff will do a number of positive things:
extend middle-class tax cuts
extend credits for working families
extend unemployment insurance
raise $620 billion in revenue to pay down the deficit
capital gains and dividends rate set at 20% for higher incomes
expanded tax breaks for low-income Americans, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit< renews package of business tax breaks
permanently patched the Alternative Minimum Tax to avoid raising taxes on the middle-class
The deal was full of changes, but there was also much left out and much work remains to be done. Scheduled cuts to doctors under Medicare were postponed for a year through spending cuts that haven't been specified. The farm bill was merely extended through the rest of the fiscal year, and while this saves us from the "milk cliff," we still need to take a serious look at a robust reauthorization of the farm bill for our farmers and ranchers. The deal did not address the debt ceiling, the sequester, and it did not include the payroll tax holiday. This last provision has expired, which will lead to a 2% increase in taxes for all Americans, but an increase in the solvency of Social Security for all.
It is important to remember that Congress has already cut spending in 2011, primarily in the Budget Control Act. Changes from that law have produced $1.5 trillion in budget cuts over the next ten years, in defense, international programs, and an array of domestic programs ranging from education to law enforcement, food safety, and environmental protection. As we move forward to address our ongoing fiscal challenges, both spending cuts and continuing to ask the wealthy to do a little more will be part of a balanced approach. Getting our deficit under control is a necessary step for the long-term health of our economy. Businesses here at home and abroad must have confidence in our ability to accomplish this for job growth and economic security to continue. This is something we must do not just for ourselves and our children, but our children's children. I am committed to that goal.
As with any compromise, there was something in the bill for both parties to protest. However, it is only in sticking together that we are going to be able to address the problems facing our country. With the new year beginning and the 112th Congress coming to an end, it is time for a reconsideration of the usual resolutions and a renewed commitment to compromise.
To see the President's Fact Sheet please visit my website: http://cleaver.house.gov/
If you are planning a visit to Washington DC, I always invite you to stop by and see me and the office that serves the People of Missouri's Fifth District. I moved into a new office this week. My staff and I are now in 2335 in the Rayburn House Office Building.
My staff and I are able to secure you a tour of the U.S. Capitol if you are interested. If you contact us with sufficient time, and if the White House is agreeable, we can even try to get a tour of the White House for you. Whatever we can do to better serve you is our goal. For more information about the services in the Washington, D.C. office, please visit my website: http://cleaver.house.gov/
Emanuel Cleaver, II
Member of Congress