Congressman Bob Filner's Congressional Update - July 2007
House Passes Veterans Spending Bill:
Democrats Craft Largest Annual Increase in VA Health Care Spending in 77 Years
I applaud my colleagues for passing the largest increase for VA health care in 77 years. H.R. 2642 sends a clear message to America's servicemembers that this Congress recognizes that taking care of veterans is an ongoing cost of war and our national defense. It provides an unprecedented increase for a time when we are faced with unprecedented needs.
This bill provides the resources necessary to improve health care services, to meet the needs of our servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, especially in the areas of mental health and PTSD services and traumatic brain injury (TBI) care. This bill also invests in the hiring and training of new claims processors to reduce the VA claims backlog and provides much needed resources for medical facilities, maintenance, and VA research.
I worked with House Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Chet Edwards in creating this bipartisan legislation and I thank House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey for his leadership, as well as his Republican counterpart. We have all worked together to make great strides in meeting the needs of our veterans, and we shall continue to work tirelessly and boldly in the months ahead to care for our veterans. There is no higher responsibility of our government than to keep the promises made to the men and women who defend our nation.
Requesting Public Meetings in Designating Power Line Corridors
I am happy to announce my co-sponsorship of H.R. 829, mandating that the Department of Energy conduct more public meetings to give state and local communities control over the process of designating corridors for massive transmission power lines. I also joined with my colleagues in sending a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman requesting that the Department extend the comment period by at least 30 days and hold meetings in every Congressional District to determine the impact of proposed designations.
It is vitally important that impacted communities have the ability to be heard. Given the controversies these transmission corridors bring with them, all concerns must be addressed and that takes time.
H.R. 829 would also prohibit power lines on lands on where scenic, natural, cultural, or historic resources are protected.
Supporting Same Day Voter Registration
I am proud to be a co-sponsor of H.R. 2457, the Same Day Voter Registration Act, which would require states to allow individuals to register and vote for federal elections on the date of the election.
Many states have pre-registration requirements of up to 30 days. The State of California requires voters to register at least 15 days before an election.
It is unknown how many Americans have been prevented from exercising their Constitutional right to vote only because they were unaware of cumbersome pre-registration requirements.
Many Americans do not focus on elections until just days before Election Day. In addition, close elections lead many voters to the polls who had not previously planned to vote. Thus, millions of Americans from some of the most populous states are being denied the right to vote, simply because they did not "pre-register."
Supporting Research & Development Tax Credit
I would like to announce my co-sponsorship of H.R. 2138, legislation that would make the research and development tax credit a permanent part of the U.S. Tax Code and increase the tax credit from 12 percent to 20 percent.
There is wide-spread agreement in the economic community that the research and development tax credit spurs technological innovation, which is a major driving force of our economy. The R&D tax credit has served our nation well and should be made a permanent part of our tax code.
Since its enactment in mid-1981, the credit has been extended 12 times and significantly modified five times. H.R. 2138 has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee for consideration.
Supporting the Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act
I am proud to announce House passage of H.R. 923, the Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. The bill would create a section in the Department of Justice to aggressively investigate and prosecute pre-1970 civil rights' cases that resulted in death and remain unsolved. If a crime other than murder is discovered during the course of an investigation, it will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement officials.
As a co-sponsor of H.R. 923, I firmly believe that we in Congress have a moral obligation to bring justice to the families of the victims. Furthermore, as a society based on laws, we have a responsibility to ensure that criminals don't go unpunished.