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Friday Faxline: Issue 517

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Friday Faxline: Issue 517

Bipartisan identity theft bill introduce

Reps. Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Brian McNulty (D-NY) introduced bipartisan legislation this week aimed at stopping identity theft. The bill, H.R. 3046, recognizes that Social Security numbers tend to be the key piece of information needed to successfully steal a person's identity and seeks to provide greater protection of these numbers for all Americans. Specifically, the bill provides civil and criminal penalties for unauthorized sale, purchase or public display of Social Security numbers, including display on the Internet. Similar legislation has passed the House in recent years, but it has never become law. This bipartisan effort would provide Americans another layer of security and privacy - a welcome move for an increasingly online society.

White House releases progress report on preventing flu pandemic

On Tuesday, the White House Homeland Security Council issued a one-year report on the administration's progress in implementing the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. The report shows that the United States is better positioned today to detect an outbreak of pandemic flu earlier and to support an international effort to contain a pandemic in its earliest stages and save lives. It also showed that 86 percent of all preparedness actions due within 12 months under the implementation plan have been completed. The remaining 14 percent of actions are in progress and are expected to be completed by the 18-month mark. Despite the common perception that America is invulnerable to such an outbreak, experts say an influenza pandemic is a very real threat, and it's important to take the proactive steps outlined in this strategy to make sure we are prepared to address it if the need arises.

All-night Senate debate long on drama, short on substance

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) scheduled an all-night debate in the Senate this week over the war in Iraq. In a publicity stunt aimed at drawing attention to the debate, Senate leaders made a big deal about bringing rollaway beds into the Capitol for Senators to sleep on when not on the Senate floor debating. (See picture from Roll Call newspaper photographer Bill Clark). I believe that open and honest debate is a fundamental mark of free societies, and I welcome the debate about the need to succeed in Iraq. But it strikes me that dramatizing the debate by bringing in rollaway beds for a photo-op is an unnecessary insult to our troops serving overseas. They are facing real bullets in combat, not rhetorical battles on the Senate floor. An all-nighter for them means grabbing a few hours of sleep in the dirt and sand between engagements with the enemy - not a rollaway bed in a plush room in the Capitol. They are the ones sacrificing in this war, and we should spare them the indignity of the political theater witnessed this week in the Senate.

Rep. Rangel seeks earmark for building named in his honor

In an effort to rein in the billions of dollars in new spending being proposed by House Democrats, Republicans have been offering amendments during the appropriations process to strip wasteful earmarks contained in spending bills. This week, Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) offered an amendment to strip an earmark sponsored by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) that seeks to provide federal funds for a public service center in New York named for Rangel himself. In other words, Rangel wants you and me to pay for his building. I supported the amendment to strip this earmark. Tax dollars are a limited resource that I believe should be spent on more important things than funding centers honoring Members of Congress. Unfortunately, Campbell's amendment failed on a roll call vote.

Quote of the Week

"I think it's a much larger truth that where American forces are present, they are inhibiting sectarian violence."

- New York Times lead correspondent in Iraq, John Burns.

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