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eNews - June 6, 2008

What's Inside
1. Frelinghuysen Lauds CFTC on Oil Price Investigation
2. Opposed Biggest Tax Increase in History
3. Calls on House Leadership to Fund our Troops
4. "I am Confident that We Will Modernize the GI Bill"
5. Another Week and Still No Action on the Protect America Act

Frelinghuysen Lauds CFTC on Oil Price Investigation
This week, Rep. Frelinghuysen sent a letter to Chairman Walter Lukken of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commending him on the Commission's recent efforts to increase transparency of the energy futures market.

CFTC recently announced an initiative to expand the surveillance of international crude oil trades; increase reporting requirements and examinations of energy trades; and the continuation of its investigation into the practices surrounding energy futures trading.

"Every American has been affected by the rapidly rising energy costs for gasoline and home heating oil." said Frelinghuysen. "I commend the efforts of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for ensuring that energy prices are not being illegally or unethically manipulated for financial gain."

In April, Rep. Frelinghuysen introduced H.R. 5768, the CFTC Improvement Act. The legislation would expand the CFTC's oversight into electronic energy trades. Electronic energy markets are currently exempt from their oversight. H.R. 5768 would close a legal loophole by allowing electronic energy commodities to be regulated the same way as other commodities.

Opposed Biggest Tax Increase in History
Once again this week, Rep. Frelinghuysen opposed the "largest tax increase in American history" when he voted "no" on Senate Concurrent Resolution 207, the majority's budget plan for Fiscal Year 2009. The budget blueprint contains a "gargantuan" tax increase of $683 billion over the next five years.

"This government does not tax too little; this government spends too much," said Frelinghuysen. "At a time when many Americans are struggling with increased prices at the gasoline pump, the supermarket, for college education, and health care, Congress should not tell them they owe more in taxes. But that is just what the Majority's budget would do - raise taxes for every taxpayer, in every state in the union."

For example:

• Child Tax Credit: Congress doubled the child tax credit to $1,000 per child in 2001. Under the budget Frelinghuysen opposed this week, in 2011 the credit will revert to $500 per child - a tax increase of $500 per child for American families;

• Marriage Tax Penalty: 23 million married taxpayers would see their taxes increase in 2011;

• Raising the 10% Tax Rate Bracket to 15%: More than 5 million individuals and families who previously owned no taxes would become subject to the individual income tax in 2011.

The Investor's Business Daily weighed in this week. It wrote on Wednesday ""Make no mistake: This tax hike is gargantuan. … On average, 116 million taxpayers will see a jump of $1,800 in their annual tax bill. Some 48 million married couples - the heart of the middle class that Democrats say they want to help - will be slapped with an average increase of $3,007. Even the elderly will take a hit - $2,181 on average. … Quite a week's work for one Congress."

Calls on House Leadership to Fund our Troops
Even though they have had the funding request in their hands for over 450 days, the majority leadership once again failed to move an important package for deployed warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan this week.

"This failure to act is harming the Army and putting in jeopardy service members' money: Money for paychecks, support for their families; as well as leave and benefits." Frelinghuysen said. "We must pass funding for the men and women defending our nation. Our dedicated service members are facing the prospect of not receiving paychecks. IOUs are no way to thank those who serve."

Because of this failure to act, the Pentagon has had to shift funding from other important programs and will run out of money by mid-July. The Majority leadership has attempted to jam non-defense spending into the troop funding bill in hopes of forcing through less necessary legislation. This is a dangerous and irresponsible national security strategy.

"I am Confident that We Will Modernize the GI Bill"
With those words, Rep. Frelinghuysen co-sponsored the House version of the Graham-McCain veterans' GI bill, H.R. 5944, the Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention and Readjustment Through Education Act. The bill significantly improves GI benefits and provides a new program that allows service members to transfer education benefits to their family.

"There is no doubt that the educational benefits of active and retired service members must be improved substantially and updated to meet the financial realities of the 21st century," said Frelinghuysen. "We must do our part to enhance the program, but any bill must allow service members to transfer their education benefits to spouses or children. They have earned it."

Under the Montgomery GI law, veterans who choose not to use their education benefits lose them. Rep. Frelinghuysen continues to support the inclusion of "transferability" in any proposal and is hopeful a bill with this provision, and significantly enhanced benefits, will be passed soon by the House and Senate and signed by the President.

Another Week and Still No Action on the Protect America Act
Another week has gone by and the Majority has again failed to act on the Protect America Act. The legislation passed the Senate by a wide margin 3 months ago and would pass the House of Representatives as well if it was simply given an "up-or-down" vote.

"The majority's failure to act has deprived our intelligence agencies of many tools necessary to keep our nation safe from terrorist attacks," said Frelinghuysen. "The House should immediately take up the Senate-passed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) bill and give it the consideration it deserves."

A bipartisan group of 25 State Attorneys General wrote a letter to House leaders in urging passage of the bipartisan Senate bill: "Passing S. 2248 would ensure our intelligence experts are once again able to conduct real-time surveillance. … As Attorneys General, we are our states' chief law enforcement officials and therefore responsible for taking whatever action is necessary to keep our citizens safe. With S. 2248 still pending in the House of Representatives, our national security is in jeopardy. We therefore urge the House of Representatives to schedule a vote and pass the FISA Amendments Act of 2007."

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