It has been a busy week for me in Washington, even as I am still recuperating after lung surgery earlier this month. I cannot thank you all enough for your thoughts and prayers. This has been a reminder of how blessed I am to have the privilege of serving the wonderful people of Nebraska.
While I am eager to get back to the office, I have stayed busy working on a number of issues important to Nebraska. Last week, I wrote a letter to the Senate Budget Committee regarding a very concerning development on global warming legislation, known as "cap-and-trade," that could significantly affect businesses, farms, and families across the state. The legislation would end up costing up to $3,000 per family in the form of an energy tax. There is talk that it could get passed by means of the budget reconciliatory process instead of traditional Senate procedures. This would prevent most members of Congress, including myself, from fully debating it.
It is critical that this legislation be given thorough consideration so that all members of Congress and the American people fully understand its far-reaching implications. My letter received signatures of support from 32 other Senators, including 8 Democrats. This strong statement from one-third of the Senate reinforces the importance that this process is dictated by fair and robust debate, not parliamentary gimmicks. The American people expect and deserve this transparent and comprehensive debate.
A second concerning item from the past week is President Obama's decision to sign an executive order reversing restrictions on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. I am deeply disappointed in this change in policy and strongly disapprove of violating the sanctity of life in the name of scientific research. I do not accept that destroying embryonic stem cells-human life-is an appropriate way to make scientific advancements. There is very promising research to show that adult stem cells can mimic embryonic stem cells, proving that science can be advanced within ethical boundaries.
Lastly, I am pleased to announce that I have introduced a bill that will prevent service members and their spouses from being excluded from crucial family and nutrition programs. Currently, military pay is increased when a service member goes into combat. This temporary enhanced pay often makes these families ineligible for nutrition programs such as the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. It makes no sense to reward their tremendous sacrifice by taking these critical programs away from their families when they have to serve on the front lines. This legislation would exclude combat pay from income when determining eligibility for these programs. It is a simple way to honor the dedication of our servicemen and women.