Congressman Greg Walden's Oregon Congressional Connection
Your Direct Link to the News and Events in the Nation's Capital
March 14, 2005
Dear Fellow Oregonian:
Greetings! The couple of weeks have been very busy and filled with committee hearings, meetings with Oregonians in Washington, D.C. on business or vacation, key votes on the Floor of the House and extensive activity in the District as well. While in D.C., I had nearly fifty meetings scheduled with various groups and constituents, including meetings with over a dozen elected city and county officials from our area. Those meetings were scheduled between eight committee meetings covering such topics as technology, transportation, budgets, digital TV and forest management. Representing such a vast and diverse district results in a wide array of meetings, and I enjoy staying in direct contact with constituents about everything from health care and natural resources to community development and technology.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved H.R. 3, a piece of legislation calling for improvements to our nation's transportation infrastructure. The Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (TEA-LU), which passed by a vote of 417-9, contained several key provisions I requested and secured for Oregon's Second District. I travel frequently throughout eastern, southern and central Oregon to meet with residents and hold meetings, and as a result, I have seen firsthand the need for these transportation improvements. Alleviating congestion and enhancing safety in our rapidly growing communities and along some of our busiest traffic routes is important to residents, children and commerce. After the Senate acts on their version of the bill, any differences between the two will be worked out in a conference committee. Please view my announcements on TEA-LU projects in central Oregon, the Columbia Gorge, southern Oregon or Klamath County.
On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which I am a member, unanimously approved legislation cracking down on spyware and the invasive, deceptive practices of outside parties taking over and stealing information from your computer. This type of behavior has skyrocketed in recent years and studies show that many computers are infected with such software undetected by the computer's owner. My family has seen our home computer, as well as those in our business and in my congressional office, affected by this type of practice. I share in the frustration that accompanies such violations. I cosponsored H.R. 29, the SPY ACT introduced by Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA), to help prevent this practice from occurring by establishing an opt-in requirement for any monitoring software. The bill also punishes perpetrators who engage in such practices without express permission from the consumer. H.R. 29 will now proceed to the full House for consideration. For more information, you can view the bill here or you can read my announcement on the bill's passage here.
Last week, I filmed a television show called "OnPoint," which is produced by a publishing company called Environment & Energy Daily. The show is a short program, only 15 minutes in length, looking at forest management policy in our nation. They invited me, as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, and Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM), the ranking member on my subcommittee, to discuss funding, public involvement in management practices and the implementation of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, which I was proud to co-author. You can watch the show on Environment & Energy TV's website.
On Wednesday of last week, I held a hearing in the Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee to review the President's proposed budget for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It is critical that the Congress ensure the USFS and BLM receive the resources necessary to properly manage our forests, including the suppression of wildfires that threaten homes, species and communities. The hearing provided my colleagues and I with the opportunity to hear from Mark Rey, Agriculture Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, and Kathleen Clarke, director of the BLM. If you would like to read Mr. Rey and Ms. Clarke's testimonies from the hearing, you can visit the webpage for that hearing; or you can visit the website for the Forests and Forest Health Subcommittee for more information about the committee in general.
On another front, Elsbeth Centola is a junior at Bend High School and is currently here in Washington, D.C. serving as a congressional page. Pages work for the House of Representatives performing duties on the Floor and acting as messengers for members, leadership and the Clerk of the House. Additionally, pages attend school when the are not working to stay up to speed on key subjects such as Math, English and History. Elsbeth is a bright young woman involved in many activities in her community and school. Since arriving in January, she has been able to take in museums, tour memorials, see a play and attend historic events such as the State of the Union Address. I am currently in the process of accepting applications for high school students interested in participating in this tremendous program. If you are interested, please click here for more details and information on how to obtain an application. Hurry - the deadline is April 1!
On March 2, the bipartisan House Rural Health Care Coalition (RHCC), which I co-chair with Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), met with Dr. Mark McClellan, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Dr. McClellan offered us some insight into programs offered by CMS, especially in the areas of preventative medicine, that many Americans do not know about. By investing in preventative care, we can stop disease or certain ailments from occurring as well as save more money in the long run as individuals will be less likely to have serious health care issues. One key example is screening for colon cancer, which is over 90% curable when detected early. You can read more about CMS and the services they provide by going to their website.
Dr. McClellan accepted our invitation to meet with the RHCC shortly after newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. At this hearing, I raised concerns with Secretary Leavitt about health care issues in rural areas. Access to quality health care is an issue critical to all Americans, but especially those in rural areas. To learn more about the issues I am working on, please read my letter to Secretary Leavitt about these critical issues.
I recently completed a series of seven town hall summits on the fight against methamphetamine, which I have told you about in recent editions of this newsletter. Having held summits in Medford, Grants Pass, Hood River, Redmond, Klamath Falls, Baker City and Pendleton, I was able to get a broad perspective about how this issue is negatively impacting our local communities and what my colleagues and I are doing at the federal level to help. More importantly, members of those communities - including parents, educators, children, business leaders and civic leaders - were able to hear from experts in law enforcement, anti-drug efforts, health care, treatment services and local, state and federal government. Please visit my website to get some helpful information about this toxic poison, see the legislation that I have cosponsored so far this year, and read a very moving poem, titled "Crystal Meth," written by a 28-year-old male awaiting transfer to an Oklahoma State prison for meth-related crimes. This poem is a sobering look at how meth can destroy a life. All of this is available on my "Fight Against Meth" webpage.
There is a lot going on in Congress and as developments occur and issues unfold I will certainly keep you updated. You can always find information on my website at www.walden.house.gov. If you have any questions or comments about this e-newsletter or anything else taking place in Congress and our nation's capital, please visit my web site and click on "Contact Me" to send me an email. Your thoughts are most important to me as the help keep my "to do" list updated. You can also call my Medford office toll free from any phone in the 541 area code at 1-800-533-3303 or my Bend office at 541-389-4408. My staff and I look forward to hearing from you.
I hope you find this edition of the Oregon Congressional Connection helpful and informative.
Congressman Greg Walden