Changing the Face of The Pentagon

On Tuesday June 13, the House Armed Services Committee met to consider H.R. 5200, a bill that would reorganize the National Guard as an independent service within the Department of Defense and appoint the Director of the National Guard Bureau to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The bill would also elevate the Director of the National Guard Bureau to the rank of 4-star general.

This hearing was the first of what I believe will be many hearings on this topic. Today, the guard and reserve have become an operational reserve. Individuals serving in either the guard or the reserve are expected to be highly trained and ready to deploy when called. Approximately 40% of the armed forces members currently in Iraq and Afghanistan are members of either the guard or reserve. Because the roles of the guard and reserve are changing, the committee will hold numerous hearings to determine the best way to reorganize the Department of Defense.

The last major reconstruction of the Pentagon was the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. The Goldwater-Nichols Act created the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appointed the Chairman of the Joint Chief as the primary military advisor to the President, and ushered in an era of joint cooperation between the services that led to repeated military success over the past 20 years. I am confident the committee will carefully deliberate and legislate on a bipartisan basis in the best interest of our nation to reorganize the Department of Defense.



On Wednesday, June 14, the House Science Committee passed an organic act for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that would for the first time codify the agency into law.

H.R. 5450, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Act, passed the Committee by voice vote. The bill is referred to as an "organic act" because it would for the first time clarify and codify the functions and responsibilities of NOAA, which was established by Executive Order in 1970. H.R. 5450 would also make several structural changes to NOAA, including creating a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology to coordinate science across the agency; reorganizing the agency around four areas - the National Weather Service, Research and Education, Operations and Services, and Resources Management; and creating the position Chief Operating Officer to manage the agency's day-to-day operations.

Last week on the House Floor...

H.R. 4939 - the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006 This was the conference report of the bill that would appropriate $94.5 billion in emergency supplemental funding for fiscal year 2006. It would provide $70.4 billion for defense and foreign aid, and $19.8 billion for hurricane relief. It would provide $2.3 billion for pandemic flu preparations, and $1.9 billion for border security efforts. This bill was adopted, with my support, by a vote of 351-67.

H.R. 4894, a bill to provide for certain access to national crime information databases by schools and educational agencies for employment purposes, with respect to individuals who work with children. I am a cosponsor of this bill that would require the Justice Department, at the request of state officials, to conduct fingerprint-based background checks in national crime databases for any employees, candidates for employment, or volunteers at public or private elementary or secondary schools, local education agencies or other state agencies that work with children. This bill passed, with my support, 415-1.

H.R. 5576 - the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007. This bill appropriates $139.2 billion, including $67.4 billion in discretionary spending, for the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Treasury and Transportation, and related agencies. It would provide $15.2 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, $11.5 billion for the Treasury Department and $6.1 billion for the judiciary. It would provide $19.6 billion for the Office of Personnel management and $575 million for the District of Columbia. The bill passed the House, with my support, by a vote of 406-22.

This bill was amended before final passage to fund Amtrak at $1.1 billion. I supported an amendment that increased funding for Amtrak by $214 million, offset by a cut from various accounts including salaries and expenses and transportation planning from the Transportation Department, railroad research from the Federal Railroad Administration, salaries and expenses from the Surface Transportation Board, salaries and expenses from the Federal Maritime Commission, and the General Services Administration Federal Buildings fund. This amendment was adopted by a vote of 266-158.

H.Res. 861, a bill declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary. This resolution declared that it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of U.S. armed forces from Iraq and affirm U.S. support for establishing democracy in Iraq. This resolution was adopted, with my support, by a vote of 256 - 153.

I have signed on as a cosponsor to the following legislation:

H.R. 5146, the Job Creation Incentive Act of 2006, This bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow certain small employers (i.e., employers of not more than 100 employees) a business-related tax credit for 5% of wages paid to non-replacement employees (up to $2500 total) whose employment results in an increase in the employer's workforce. If the employer creates, multiple jobs, they could receive multiple credits up to a total of 25% of their tax liability for the year.

H.R. 5594, a bill to direct the Secretary of Energy to establish a photovoltaic demonstration program. Each State submitting a qualifying proposal would receive funding under the program based on the proportion of United States population in the State according to the 2000 census. If more than $80,000,000 is available for the program for any fiscal year, the Secretary shall allocate 75 percent of the total amount of funds available, and shall award the remaining 25 percent on a competitive basis to the States with the proposals the Secretary considers most likely to encourage the widespread adoption of photovoltaic technologies.

H.R. 5633, the Energy Efficient Building Act of 2006. This bill encourages construction of major renovation of buildings that will consume at least 25% (or 20% for renovation) less energy than comparable buildings that meet the most recent industry standard. It does so by establishing a pilot program at the Department of Energy to award grants for up to 50% of design and energy modeling costs (not to exceed $50,000 per building) for buildings that meet this higher standard. Fifty percent of the grant is available to the recipient upon selection through a competitive process, and the remaining 50 percent is available only after independent certification that operational buildings achieve the energy performance required.

H.R. 5081, the Military Spouses Employment Act of 2006. This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to include spouses of members of the Armed Forces on extended active duty (more than 90 days or for an indefinite period) as members of a targeted group for purposes of the work opportunity tax credit (thus giving employers a tax incentive for hiring military spouses).

H.Res. 723, a bill Calling on the President to take immediate steps to help improve the security situation in Darfur, Sudan, with a specific emphasis on civilian protection. This resolution condemns the continued genocide against civilians in Darfur by the government of Sudan and government-sponosred militias and calls on several parties to take action to stop it.

H.Con.Res. 425, a bill expressing the sense of Congress that the crisis regarding Iran's nuclear program should be resolved primarily through diplomatic means. This resolution upadates H.Con.Res. 177, a resolution I previously signed on to cosponsor, based on events currently taking place in Iran. Should diplomatic means prove inconsequential, the United States should consider other options like an embargo of gasoline sales to Iran to put pressure on the Iranian government.

H.R. 5520 - the Veterans Identity Protection (VIP )Act On May 3rd, 2006, a personal computer was stolen from the home of a Veteran Affairs employee. The computer contained data for 26.5 million veterans-every veteran discharged since 1975. These files include the names, birth-dates, and social security numbers of these veterans. This bill would establish the Office of Veterans Identity Protection Claims to reimburse injured persons for injuries stemming from the unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of these stolen files. It will also provide an accelerated process for filing claims as an exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Recent letters that I have signed:

To the Deputy United States Trade Representative, expressing strong concerns regarding the U.S-Korea free trade agreement and its impact on the U.S. automotive industry. It is one of only a few free trade agreements the U.S. has negotiated with a major automotive producing and exporting nation that has actively protected its automotive sector with tariff and non-tariff barriers for decades.

To the House Majority Leader and House Minority Leader, requesting that the House take action on H.R. 4341, a bill to amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980("Superfund") to provide that manure is not considered a hazardous substance or pollutant or contaminant under that Act. I am a cosponsor of this bill.