Security, Decency, Refineries Lead Week in Congress

Last week on the House Floor...[HR:5441], the Fiscal Year 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.This bill would provide $33.1 billion for the Homeland Security Department and related activities. The bill includes $7.7 billion for customs and border protection; $6.4 billion for the Transportation Security Administration, including fees; $8.1 billion for the Coast Guard; $1.3 billion for the Secret Service; and $2.6 billion for response and recovery efforts conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. H.R. 5441 passed the House, with my support, 389-9.

[HR:5521], the Fiscal Year 2007 Legislative Branch bill.

This bill would appropriate $3 billion for legislative branch operations, excluding Senate operation. It would provide $1.1 billion for operations of the House of Representative, $570 million for the Library of Congress, $488 milllion for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), $259 million for the Capitol Police, and $131 million for the Government Printing Office. It would abolish the office of Architect of the Capitol and transfer its functions to the GAO. H.R. 5521 passed the House, with my support, 361-53.



[S:193], the Broadcast Decency Enforcement bill.

This bill would increase the maximum penalty for broadcasting indecent, obscene or profane language to $325,000 per violation or per day, and to $3 million for continuing violations. This bill passed the House, with my support, 379-35.

[HR:5254], the Refinery Permit Process bill.

This bill would streamline the application process for companies to build refineries in the United State. The president would designate new sites suitable for oil refineries, including at least three sites on closed military bases. The EPA would provide financial assistance to states to facilitate applications for refineries. A new federal coordinator, appointed by the president, would be in charge of federal refinery authorization. This bill passed the House, with my support, 238-179.

[HR:5449], FAA Bargaining Process.

This bill would repeal language in existing law that allows the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to celcae an impasse in negotiation with employees, such as the air traffic controllers, and submit its last offer to Congress for review; if Congress does not act on the proposal within 60 days, the FAA can impose its last offer. The bill would make the changes retroactive to April 1. A two-thirds majority of those present and voting (280 in this case) is required for passage under suspension of the rules. This bill was rejected 271-148. I voted in favor of the bill.

[S.2803], Mine Safety Regulations

This bill would establish new federal safety regulations for coal mines dealing with emergency reponse plans, availability of mine resuce teams, and penalties for failure to comply with safety standards. This bill passed the House, with my support, by a vote of 381-31.

[HR:5252], the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act

(COPE Act) of 2006 - the Telecommunications Overhaul Package.

This bill would create a new national franchising process for companies that what to offer pay video services. The FCC would be authorized to enforce its August 2005 broadband policy statement that endorsed network neutrality principles, but it could not issue additional rules. The bill also would pre-empt state and local laws concerning municipal broadband services. This bill passed the House, with my support, 321-101.

 

[HR:5522], the Fiscal Year 2007 Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act.

This bill would appropriate $21.3 billion for foreign operations and economic assistance. This bill passed the House, with my support, 373 - 34.

 

Last week in Committee...

The House Science Committee unanimously passed H.R. 5358, the Science and Mathematics Education for Competitiveness Act. I sponsored this bill that will advance U.S. economic competitiveness by strengthening math and science education and research programs.

I was delighted that the Science Committee reported H.R 5358 favorably and I hope that it will reach the House floor expeditiously. We need to ensure that there are enough well-educated young people here in the United States that are qualified to work and excel in the global economy. This legislation is an important part of our nation's overall mission to be competitive and innovative in the technical and information-driven world in which we now live.

H.R. 5358 would strengthen math, science, and engineering education at all levels-K-12, undergraduate and graduate. The programs in the bill will develop and provide teacher training, attract math and science majors to teaching, improve undergraduate math, science, and engineering courses, and expand interdisciplinary graduate work. Rather than create a slate of new programs, H.R. 5328 builds upon and expands existing programs at NSF, several of which the Committee wrote into law as part of the 2002 NSF reauthorization act.

 

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

[HR:5005], the Firearms Corrections and Improvements Act. This bill amends firearms provisions of the federal criminal code to: (1) lift restrictions on the possession, transfer, and importation of machineguns, and certain other shotguns and rifles, for contractors providing national security services for the United States and training related to such services, and for manufacturers for testing, research, design, or development purposes; (2) prohibit the Attorney General from charging any tax or fee for any background check by the national instant criminal background check system; (3) permit juveniles to possess and use a handgun or ammunition for certain activities without written parental consent if the parent is present when the juvenile is using the handgun; (4) eliminate certain reporting requirements for multiple handgun sales (more than one sale within five days) by dealers to state police and law enforcement agencies; (5) prohibit the Attorney General from electronically retrieving records of gun dealers who have gone out of business by name or any personal identification code; (6) limit disclosure of trace records; and (7) allow importation of barrels, frames, and receivers for firearms other than handguns for repair or replacement purposes.

 

[HR:1384], the Firearm Commerce Modernization Act. This bill amends Federal firearms provisions to permit a licensed importer, manufacturer, dealer, or collector to: (1) sell or deliver a firearm (currently, a rifle or shotgun) to a resident of a State other than a State in which the licensee's place of business is located or temporarily located if the transferee meets in person with the transferor to accomplish the transfer; and (2)conduct business temporarily at any gun show or event sponsored by any national, State, or local organization, or any affiliate devoted to the collection, competitive use, or other sporting use of firearms (currently, only at such a location in the State specified on the person's license). It also provides that nothing in the Act shall be construed to diminish the right of a licensee to conduct firearms transfers (currently, "curios or relics" firearms transfers) with another licensee away from the transferor's business premises.

 

[HR:2088], Veterans' Heritage Firearms Act of 2005. This bill provides a 90-day amnesty period during which veterans and their family members can register in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record any firearm acquired before October 31, 1968, by a veteran while a member of the armed forces stationed outside the continental United States. It grants such an individual limited immunity under the Federal criminal code and the Internal Revenue Code with respect to the acquisition, possession, transportation, or alteration of such firearm before or concurrent with such registration. It also extends such immunity to a veteran who attempts to register a qualifying firearm outside of the amnesty period if the veteran surrenders the firearm within 30 days after being notified of potential criminal liability for continued possession.

[HR:5092], the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) Modernization and Reform Act of 2006. This bill amends the firearms provisions of the federal criminal code to revise the civil penalties for violations of firearms law and the procedures for assessing such penalties. It requires fines to be based upon the nature and severity of the violation, the size of the firearms business involved, and the prior record of the firearm's licensee.

[HR:5246], the Medicare Teaching Anesthesiology Funding Restoration Act of 2006. This bill amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act with respect to part B (Supplementary Medical Insurance) to set forth a special payment rule of 100% of the fee schedule amount for teaching anesthesiologists involved in the training of physician residents, if certain presence and availability requirements are met. Under current law, Medicare reduces payment by 50% per case if an attending anesthesiologist supervises two residents on cases that overlap for even a single minute. Anesthesiology is the only specialty subject to this reduction in payment. Medicare pays surgeons and other specialists a full fee, even if they are supervising overlapping Medicare cases

[HR:4452], The Leave All Blades Behind Act. This bill prohibits the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security (Transportation Security Administration) from modifying the list of items prohibited aboard a passenger aircraft in interstate or intrastate air transportation in order to permit any item on the list as of December 1, 2005, to be carried aboard such an aircraft.

[HR:5442], the Science Accountability Act. This bill amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to require the use of science assessments in the calculation of adequate yearly progress. President Bush's American Competitiveness Initiative calls for including science assessments in the No Child Left Behind Act accountability system. This bill answers the President's call by adding the logical step of holding states and schools accountable for ensuring that students are learning science, starting in the 2008-09 school year.

[HR:2808], the Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Coin Act. This bill directs the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue $1 coins emblematic of the life and legacy of President Abraham Lincoln in commemoration of the bicentennial of his birth. It permits issuance of such coins only during 2009. The coin sales are subject to a surcharge of $10 per coin.

[HR:414], the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act. This bill offers a tax credit of up to $500 to cover costs for the purchase of a hearing aid that is not covered by insurance. This credit can be used once every five years. Parents of deaf or hard of hearing children or individuals over age 55 will be eligible to receive this credit.

These are recent letters that I have signed:

To the President of the United States, urging him to ask the major oil companies to commit to install E85 pumps at a significant percentage of their owned and franchised stations and to seek from them a commitment to a specific target by 2010. Renewable fuels like ethanol can play a critical role in the effort to reduce oil consumption and our nation's dependence on foreign oil. A major barrier to the use of flexible fuel vehicles is a lack of fueling stations that provide E85.

To the Secretary of Defense, urging an increase for the Navy's top line allocation to provide the Navy the resources necessary to budget the $14.1 billion needed for new ship procurement. Our future naval force structure and our nation's ability to build the ships of the future is one of my top concerns. Our national security demands that a priority be placed on rebuilding our naval fleet to counter existing and emerging threats.

To the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations, urging funding of Title V, Part A of the No Child Left Behind Act - State Grants and Innovative Programs be restored to at least the Fiscal Year 2004 level of $296.5 million. Title V is the only source of flexible funds that allows public and private schools to initiate reforms that meet both local and federal priorities.

To the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, asking that the committee hold a hearing on alternative energy efficiency programs and activities at the Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD is the largest electricity consumer in the federal government, and the largest single buyer of fuel in the U.S.