Lobbying Reform, Port Security, Defense Spending on the Agenda This Week

Last week, the House passed the rule for H.R. 4975, the Lobby Reform Act, and this week, we expect to take up consideration on the bill. The House version of the Lobby Reform Act bans privately funded travel by House members for the remainder of the 109th Congress. It also requires lobbyists to report twice as often on their clients and activities, and that their reports be available and searchable on the Internet. Lobbyists would have to report all contributions they make to candidates or political groups. The bill denies congressional retirement benefits to House members convicted of felonies related to their official position.



The House will also be considering H.R. 4954, the Security and Accountability for Every (SAFE) Port Act. This bill seeks to strengthen the maritime transportation system through a layered security strategy that builds on existing initiatives to secure the supply chain from the point of origin to delivery in the United States.

This week, I will also I will be marking up the FY07 National Defense Authorization Act within the House Armed Service Committee. This bill sets defense policy for our Armed Forces and sets the authorized spending levels for programs like military pay and procurement of weapons systems.

I have signed on as an original cosponsor to the following bills:

H.R. 5134, sponsored by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), a bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for the participation of physical therapists in the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. This bill would give financial assistance to physical therapists providing services to the underserved in "health professional shortage areas."

HR 4774, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), would amend the Clean Air Act to direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator to promulgate regulations requiring that all gasoline motor vehicle fuel sold or dispensed to consumers in the United States after 2012 contain not less than 10% renewable fuel on an annual average basis. I have been an advocate for renewable fuels, including ethanol and biodiesel, not only as a means to offset rising gas prices, but also as a benefit to the environment.

Recent letters that I have signed:

To the Speaker of the House, expressing concern with the new cap in the Medicare reimbursement for providers of imaging services. The cap sets reimbursement rates for the technical component for physician office imaging at the lesser of the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System or the Medicare Fee Schedule. It includes all imaging services except mammography.

To the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House Armed Services Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, urging full support for the President’s authorization request for the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. FCS will provide the U.S. army with needed capabilities and improve the situational awareness, networking, survivability and lethality of the U.S. soldier. I believe that full authorization of this program is important to strengthen our national defense.

To the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, expressing concern for proposals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fundamentally change the Farm Service Agency guaranteed farm loan program. The USDA is seeking to impose new user fees which would be a serious financial burden and undermine credit delivery to farmers and ranchers. I believe that the new user fees would be too dramatic and harmful to farmers and ranchers who have benefited from this cost-effective program in the past.

To the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Water Appropriations, asking that the Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program be funded at no less than its current level of $242 million for FY07. Weatherization reduces energy costs permanently, and the savings is measured not only in dollars but also in volume of oil and gas. Relief from high energy costs is a top priority, and funding this program is an efficient way to address the problem for the millions of Americans who can not afford to invest money for weatherizing their homes.