Politics Must Be Put Aside as Part D Deadline Approaches

As a physician, I know if our seniors can't afford their medication, they can't take it - to the detriment of their health. I've traveled my district extensively talking to seniors about this benefit, and everywhere I go, I'm hearing success stories from seniors who are saving money. One lady in Cedartown, Georgia is saving $900 a month, and a couple from Cobb County, Georgia saved enough on their first prescription to pay for two months of premiums.


Combating Internet Gambling

Gambling on the Internet has become an extremely lucrative business. Numerous studies have charted the explosive growth of this industry, both by the increases in gambling websites available, and via industry revenues. Internet gambling is now estimated to be a $12 billion industry, with approximately $6 billion coming from bettors based in the U.S. It has been reported that there are as many as 2,300 gambling sites.


Hunter Using Veterans as Pawns for Santa Rosa Island Legislation

I was disappointed last week when Chairman Hunter renewed his attempts to kick the public off of Santa Rosa Island (part of the Channel Islands National Park which is a part of my Congressional District) in order to continue indefinitely the trophy hunting of non-native deer and elk. This is a terrible idea that was thoroughly rejected twice last year. After the Chairman withdrew his proposal last year, I said I was willing to talk with him about how we might accomplish his rather unclear goals. Unfortunately, the Chairman did not contact me or my staff before putting the latest Santa Rosa language in the Department of Defense bill last week.


Eliminating a Barrier to Low Cost Fuel

The current 54 cents per gallon tariff on imported ethanol serves as nothing more than a barrier to lower-cost fuel for consumers and deserves to be eliminated. Right now, we subsidize ethanol production, we mandate ethanol use, and we construct barriers to importing ethanol. If the government is going to mandate the use of ethanol, then it should not add insult to injury by forcing drivers to pay a premium price for it. We should let the free market decide what the cost of this product should be, and if we can get it cheaper elsewhere, it will ultimately help our economy

Giving America's Seniors More Time

It defies logic that our Republican leaders would penalize seniors with a 7% tax just because they are hesitant to register for a confusing and deceptive prescription drug scheme. Instead of forcing this benefit on Americans, we need to give them time to make an education decision. This will not only take pressure off of confused seniors, but give our elected leaders a chance to rethink meaningful prescription drug reform.

Legislation to Create New Agency for Alternative Energy Sources

Democrats have long been leading the fight to make America energy independent, and with gas prices now hovering around $3.00 a gallon and turmoil with oil-rich countries like Iran on the front page of every newspaper in the country, this goal is as vital to our national security and economic security as ever. That is why I, along with Reps. Mark Udall and Bart Gordon, will offer an amendment to the FY07 Department of Defense Authorization Bill today that would shift over $300 million in excess funds from the $9.1 billion proposed for ballistic missile defense programs. The amendment would authorize $250 million for the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy in order to foster the development of cutting-edge energy technology.


Calling on Senate to Honor Its Pledge

I remain optimistic that the Senate leadership will stand by the pledge made last year to move an embryonic stem cell bill forward. Until this vote happens, however, I will continue to lobby for this legislation and the ground-breaking science it represents. The longer a vote is delayed, the longer full potential of embryonic stem cells will be delayed. While Congress fails to act, people will continue to suffer and the United States will continue to fall behind and lose scientists to other nations in this cutting edge arena.

The Dignity They Deserve

While we continue to support our troops as they serve on the frontlines, a very small percentage of misguided people have decided to make veterans' funerals a springboard for their agenda. The recent trend of protesting at the funerals of soldiers killed in action is not only disturbing, but it demeans the ultimate sacrifice that these brave individuals have made for each and every one of us. It is very disheartening to see that some people would rather make a statement than respect the sacrifices our veterans have made.

As Chairman of the House VA Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, I take the concerns of our veterans and their families very seriously. For this reason, I cosponsored the "Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act" a bipartisan bill which prohibits demonstrations during a funeral or memorial service at a national cemetery.

Today, the House is scheduled to take this important legislation up. I am glad to see my colleagues moving to restrict these diversionary actions and allow families to remember and memorialize their loved one with dignity they deserve. America is a compassionate and caring nation that respects the men and women that have served our country. It is time to ensure that compassion is heard.

Pence Meets With Turkish Officials to Discuss Iraq and Iranian Nuclear Proliferation


May 8, 2006

Months ago, when we planned to visit Ankara, the capitol city of Turkey, on our way back from Iraq, little did we know that our visit would take place in the midst of swirling international developments regarding Iran. I did not imagine that our meetings with the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, would take place while the UN was debating sanctions against Iran.

And I never imagined that our meeting with the General Secretary of Turkey's National Security Council would take place in the same building and in the same conference room where the National Security Advisor of Iran had just concluded a meeting ten minutes earlier. But that's just what happened.


How Credit Unions Could Convert to Banks in the Future

The Financial Services Committee is holding a hearing this Thursday on my bill, the Credit Union Charter Choice Act. It protects the rights of credit union members to choose a financial charter that best fits their needs.

I put forward this legislation to establish consistent, reasonable guidelines for credit unions converting their charters. The process should be fair, transparent and efficient - while giving credit union members more control over their own destinies.

The bill amends the Federal Credit Union Act regarding conversion of a credit union charter to a mutual savings bank or savings association charter. It would make the conversion process more clearly defined by outlining what a converting credit union must disclose to members and how the conversion vote is held.

This hearing will provide an excellent forum to discuss the conversion issue with industry representatives and experts. I look forward to this opportunity and expect a spirited, constructive debate.