The Refining Capacity Myth

Gasoline prices are at record heights and American families are wondering what sacrifice they will have to make when a gallon of gasoline costs $4.00. Instead of taking responsibility for passing an energy bill which the Energy Information Administration predicted would raise gasoline prices, Republicans are again perpetuating myths about refining capacity.

They contend that environmental regulations are preventing oil and gas companies from opening refineries. In fact, it is the oil companies who have limited refining capacity to keep prices up.


Ensuring the Water Supply for Northern Californians

The completion of the new pumping plant in 2008 will provide a secure, permanent, and reliable supply of water for Northern California residents, farms, and businesses. The passage of H.R. 4204 will enable the local water agency, the Placer County Water Agency, to own and operate this vital facility. I anxiously await the Senate's concurrence and President Bush's signature making the transfer law.

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.