Real Security Begins at The Gas Pump

To improve real national security, we must improve our energy security. My amendment to the Defense authorization bill, which was defeated in committee yesterday, would have taken two steps in that direction by boosting funds for advanced power technologies and for alternative fuel infrastructure at military bases. As the single largest buyer of fuel in the U.S., the Defense Department has an opportunity, even an obligation to lead the way in diversifying our energy portfolio. And no time could be better than the present. America's addiction to oil from any source means that our security is vulnerable and will continue to be until we have the vision to look beyond the gas pump.


Call For Vote on Stem Cell Bill During Health Week

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) called for vote on legislation calling for consideration of a stem cell bill which passed in the House last year. He also criticized Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) for not honoring his pledge to bring the House bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
But one obstacle stands in the way: The Senate has squandered almost an entire year waiting for Majority Leader Bill Frist to make good on his pledge to bring HR 810 to the floor for a vote. The Hippocratic Oath says, "First, do no harm." But, while suffering people are desperate for this research, Dr. Frist has refused to act. Next week has been designated as "health week" in the Senate. It is hard to believe that the Senate would consider a series of health bills next week without being allowed a vote to support stem-cell research. But that appears to be exactly what Senator Frist has in mind.


We Are Not Prepared To Deal With a Pandemic

The President's Pandemic Influenza Implementation Plan shatters our false sense of security that American society is no longer suseptible to infection on a pandemic scope. In fact, this is a very real threat, and we are not prepared to deal with a pandemic. The report clearly illuminates the fact that America currently does not have the ability to produce and maufacture the vaccines and antivirals necessary to treat the American public if a flu pandemic occurred. We need to create incentives for companies to invest in the research and development of new drugs to treat other newly emerging infectious diseases. Developing new antibmicrobial drugs and vaccines is risky and expensive -- and companies aren't doing enough of it. We need to create a favorable economic climate for these important investments in public health.

Help Small Business Owners With Staff Health Coverage

Our bill, S.1955, will give working families and small business owners the same bargaining power that big businesses use to negotiate with insurance companies for the benefits they want, at prices they can afford. If Small Business Health Plans can harness the power of America’s small business owners, it will force the entire marketplace to respond. And if we transform health insurance to a market where small employers and family-owned businesses can demand better benefits at better prices, insurance companies will be forced either to keep up with the competition or lose their market share.

Congressional GOP Must Correct One of Their Worst Decisions

Of all the Republicans' misguided policies regarding the Medicare prescription drug plan, their refusal to extend the enrollment deadline is one of the worst. From the onset, the enrollment procedures have been confusing and frustrating to America's seniors. This fact has been underscored by a newly released Government Accountability Office report that found that seniors have been receiving inadequate and incorrect information from Medicare Hotline operators. Each senior's decision will affect their health and their pocketbook, and Democrats have argued for months that Republicans must give them more time to figure out what works best for them. With the deadline now only days away, Democrats will continue to pressure the President and Congressional Republicans to agree to an extension that is appropriate and necessary.

Longer Statement: http://www.hoyer.house.gov/newsroom/index.asp?ID=614&DocumentType=Pres

A Great Step In Getting Ready for Bird Flu

On May 3, the White House released the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza, which includes over 300 actions for Federal agencies and other entities to take. As a doctor, I believe that the plan is a great step towards ensuring a timely and appropriate pandemic influenza response at the federal level as well as providing clearer guidance to state and local communities on further needed preparedness efforts.

Dem Support For "Very Small Step" Towards Lobbying Reform

Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), who was one of eight Democrats to vote for the lobbying reform bill which passed in the House yesterday by four votes, explained his vote in a released statement.
After months of nothing but talk, the House of Representatives has finally taken its first step toward cleaning up the mess in Washington. But this bill is only a very small step in the right direction – not the comprehensive ethics reform we need to pass if Congress ever hopes to regain the people’s trust.

If the folks in charge of Congress are serious about rooting out corruption, we’re going to need to pass a bill that’s a whole lot tougher than this. We need a high-powered pressure washer. But today, all we got was a dusty old broom. No one should be overly optimistic about what this bill will do.

This should be our starting point for the next round of reforms, not an endgame. Even a trip of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and in this case even a small step closer to good government is better than the status quo.  


Legislation to Reauthorize Voting Rights Act Introduced

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) introduced legislation to reauthorize portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were set to expire next year. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) spoke about the importance of the legislation
The Voting Rights Act is the most important Civil Rights legislation of the 20th Century...It enforced the 15th Amendment, ensuring that all Americans could enjoy the most basic right of citizens in a democracy – the right to vote. Unfortunately, even in the 21st Century we continue to see attempts to disenfranchise minority voters. We cannot permit the Voting Rights Act to expire and leave the next generation of Americans without full protection for their voting rights.

Lobbying Reform Bill a Ruse, a Sham, and a Shame

The Washington Post called this bill a ruse, House Democrats call it a sham, and for the American people, it's a shame. When the energy companies write the energy bill, we have gasoline that costs $3 a gallon; when pharmaceutical companies write the Medicare prescription drug bill, we have a bill full of giveaways to cronies, but nothing for America's seniors; when lobbyists write the lobbying reform bill, we end up with a ruse that winks at reform and does nothing to curtail the culture of corruption.

Democrats offered real reform legislation and Republicans voted it down. It is clear that Republicans don't want to end the culture of corruption because they continue to benefit from it.   


Blunt Praises Bipartisan Passage of Lobbying Reform Legislation

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) commended the bipartisan passage of the lobbying reform bill today. The legislation passed by a vote of 217 to 213 with 8 Democrats voting for the bill, while 20 Republicans voted against the legislation.
This legislation will hold lobbyists and Members accountable for their actions...The Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act will help restore Americans' trust in their legislature, and I'm pleased a bipartisan group voted to solve a bipartisan problem