Animal ID Program-Costly, Needless, Unconstitutional

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is an expensive and unnecessary federal program that requires owners of livestock-- cattle, dairy, poultry, and even horses-- to tag animals with electronic tracking devices. The intrusive monitoring system amounts to nothing more than a tax on livestock owners, allowing the federal government access to detailed information about their private property.Under NAIS, small family farmers and ranchers will be forced to spend thousands of dollars tagging animals and complying with new paperwork and monitoring regulations. These farmers and ranchers literally will be paying for an assault on their property and privacy rights, as NAIS empowers federal agents to enter and seize property without a warrant-- a blatant violation of the 4th amendment.NAIS is not about preventing mad cow or other diseases. States already have animal identification systems in place, and virtually all stockyards issue health certificates. Since most contamination happens after animals have been sold, tracing them back to the farm or ranch that sold them won't help find the sources of disease.

More than anything, NAIS places our family farmers and ranchers at an economic disadvantage against agribusiness and overseas competition.



Discharge The Bill, Allow for Negotiations

As more members learn about the problematic contract talks between the FAA and air traffic negotiators, it is clear they agree that the current bargaining framework is flawed. It has not produced good faith negotiations and our air traffic system is too important to see this process breakdown. We need to get H.R. 4755 to the House floor.


Hamas Profits From US Sanctions

As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, I've always considered myself a man of peace. A Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority is antithetical to a peaceful Middle East or a two-state solution and I strongly support current US law that prevents any funding from going to Hamas. But Hamas profits when we cut off funding to NGOs in the region working towards reconciliation and peace -- the likely result of HR 4681. Providing assistance to proactive programs that work to build peace and democracy in Palestine is critical to US national security interests, a secure Israel and a two-state solution.


Hamas Sanctions Bill Will Not Secure Peace in The Region

H.R. 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, aspires to promote democratic institutions in areas under control of the Palestinian Authority. In reality, it does little to advance the prospects for sustainable peace in the region, and it weakens the Nation's capacity to protect its own interests.

Surely the international community hopes to achieve a sustainable peace between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. This bill, however, places onerous preconditions on the Palestinian Authority that will make it more difficult for the Authority to return to negotiations with U.S. and Israeli authorities. These preconditions would be unachievable in the short term, and they marginalize Palestinian moderates that already support a peace process and a dual-state solution. In this scenario, extremists would have little incentive to moderate their views, and moderates would become frustrated over the inability to move toward peace.

Tax-Payer Money to Hamas is Grotesque Notion

HAMAS is a terrorist organization and the United States has clear policy for dealing with terrorists: we don't do it. We don't legitimize them and we don't acknowledge phony distinctions between their political and terrorist "wings." HAMAS is an organization of religious zealots who put bombs in stores, clubs, restaurants, hotels and buses, murdering innocent people and with the ultimate goal of destroying the State of Israel and replacing it with an Islamist state. HAMAS is responsible not only for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis, but also dozens of Americans. They should not get a "pass" for any of these deaths. The idea of giving tax-payer money to terrorists who have slaughtered our own citizens is grotesque.


No Taxpayer Dollar Will Go To Hamas Coffers

Today's overwhelming vote by the House makes it unambiguously clear that House Members will not support a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority which has chosen to dedicate its resources and energies to supporting continued terrorist attacks against Israel, rather than to helping the Palestinian people.

Specifically, my colleagues and I indicated that we will not, directly or indirectly, allow American taxpayer funds to be used to perpetuate the leadership of an Islamist jihadist entity, responsible for murdering hundreds, and wounding scores of innocent Israeli civilians, U.S. citizens, and other foreigners throughout the years.

The Do-Nothing Congress of 2006

The Do-Nothing Congress of 1948 is about to be replaced as the most ineffective Congress in recent times. Today, just as in 1948, the American people are looking to Congress to tackle some very important issues----the war in Iraq, rising gas prices, rising college and health care costs, the economic uncertainty resulting from the outsourcing of high-paying American jobs and a record deficit that continues to spiral out of control.There is so much that this Congress could be working on right now, but House Republicans refuse to address any of these concerns. In fact, it's difficult to address the concerns of the American people when Congress is never in session.

I'm sure the American people will be shocked to hear that this is only the 36th day the House is scheduled to hold votes this year. With only 57 scheduled voting days until adjournment, the House is now on track to meet 15 days less than the first Do-Nothing Congress of 1948. No wonder the American people are so disgusted with Congress.


We Need Fiscal Discipline and Funding for Social Programs

The House passed the Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act, [HR:4200], a bill to establish new procedures to expedite projects for rehabilitating federal land after fires, floods, or other disasters. The bill would require the Interior and Agriculture departments to develop prompt response plans for lands they manage. Timber harvesting would be allowed on damaged land when trees are dead, likely to die within five years, or must be removed for public safety. The departments could assist state and local governments in restoring non-federal land after a disaster. The bill passed 243-182 without my support.


The fiscal year 2007 budget resolution, [HCR:376], passed the House 218-210, with my support. This bill would allow up to $872.8 billion in discretionary spending for fiscal year 2007, plus $50 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would call for mandatory spending cuts of $6.8 billion over five years and tax cuts totaling $448 billion over five years. Defense discretionary spending would increase by 7 percent over fiscalyear 2006, to $460.2 billion, not counting a $50 billion war set-aside, non-defense discretionary spending would remain at $419.4 billion.


It is important that Congress pass a budget as a benchmark of fiscal discipline. I was pleased to vote for this bill as we begin to consider appropriations bills for this fiscal year. Although this bill was not perfect, I have pledged to work with my colleagues to make sure that education, health, and other social programs get the funding that they need. These are the programs that affect our communities at the core and need to be prioritized.


Oil Prices Controlled by Companies and Cartels-Not Market

There is no free market in oil and gas. The OPEC cartel and the growing concentration of power in the oil industry have strangled competition. Mergers have turned 34 major oil companies into 13, and fifteen refining companies into seven. The lack of real competition means that companies can more easily manipulate supply and price. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in the record profits at oil companies like Exxon Mobil. The government needs to go after those who are truly responsible: the hugely profitable oil companies, the OPEC cartel, and speculators. We should impose a windfall profits tax, pass legislation to make gouging of consumers a crime, subject all oil trading to the same regulation as other commodities, and force the administration to break up the OPEC cartel. We need long-term solution as well. I support H.R. 4409, a bipartisan bill that would require a reduction in consumption and focus on conservation and alternative fuels.