My Amendment--Killing the Bridge to Nowhere

Chairman Young is a uniquely capable representative for the people of Alaska and our nation's transportation needs. We have a simple disagreement over federal funding for this project. Our infrastructure is a key to the US economy. Maintaining and expanding our transportation infrastructure requires us to be strategic and deliberate in how we foresee both demographic and economic growth.

I was proud to offer an amendment in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation to kill the Alaskan Bridge-to-Nowhere. The much publicized and controversial Bridge-to-Nowhere project, which would connect Ketichan, Alaska to the island of Gravina would cost taxpayers an estimated $320 million. Currently there is a $6 ferry ride that connects Gravina with Ketichan that even residents say is the only thing visitors remember.

We have greater transportation and infrastructure demands. Over 34% of our roads and 160,000 bridges in America are in need of repair. We must address these key priorities and defend the taxpayers' dollars against wasteful spending. The amendment passed this afternoon.

Today, taxpayers won.

I Will Vote Against the Kirk Amendment and For The Alaska Bridge

I believe the Kirk Amendment, which would prevent federal funds from being used for the Alaska bridge, is an example of futility by some members. I plan on voting to remove the provision out of the bill when it comes to a vote on the floor. This money has already gone to the state for a well-needed bridge, and they can't take that away from the people of Alaska.

Letting States Decide How To Fight Pornography

For too long, federal courts have been creating a dangerous climate for our children by overturning the important decisions of state courts that restrict pornography production, consumption and distribution within their borders. My bill, the Pornography Jurisdiction Act - H.R. 5528 - simply lets states decide for themselves how they tackle this problem. If there are those who believe a state's anti-pornography laws are too strict, they can find another state in which to live. If anyone is interested in this, please contact my D.C. office.

DeLay Resignation Points To Humane Labor Laws in Mariana Islands

For more than ten years, I have sought to change the laws that govern the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. I have sought these changes in an effort to stop the well documented and widespread abuse of poor women in the garment and tourism industry there, and to better secure America's borders.

But for more than ten years, my efforts, and the efforts of so many others, have been thwarted. Our efforts have been thwarted by the corrupt partnership of two of Washington's most powerful players - Rep. Tom DeLay and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and by their allies in Congress.

But now, a window of opportunity is opening. Rep. DeLay is resigning from Congress this Friday, and Jack Abramoff will be in prison beginning on June 29th. I believe that finally there just might be an opening for Congress to properly consider this issue that has been callously pushed aside for so long.

Today, my colleagues and I are re-introducing legislation to apply U.S. immigration and labor laws in the Mariana Islands. I also delivered letters to Speaker Hastert, Majority Leader Boehner, and Resources Committee Chairman Pombo asking for quick consideration of this issue right away.

The Marriage Amendment Would Have Protected The People's Will

I’m generally hesitant to amend the Constitution; there are few things as permanent as a constitutional amendment, and it’s something that clearly shouldn’t be done lightly. However, when activist judges repeatedly take steps to overrule the clear voice of a majority of the People, we are left with very few options.

On two separate occasions, the people of Montana have clearly said that marriage should be defined as it has always been in this country, a union between one man and one woman, which is what I’ve always believed. This has been the case in many other states as well. Unfortunately, the overwhelming consensus of the people is not good enough for some. As we have seen in a number of states over the past several years, a handful of judges and other public officials have taken it upon themselves to decide what should constitute marriage. Words must have meanings that can’t be changed based upon the political whimsy of a court, mayor, or any other public officials that are more interested in scoring political points than they are in doing what is right. I’m concerned it’s only a matter of time before the recently enacted Montana constitutional amendment is challenged.

The ultimate decision in an issue this important must fully reflect the desire of the People, not just those of us in Washington, and certainly not that of a handful of activist judges. That’s why I voted today in favor of a constitutional amendment that protects traditional marriage laws, protects the will of the people, and sends a clear message, we do not like judicial activism.

Bush and Rubber Stamp Republican Congress Focus on Wrong Priorities

We should be focusing on the needs, aspirations, and challenges of Americans, not on divisive issues such as gay marriage that have no place in the political debate except to be mean-spirited, to discriminate, and to bring bias and prejudice. The needs of Katrina survivors are still unmet, gas prices continue to skyrocket, confusion on the prescription drug bill abounds, record deficits are spiraling out of control, and today the Washington Post reports that as many as 2.2 million military personnel were among the 26.5 million records mishandled and lost by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Americans on active-duty, many of them overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, are now distracted with the threat of identity theft back home. House Democrats have called for an immediate investigation and review of the VA's security practices and how this breach happened, as well as introduced legislation protecting veterans and service members from identity theft and other harm.

Yesterday, Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA), the Republicans' point person on Social Security, said that the first order of business in the new Congress in January will be to take up President Bush's Social Security privatization proposal. The American people rejected that plan overwhelmingly. Rubber stamping President Bush's failed Social Security privatization scheme simply reinforces the Republican record of failure and attention to the wrong priorities. Democrats have a new direction for the American people, and are working to strengthen Social Security and address the real concerns of everyday Americans.

The Right To Regulate Marriage Belongs To The States

Historically, laws regulating family and domestic affairs have been almost exclusively regulated by the states. I see no reason to change that. The Defense of Marriage Act, which I support and which Congress passed in 1996, clearly states that marriage is between a man and a woman. In addition, this legislation affirms the right of states to choose not to recognize same-sex marriages, regardless of where they occurred. Most states, including my home state of Maine, have passed laws declaring that they will not recognize such marriages. Therefore, I voted against proceeding with the constitutional amendment at this time.

Amendment Necessary Only if Activist Judges Make It So

States should only recognize marriage as between a man and a woman. In New Hampshire, we have such a law. Moreover, the Defense of Marriage Act protects our state's marriage laws from what any other states might choose. As long as these protections remain the law of the land, an amendment to the Constitution is unnecessary.

If activist judges force states to recognize non-traditional marriages endorsed by other states, I will support legislation that returns this power to the people as the framers of our Constitution so clearly intended.

Back to Real Business After Blocking Gay Marriage Amendment

In 2004, we defeated attempts to force this extreme agenda into the Constitution. Now, we’ve done it again and it’s time for the U.S. Senate to get back to the real business of the nation. It’s disappointing and frustrating that the Senate allowed this agenda to come ahead of so many other higher priorities that need to be addressed.

We Cannot Stand Silently As Division Is Written Into the Constitution

We have an obligation as American citizens to speak up and speak out. We made a mistake once as a nation, when we used the Constitution to exclude African Americans from full participation in the democratic process. That one act allowed the forces of separation, hatred, and brutality to run rampant in this country. It cost this nation millions of lives during the TransAtlantic Slave trade, the Civil War, and the decades of overt segregation and racial discrimination.

A bitter history has taught us a great lesson, that regardless of our own personal values, we as a nation will pay a heavy price if we do not respect the dignity and the worth of every individual.

As a participant in the Civil Rights Movement, I confronted police dogs, bull whips, and fire hoses. I was arrested and jailed over 40 times because of discriminatory practices that were made the law in this country. We must not write discrimination into the Constitution. And we must not allow politicians to sow the seeds of division among us when they are campaigning for office.