The Pentagon Will Not Rely On Emergency Spending Anymore

We must bring emergency spending under control and eliminating a separate set of books for activities outside the regular budget is one important step in achieving fiscal discipline. I strongly support the McCain amendment, which will require funding for war operations to be considered in the same fashion as every other function of the government. It is essential that the men and women of our military have the tools they need to continue their missions, and this amendment will ensure that the Department of Defense budgets accurately for continued operations in the War on Terrorism.

Policing The Wild West of Private Contracting in Iraq

We all know about the tens of billions of dollars in contract overruns that Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown, and Root unit has deferred to the American taxpayer in Iraq.

But few know about the fly-by night startup firm, Custer Battles, who somehow managed to win a $13 million contract to provide security at Baghdad airport, despite having no security industry experience at all. This firm was so corrupt, that when contracted to provide trucks to the military, Custer Battles scrounged up any and every truck they could - even if most of them weren't operable. One Army general called it the worst case of fraud he'd seen in thirty years.

So it is of little surprise to anyone here, that neither the Coalition Provisional Authority nor the Pentagon, nor the State Department nor U.S. AID, which all rely heavily on these firms, have any idea what these security firms are actually doing in Iraq.

In this wild, wild West atmosphere, millions of dollars worth of security related contracts are awarded overnight, many of them without competition or cost controls. There simply needs to be greater transparency and accountability over private military contractors.

The Worst Kind of Hypocrisy

It is the worst kind of hypocrisy for Congress to vote itself another pay increase this year while continuing to ignore the hardworking families struggling to survive on the minimum wage. With this proposed increase, Congress will have increased its own salary by more than $34,000 in the last nine years, while minimum wage workers have not seen another cent in their paychecks. How can Congress keep saying yes to itself, and no to these millions of deserving working families? It’s long past time for Congress to give these hardworking Americans a raise.

FAA and Pentagon Must Continue Wind Farms

As energy costs rise dramatically, improving our supply of renewable fuel is more important than ever. I would hope that our federal agencies could work together to protect our national security while adopting an efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly energy policy.

Immigration Is Not Amnesty

Individuals who are here illegally and commit a crime should not be allowed to stay, no ifs ands or buts about it. Unfortunately, when state and local law enforcement officials apprehend and convict these criminals, some are sent back on the streets after serving their sentence. That is unacceptable. Our immigration laws need to be fast and firm when dealing with criminal illegal aliens – my plan will help make sure they are.

The message behind this bill is clear: if you’re here illegally and commit a crime you’re not going to get to stay. No parole, no early release, and no second chances. America is a nation of immigrants and always should be. As the son of immigrants I strongly support immigration. However, we should not tolerate illegal aliens who come to this nation and victimize law-abiding Americans.

Re:Stickler Nomination--Politics Influencing A Vote For Safety

With the President set to sign into law the first sweeping reforms to mine safety in 28 years, reforms that will better protect the nation’s miners, MSHA needs a leader who understands mining and mine safety first hand. I am disappointed that some Senators have allowed politics to influence their vote for a permanent director of this vitally important agency.


Getting A Start On The Season Ahead

Yesterday, Floridians faced the first storm of the 2006 Hurricane Season. In 2005, four hurricanes slammed Florida: Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Many areas in our community were impacted at a time when the damage from 2004 was still lingering. This year, 4-6 major hurricanes are expected to make landfall from the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico. All Americans need to learn from the tragedy that followed Hurricane Katrina and be well prepared in 2006.

Unfortunately, many are still not prepared. A recent mass-email poll sent from my office reveals that 46% of respondents are not fully prepared for this hurricane season.

Fortunately, Tropical Storm Alberto weakened and never gained hurricane strength. By yesterday morning, winds had dropped to about 65 mph but still caused 21,000 homes and businesses to lose power by 10 a.m.

It seems that as a whole, we may have dodged a bullet with Alberto. I hope this "warm-up" gets us all prepared for the long storm-filled summer that is ahead of us.

Our office stands with Governor Jeb Bush and state and local authorities to serve Central Floridians during any disaster.


Re: House Iraq Debate--Dems Mantra Is Retreat and Defeat

After witnessing Democrats struggle for years to propose positive plans for victory in the Global War on Terrorism, it's not surprising to hear them criticize a valuable opportunity to debate the path forward.

Since 2001, House Republicans have supported policies that enable our troops to protect American families and prevent terror attacks from occurring again in the United States. Last week's targeting of the number one terrorist in Iraq was yet another demonstration of the tremendous success our troops are having in Iraq and throughout the Global War on Terrorism. But instead of praising this important victory and encouraging our troops to complete their mission, Democrats continue to call for retreat and defeat. While their defeatism may please the liberal base of the Democratic Party, it does not help our troops protect American families.

Thursday will provide us with an additional chance to thoroughly debate important security issues that affect the lives of all Americans. I would encourage my Democratic colleagues to seize this opportunity and join House Republicans in expressing our strong resolve for victory in the Global War on Terrorism


Saving Amtrak, Saving Commuters

More than 850,000 commuters a day rely on Amtrak or its infrastructure to get to and from work, and it simply makes no sense to reduce funding so severely that it threatens the very existence of the system.

The funding we secured today only represents about two percent of the Department of Transportation budget, while 50 percent of the Department's spending will continue to go for highways, and nearly $20 billion will go for air travel.


Time to Reopen Medicare Enrollment and Make the Penalties Fair

In May, while I was doing meetings around my Ohio district, I realized that the penalty system in the Medicare Prescription Drug plan was pretty misleading.  We have been telling seniors that if they chose not to enroll before May 15th, they would face a 1% per month late penalty.  But seniors actually can't sign up until the open enrollment in November.  So, even if you wanted to enroll in June and pay a 1% penalty, you have to wait until November and pay 7%.  That seemed unfair to me so I introduced the TIME Act yesterday which opens enrollment again for the remainder of 2006 and charges a true 1% per month penalty.

I know there are over 100 proposals to change Medicare and I'm not here to add another log to the fire.  My bill is a compromise to the proposals to waive the late penalty altogether.  Because the program is brand new and the penalty stays with you for the rest of your life, we need to make sure seniors understand the late penalty and get a fair shake at participating.