Bringing Peace to the Congo and Aid to the Continent

If Africa is to achieve its promise, resolving the problems in the Congo will be critical. Already, the region's overlapping ethnic identities, and abundant natural resources have made the country a magnet for fighters from a half-dozen neighboring countries. If left untended, Congo's bloodshed will continue to infect the entire region and the continent. This bill is an important step on the long road towards bringing peace and prosperity to the Congo, and I am proud to be a part of a collaborative, bipartisan effort with some of the Senate's leading voices - Brownback, Durbin, DeWine - on Africa.

A Cap On Immigration Will Aid Congress and Americans

This amendment to the immigration bill the Senate is considering is crucial if we want to ensure that foreign workers aren’t taking the jobs of American workers. A cap is in place to be certain Congress has the authority to increase or decrease the number of H-1B visas given out each year as needed. A cap is a cap, and an automatic 20 percent increase takes Congress out of the decision making to protect American workers.

Limiting Diversity Visas Closes America's Doors

The Diversity Visa Program symbolizes what makes America great because with a little luck and hard work anyone can succeed here—we are the only country that can say that. By limiting most diversity visas to the world’s privileged elite the Gregg amendment would dash the dreams of all those who dream of a better life. The Gregg amendment would also shift visas away from Africa and the developing world and toward wealthier European and Asian states. This would overturn the whole point of the program!

Accepting the Gregg amendment would send a terrible message about what America is all about: not a land of opportunity, but rather an exclusive club.  


It Didn’t Work Then, It Won’t Work Now

Word on the street is that the Senate could wrap-up debate as early as this week on their version of immigration reform. Unfortunately for the American people, what the Senate is considering is far from true immigration reform; rather it is a rehash of a failed policy from twenty years ago.

Much like the amnesty bill that became law in 1986, the current Senate proposal will allow illegal immigrants to pursue a "path to citizenship" as long as they comply with certain requirements like paying a fine and back taxes. The Senate approach couples that with tougher border security measures and new sanctions for employers who hire illegal immigrants.

If you looked up a summary of the 1986 act, it would read eerily similar. The end result of that policy was over two million illegal immigrants were granted amnesty for entering the country illegally. As for the reform end, well, you tell me if we ever got that secure border we were promised in 1986.

So, here we are today, debating that same failed policy. The borders are as porous as ever and employers who break the law are not subjected to the harsh sanctions we were promised in 1986. If the policy of granting amnesty in exchange for stronger immigration laws and increased enforcement actually worked, we would not be re-living this debate today.

Bush Out Of Step With Republicans On Housing

This bill, H.R.5083, takes an important step toward reforming the section 515 rural housing program. The bi-partisan support of this bill should send a signal to the Bush Administration, which proposed no additional funding whatsoever to section 515. Once again, this administration is at odds with its own party over housing priorities.


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.