Citizens and Lawmakers--Equal In the Eyes Of The Law

It is absolutely incredible that a Congress that regularly ransacks the files and offices of the Executive Branch finds it so reprehensible when the FBI does to one of its members what it does to any other American citizen -- make a lawful search to gather evidence of a crime following probable cause.

Therapy That Can Help Myself and Others

Every day scientists are breaking new ground in the study of stem cells and bringing new hope and possibility to finding cures for a variety of diseases. Parkinson's disease affects over one million Americans, and I am one of those patients. Parkinson's affects every day of my life.

When I was first diagnosed with this dreadful disease, I was told I would have been able to effectively manage my symptoms for a number of years. Unfortunately, in recent months, the symptoms have become more bothersome, and I have announced plans to retire at the end of this Congress. The decision to retire was a very sad one for me because I believe strongly in serving people.

But Parkinson's will not keep me down. I have been overwhelmed by the encouraging letters I have received by my constituents, colleagues and friends, veterans, and well-wishers from across the nation. I am heartened by your calls and emails.

I have said before that having Parkinson's has made me a better Congressman, and it's true. I know first hand what people go through when battling illness or injury. This is why it is so important to pass a bill that will allow us to perform research on more stem cell lines.

It is past time to allow researchers and doctors access to study these important cells. Because embryonic stem cells are the only cells that have the ability to turn into any cell in the body, their potential should not be ignored. They hold not just the potential to provide direct treatments and cures for today's debilitating injuries and illnesses, but they hold the key to unlocking our understanding of how the body works at the most fundamental level.

The Wait Must End

Last May, the House of Representatives narrowly passed H.R. 810, supporting federally funded embryonic stem cell research. My vote, recorded in support of this bill, reflects my strong views on the potential for stem cell research to benefit society. Stem cells can mature into nearly any type of cell, including nerve cells to repair damaged spines or heart cells to pump blood through the body. The therapeutic possibilities of stem cells are endless. It is my hope that the other body will work with us to support stem cell research. Somewhere out there is a little girl who suffered a spinal injury and is unable to walk. Therapy utilizing stem cells is her only hope. How much longer will she and millions of others have to wait?

Paulson Needs to Continue Progress Made by Snow

Secretary Snow got a lot done as head of the Treasury Department. He was determined to help create jobs and expand our economy. His successor needs to have that same kind of determination, along with a strong sense of tax policy, capital markets, international trade, and currency policy. I look forward to getting to know Henry Paulson through his hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.

Make The Economy Work For All Americans

Under the Bush economy average working Americans have paid a big price. While corporate profits have soared by 85% since President Bush took office, incomes across the board have have stagnated as Americans face twice as high prices at the pump, out of control health care bills, a housing market that’s up 54%, and college tuitions that are 57% more expensive. I hope that new leadership at the helm of the Treasury will put us back on track by making our economy work better for all Americans.

Republicans Should Secure Civil Rights For Citizens and Legislators

The House Republican leadership has rolled over and played dead as the Bush administration has trampled on Congressional authority on a range of issues from domestic wiretapping to the President's so-called signing statements. It is interesting to see them claim certain Congressional prerogatives in the midst of alleged criminal wrongdoing when they have looked the other way as the rights of American citizens have been compromised.

We Cannot Sacrifice Governance While Honoring The Law

As a Member of Congress and as the former Attorney General of California, I have devoted myself to the adoption and enforcement of criminal laws in order to protect law-abiding citizens. It is my view that public corruption constitutes the gravest possible violation of the public trust. I have prosecuted elected officials for having breached the confidence placed in them by the voters in our state.

It is therefore my clear desire to see the law enforced to the fullest extent in any public corruption case. However, those of us who have been given the power to prosecute have a commensurate responsibility to respect the very law we have been tasked to carry out. We must keep in mind that the execution of the warrant in this case entailed the search of a Congressional office. It is not the personal office of a criminal defendant, but rather a facility within the larger complex which comprises the House of Representatives. It is the violation of the integrity of a co-equal branch of government which is at issue.

There was absolutely no reason that notice could not have been given to the Speaker of the House of Representatives to ensure that a search could be conducted while the same time securing the protection of papers and effects unrelated to the criminal investigation. The presence of House officials would have allowed the search to be conducted while preventing the possible compromise of personal information concerning constituents and other materials beyond the scope of the investigation. It is in this respect that the lack of any deference for the institution of the House of Representatives was equally a violation of the people we are elected to serve.

The extraordinary nature of this action taken by United States Department of Justice is evidenced by the fact that in 218 years of the history of our nation, there has never been a breach of this kind. The vigorous prosecution of criminal conduct does not require an abuse of institutional respect for co-equal branches of government which is inherent to the structure of constitutional governance.

Control Of The Internet Must Remain With Users

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 5417, the "Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006," which I introduced with Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, Ranking Member John Conyers and Rep. Rick Boucher. This is the first bill with real protections for net neutrality that has passed any committee in Congress and I am proud to be a part of it.

The bill requires broadband providers to operate their networks in a non-discriminatory manner and makes sure that the phone and cable companies cannot favor or block access to the Web sites or online services that they pick instead of the consumer. It will keep the Internet an open and free marketplace of ideas and services chosen by consumers instead of big corporations. It will also guard against "the pipes" gleaning profits by creating a virtual toll road.

H.R. 5417 was introduced by a bipartisan coalition from the Judiciary Committee and passed out of the Committee by a vote of 20-13-1. 14 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted in favor of it and 13 Republicans voted against it. 1 Democrat voted present.

The Internet has revolutionized the way Americans communicate with one another and do business. It's only right to keep that revolution where it belongs - in the hands of net users instead of the phone and cable companies.

No U.S. Dollars Before Serious Commitment to Human Rights By U.N.

In 1946, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights was created to monitor and prevent the abuse of human rights. It failed miserably. The Commission lost its credibility as an instrument for the promotion and protection of human rights. The Commission instead allowed repressive regimes, like Cuba, Sudan, Libya, Belarus, China, and Zimbabwe, to shield themselves from criticism for their own human rights violations.

On March 15, 2006, the Commission was replaced with a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). But while making superficial structural changes, there has been no reform. Indeed, the new elected membership includes nine countries that the democracy watchdog Freedom House designates as not free include China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Pakistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Cameroon, and Azerbaijan.

The U.S. should not support the UNHRC until it upholds the ideals of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and its membership is made up of free and democratic nations.

Congress Must Flex Its Purse-String Powers

We are borrowing record amounts of money from other countries to fund our own federal government, but there is little to no accounting for how that money is being spent. Inspectors General in each agency identify waste, inefficiency, fraud and abuse that could save taxpayers billions of dollars.

No private business in this country could operate the way Washington is operating. Congress takes money from citizens involuntarily and appropriates it to an Administration. This Congress has completely abdicated its constitutional responsibility and obligation to hold this Administration accountable.

Congress does not ask how money is being spent, and if they did, the Administration couldn't answer. The citizens of this country should expect someone to account for where their tax money is going. My bill mandates that Congress explore financial mismanagement.