Politics

It's Time To Earn More A's than F's on Homeland Security

When the 9/11 Commission tells us the government has earned more F's than A's on implementing their recommendations, it means we have some serious work left to do. We are safer, thanks to progress reforming the intelligence community, but we are still not safe. Almost two years after the Commission released its 41 thoughtful proposals, there are 27 for which the government received an average, near-failing or failing grade. Today we are reminding the American people and Congress that the 9/11 Commission's work cannot be in vain; it's time for more action.
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Sub-Standard Labor Practices, No Trade With Oman

Democrats outlined their concerns regarding labor issues in Oman back in November 2005. In the months since, we have maintained a clear, consistent position requiring that Oman's labor laws comply with the most basic International Labor Organization (ILO) standards. We have asked no more and can accept no less than this - a standard we achieved through negotiation on the Bahrain Free Trade Agreement.

Oman is a good friend and ally of the United States, and for that reason Democratic members and staff have spent countless hours negotiating toward agreement. Despite our clear, consistent position and request, Oman has not changed its practices nor has it formally changed its labor laws. We appreciate the efforts that have been made by the Omani government, but unfortunately, it is the view of the Democratic minority that they have not achieved the basic minimum labor standards outlined by the ILO.
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Marriage Amendment, Like Terry Schiavo, is GOP Shot at Political Points

(AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY ON SENATE FLOOR)

It’s no surprise that the American people are frustrated with the Republican Senate these days. They deserve and want action on the enormous challenges we face as a nation – the endless and costly war in Iraq, the many dangers to our national security, skyrocketing gas prices, soaring health-care costs, the upcoming hurricane season. How we can have safer schools and better care for our children, and so many other urgent issues. But instead of dealing with these real priorities, the Senate Republican leadership is asking us to spend time writing bigotry into the Constitution.

Why aren’t we taking up the Defense Authorization Bill, which is so vital to our national security? It provides the authorization for the salaries for our troops in the field, including a 2.2% pay raise. It provides urgently needed equipment for our troops to carry out their missions in humvees with safer body armor. It authorizes the food and supplies our troops need in Iraq and Afghanistan. It contains funds to care for those who are injured or wounded, or who may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when they come home. But the Republican leadership of the Senate has told us that supporting our troops has to wait.

Let’s be clear about what this debate is really about. It’s a blatant effort to deny some members of our society the right to receive the same benefits and protections that married couples now have. Like this Senate’s intrusion into the Terry Schiavo case, it is a cynical attempt to score political points by overriding state courts and intruding into individuals’ private lives and most personal decisions. It’s the politics of prejudice and division at its worst.
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Senate Bill Represents Opportunity at Immigration Reform

In its current form the immigration bill the Senate passed would not make it through the House. I'm just glad the Senate was able to actually pass legislation that we can work through with the House and actually get a bill done this year for the American people.
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Estate Tax Elimination Or Compromise Needed From Congress

An elimination of the estate tax seems to be the answer in providing certainty for the future of estate planning. If we are not able to vote by the end of the week on a bill that seeks to eliminate the estate tax, as I would like to see done, I hope that a compromise can be made that will provide some sort of certainty of the estate tax law.
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Enforcement Only is a Good Slogan, But a Failed Strategy

Today the President continued the call for comprehensive immigration reform and I applaud his determination to fix our broken system. The bipartisan Senate reform plan will strengthen our national security, protect our borders better, and crack down harder on smugglers and employers who break the law. The President understands that our plan is even tougher and more effective than the House bill because not only does it include these strong enforcement provisions but it will also break the cycle of illegality by creating pathways to earned citizenship.

We know that an enforcement-only approach to solving our immigration problems may make a good campaign slogan. But in reality, it’s a failed strategy that threatens our security and threatens American wages. To truly strengthen our national security we must enact a common sense plan that includes earned citizenship for those who are here, a temporary worker program for the future, and enhanced enforcement.
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Its Time For Congress To Stand With Working America

As millions of middle class families struggle with college costs, Congress should stand with students and reject calls from the banks to raise interest rates on student loans. With higher gas prices, higher health costs, and higher college tuition, it’s time to give average families a break for a change.
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Repairing Our Broken Budget System is a Moral Duty

(Draft of Statement To Be Given Tomorrow)

Few are willing to admit - much less discuss - the looming financial crisis facing our country. However, the longer we put off fixing the problem, the worse the medicine will be and the greater the number of people that will be hurt.

That is why I introduced legislation today to establish a national commission that will put everything - entitlement benefits and all other federal government programs as well as our tax policies - on the table and require Congress to vote up or down on its recommendations in their entirety, similar to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) first created by former Rep. Dick Armey in 1988. This commission would be called the SAFE Commission, to secure America's future economy.

Many will say the problem is too big to be fixed. Some will view the proposal as too risky, particularly in an election year. Others will say it is an abdication of responsibility. My response to such comments is that the problem is so great we can no longer look for excuses not to act. Nothing, I believe, is too big to undertake.
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Economic, Foreign Policies Are The Threat--Not Gay Marriage

As instability spreads throughout Iraq and Americans struggle to pay their health care and energy bills, President Bush and Congressional Republicans have engaged in a last-ditch attempt to shore up their base support by doing the bidding of the radical right. This amendment is a political ploy that would divide Americans instead of addressing the problems they share.

The economic and foreign policies of the Bush Administration, not gay marriage, are threatening American families. Republicans should stop invading the personal lives of the American people and should focus instead on the real concerns discussed around kitchen tables across the country. This shameful politicking will not divert attention from the Republicans' record of failure. It does underscore the depths to which they will sink in their attempt to shift the national dialogue away from the issues facing Americans.
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Military and Terrorism Highlight Recent House Legislation

Bills Recently on the House Floor...

[HR:5385], the FY07 Military Construction-VA Appropriations bill. This bill would provide $136.1 billion for the VA, military construction and military housing, including $21 billion for the Defense Health Program and$13.5 billion for the basic military housing allowances. It would provide $77.9 billion for the VA, including $32.7 billion for the Veterans health Administration; $.1 billion for military construction; $4 billion for military family housing and $5.3 billion for the latest round of base closures. This bill passed the House unanimously.

[S:1235], the Veterans' Housing Opportunity and Benefits Improvement Act of 2006. This bill would indefinitely pass the bill that would indefinitely increase, to $400,00, the federally subsidized life insurance payment for servicemembers killed in the line of duty. It would temporarily extend post-separation group life insurance coverage for disabled veterans to two years. This bill passed the House unanimously.

[HR:4681], the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006. This bill would restrict most aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as it is controlled by the organizations that have ties to terrorism and fail to recognize Israel's right to exist. I was a cosponsor of this bill, and it passed the House 361-37.

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