Refinery Bill Will Do Nothing To Create New Refineries

There is broad agreement that we have a shortage of refinery capacity in the United States today to produce the gasoline, diesel products, and other refined products we use on a daily basis. However the Refinery Permit Process Act considered by the House of Representatives yesterday does nothing to ensure that new refineries will actually be constructed. The bill simply adds a new layer of Federal bureaucracy to the permitting process by creating a Federal coordinator to oversee State-permitting actions while weakening State environmental protection processes. The legislation proceeds from the deeply flawed assumption that the reason that we have a refinery shortage is burdensome State permitting processes when in fact oil companies themselves have told us that environmental regulations are simply not the problem. The sensible alternative offered by myself and Energy and Commerce Ranking Member John Dingell would have built upon the success of the Strategic Petroleum reserve through the creation of a federal Strategic Refinery Reserve, which would produce gasoline and other refined petroleum products to be used during an emergency energy supply disruption such as we experienced following the devastating hurricanes in the gulf coast region last year. Our legislation provides a common sense solution for the problem of refinery capacity shortage, which is simply not addressed in the bill considered yesterday.

Zarqawi Death, New Ministers Mark Progress in Iraq

Today's successful air strike on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a testament to the professionalism and heroism of the American men and women serving in Iraq. The death of al-Zarqawi is a critical achievement toward improving Iraq's security situation and represents another important milestone for the Iraqi people. Al-Zarqawi was a ruthless murderer; he personally beheaded at least two Americans and oversaw the bombing and killing of countless innocent civilians and American troops. He was behind much of the terrorism and sectarian violence that has besieged Iraq in the past three years. His elimination is great news for all Iraqis and for our troops.

The cooperation between American and Iraqi forces in locating and eradicating al-Zarqawi is yet another example of the increased strength in Iraq's ability to provide for its own security. There are many political opportunists who have called for a unilateral withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. This cut and run strategy will only destroy the progress that has been made in Iraq and undermine the sacrifices of our troops for the freedom of the Iraqi people.

America's military commanders on the ground in Iraq should continue to make the important decisions with respect to when to strike, and when Iraqis are able to act alone. It is not the political winds that will improve the security situation, but rather the efforts like the one today by our military commanders and participated in by the Iraqis. The approval of both the ministers of defense and interior by the Iraqi parliament today signify further progress in the establishment of Iraqi self-determination, and will help in achieving the milestones needed for our troops to return home to their families and loved ones.

Zarqawi's Death Does Not Ensure Safety or Security

Today the International Relations Committee held a hearing into waste, fraud and abuse of U.S. resources in the reconstruction of Iraq. The death of the al-Queda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is dramatic news that will hopefully send a strong political signal to all Iraqis that the insurgents will not prevail. But while Zarqawi’s demise will likely have a positive impact on the security situation in Iraq, both symbolically and operationally we must not lull ourselves into a sense of complacency that the job of ensuring a safe and secure Iraq is now near completion. There are many debatable points about our policy toward Iraq, but the gross mismanagement of reconstruction efforts is not one of them. Due to the exceptional work of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, the facts are clear: Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been used unwisely in Iraq. The Executive Branch must not allow such slipshod management. And the American people, I am convinced, will not tolerate it.

But this is not just about money. The international coalition’s ability to exit Iraq responsibly, leaving the Iraqi people in better shape than before the war, is directly related to the success of our reconstruction efforts there. But these efforts have been severely undermined by waste, by fraud and by abuse, and our troops have been needlessly exposed to greater risk because of such failures.


500 Lbs of Justice Delivered to the Prince of Al-Qaeda

One of the most brutal, heinous, and horrendous terrorists was killed last night when the U.S. Armed Forces delivered 500-pounds of justice to Iraq’s ‘Prince of Al-Qaeda’ on behalf of Nicholas Berg, Jack Armstrong, Ken Bigley, Jack Hensley and the thousands of others who were beheaded, tortured, and killed by Al-Zarqawi and his henchmen.

Congratulations to the United States Air Force and to the Special Forces teams on the ground for once again coordinating a precise and effective mission. And it is especially important to note that local Iraqis and Jordanians provided critical intelligence and support for this operation.

The road ahead is far from complete. However, the killing of one of the insurgencies key officials will deal a serious blow to the operational effort of those who are working to thwart the progress being made by Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki, the Iraqi people, and our troops on the ground.

This Recent Success Reflects Need For Our Presence in Iraq

This success against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his top lieutenants manifests the importance of persistence and reflects the extreme competence and capability of the United States anti-terrorism efforts in Iraq. This important strategic success reflects the need for continued American persistence and patience in completing the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Positive Step on a Long Road in Iraq

I congratulate American military forces and intelligence personnel, and the Iraqi security forces who worked with them, in the reported attack on Musab al Zarqawi and his aides. I am also pleased to see that Prime Minister Maliki was finally able to announce the appointment of the cabinet ministers with responsibilities for security. The performance of these ministries will be critical in determining whether Iraqi security forces are able to be successful. Today's developments are certainly positive. I hope they bolster the morale and confidence of the Iraqi security forces who must increasingly take on the security of their nation. The Iraqis and we should capitalize on the momentum this opportunity may afford us. But there is still a long way to go before there is a secure Iraq with a stable, unified government able to fully provide for its own security.

Provide Comprehensive Care For Cancer Patients And Survivors

As a nurse I’ve had a unique vantage point from which to watch our country fight an increasingly successful war against cancer. When I first began my nursing career, this wasn’t the case. Cancer was the dreaded "C" word that people whispered in hushed tones and wouldn’t talk about in public. Even thirty years ago a diagnosis of cancer was a virtual death sentence for all but a few patients. Fortunately we’ve made significant progress in detection and treatment since then, but cancer is still a disease that affects many of us. Today, more than 10 million Americans are living with cancer and this year alone another million will be diagnosed with cancer. When individuals receive a cancer diagnosis, they begin a life-long quest for comprehensive cancer care and a high quality of life.

Providing comprehensive care for cancer patients and helping them make a successful transition from patient to survivor is an important part of our current fight against cancer. While the search for a cure to end cancer continues, we are fortunate to be living in a country where it is possible to survive this terrible disease. Over the last 25 years we’ve seen a significant increase in the population of cancer survivors and it’s important that we remember to address the health needs of these individuals by providing thorough follow-up care.

To address these gaps in current cancer care, my colleague, Rep. Tom Davis (VA) and I introduced the Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act (CCCIA) to help cancer patients and survivors meet the unique challenges presented by this disease.

The Comprehensive Cancer Care Improvement Act would create a system for healthcare providers to develop comprehensive treatment plans, care summaries and follow-up care plans in consultation with their patients. Additionally, the bill would (1) establish grant programs to enhance the professional education and training related to symptom control and palliative care, (2) establish grants to expand and evaluate model programs for integrated cancer care, and (3) increase funding for research in the field of palliative care and symptom management.

As a nurse, I know that by investing in comprehensive care and enhanced treatment plans for individuals diagnosed with cancer we can realize substantial improvements in cancer care while we continue to search for a cure. I hope this bipartisan, common sense bill moves quickly through the legislative process and becomes law so we can ensure that all cancer patients and survivors receive the quality care they deserve.

Decreasing Our Unhealthy Dependence on Gulf States, Foreign Oil

The Refinery Permit Process Schedule Act legislation addresses the basic fact that our nation's demand for refined products outstrips supply by a growing margin due to the lack of domestic refining capacity, which has led to the predictable result of higher and higher prices for all Americans. An uncertain and disorganized system of regulations and approvals has strangled the planning of all new refineries since 1976. A growing shortfall increases our reliance on imported refined products and causes prices to rise accordingly. This legislation will streamline a badly disjointed approval process and assist local, state, and federal officials in untangling the confusing and sometimes contradictory regulations and permitting required by various regulatory agencies. A primary goal of the legislation is also to promote new biofuel and petroleum refineries being constructed outside of the Gulf of Mexico.

Currently, half of all our domestic refinery capacity is concentrated in the Gulf States, a region too vulnerable to natural disasters. That in turn puts the U.S. energy security at risk and causes periodic supply disruptions and price increases. Simply expanding our current refineries fails to address this concentration and indeed makes it worse. Moreover, such expansion only increases our over reliance on crude oil as a feedstock. Constructing new refiners in other regions provides needed geographic distribution and also creates the opportunity to utilize locally available biomass and other renewable fuel feedstocks. Our agricultural and forestry resources are currently sufficient to sustainably displace more than one third of our transportation fuel needs, and we should support domestic supply over protecting the import-dependent status quo.

We need to improve the current system that has led to tight supplies, high prices for consumers, a risky concentration of capacity in the Gulf region, and an over dependence on foreign crude oil.

Administration's Incompetence Has Worsened Data Theft Episode

I was one of the veterans whose information was compromised, initially by the Department of Veterans Affairs. And that was shocking and disturbing. And now I'm even more shocked that there are actually 2.2 million of active duty military personnel, including 80 percent of our active duty soldiers and 430,000 National Guard members and 645,000 Reservists currently on duty with the military forces, whose information has been compromised. Defense officials have already said this loss is unprecedented. It's a major security breach. And it imperils not only the safety of our individual soldiers, the men and women of our armed forces, Marines, Navy, Air Force, National Guards men and women, but it could pose a threat to the overall security of the nation.

The Bush Administration's dangerous incompetence in handling this situation has only compounded the problem. We have got 130,000 troops in Iraq, other troops in Afghanistan. We should be doing all we can to make sure that they are protected and that they are supported. This incompetence has, once again, put a great stress - mental stress, I think -- on the forces that are in the field and their families here at home. It's unacceptable. It's something that not only we are shocked about but, frankly, it leaves us to ask the question: What will happen next? What other area will this administration let us down on?

The Real Death Tax

There's been a lot of discussion about the death tax. It's not the death tax. It's the estate tax. But there is a death tax that is paid by Americans to sustain and support this country, and it's terribly unfair because it falls on a very few.

In Iraq, it has fallen upon 2,480 of our soldiers. And in Afghanistan, it has fallen on others. It also falls upon the police and the fire officers who each day risk their lives and some who give their lives. They truly pay the death tax.

They will never be touched by this estate tax. The average pay of a specialist in the United States Army is $24,000, the base pay. He won't be worrying, nor his family be worrying about the estate tax.