The Dignity They Deserve

While we continue to support our troops as they serve on the frontlines, a very small percentage of misguided people have decided to make veterans' funerals a springboard for their agenda. The recent trend of protesting at the funerals of soldiers killed in action is not only disturbing, but it demeans the ultimate sacrifice that these brave individuals have made for each and every one of us. It is very disheartening to see that some people would rather make a statement than respect the sacrifices our veterans have made.

As Chairman of the House VA Economic Opportunity Subcommittee, I take the concerns of our veterans and their families very seriously. For this reason, I cosponsored the "Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act" a bipartisan bill which prohibits demonstrations during a funeral or memorial service at a national cemetery.

Today, the House is scheduled to take this important legislation up. I am glad to see my colleagues moving to restrict these diversionary actions and allow families to remember and memorialize their loved one with dignity they deserve. America is a compassionate and caring nation that respects the men and women that have served our country. It is time to ensure that compassion is heard.

Pence Meets With Turkish Officials to Discuss Iraq and Iranian Nuclear Proliferation


May 8, 2006

Months ago, when we planned to visit Ankara, the capitol city of Turkey, on our way back from Iraq, little did we know that our visit would take place in the midst of swirling international developments regarding Iran. I did not imagine that our meetings with the Foreign Minister of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, would take place while the UN was debating sanctions against Iran.

And I never imagined that our meeting with the General Secretary of Turkey's National Security Council would take place in the same building and in the same conference room where the National Security Advisor of Iran had just concluded a meeting ten minutes earlier. But that's just what happened.


How Credit Unions Could Convert to Banks in the Future

The Financial Services Committee is holding a hearing this Thursday on my bill, the Credit Union Charter Choice Act. It protects the rights of credit union members to choose a financial charter that best fits their needs.

I put forward this legislation to establish consistent, reasonable guidelines for credit unions converting their charters. The process should be fair, transparent and efficient - while giving credit union members more control over their own destinies.

The bill amends the Federal Credit Union Act regarding conversion of a credit union charter to a mutual savings bank or savings association charter. It would make the conversion process more clearly defined by outlining what a converting credit union must disclose to members and how the conversion vote is held.

This hearing will provide an excellent forum to discuss the conversion issue with industry representatives and experts. I look forward to this opportunity and expect a spirited, constructive debate.

Failed Cloture Vote is Success for Trial Lawyers

Once again the trial lawyers’ efforts have paid off. The ones who lose the most from today’s vote are expectant mothers and every other American who will continue to see doctors closing their practices and turning away high-risk patients because of sky-high medical liability premiums.

The lack of medical care in certain areas of the country is indisputable. The skyrocketing cost of medical liability premiums is forcing doctors to relocate out of certain areas or stop practicing altogether, and today’s vote will ensure that trend continues. Many Americans will no longer have access to the doctors they know and trust and will be forced to find other options for their care, or not receive any care at all.

I will continue to work so that doctors are able to do what they do best –provide health care and peace of mind to their patients. I hope members of the Senate who opposed a vote on this bill will reconsider so that in the future we can make sure doctors are available when and where they are needed.

Reflecting on Genocide in Darfur

Those with Armenian, Jewish and Cambodian heritage, among others, understand all too well what happens when good people remain silent and allow atrocities to continue unabated. Last week, they were among the thousands who attended a rally for those affected by the strife and unrest in Darfur. Although many at the rally had divergent political and economic views, tragic situations have a unique way of compelling many people to speak with one voice.

The Darfur conflict began in February 2003, when rebels launched attacks seeking greater political autonomy. In response, Sudan's Islamic government dispatched troops and pro-government militias known as the Janjaweed to quell the uprising. The militias embarked on a campaign of terror, killing and raping civilians mostly from ethnic groups.


Medical Malpractice Legislation Not Worthy of Serious Discussion

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) called two bills intended to curb medical malpractice litigation "unfair" and undeserving of being "taken seriously by the Senate" during floor statements this evening.
This legislation (S. 22) is not a serious attempt to address a significant problem being faced by physicians in some states. It is the product of a party caucus rather than the bipartisan deliberations of a Senate committee. It was designed to score political points, not to achieve the bipartisan consensus which is needed to enact major legislation. In fact, the legislative language was not even available for review until late last week. For these reasons, it does not deserve to be taken seriously by the Senate.


House Intelligence Committee Democrat Supporting Hayden

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) spoke favorably of General Michael Hayden, the President's nominee to replace former CIA director Porter Goss.
President Bush has nominated a strong and proven leader in General Michael Hayden," said Reyes. "Hayden has extensive experience in the field both as a collector and user of intelligence, knows the inner workings of the U.S. intelligence community, and is trusted and admired in Congress.

Now more than ever, the CIA needs a strong, capable leader, and there will be certain steps the next CIA Director must take to restore morale, focus, and esprit de corps in the agency. As a general, Hayden has demonstrated the skills to facilitate these steps.

An Appreciation for a Justice of the Court

Chief Justice William Rehnquist served the American people by sitting on the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court for over 33 years, first as an Associate Justice, then as Chief Justice. It is important that Congress honor him and his service with a marble bust for the court he loved so dearly. It's a small token of appreciation to a man that dedicated his life to upholding the rule of law of this great nation.

Senate Republican Welcomes Hayden Nomination

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) released a statement today, speaking positively of President Bush's nomination of General Michael Hayden to replace former CIA director Porter Goss.
I welcome the President's nomination. General Hayden certainly has the experience to lead the CIA, along with the confidence of many in the intelligence community and the President.

This will be the first nomination to head the CIA since we created the Director of National Intelligence. We're facing significant challenges, and I look forward to hearing how General Hayden intends to work with Ambassador Negroponte and the President to help the CIA better combat those seeking to harm our country.

Legislation to Aid Doctors and Patients

Wasteful, frivolous lawsuits have plunged our country into a crisis in terms of access to quality care. Patients who have been wronged by negligent doctors deserve justice, but limitless and irresponsible awards are forcing good doctors to close their practices and leaving patients in need. The Medical Care Access Protection Act will improve the availability and accessibility of quality medical care for patients throughout the nation.