Politics

In Response To Rep. Thompson On NSA, Hayden

First and foremost, we are a nation at war. One of our most important weapons in this war against terror is information. The Terrorist Surveillance Program is crucial to gathering intelligence on terrorist activities.

The terrorists are smart and have adapted to our old modes of information gathering. For now, we are far better at gathering information than our enemy. It is an advantage we must exploit, and it is keeping us safe. Every time a leak of properly classified national security information occurs, our ability to gather information on those who would do us harm is eroded.

Preventing the NSA from legally using the tools at its disposal to monitor terrorist activities will only make the United States more susceptible to attack.

This weekend's raid in Canada proves the point that terrorists are plotting to attack us, right under our noses. Through my briefings in the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I am confident the NSA is acting not only within the law, but also in the best interest of Americans. Our civil liberties are not being violated. The American people are not the target of any of our information gathering efforts; al-Qaeda is the target.

It is no accident we are almost five years removed from 9/11 and our nation has not been hit again. We are using every legal source of information to fight this war and help keep this country safe. The American people in poll after poll have supported this, and they have every right to expect the government to use every tool we can to protect them. The Terrorist Surveillance Program is one of the many legal tools we have, will and must use!
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$50 Billion Deficit Decrease Shows Wisdom of Pro-Growth Policies

CBO's report shows that our policies continue to foster sustained economic and income growth, which is working to reduce the deficit. We must ensure this trend of strong growth and deficit reduction continues by maintaining pro-growth tax policies, and by keeping spending in check.

 
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Constitutional, Legislative Line-item Veto Will Help Cut Pork, Improve Accountability

The current budget system - the legacy of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act - is institutionally biased towards spending rather than saving. We're fighting to change this, and the push for a constitutional line-item veto is one key part of our broader reform effort.

While earmark reform brings more accountability at the front of the budget process, we also need to make sure Congress and the President can remove wasteful spending items that are dropped into conference reports at the end of the process. The legislative line-item veto will create this crucial backstop and deter lawmakers from adding pork in the first place.

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My Amendment--Killing the Bridge to Nowhere

Chairman Young is a uniquely capable representative for the people of Alaska and our nation's transportation needs. We have a simple disagreement over federal funding for this project. Our infrastructure is a key to the US economy. Maintaining and expanding our transportation infrastructure requires us to be strategic and deliberate in how we foresee both demographic and economic growth.

I was proud to offer an amendment in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation to kill the Alaskan Bridge-to-Nowhere. The much publicized and controversial Bridge-to-Nowhere project, which would connect Ketichan, Alaska to the island of Gravina would cost taxpayers an estimated $320 million. Currently there is a $6 ferry ride that connects Gravina with Ketichan that even residents say is the only thing visitors remember.

We have greater transportation and infrastructure demands. Over 34% of our roads and 160,000 bridges in America are in need of repair. We must address these key priorities and defend the taxpayers' dollars against wasteful spending. The amendment passed this afternoon.

Today, taxpayers won.
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I Will Vote Against the Kirk Amendment and For The Alaska Bridge

I believe the Kirk Amendment, which would prevent federal funds from being used for the Alaska bridge, is an example of futility by some members. I plan on voting to remove the provision out of the bill when it comes to a vote on the floor. This money has already gone to the state for a well-needed bridge, and they can't take that away from the people of Alaska.
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Letting States Decide How To Fight Pornography

For too long, federal courts have been creating a dangerous climate for our children by overturning the important decisions of state courts that restrict pornography production, consumption and distribution within their borders. My bill, the Pornography Jurisdiction Act - H.R. 5528 - simply lets states decide for themselves how they tackle this problem. If there are those who believe a state's anti-pornography laws are too strict, they can find another state in which to live. If anyone is interested in this, please contact my D.C. office.
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DeLay Resignation Points To Humane Labor Laws in Mariana Islands

For more than ten years, I have sought to change the laws that govern the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. I have sought these changes in an effort to stop the well documented and widespread abuse of poor women in the garment and tourism industry there, and to better secure America's borders.

But for more than ten years, my efforts, and the efforts of so many others, have been thwarted. Our efforts have been thwarted by the corrupt partnership of two of Washington's most powerful players - Rep. Tom DeLay and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and by their allies in Congress.

But now, a window of opportunity is opening. Rep. DeLay is resigning from Congress this Friday, and Jack Abramoff will be in prison beginning on June 29th. I believe that finally there just might be an opening for Congress to properly consider this issue that has been callously pushed aside for so long.

Today, my colleagues and I are re-introducing legislation to apply U.S. immigration and labor laws in the Mariana Islands. I also delivered letters to Speaker Hastert, Majority Leader Boehner, and Resources Committee Chairman Pombo asking for quick consideration of this issue right away.
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The Marriage Amendment Would Have Protected The People's Will

I’m generally hesitant to amend the Constitution; there are few things as permanent as a constitutional amendment, and it’s something that clearly shouldn’t be done lightly. However, when activist judges repeatedly take steps to overrule the clear voice of a majority of the People, we are left with very few options.

On two separate occasions, the people of Montana have clearly said that marriage should be defined as it has always been in this country, a union between one man and one woman, which is what I’ve always believed. This has been the case in many other states as well. Unfortunately, the overwhelming consensus of the people is not good enough for some. As we have seen in a number of states over the past several years, a handful of judges and other public officials have taken it upon themselves to decide what should constitute marriage. Words must have meanings that can’t be changed based upon the political whimsy of a court, mayor, or any other public officials that are more interested in scoring political points than they are in doing what is right. I’m concerned it’s only a matter of time before the recently enacted Montana constitutional amendment is challenged.

The ultimate decision in an issue this important must fully reflect the desire of the People, not just those of us in Washington, and certainly not that of a handful of activist judges. That’s why I voted today in favor of a constitutional amendment that protects traditional marriage laws, protects the will of the people, and sends a clear message, we do not like judicial activism.
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Bush and Rubber Stamp Republican Congress Focus on Wrong Priorities

We should be focusing on the needs, aspirations, and challenges of Americans, not on divisive issues such as gay marriage that have no place in the political debate except to be mean-spirited, to discriminate, and to bring bias and prejudice. The needs of Katrina survivors are still unmet, gas prices continue to skyrocket, confusion on the prescription drug bill abounds, record deficits are spiraling out of control, and today the Washington Post reports that as many as 2.2 million military personnel were among the 26.5 million records mishandled and lost by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Americans on active-duty, many of them overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, are now distracted with the threat of identity theft back home. House Democrats have called for an immediate investigation and review of the VA's security practices and how this breach happened, as well as introduced legislation protecting veterans and service members from identity theft and other harm.

Yesterday, Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA), the Republicans' point person on Social Security, said that the first order of business in the new Congress in January will be to take up President Bush's Social Security privatization proposal. The American people rejected that plan overwhelmingly. Rubber stamping President Bush's failed Social Security privatization scheme simply reinforces the Republican record of failure and attention to the wrong priorities. Democrats have a new direction for the American people, and are working to strengthen Social Security and address the real concerns of everyday Americans.
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The Right To Regulate Marriage Belongs To The States

Historically, laws regulating family and domestic affairs have been almost exclusively regulated by the states. I see no reason to change that. The Defense of Marriage Act, which I support and which Congress passed in 1996, clearly states that marriage is between a man and a woman. In addition, this legislation affirms the right of states to choose not to recognize same-sex marriages, regardless of where they occurred. Most states, including my home state of Maine, have passed laws declaring that they will not recognize such marriages. Therefore, I voted against proceeding with the constitutional amendment at this time.
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