Empowerment via the new media

Listening to my constituents is one of my chief priorities as a lawmaker. And I'm excited now to harness the fast-changing power of technology that's making it easier to stay in touch with my constituents in order to gauge their views and concerns.

I can hardly describe how excited I am about these favorable developments in the use of cutting-edge communications technology. It's not just about politics. Reversing a negative trend that many people feared had dangerous implications for the future is a boon to our community and our country.


Paperless claims process brings VA into digital age (Rep. John Hall)

Last week, the Veterans Administration announced that it was starting a pilot program to test its new paperless claims processing system. This project is long overdue but encouraging as the VA continues to improve its service to our veterans and become an organization for the digital age. While serving in my first term, I introduced and Congress passed legislation (PL 110-389) which required the VA Secretary to implement comprehensive information technology reform. This pilot project is the result of that requirement.


Google/Verizon proposal underscores need for FCC action

Those denouncing and supporting the Internet access rules proposed by Google and Verizon this week can likely agree on one thing – the deal has made people realize how much is at stake in the so-called net neutrality debate.  It has shown that in the absence of clear rules supporting the public interest, corporations may make their own private deals.


Safeguarding America's technology brain trust

Congress and the White House are on a collision course in what may be the last Great Engine Battle. But the stakes are far greater than deciding which engines will power the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), America’s all-in-one fighter jet. At stake is the environment of innovation that will be created or destroyed by this decision and the effect it will have on the brain trust that equips America’s war fighters with the best capabilities possible.


The growing benefits of broadband for Americans with disabilities

On the heels of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it leads us to think about how far we have come, but also how far we have to go in terms of equal access and opportunity for Americans living with disabilities, most notably in technology advancement. The Internet revolutionized what was possible for many Americans living with disabilities, and broadband, wireless technologies and innovative online applications and services continue to enrich American lives at an astonishing rate. Such technology has the potential to offer life-changing opportunities to the 54 million Americans with disabilities. However, there is much left to accomplish and the future holds boundless possibilities.


Adoption of NASA compromise means continued leadership in space exploration (Rep. Frank Wolf)

In a rare victory for bipartisanship and the legislative branch, Congress has rallied behind an important compromise plan to ensure continued American leadership in space. Six months after the release of the president’s budget — which effectively mothballed NASA’s exploration program — the Senate and House have sent a clear signal to the White House that such cuts are unacceptable.

Last month, I joined Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), John Culberson (R-Texas), Gene Green (D-Texas) and 58 other bipartisan members representing 18 states on a letter to President Obama detailing a compromise plan centering on the immediate development of a “heavy lift rocket” and crew capsule capable of exploring beyond low Earth orbit, something the U.S. has not done since the Apollo era.


The president’s space policy will compromise American jobs and American world leadership (Rep. Robert Aderholt)

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. Since then, there has been no turning back for the U.S. space program and we have led the world in space exploration ever since. Throughout the next 50 years, NASA would land astronauts on the moon, launch the Hubble space telescope and help build the International Space Station (ISS).

However, the President now wants to severely downgrade the one task which makes NASA unique — human exploratory space flight. On February 1, 2010, the Administration announced a budget which proposes to eliminate the NASA Constellation program. Since that time, NASA has canceled the awarding of contracts or put on hold parts of numerous contracts which were a part of the regular fiscal year 2010 work for the Constellation program, despite the fact that Congress must first approve its termination before it becomes final policy.


Setting the record straight on subsidy facts

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) once again choose to ignore that the Boeing 767 aircraft benefited from government subsidies.

The representatives from Kansas refused to recognize that the Boeing 767 is laden with domestic and foreign subsidies that lowered the cost of producing the aircraft. The 767 received U.S. government support when NASA funded the research for the supercritical wing, acoustic nacelles, composite structures, advanced aluminum alloys and advance displays. To refresh their memories, the representatives from Kansas should reference Petersen and Holmes’s 1991 study, “U.S. Aeronautical Research for the 1990s," that stated that the “NASA Aircraft Energy Efficiency (ACEE) program was the genesis of the Boeing 757 and 767 aeroplanes.”