Congress Approves Budget Plan
Both the House and the Senate passed the final version of the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Resolution, a document that lays out our most important national priorities for the years to come.
The budget is a blueprint for a job-creating economic recovery built on the solid foundation of affordable access to health care, energy independence, and a well-prepared workforce. It is a financially-responsible budget that cuts taxes, cuts the deficit and makes vital investments in healthcare access, cutting-edge energy research, clean energy jobs, a modernized national energy grid, education in the vital years of early childhood and Pell Grants to help young Americans achieve their dreams of college.
Rising health care costs continue to inflict an immense and growing burden on families and businesses. The budget supports the President’s goals for health care reform to address the related goals of reducing costs, improving quality and expanding coverage to help the 46 million Americans who now lack health insurance. Like the President’s plan, the budget assumes health care reform will be paid for, and leaves it to the relevant committees to determine the best way to accomplish that.
The budget also focuses on education. Congress made significant investments in education earlier this year through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided needed funding for local schools, additional funding for Head Start and a new tax credit to help cover college costs.
The budget builds upon those investments with further support for early childhood education, high standards and the tools to achieve them for elementary and secondary school students, and efforts to help more Americans obtain a college degree.
The budget also focuses on increasing America’s energy independence and energy security. It builds on significant funding and tax incentives in the Recovery Act by increasing our investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. It also allows for responsible legislation that will promote energy independence over the long term.
Finally, the budget recognizes the need to restore fiscal responsibility and sustainability. President Obama set a firm goal of cutting the budget deficit in half over four years, and this budget provides a plan to meet that goal. The budget accomplishes this goal by restraining spending, reinforces a commitment to statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules, and including investments in oversight and enforcement activities that yield valuable savings and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.
It will take time to turn our economy around – President Obama inherited one of the worst financial disasters in generations. But this budget is a bold step in the right direction.
Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights
The House passed a bill to prevent some of the most abusive practices used by credit card companies to unfairly target their customers.
The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights will end the unfair practices of the credit card industry and protect consumers from the abusive tactics that continue to drive so many Americans deeper and deeper into debt. With so many American families are struggling to make ends meet, consumers who play by the rules deserve to be treated fairly by their credit card companies.
The bill levels the playing field between card issuers and cardholders by applying commonsense regulations that would ban most retroactive interest rate hikes on existing balances (except when payments are more than 30 days late), double-cycle billing and due-date gimmicks.
The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights is part of the long-term plan to rebuild our economy in ways that are consistent with our values of responsibility and hard work, not high-flying finance schemes.
Specifically, the bill protects cardholders against arbitrary interest rate increases, empowers them to set limits on their credit and requires card companies to fairly credit and allocate payments. It also prohibits charging fees just to pay a bill by phone, charging over-the-limit fees unless a consumer opts-in in advance or issuing credits cards to minors.
Recognizing Everette Brown
Last week I entered a statement into the Congressional Record congratulating an area resident who was drafted by the Carolina Panthers. Here is my statement:
Madam Speaker, I rise to congratulate and recognize a young man from my hometown who was selected in last weekend’s National Football League draft. The Carolina Panthers selected Everette Brown, a graduate of Wilson, North Carolina’s Beddingfield High School and Florida State University.
Mr. Brown was the Seminoles starter at the right defensive end position in each of the 13 games during the 2008 regular season, and he was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s top defensive end. And, after leading the nation in tackles for a loss, Mr. Brown was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference football first-team and runner-up as the ACC Player of the Year.
In addition to his tremendous play on the field, Mr. Brown has been a leader when it comes to community service. He has donated his time freely, volunteering at schools, The Able Trust, MDA Summer Camp, Tallahassee Seminole Club, Dick Howser Center for Childhood Services, Life Skills Center and Read Across America, among many others.
Madame Speaker, my community is extremely proud of this young man and I ask you to join me in congratulating him on his accomplishments. We must also recognize Mr. Brown’s parents, Odell and Jenai, on raising this fine young man. I know they must be so proud and pleased that he will be playing his games so close to home.
Improving Relations Between China and Taiwan
Last week I entered a statement into the Congressional Record regarding the rapidly improving relations between China and Taiwan. Here is that statement:
Madame Speaker, I rise in recognition of an announcement that Taiwan has been invited to participate as an observer at the annual meeting of the World Health Organization’s governing body being held in Geneva next month.
With the strong support of the United States, Taiwan has persistently campaigned, especially after the SARS outbreak in 2003, to rejoin the World Health Organization but China has consistently blocked efforts to join any international body as an independent political entity.
This marks a clear and important sign of improved relations between China and Taiwan, and I congratulate them on taking this important and meaningful step forward.
Since Taiwanese President Ma’s took office on May 20, 2008, relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits have greatly improved, paving the way for the first direct flights between the straits in 60 years, Chinese pandas being sent to Taiwan, substantially improved financial and business contact, and direct postal service and shipping.
Madame Speaker, I ask that my colleagues will join me in applauding the efforts to improve relations and to encourage further cooperation.