It appears that everything else in the budget as on the block as far as Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler is concerned, but keep your hands off the defense dollars. Her weekly newsletter is printed below:
Friday morning's reports of the devastation, injuries and loss of life in Japan have grieved us all. I am continuing to follow the sad events brought about by the deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan and was felt as far away as Hawaii and the West Coast of the continental U.S. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Please join me in prayer to God who alone is able to comfort all those who are afflicted and bring healing.
It’s been a very interesting week on Capitol Hill – a week that included what will be the first of many tele-town halls giving me a chance to talk to you, the people of the 4th Congressional District. Thursday’s town hall put us in touch with thousands of homes. We took questions from dozens of citizens and would have taken more calls had we had the time. An hour goes by so quickly. We touched on everything from the budget to repeal of the Obama health care law. I love hearing from the people I was sent to Congress to represent. Watch for more town halls – live events and tele-town halls – in the coming weeks and months. I look forward to receiving your input.
In our ongoing effort to save taxpayer dollars the House continued the move toward efficiency in government by taking on ineffective policies and programs. We voted to terminate the FHA Refinance Program to stop spending money on an ineffective HUD program sustained by TARP money. By doing this we protect taxpayers from having to foot the bill for $8 billion in wasteful spending. The House also approved ending HUD’s Emergency Homeowners Relief Program – a $1 billion failed spending program that does little more than increase struggling homeowners’ debts. Providing loans or credit advances to unemployed borrowers who cannot pay their mortgages is bad policy. Congress must focus on creating the certainty that job-makers need to hire Americans who are looking for jobs.
The never-ending budget battle continued this week as the Senate wrestles with the commonsense legislation approved by the House to fund the government for the remainder of the year. Our goal is to cut $100 billion in spending to try to get our economy back on the right economic track. The Senate has balked at our effort, so far, but we are seeing signs that some Senators might be coming around to our way of thinking on the need to put an end to reckless spending sprees. You can help bring about fiscal sanity by letting our two U.S. Senators know how you feel about getting our financial house in order. A reminder to them of how you feel might be a good idea.
When it comes to spending I have made it clear that funding for our national defense must not be included in the budget cuts. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee I will do what I can to ensure that our men and women in uniform are given the resources they need to protect our country. I sent a letter, this week, to the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee’s Military Readiness Subcommittee to express my concern about the possibility of future Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) discussions. I made known my view that with our country involved in two wars and facing terrorist threats – now is not the time to be talking about base closings. Missouri’s 4th Congressional District is home to two major military installations – Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base. The personnel at Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman are involved in key military missions and should not have to worry about BRAC.
The issue of rising gas prices led to a lot of discussion at the Capitol this week. With oil prices skyrocketing it is imperative that we take steps to ensure we have an adequate supply and to make sure consumers are not spending so much of their disposable income filling up gas tanks. Those high gas prices are hurting families in Missouri and throughout the country. The United States can help insulate itself from energy spikes and help our economy by actively producing our own American energy resources. Our approach should include more American produced oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear, along with alternative sources that include wind, solar, and hydropower. We must also end the de facto drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the Obama Administration’s own estimates, the moratorium has resulted in 12,000 lost jobs. To make matters worse those oil rigs are leaving the Gulf for foreign countries like Cuba, Brazil, and Mexico.
The Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, visited the Capitol this week to address a joint meeting of Congress. You would have been proud to have heard what the Prime Minister had to say about the special relationship between our two countries and her view of the United States. She spoke of her generation’s defining image of America being the Apollo 11 moon landing. She told of how she thought, back then, that Americans can do anything. As she closed her speech she said, “As I stand in the cradle of democracy I see a nation that has changed the world and known remarkable days. I firmly believe you are the same people who amazed me when I was a small girl by landing on the moon. On that great day I believed Americans could do anything. I believe that still. You can do anything today.”
We had a lot of positive comments this week on my resolution calling on President Obama and his Justice Department to defend the Defense of Marriage Act – or DOMA – which defines traditional marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The legislation was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996 and has served us well. But President Obama now wants to disregard this law. The President is like all Americans in that he has a responsibility to respect the laws of the land. The good citizens of Missouri’s 4th District don’t have the option of picking and choosing which laws they wish to respect – and President Obama must live under the same rules. Speaker John Boehner agrees. He and other members of the Bipartisan Leadership Advisory Group have directed the House General Counsel to initiate a legal defense of the law, ensuring that this law’s constitutionality is decided by the courts, rather than by the President unilaterally.
Next week is expected to be dominated by more talk of the budget and getting our financial house in order. I look forward to updating you then.