Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Congressman Greg Walden's Oregon Congressional Connection

Dear fellow Oregonian,

Hello from Washington, D.C., where I am preparing to return home to Hood River now that the House of Representatives has wrapped up its work for the first session of the 110th Congress.
This week we successfully blocked tens of billions of dollars in tax increases, enacted sound legislation to increase automobile and energy efficiency, and stopped the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) from gouging middle income taxpayers.
Wednesday morning, I joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a handful of other House and Senate leaders to attend President Bushís signing of the energy bill, which takes major steps toward some very important goals for the country. It will increase vehicle fuel efficiency standards by 40 percent by 2020, which is the country's first increase in 32 years. This will go a long way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil from dangerous regimes and save consumers money at the pump.
The bill also calls for improved energy efficiency of appliances such as refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers, and a 70 percent increase in the efficiency of light bulbs. These lighting standards alone could lower our annual electricity bills by $13 billion in 2020.
At the very last minute, Congress finally passed a patch for the looming hike of the AMT, which would have swallowed 23 million middle class families if not addressed by Congress. Without action, tax increases of up to $2,000 and delays in tax returns would have been a most unwelcome Christmas present for millions of American taxpayers.
I remain terribly disappointed that Congress again failed to extend the county payments program. Even in the $517 billion omnibus spending bill, the leadership could not set aside one dollar to support Americaís forested communities. For this reason alone, I voted against the bill when it was first considered by the House.
As if the omission of county payments isnít bad enough, both the public and members of Congress were given less than 24 hours to review the mammoth measure. I consider myself a good reader, but 3,565 pages in under a day is a tall order!
The omnibus bill did, however, finally appropriate money for veteransí health care and benefits. You may recall that a veterans appropriations bill passed the House and Senate months ago, but was bizarrely withheld from being sent to President, denying an additional $18.5 million per day since Oct. 1 that would have helped pay for the needs of our veterans. Now, veterans will get the help they deserve.
I also supported legislation to prevent deep cuts in reimbursement rates from hitting physicians who care for seniors. The current payment system is terribly flawed and Iíve cosponsored legislation to fix it. The last minute action by Congress delayed for only six months a 10 percent cut in physician payments. Congress needs to find a solution to this annual problem.
In addition, I supported an extension of the State Childrensí Health Insurance Program through March of 2009. This fully funds the program and leaves in place requirements that those most in need get covered first. Iím hopeful that next year Congress can address the bigger issue of insuring the tens of millions of Americans who lack health care insurance. There are many good ideas out there that could form the basis for real reform of the system and real coverage for Americans in need.
Meanwhile, after the holidays, Iíll resume my active meeting schedule around our enormous district, adding to my ďto doĒ list at every stop, Iím sure. Until the next newsletter, or until our paths cross again personally, I wish you, your family and loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Best regards,
Greg Walden
Member of Congress
Home Contact


              Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:15 AM  Pacific

             Copyright © klamathbasincrisis.org, 2007, All Rights Reserved