Oregon U.S. Congressman Greg Walden Congressional
The House returned to work last
week and Republicans elected their leadership team for the next
Congress. I’m honored that my colleagues unanimously chose me to
serve as the Chairman of the National Republican Congressional
No member of Congress from
Oregon—of either party—has served in an elected leadership
position in decades. The position helps me have a greater say
when it comes to working for the people of southern, central,
and eastern Oregon. As I always say, I’d rather be on the court
executing plays than sitting on the bench.
This new leadership post puts me at the table taking an
Oregon and Northwest perspective as Congress makes decisions. In
fact, two other of my colleagues from the west—Kevin McCarthy
from Bakersfield, California, and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers from
Spokane, Washington—were also elected to leadership. That means
the west holds three of the top five Republican leadership posts
in the House.
Working together to avert the “fiscal cliff”
Work has resumed on coming up with a bipartisan alternative
to going off the so called “fiscal cliff.”
The combination of tax hikes and arbitrary spending cuts to
important domestic and defense priorities could, according to
the independent Congressional Budget Office, push our economy
back into a recession.
If Congress doesn’t act, taxes will go up an average of $3,205
per tax return in Oregon, according to one study. Another study
found that hundreds of thousands of American jobs—including
8,800 in Oregon—will be lost.
With Oregon’s unemployment rate stubbornly stuck above the
national average, Oregon families can’t afford another
recession, higher unemployment, or higher taxes.
If there’s a mandate coming out of the election, it’s a mandate
to work together. We must come together to find common ground to
stop our government from going over the fiscal cliff and to
begin to solve the federal government’s budget crisis.
Part of the way to do this is by reforming our tax code to close
loopholes, lower rates, and spur economic growth. Our tax code
is way too complex and bloated. Citizens and businesses spend
over six billion hours and over $160 billion per year trying to
navigate it—time and money that should be spent tending to their
families and businesses.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can make it simpler and
create jobs. The tax reform that President Reagan signed in 1986
created thousands of new jobs and paved the way for the economic
growth of the 1990’s. We can do that again.
Will doing this be easy? No. If this work were easy, we would
have done it already. But America has always risen to the
challenge and met it. I know that we can do so again.
Ensuring a level playing field for Oregon farmers and
businesses and increasing exports to create jobs
Last week, I supported a bill to boost American exports to
Russia—a plan that passed the U.S. House overwhelmingly with
bipartisan support. If passed by the Senate and signed into law
by the President, the legislation will allow American farmers,
small businesses, and manufacturers greater access to Russian
markets and the opportunity to compete fairly in the global
marketplace and create jobs here at home in Oregon.
Earlier this year, Russia joined the World Trade Organization
(WTO), an organization of 157 countries that governs global
trade. In order for U.S. exporters to take full advantage of
growing markets and reduced tariffs in Russia, Congress has to
reverse a now obsolete Cold War-era law we have on the books.
This legislation accomplishes that, ensuring that Russia will
not be allowed to impose tariffs on American goods while
products from other WTO countries could enter the Russian
marketplace with greater ease. In order to join the WTO, Russia
had to make favorable trade concessions, including reducing
tariffs on pears and cherries from 10% to 5%.
Passage of this law would allow Oregon farmers and businesses to
increase exports to Russia. Exports from Oregon to Russia
totaled about $105 million in 2011 and directly supported
approximately 250 jobs. If this legislation is passed, those
numbers are expected to grow.
I was pleased to hear support for this bill from Oregon’s
agriculture and business groups. The Oregon Farm Bureau told me
that the bill will provide “significant commercial opportunities
for U.S. agriculture,” especially Oregon beef.
Oregon potato growers told me that over 50% of all potatoes
grown in Oregon are exported to other countries, so easing
access to Russia will help them export more potatoes. And Oregon
fruit growers told me that yearly Pacific Northwest tree fruit
exports to Russia now exceed $20 million, and that this bill
would support Oregon pear and cherry growers.
I support greater trade with other countries to create jobs in
Oregon. But when a country is cheating in the marketplace, they
should be called out on it. This month—after urging from me and
the entire Oregon congressional delegation—the U.S. Department
of Commerce announced they would investigate illegal Chinese
subsidies to plywood manufacturers.
A coalition of U.S. plywood manufacturers—including Columbia
Forest Products in Klamath Falls—brought a complaint that China
was subsidizing its plywood industry in violation of
international trade agreements. Because of the artificially low
price of Chinese plywood, American manufacturers are priced out
of the market and unable to compete.
The Department of Commerce found a “reasonable indication” that
this was occurring, and is now proceeding with an investigation
which could result in penalties for the Chinese plywood imports.
I joined the entire Oregon Congressional Delegation in
applauding the decision by the Department of Commerce.
Making sure the National Guard has what it needs to keep
Earlier this year, I supported a plan in the House to stop the
Pentagon from disposing of certain air assets for the National
Guard until a suitable replacement could be found. This includes
the C-23 “Sherpa,” a cargo plane used extensively by the Oregon
National Guard. The C-23’s are used here at home for wildfire
fighting, and flew more than 47,000 hours in Iraq. The
leadership of the Oregon National Guard told me, “simply put, we
need these aircraft!”
However, the Department of the Army has signaled it plans to go
ahead with retiring the C-23 even without a suitable
replacement. Last week, I joined 43 of my House and Senate
colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including Sen. Ron Wyden
and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, to write to the Secretary of the Army
to ask him to keep the C-23’s operational until a suitable
replacement could be found.
Click here to read the letter.
I’ll continue to work closely with the other members of the
Oregon delegation and the Oregon National Guard to make sure our
men and women in uniform have what they need to complete their
missions at home and abroad.
Cutting through red tape to get seniors and veterans the
benefits they’ve earned
I continue to stand ready to help people having difficulty with
non-responsive federal agencies. Sometimes a push from me can
cut through red tape and get people like veterans or seniors the
benefits they’ve earned.
A resident of Phoenix, Oregon visited my office last week to
report that he was finally able to get nearly $10,000 in
retroactive disability benefits he hadn’t been receiving due to
a Social Security Administration error. After he fought with
Social Security for nearly two years, my office got involved and
this Oregonian was finally able to get results.
A veteran from Ontario contacted me recently to get assistance
over an appeal he’d filed for a denied Veterans Administration
claim. After months of effort by my office, he got word recently
that he would be receiving a retroactive payment of over $20,000
from the VA.
If you or someone you know needs help with cutting through red
tape with federal agencies, please let me know by calling my
office in Oregon toll-free at 800-533-3303. I’ll do whatever I
can to get results for you.
Oregon's Second District
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