Representative Greg Walden District 2
Oregon's Congressional Connection
Another week in Oregon wrapped up with another 300+ miles and
more town halls in our district. And it’s a big week this week
in Washington with all eyes on government spending. My
subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a
hearing today investigating how the government spent (or
misspent) $7 billion in “stimulus” money to pay for broadband
build out (more on that below).
Meanwhile, at home, I have been contacted recently by two World
War II veterans—one in Bend and one in Christmas Valley—who had
lost medals they earned during the war.
Claude Davis, of Bend, spent two years fighting in Europe as an
Army truck driver and qualified as an expert marksman. Claude
drove 2,700 miles in support of combat action during the Battle
of the Bulge, Ardennes, and Normandy, just to name a few. He and
his family told me and my staff that his attempts to get
replacement medals had been a long and frustrating endeavor for
Richard Weir, of Christmas Valley, served in the Navy during the
war. His original World War II Military Service Medals were
destroyed in a fire about a decade ago, and he too has had
trouble with the Department of the Navy in getting replacements.
I got involved in both of their cases with the Army and the
Navy, and I’m proud to tell you that both have received their
medals within the past few days. One of the best parts of my job
is being able to help men and women who served, like Richard
Weir and Claude Davis.
Hundreds turn out for town hall meetings
Malheur and Baker county citizens turned out in large numbers to
give me feedback, ask questions and add to my “to do” list. Much
of the discussion centered on federal deficit spending and the
People in eastern Oregon know that there’s wasteful spending in
Washington that can and should be eliminated. They read about
how the federal government will get a record amount of new tax
revenue next year, and still rack up another near-record
They see where real federal spending has increased $2,437.64 per
household between 2008-12 and know we can’t afford to keep
spending money we don’t have.
And then they hear about the $4 million PER YEAR the IRS spends
for its own TV studio, or the $100 million a year spent by the
EPA on grants to foreign countries, and wonder why we can’t
afford meat inspectors here?!
The President’s sequester amounts to $85 billion for the
remainder of the fiscal year. The Federal government admits in
2011 it made $115 billion in improper payments.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report
documenting billions in agency duplication. The Obama
Administration spent $51.6 million last year promoting ObamaCare
and paying public relations firms, and yet we don’t have funds
to pay air traffic controllers?! Really?
You could save $44 billion just by requiring individuals return
overpayments for exchange subsidies in ObamaCare. Or you could
save $26 billion by simply requiring food stamp recipients prove
Folks, if we can’t make savings at a time when there’s all this
documented waste and the government is over $16 trillion in
debt, when and how will we ever get America back on track?!
Other topics at the town halls included protecting the Second
Amendment rights of law abiding Americans, while working to
enhance local health services to help prevent individuals from
committing the kinds of horrific acts we’ve all see too much of
in recent years.
We also discussed the need to access America’s forest, mining
and energy resources to create good paying jobs, especially in
our rural communities.
By the middle of next month I will have held town halls in all
20 counties in the district since January, and more than 46 in a
little over a year.
For more on my visit to Ontario, please click here to read the
Argus Observer’s take.
What are we getting for $7 billion?
Today, I held an oversight hearing on the how the government has
spent $7 billion in “stimulus” money to expand access to
broadband in unserved and underserved areas. To put that number
in perspective, the private sector has spent $65 billion per
year for the last 10 years.
From what we know now, the government has spent millions on
equipment it did not need and on stringing fiber to areas that
already had fiber. There are undoubtedly some success stories
but, overall, was the program well-conceived and
well-implemented? I won’t tolerate any waste or abuse, and it
appears we’ve uncovered millions that fit that category. At a
time when government is considering cutting meat inspectors and
FAA traffic controllers to address the federal spending problem,
we need to be careful how we use taxpayer dollars.
Four years after this $7 billion was allocated, approximately
$611 million of the funding covering 42 projects has been
revoked, relinquished, or suspended. Advocates of the law said
it needed to be rushed through Congress to infuse money into the
troubled economy and that the funding would go to shovel-ready
Yet only 60 percent of the broadband funds have been put to use
so far even though all $7 billion was awarded by September 30,
2010. And of the 553 projects funded, only 58 are finished or in
the finishing stages, even though all were originally supposed
to be completed by September 30, 2013.
Please click here to learn more about this oversight hearing.
Lots of Oregonians visit DC this week
Late winter and early spring are always very busy times for
meetings in Washington, D.C. as many organizations hold
conferences in the nation’s capital. Just yesterday, I had
meetings with Dan Arp, the OSU Dean of Agricultural Sciences,
and Scott Reed, OSU Extension Director; Jackson County Clerk
Chris Walker; Nyssa resident Kay Riley from the National Onion
Growers; and Nils Christoffersen of the Wallowa Resources and
Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition, just to name a few.
I also met with Bob Huff from Eagle Point, Charles Schmidt from
Hines, and Richard Clark from Malin (below), who are in town for
The American Legion’s annual conference. We discussed issues
important to our heroes including access to health care for our
rural veterans and allowing military training to count toward
state licensing and certifications as vets return to civilian
Oregon county commissioners are in town this week as well, and
I’ll be meeting with commissioners from Crook, Deschutes,
Harney, Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, and
Wallowa Counties. I’ll learn more about their priorities back
home this year, and talk about our efforts to solve problems and
create jobs in all twenty counties in Oregon’s Second
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Oregon's Second District
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