On the House floor, I urged my colleagues to support the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act. This bill is an important step to restore the kind of fiscal discipline abandoned in 2002. If we have any hope to invest in the vital priorities that are critical to our economic future, including health care, education, and clean energy policies, we must make these tough choices and begin bringing down our crippling deficit. A vote for fiscal security is a vote for national security, and the quickest way back to American economic prosperity. To see a video of my floor statement, please click here.
It is tragic that health care costs are the number one source of both credit card debt and personal bankruptcy, while many lose coverage at the time they need it most. Instead of pouring more money into a failed system, I believe that offering more people the choice of a public plan like Medicare will spur real competition among private insurances. The health care bill is about greater individual choice, more competition, and limiting spiraling health care costs. Every American will have the choice to receive coverage from his or her employer or seek coverage through the Health Insurance Exchange. Within the Exchange, a person may decide to enroll in a private plan or a public option. With health reform, people will have more affordable options from which to choose.
To listen to part of my discussion in the Ways and Means Committee markup on the importance of a public option to increase competition and bring down health care costs, please click here.
I struggled deeply about whether to support the American Clean Energy and Security Act, but I finally determined that voting for it was my best hope for making it better. Earlier today I voiced my strong objections to this bill. I voted against the rule to permit this debate because of its rejection of some amendments that I thought would have improved this legislation. I’m voting yes in the hope that we will have a better bill and we will have the international accord that we so desperately need to deal with this critical matter.
To view a video of the floor statement, please click here.
Today on the floor of the United States House of Representatives, I told my colleagues that until the Climate Change Bill is greatly improved, until families share in the billions this bill grants powerful lobbies, I cannot support it. To listen to my full statement, please click here.
Addressing our nation’s education, health care, and law enforcement needs is vitally important to our economy, to keeping America competitive in the 21st Century, and to keeping our citizens safe. Congress and the Administration should work together to ensure a more fiscally responsible pay-as-you-go government. To hear my discussion about prioritizing expenses and fiscal responsibility with Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orzag, click here.
While some think our health care system that leaves so many without coverage is acceptable, the experience of our neighbors and the research strongly rebut this conclusion. Too many go uninsured or underinsured, too many, after years of paying premiums, find themselves with inadequate coverage once they become ill, and too many are rejected from coverage because of pre-existing conditions. I explored some of these issues during a Ways and Means Committee hearing concerning the draft healthcare legislation. Click here for a video clip of my questions.
The rising cost of health care for America’s small businesses and the fact that an estimated two million of our Nation’s seniors are still unable to afford their prescription drug costs are among my top concerns when it comes to reforming the United States’ health care system. To listen to my questioning regarding these issues, please click here.
On June 8, the House passed my Wounded Veteran Job Security Act to ensure no wounded veteran ever has to make the decision between getting well and getting paid. The bill amends existing law to establish the right of veterans who receive treatment for illness, injuries, and disabilities incurred in, or aggravated by, uniformed service to the United States to be retained by their employers. This bill is important to our commitment to our nation’s veterans because battlefield injuries often don’t end on the battlefield, and neither should our commitment to wounded warriors. The legislation is supported by many organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Fleet Reserve Association, and Disabled American Veterans. Click here for video of my remarks on the House Floor about the Wounded Veteran Job Security Act.
As a member of the Budget Committee, I questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke on its emergency lending powers and expressed my concerns that the Fed is lending large amounts of public money, mostly through this power, with little transparency or accountability.
I understand that while independence and secrecy may be important to the Fed’s normal operations, this use of expansive emergency powers relying on a vague statutory provision – not used in about seven decades – is not normal. To many observers, the Fed has sprung into action through the back door as a way to avoid another request to Congress for public funds through the front door. I will continue to press the Federal Reserve for safeguards for the taxpayer, and I will continue to insist on shining the bright light of transparency on this process. Click here for a video clip of my questions for Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke.
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has approved the Wounded Veteran Job Security Act. This bill changes existing employment law to ensure that veterans are able to keep their jobs when they seek medical treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Congressman Doggett introduced the bill in response to concerns from veterans in his district that were in danger of losing their jobs because treatment for wounds suffered on active duty have exceeded the maximum number of absences allowed to all employees by the employer.
President Obama recently recognized the leadership of Rep. Lloyd Doggett for his work to close tax loopholes and end the use of tax havens. To view a video of the President’s remarks click here.
In response to the President’s remarks, Rep. Doggett said “Tax haven abuse ships both American jobs and tax dollars overseas. With White House leadership, we can finally win approval of our legislation to shut down offshore tax cheats. Restoring tax fairness means working Americans and small businesses won’t have to cover for well-heeled tax dodgers. I am pleased that President Obama is making this a priority.”
Rep. Doggett has introduced HR 1265, the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, to curb efforts to evade taxes by hiding money in offshore tax havens. HR 1265 was previously endorsed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee. Click here to view a video of Rep. Doggett’s exchange with Secretary Geithner.
As a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I questioned U.S Treasury officials and tax law experts about banking secrecy practices that allow the very wealthy to conceal more than $1.5 trillion in offshore tax havens.
These tax havens cost ordinary taxpayers up to $50 billion a year in lost revenue, roughly half of the total estimated tax gap caused by corporate and individual overseas tax evasion. It strikes at the fundamental fairness of the tax code for the very wealthy to dodge taxes being paid by every firefighter, police officer, and small business owner in Central Texas.
You can watch my discussion of these issues online by clicking here.
As part of President Obama’s economic recovery legislation, I authored provisions which provide a $14 billion tax cut designed to help those seeking higher education with a tax credit for tuition and instructional materials. 346,000 Texas families, mostly the working poor, who previously received no tuition tax credit will now qualify.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R.1) creates the American Opportunity Tax Credit with a maximum of $2,500 rather than the current maximum of $1,800 — thereby making college more affordable for millions of low- and moderate-income students. This tax credit is refundable up to $1000, expanding tax relief to nearly 4 million low-income students who had not had any access to higher education tax credits in the past. And for the first time, textbook expenses can be deducted from a student’s tax bill.
Click here for my address to Congress about these tuition tax credits.
As a service to constituents, I have assembled this Guide to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. You can view the guide by clicking here
This guide is a beginning point to assist individuals, businesses, community organizations, and local governments in finding resources made available to them by the economic recovery bill. Please keep in mind that while Congress appropriated funding, there are no earmarks in the bill, so individual lawmakers do not have the ability to set aside money for specific projects. Decisions regarding approval of funding and disbursements are up to the State of Texas or federal agencies.
I will continue to work with the state and federal agencies to ensure funding for projects that are tested, vetted, and worthy.
City of San Marcos Airport City of San Marcos 630 E. Hopkins San Marcos, TX 78666 Amount Requested: $3 million The addition of a new terminal continues previously approved federal funding for the San Marcos Airport, improving service to the flying public and helping to boost the local and regional economy.
Bastrop Police Department Technology and Equipment City of Bastrop 904 Main, P.O. Box 427 Bastrop, TX 78602 Amount Requested: $40,000 These funds will enable the Bastrop Police Department to better ensure security for the community upgrading its law enforcement equipment technology. The funds may be used for upgrading computers, communication technology, officer-protection equipment, and other technology to better save lives and improve the efficiency of law enforcement operations.
Hays County Sheriff Department Equipment and Technology Upgrades Hays County Sheriff Department 1307 Uhland Road San Marcos, TX 78666 Amount Requested: $40,000 These funds will enable the Hays County Sheriff Department to better ensure security for the community by upgrading department patrol, communication, and information-sharing technology. These improvements will help increase the protection of Hays County officers and residents while improving the efficiency of law enforcement operations.
Lockhart Police Department Technology City of Lockhart P.O. Box 239 Lockhart, TX 78644 Amount Requested: $124,000 These funds will enable the Lockhart Police Department to better assure security for the community by providing new technological capabilities for police mobile patrol units and other local law enforcement efforts. The Police Department will be able to improve protection, communication, training, and reporting technology.
Gonzales Sheriff’s Office Technology and Equipment Gonzales County Sheriff’s Office 1713 East Sarah Dewitt Drive Gonzales, TX 78629 Amount Requested: $80,000 These funds will enable the Gonzales Sheriff’s Office to better ensure security for the community by upgrading its law enforcement equipment technology. The funds may be used for improving patrol and communication technology to better save lives and improve the efficiency of law enforcement operations.
Texas State ALERRT (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training) Texas State University 601 University Drive San Marcos, TX 7866 Amount Requested: $2 million ALERRT offers a well respected, proven program to train our National Guard troops by improving their response in active shooter situations, increasing their survivability as they play a vital role in ensuring our national security. Continued federal funding allows the National Guard to maintain this critical training.
Center for Entrepreneurial Action Texas State University System 601 University Drive San Marcos, TX 78666 Amount Requested: $300,000 This funding advances economic development by helping start-up companies and small businesses with assistance and training for regional entrepreneurs and inventors.
Center for Hetero-Functional Materials Texas State University 601 University Drive San Marcos, TX 78666 Amount Requested: $2 million As conventional “semiconductor” manufacturing technology matures, new materials to create “single-chip-devices” are needed for a wide range of applications to ensure our national security. The Center will combine federal funds with state funds to acquire additional research scientists, equipment, infrastructure improvements, technicians, and technical staff in the physics, chemistry, engineering and biology departments. In addition to defense uses, the Center’s research offers potential health, energy, and environmental benefits.
Texas State Grosvenor Center Center for Geographic Education Watershed Project Texas State University 601 University Drive San Marcos, TX 78666 Amount Requested: $400,000 An adequate water supply is important for many reasons, including maintenance of ecosystem health and economic development. Funding will help resolve problems related to the many watersheds throughout Texas that the Environmental Protection Agency has identified as impaired, threatened or at-risk.
Huston-Tillotson University Math and Science Center Huston-Tillotson University 900 Chicon Street Austin, TX 78702 Amount Requested: $350,000 These funds will help develop the Math and Science Center at Huston-Tillotson University, a historically black institution. The program helps reverse the decline in scientists and mathematicians by focusing on matriculating undergraduates in these disciplines and supporting after school education programs for middle and high school students to help them pursue college training in these fields.
AVANCE Parent Child Education Program AVANCE, Inc. – Austin Chapter 2800 S. I-H 35, Suite 160 Austin, TX 78704 Amount Requested: $350,000 AVANCE is a well established community nonprofit organization that seeks to prepare children for success in school by helping their parents to be their first and most important teachers. These funds will support training classes in Bastrop, Hays, and Travis Counties that focus on assisting parents to understand and meet the cognitive, emotional, and social needs of their children.
Schulenburg and Weimar in Focus Together (SWIFT) SWIFT 411 Summitt Street Schulenburg, TX 78956 Amount Requested: $200,000 Funding will enhance the mentoring, tutoring, and health and parenting education training by SWIFT that serves at-risk youth and their families in our community.
Onion Creek Flood Control and Ecosystem Restoration Lower Colorado River Authority P.O. Box 220 Austin, TX 78767 Amount Requested: $3 million This area continues to experience frequent flooding and this project will help prevent future costly repairs and clean-ups. These funds would allow for the construction phase of this ongoing project to finally begin, including the leveling of land and demolition and relocation of structures within the floodplain.
Bastrop Old Town Visitor Center 1016 Main Street Bastrop, TX 78602 Amount Requested: $200,000 This funding will contribute to economic development in Bastrop by expanding services for a growing number of visitors to this historic community with the renovation and expansion of facilities on Main Street including the Old Town Visitor Center.
Hays-Travis Trail Conservation Hill Country Conservancy P.O. Box 163125 Austin, TX 78716 Amount Requested: $750,000 This project will create five miles of cycling and pedestrian trails in public lands in Hays and Travis Counties. Existing trails are often filled to capacity by neighbors seeking exercise and an opportunity to share the beauty of the Texas Hill Country. Additionally, this project will attract tourism and encourage opportunities for area small businesses.
Capital Area Trail System — $5,856,800 Design, plan, and construct a trail system in Travis and Hays Counties.
City of Lockhart State Highway 142 Improvement Project — $800,000 Design, plan, and construct drainage and other improvements on State Highway 142 in Lockhart.
South East Travis County Onion Creek Trail Project — $2,000,000 Design, plan, and construct trails along and near Onion Creek.
San Marcos Northern Corridor Project — $2,000,000 Complete a trail near Texas State University.
San Marcos Loop 82 Rail Road Overpass Project — $7,000,000 Construct railroad grade separation on Loop 82 at the Union Pacific Railroad crossing in San Marcos.
Bastrop Trail Expansion Project — $1,000,000 Design, plan, and construct a trail system along the Colorado River in the City of Bastrop.
Downtown San Marcos Streetscape Improvement Project — $2,000,000 Renovate, design, plan, and construct pedestrian and drainage improvements in the San Marcos business district.
Ladybird Lake Trail Improvement Project — $15,000,000 Design, plan, and construct improvements to and expansion of the Lady Bird Lake trail in Austin. This project will help to complete and improve the trail around Lady Bird Lake and expand it along the Waller Creek tributary to the Lake.
Surfacing of Caldwell County Roads — $840,000 Surface County Roads 159 and 179 in Caldwell County.
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