This Week in Congress
By Congressman Jerry Moran
December 20, 2010
Welcome to “This Week in Congress.” On behalf of the Moran family, I’d like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and all the best during this holiday season. Click here to watch my holiday greeting video message.
Introducing Bill to Level Playing Field in Tanker Competition
I worked this week to promote fairness in the competition for the next generation refueling tanker. I joined several other Members of Congress in introducing the Defense Level Playing Field Act to require the Department of Defense to take into consideration the impact of illegal foreign subsidies in the tanker competition, which have unfairly disadvantaged Boeing.
Earlier this year, a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel found European governments guilty of providing illegal subsidies for development of the Airbus A330 airframe that serves as the basis for EADS’ proposal in the KC-X tanker competition. The Pentagon must not ignore the facts, that billions in illegal subsidies have put Kansas workers at a disadvantage in this competition. Especially in this economy, the Pentagon should not be working against millions of Americans who are looking for work.
The Defense Level Playing Field Act is identical to an amendment agreed upon in May by a vote of 410-8 in the U.S. House of Representatives during consideration of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act. A House and Senate agreement reached this week on the Defense Authorization Act left out the level playing field provision. If Congress does not act on this important issue before adjourning this year, I will take this fight for American jobs to the Senate next year and reintroduce this legislation as one of my first acts as a U.S. Senator.
“Politics as Usual” in Washington
The U.S. House of Representatives approved an $858 billion dollar tax and spending package this week that contains more spending, more debt and still an uncertain tax structure. This amounts to business as usual in Washington D.C., where tough decisions are put off for another day. Our country’s national debt, caused by decades of overspending and expansion of the federal government, is the greatest threat to our nation’s economy and our citizens’ well-being. Additional spending advocated by President Obama, not offset by reductions elsewhere in the budget, is a failure on Congress’ part. Difficult decisions are required, and this bill provided an easy compromise that asked for little sacrifice from anyone.
Additionally, in order to decide whether to expand and add jobs, businesses need certainty in the tax code. But this bill only included a temporary extension that failed to provide the necessary confidence for job creation.
Virginia Court: New Health Care Law Unconstitutional
On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge in Virginia struck down a major component of President Obama’s health care law. Judge Henry E. Hudson ruled that the requirement that all Americans have health insurance coverage “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.” This ruling came in a case filed by the Commonwealth of Virginia against the federal government.
Earlier this year, I signed onto an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit brought forward by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Additionally, this week I requested that Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice push to expedite the appeals process for this lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court. Given the scope and importance of these legal challenges to individuals, families, businesses, states, and the future of our country, there is too much at stake to allow final resolution of these matters to be unnecessarily delayed.
Forcing individuals to carry a certain level of health insurance as defined by the federal government is an unprecedented form of federal action. Never before has the government required individuals to buy a good or service as a condition of simply living in the United States. I now expect this ruling to make its way to the Supreme Court where this important constitutional issue will be determined with more certainty.
House Agriculture Subcommittee Reviews Rulemaking Process for Position Limits
The House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, on which I serve as Ranking Republican Member, held a hearing on Wednesday to review implementation of the position limits provision within the Dodd-Frank Act. Position limits restrict the amount of futures or futures equivalent contracts a person is allowed to hold or control in a given commodity future market. It was useful to hear more about how the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is implementing the Dodd-Frank Act. The hearing allowed CFTC to learn that concern exists about whether sufficient information is available to allow the Commission to proceed with setting position limits.
New Sunflower Power Plant
This week, the construction permit for Sunflower Electric Power Corporation’s 895-megawatt Holcomb expansion project was approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. This is great news for our state’s economy and the more than 400,000 Kansans who will rely on this new energy source. Not only will this plant deliver a consistent source of base power, it will also create hundreds of jobs across our state. Furthermore, the construction of the plant should provide greater opportunities to develop renewable energy in Kansas, such as wind power. This project took several years to be approved, but will be of vital importance to our state for many years to come.
It is estimated the $2.2 billion project will take approximately 52 months to build, pay $250 million in labor income and generate $400 million in total income. During each year of operation, the unit is estimated to generate more than 260 jobs statewide, paying $17 million in labor income and almost $200 million in total income.
Attending WSU and KU Basketball Games
This week, I traveled to Wichita State University and the University of Kansas to visit with students and cheer on their basketball teams. On Monday, Robba joined me in Wichita, and we enjoyed watching the Shockers take on Alabama A&M with President Don Beggs and his wife Shirley. The team is off to a strong start this season, and we enjoyed watching their victory at Charles Koch Arena. Thanks to President Beggs and his wife Shirley for their hospitality during our visit and thanks to Andy Schlapp for making the arrangements.
On Saturday, I was in Lawrence and watched the 3rd ranked Jayhawks take on the University of Southern California. The Jayhawks won their 65th straight game at Allen Fieldhouse and remain undefeated this season. It was an exciting day for Jayhawks fans, as Josh Selby made his first appearance in a Kansas uniform. During the game, I had a chance to visit with Governor Parkinson, Chancellor Gray-Little, Executive Vice Chancellor Atkinson, and lots of KU fans from across the state. When we weren’t talking about the debut of Josh Selby, we had several conversations about the lame duck session of Congress.
Visiting Spring Hill Rotary Club
Before boarding the plane to return to Washington, D.C., I traveled to Spring Hill to visit with business and community leaders at their local Rotary Club meeting. As a fellow Rotarian, I enjoy meeting with fellow Rotarians to learn more about their efforts to improve their local communities. I believe civic clubs such as Rotary are important components of our communities and I appreciated the opportunity to hear about the good work being done in the Spring Hill community. Thanks to President Johnny Ford and Scott Hannon of the Spring Hill Rotary Club for their hospitality.
Annual Listening Tour Continues
I’ll continue to host town hall meetings in the Big First district over the next two weeks. Listed below are my upcoming stops. If you are in the area, I hope you will stop by.
Tuesday, December 21
Mitchell County, Hunter
Time: 2-3 PM
Location: Community Building
Address: 109 East First Street
Wednesday, December 22
Graham County, Bogue
Time: 9-10 AM
Location: Farmers & Merchants Bank
Address: 401 Main Street
Wednesday, December 22
Rooks County, Stockton
Time: 10:30-11:30 AM
Location: Rooks County Courthouse in the Economic Development Room, First Floor
Address: 115 N. Walnut Street
Tuesday, December 28
Gove County, Quinter
Time: 10:15-11:15 AM
Location: First National Bank
Address: 400 Main Street
Tuesday, December 28
Sheridan County, Hoxie
Location: Trish’s Steak House
Address: 744 Main Street
Wednesday, December 29
Gray County, Montezuma
Time: 10:15 – 11:15 AM
Location: Community Center
Address: 307 N. Aztec Street
Wednesday, December 29
Haskell County, Sublette
Location: American Legion
Address: 206 S. Inman Street
Thursday, December 30
Comanche County, Coldwater
Location: Comanche County Courthouse in the basement meeting room
Address: 201 South New York
Thursday, December 30
Clark County, Ashland
Location: Ranch House Restaurant
Address: KS Highway 160
Friday, December 31
Trego County, WaKeeney
Location: Trego-WaKeeney State Bank
Address: 134 Main Street
In the Office
Jim French of Partridge was in with Oxfam America this week to discuss food aid and agricultural policy issues. Terry Holdren from Topeka stopped by on behalf of Kansas Farm Bureau to give me my “Friend of Farm Bureau” award.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,