Thursday, August 31, 2006

Berry Asks USDA for Additional Assistance for Rice Producers

Today I sent a letter to the President and Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking the agency to reconsider its recent drought assistance package and include additional assistance for rice farmers. The drought assistance package, which USDA announced on August 29th, will benefit livestock, upland cotton, and grain sorghum producers while neglecting rice producers.

USDA should not provide relief for some farmers and exclude others. All of our farmers in the MidSouth region suffered considerably during the drought of 2005 regardless of what type of crop they grow. These families deserve fair and equal treatment from the U.S. government.

Click Here for the Full Press Release.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Working to Lower TRICARE Drug Costs

Today my colleague Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and I joined over forty other House Democrats on a letter to House and Senate conferees for the Fiscal Year 2007 National Defense Authorization Bill. We are urging them to adopt a Senate provision requiring pharmaceutical companies to give TRICARE beneficiaries discounts on retail prescription drugs. This provision would not only generate tremendous savings, but ensure that the Department of Defense (DoD) does not have to raise co-payments for active duty and retired military personnel.

While I recognize the need to contain prescription drug costs, I will not sit quiet while our leadership lets drug companies off the hook and shifts the burden to our active duty and retired military personnel. We know how to provide low-cost prescription drugs for military beneficiaries. We just need to hold the drug companies accountable for a discount they should already provide.

Click here for the full press release.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was the most destructive and costly natural disaster in United States history. The storm took thousands of lives, devastated entire communities, and left the American people with little confidence that the U.S. government can protect its citizens from harm.

Although the government’s response was slow and completely inappropriate, the American people came together in an unprecedented display of unity. Communities and business all across the country donated supplies, citizens flocked to the Gulf Coast region to help with recovery, and people opened their own churches, community centers, and homes to take in evacuees that were left with nothing. Arkansas alone opened its doors to 15,000 evacuees, of which 4,000 still remain to this day.

As we reflect on the one year anniversary of hurricane Katrina, it is clear there is much work to be done.

  • Thousands of families are still waiting for FEMA trailers.
  • An estimated 11 percent of the $19 billion that FEMA spent –or $2 billion – has been waste, fraud and abuse.
  • 80 percent of Gulf Coast businesses with approved SBA disaster loans are still waiting to get their loans.
  • The Republican Congress didn’t enact needed housing money for homeowners in Louisiana until June, 10 months after Katrina – and the money has still failed to reach these homeowners.
  • Only three of the 10 acute-care hospitals in New Orleans have re-opened; the only public hospital, Charity, has still not re-opened.
  • Only 56 of the 128 public schools in New Orleans are enrolling students this fall.

The citizens of the Gulf Coast region deserve a change from the failed promises of last year. They deserve a government that will do everything in its power to ensure a quick recovery. Let this anniversary strengthen our commitment to real security and inspire our community and elected leaders to work together for the common good until the Gulf Coast comes alive again and confidence is restored in the power of the U.S. government.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Berry Calls for Investigation Into Ban on U.S. Long Grain Rice

I sent a letter to the United States Trade Representative and the President today requesting an immediate investigation into trade barriers imposed on U.S. long grain rice by Japan, South Korea, and potentially the European Commission. These barriers are an overreaction to several traces of genetically engineered rice that will cost Arkansas rice producers billions of dollars in foregone exports.

We must demand immediate sanctions if these countries do not lift their phony barriers on U.S. long grain rice. Arkansas is the largest producer of rice in the country, accounting for more than 45% of all domestic production. We simply cannot afford to sit quiet while the international community threatens the economic security of our rice producers.

Click here to read the full press release.

Arkansas News Bureau Releases Poll on Iraq

The Arkansas News Bureau released a new poll this week showing that the majority of Arkansans favor withdrawing troops from Iraq either immediately or within a defined timetable.

Results are provided below and based on a survey of 500 registered Arkansas voters:
  • 18% of Arkansans favor immediate withdrawal
  • 35% of Arkansans favor withdrawal according to an announced timetable
  • 35% of Arkansans said U.S. withdrawal should take as long as needed to turn control over to the Iraqis

Monday, August 14, 2006

71st Anniversary of Social Security

Today marks the 71st anniversary of the day President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed our Social Security system into law. Despite generations of success, President Bush and Republicans in Congress are renewing their push to privatize the program.

Top Bush Administration officials and Republicans have said several times that they plan to return to Social Security after the November elections

"The Bush administration has begun sounding out lawmakers and other key figures about mounting a new bipartisan effort to rein in the costs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security after the midterm elections, according to officials in the administration and on Capitol Hill. No specific plan has been advanced, and administration officials are proceeding gingerly given the political debacle that beset the White House last year when President Bush promoted a plan to create private accounts in the Social Security program. But they have been sending strong signals in recent weeks that they want to try something again after the elections in November."

- The Washington Post, August 11, 2006

I can assure you I remain committed to stopping Social Security privatization and fighting for a New Direction with retirement security and dignity for all Americans.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

First New Direction Town Hall A Success

My first New Direction town hall meeting in Paragould was a great success. Many people turned out to share their thoughts on how we can improve this country and begin to solve some of our many challenges such as border security, the War in Iraq, the rising cost of healthcare, and the skyrocketing price of gasoline.

I encourage you to read this great article below written by one of the reporters who attended the town hall:

Paragould, AR--Brett Garrett Reports
Berry Unveils "New Direction for America"
August 2, 2006

PARAGOULD, AR--It's a plan designed to bring economic prosperity and security to middle class families. Arkansas Congressman Marion Berry unveiled his "New Direction for America" at a town hall meeting Wednesday in Paragould.

The majority of Americans don't agree with the path our country is heading down. The war in Iraq and border security were tackled in the Congressman's new plan. Those problems, plus ever increasing gas prices are issues that hit home with Arkansas residents at the town hall meeting.

"The possibility of us doing something with the fuels, that is something we need to do it before 20 years, while there is still time," said resident Sherry Tobar.

According to Congressman Berry, the implementation of bio-fuels like ethanol and bio-diesel are the key to this problem that starts at the pump but hits our wallets.

"We know how to fix this, turn it into jobs, turn it into prosperity for our farmers, turn it in jobs for people, turn it into a fuel supply that is clean air oriented," said U.S. Representative Marion Berry.

Homeland security is another one of the key issues residents felt needs to be addressed. "Our security is one of the most important things that came across today. Our southern border is probably more dangerous right now than any other country around the world," said Paragould resident Wilson Wheeler.

In Berry's plan for a "New Direction for America" policing our borders is a high priority. "Over and over again, we offer amendments that will increase the number of border patrol, build a fence on our southern border, and put technology down there that will provide surveillance for all that area," said Congressman Berry.

The most talked about issue was the global problem that is being discussed all across the country.

"The war...that hits deep with me and unlike some people I don't think we should be there," said Tobar.

After losing more than 2,400 soldiers and spending over $300 billion dollars, Berry agreed something must be done. "The first thing I think we have to do is bring the world community together. We can't solve that problem by saying we are the big man on the block and if you don't go along with us you are wrong. That didn't work," said Berry.

Also highlighted in Berry's "New Direction for America" were reforms for Social Security and healthcare. In addition, Berry wants outlaw the congressional pay raise until the nation's minimum wage is raised.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Berry to Hold First New Direction Town Hall Tomorrow

I will be in Paragould tomorrow for my first town hall meeting to unveil the New Direction for America plan. This plan will benefit the common good, restoring prosperity and security to towns all across America. Details on the plan are listed below as well as a schedule for my upcoming town halls in Baxter, Monroe, and Mississippi Counties.

REAL SECURITY – We must have and can have a new national security strategy that seeks greater international cooperation in the War on Terror and prioritizes border security here at home. After being in Iraq for more 3 years, losing over 2,400 soldiers, and spending over $330,000,000,000, it is time to develop a new plan to complete the mission in Iraq. We also need to secure our borders and stop the more than 500,000 illegal immigrants who enter our country each year.

AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE – Lower the cost of health insurance for American families and fix the Medicare prescription drug program by passing a new benefit with price negotiation. This would save as much as $40 billion a year and significantly reduce the price of prescription drugs for America’s seniors.

ENERGY INDEPENDENCE – Free America from dependence on foreign oil and create a cleaner environment with initiatives for energy-efficient technologies and domestic alternatives such as biofuels. Enact tough laws to stop price gouging.

COLLEGE ACCESS FOR ALL – Expand tuition tax credits, expand Pell Grants, cut interest on student loan rates in half. This could save the typical college student in Arkansas $5,560 over the lifetime of their loan.

EMPLOYMENT SECURITY – Prohibit the Congressional pay raise until the nation’s minimum wage is raised. End tax giveaways that reward companies for moving American jobs overseas.

RETIREMENT SECURITY – Stop plans to privatize Social Security. Enact real pension reform to protect employees’ financial security from CEO corruption and mismanagement and expand personal savings incentives.


Greene County
10:00am – 11:00am
Wednesday, August 2nd
Community Center
3404 Linwood Drive, Room B
Paragould, AR

Baxter County
11:00am – 12:00am
Monday, August 7th
Baxter County Library
424 W. 7th Street
Mountain Home, AR

Monroe County
2:00pm – 3:00pm
Tuesday, August 15th
Brinkley Convention Center
1501 Weatherby DrBrinkley, AR

Mississippi County
10:00am – 11:00pm
Monday, August 21st
Location to be determined
Call my office at 1-800-866-2701 for details