Thursday, January 18, 2007

Berry Receives Appointment to House Budget Committee

Today the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appointed me to serve on the House Budget Committee for the 110th Congress. Although I serve on the exclusive House Appropriations Committee, the Speaker traditionally chooses three appropriators to sit on the House Budget Committee and help with the entire budget process.

This is an unexpected and great honor to serve on both the Appropriations and Budget Committees. I am deeply concerned about the fiscal state of this country and am fully committed to helping this Congress get its finances in order. We need to work hard to pass responsible budgets that do not jeopardize the economic security of this country.

This appointment will give me the chance to play a key role in managing the annual federal budget. The committee’s work begins in early February when the President submits his budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year 2008. The committee will then hold a series of hearings to produce an annual budget resolution to guide federal spending for the coming year.

As a member of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, I am a longstanding critic of deficit spending and continue to advocate for a balanced budget. This appointment will help me promote pay-as-you-go budget rules that prevent Congress from indulging in reckless spending.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Important Farm Bill Town Hall Meeting

As you know, Congress has begun to craft the 2007 Farm Bill. I would like for Congress to get as much input as possible from farmers in Arkansas before the bill is drafted. On January 25th, my colleague Mike Ross (AR-04) and I are co-hosting a Town Hall with the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. This event is the perfect opportunity for Arkansas farmers to share their needs and concerns.

Farm Bill Meeting

Hosts: Rep. Marion Berry & Rep. Mike Ross
Special Guest: Rep. Collin Peterson, Chairman, House Agriculture Committee

Pine Bluff Convention Center, Banquet Hall 1
500 E. 8th Avenue
Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I encourage Arkansas farmers to join me at this event. The best way to get a successful Farm Bill is to start working from the ground-up rather than waiting for others to tell us what is best for our community.

I hope to see a lot of familiar faces at the Farm Bill Meeting on Thursday, January 25th! Bring your friends!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

President's Speech on Iraq Misses the Point

Last night President Bush proposed to increase troop levels in Iraq by 21,500. Here are my thoughts on his proposal:

After listening to President Bush’s latest proposal to escalate troop levels in Iraq, I am even more concerned with his failure to recognize the severity of this conflict. Recent short-term troop escalation proposals in Iraq have not stopped the violence from getting worse, and President Bush has said nothing to convince me his latest strategy will result in success.

Our leaders need to think long-term and make a strong commitment to diplomacy with all of the other countries in the region. As the Iraq Study Group concluded, this is an international conflict that cannot be solved by U.S. military strategies alone.

President Bush’s proposal will create additional strain on our military readiness as well as our military personnel and their families. There is already a shortage of military equipment that jeopardizes the safety of our men and women in uniform. We cannot send more troops overseas without providing the equipment and support they need to safely and effectively accomplish their mission.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The President is Alone in Calling for an Escalation of Troops in Iraq

The President is expected to address the nation tonight announcing his plan to escalate the war. This plan is opposed by top military leaders and the majority of the American people.

Read on to see what our military experts have to say about a surge in troops:

General Colin Powell: Surge Will Not Work. Powell said, “I am not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad for purposes of suppressing this communitarian violence, this civil war, will work.” [Face the Nation, CBS, 12/17/06]

General George Casey: Skeptical of Troop Escalation Plan. Casey: “It’s always been my view that a heavy and sustained American military presence was not going to solve the problems in Iraq over the long term.” [New York Times, 1/2/07]

General John Abizaid Thinks More Troops Will Only Keep the Iraqis from Taking Responsibility for Their Own Future. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Abizaid said, “Senator McCain, I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the corps commander, General Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American Troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is because we want the Iraqis to do more. It is easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.” [Senate Armed Services Committee Testimony, 11/15/06]

Joint Chiefs: “Unanimous Disagreement” to a Surge. A Washington Post article, using anonymous White House sources, reports that “White House officials [are] aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” [Washington Post, 12/19/06]

General James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps: “We do not believe that just adding numbers for the sake of adding numbers—just thickening the mix—is necessarily the way to go.” [Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN 12/18/06]

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley K. Clark: More Troops Will Not Deliver a Win. Clark wrote, “Will [a surge] deliver a ‘win?’ Probably not. But it does distract us from facing the deep-seated regional issues that must be resolved.” [Washington Post, 1/8/07]

Donald Rumsfeld: More Troops “Less Attractive.” In a memo to the White House, Rumsfeld listed “Increase Brigade Combat Teams and US forces in Iraq substantially” under the category “Below the Line (less attractive options).” [New York Times, 12/3/06]

Major General Don Shepperd, USAF (Ret.): I Would Not Even Consider Increasing Troop Strength in Iraq. Shepperd, who works as a CNN military analyst, offered his analysis of what should be done next after he was briefed by members of the Iraq Study Group. He wrote, “I would not even consider increasing troop strength in Iraq.” [, 12/11/06]

Robert Gates: Skeptical of More Troops. “According to two administration officials who asked not to be named, Robert Gates expressed his skepticism about a troop surge in Iraq on his first day on the job, December 18, at a Pentagon meeting with civilians who oversee the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines.” [New York Sun, 12/27/06]

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Berry to Keynote Annual Coon Supper

I will be the keynote speaker at Friday night’s annual Gillett Coon Supper. Members of the press are encouraged to attend this event. Newly sworn-in Governor Mike Beebe will be in attendance.

WHAT: Gillett Coon Supper

WHERE: Gillett High School, 507 Champion Avenue, Gillett, Arkansas

WHEN: Friday January 12, 2007
7:30 PM, CST

The Annual Gillett Coon Supper is hosted by the Gillett Farmer's and Businessmen's Club in Gillett. The legendary and much celebrated event has spanned over fifty years and is one of the cornerstones of a proud community. The Gillett Farmers and Businessmen's Club, established in 1947, is responsible for the event. The nonprofit club uses proceeds from the Coon Supper to assist in Gillett community services and Gillett High School sports and academic programs.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Berry Picked By Democratic Leadership to Serve on Senior Whip Team

Today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) appointed me to the Senior Whip team for the 110th Congress. This appointment comes just weeks after Democratic leaders asked me to serve as Vice-Chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

I am pleased the Democratic leadership chose an Arkansas moderate to play such a key role in shaping policy. The Democratic Caucus will accomplish a lot over the next few years, and I am excited to be right in the middle of these important decisions.

As a Senior Whip, I will have the opportunity to meet with other senior members and opinion leaders to discuss long-range policy goals and issues facing Congress. Our team will think strategically about how an issue impacts certain Members or groups and develop strategies to ensure legislative success for policy goals.

The Whip team is responsible for mobilizing party unity on important legislation and acting as a liaison between Members and the Democratic Leadership. I will not only advise Members on key legislation, but help the Democratic Leadership convey priorities during difficult votes.