Friday, August 31, 2007

Legislative Accomplishments of the 110th Congress

As you read this email, I'm currently traveling the district getting feedback from so many of you on the progress Congress has made so far. We have been working hard to change direction from the previous Congress and restore priorities that will improve the lives of hard-working Americans.

When the new 110th Congress took the helm at the beginning of this year, we were committed to delivering on the promises made in November – to bring fresh ideas and a new direction for the American people. We had a vision to address problems of real Americans, to make health care and college more affordable, increase our energy independence, and advance priorities that would make our nation safer and our economy stronger.

Although we have only been in session for seven months, our record of legislative accomplishments has demonstrated the amazing things Congress can do if we come together and work on a bipartisan basis for the American people. Since January, more than 68 key measures have passed the House, most of them receiving a significant amount of Republican support.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, one of my biggest priorities is to fight for our men and women in uniform and ensure they receive the benefits they earned when they signed up to serve our country. From my seat on this committee, we crafted and passed several bills honoring their service, including the largest increase for veterans healthcare funding in history.

Additionally, we provided our troops a boost in funding for a salary increase, and additional supplies and equipment they need to get the job done while serving our country overseas.

These military initiatives were passed without losing sight of our commitment to defeat terrorism, responsibly rebuild our military readiness, and wind down the War in Iraq – all while maintaining the security of America.

Read my Op Ed on giving veterans the benefits they deserve click here: (

Last month, I worked with House leadership to write and pass a Farm Bill that helps maintain a safety net Arkansas farmers need, while still providing the American people with the safest and most secure source of food and fiber in the world. This Farm Bill, coupled with the passage of the Energy Independence Bill, will keep America secure, help lower energy costs and create new jobs in the emerging renewable energy market. These bills invest in biofuels, roll back tax breaks for Big Oil companies, and support research and development in renewable energy technology.

Over the last ten years, gas prices as well as health care, housing and other necessary living expenses have skyrocketed while the minimum wage remained stagnant. I believe an honest day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay and for the first time in ten years Congress passed an increase in the federal minimum wage. I'm proud to have helped pass this legislation through Congress, which increases the federal minimum wage by 70 cents each July for three years — bringing a final total to $7.85 an hour by July 2009.

Read my column about the minimum wage increase here:


In addition to these accomplishments, I am also proud of my record in ensuring the long term prosperity of our country by implementing the single largest investment in college affordability since the GI Bill, cost-effective health care for millions of children, and the creation of new high tech jobs in the energy innovation marketplace.

The new Congress is committed to bringing change and a new direction that will benefit children, veterans, farmers, and seniors to ultimately strengthen the middle class. Not only are we refocusing our legislative priorities to create family friendly policies, we have also begun to change the way business is done in Washington by passing the toughest ethics measures since Watergate. In addition, we have implemented strict pay-as-you-go spending rules, which begins to balance our budget while protecting our children from paying for previous fiscal recklessness.

These accomplishments of the New Direction Congress impact the lives of so many American families and offer real hope for the many challenges they face. As we move forward, I encourage you to continue to stay in touch with your representatives to keep the dialogue open. With your input, we will create forward-looking policies that will ensure the prosperity and security of our nation.