Welcoming an "Honor Flight" to the World War II Memorial
Welcoming an “Honor Flight” to the World War II Memorial
October 14, 2013
Last weekend, I had the tremendous privilege of greeting an “Honor Flight” of veterans from Oregon who travelled to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial. It’s always a privilege to welcome members of the “Greatest Generation” to the Nation’s Capital.
Although the open-air Memorial has been closed by the Administration during the government shutdown, the National Park Police allowed the veterans and their families to enter. My colleague from Oregon, Rep. Peter DeFazio, was also on hand to greet the veterans and present them with American flags flown over the Capitol. Each of these men and women who served is a hero, and it was an honor to greet them and help ensure they could visit their Memorial.
You might notice that I’m tieless in the second photo…one veteran liked my patriotic tie so much, I gave it too him!
Working to reopen important parts of our government
As work on a broader solution to the government’s spending problem continues, the House continues to pass bipartisan bills to reopen areas of our federal government and fund programs that both parties agree are essential.
I was especially troubled by news this week that the Pentagon would not pay death benefits to families of service members killed overseas, like Cody Patterson, an Army Ranger from Philomath, who gave his life in Afghanistan defending our nation. I believe that the Department of Defense had the authority to continue to pay these benefits under the Pay Our Military Act. But last week, the House voted unanimously to ensure that death benefits to families of fallen troops will continue to be disbursed during the government shutdown. I’m glad that the Senate quickly passed this as well, and it was signed by the President last week.
Unfortunately, little progress has been made on other bills to fund important government priorities. Since the shutdown began, I’ve supported plans to pay for veterans’ programs and the National Guard, reopen National Parks like Crater Lake, continue lifesaving research at the National Institute of Health, and make sure FEMA has what it needs to respond to natural disasters. For a full list of these bills, visit: http://www.speaker.gov/senatemustact.
All passed the House with strong bipartisan support. All are now sitting in the Senate, waiting for a vote. The Senate should move quickly to take up these plans and fund these essential services while talks continue on a broader solution.
Fiscal talks continue
Reducing the deficit and growing our economy
October 13, 2013
In your family or your job, when you have a disagreement, how to you handle it? You sit down and talk, and find a solution that works for both sides.
On Thursday, I joined other leaders in the House in meeting with the President and the Vice President in the Roosevelt Room at the White House for about 90 minutes. It was a frank, useful, and candid conversation, and I wish it had happened weeks ago. We presented the President with a proposal that we felt met him half way, including a plan to address the debt ceiling and reopen the government. But it also included a call for serious, fruitful negotiations to reduce the deficit and America’s ever-growing national debt.
After the meeting, my colleague Jeb Hensarling and I talked to Sean Hannity about what took place. To watch my interview, click here. I also talked to the Bulletin about the meeting, which you can read here.
We must do this. We must reduce spending and get Washington spending under control. We’ve made progress in the past few years. Because of our efforts in the House, federal spending has gone down for two years in a row for the first time since the Korean War. The Budget Control Act from 2011—which came out of budget negotiations with the President and Senate—was the largest spending reduction bill of the last 25 years, resulting in $630 billion in savings over five years and not a dime in tax increases. We’ve made some progress, but there is still much work to be done.
Unfortunately, within 24 hours of meeting with us, the President basically rejected our offer and moved on to talk with Senate Republicans, before their proposal was rejected, too. As I write this, the focus has shifted to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to see if they can find common ground that can pass both houses of Congress and get approval from the President.
As you might imagine, people I’m hearing from are expressing strong feelings about the situation…strong on both sides. Stay tuned.
I want to hear from you on Syria
The President has asked Congress for authority to use military force against the Assad regime in Syria in response to allegations of the use of chemical weapons against civilians. I believe that the President and his team need to fully make their case to Congress and the American people regarding his plan. We need to learn what we can anticipate happening after whatever proposed action is taken. The Assad regime and its allies will surely have a response. It's not clear what we may be getting America into.
The U.S. House will soon vote on this very important issue, and I’d like your input before the vote.
What do you think the United States should do about the situation in Syria?
1. The United States should take military action, but it should be limited to air strikes using cruise missiles launched from U.S. naval ships that were meant to destroy military units and infrastructure that have been used to carry out chemical attacks.
2. The United States should take broad military action by intervening in whatever way is necessary to stop the Assad regime.
The United States should provide weapons and other assistance to the forces inside Syria opposing the government, but should not intervene militarily.
3. The United States should provide only humanitarian assistance to the civilians injured or forced from their homes.
4. The United States should take none of these actions.
5. I'm unsure what the United States' response should be.
I work hard to get input from citizens of all 20 counties in the Second District on many different issues that Oregonians are concerned about. America’s role in the world has come up at many of the 23 town hall meetings I’ve held in the Second District in 2013, in several of the telephone town hall meetings I’ve held, and in countless emails, phone calls, letters, and Facebook messages that come into my office.
Thank you for taking the time to give me your thoughts. I’ll be sure to keep you updated as this important situation unfolds. It’s an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress.
Greg Walden statement on President's announcement on Syria
Greg Walden statement on President’s announcement on Syria
September 1, 2013
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) released the following statement in response to the President’s remarks on Syria:
"The President needs to make his case to Congress and to the American people regarding his plan, and what we can anticipate happening after whatever proposed military action is taken. The Assad regime and its allies will surely have a response. It's not clear what we may be getting America into."
MEWA Letter to President Obama
MEWA Letter to President Obama
Click to read:
Bipartisan proposals to support our servicemembers and veterans
Bipartisan proposals to support our servicemembers and veterans
Over the past two weeks, the House has passed—with my strong support—two major pieces of bipartisan legislation to support our servicemembers and veterans. On June 4, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill to fund veterans’ programs for the coming year. This bill ensures that the VA has the resources it needs to provide our veterans with the services and care they have earned.
Too often, I hear from Oregon veterans and their families who are waiting too long for the VA to process their disability benefits and compensation claims. In all, Federal News Radio reports that 559,000 veterans nationwide are awaiting decisions from a VA that still processes claims by paper. This is unacceptable. We need to put an end to this backlog NOW, and this bill sends that message loud and clear.
The bill includes funding to help clean up the backlog of claims and force the federal government to finally improve electronic record keeping. And if these provisions don’t get the attention of VA leadership, this will: the bill imposes a 25% pay cut for senior VA officials if the number of backlogged cases is not reduced by 40% by July 1, 2014.
Building on this work for veterans, last week the House passed the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis. This bill provides our nation’s armed forces with the resources they need and gives our men and women in uniform the support they deserve. I am particularly pleased that this bill provides our servicemembers with a pay increase and takes significant steps to address the troubling number of sexual assault cases in the military. For more on this bipartisan bill, please click here.
When a service member or veteran needs help here at home, I do everything I can to help out, as I did for two World War II veterans in Oregon this month. The daughter of one veteran came to me after her father’s VA pension checks stopped coming. She tried to fix this problem on her own for almost three months before calling my office, and we were able to get the situation resolved in less than two weeks.
And last week, I helped Mr. Arlin Stafford, a former Army sergeant who was wounded in Saipan during World War II, obtain his Bronze Star—70 years later! Mr. Stafford’s wife Katherine contacted me for help in getting the medal. John Howard, a retired Navy Commander who works in our Medford office, presented the medal to Mr. Stafford in Rogue River last week. If you or a loved one needs help with a VA claim, obtaining a medal, or any other issue with the federal government, call my office in Oregon at 800-533-3303.
Honoring talented young artists in Oregon's Second District
Honoring talented young artists in Oregon’s Second District
Congratulations are in order to Emma Hughes, of John Day, for winning the 2013 Oregon Second Congressional District Art Competition. The nationwide competition is open each year to high school students across the country. Emma’s artwork (below), entitled Starry Eyed, will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol for one year.
Congratulations also to the runners up, Hannah Pereira and Lindsey Weymouth of John Day and Sadie Heron of Redmond. Their artwork will hang in my offices in La Grande and Bend. The contest opens up each year in the spring, so if you or someone you know might be interested, be sure to keep an eye on my art competition page for more details.
That’s all for now. Have a great week.
Sending a message to the EPA
Sending a message to the EPA
Last week, EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran, visited my Capitol office. I took the opportunity to present him with a letter conveying concerns I’ve heard from around Oregon’s Second District about his agency’s actions. In my 23 town hall meetings this year, I’ve heard from countless Oregonians who are very concerned about the harmful red tape coming out of the EPA. A common theme I have heard is that there needs to be a much better balance between sustaining and growing our economy and creating jobs and protecting our environment. Too often, common sense is left out of the process.
I detailed a number of concerns I’ve heard, which include:
- Increased regulation of biomass (“Boiler MACT” rule).
- Red tape that could destroy community jobs at a cement plant in Baker County (“Cement MACT” rule).
- Additional burdensome agricultural pesticide regulations that will negatively impact Oregon’s farmers, ranchers, and foresters.
- Reckless release of personal information by the agency to outside interest groups that jeopardizes food security.
I asked for a reply on these issues, and copied the head of the EPA to make sure the concerns of Oregonians reach the highest levels of the agency. For a copy of the letter, please click here.
Meeting with talented young people last week
I am consistently impressed by the talent and success of students from around Oregon’s Second Congressional District. Last week, I had the chance to sit down with Andrew Miles and his mother Rebecca from Lake County. Andrew started a company that bales hay for local farmers in Christmas Valley. With the money he has earned through his baling business, Andrew has purchased 125 acres of farmland to start his own alfalfa farm.
Andrew was one of five national finalists for the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) Young Entrepreneur Scholarship. Having been a small business owner in Oregon since 1986, I'm proud of Andrew’s accomplishments as a young entrepreneur and look forward to what he will accomplish while attending OSU and beyond. This kid’s going places!
I also welcomed students from Helix School attending the National History Day competition. Juniors Jarred Cope and William Hood won an award for their documentary about the Doolittle Raid in Tokyo in World War II. Sophomores Morgan Warner and Alexis Keene won an award for their documentary focusing on the 1963 March on Washington for civil rights. Junior Ana Goodwin won an award for her documentary on the killing of missionary Marcus Whitman. Congratulations to all of them!
I also met with school groups from Ontario High School and Joseph Charter School last week. Traveling to Washington, D.C., whether as part of a school group or on your own, is a great way to show students American democracy up close. If you’re planning a visit, I can help arrange tours and secure tickets to popular attractions. For more information, visit my website here.
This week, a number of Oregonians are in town including Linda Sindt, a retired Air Force Colonel from Medford who is here with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Then on Thursday night, I’ll fly to Boise and drive to Nyssa for a tour Friday of Snake River Produce and a meeting with onion growers there.
Then it’s on to Baker City for the 100thanniversary celebration of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. I’m honored to be a part of congratulating them for their century-long commitment to producing the highest quality livestock, responsibly managing natural resources, and being the voice of Oregon’s livestock community.
Doing more with less in the U.S. House
In 2010, as the new majority took control of the U.S. House of Representatives, I organized a team of lawmakers to look at every aspect of how the House operates, and make recommendations for reform. A key recommendation of this transition team was to reduce the operating budgets of House committees, leadership offices, and individual member offices. We made a promise to reduce spending, and it was only right for the House to lead by example.
The very first measure passed by the new Congress in January 2011 cut the operating budget of the House by five percent, saving taxpayers an estimated $35 million in the first year alone.
In the three years since our team made those recommendations, we are on track save taxpayers more than $400 million in House operations by the end of this fiscal year. I’m proud to have led this effort to save taxpayers and keep our promise to the American people.