It’s been a busy couple of weeks in Washington and in the Fourth District – so let me get you caught up.
This week in the House Armed Services Committee, we discussed the impact “sequestration,” or automatic budget cuts, will have on the military. There could also be devastating cuts to domestic programs as well. If Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, automatic cuts will take effect.
Some of my colleagues are now trying to blame President Obama for this mess that they created last summer when they insisted on sequestration as part of the debt-ceiling negotiations while threatening to force the United States to default on our financial obligations.
Serious economists agree we need a balanced approach to deficit reduction – an approach that includes responsible revenue increases as well as targeted spending cuts.
Until Republicans accept this hard reality and stop insisting on protecting tax cuts for the very wealthy at all costs, we won’t see the vibrant economic growth that we all want. Here, I dialogue with White House budget chief Jeffrey Zients. Click the video above to watch or click HERE.
HELP FOR HOMELESS VETERANS: I was pleased to announce on July 17 two Atlanta-based groups will receive more than $1.3 million from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to fight veterans’ homelessness in 2012-2013. For more, click HERE.
VOTE ACT: This week, I introduced the bipartisan Verifying Official Totals for Elections or VOTE Act, which would require jurisdictions using electronic voting machines for federal elections to deposit the software or source code in the National Software Reference Library at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In the case of a contested election and or recount, the VOTE Act would allow qualified persons to review the source code to ensure its accuracy and reliability. For more, click HERE.
APP RIGHTS: Last week, I launched AppRights.us, a web-based legislative project that will open a public conversation about how Congress can help ensure the privacy and security of mobile device users. Amidst the growing clamor for federal action to safeguard consumers’ privacy and security, I will use the website to solicit ideas from the public and keep Americans in the loop as we explore how federal law could better protect app users’ rights. Congress has tried to shove Internet-related legislation down the public’s throat. AppRights is an open and transparent approach to the legislative process. To participate, click HERE.
VYOU: I’ve launched a new way to interact with constituents on my website – VYou, which allows you to ask me questions and for me to respond accordingly. I won't be able to answer all your questions, but I’ll do my best. To participate, go to my homepage and click ASK HANK.
LONDON BOUND: Last week, I presented Lithonia resident and Olympics London-bound traveler Moriah Wilson, 15, with a Congressional certificate and pen in recognition of her community service creating the nonprofit Lil’ Hearts of Love. For more, click HERE.
FIGHTING FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS: Last week, I voted against H.R. 4078, the “Safeguards Shutdown bill,” which attempted to place a moratorium on any and all significant regulations. I supported several amendments, including one that protects benefits under the Affordable Care Act prohibiting insurance companies from refusing to sell coverage or renew policies because a person has a pre-existing condition. For more, click HERE.
HEPATITIS TESTING: I sent a letter to all 434 of my House colleagues, urging their support for the bipartisan H.R. 3381, the Viral Hepatitis Testing Act of 2011. For more, click HERE. And I was also pleased to speak at the White House on Aug. 2 to commemorate World Hepatitis Day. Read President Obama's World Hepatitis Day 2012 Proclamation HERE.
SOUTH RIVER ALLIANCE CANOE TRIP: I was pleased to offer a bon voyage to the South River Watershed Alliance (SRWA) members, who were braving the river for a 5-mile canoe trip on July 21. SRWA and its members represent the best among us – citizens who care about the environment and are willing to do something about it by restoring and protecting the South River. To learn more about the SRWA, click HERE.
SMALL BUSINESS FORUM: On Wednesday, Aug. 15 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Georgia Tech Research Institute Conference Center – 250 14th Street, NW Atlanta – the Export-Import Bank is holding a free forum on how to boost small business exports. To learn how to increase your company's foreign sales, register HERE.
HELP FOR MANUFACTURERS: There’s help for any U.S. manufacturing or service firms that have experienced declines in both sales and employment as a result of import competition. Distressed firms that have experienced a five percent decline in both sales and jobs are eligible for up to $75,000 in federal cost-sharing funding. For more information, call 770-531-4550 or click HERE.
SENIORS: Senior Connections is offering free home repairs to qualified seniors. For more information on eligibility requirements, call 770-455-7602.
WEST NILE: Cases of West Nile virus in the U.S. have reached an eight-year high, health officials warned Wednesday. As the peak period for contracting the mosquito-borne illness is approaching, please use insect repellent and get rid of standing water near your home as precautions. For more, click HERE.
As always, I appreciate your time and feedback. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent you in Congress.
August 2, 2012
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Arthur D. Sidney, Chief of Staff
Kathy Register, District Director
Eric C. Hubbard
Oliver Spurgeon, III