From The Gavel:
As Americans continue to feel the pain from skyrocketing gas prices, this week, Speaker Pelosi called on the White House to release a small portion of the oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to immediately expand supplies. This is the fastest way to bring down prices at the pump, and will send a strong message to oil speculators while reducing the record gas prices that are edging our economy towards recession.
There is nothing new or untested about releasing oil from the Reserve, or deferring purchases during times of economic instability. In fact, the Reserve has already been tapped or suspended by President Bush, President Clinton, and the first President Bush. In 2000, this brought the price of oil down by nearly 20 percent in a week.
Several weeks ago, the Democratic-led Congress called on the President to temporarily stop filling the Reserve. He stubbornly refused. Congress took action and passed legislation, which the President signed on June 30. Taking a small amount of oil from the Reserve now would help bring down prices for consumers. The President should listen to the American people, and stop opposing action that will bring oil prices down.
This week, the House passed legislation ensuring that the e-mail records of the White House and of federal agencies are properly preserved. The Electronic Message Preservation Act corrects the serious deficiencies of e-mail preservation that have been especially egregious in the Bush White House. As the Washington Post reported last year, "Countless e-mails to and from many key White House staffers have been deleted -- lost to history and placed out of reach of congressional subpoenas -- due to a brazen violation of internal White House policy that was allowed to continue for more than six years." During this Administration, numerous White House officials used Republican National Committee e-mail accounts for official government business, and the RNC regularly deleted e-mails from its servers. Meanwhile, the Bush White House grossly mismanaged its own e-mail records and ignored concerns raised by the National Archives about the way it was storing its e-mails.
The Electronic Message Preservation Act requires the Archivist to establish standards for the preservation of White House and federal agency e-mails. The Archivist will establish standards to capture, manage, and preserve e-mails and other electronic messages, and then certify that the system put in place for the White House meets the Archivist's requirements. Despite the President's threat to veto the bill, it passed the House by a veto-proof margin of 286-137.
While the brave men and women in our nation's armed forces have risked their lives to defend our country, when they return to our country as veterans, too many of them have no place to call home. More than 400,000 veterans are homeless at some point during the year, and nearly 200,000 are homeless on any given night.
This week, the House passed the Homes for Heroes Act, which expands housing assistance and supportive services for homeless veterans. The bill establishes a $200million a year assistance program for supportive housing and services for low-income homeless veterans and their families at HUD. It also makes at least 20,000 rental housing vouchers available to homeless veterans and their families per year.
This week, the Senate passed legislation to strengthen Medicare by a vote of 69 to 30welcoming back Senator Ted Kennedy, who was able to vote for this bill despite his courageous battle against cancer. Senator Kennedy's unwavering commitment to improving health care in this country stands in stark contrast to John McCain, the one Senator who missed the Medicare bill vote.
The Medicare Improvements Act prevents the pending 10 percent payment reduction for physicians in Medicare, enhances Medicare preventive and mental health benefits, improves and extends programs for low-income Medicare beneficiaries, and extends expiring provisions for rural and other providers. Its passage by the overwhelming veto-proof margins in the House and the Senate sends a clear message to President Bush that our efforts to strengthen Medicare for our seniors will become law, with or without his signature.
And from Hoyer:
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in response to remarks made by President Bush after meeting with advisors on the economy and energy this morning:
“With the price of gas at $4.11 a gallon, President Bush insists on spreading blame, not finding solutions. He tells us that Democrats stand against increasing oil production here at home, but he couldn't be more wrong. Democrats absolutely support drilling. We'd just remind the oil companies that 88 million acres of land are available for drilling, right now. That's an area the size of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and most of Maryland, combined. Congress can't get that oil out of the ground; but we can make the job easier for the oil companies and get fuel flowing to the Americans who need it. I think that beats the Republican plan: more handouts of public land and unnecessary taxpayer subsidies.
And here is the rest of it.