While you have been busily purchasing presents, attending seasonal parties, spending time with family and spreading cheer, the 110th Congress has also been very busy. Last week the House of Representatives passed an Alternative Minimum Tax patch, the State Childrens Health Insurance Program
extension, a comprehensive energy bill, the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act, and finalized the budget for Fiscal Year 2008.
One thing Im sure is in the back of your mind while purchasing toys this month, is the increasing number of toys and childrens products being recalled because they had unsafe designs, unhealthy levels of lead, or were otherwise unsafe for use. As a father of three, I find it unconscionable that products using lead-based paint were allowed into the country and given out to children even though lead-based paint has been banned in the U.S. for 30 years. H.R. 4040, The Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act, is an excellent step towards protecting our families from dangerous products and I was proud to be a cosponsor. H.R. 4040 passed by a vote of 407-0 in the House. The legislation has now been sent to the Senate, and it is my hope that they will pass it very soon.
The House also passed
legislation, by a vote of 411 to 3, which will extend the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (known as Child Health Plus in New York) through March 31, 2009 and provides additional funding to ensure that no children currently enrolled will be dropped from their coverage. The bill also blocks the scheduled 10.1% percent cut in Medicare physician payments scheduled for January 1, 2008 and replaces it with a 0.5% increase through June 30, 2008.
Included in last weeks activities, the House passed The Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (S. 2271), which will provide several tools to pressure the Sudanese government to finally put an end to the ongoing genocide in Darfur. I am proud to have voted for this crucial bill because I believe we have a moral responsibility to do everything we can to pressure the Sudanese government to once and for all end the genocide in Darfur.
We were also able to pass The Energy Independence and Security Act with
overwhelming bipartisan support, with myself as a cosponsor, which will help move the United States toward energy independence. A significant part of the bill was adapted from my legislation, H.R. 670, the DRIVE Acts, proposals including Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) and other Advanced Drive Transportation Technologies, a Renewable Fuels Standard, the Tire Efficiency Program, and the United State-Israel Energy Cooperation grant program. The effect of the legislation is to strengthen national security, lower energy costs for consumers, help our economy grow, create new jobs, and begin to reduce global warming.
With my strong support the House also passed Alternative Minimum Tax relief legislation last week. This legislation would provide essential tax relief to working families and provide Alternative Minimum Tax relief to over 23 million American families, including more than 38,000 in our district. Although not a permanent
solution, it is a necessary step in the right direction to help middle class families.
The final task completed last week was finalizing the budget for Fiscal Year 2008. The Omnibus Appropriations bill passed the House 272-142. While providing funding for government agencies, the budget also included money for veterans health care, K-12 education, the National Institutes of Health, transportation improvements, homeland security grants, and international assistance programs.
Please be assured that I will continue to work hard for you and your family and I wish you all the best in the new year.
Eliot L. Engel
MEMBER OF CONGRESS