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Congressman Albio Sires

Representing the 8th District of New Jersey

Washington Review, August 16, 2013

Aug 16, 2013
Washington Review

Several weeks ago, 130 of my congressional colleagues and I sent a letter to President Obama urging him to conduct a thorough examination of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance programs and assess their functionality. Our letter called for him to consider citizens’ privacy rights and the safety of our nation. Every aspect of these data collection programs must be thoroughly inspected and, if necessary, changed before they continue to be implemented. 

Last week, President Obama addressed public concerns regarding the NSA’s programs. He revealed that while he is confident that security programs are not being abused, greater transparency is necessary. He also proposed a review of Section 215 of the Patriot Act which gives the government authority to collect telephone metadata, and he proposed changes to the court that oversees the programs. He also ordered a new task force to be created for the purpose of producing a public report, to be released in six months, that would contain the legal reasoning for the bulk data collection.

I am encouraged to learn that the right steps are being taken to address this issue. I look forward to discussion and deliberative debate in Congress regarding potential changes to these programs.

This week also marked the 78th anniversary of Social Security.  Since its inception, Social Security has assisted seniors and the disabled with the costs of living. Older Americans and individuals with disabilities rely on Social Security not only for their long term needs, but for their basic income to assist with the cost of daily basic necessities such as groceries and gas. For their entire lives, they have paid into the system anticipating that, once they retire, they will be guaranteed the benefits they rightfully deserve through decades of hard work. 

While I believe there are improvements that can be made to the Social Security program to reduce wasteful spending and make it more cost efficient, we must not abandon our commitment to the millions of Americans who rely on Social Security for everyday needs and for future generations that were guaranteed these benefits. For this reason, I am committed to ensuring that Social Security benefits are protected as Congress continues to debate proposals to reduce our deficit.

As debate in Congress continues, I invite you to be an active participant in the political process. You may write to me through my website or leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter with your ideas, concerns and recommendations. As your representative, it’s important that I receive your input on issues that matter to you.  Once again, thank you for reading my Washington Review, and please stay in touch.