Transportation, Housing, and Foreign Aid Update
July 25, 2008

Dear Friend,

Update on Transportation Legislation

It is a pleasure, as always, to update you on my work in Congress.  I would like to begin this week’s e-newsletter by thanking the many people who responded to my most recent survey asking where you think Congress should appropriate transportation funds.  I appreciate your time and consideration because learning where you stand on this issue helps me to better represent you in Congress.  Many of you responded in favor of Congress increasing transportation funding for improvements to highways and bridges.

You may be pleased to know, that the House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation this week that would allocate funds to improve both highways and bridges.  On July 23, 2008, the House passed H.R. 6532, to restore the Highway Trust Fund, by a vote of 387-37.  This bill would help prevent a shortfall in transportation funding by restoring $8 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to avoid disastrous impacts on transportation projects across the nation.  Additionally, the House passed H.R. 3999, the National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act, on July 24, 2008 by a vote of 367 to 55.  This bill would improve the safety of Federal-aid highway bridges by strengthening bridge inspection standards and processes and by increasing investment in the reconstruction of structurally deficient bridges on the National Highway System.  Both bills are currently awaiting action in the Senate.

In addition to passing bills concerning the distribution of transportation funds, my colleagues and I in the House have been working on legislation to address many important issues.  This week the House passed legislation to assist those affected by the foreclosure crisis and legislation that would provide foreign assistance to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria around the world.  Please read below to learn more about these bills.

Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention

On July 23, 2008, the House passed H.R. 3221, the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, by a vote of 272 to 152.  This bill seeks to address the safety and soundness of the mortgage market and help American homebuyers and homeowners that are facing tough economic times.

H.R. 3221 aims to increase consumer spending in the mortgage market by creating a new standard deduction for state and local real estate taxes paid for by individuals who do not itemize and it provides a refundable tax credit for first-time home buyers.  This bill will provide assistance to all who are looking for a place to call home, even those who rent. H.R. 3221 also establishes a permanent Affordable Housing Trust Fund to ensure that all Americans have access to a safe and stable place to call home.  Finally, the bill provides mortgage refinancing assistance that would keep at least 400,000 families from losing their homes, and protects neighboring home values while stabilizing the housing market at no cost to American taxpayers.  The Senate is expected to act this week on this bill and the President has indicated he will sign the bill into law. 

Global HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria Initiative

On July 24, 2008, the House of Representatives passed the Senate Amendments to H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008.  This bipartisan legislation would move the current program, the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), beyond the “emergency” phase of implementation to “sustainability”. H.R. 5501 would fund the Global HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria initiative at $48 billion over 5 years and would support care for an estimated 12 million people infected or affected by the virus.  This funding increase would dramatically boost HIV/AIDS and health care programming for women and girls, and strengthen health systems in countries hardest hit by the HIV virus.  H.R. 5501 would also authorize HIV/AIDS programs to include linkages to food and nutrition, education and health care programs, and increase U.S. contributions to the Global Fund.  This bill was sent to the President for his signature.

Thank you for taking the time to read my E-Newsletter.  I look forward to continuing to update you about my work in the United States House of Representatives.

Congressman Albio Sires Signature
Albio Sires
Member of Congress


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