Congressman Albio Sires Newsletter

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DEAR constituents,

This past week marked a very busy week in the House of Representatives as my colleagues and I passed sweeping legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, to promote a clean energy economy and several appropriations bills, Commerce-Science-Justice (CJS); Homeland Security; and Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. I would also like to take this opportunity to update you on what I have been working on this past week as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. To learn more about all of these issues please continue reading below.

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations

The House passed H.R. 2996, the Fiscal Year 2010 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, by a vote of 254 to 173 on June 26, 2009. This bill makes a number of key investments in clean air grants and clean drinking water funds, such as $1.5 billion for low-interest loans to help local communities improve their drinking water systems, $284 million in grants to implement the Clean Air Act and reduce emissions from diesel engines, and $815 million to clean up toxic waste sites.

The bill also includes funding for other programs that are significant to New Jersey. Specifically, it provides $160 million for sewer and water grants to local communities – a program that is highly valued by many communities in New Jersey. Additionally, funding was included for the evaluation and cleanup of “brownfields,” which provides $100 million to turn former industrial and commercial sites from problem properties to productive community use. H.R. 2996 now awaits Senate action.

American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act

On June 26, 2009, the House passed H.R. 2454, ACES Act, by a vote of 219 to 212. This bill revitalizes our economy by creating millions of new jobs, increases our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, and protects our planet by reducing the pollution that causes global warming. It is estimated that the investments in clean energy technologies made through this bill would help create over a million new American jobs when it becomes effective in 2012.

To help reach the goal of a clean American economy, this bill would make bold investments in clean energy technologies and energy efficiency, including cleaner coal technology with carbon capture sequestration, and efficient vehicles, and place new energy saving standards on buildings, appliances, and industry. Additionally, this legislation would protect consumers from energy price increases through price spike protections and additional monthly energy refunds. Furthermore, H.R. 2454 would provide incentives to mortgage lenders to provide lower interest loans to consumers who build, buy, or remodel homes and businesses to improve the building’s energy efficiency.

Additionally, H.R. 2454 would establish a Renewable Electricity Standard to require electric utility companies to meet a certain percentage of their load with electricity generated from renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and burning waste to energy. The bill also focuses on reducing dangerous carbon emissions that cause global warming by limiting emissions from electric utilities, oil refineries, and other major sources to be implemented in 2012. In particular, this bill would reduce carbon emissions from major U.S. sources by 17% by 2020 and over 80% by 2050. H.R. 2454 is now awaiting action in the Senate

Homeland Security Appropriations

On June 25, 2009, the House passed H.R. 2892, the Fiscal Year 2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, by a vote of 389 to 37. Funding in this bill totals $42.63 billion and makes a number of key investments in the First Responder Grant Programs to include: $887 million for Urban Area Grants, $250 million for Transit Grants, $800 million for Fire Grants and $40 million for Emergency Operations Centers.

Furthermore, $7.7 billion in needed funding was included for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). About $1 billion will go towards purchasing and installing explosive detection systems at airports, $61 million for surface transportation security inspectors, $123 million for TSA to meet the 100-percent air cargo security screening mandates, as well as $804 million for the Customs and Border Protection to develop and deploy systems to screen cargo containers. H.R. 2892 now awaits Senate action.

Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations

On June 18, 2009, the House passed the Fiscal Year 2010 CJS Appropriations bill by a vote of 259 to 157. The CJS Appropriations bill offers funding to a number of essential programs, including over $3 billion for state and local law enforcement and crime prevention grants, nearly $7 billion for National Science Foundation research, and $7.4 billion in critical funding for the 2010 Census.

In particular, the CJS bill would help fund several initiatives that will have positive local impacts, including an additional $298 million to hire more than 7,000 police officers, and $529 million for Byrne Justice Assistant Grants to aid local crime prevention efforts. This bill also includes $385 million for juvenile justice programs and $400 million for services to help protect victims of domestic violence and prevent violence against women. Furthermore, this bill would increase opportunities for our young people by providing over $1 billion for science, technology, engineering and math education. This legislation is currently under review in the Senate.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Investing in infrastructure and jumpstarting our economy go hand in hand. By expanding the port, increasing transit, easing traffic, and bettering our air quality, we can improve our communities and our economy. To initiate this process, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit met this week to begin debating the Surface Transportation Authorization Act.

As a member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I had a unique opportunity lastTuesday to support transportation programs that are of great importance to New Jersey, such as increased transit funding, more efficient goods movement, and creating more livable and affordable communities tied to transportation.

In addition to transforming national transportation policy, the Surface Transportation Authorization Act creates 6 million new jobs over the course of 6 years. Anxious to capitalize on this economic benefit and to make critical upgrades to our nation’s infrastructure, the House of Representatives is working quickly to pass the legislation. Further debate is expected on the legislation at the end of July.

Thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter. I look forward to continuing to update you on my work in the House of Representatives.

Sincerely,

Albio Sires

Albio Sires