[StBernard] The Word from Washington - Hurricane recovery, Morganza to the Gulf, and more

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Jan 23 19:43:27 EST 2007

Dear friends,

Exciting developments are underway with the start of a new year, a new
Congress and a new direction for America.

>From the first day of the new 110th Congress, I have been pushing for the

federal government to fulfill its obligations to support the rebuilding of
Louisiana. In August of last year, I brought 25 members of the House of
Representatives down to Louisiana on the one year anniversary of Hurricane
Katrina to witness the devastation we are still recovering from along the
Gulf Coast. These members, including Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer,
and Majority Whip Clyburn, saw what still needs to be done by Congress for
the Gulf Coast to fully come back. At the start of 2007, I sent a letter to
all of the Democrat Members of Congress to remind them that we have made a
commitment to support the Gulf Coast's rebuilding efforts and provide
sufficient protection from future storms. I am confident that in the new
Congress we will keep our promises to south Louisiana.

Morganza to the Gulf. In my first piece of legislation of the 110th
Congress, I introduced a bill to fully authorize the Morganza to the Gulf
hurricane and storm protection project. U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu,
D-La., introduced companion legislation in the Senate. As you will remember,
our efforts to secure authorization for the Morganza project stretched into
the early morning hours of the final day of the last Congress, but were
thwarted by a procedural maneuver made by one lone Senator from Oklahoma.

With this new legislation, Senator Landrieu and I hope to finally move
forward with protecting south Louisiana from hurricanes and flooding,
fulfilling the promise Congress made to the people of Lafourche and
Terrebonne Parishes seven years ago when Morganza to the Gulf was first
authorized. Morganza's series of levees, locks and other systems through
Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes will, when complete, protect about 120,000
people and 1,700 square miles of land against flooding and storm surges such
as those caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Getting comprehensive
hurricane protection for south Louisiana will remain my first priority in
the new Congress.

The first hours of the new Congress have been very busy as my colleagues and
I have quickly passed legislation to make life better for the people of
south Louisiana and the rest of America. We raised the minimum wage, lowered
student loan interest rates, worked to lower the cost of prescription drugs
for seniors on Medicare Part D, and improved national security by fully
implementing the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

Minimum wage. I voted to help working Americans by raising the minimum wage
to $7.25 an hour, to be phased in over the next two years. I've been the
owner of several small businesses in south Louisiana, so I personally
understand how hard it can be for small businesses to make ends meet.
However, no employee can be expected to survive on just $10,700 a year,
which is the current annual earnings for fulltime minimum wage workers. I
believe the best way to get Americans off of welfare is to make sure they
can earn a meaningful and fair wage if they put in a full day's work. With
this vote, I am proud to help give millions of hard-working American's a

Prescription drug costs. Seniors shouldn't have to choose between paying
their rent, buying groceries, or getting the prescription drugs they need.
So I voted to cut the cost of health care and improve access to medicines by
requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate with drug
companies for lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries. This should
significantly lower the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and people
with disabilities who rely on Medicare Part D.

Homeland security. The first and most important responsibility of our
government is to defend Americans from harm. I am proud that one of the
first bills passed by the new Congress will strengthen our national security
and better protect our citizens from another terrorist attack by
implementing all of the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

College student loans. I believe that college should be affordable and
accessible to any student who is willing to work hard to further their
education. So I voted to cut student loan interest rates in half for lower
and middle income students and their families. The health of the American
economy depends on having a highly-skilled and well-educated work force and
making college more affordable is key to remaining strong in the global

Finally I am pleased to announce that the House Leadership granted my
request to serve on three influential subcommittees of the House Energy and
Commerce Committee: the Consumer, Trade and Consumer Protection; Energy and
Air Quality; and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees. Louisiana plays
a vital role in America's domestic energy production and international
trade, and these assignments recognize our contributions.

I look forward to hearing from you during the coming months. Please don't
hesitate to visit my website (www.melancon.house.gov) and send me an email.

Charlie Melancon
Member of Congress

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