[StBernard] Washington Report from Rep. Richard H. Baker

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sat Feb 17 01:33:03 EST 2007

February 16, 2007

Rep. Baker Introduces Bill to Improve Small Business Disaster Loan Program

Rep. Baker was joined by Rep. Charles Melancon in sponsoring legislation to improve and expand the SBA’s Gulf Opportunity Loan Program (GO Loans) for small businesses in or relocating to counties and parishes declared major disaster areas.

The bill, cosponsored by the entire Louisiana House delegation, is similar to a bill introduced by Baker last summer (HR 5924) and expands on the Go Loan disaster loan program that allowed private banks to issue disaster loans. Banks would be pre-qualified by the SBA, with a set application process, and could work with existing or new customers to get them capital they need in a timely fashion. By partnering with private lenders, the SBA can work with them to get funds to small businesses, which are critical to the survival of the affected community. Visit the Congressman's homepage <http://www.baker.house.gov/> for more information.

Funding Increase for Veterans Signed into Law

This week, H.J. Res. 20, which provides for continuing appropriations for Fiscal Year 2007, was signed into law by President Bush. With Congressman Baker’s support, the House of Representatives passed this $463.5 billion resolution that will fund most discretionary domestic programs through September 30, 2007.

H.J. Res. 20 increases veterans’ health care by $3.6 billion, meeting the needs of approximately 325,000 additional patients and covering rising health care costs. Medical services for veterans will receive $25.4 billion, an increase of $2.7 billion over last year’s budget. The Defense Health Program, which includes the Tricare health care system for uniformed military, will receive $21.2 billion.

Rep. Baker Re-Introduces Legislation for 150th Commemoration of the Civil War

This week Rep. Baker re-introduced legislation creating a commission for the Sesquicentennial (150th) commemoration of the Civil War. He was joined by his Louisiana colleagues Reps. Jim McCrery, Rodney Alexander, Charles Boustany, Bobby Jindal and Charlie Melancon, as well as two members from the Virginia Delegation, Reps. Frank Wolf and Todd Russell Platts. This legislation is not only important for Louisiana, but for the nation as well. The ripple effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction remain as our country continues to wrestle with its legacy of race relations and federal, state and civil rights. In 1996 Congress designated the United States Civil War Center (USCWC) at Louisiana State University (LSU) and the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College as co-facilitators of the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the Civil War to be held between 2011and 2015. This legislation represents the next step to prepare for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Rep. Baker Co-sponsors Bill to Recognize Disabled Veterans

Congressman Baker recently co-sponsored H.R. 634, legislation authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of veterans who became disabled for life while serving in the Armed Forces. The proceeds from the $1 coins, which will retail for $10, will go to the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation for the purpose of establishing an endowment to support the construction of American Veterans’ Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C. Visit the Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial website <http://www.avdlm.com/> for more information on the proposed memorial.

Rep. Baker To Vote Against Democrats’ Iraq Resolution

Rep. Baker issued a statement on his intentions to vote against a Democratic non-binding resolution expressing disapproval of the President’s decision to deploy additional troops to Iraq. Please click here for the full statement <http://www.baker.house.gov/html/news_item.cfm?id=623> .

Rep. Baker Announces Two Grants for Louisiana Fire Departments

Rep. Baker joined the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in announcing that two capital area fire departments have been awarded federal grants through the Assistance to Firefighter Grant program. The South Second Ward Fire District of Greensburg in St. Helena Parish has been approved for a grant in the amount of $125,637, while the St. George Fire Protection District in Baton Rouge is slated to receive $60,000.

The awards were granted as part of the Fire Operations and Firefighter Safety Program, which includes training, wellness and fitness, firefighting equipment, personal protective equipment, and modifications to fire stations and facilities.

Appropriations Update

The Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations request format has been finalized by the Appropriations Committee, please use the electronic form located on Congressman Baker's website to submit your request by clicking here <http://www.baker.house.gov/html/grants.cfm#info> . You will be contacted should additional information be required, and submissions must be received by February 23, 2007. Because of the competitive nature of appropriations requests, Congressman Baker also urges you to use this web page to seek information on grant opportunities.

Your Home in Washington, D.C.

If you're ever in Washington, D.C., please stop by Congressman Baker’s office on Capitol Hill for Louisiana coffee and conversation! When planning your trip, contact Congressman Baker’s office to set up tours of the most historic sights in our nation's Capital, including the Capitol building and White House. Please visit Congressman Baker’s tour request webpage <http://www.baker.house.gov/html/tours.cfm> for more information about available tours.

New Poll on Congressman Baker’s Website

President Bush addressed U.S. spending reforms in his State of the Union speech. What aspect do you most support? Click here to register your opinion <http://baker.house.gov/index.cfm> .

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