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

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Fri May 11 23:11:41 EDT 2007

May 11, 2007

Thank you for signing up for Congressman Baker’s newsletter. Below are issue updates that you may find interesting. As always, please visit his website at http://www.baker.house.gov <http://www.baker.house.gov/> for the most up-to-date news and information on what Congressman Baker is working on in the Sixth Congressional District of Louisiana.

Congressman Baker Voices Post-Katrina Concerns and Lessons Learned

On May 10, 2007, Congressman Baker was asked to testify at the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management on the topic of "Legislative Fixes for Lingering Problems that Hinder Katrina Recovery." He took this opportunity to highlight roadblocks to recovery that still exist in the state, and specifically the 6th District, as well as lessons learned that will help prepare our nation for future events. Click here to learn more. <http://www.baker.house.gov/html/content.cfm?id=652>

Baker Presses VA Secretary on South Louisiana Veterans’ Hospital

At a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, Congressman Baker reiterated his concerns about the delay in rebuilding the Veterans Hospital in New Orleans. Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Jim Nicholson appeared before the House Veterans Affairs Committee to discuss health care for our service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Congressman Baker commended the Bush Administration for reacting quickly to poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, but expressed his continued concern with the lack of a plan to begin rebuilding facilities in New Orleans immediately. While multiple proposals have been offered for moving forward with the hospital, no plans have been made for a ground-breaking. This delay is unacceptable and unnecessary. Congressman Baker will continue to advocate for proper health care for our veterans and a quick ground breaking on a new Veterans Hospital in the New Orleans area.

To listen to the hearing, click here. <http://veterans.house.gov/hearings/index.html>

Baker Calls on Congress to Pass Emergency Funding for Louisiana

Congressman Baker cosponsored legislation this week, H.R. 2187, that removes funding for Katrina recovery from the controversial Iraq supplemental appropriations bill mired in politics. H.R. 2187 provides $2.26 billion for recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This includes $1.3 billion for east and west bank levee projects in the New Orleans area, $60 million for education, and a waiver of the 10 percent match localities are required to pay for federal funding through the Stafford Act.

Student Loan Sunshine Act Passes House of Representatives

Congressman Baker is pleased that legislation he supported to end unethical practices in the student loan industry, such as lenders offering gifts or other inducements to college financial aid offices in exchange for higher loan volume, passed the House of Representatives by a resounding 414-3 vote on May 9, 2007. Specifically, H.R. 890, the "Student Loan Sunshine Act," will:

* Require institutions and lenders to adopt strict codes of conduct that adhere to specific guidelines;
* Ban all gifts, participation on advisory boards, and revenue-sharing agreements between lenders and schools;
* Require institutions to disclose all relationships with lenders;
* Only allow "preferred lender lists" on campuses with strict assurances that the list was created with the students’ best interest in mind;
* Ensure that students have access to all lenders of their choice, including those not on the preferred lender lists;
* Ban staffing of school financial aid offices by lenders;
* Provide students full and fair information when taking out and repaying loans;
* Protect students from aggressive marketing practices; and
* Provide students information on all federal student aid opportunities through a new "one-stop" link on the Department of Education website.

Congressman Baker Supports Research for Breast Cancer

Rep. Baker recently added his name as a cosponsor to H.R. 1157, the "Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act of 2007." This bipartisan legislation would authorize the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to make grants to public or nonprofit private entities for the development of centers to conduct research on environmental factors that may be related to the etiology of breast cancer. Specifically, each research center must be:

(1) Recognized as a Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Center of Excellence;

(2) Inclusive of community organizations in the geographic area served by the center;

(3) Formed from a consortium of cooperating institutions and community groups; and,

(4) Reviewed after five years of funding, with additional funding allowed after recommendation.

H.R. 1157 has 211 cosponsors, and Congressman Baker is committed to working with his colleagues to ensure this legislation is considered by the full House of Representatives.

New Poll on Congressman Baker’s Website

Be sure to visit Congressman Baker's homepage <http://baker.house.gov/> to vote on what new features should be added to the website. Congressman Baker strives to present a user-friendly website with news and information important to you. If you have any suggestions that are not on the list, please share them with the Congressman by clicking here <http://www.baker.house.gov/html/contact_form_email.cfm> .

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