[StBernard] The Word from Washington - Balancing the Budget, NATO Meeting and Honoring Veterans Buried Abroad, and Security for Louisiana's Ports

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Jun 20 23:20:38 EDT 2007

Dear Westley,

Hello to all my friends in south Louisiana. I hope this newsletter finds you
and your family happy and healthy. The past few weeks have been very busy in
Washington, and I am happy to share with you the work we have been doing to
serve Louisiana.

Balancing the Nation's Checkbook: New Legislation to Increase Fiscal
Accountability in Government

I've often said I believe government should be run like a business or your
family's budget - only spending what we have the money to pay for.
Unfortunately, over the past six years the federal government has failed to
balance the budget and, as a result, we are now sitting on $8 trillion of
debt. That means every man, woman, and child in this country would have to
pay over $29,000 - on top of your current taxes - in order to eliminate the
national debt. Deficit spending by our government has gotten out of control,
and it needs to stop. If someone ran their business this way, they would
soon have to close down. I believe the government should follow the same

As a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, I am committed
to turning our country's fiscal policies around and restoring much needed
spending restraint on the federal government. Last week, I joined several of
my fellow Blue Dogs in introducing legislation aimed at strengthening
accountability and increasing the transparency of the budget process (see
video to the right that discusses this bill).

The Blue Dog "Strengthening the Budget Process Resolution" ensures that
members of Congress have a sufficient amount of time to properly examine
legislation to determine its actual cost implications. The resolution also
provides that lawmakers have at least three days to review the final text of
any bill before casting their votes and requires that a full Congressional
Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate accompany any bill or conference report
that comes to the House floor. Finally, the resolution requires that a roll
call vote take place on any legislation authorizing or providing new budget
authority of at least $50 million, providing an unprecedented level of
clarity and honesty in the legislative process.

Reigning in wasteful government spending is the first step in balancing our
nation's budget and reducing the deficit. With this legislation, the days of
negotiators adding expensive 11th hour sweeteners to bills in order to gain
votes will be numbered. And lawmakers will know exactly how much of the
taxpayers' money a bill will cost before they have to vote on it. Our
government needs to set fiscal priorities based on needs - not wants - and
this legislation will bring the accountability and transparency necessary to
enforce those priorities.

Building Relationships with America's Allies

For the past 22 months, I have been so focused on south Louisiana's recovery
from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that it seems most other issues have been
pushed to the back burner. This past May I briefly turned my attention to
one of those other priorities, building positive relationships with
America's international allies. Along with several other members of
Congress, I traveled to Spain and Portugal to attend NATO's spring
Parliamentary Assembly, where we met with leaders from across Europe and
talked about issues such as American missile defense shields in Europe, the
Iraq war and global warming.

We also traveled to North Africa and met with government officials in
Morocco and Tunisia, two American allies whose strong support for the U.S.
often goes unnoticed by most Americans.

Rep. Melancon and his wife, Peachy, visit the gravesite of a Louisiana
World War II veteran buried in
Rep. Melancon and his wife, Peachy, visit the gravesite of a Louisiana World
War II veteran buried in an American military cemetery in Tunisia.

While in Tunisia, our congressional delegation visited the North Africa
American Cemetery and Memorial, where 2,841 of our brave servicemen and
women have been laid to rest. Most of the troops honored here lost their
lives in World War II in military activities throughout North Africa and the
Persian Gulf.

While paying our respects to these heroic Americans, the other
Representatives and I laid a memorial
wreath at the Wall of the Missing, where 3,724 names of missing American
servicemembers are engraved. One of the names was Corporal Warrdell X.
Gerhart of New Iberia, Louisiana, whose son and namesake is a friend of my
family's. During the visit, I also had the privilege of visiting the
gravesite of fellow Louisianian Clarence B. Faller, a staff sergeant in the
U.S. Army Air Force. Both Corporal Gerhart and Sergeant Fuller were killed
in World War II and received Purple Hearts for their service to their

I found it awe-inspiring to discover a connection to home in this cemetery a
half a world away. This visit was a proud reminder of the sacrifices so many
brave Louisianians - and all Americans -- have made for our freedom.

Protecting America by Investing in Homeland Security

Last week, I was proud to vote for sweeping legislation to protect America
and invest in homeland security. The Homeland Security Appropriations bill
makes border security a top priority, provides additional border patrol
agents for the country, provides first responders with additional training
and equipment, improves aviation and port security, and includes strong
accountability measures in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being
well spent.

I am pleased the bill also increases funding for the Port Security Grant
program, which has provided millions in federal grant money this year to
ports in south Louisiana to improve security. Last year, I worked to make
sure a major port security bill passed by the House expanded the eligible
criteria for the Port Security Grant Program to include energy ports like
Port Fourchon and the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) in south Louisiana.

As a result, this year ports in the Third Congressional District in south
Louisiana received $4.2 million in port security grants from the federal
government to improve security and protect against possible terrorist
attacks. Louisiana's ports play a vital role in America's energy and
economic security, and I will keep working to make sure the federal
government invests in protecting them.

In closing, let me say again that serving as your representative in Congress
is a great privilege, and I will keep fighting every day for south
Louisiana's needs. Please don't hesitate to call my office in Washington, or
one of my four offices in Louisiana, if there is anything I can help you
with or if you want to share your opinion on upcoming issues in Congress. I
take your viewpoints very seriously and look forward to hearing from you.

Charlie Melancon
U.S. Representative
Third Congressional District of Louisiana

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