[StBernard] Washington Report from Rep. Richard H Baker

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Sun Dec 16 22:37:45 EST 2007

December 14, 2007

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

Congress Passes Defense Authorization Legislation

Congress passed legislation this week that provides a 3.5 percent pay raise to military service members. For too long, military pay hikes have lagged behind civilian pay increases, and I am pleased to support this raise for the men and women who put their lives on the line for our country. This legislation, which will be signed into law by President Bush, also includes a provision to boost the top officer in the National Guard from a three-star general to a four-star general and potentially give the appointee added budgetary clout by providing the position with an advisory role to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Other provisions include additional funding for Mine Resistant Armored Vehicles and prohibiting increases in TRICARE and pharmacy user fees for military families.

President Signs Bill Raising Pilots Retirement Age

Yesterday President Bush signed into law legislation I supported to eliminate the age 60 retirement rule for commercial airline pilots. Under this new law, pilots will be able to work until age 65, provided that they undergo rigorous medical reviews and receive up-to-date training to ensure that passengers, and their crews, are not at risk.

Since 1959, the Federal Aviation Administration has required that all U.S. pilots stop flying commercial airplanes at age 60. In November 2006, the International Civil Aviation Organization increased the upper age limit for pilots to age 65. I am pleased that the U.S. has finally followed suit, and pilots in good health will have the opportunity to further use their experience to safely fly in our skies.

Update on Christmas Resolution

Last week, I proudly joined as cosponsor of a House Resolution that stressed the importance of Christmas as a Christian holiday. I heard from many of you who agreed that it is important for us to take time to acknowledge the importance of this special season. Earlier this week, this resolution, H.Res.847, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 372 - 9. Click here <http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc110/hr847_eh.xml> if you would like to read a copy of the resolution.

Protecting Our Children

The House of Representatives recently voted to reauthorize funds for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The National Center provides assistance to families and law enforcement agencies in locating and recovering missing and exploited children. The National Center has helped reunite 115,000 children with their families, and has referred over 500,000 reports of crimes against children on the Internet to law enforcement. Protecting America ’s children from danger is a commitment that I take very seriously, which is why I will continue to support funding and improvements to these successful programs. Click here to learn additional ways to ensure child safety. <http://www.baker.house.gov/html/content.cfm?id=353>

Payments to Disabled Veterans Ruled Tax-Free

Recipients of Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs may be entitled to refunds from the IRS. The CWT program provides assistance to veterans unable to work by teaching new job skills and work habits. Disabled veterans who paid taxes on these benefits in tax years 2004, 2005, or 2006 can claim a credit by filing an amended return. I am pleased this issue has been resolved and the 19,000 veterans affected by this change will receive the appropriate tax relief. Click here for more information. <http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=176442,00.html>

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