Protection of United States ports is crucial

Published 1:59 am Monday, May 8, 2006

By By Jo Bonner
We continue to fight the war on terror, and security of our nation must be our main priority. Since September 11, 2001, the vulnerability of our nation's ports has become a major concern to people all across this country, and obviously, the security of the Port of Mobile is a major concern to those of us living in Alabama's 1st Congressional District.
In order to more carefully monitor the goods and cargo passing through our nations ports of entry, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R. 4954, the Security and Accountability for Every Port (SAFE) Act, by a vote of 421-2.
This bipartisan bill will strengthen security at our nation's ports, eliminate weaknesses in our defense system, and make it more difficult for terrorists to mount an attack.
Terrorists are always looking for ways to exploit our vulnerabilities, and securing our ports is an important way to stay ahead of them.
Some of the major provisions of the SAFE Act are:
Last week, the House also passed H.R. 4975, the Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 as part of our commitment to increased transparency and greater accountability in Congress.
I am saddened that the recent actions of a few individuals have reflected poorly on this entire body. We must continue to hold ourselves to the highest standards.
In addition to holding the members of Congress and those who work with them to the highest standards, H.R. 4975 does the following:
Energy and Gas Prices
Energy and gas prices continue to be one of the main sources of concern to most of us. Last week, the House also passed H.R. 5253, the Federal Energy Price Protection Act, which will prohibit price gouging, at any time, for gasoline, diesel fuel, crude oil, home heating oil, and biofuels.
In the coming weeks, the House is also expected to consider opening up ANWR, to streamline the list of boutique fuels in order to alleviate shortages and increase the American energy supply, and encourage innovation for advancements in hydrogen technology.
As with most problems we encounter in Congress, there is no easy answer, and we must continue to explore all alternatives.
Medicare drug program deadline
This is a final reminder that the last day to sign up for the Medicare prescription drug benefit is fast approaching. The deadline to sign up is Monday, May 15, 2006.
Nearly 30 million Americans are now receiving prescription drug coverage. In Alabama's First Congressional District, 81,940 seniors, or 75% of the Medicare eligible beneficiaries, have enrolled in the prescription drug program.
Seniors who do not sign up by May 15, 2006, will have to wait until November 15, 2006, to join and may pay a penalty, if they choose to join after that time.
To sign up, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and talk to a Medicare representative 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also sign up at
My staff and I work for you. Please call if we can be of service.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

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