Legislative activity an important victory

Published 2:23 am Monday, May 15, 2006

By By Jo Bonner
This past week brought a flurry of legislative activity and major accomplishments by the House of Representatives. Congress completed work on two major pieces of legislation: H.R. 5122, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, and H.R. 4297, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005.
The completion of these measures represents important victories in two major areas of concern: lower taxes for Americans and increased military and defense capabilities.
National Defense Authorization
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 is the annual funding blueprint for the Department of Defense and America's military activities.
This bill reflects the continuing threat our country faces, and its passage will help ensure that we continue to stay one step ahead of the enemy.
Some of the important provisions of this legislation include:
A 2.7 percent across-the-board pay raise for members of the military; $50 billion in supplemental funding to support the global war on terror; An increase of $390 million for continued production of enhanced body armor and body armor components; and Additional funding for force-protection needs, including up-armored Humvees, improvised explosive device (IED) jammers, and Humvee IED protection kits and gunner protection kits.
If we are to expect an efficient and effective national defense, we must first meet the expectation of the troops that we will provide the necessary training and support they and their families need, and this legislation will do just that.
The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005
"In the last five years, the tax relief [Congress] passed has left $880 billion in the hands of American workers, investors, small businesses, and families – and they have used it to help produce more than four years of uninterrupted economic growth. Yet the tax relief is set to expire in the next few years. If we do nothing, American families will face a massive tax increase they do not expect and will not welcome."-President Bush, State of the Union address, January 31, 2006.
Congress did act, and by a vote of 244-185, the House passed H.R. 4297 in order to prevent tax increases on small business owners, seniors, and families.
Our economy has created 5.2 million jobs since May 2003, and unemployment is at a five year low. It is only logical that as we continue to enjoy unparalleled economic growth that Congress extends the tax relief that helped spur that growth in the first place.
Many opponents of this legislation have argued that the lower rates on capital gains/dividends only benefit the rich. That's simply false. Nearly 60 percent of Americans receiving capital gains or dividend income have incomes of $100,000 or less, and 28 million families will benefit by an average of almost $990 on their 2006 tax returns-8.5 million of whom are seniors receiving an average benefit of $1,144.
This tax relief measure will assist seniors living off dividends, small business owners who will be able to write off business expenses, and working families currently burdened by unnecessary taxation.
Among other things, the legislation will do the following:
Respecting our Fallen Heroes
The recent reports of people using the funerals of our fallen military heroes to push their own political agenda are appalling to me.
I joined 173 of my House colleagues to cosponsor legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) that will prevent protesters at the funerals of military men and women who die while serving their country. The Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act, H.R. 5037, was passed by the House last week.
The legislation would prohibit protests on the property of veterans' cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery unless approved by the cemetery in advance. If approved, protesters would be limited to holding demonstrations only within 500 feet of the cemetery an hour before or after the funeral. The penalties would be set at up to one year in jail and allow for fines.
At the very least, the men and women in our armed forces deserve the respect of an honorable, dignified funeral. The notion that some would use this difficult, personal time of a family to push their own political agenda is incomprehensible to me.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox