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This Week in Washington

By Staff
Gas prices continue to break economic records
By Jo Bonner
The one issue dominating the correspondence with my office is soaring gas prices. Day after day and week after week, gas prices break one record after another.
Currently, here at home gasoline is averaging $3.95 per gallon, up a $1.00 per gallon since this time last year.
Whether someone calls my office or sees me at the store - the same question so many of you have is - when is Congress going to take action to bring the cost of energy down?
Amazingly, the majority party, which sets the agenda for the House floor, has failed to bring any legislation providing meaningful energy solutions up for a vote on the House floor.
For each week the House is in session for the duration of the summer, House Republicans will use a parliamentary procedure known as a discharge petition to try to force the leadership to consider pending energy legislation geared at lowering energy prices.
Pending legislation, which has not been acted on for 30 consecutive days, can be brought directly to the House floor for a vote once 218 Members sign a discharge petition.
The bills my Republican colleagues and I are asking to be considered immediately are:
– H.R. 3089, No More Excuses Energy Act of 2007
– H.R. 2279, Expand American Refining Capacity at Closed Military Bases
– H.R. 5656, To Repeal the Ban on Acquiring Alternative Fuels
– H.R. 2208, Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Act
– H.R. 2493, Fuel Mandate Reduction Act of 2007
– H.R. 6107 - American Energy Independence and Price Reduction Act
– H.R. 6108 - Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act of 2008
I have cosponsored all of the above bills, which would help to bring down the price of fuel at the pump by at least by $1.98, and I urge my colleagues to join with us in passing these worthy bills.
Intelligence Gathering
Another issue that continues to be ignored by the House Democratic majority is the Foreign Surveillance Act (FISA), a critical anti-terror law.
In February, due to inaction by this Congress, the temporary updates that modernized this 30 year old legislation were allowed to expire. The update, known as the Protect America Act, filled gaps and loopholes in the original, dated legislation.
A report in last week’s New York Times said that government officials are already preparing for “worrisome gaps in intelligence” because of Congress’s failure to act.
Officials are “preparing classified briefings for Congress on the intelligence ‘degradation’ they say could occur if” Congress does not act soon.
Our intelligence agencies must have the ability to monitor foreign, terrorist telephone calls and emails - without one hand tied behind our backs. Yet, it’s more than 120 days later, and no action has been taken.
Troop Funding
The House majority also continues to ignore the fact that our troops are in desperate need of funding.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has warned that delaying the passage of the emergency troop funding bill “may result in civilian furloughs, limits on training and curbing family support activities.”
In order for the Army to meet its next military and civilian payroll, Congress last week had to reprogram, or shift, funds into Army accounts.
Early last week, Deputy Secretary Gordon England asked all military departments and agencies to begin planning for a possible shutdown.
The time for this House Democratic Majority to focus on the priorities of our nation is now. Our economy, our national security, and our troops in harm’s way depend on it.
My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721 or visit my website at http://bonner.house.gov.
Jo Bonner is a U.S. congressman. His column appears weekly.