May 20, 2005 - E-Newsletter Vol II: Ed VI
I hope you have been having a great Spring and are enjoying the warmer weather. This time of year, things on Capitol Hill tend to heat up too, and the past few weeks have been particularly busy in Washington and New York.
In this E-Newsletter:
- GAO finds New York is Still Suffering From Fiscal Impact of 9/11
- A Victory for Ethics in Congress
- Town Hall Meetings Find President’s Social Security Plan Would Be a Bust for New York Workers and Seniors
- Pharmacies should fill all legal prescriptions
- Nursing Mothers Join Me on Capitol Hill
- Fixing FDNY’s communications system
- Funding for Queens Plaza Transportation Improvements Announced
- No more tax breaks for doing business at clubs that discriminate
- Legislation Sought for Fair Treatment to 9/11 National Guard Responders
GAO finds New York is Still Suffering From Fiscal Impact of 9/11
A new Government Accountability Office report that I requested confirms that New York City lost between $2.5 and $2.9 billion in tax revenue as a result of 9/11, while the State of New York lost an additional $2.9 billion in revenue. With zero funds from Washington so far for these losses, the GAO report was a sharp reminder that the Bush administration and Congress need to do much more to contribute a fair share to New York’s recovery. Many needs remain in the recovery process after the terrorist attacks, including aid for the tax revenue losses from the disaster, the repeal of wrongful taxation on millions of dollars in 9/11 aid, and fair funding for the health needs of the sick and injured from the recovery effort. I remain committed to the ongoing fight for a fair and adequate response to New York’s recovery.
A Victory for Ethics in Congress
Amidst the ethics scandals that are flying fast and furious around Capitol Hill, my party was able to secure a tremendous victory for ethical conduct. In a vote on the House floor, the ethics rules - which were appallingly loosened at the beginning of the 109th Congress - were in large part returned to their previous state. There have been far too many abuses of power in Congress recently for those in the leadership to continue to go unchecked. It is tremendously important that we took action, but there must also be impartial and tough ethics investigations into any and all alleged improper actions that may have taken place.
Town Hall Meetings Find President’s Social Security Plan Would Be a Bust for New York Workers and Seniors
In the auditoriums of Long Island High School in Queens and Simon Baruch Middle School in Manhattan, I had the recent opportunity to address constituent concerns about Social Security and the Bush administration’s current plan to overhaul the system. With more than 300 New Yorkers attending, I explained my view that Social Security is a vital program for our nation’s seniors and must be protected, and that the President’s privatization scheme amounts to a guaranteed slash in benefits. Privatization will also do nothing for the solvency of the system and will require massive federal borrowing to finance.
Recently, President Bush has elaborated on his proposal, but his new plan is just as bad if not worse than before, because it would squeeze the middle class with the highest level of cuts in benefits as a percentage of pre-retirement income. Rather than work to strengthen Social Security for future generations, I believe the President's misguided plan would hurt the vast majority of Americans.
Pharmacies Should Fill All Legal Prescriptions
Around the country, women have been walking into pharmacies with legal prescriptions for birth control and walking out with nothing. That’s not what should happen when you go to a drug store. The problem is that pharmacists with their own agendas are flatly refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control because of their personal beliefs. In some cases, the pharmacists have even refused to give the prescription slips back to the customer. It’s hard to believe that in 2005, women are being denied access to birth control.
Working with Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Reps. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), I have introduced the Access to Legal Pharmaceuticals Act (ALPhA), which would guarantee that all legal prescriptions will get filled – including birth control prescriptions. The legislation does not target the radical pharmacists who have personal objections to filling birth control prescriptions. Instead, it would direct the pharmacies to fill all legal prescriptions - if that means a different pharmacist has to handle the prescription, so be it. Right now, the number of states considering initiatives to protect the pharmacists is far greater than the number of states considering action to protect the customers. It is imperative that we take Congressional action to protect women’s rights to access birth control before this problem gets any more out of hand.
Nursing Mothers Join Me on Capitol Hill
Last week, I was joined by dozens of nursing mothers at a “nurse-in” on Capitol Hill to express support for the right to breastfeed and for my bill, the Breastfeeding Promotion Act. Scientific studies have proven that breastfeeding is the healthiest form of nutrition for infants. However, new mothers have faced discrimination when they try to breastfeed, and many of them don’t even have sanitary places to breastfeed at work.
To grow healthier children, my bill would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect a woman’s right to breastfeed, and it would give tax incentives to companies that establish sanitary places for their employees to breastfeed. You wouldn’t eat in the bathroom, so why should we expect mothers to breastfeed there?
Fixing FDNY’s Communications System
During the World Trade Center attack in 1993, during 9/11, and during the blackout of 2003, the New York Fire Department’s communications system failed in certain places in the city during certain high volume periods. Even though this body of evidence exists, FDNY’s communications system is still not adequate.
To make sure that our city’s bravest can communicate with each other at all times from all parts of the city, I have reintroduced the 9/11 Can You Hear Me Now Act. The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to fix FDNY’s communications system within a year. Since the first attack, we’ve had well over a decade to get the communications system right. There is no reason to wait any longer.
Funding for Queens Plaza Transportation Improvements Announced
On April 15, I was thrilled to present the City of New York with a check for $10.6 million dollars to be put towards improving Queens Plaza’s transportation system. The principal goal of this new funding is to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in the area by encouraging wider use of mass transit and pedestrian activity with improved bicycle and foot paths. The federal funding for these improvements was obtained through $1 million in funds through a Fiscal Year 2005 transportation appropriation, while the additional $9.6 million was obtained through a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant. Queens Plaza is key to improving the environment and quality of life for Long Island City residents, and I was proud to announce these federal funds to enhance the Plaza.
No More Tax Breaks for Doing Business at Clubs that Discriminate
They call The Masters golf tournament “a tradition unlike any other.” Over the past few years, the American public has learned that, at Augusta National Golf Club, it’s a tradition of discrimination. But although the world focuses on Augusta (and its discriminatory policies) one week a year, discrimination occurs every day at private clubs – and taxpayers are footing the bill.
Currently, there is no law to prohibit businesses or individuals from taking tax breaks for business conducted at a discriminatory club. The Ending Tax Breaks for Discrimination Act, which I reintroduced with Rep. Brad Sherman (CA-27), would get rid of these tax breaks. It’s bad enough for a private club to decide to discriminate. It’s worse to ask American taxpayers – many of whom would be appalled at the discrimination – to foot the bill.
Legislation Sought for Fair Treatment to 9/11 National Guard Responders
National Guard soldiers who served in lower-Manhattan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks are struggling to obtain federal retirement benefits for their service. While some units within the same National Guard division will obtain these benefits because they were asked to protect federal sites like West Point, other members of the Guard were activated under state duty for service in lower-Manhattan and are being denied federal benefits. This is the wrong way to treat those who responded first to the nation's worst disaster site in generations, since their work was clearly the most dangerous, including potential long-term health impacts. I have introduced legislation to ensure that all members of the National Guard receive fair federal retirement benefits for 9/11 related service. All National Guard troops deserve equal status for their service in that time of national crisis.
Please feel free to share this email with anyone that may be interested in these issues. As always, I appreciate your comments, and invite you to write to me through my website, http://maloney.house.gov/.
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress
P.S. If you would like to send me a message, please do not respond to this unattended email account, but instead click here. I look forward to hearing from you!