April 15, 2005 - E-Newlsetter Vol II: Ed V
The first few months of the 109th Congress have been fast-paced and several issues of particular concern have come before us.
In this E-Newsletter:
- House Okays Six Years of Federal Funding for 2nd Ave. Subway
- Civil Liberties Cannot Be a Casualty in the War on Terror
- Women’s Equality Still Not in Our Constitution
- 9/11 Victims Ignored In Disaster Relief Bill
- Continuing the Fight for the Health of Rape Victims
- Another Misspent $82 Billion?
- We Will Get a Full Report on the U.S. Government’s Relationship With Nazis
House Okays Six Years of Federal Funding for 2nd Ave. Subway
Good news for 2nd Avenue straphangers! The 2nd Avenue Subway got its most definitive green light for federal funding to date last month when it was included in the six-year transportation funding bill that passed the House of Representatives. Future money for the project was authorized in the Transportation Equity Act, meaning that, in all likelihood, the significant dollar amounts for the subway are on their way. Congress has spent a total of $11.5 million on the subway since 2000, but federal funding for the final design and construction of the project will now accelerate.
Civil Liberties Cannot Be a Casualty in the War on Terror
There have been far too many news reports about the civil liberties and rights of hard-working, taxpaying, patriotic Americans being stripped away during the war on terror. The 9/11 Commission sagely and strongly recommended in its final report that Congress create an independent and powerful civil liberties board to ensure that our intelligence and security agencies do not take away the basic rights of Americans. Such a board was nominally created last year in the landmark intelligence reform bill, but it was not even close to what the commission recommended - the board was made part of the president’s executive office and it was not given subpoena power. Furthermore, the president has yet to appoint a single person to the board and he allocated no money at all for it in his proposed budget. To make the civil liberties board all that it should be, I have introduced a bill that would significantly strengthen the board, bringing it in line with the commission’s recommendations. The legislation is bipartisan, and it has the support of 9/11 commissioners, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Women’s Equality Still Not in Our Constitution
Even though it’s the 21st Century, our society is still stuck in the stone age when it comes to certain issues. One of them is the legal treatment of equal rights for women. Believe it or not, our Constitution still does not guarantee equal rights even now in 2005. Last month, I reintroduced the Equal Rights Amendment - an overdue and common-sense change to our Constitution that actually passed in 1972 but lapsed when it fell three states short of full ratification. It’s highly ironic that our government helped draft and defend a new constitution in Afghanistan that mentions equality for women, but we don’t even have that same right here at home. The women of America have waited long enough for legal equality - passing this amendment should not require even a second thought for anyone who truly believes in gender equality.
9/11 Victims Ignored In Disaster Relief Bill
A few weeks ago, I spoke on the House floor to defend New Yorkers effected by 9/11 who had been unfairly taxed. The House was considering a bill to repeal the tax on disaster recovery grants, but the bill did not include those who received federal aid in the aftermath of the biggest disaster in recent times - 9/11. Just as hurricane victims should not be taxed as they try to recover from their tragedies, the thousands of New Yorkers recovering from 9/11 do not deserve unnecessary taxation either. This is an issue on which I have worked hard ever since 9/11 recovery aid was first disbursed. So far, the majority leadership has been unwilling to take up the matter, but I will continue to speak out.
Continuing the Fight for the Health of Rape Victims
You may recall from previous newsletters that the Department of Justice (DOJ) chose to omit from its first-ever national guidelines for treating rape victims the option of offering the morning-after pill to rape victims. Because of this decision, local medical teams around the country may unintentionally neglect to give victims of sexual assault this vital health option that could prevent thousands of unwanted pregnancies. I, along with 96 colleagues, have already sent a letter to the head of DOJ’s Office of Violence Against Women, urging that emergency contraceptives be included in the guidelines. Now I have introduced bipartisan legislation that would mandate the inclusion of emergency contraceptives. Rape victims deserve to have every health option available offered to them, not withheld from them.
Another Misspent $82 Billion?
Before this this, Congress had already allocated out about $150 billion for the war and reconstruction in Iraq. Much of that money was to go to our brave troops to keep them as safe and secure as possible, as well as to reconstruction projects to rebuild Iraq. As the daughter of a WWII veteran and sister of a Vietnam veteran, I have the utmost respect and honor for our military and I am deeply concerned about our troops’ safety.
To my dismay, earlier this year I received a set of very recent photos straight from the National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division in Tikrit - those are our friends and neighbors from New York. The photos showed the makeshift, unequipped humvees with which our troops are being sent into the field. Seeing these photos, you wonder where all of that $150 billion in taxpayer money has gone. Much of it was earmarked for the troops, but it clearly has not been spent where it matters most. In addition, there are new stories everyday about other misspent money in Iraq, wasteful no-bid contracts and money that has simply been lost. To make matters worse, there is absolutely no adequate accounting by this administration for the taxpayer money that has been spent. The administration has missed deadlines specifically outlined in previous spending bills for details about the money spent and estimates of the money needed in the future.
Because the evidence is so stark that the $150 billion already allocated isn’t being spent in the right manner and because the accounting of the funds for the war has been entirely insufficient, I cannot trust this administration with another $82 billion. For that reason, I along with 42 of my colleagues opposed the most recent supplemental appropriations for the war, and I will continue to vote similarly until this administration regains our trust with our money.
We Will Get a Full Report on the U.S. Government’s Relationship With Nazis
The working group that will issue a definitive and final report on the U.S. government’s cozy post-WWII relationship with Nazis has been granted the time to fully complete its work. A bill I introduced in the House to extend the Interagency Working Group’s life by two years passed unanimously last month. An identical bill had previously passed the Senate, meaning that the president will now sign the extension into law. The extension is vital because the working group is just now being given access to previously-classified CIA documents; producing a complete report by the original March 31 deadline would have been impossible. The American public deserves full understanding and closure on this issue, and it appears that will now be possible.
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CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress
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