Weekly Update from Rep. Denham - April 20, 2012
It was a very busy time for me in D.C. this week. On Monday, I was given the opportunity to testify before the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health to urge passage of my bill, H.R. 3245, the Efficient Service for Veterans Act. This legislation will streamline the bureaucratic processes for veterans at Vet Centers by allowing them to access their DD-214 at any of the 300 Vet Centers across the country. Vet Centers have a tremendous impact in our communities, and this bill would improve their service to our veterans.
You may have heard about the Congressional hearing I held on Tuesday to investigate the outrageous culture of corruption, waste and abuse of the General Services Administration (GSA) brought to light by GSA’s Investigator General this week. In 2010, an investigation into GSA’s wasteful spending was ordered after the agency hosted an almost one-million dollar conference in Las Vegas using taxpayer-funded money. That investigation uncovered even more instances of waste and abuse by GSA revealing a total lack of regard for our taxpayers’ hard-earned dime.
We learned at the hearing that GSA’s culture of corruption and waste goes a lot farther and a lot deeper than just the Las Vegas conference. There’s clear indication that GSA, and the Western Region Offices especially, have been abusing taxpayer dollars for years as their own personal slush fund to pay for lavish parties and exotic vacations. GSA has continued to operate under a culture of abuse with no consequences. I share in the public outrage and am committed to finding answers and taking appropriate action so this never happens again. You can hear more about the hearing and my plans to put a stop to out-of-control spending by government agencies by watching some of this week’s interviews below:
Rep. Denham Discusses GSA's Culture of Lavish Spending with CNN's Carol Costello - April 16, 2012
Rep. Denham Discusses Systemic Nature of GSA Waste on Fox News' Happening Now – April 16, 2012
Rep. Denham on Fox Business' Lou Dobbs: GSA Waste Will Not Be Tolerated – April 18, 2012
I met with local officials from the Valley who were in Washington. I spent time talking with them and listening to their regional priorities for the Valley, including Highway 99, goods movement, high speed rail, and air quality issues.
I met with the farmers and ranchers from the California Farm Bureau Federation about funding for invasive pests and heard their latest thoughts on how to solve the man-made drought in the Valley. They also shared how the estate tax, also known as the death tax, poses problems for family farms, which, due to the death tax more often have to be sold rather than handed down to the next generation. Taxes should not determine whether grandparents can hand down their property and business to their children and grandchildren or whether their life’s work must be sold to circumvent having to pay a large sum to the government.
I had the opportunity to meet and congratulate the recently confirmed Adjutant General for the California National Guard, Major General Dave Baldwin. Last year, General Baldwin was recalled from Afghanistan to be appointed Adjutant General, and was confirmed in March 2012 by the Senate. We were able to have a great conversation about how the California National Guard responds to emergencies within the state and supports our active Armed Forces overseas. It is always an honor to meet with our military men and woman and learn what I can do to help their critical mission of protecting our country.
The National Cancer Registrars Association came in to meet with me this week to discuss pressing healthcare issues facing Californians. Representatives from the National Cancer Registrars explained the value of cancer registries, which provide information to healthcare providers and help monitor and improve cancer treatment and prevention. I am always encouraged to hear about advancements that will help prevent and provide a cure for cancer and heart disease, two tragic leading causes of death.
The House of Representatives also passed legislation this week with my support to open up more federal land for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting sports. I firmly support the Second Amendment right to bear arms for self defense and recreational purposes. I also supported House approval of the Small Business Tax Deduction Act, which allows small businesses with fewer than 500 employees to take a 20 percent tax cut to make it easier for small-business owners to invest working capital into their businesses and create more jobs. As a small business owner myself, I know firsthand the difficulties our job creators face in the Valley and the importance of tax and regulatory relief our local businesses need to grow and put people back to work.
After multiple Committee hearings almost every day this week, I have a lot to consider regarding legislative proposals moving forward and putting what I learned into action. Please let me know your thoughts and concerns about issues facing our community, and continue to spread the word about our weekly newsletter. You may also visit my website, facebook, and twitter, where you can find regular updates about my work at home in the Valley and in Washington.