View From the Capitol - Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler's Newsletter for the Week of May 20-24, 2013
First, our prayers and thoughts are with the victims and the families of those lost in the tornado that tore through Oklahoma. We pray that God will provide strength and support during this sad time. And, we say ‘thank you’ to the first responders and the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to aid the victims of this tragedy.
This tragedy reminds us of how important it is to have an emergency plan for your family, business, school and church. While we all hope and pray something like this does not happen, having a plan can make the difference between life and death, and help reunite families as soon as possible. More information on emergency preparedness can be found here: http://www.redcross.org/prepare
This week, the U.S. House took an important step toward addressing America’s energy needs. It approved construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline to create jobs throughout the country while providing the United States with a steady flow of energy from Canada.
It has been more than four years since backers of the Keystone XL Pipeline first submitted an application to the U.S. State Department to build this project to create jobs and bring greater energy security to the United States. The builder of the pipeline plans to spend $7 billion in the U.S. and create 20,000 jobs. It is estimated the pipeline would move up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day – about half the amount the U.S. imports from the Middle East. By denying approval of this project, President Obama is providing China with an opportunity to gain access to Canada’s rich oil supply. It is important to point out that an extensive environmental review was completed in August of 2011, demonstrating there would be limited adverse environmental impacts during construction and operation.
The House voted six times in the last session of Congress to allow the pipeline to be built, but President Obama is still blocking this bipartisan common-sense effort. We are calling on him once again to support American jobs and to embrace this common sense idea. It is time for President Obama to join the House with its “all-of-the-above” energy plan for the good of American workers and our energy security.
On another matter, the House has approved the Smarter Solutions for Students Act to allow the free market, not Washington politicians, set student loan rates. Under the legislation, student loan interest rates would reset once a year and move with the free market.
Under current law, most borrowers are stuck with a high fixed interest rate set by Congress that does not reflect today’s lower interest rates. Our bill ensures all borrowers can take advantage of lower interest rates when they are available and protects borrowers against higher interest rates with a reasonable cap. It will protect taxpayers and make higher education more affordable for students, allowing the market to set the rates rather than have students and parents forced to revert to a pre-set government rate of 6.8 percent.
The student loan rate issue should not be a political football that is subject to election-year campaigning and other shenanigans. This bill strengthens student loan programs to serve the best interests of both borrowers and taxpayers.
Finally, this weekend marks the traditional start of the summer vacation season, but Memorial Day weekend must remain a time to pay tribute to America's fallen heroes who gave their last full measure of devotion preserving our freedoms. As a Member of Congress whose district has two major military installations - Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base - I have had the privilege of visiting with families who have lost loved ones for the cause of freedom. It is a humbling experience to hear their stories of pride mixed with grief. I consider it my highest privilege to get to recognize them and their loved one for the sacrifices they have made, and to thank them on behalf of a grateful district.
As we honor our fallen soldiers and thank those who are serving our country let us pledge to never forget and to carry on their patriotic cause. I am reminded of the charge of President Abraham Lincoln. He spoke these words as he dedicated the Soldiers’ Cemetery at Gettysburg, not five months after the battle. He said:
"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
On this Memorial Day, let us remember; let us be grateful; let us renew ourselves to the cause of freedom so future generations will see its light grow, flourish, and shine brightly for years to come.