Thursday, November 25, 2010


On Thanksgiving I want to remember the good work of the 111th Congress by highlighting memorable legislation passed into law by this Congress.

Miss Kansas - Carolyn Anderson

First I want to say that I am thankful for the service of "Miss Kansas", Carolyn Anderson, who is retiring after 28 years as a Congressional Staffer. Although Miss Kansas hails from the District of Columbia she is a lady about which it can be said that seldom has one done so much for so many from my home state. Thank you Miss Kansas.

Public Law 111-2, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. I am thankful that it is now against the law for women to be paid less than men for doing the same work. I'd be more thankful if the Equal Rights Amendment had been passed.

Public Law 111-3, the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2009. I am thankful that in what are dire economic times for many American families that the Congress did not throw out the babies with the bathwater.

Public Law 111-5, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. I am thankful that three separate projects put our people to work in Osawatomie, that those workers spent money locally, that money benefited local businesses, and that the long term benefit to my home town will make this a better city in which to live. I suspect if folks across America took a hard look they'd find benefits to their communities as well.

Public Law 111-13, the Serve America Act. This law opens the doors of service by Americans for Americans. This law benefits seniors, social entrepreneurs, and veterans.

Public Law 111-15, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Act of 2009. Special kudos to neighboring Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. This law gives the Special Inspector General authority to conduct, supervise, and coordinate an audit or investigation of any action taken with regard to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that the SIG deems appropriate. Senator McCaskill put a watchdog on the henhouse!

Public Law 111-20, the Protecting Incentives for the Adoption of Children with Special Needs Act of 2009. The name really says it all. The nuts and bolts are that it amends the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 to repeal the limitation on FY2008 adoption incentive payments to states to the same manner as such incentives were awarded in FY2008 for the previous fiscal year. I am again thankful we are not throwing out the babies with the bathwater.

Public Law 111-21, the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 (FERA). Among the provisions of this new law which criminalizes certain mortgage fraud practices are extending the prohibition against making false statements in a mortgage application to employees and agents of a mortgage lending business. This law also applies the prohibition against defrauding the federal government to fraudulent activities involving the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) or a federal economic stimulus, recovery, or rescue plan. Good Work Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy.

Public Law 111-23, the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009. Thankfully this law takes a major step rectifying our failure to heed President Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex. Finally the Department of Defense is going to have someone minding the store when it comes to buying all the stuff we buy for our military.

Public Law 111-24, the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. I am thankful for this law which makes having a credit card a manageable factor in an American's life. Gone is the fine print, the movable payment days, the jacked up interest rates and the unpredictability of the wild days of card issuers running roughshod over consumers. This law provides enhanced consumer protection for younger persons.

Public Law 111-87, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009. Science, not hyperbole, is needed to make progress on this disease. I am thankful this law is going to continue taking America into the light of knowledge.

Public Law 111-97, the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act. I am thankful that military spouses have their voting rights and taxpayer rights protected by this law.

Public Law 111-122, the Human Rights Enforcement Act of 2009. I am thankful that our nation is taking a strong stand against genocide.

Public Law 111-140, the Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act. I am thankful that we are being proactive about nuclear materials. This law allows us to pursue bilateral and multilateral international agreements establishing an international framework for determining the source of any confiscated nuclear or radiological material or weapon, as well as the source of any detonated weapon and the nuclear or radiological material used in such a weapon. The more we can account for loose fissionable material the safer this planet will be.

Public Law 111-148, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I am thankful for Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans. I am thankful for the immediate improvements in Health Care for All Americans, the immediate actions that have taken place to preserve and expand coverage, and I am thankful for Health Insurance Market Reforms.

Public Law 111-166, the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act of 2009. I am thankful that the nation recognizes the importance of a Free Press and that our journalists are aware of those nations who condone or participate in violence against journalists.

Public Law 111-167, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Town of Blowing Rock Land Exchange Act of 2009. I am thankful that there is a town called Blowing Rock because the name conjures up such fantastic images in my imagination.

Public Law 111-274, the Special Agent Samuel Hicks Families of Fallen Heroes Act. I am thankful that America has decided not to burden the surviving immediate family members with additional debt incurred as a direct result of the sacrifice of their Fallen Hero. Samuel Hicks was an FBI Special Agent who died in the line of duty serving an arrest warrant on a suspected drug dealer. He is a Fallen Hero.

Public Law 111-196, the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2010. I am thankful that America recognizes that floods constitute a hazard where the risk needs to be shared and private insurers are unwilling to underwrite that risk. See also, Public Law 111-250, the National Flood Insurance Program Reextension Act of 2010.

Public Law 111-198, the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act of 2010. I am thankful that we give tax credits to first time homebuyers, especially in these times of economic hardship.

Public Law 111-203, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. While it does not re-impose the most strict regulatory boundaries which protected the economy from fraud and greed since the Great Depression, this bill is a good start.

Public Law 111-499, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. I am thankful for measures like these that provides money to lend through the aegis of the Small Business Administration. Small businesses have been clamoring for credit to re-tool, re-stock, and re-hire. Here it is.

Public Law 111-244, Rosa's Law. I am thankful that a little girl, 9 years old, with Down Syndrome, has been able to persuade her state to remove the offensive language calling a person with an "intellectual disability" mentally retarded in that state's statutory code. Rosa's Law removes those obsolete and hurtful words from federal law.

Public Law 111-223, the Veterans' Benefits Act of 2010. I am thankful that we are trying to address the needs of our Veterans. The Republic owes them more than just a pat on the back and a thanks. They stood for us and now we must stand for them.

Public Law 111-284, the Mount Stevens and Ted Stevens Icefield Designation Act. I am thankful that the 111th Congress has finally proved it can move legislation quickly when it so desires. This measure was introduced in the Senate on 9/20/10 and signed into law on 10/18/10. See, the children can play well together when they choose not to be obstinate!

There were many more success stories in the 111th Congress for which I was thankful. To take a look at all the Public Laws passed by this Congress go to the Library of Congress website:

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