Senator Pat Toomey's E-Update: Working With Both Sides To Solve Our Budget Crisis
Working With Both Sides To Solve Our Budget Crisis
If you followed the recent goings-on in Washington this past month, you are aggravated. I understand. This has been a frustrating time for me, and for anybody who wants to see our country on a sustainable fiscal path.
After almost three weeks in shutdown mode, Congress extended government funding and raised the debt ceiling by several hundred billion dollars with nothing to show for it - no reforms that rein in our country's deficits and debt, no spending constraints, no changes whatsoever.
While this result is disappointing, I hope we will see a more fruitful outcome in December as members of the House and Senate meet over the next two months to iron out a budget. I will serve as a member of this conference committee. While the chances of us reaching an agreement are uncertain, I will be adamant about the need for fiscal discipline.
We need to keep the 2011 bipartisan spending caps in place. However, I'd like to give the administration and agency managers greater flexibility to prioritize, fund, or cut programs under these caps. Finally, to ensure that we do not face another shutdown in the future, I will be working to pass legislation that will keep the government funded if Congress does not pass appropriations bills.
We must stop lurching from crisis to crisis. Our country needs less spending, not more. Washington needs more commonsense governing, not less. Most of all, the American people need leadership. I believe we can take real steps to avert future fiscal cliffs and shutdowns while holding fast on modest spending restraints. Finding common ground on reining in spending, without sacrificing principles, is possible. I will work with members of both parties to achieve it. You can also watch my Fox 43 interview here.
Pressing Attorney General Holder To Allow Children To Get A Better Education
I have called for Attorney General Eric Holder to explain why his Justice Department is suing to trap 570 needy children in failing public schools based solely on their skin color.
The Louisiana Scholarship Program, launched three years after Hurricane Katrina, grants poor children the opportunity to escape failing public schools and attend a different school chosen by their parents. Last year, the program helped over 5,700 needy children (91 percent of whom are minorities) and raised test scores - all while saving taxpayers $18 million.
Attorney General Holder's Justice Department is suing to return 570 of these children to failing schools, on the grounds that it is more important to preserve a school's racial make-up than help children. For example, the Justice Department argues that six African-American children should be returned to a failing elementary school, to change the school from 29.2 percent to 30.1 percent African-American. If these six children were white, the Justice Department would not be trying to deny them a better education.
Our children are not statistics. They are young minds that deserve every opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty and violence through a good education. The fact that Attorney General Holder would block any child from obtaining a good education is bad enough. The fact that he is doing so based solely on the children's race is inexcusable. These 570 kids deserve to know why they are not entitled to the best education possible. The American taxpayers deserve to know why their money is being spent to undermine their learning. That is why I have sent a letter demanding an explanation. America's children deserve better.
Fighting For Consumer Choice And Fixing The President's Broken Promise On Health Plans
"If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan." That's what the President told us about his health care law. As NBC News has reported, that is not the case. This week, I sponsored a bill to allow Americans who like their health care plans to keep them. With Sen. Ron Johnson, I have introduced the "If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep It Act."
The President's promise that those satisfied with their health care would not see a change in coverage was critical to selling it to the American people and to convincing Congressional Democrats to vote for it. The President made that promise repeatedly. That promise unfortunately has been broken. I have heard from many Pennsylvanians that their plans will be voided. Millions of other Americans are in the same boat.
I have long opposed the President's health care law and believe it cannot be fixed. However, I understand we cannot repeal or defund it as long as Democrats control the Senate and President Obama - who signed it into law - resides in the While House. But we can eliminate some of the most egregious parts. And we should hold the President accountable to the promises he made when attempting to sell this monstrosity to the American people.
Announcing Nearly $2 Million For Esperanza in Philadelphia
I am excited to announce that the Justice Department has awarded a $1,999,571 grant to Esperanza, a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization that works with clergy, churches, and community leaders to strengthen the Hispanic community. I was happy to write a letter of support for their Multi-State Mentoring Initiative grant application in May, and I am glad to see that their need has been recognized.
These funds will be used to continue an innovative mentoring program which will help at-risk and underserved children from low income communities reach their potential. I commend Esperanza for their good work and wish them congratulations on this award.
"We are deeply appreciative of Sen. Toomey's support of our proposal," said Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr., President of Esperanza. "We know, based on best practice research, that children do better academically and socially when they have the presence of a caring mentor in their lives . . . We are grateful for the opportunity to make a positive contribution in the lives of Hispanic and other minority young people, and we look forward to the positive impact we will see over the next two years."
Protecting Consumers From Wasteful EPA Mandates
I have called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lessen the renewable fuel standard (RFS) that refiners must meet when manufacturing gasoline - and to do so in a timely manner.
According to federal law, every November, the EPA must announce a sensible RFS mandate for the upcoming calendar year. Unfortunately, the EPA failed to meet this responsibility last year when it ignored the deadline and increased the RFS mandate on gasoline manufacturers. This led to increased compliance costs for many Pennsylvania employers, including refineries located in Southeast Pennsylvania.
The EPA's failure to follow the law last year put many good-paying jobs in Southeast Pennsylvania in jeopardy. I urge the EPA to follow federal law and announce the RFS for 2014 in a timely manner. Additionally, I encourage the EPA to establish standards that ease unnecessary burdens on employers and consumers across our commonwealth. The RFS requires fuel suppliers to blend millions of gallons of biofuels - most often corn ethanol - into the nation's gasoline supplies. It drives up gas prices, increases food costs, damages car engines, and harms the environment. This Washington mandate is anything but sensible.
I support repealing the RFS. Earlier this year, I co-authored a bipartisan bill and offered an amendment in efforts to eliminate this costly mandate.
You can read my letter to the EPA here.