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Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 7/27
Korean War Memorial
Today marks the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, and I hope we can all take a moment to acknowledge these vets who fought bravely in a war that is undeservedly forgotten by some. This year's "Farm Families" have been announced, and you can find more information about farm families in the 7th District below. I was proud to support two important pieces of legislation this week that will hopefully be passed into law so we can reduce red tape regulations and require greater accountability from the Federal Reserve Bank through an audit. Constituents in the 7th District have contacted me with concerns about how the new redistricting plan will affect them, so this newsletter will provide some helpful information about the 2012 congressional districts. Finally, an update from the Agriculture Committee and the farm bill follows.
UPDATE: It was announced late Friday afternoon that the House will vote on a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill next week. See below for further details.
Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District
Korean War Armistice: 60th Anniversary
Photos courtesy of David Hammer
Friday, July 27, 2012, marks the 60th anniversary to the end of the Korean War. Today we honor the Korean War Armistice Day, a day set aside to ensure America remembers the sacrifices and the patriotic service of the Korean War veterans.
The American men and women who served in the Korean Theater sacrificed at great cost to protect our national security by preventing the expansion of communism on the Korean Peninsula. At that time, the United States and our allies feared that the newly formed People's Republic of China would follow the invasion of South Korea with an attack on Taiwan (formerly known as Formosa), where Nationalist forces that had been aided by the United States fled after the Communists took control of mainland China.
The legacy of their efforts is the Democratic freedom enjoyed by the people of South Korea. The collective cost to the United States was terribly high, including more than 54,000 killed, over 100,000 wounded, over 7,000 taken prisoner of war, and over 8,000 missing in action. Our country owes all veterans of this conflict a great debt for their service. There are 2.5 million living Korean War veterans in the United States today and the State of Minnesota is home to 35,000 of them, with roughly 5,000 residing in the 7th Congressional District.
Despite the great loss of life in such a short time, Korea was actually a United Nations conflict that occurred between World War II and the Vietnam War, and therefore was simply forgotten by many. I commend the men and women who served valiantly and with little recognition. These brave veterans returned home and went back to work to make our country the best it can be. Let us respect their service and sacrifice through fully supporting programs which they truly deserve: adequate funding of medical facilities including mental health programs; more Community Based Outreach Clinics to bring health care closer to our aging veterans; more coordination among federal agencies for our homeless veterans; and continued support of education and rehabilitation. Given the sacrifices of our veterans, we owe them much more than just a debt of gratitude--we owe them the care that they earned.
I hope the flags displayed on this day will remind Americans to remember and recognize the Korean War veterans of a war that has yet to end.
2012 Farm Families
For over two decades, the University of Minnesota Farm Family Recognition Program has honored farm families throughout Minnesota for their contributions to the agriculture industry and their local communities. Recently, the University of Minnesota released the names of those to be recognized as this year's "2012 Farm Family" at the annual Farmfest event at the Gilfillan Estate. This year, 76 farm families throughout Minnesota are being recognized by the University, and almost half of them are from the 7th District! This award recognizes these farm families for their contributions to agriculture and their communities. The 2012 Farm Family Recognition program will take place on Thursday, August 9th at 1:30 p.m. at Farmfest. To learn more about the Farm Families being recognized in 2012, visit the 2012 Farm Families page.
Redistricting in Minnesota
As you may know, the new redistricting plans will shift the borders for a number of congressional districts in Minnesota. These new "redistricted" plans will take effect with the 2012 election. To learn more, you can enter your zip code to determine your district for the 2012 election by using this helpful online resource: http://www.gis.leg.mn/redist2010/Congressional/C2012/openlayers/index.php?name=C2012
H.R. 4078, Red Tape Reduction
I supported H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act because this legislation will help reduce regulatory burdens on businesses so that they can focus on growing their business and creating jobs. This legislation will slow down the regulatory process by temporarily halting new major regulations, allowing for more transparency in agency settlements, and streamlining the federal permitting process. I understand the value of standards and regulations based on solid evidence, with appropriate consideration and transparency paid to implementing laws passed by Congress. I support comprehensive regulatory reform, that includes across-the-board requirements for departments and agencies to appropriately evaluate risks, weigh costs and assess the benefits of all regulations. I believe that the Red Tape Reduction Act provides positive steps forward in reforming the regulatory system to create greater accountability and transparency.
House Passes the Audit the Fed Bill
This week I also supported H.R. 459, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, a bill that I had cosponsored back in April. The Federal Reserve was first audited in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act which revealed several serious conflicts of interest. For example, at the peak of the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta made several major loans to SunTrust Bank, totaling at least $7.5 billion. It turns out that the chairman and CEO of SunTrust also sits on the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank that decided to lend money to SunTrust Bank. H.R. 459 would require the Comptroller General to perform a full audit of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Federal Reserve banks by the end of 2012. This audit would significantly enhance the transparency of the nation's central bank. While the Dodd-Frank audit provided more information about the Federal Reserve, it did not go far enough. I supported the Federal Reserve Transparency Act because we need a more complete accounting of the nation's monetary policy.
Ag Committee Hearing: Oversight of Financial Markets (7/25)
The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on Wednesday, “Oversight of the Swaps and Futures Markets: Recent Events and Impending Regulatory Reforms.” The hearing helped members obtain not only a better understanding of the LIBOR manipulation and the fraud at Peregrine Financial Group, but also an update on the MF Global bankruptcy and Dodd-Frank implementation. I think we also need to look at the bigger picture. I’m not sure the regulators will ever be able to truly keep up with Wall Street and their activities. We need to ask the questions, are these banks and firms getting too large to regulate; are these markets becoming too complex to oversee properly? We need to further re-examine the deregulation of banks and markets that occurred at the end of the last century and see if that is contributing to the problems we are seeing today.
Farm Bill Update
The House adjourned for another week without considering the Agriculture Committee-passed 2012 Farm Bill (H.R. 6083). House Leaders have not put the bill on the schedule for next week either which means the House will recess for the month of August without passing a five year farm bill. There is no excuse for Congress not to act, especially as much of the country is affected by drought. There is much speculation on Capitol Hill about possible next steps, such as extending the current farm bill for one year. I’m open to these ideas but only if we have the assurance from Leadership that this will be the means to work out our differences with the Senate in conference committee and ultimately pass a five-year farm bill.
UPDATED on 7/27/2012 at 5:54 p.m.: Late Friday afternoon it was announced that the House next week will vote on a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill coupled with an extension of disaster aid. I am against an extension and will remain opposed until I receive assurances that this is the path to conference a five-year farm bill with the Senate. Farmers need the certainty of a five-year bill and Congress should not be playing politics with our rural economy, one of our nation’s economic bright spots.
I always enjoy meeting with young students, and this week I had the opportunity to speak with Madolynn Morken (MADISON), an intern with David Turch and Associates here in D.C. Madolynn attends the College of St. Ben's and St. John's and will graduate this December with a degree in political science (7/26)
Meeting with Tillman Military Scholars, pictured from left to right are Amber Manke, Laura Tillman, Nick Swaggert, Josh Martin (Representative, University of Minnesota) (7/24)
This week I met scholars from the Pat Tillman Foundation. They all attend the University of Minnesota and were in town to build awareness for the Foundation. The University of Minnesota is recognized by the Pat Tillman Foundation as being among the nation’s leaders in support services for student veterans, active servicemembers and their spouses on campus. In 2008, the Pat Tillman Foundation established the Tillman Military Scholars program, dedicated to supporting educational opportunities for servicemembers and their spouses by filling financial gaps in the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. The program covers not only direct study-related expenses such as tuition and fees, but also other needs including housing and childcare.
Meeting with Dr. William Craft (7/24)
This week, I met with President William Craft, who has just finished his first year as the President of Concordia College. During our meeting, we laid the groundwork for a continuing relationship and discussion on the issues facing higher education and how we can work together to create a better system for future Minnesotans. We also talked about renewable energy sources and the general state of American politics.
Meeting with Ducks Unlimited. Pictured top are Jim Goodman, Philip and Toni Brink (TRAVERSE CTY), Dale Hall (CEO, Ducks Unlimited). Pictured below are Philip and Toni Brink, Jim Goodman, Whitney Tawney (Public Policy Specialist at Ducks Unlimited) (7/24)
The Hennen family (MINNEOTA) brought their girls to visit my office in Washington D.C. while their boys stayed home in Minnesota to do some fishing with Grandma and Grandpa. Pictured above are Lisa and Wayne and their daughters Isabelle, Grace, and Mariah (7/24)
Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and Caucus (7/24)
I attended a breakfast this week, held by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, to address members of the organization and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, to discuss the 2012 Farm Bill and its implications with regards to conservation funding. It was great to spend time with like-minded sportsmen and women who care about conservation efforts in this country, as well as how we can work together to protect habitat and wildlife for the next generation.