A Look Back on 2001
2001 has been a year that has changed the lives of each of us. Nearly nothing is as it was just twelve months ago, nothing except our values. That was seen again and again in 2001. We reached out to our nation in need, offering our support and our prayers. It is a response that has, thankfully, been joined by a focused response from Washington.
Congress has worked quickly in a “non-partisan” way to respond to September 11th’s tragic events. We have passed legislation necessary to fight the war on terrorism by producing the tools our nation needs during this ongoing effort. But we have also made significant progress on improving education, enhancing retirement security, bolstering our national security and providing tax relief to overworked Americans.
The education initiative that passed the House earlier this year finally passed the Senate and is a major step toward our goal of leaving no child behind. We have increased education savings accounts to $2,000 for public and private education. We have offered parents the opportunity to put their children in an acceptable school if their current one is failing them. And we greatly increased the flexibility of federal education dollars so parents and teachers have the greatest say in where education money should be spent.
For older Americans, they need to have security and peace of mind as they approach their retirement years. That is why Congress passed a law to allow people to set aside more money $5,000 per year – in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or 401(k) type plan. We modernized pension laws and provided regulatory relief so more small businesses will offer retirement plans to their employees.
On the defense issue, Congress is committed to strengthening the armed services of the United States. We have authorized the use of military force against terrorists and those who harbor terrorists. We have provided emergency funding for the recovery and response of the September 11th attacks. At the same time, we enhanced the security on airplanes and at the nation’s airports.
The war is a two fold one. Our economy is in a recession and the unemployment rate is rising. To that end, the initiatives the House of Representatives passed will help create more jobs and boost consumer confidence. Even before September 11th, Congress passed a major tax relief law that puts more money into the pockets of all taxpayers. We gave married couples relief from an unfair penalty they pay each year and doubled the child tax credit to $1,000 per year.
On other cultural issues of importance to families across the country, the House of Representatives has passed a numbers of bills and laws to help strengthen our values. This Congress and the president increased the adoption tax credit to $10,000. The House passed a comprehensive ban on human cloning, which we hope the Senate will act on early next year. The House also passed a measure to increase the penalty for criminals who murder a mother’s unborn child. The House passed the President’s faith based initiative to allow community and religious groups to better help the needy, however, the Senate has never brought the legislation to the floor.
The House has passed other important measures to strengthen our economy and our nation, such as more benefits to the veterans who served their nation. The House passed a farm security bill. And the House approved a comprehensive energy plan so the United States won’t have to rely on foreign countries for oil.
If you would like to know more of the details on this, or any legislation that Congress has worked on this past year, please call or write my office.
As you may know, after the letters on Capitol Hill were found to have Anthrax, mail delivery to our Washington office was suspended and even today has still not returned to normal. Therefore, if you have written since October, please know that we may not have received your letter yet, but will answer as soon as we are able to do so. Hopefully, by the end of January mail delivery on Capitol Hill will be back to normal. I look forward to hearing from you in 2002.