During his almost 30 years of public service, Tom Carper has worked tirelessly to develop practical solutions to real problems. His ability to work across party lines has earned Senator Carper a reputation for consensus-building that is unique in today's political climate. The Washington Post's David Broder calls Senator Tom Carper "a notably effective and non-partisan leader, admired and trusted on both sides of the aisle."
Senator Carper joins his colleagues on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the Environment & Public Works Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, as well as the Special Committee on Aging. He is currently the ranking democrat on both the Clean Air Subcommittee and Federal Financial
Tom Carper was born in West Virginia and raised in Virginia. Senator Carper and his wife Martha Ann reside in Wilmington with their two sons, Chris and Ben. Both of their children attend a public charter high school in New Castle County.
Industrial Development Specialist, Deleware Division of Economic Development, 1975-1976.
Vice Chair, Board of Directors, American Legacy Foundation
Former Member, Amtrak Board of Directors
Chair, Executive Board, Board of Jobs for America's Graduates
Veterans of Foreign Wars
Vietnam Veterans of America.
His career in public service began in 1976 when he was elected to the first of three terms as Delaware's state treasurer at the age of 29.
After serving five terms as a U.S. congressman, Tom Carper was elected the 78th governor of Delaware in 1992 and served two terms in that role.
On Jan. 3, 2001, Governor Carper stepped down two weeks early to become Delaware's junior senator.
Senator Carper joins his colleagues on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the Environment & Public Works Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, as well as the Special Committee on Aging. He is currently the ranking democrat on both the Clean Air Subcommittee and Federal Financial Management Subcommittee.
In 2004, Senator Carper was named Deputy Whip.
Most recently, Senator Carper was named vice-chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council.
Governor Carper led the effort to strengthen the State's 'rainy day' fund and boost Delaware's credit rating to "AAA" for the first time in state history, while helping to overhaul the state's education system and to implement welfare reform initiatives in Delaware and the nation.
During his second term as governor, Tom Carper was selected by his colleagues to serve as vice-chairman, then as chairman, of the National Governors' Association.
The Washington Post's David Broder calls him "a notably effective and non-partisan leader, admired and trusted on both sides of the aisle."
As chair of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety subcommittee, Tom Carper has fought tirelessly to clean our air, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels and to create American jobs while doing it.
Additionally, he continues to serve as co-chairman of the Senate Nuclear Caucus, the Senate Recycling Caucus and the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.
Tom Carper attended Ohio State University on a Navy R.O.T.C. scholarship, graduating in 1968 with a B.A. in economics. In 1973, Tom earned his M.B.A. at the University of Delaware.
Tom Carper completed five years of service as a naval flight officer and continued to serve in the Naval Reserve until retiring from military service in 1991 with the rank of captain. Tom served as a naval flight officer in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and later as a P-3 aircraft mission commander.
As the world becomes more interconnected everyday through technology and faster, more efficient transportation systems, the ability to protect our citizens from crime and terrorism becomes ever harder. Whether it is programs such as the Visa Waiver Program or our Border Patrol's Secure Border Initiative, we must balance a strong national security policy with the unimpeded flow of commerce and legal immigration into our country. Like most of my colleagues, I have been a strong and consistent supporter of comprehensive immigration reform that is tough, fair and practical. We should continue to secure our borders not only from illegal immigration, but also to prevent the movement of contraband and narcotics into our communities. Moving forward, we must put politics aside and focus on a sensible way of reforming our immigration laws without offending our friends and allies abroad.
Source: carper.senate.gov/issues (01/09/2011)
The September 11 terrorist attacks triggered one of the greatest reorganizations the federal government has seen since World War II, and brought to light vulnerabilities that may exist within our borders. Throughout these past eight years, we have learned as a country that we need to proactively plan and prevent for potential disasters, whether natural or man-made. The December 25, 2009 attempted plane bombing by a Nigerian national was a wake-up call for our intelligence community that we can never let our defenses down and that we must continue to work together. This means, among other things, ensuring that our intelligence and law enforcement officials at every level of government openly share the information needed to help prevent the next
Whether they are dealing with a hurricane, a terrorist attack, or an everyday fire, the men and women of our first responder communities are truly on the front lines daily. They deserve our fullest support. I believe it is a shared responsibility to build a culture of readiness that ensures our families, communities and businesses are prepared for emergencies of any kind. I will continue to work with partners throughout Delaware to make sure they have the most up-to-date equipment, technology and resources they need to attract and train the most talented public servants.
The homeland security legislation my colleagues and I have passed in recent years have made places like the Port of Wilmington more secure, the planes we travel on daily safer, and urban areas like New York City and coastal states like Delaware better prepared for man-made or natural disasters. While we have certainly come a long way in protecting our country since 9/11, there is much more that needs to be done.
Over the past two decades, we have seen the Internet become ubiquitous throughout our society. More and more Americans go online to read their news, manage their bank accounts, and even meet new people. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find an activity that is not connected to the Internet in one way or another. Pretty soon the Internet will even help to make our nation's energy grid more efficient by directing energy to where it's needed, when it's needed. And someday soon, the Internet will also help hospitals more easily share patient information to drive down healthcare costs and reduce preventable medical mistakes.
But as Americans come to rely on the Internet more and more, we risk making ourselves vulnerable to new types of attacks.
The first responsibility of the federal government, according to our Constitution, is to "provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States."
Since 9/11, my colleagues and I on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee have overseen both the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the historic overhaul of our nation's intelligence agencies.
This is a pivotal moment for the United States. Thousands of our young men and women remain deployed overseas in harm's way in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Events are unfolding in the Middle East that will shape that region for many years to come. Dangerous regimes, particularly in Iran, are rushing to acquire nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
Another concern for the United States and its allies is the proliferation of dangerous weapons, and the possibility that they could fall into the hands of someone who wants to do us harm. For example, North Korea is known to have sold its military technology on the black market.
Iran has become a key sponsor of terrorism and threat in the Middle East. The United States and its allies must develop a coherent Iran strategy that establishes both short- and long-term goals. I held a Senate hearing to examine these concerns in April 2008.
The acquisition of nuclear weapons on the part of either of these regimes constitutes a grave threat to America's security. Stopping the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea should be a priority of our government and our allies. To achieve this, we must continue to strengthen relationships with our European partners and work with the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to give diplomacy its very best chance to succeed.
Like many Americans, I have some concerns over the Bush administration's plan to allow Dubai Ports World, a company owned by the United Arab Emirates, to oversee the terminal operations of six ports along our nation's coastline, including the one located in Philadelphia.
My initial reaction was one of skepticism. Granted, the United Arab Emirates is an ally of the United States, and its leaders have taken steps to dissociate themselves from radical Islamic factions and aid our country in the war on terror. However, we can't forget that the UAE was also one of three countries to recognize the Taliban in Afghanistan. And as Tom Kean, co-chairman of the September 11th Commission pointed out, Al Qaeda used UAE banks to wire funds to the 9-11 hijackers,
Source: Candidate Website (10/07/2006)
The challenges facing our economy are like nothing that our nation has faced since the Great Depression. In the last year, Americans have lost millions of jobs, dramatically increasing our national unemployment rate. The ongoing downturn in the housing market has resulted in a tidal wave of foreclosures and delinquencies, flooding our communities with hundreds of thousands of blighted, boarded up homes. Americans have witnessed the value of their homes, stocks, and pensions drop. College education has become unaffordable for too many, and affordable healthcare is available to too few.
In response to this crisis, the Obama Administration, working with Congress, has laid out a path forward for our economic recovery. This includes spurring meaningful
The American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is the first step in our recovery. I worked with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure that this stimulus package was timey, targeted, and temporary and to ensure that its investments and tax incentives were focused on creating jobs now and on producing real economic improvement soon.
The recovery legislation is expected to create an estimated 3.5 million jobs, including 11,000 in Delaware, by putting Americans to work to begin rebuilding our nation's crumbling infrastructure, including roads, bridges, ports, railways, waterways, water systems, electric grid upgrades, and mass transit.
In addition, this legislation provides energy tax incentives for the manufacturing and production
Help close the "tax gap": One of the easiest ways we can reduce the deficit is by simply collecting the taxes that are owed to the federal government. Believe it or not, the "tax gap" today is probably close to $400 billion. I plan to introduce legislation this winter to help close the "tax gap" by focusing on improving taxpayer compliance.
Like you, I want Delaware's school system to be the best that it can be. That was my goal when I served as governor and remains so today in the U.S. Senate.
As governor, I emphasized the importance of rigorous standards and raising student achievement. I also instituted optional training for parents to give them and their children more choices in education by championing public school choice and the creation of charter schools.
Now more than ever, we need to make sure that our schools at all levels set out to achieve their fundamental mission--to prepare the next generation of Americans to be part of the workforce that will help rejuvenate our economy and re-establish America's economic might. By improving our failing schools, increasing access to higher education, fully funding schools and education programs, and providing positive role models to our nation's youth through programs like mentoring, we can kick start our economy and increase the standard of living for all Americans.
When I came to the Senate in 2001, I was convinced that much of what had been accomplished in Delaware in the area of education reform could serve as a model for the rest of America. That's why the very first bill I introduced, the Empowering Parents Act, provided more options for parents whose children were in failing schools. It encouraged communities with low-performing schools to experiment with universal public school choice and helped leverage financing for new charter school start-ups. The Empowering Parents Act was included in the No Child Left Behind Act, which became law in January 2002, and is a critical law that we will reauthorize within the year.
This year, I was very pleased that President Obama has added to his cabinet Arne
Currently, true public school choice is not an option for much of our nation. Seven out of every ten charter schools has a waiting list for students it cannot possibly accommodate. Until the number of charter schools increases, for many, there is no real choice.
This is a problem we can help solve.
To this end, I have, with the support of a group of Democrats and Republicans, put forth a plan that will appeal to moderates of both parties. Called the ``Empowering Parents Act," it aims to triple the number of charter schools in the country by 2005 and encourages school districts through grants to enact public school choice.
To put charter schools on a more equal footing with other public schools, the bill would reduce initial costs for charter
We can all agree that education does not end with high school. Yet since 2001, the cost of college has increased by more than 40 percent. That's why I worked to pass the bipartisan, College Cost Reduction and Access Act and the College Opportunity and Affordability Act. These bills took great step to reduce the cost of college by increasing Pell Grants, cutting federal student loan interest rates in half, granting loan forgiveness for students who perform public service for 10 years, increasing funding for minority-serving colleges and universities, simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to an easy-to-understand, two-page form, and providing financial aid and increased student loan options for veterans and military
When we passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, we put the country on a path to ensuring that all students get the education they need and deserve. However, under the previous administration, the commitment to fully fund this endeavor fell short. Across the country, schools have been burdened with teacher shortages and classrooms are unequipped to properly instruct students. These problems have only grown worse with the current economic crisis that has forced our states to deal with budget cutbacks.
That is why I worked hard to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) early in 2009. This bill gave each governor significant funding to plug holes in the states' education budgets and prevent teacher layoffs. Additionally, this
As governor, I emphasized the importance of rigorous standards and raising student achievement.
I believe that it is possible to create legislation that protects both our environment and our economy. By advocating a multi-faceted and common-sense approach to our nation's environmental energy problems, we can set the stage for a cleaner tomorrow.
I believe that global warming is one of the biggest challenges I may ever seen come before the Congress. I support an economy-wide approach to climate change and remain committed to getting a bill passed this Congress.
We need to take action now on climate change and energy reform, not just for the sake of the environment, but for the sake of our own economy. By emerging as a leader in clean and green energy, U.S. businesses and manufacturers will be more competitive. And we'll create tens - and possibly hundreds - of thousands of new jobs in the process.
To hear more about the economic impacts of climate change legislation and what it will mean for Delaware, please watch my recent video blog entry.
We know that we cannot get the climate
Unfortunately, Delaware is what I call "at the end of America's tailpipe." Other states' dirty emissions from cars and power plants drift east, causing pollution that Delaware cannot regulate. Since 2002, I have proposed legislation that would make all states clean-up their major fossil-fuel utility emissions.
On February 4, 2010, a bipartisan group of senators and I introduced a multipollutant bill, called the Clean Air Act Amendments of 2010 (S.2995), to move our nation's clean air laws into the 21st century. The legislation would drastically reduce emissions of mercury, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide from our nation's power plants.
I have also been very active on efforts to clean up old, dirty diesel engines. Dirty diesel emissions
With a $7.9 billion increase in overall conservation funding, the 2008 farm bill also provided help for land conservation and environmental stewardship. The revamped Conservation Stewardship Program incentivizes new conservation and rewards farmers who address resource concerns in their communities. The program will enroll more than 100 million acres by 2017.
As demand and production increase, the need for effective conservation programs also grows. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program has seen a $3.4 billion increase in its budget authority over the next 10 years. It will also be easier for us to protect our wetlands, as the Wetlands Reserve Program has been authorized to enroll 1.2 million acres over the next five years.
The valuable Chesapeake Bay Watershed includes much of Delaware. The 2008 farm bill recognizes Delaware, as well as New York and West Virginia, as key "headwater states" for the Chesapeake region, an advantageous designation that was previously limited to Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. This change made farmers in Delaware eligible to receive special funding set aside specifically for conservation of the Chesapeake region.
The farm bill also provides unprecedented flexibility for Chesapeake Bay Watershed conservation funding to address its unique environmental and conservation needs, with $188 million in mandatory funding This will keep farmers farming and protect them from having to sell off farmland for commercial development.
I was the founder and now the co-chair of the Senate Recycling Caucus. Recycling is a priority of mine because it is one of the most visible and respected ways every American household and business can contribute to our environmental sustainability. Recycling significantly reduces the energy needed to manufacture products, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and also creates jobs.
While I look forward to supporting good recycling legislation, I've also made sure my colleagues and I improve our own recycling practices here on Capitol Hill. I was successful at getting strong recycling language in the last climate change bill - and expect to remain active on recycling issues during this year's climate debate. I also worked with my colleagues to enact the Recycling Investment Saves Energy (RISE) Act in 2008, which will increase America's capabilities to recycle, while creating new green jobs for American workers.
Last April, the Government Accountability Office released its annual assessment of Department of Defense's major weapon systems and revealed that the cost overruns on the 95 largest programs now amounted to $295 billion more than their original program estimates, putting the sum total of these costs at $1.6 trillion.
If our nation is to navigate the economic crisis and continue to fight two wars, we must curb this inefficient use of defense dollars. That means that we must end no-bid defense contracts, reform the weapons acquisition process so that our weapons are developed in a cost-effective way, and we must incentivize defense contractors to deliver weapon systems on time and under budget.
Last September, I held a hearing in my Federal
Victories in the war on terrorism will be won on the backs of the men and women of the armed forces, and not through the use of any single weapon system or technological achievement. We must, therefore, use our defense dollars to make sure that our troops have the skills needed to fight 21st century wars. That means that we strengthen our fighting force by providing our troops more training in counterinsurgency and antiterrorism tactics.
We must continue to incentivize the recruitment of capable young men and women into the military to make sure that America retains as effective a fight force as we developed over the past eight years. That's why I voted for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This new program will encourage more military recruits by promising to pay for their college tuition and their housing costs after they leave the military just as long as they serve 90 continuous days and 36 total months of active duty service. We all know that the cost of college has risen dramatically and that the job market has seen better day. This bill will make sure that young Americans who serve their country in the line of duty will be able to attend college or graduate school at no cost to
I am deeply concerned about the deteriorating situations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Within the last half-decade, al-Qaeda and the Taliban have posed increasing threats to the national security of the United States, which we must continue to aggressively address.
To protect our homeland from attacks, I, with support from many of my Senate colleagues, have urged President Obama to re-focus our counter-terrorism strategy and our national security resources on this region and implement a comprehensive new strategy to keep America safe. He has already signaled his commitment to do so.
Having been to Iraq twice, I still cannot say with any certainty that we are winning the war in Iraq, but I do believe we have created a window of opportunity for the Iraqis to move forward with the difficult yet necessary political decisions required of them to salvage their country.
The United States must continue to put pressure on Iraqi political leaders to take positive toward political reconciliation. Above all, as we begin to draw down our troops along the lines of the plan outlined by President Obama, we must ensure that two main objectives have been accomplished: that Iraq will not be a threat to America; and that the Iraqi people will be better off after we leave than they were under Saddam Hussein's reign.
Investing in our troops means that we must provide our armed forces with enough rest time in between deployments so that they may be as effective as possible. Currently, our military is being stretched too thin by extended deployments and minimized dwell time, which many retired military leaders have warned will push our forces to the breaking point. To address this concern, I joined Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) in cosponsoring legislation to ensure our brave men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will receive the same amount of time at home with their loved ones as time they serve on the battlefield.
Deficits Matter -- One of my top priorities is getting our fiscal house in order. It's clear to me that deficits of this magnitude are not sustainable. In response, Congress and the Obama administration have to start reining in federal spending or we risk leaving a legacy of debt to our children and grandchildren.
Inherited Challenges -- The Obama administration inherited the cost of two wars, the longest recession since World War II, the "bailouts" of Wall Street and the auto industry, and a mounting federal deficit. Whereas President Bush inherited record surpluses eight years ago, President Obama took office inheriting a $1.4 trillion deficit on January 20th and a national debt that had doubled in eight years. In other words, the previous
Source: carper.senate.gov/issue (01/09/2011)
The Obama administration inherited the cost of two wars, the longest recession since World War II, the "bailouts" of Wall Street and the auto industry, and a mounting federal deficit. Whereas President Bush inherited record surpluses eight years ago, President Obama took office inheriting a $1.4 trillion deficit on January 20th and a national debt that had doubled in eight years. In other words, the previous Administration ran up as much new debt in eight years as we did in the previous 225 years as a nation.
Denting the Deficit
* Reduce waste, abuse, and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid by expanding post audit recovery programs: The federal government spent $456 billion on Medicare last year. A pilot program started three years ago identified and recovered overpayments made to providers in just three states. The result? $900 million in overpayments were returned to the taxpayer.
* Help close the "tax gap": One of the easiest ways we can reduce the deficit is by simply collecting the taxes that are owed to the federal government. Believe it or not, the "tax gap" today is probably close to $400 billion. I plan to introduce legislation this winter to help close the "tax gap" by focusing on improving taxpayer compliance.
* Curb new major weapon systems
* Reduce waste, abuse, and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid by expanding post audit recovery programs: The federal government spent $456 billion on Medicare last year. Any amount of waste, fraud, and abuse comes at a significant cost to taxpayers. A pilot program started three years ago identified and recovered overpayments made to providers in just three states. The result? $900 million in overpayments were returned to the taxpayer. That is real money, and if we can recover that kind of money for overpayments in just three states, there is an opportunity to replicate that success nationwide.
* Curb new major weapon systems spending: A decade ago, we were overspending on major weapon systems cost overruns by about $50 billion. Last year, we were
Our system of health insurance in this country -- with its respective private and public components -- resembles a patchwork quilt. It is a patchwork quilt that is fraying a bit at the edges for many Americans. Over forty million people in our country are without health insurance today. Millions more who have coverage strain to meet their rising premiums, copayments, and deductibles.
This is not a problem that is limited to the very poor. Four in five of the uninsured come from families with a full-time worker. The uninsured and the barely insured in America are people with whom we interact in ways big and small each and every day. They are the people who care for our elderly parents. They are the people who drive the buses taking our children
Reduce waste, abuse, and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid by expanding post audit recovery programs: The federal government spent $456 billion on Medicare last year. Any amount of waste, fraud, and abuse comes at a significant cost to taxpayers. A pilot program started three years ago identified and recovered overpayments made to providers in just three states. The result? $900 million in overpayments were returned to the taxpayer. That is real money, and if we can recover that kind of money for overpayments in just three states, there is an opportunity to replicate that success nationwide.
Having recently lost my mother to Alzheimer's disease, I realize the necessity of allowing scientists to conduct possible life-saving studies using stem cells. I recently cosponsored the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which would allow federal funding to be used for research on stem cells derived from excess in vitro fertilization embryos that couples will not use and are slated to be discarded.
For myself, I've decided to take the leap. After a great deal of deliberation, conversations with many Democrat and Republican members of the Judiciary Committee, as well as with others, I have decided to vote to confirm the nomination of John Roberts to serve as our nation's Chief Justice. Yesterday, I had the privilege of meeting with Judge Roberts in my office. We discussed many of the concerns and question marks that I mentioned a few minutes ago. His responses were forthright, insightful, and, I believe, sincere. Our conversation also provided me with insights into how a young man from a small town in Indiana could grow up, attend Harvard, become one of the most admired lawyers in America, be nominated for the Supreme Court not once but
Some of my colleagues may recall that one of the last issues resolved at the time of the Constitutional Convention was the question of how they were going to select these judges, the third branch of our Government. How do we select these judges? There were some at that time who were fearful of creating a Presidency that would be too strong, having had a bite of the apple of putting up with a king of England for a number of years. They did not want to create a king or someone of royalty in this country to be our leader. Our Founding Fathers worked diligently in any number of ways to create checks and balances to ensure that we didn't end up with a king but ended up with a President. Among the checks and balances they incorporated into our Constitution
Enhance the President's ability to get Congress to consider spending cuts: I introduced the bipartisan Budget Enforcement Legislative Tool Act, or BELT Act, to allow the President to help control spending by compelling Congress to vote on eliminating wasteful programs - including earmarks - from appropriation bills, and doing so without vetoing the entire federal spending bill.
In addition to man-made threats, this country has seen its own infrastructure - roads, bridges, tunnels, utility grids, sewers - slowly start to decay. As a result, our country has been presented with a new set of challenges. This breakdown of critical infrastructure, such as with the Northeast power outage of 2003, the levee failures during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the Minneapolis Bridge collapsed in 2007, can disrupt our daily routines and even put lives at risk. We must ensure that the infrastructure Delawareans depend on - from the Port of Wilmington to the vital passenger and freight lines that run through our state - are safe and secure. And with Delaware at risk for hurricanes and flooding, we need to be prepared for any event. It
Recent comprehensive studies suggest that without changes, health care spending will increase from less than 20 percent of GDP to 25 percent in 2025. Spending on Medicare and Medicaid alone will reach 12 percent of GDP by 2050. IF we fail to rein in the growth of health care costs, whatever new coverage we extend will be short-lived.
In less than 10 years, the United States will be forced to spend $13,000 on health care for every American, every year. Meaningful health care reform must strengthen our economy by giving both large and small businesses the tools to improve their productivity, stay competitive in a global market, and increase their capacity to create more jobs.
There is no one magic bullet that can fix our health care system,
Recent comprehensive studies suggest that without changes, health care spending will increase from less than 20 percent of GDP to 25 percent in 2025. Meaningful health care reform must strengthen our economy by giving both large and small businesses the tools to improve their productivity, stay competitive in a global market, and increase their capacity to create more jobs.
There is no one magic bullet that can fix our health care system, but there are changes we must make to improve the lives and health of Americans. While many challenges remain, we cannot afford to let the current health system continue draining our resources and undermine the future well being of all citizens. To ensure the people of Delaware and all Americans have comprehensive,
As we work to provide health coverage to more Americans, we must also improve the quality of health care in this country. Right now, almost one-third of health care services delivered in the United States do nothing to improve health outcomes. We can do better and we must do better. By giving healthcare providers incentives to coordinate care with their patients' other doctors and by bolstering the use of health information technology, we will not only improve the quality of care, but also reduce health care costs.
Under current payment practices, our health system does little to incentivize providers to focus on prevention and wellness. Chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, are rampant in this country, but also in most cases, preventable. Instead of keeping people healthy, we struggle just to keep the sick from suffering or death. Prevention and wellness must be at the heart of any health reform debate by encouraging initiatives and policies that will promote healthy behavior.
Throughout the last century, the world has experienced a number of dangerous strains of the flu and other viruses. Whether it was the global outbreak of 1918, the SARs epidemic in 2002 or the H1N1 outbreak we are facing in 2009, the federal government must continue to work with states and localities to prepare our country for current and future waves of viruses. Since the identification of the H1N1 ("swine flu") virus back in April 2009, the federal government has aggressively developed a vaccination program for the public. This program has begun to vaccinate our communities from more infections, as well as help curtail their spread.
I will continue to work to ensure Delaware's Departments of Public Health and Safety receive the assistance
In an effort to lower health insurance costs for small business, I joined Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in introducing legislation that would create a Small Business Health Benefits Program modeled after the federal health insurance program for businesses with fewer than 100 employees.
We know that we cannot get the climate change emission reductions from our transportation sector just from vehicle emission reductions and changes in fuel alone. That's why I introduced CLEAN TEA legislation to reserve a portion of climate change auction proceeds to change Americans' driving habits by funding rail, transit, bike and pedestrian trails and other alternative forms of transportation. In a recent
I have been a long-time supporter of clean energy, such as nuclear energy. I believe clean, safe energy is what this country needs and what nuclear power has to offer. Nuclear power provides solutions to many problems facing America today. It will help reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and reduce air pollution that damages our environment and causes global warming. As chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and our nation's civilian nuclear operations, I want to ensure this essential federal agency protects the public's health and security. I will continue to hold congressional oversight hearings to ensure that we have a strong, robust and safe nuclear industry.
One of the most important things we can do is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and expedite the transition to a cleaner future, powered to a far greater extent by renewable forms of energy. By including support for alternative energy as a focus of our national energy policy, Congress can slow, or even reduce, global pollution while at the same time encouraging the growth of dozens of new industries.
In Delaware, hundreds of jobs have been created at companies that build solar panels, design fuel cells, or develop advanced wind turbines. When clean, renewable sources of energy are readily available and financially viable, we can achieve significant, sustainable economic growth without the burden of burgeoning pollution.
A renewable energy
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was a strong, first step to secure America's energy future by reducing our reliance on foreign oil and reducing harmful emissions into our air. The cornerstone of this energy legislation is a compromise I helped negotiate to increase the fleet-wide fuel economy average for cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the United States by roughly 10 miles per gallon by 2020 - or from 25 miles per gallon today to 35 miles per gallon overall.
Earlier this year, the Obama Administration announced it was accelerating the ramp-up of fuel efficiency standards, requiring a fleetwide average of 35.5 miles per gallon for new vehicles by 2016. This will save Americans an estimated around 1.4 million barrels of oil per
We know that we cannot get the climate change emission reductions from our transportation sector just from vehicle emission reductions and changes in fuel alone. That's why I introduced CLEAN TEA legislation to reserve a portion of climate change auction proceeds to change Americans' driving habits by funding rail, transit, bike and pedestrian trails and other alternative forms of transportation. In a recent op-ed, I explained why CLEAN TEA is integral to the success of emissions reduction goals.
The creation and application of new farm technologies is vital to the survival and growth of Delaware's farming economy. With recent advances in the field of biotechnology, we can increase the number of products that can be profitably derived from the crops grown in our state. Advanced biofuels have greater energy content than corn ethanol, require less fossil fuels to formulate, and are critical to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and combating climate change. These are the technologies that will drive a sustainable energy future based on clean, domestic energy sources, some of which are being grown and developed in Delaware. I will continue working to support clean fuel technologies that make sense for America.
I am pleased to voice my support for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and for the Reed amendment that I cosponsored to S.2020, the tax reconciliation bill. The Reed amendment would have fully funded LIHEAP in fiscal year 2006 and would have paid for the increased funding with a temporary tax on the windfall profits of major oil companies. The Senate fiscal year 2006 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill took an important first step toward providing adequate LIHEAP funds by including $2.183 billion for the program for next fiscal year. This is a good starting point. However, $2.183 billion represents only a very slight increase over fiscal year 2005 levels and is likely not enough to meet the needs of
The prosperity our state and nation experienced in the past eight years did not reach many of our hardest working families -- those earning minimum wage. It is time these families received a raise.
Delaware's minimum wage is higher than the federal requirement of $5.15 an hour. But if you work full time at a minimum wage job in Delaware and never take vacation, never show up late for work, and never miss a day due to sickness, your hard work will still net you only $12,792 dollars in pay for an entire year. Someone working in another for the federal minimum will bring home even less, only $10,700.
Thirteen thousand dollars a year is not enough to raise a family. That's not enough to pay your bills and save for their future. That's barely enough
American leaders from both political parties recognized during the Cold War that Soviet communism could not be defeated through military confrontation alone. We recognized that we had to win the battle of ideas. We had to strive to make our nation a better example of the ideals we espoused, a "more perfect union" and "a city upon a hill," in order to demonstrate that the cause we were fighting for was not just one of narrow American interests, but one of broad human values.
In our global struggle against terrorism, we have too often lost sight of the importance of ideas and idealism. If we compromise the values that have historically made us unique, a beacon of hope, an inspiring country to the world, the terrorists will have won.
We must utilize an integrated approach to solve our transportation problems. While building a strong roadway system is essential, we must work to provide people with alternative methods of transportation as well. Alternatives - such as mass transit, passenger rail, and bike lanes - improve air quality, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and support healthier lifestyles.
In addition to man-made threats, this country has seen its own infrastructure - roads, bridges, tunnels, utility grids, sewers - slowly start to decay. As a result, our country has been presented with a new set of challenges. This breakdown of critical infrastructure, such as with the Northeast power outage of 2003, the levee failures during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the
One of my main priorities since coming to Congress has been a healthy Amtrak. Regrettably, the Bush administration has repeatedly chosen to underfund Amtrak and this year proposed to reform it through our bankruptcy courts.
There is a better way to bring wholesale changes to Amtrak and build for the future of passenger rail. The Senate this fall -- on a 93-6 vote -- passed the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, which would provide capital grants to improve Amtrak's aging infrastructure and build new lines for passenger rail service across the . It also calls for tighter financial management at Amtrak, as well as a plan to improve long-distance service. I hope the house takes up this bill in 2006.
Also included in The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was $27.5 billion for highways and $8.4 billion for transit investments to repair crumbling infrastructure and create jobs.
This is an important step to strengthen and improve our transportation system, but we have a big challenge ahead of us. Because of high fuel prices followed by a slumping economy, Americans have been driving less. And because we fund our transportation programs through the gas tax, this has created a transit funding problem. Congress will need to explore many options to ensure that we have the funding necessary to maintain and expand our transportation system.
We will also need to make sure that this funding is going to a program that Americans have faith
I recently participated in the development of the national transportation bill. This legislation provided nearly $1 billion in transportation funding for Delaware - a 30 percent increase over previous levels.
This new funding will be used for a wide variety of projects that will make Delaware's infrastructure easier and safer to navigate. With high priorities in all three counties, projects like a new interchange along I-95, an improved Rehoboth streetscape, a new Woodland ferry, and the rerouting of truck traffic around downtown Harrington will make a big difference in the lives of Delaware's commuters.
In addition to man-made threats, this country has seen its own infrastructure - roads, bridges, tunnels, utility grids, sewers - slowly start to decay. As a result, our country has been presented with a new set of challenges. This breakdown of critical infrastructure, such as with the Northeast power outage of 2003, the levee failures during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or the Minneapolis Bridge collapsed in 2007, can disrupt our daily routines and even put lives at risk. We must ensure that the infrastructure Delawareans depend on - from the Port of Wilmington to the vital passenger and freight lines that run through our state - are safe and secure. And with Delaware at risk for hurricanes and flooding, we need to be prepared for any event.
One of my legislative priorities since coming to Congress has been building a healthy intercity rail system. Amtrak meets the transportation needs of millions of Americans and thousands of businesses nationwide, including more than 700,000 Delaware riders each year.
On October 16, 2008, then-President Bush signed into law the Railroad Safety Enhancement Act. This measure included a substantial new investment in intercity passenger rail to provide more rail service nationwide, and bring the Northeast Corridor into a state of good repair. The measure also requires trains be equipped with sensors to help prevent crashes. This bill was a bipartisan vote of confidence in America's rail system, and its enactment provides Amtrak the comprehensive
We must continue to incentivize the recruitment of capable young men and women into the military to make sure that America retains as effective a fight force as we developed over the past eight years. That's why I voted for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This new program will encourage more military recruits by promising to pay for their college tuition and their housing costs after they leave the military just as long as they serve 90 continuous days and 36 total months of active duty service. We all know that the cost of college has risen dramatically and that the job market has seen better day. This bill will make sure that young Americans who serve their country in the line of duty will be able to attend college or graduate school at no cost to them and will not be burdened by college debt upon graduation.
We are now more than one year removed from the collapse of Lehman Bros. and a crisis that nearly brought about the collapse of our financial system. The ensuing downturn in the housing sector has continued, and poses the most serious threat to the American dream of homeownership since the Great Depression.
To be clear, we have a long way to go until our housing market fully recovers, but we're beginning to see modest signs of recovery and hopefully, the worst is behind us. In fact, home prices are beginning to stabilize, and existing home sales have increased five months in a row.
Having said that, the foreclosure crisis remains a clear and present danger to millions of American families, evidenced by the nearly two million foreclosure filings
The Making Home Affordable program, unveiled on March 4, 2009, is the most comprehensive effort to date to address the prolonged contraction in our housing market and to stanch foreclosures across the United States. The Making Home Affordable program allows homeowners who played by the rules access to more affordable fixed rate loans, while providing financial incentives for servicers and borrowers to modify mortgages to avoid foreclosure.
Making Home Affordable Program is now helping millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure by modifying at-risk loans or refinancing into lower interest rates. As of August 2009, 2.7 million loans have been refinanced through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) and more than 360,000 trial modifications are underway.
To be clear, we have a long way to go until our housing market fully recovers, but we're beginning to see modest signs of recovery and hopefully, the worst is behind us. In fact, home prices are beginning to stabilize, and existing home sales have increased five months in a row. Three main factors - the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit, the Federal Reserve driving down 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates, and low home prices - have made this one of the best times in my lifetime to buy or refinance a home.
Having said that, the foreclosure crisis remains a clear and present danger to millions of American families, evidenced by the nearly two million foreclosure filings in the first half of 2009. Thankfully, the Obama administration is
We need to work together to find ways to lower prescription drug prices. The recent vote on the Medicare prescription drug bill was among the most difficult ones that I have cast during my time in the Senate. After careful and thoughtful deliberation, I chose to vote for the measure because I concluded that this may be the last opportunity for a long time to provide a prescription drug plan for Medicare-eligible seniors who wish to participate. While it may not include all that we want, this legislation represents a beginning. It is something we can build on, and we will.
Social Security has been a remarkable success since its establishment more than 70 years ago. As a member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, I understand that nearly 50 percent of today's seniors would be living in poverty were it not for our Social Security system. We have a sacred obligation to ensure that retirees continue to receive the benefits that they were promised, while also guaranteeing that the program will be there for future generations.
I believe the President should appoint a new bipartisan commission to study the future of Social Security. Our nation currently faces mounting budget deficits and rising government debt. A bipartisan commission would bring open and honest debate to this issue and help build consensus around sensible solutions that will secure Social Security's solvency and provide new investment opportunities for future generations.
Should the Senate address the issue of Social Security reform next year, I will be sure to keep your views in mind. I am open to the idea of establishing personal retirement accounts, but not if they result in an increase to our national debt or a reduction of benefits for seniors.
President Bush has indicated that he wants to privatize Social Security. Let me say clearly, I oppose what I've seen of the president's plan because it would increase our national debt and result in benefit cuts for our seniors. We can do better than this and I will make every effort to minimize the negative impacts of any proposed legislation.
It is important to recognize that it will be several decades before Social Security experiences a shortfall and that, even then, the system will have sufficient resources to pay a majority of the benefits that are owed well into the second half of this century.
When Bill Clinton declared in 1992 that we needed to "end welfare as we know it," many of the nation's governors cheered. We wanted to experiment - in some cases boldly - with our states' welfare programs.
At our annual meeting in early 1996, the National Governors Association unanimously adopted a set of principles to guide welfare reform. Families, we said, should be better off when a parent works rather than remaining on welfare. Cash benefits should be time-limited as a general rule. Reform should focus on performing actual work rather than simply attending job- training classes. Fathers should not have to abandon their families in poverty so that they can qualify for welfare. And states should be freed from the one-size-fits-all mentality
Agriculture is a vital part of our state's economy and we must work together to secure a better future for Delaware's hard-working farmers.
The creation and application of new farm technologies is vital to the survival and growth of Delaware's farming economy. With recent advances in the field of biotechnology, we are able to increase the number of products that can be profitably derived from the crops that we grow.
Soybeans and corn are now being used in fuel additives and, one day, might help significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The 2005 energy bill includes many provisions that promote the use of biofuels, which is beneficial for Delaware's soybean and corn producers.
We must also work to protect Delaware from the damaging
This past year was difficult for Delaware's farmers, who have persevered under a serious economic downturn. The agricultural community is a critical part of Delaware's economy, and we must make sure that our farmers receive needed financial assistance during difficult times.
Every few years, federal farm, agriculture, and food assistance laws are reauthorized through a large, multi-year "farm bill." Throughout the last Congress, my colleagues and I worked to craft an improved farm bill to better address our nation's agricultural needs. The 2008 farm bill - officially the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act - contained numerous provisions to support Delaware's farmers, and preserve valuable land and natural resources.
A significant new provision of the 2008 farm bill is the Agricultural Disaster Relief Trust Fund and the Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance Program. These comprehensive programs will provide instantaneous relief to Delaware's farmers, livestock and property if they suffer losses in a crippling natural disaster.
One key improvement I helped secure in the farm bill was a specialty crop provision. Traditionally, crops like corn, cotton, wheat, soy receive most of the federal subsidies in the farm bill. Unfortunately, in previous farm bills, we have dramatically underfunded specialty crops, organic foods and community food programs. This is a problem because as food prices rise, the most nutritious foods - like fresh fruits and vegetables - become less affordable for American families.
Fortunately, the new farm bill provided $3 billion reserved for specialty crops, organic foods and healthy community food initiatives. Community food programs help ensure that our children, our low-income families and our senior citizens have access to nutritious fruits and vegetables Also, Delaware growers of nursery crops, watermelons, potatoes, beans, strawberries, spinach, and cantaloupes will benefit from these important specialty crop programs.
Fortunately, the new farm bill provided $3 billion reserved for specialty crops, organic foods and healthy community food initiatives. Community food programs help ensure that our children, our low-income families and our senior citizens have access to nutritious fruits
The agricultural community is a critical part of Delaware's economy, and we must make sure that our farmers receive needed financial assistance during difficult times.
We need to continue our policies of land conservation, while taking steps to preserve the agricultural way of life.
The creation and application of new farm technologies is vital to the survival and growth of Delaware's farming economy. With recent advances in the field of biotechnology, we can increase the number of products that can be profitably derived from the crops grown in our state. Advanced biofuels have greater energy content than corn ethanol, require less fossil fuels to formulate, and are critical to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and combating climate change.
Today, while our economy is showing modest signs of recovery, it remains fragile and is facing a long road until if fully recovers - particularly when it comes to jobs. While costly in the near-term, the emergency actions of Congress, the ARRA and TARP bills, prevented another Great Depression. It also ensured the pain of the recession - and subsequent loss of tax revenue - would not be prolonged. Recovery is on the way, but we now have to use the federal budget process to help restore long-term economic growth in our nation.
In early 2009, President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner laid out a new course for our financial rescue called the Financial Stability Plan. The plan provides the oversight, accountability and transparency that