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GregWalden: Rep. Greg Walden`s Oregon Congressional Connection

US Representative Greg Walden, Representing the 2nd   District of Oregon
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Let ‘er Buck!

I write to you on Wednesday after heading back to the nation’s capital yesterday and following a very busy week and a few days at home in Oregon.  I got home last Thursday night at about 11:30 and was on the road to Pendleton by 5 am on Friday for a full day of festivities at the 100th Pendleton Round Up.

What a great display of patriotic, western Americana. One hundred riders on horse led the Westward Ho! parade carrying 100 flags that were flown by our brave men and women in Afghanistan.

Later came the Round Up court and soon after a wagon carrying former eastern Oregon State Representative D.E. “Denny” Jones who turned 100-years old yesterday. A former racing jockey and cattleman’s president, Denny represented much of southeastern Oregon in the House for 26 years. The community of Ontario is celebrating his centennial year this month and I’ll participate in a special celebration Sunday.

I had the privilege to wear black, angora chaps in the parade that had been worn 100 years ago by my uncle’s father (Wes Slaughter) when he participated in the wild horse competition at the first Pendleton Round Up in 1910.

The Round Up board of directors and the Happy Canyon board of directors did a fantastic job planning for and managing the enormous turnout for this year’s historic celebration. With updated grandstands and many other improvements, the events surely set attendance records.

That evening my wife and I joined a sold-out crowd to enjoy the Happy Canyon Pageant (starring among others, my former staffer Colby Marshall as the sheriff!). Nothing like good, clean Western fun to remind us of our heritage.

Saturday, I spent half the day in Boardman with representatives from the U.S. Navy, the Oregon National Guard, Judge Terry Tallman, Port Manager Gary Neal, Sen. Ron Wyden’s representative Wayne Kinney, and local officials and stakeholders to discuss activities and issues at the Boardman bombing range.

The Navy will soon release its proposal for activities on the bombing range. The local community would like to see enhanced cooperation between the Navy and the local interests, including allowing enhanced uses on the range, such as farming, underground water storage, and routing of new power transmission lines so as to not reduce agricultural production. The Navy and the Oregon National Guard want to make sure any additional uses do not conflict with their training needs nor pose hazards to them or those using the land.

While differences remain, all participants agreed to improve lines of communication and try to find common ground.

Also on Saturday, I delivered the weekly national Republican radio address that acts as a counterpoint to President Obama’s weekly address. It’s available on my website, in case you were doing something else on Saturday and missed it.

The Cliff’s Notes version of my remarks is that we need to focus in the short term on two key points to address the sluggish job creation that is holding back the economy:

1.      Put the brakes on tax increases scheduled to go into effect at the end of the year. Since the beginning of 2009, more than $600 billion new tax increases have already gone into effect.

2.      Let’s rein in the out-of-control spending by rolling back non-security discretionary spending to the 2008 levels. That alone will save about $100 billion. Since 2008, American families and small businesses have been making tough choices to cut back spending – it’s time for the federal government to squeeze out the waste and stop borrowing 43 cents of every dollar spent.

With help of American people, the YouCut program that I’ve written about before has identified more than $120 billion in wasteful spending. Unfortunately, we haven’t been allowed a full up-or-down vote on cutting wasteful spending.

Last week’s YouCut winner, as decided by the American people, is a proposal to require the collection of unpaid taxes from federal employees, saving taxpayers up to $1 billion. In 2008, the IRS reported that more than 97,000 federal employees were delinquent on their federal income taxes.

Of course, paying taxes is a fundamental obligation of all Americans, but especially so for the federal employees that rely on the taxpayers’ hard-earned money for their paycheck.

This attempt to save the taxpayers money was blocked as well. Ugh.

We need to get this federal spending under control, and fast. I joined a letter with many of my colleagues to Speaker Pelosi last week opposing yet another $50 billion in borrowed money for federal government projects. We’re already borrowing 42 cents on every dollar that we spend from our children and grandchildren. Enough already!

Two Oregon Airmen recognized as tops in the country

Congratulations to Staff Sergeant Kenny Walker of Grants Pass and Staff Sergeant Cheryl Moore of Portland who last Monday were honored in the nation’s capital for being selected as one of the Air Force Association’s “Twelve Outstanding Airmen” for 2010.

The honor recognizes enlisted airmen for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements. They were selected out of a potential pool of 260,000 Airmen to receive the award by an Air Force selection board. You can read more about their individual commendations here.

While I couldn’t be at the ceremony in person — I hadn’t returned to the nation’s capital yet — a representative from my office attended and delivered letters of congratulation.

Sgt. Walker and Sgt. Moore represent the best of the best, representing enlisted peronnel serving at each major Air Force command and operating agency. Their sustained superior performance and dedication to duty are examples to airmen throughout the Air Force.

The unshakable confidence that I have in the strength of the of the American spirit comes from citizens like Sgt. Walker and Sgt. Moore who are selflessly defending our way of life. We are truly forever indebted to them for their service to our great nation.

Sgt. Moore is assigned to the 8th Intelligence Squadron at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii. Sgt. Walker is assigned to the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron at Camp Murray, Washington.

Support our Gold Star Mothers

While we celebrate the accomplishments and outstanding examples set by the likes of Sgt. Moore and Sgt. Walker, we must also remember that some of our heroes make the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedoms, and a great deal of that sacrifice is borne by the families they leave behind.

Last week I signed on as an original co-sponsor of a resolution supporting Gold Star Mothers Day, which is observed on the last Sunday in September of each year in remembrance of the supreme sacrifice made by mothers who lost a son or daughter serving in the Armed Forces.

As you may already know, Gold Star Mothers is an organization for mothers who have lost a son or daughter in service to our country. In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the last Sunday in September as “Gold Star Mothers Day” to recognize and commemorate the tremendous sacrifice these courageous mothers have endured on behalf of our nation.

It’s a small token, but we must always remember that the sacrifices for our freedom are made not only by the brave men and women of the Armed Forces, but also by the families that they leave behind. We owe them all a debt we can never repay.

National MIA/POW Recognition Day

September 17 was National MIA/POW Recognition Day. At events all across the country, families, citizens, and our government renew their commitments to obtaining the fullest possible accounting for all Americans held captive or missing from our nation’s ongoing and past conflicts.

We will continue to prepare and train personnel who may become isolated and to recover those who become missing in the future. Let us never forget that we do these things because of the more than 88,000 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War.

Over 200 years ago, General George Washington said, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in war, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”

A key part of that treatment relates to our efforts to account for our missing and recover our prisoners. Let us never forget the sacrifice that they have made for our freedoms.

It is an honor to represent the men and women of our nation’s military, and I will continue my efforts in Congress to ensure that they and their efforts are never forgotten.

Regulatory over-reach

I met with leaders of the country’s forest and paper companies last week in Washington to discuss new rules under consideration at the EPA that they estimate could cost 16,888 pulp and paper industry jobs and when taken together with other regulations could result in 30 mills closing.  The combined economic effect of these new maximum achievable control technology regulations affecting industrial boilers could result in more than 71,774 total jobs losses, according to Fisher International, a consulting firm that specializes in the economics of paper mills.

This is just one more example of regulatory over-reach that is costing jobs at a time when our economy is very fragile.  When I was in John Day recently, the people installing a new pellet burning boiler system to heat the new building at the airport said they might be able to meet the new standards on paper, but in reality they weren’t sure the facility would pass.  That means the latest technology in the world won’t meet the EPA’s proposed rules.  Is it any wonder our economy is lagging?

The 3-116

One final note: The Oregon National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry, a part of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat team, held their mobilization ceremony at Eastern Oregon University yesterday before leaving for six weeks of training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.  Following their training, the 3-116 will deploy to Iraq to support Operation New Dawn. This is the second time in six years that the 3-116 has been called to duty in Iraq.

Time and again, the guardsmen and women of the 3-116 Calvalry have proven themselves more than deserving of the gratitude of their fellow Americans while defending freedom around the globe. The families of our soldiers also deserve a great deal of recognition for the tremendous sacrifice they make when their loved ones are overseas. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

Best regards,

Greg Walden
U.S. Representative
Oregon’s Second District

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