Category Archives: Congressman Rush Holt

Rush Holt: Drilling Dysfunction on Our Public Lands

From Congressman Rush Holt’s Newsletter:

Together with Ranking Democrat Ed Markey and the staff of the House Committee on Natural Resources, I have worked for more than a year to gather and analyze data about safety and environmental violations committed by oil and gas companies. Our report, “Drilling Dysfunction: How the Failure to Oversee Drilling on Public Lands Endangers Health and the Environment,” has just been released, and its findings are alarming.

The report finds that from 1998 to 2011, more than two thousand violations were handed out by the U.S. Department of Interior to oil and gas companies drilling on taxpayer-owned lands. More than 500 of these violations were classified as “major” by committee staff, including 293 violations related to non-functional blowout preventers and 113 citations for deficiencies in casing and cementing programs.

Yet the enforcement of safety rules was erratic and inconsistent, and all told, the Interior Department collected only $273,875 in fines. That’s roughly equal to a single minute’s worth of oil company profits – the equivalent of levying a 10-cent fine against someone who earns $50,000 a year.

Can anyone seriously argue that these fines are sufficient to deter wrongdoing or that they reflect the very real risks that drilling poses to the environment and public health?

The Longest-Serving Representative with an Unbroken 100% Environmental Rating

The League of Conservation Voters has just announced its 2011 National Environmental Scorecard, and I was pleased to see that they have once again recognized my efforts to protect the environment and public health with a 100 percent rating.

Long before coming to Congress, I was committed to protecting and sustaining our environment – our air, water, land, and the complex web of life. It is that commitment that is reflected in the League of Conservation Voters’ rating. In fact, I am now the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives to have received a 100 percent rating in each year of service.

Too often in 2011, the privileged interests at oil companies and corporate polluters fought to weaken the laws that protect our natural resources, seeking to exploit a public trust for private gain. We must all work to ensure that, in 2012, they do not succeed.

Sincerely,

Rush Holt
Member of Congress

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Filed under Congressman Rush Holt, Environmental Scorecard, Newsletter, oil drilling, public land, the environment, US Department of Interior

Rush Holt: Libraries Offer 21st Century Skills

The following is from Congressman Rush Holt’s Newsletter

Yesterday, I joined the nation’s top library official, Susan Hildreth of the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), to visit public and school libraries in Monroe, East Brunswick, and Princeton.

America’s libraries are more widely used today than at any other point in history, with more than three quarters of Americans having visited a library in the last year. Yet these are trying times for libraries.

Even as libraries have lost funding from towns, counties, and states, they have experienced a surge in demand due to the millions of Americans looking for jobs and finding them using library services. In fact, an IMLS survey found that 30 million Americans used a library to address career and employment needs in 2009. The demand is not just for computers, but also for qualified librarians who can offer guidance on how to set-up an e-mail account, use resume formats, and file an online job application or unemployment claim.

As Director Hildreth and I saw in our visits, New Jersey libraries are working hard. In Congress I have introduced the Workforce Investments through Local Libraries (WILL) Act to integrate libraries into our job training efforts. My bill has been endorsed by the American Library Association, and I am very hopeful that it will be passed into law as Congress works to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act later this year.

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

At a time when inequality runs rampant and when so many across America are seeking work, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of equality, social justice, and economic opportunity resonates still after half a century. As Dr. King said in 1961:

“I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream—a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality. That is the dream.”

Earned Income Tax Credit Offers Support to Working Families

One of America’s most important anti-poverty programs is also among the least recognized: the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. In 2010 alone, the EITC lifted 5.4 million people, including 3 million children, above the poverty line.

The EITC is a refundable tax credit – that is, when the size of the credit exceeds the amount of taxes owed, a taxpayer receives the excess as a refund. It originated in the 1970s as a compromise between Democrats and Republicans who had differing views about the best way to fight poverty. Democrats had long supported lifting families out of poverty through the enactment of a strong minimum wage; Republicans had long argued that a high minimum wage would lead employers to hire fewer people.

The EITC provided financial support to working families, as Democrats desired, while avoiding any wage distortions in the labor market that Republicans feared. Presidents from both political parties have embraced and expanded the EITC for more than three decades.

Yet this tradition of bipartisan support has fractured in recent years. Republicans have increasingly attacked as “lucky duckies” the low-income families whose tax burdens are greatly reduced or eliminated by the EITC. Meanwhile, as the minimum wage has stagnated and our economy has faltered, the EITC has been forced to bear more and more of the burden of combating poverty – yet its increased importance has not been matched by increases in the tax credit’s size. Congress and the states should do more to support working families.

The IRS offers further details about the EITC, and a tool to help determine whether you are eligible, on its website.

Sincerely,

Rush Holt
Member of Congress

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Filed under Congressman Rush Holt, Earned Income Tax Credit, Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Martin Luther King Jr., Newsletter, Workforce Investments through Local Libraries (WILL) Act

Rush Holt; Polluters Should Pay Once Again

Posted from Congressman Holt’s newletter

Last week, I toured two toxic cleanup sites in Middlesex County that are being restored to health by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program which requires polluters to pay for the cleanup of sites they have contaminated.

A few years ago, these sites were toxic dumps, unsafe for anyone to live or work. One had hosted incinerators for photographic film and circuit boards; the other had been home to a chemical plant used in the production of oil field chemicals and anti-corrosive agents. In both areas, toxic chemicals had leached into the soil and groundwater. Without intervention, the sites would have been unsafe for human habitation for decades, even centuries.

Now they are on track to be fully restored for public use. That is a testament to the potential of the Superfund, and it is evidence of the remarkable work of the Environmental Protection Agency – an agency that is so often the target of political attacks precisely because it is so effective in standing up against polluters.

The Superfund law originally required highly polluting industries to also pay for the cleanup of “orphan sites” where no specific polluter could be identified. More recently, however, Republicans in Congress have blocked efforts to require polluters to pay into the Superfund “orphan” cleanup fund.

Partly as a result, the Superfund is dramatically underfunded, delaying efforts to clean up hundreds of toxic waste sites across New Jersey and the country. Even worse, taxpayers – rather than polluters – are now being forced to take on the burden of cleaning up these “orphan” toxic industrial sites. This is simply a wrongheaded and wasteful way to use our very limited tax dollars.

Sincerely,

Rush Holt
Member of Congress

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Filed under chemical waste, Congressman Rush Holt, EPA, Middlesex County, New Jersey, polluters, superfund toxic waste sites, toxic waste

Rush Holt – Long-Overdue Honors for Carl DeAngelis, A Local Veteran

On this Veterans Day, we extend our thanks as a grateful nation to the men and women who have defended our freedom.

Each of the 22 million American veterans has a unique and extraordinary story. Today, I’d like to share one story about a remarkable veteran in our community.
Carl DeAngelis joined the Army in September of 1942, at the height of the Second World War. His training was a time of great sorrow: his mother died shortly after his enlistment, and Carl’s service prevented him from attending his funeral. Yet it was also a time of surprising joys. One day, unexpectedly, a fellow soldier pulled a photo of his sister from his wallet and showed it to Carl. “I’m going to marry her,” Carl announced – and sure enough, after the war, he did.

Carl fought in Normandy, dodging bullets that sped just inches away from him. Later, he served on guard duty in France, where he was assaulted one evening outside a bar. Carl was forced to shoot in self-defense, and only later did he learn that the FBI had been seeking his assailant for a long time: this man, Carl was told, was wanted in a series of deaths.

When the war ended, Carl came home and started a family with Flora Terranova DeAngelis, the girl in the picture, and they have been married for 65 years. Now Carl is 90 and living in a rehabilitation home on Staten Island. Yet even after so many decades, the story of his military service remains unfinished. Carl had earned seven medals for his faithful and dedicated service – but he never received any decorations at all.

A few months ago, Carl’s daughter, who lives in East Brunswick, contacted me in an effort to right this wrong. Tomorrow morning, on Veterans Day, I will have the honor of presenting to Carl the medals he has so long deserved. You can watch live on WPIX 11, broadcasting from New York City, at about 8:40 a.m.

I hope you will join me in honoring our veterans tomorrow. And if you or someone you know is also due a medal or award that you have never received, please contact me so that our nation may properly honor our heroes.

Sincerely,

Rush Holt
Member of Congress

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Filed under Carl DeAngelis, Congressman Rush Holt, service metals, Veterans Day, World War II

Rush Holt: "Occupy Wall Street" and the American Dream

You have often heard me say that the American Dream belongs to all of us. Occupy Wall Street has, over the past month, gained the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans who seem to be saying the same thing. They are expressing many different ideas but are united by a conviction that is impossible to deny: that unless we act now, America will no longer be a land of equality, that our middle class will not have a fair shake, and that Washington’s policies will tilt ever more fiercely in favor of the most privileged among us.

The protestors feel in their gut that our nation is less fair and equitable than it was a generation ago, and the evidence proves them right. Nearly 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. The typical working-age family’s earnings are no higher today than they were almost two decades ago. And according to one study by a Federal Reserve economist, inequality has become so entrenched that a poor family would need nearly 10 generations – more than 200 years – to achieve middle-class income.

Put another way, if you are poor today, then you may reasonably hope that your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren will finally climb into the middle class. Is that what the American Dream has come to?

Yet despite the tremendous challenges facing ordinary families, today is a good time to be very wealthy. Over the past three decades, the after-tax income of the top one percent of Americans has nearly tripled.

This explosion in inequality was not a freak occurrence beyond the influence of policymakers. Rather, it was the direct result of policy run amok: decades of tax cuts for the very wealthy and a determined strategy of taking cops off the beat on Wall Street. I have fought tooth and nail against these policies, with some success – most notably the passage of last year’s Wall Street reform bill and the creation of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But too many in Congress are clinging to the failed ideologies that led to this crisis and are abandoning ordinary Americans who, through no fault of their own, cannot find a job or pay their mortgage.

Those people of privilege who disparage or dismiss the demonstrators as unfocused, naïve rebels without a cause seem to miss the point. Mystified, they say, “What are these demonstrators talking about? Our success shows the reality of the American Dream. We have made it through our work and wit.” Some politicians, clueless, want to pursue policies that would exacerbate these inequalities. Yet the truth is that runaway inequality has dampened America’s growth and weakened America’s society. If we fail to restore the American Dream to all of our citizens, the cost to our country – economically and in our individual freedoms – will be enormous.

It is no wonder that people are frustrated, angry, and disillusioned. What is astonishing, and alarming, is that so many in Congress have ignored their plight for so long.

Sincerely,

Rush Holt
Member of Congress

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Filed under american dream, Congressman Rush Holt, Newsletter, occupy wall st.

Pallone, Holt Tour New and Improved Tinton Falls Veterans Clinic

Tinton Falls, NJ – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. and Congressman Rush Holt Monday held a ribbon-cutting to recognize the reopening of the Department of Veterans Affairs Community-based Outpatient Clinic in Monmouth County. The clinic in its new location has been expanded and the majority of the clinic’s services are now on one level to make it easier for physically challenged patients to get around the facility.

“I believe we accomplished the goals we had in mind for our area veterans as we relocated the facility, expanding services, minimally disrupting the medical services veterans rely on and relocating the facility close enough so it’s still convenient,” said Pallone. “Just because the Army made an ill-advised, misguided decision to close Ft. Monmouth, that doesn’t mean veterans who still need specialized medical care should be affected.”
Benefits of the Tinton Falls location include a larger space to care for veterans, expanded clinical services, additional specialized support for veterans currently returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and improved accessibility. Currently, 2,827 are enrolled to receive care at the facility.
“After the Army’s misguided decision to close Fort Monmouth, we committed to working with the VA to ensure that local veterans will continue to have access to the medical care that they rely on and have earned,” said Holt. “The new clinic marks a significant step toward fulfilling that commitment, and it will provide a wide and growing range of services to local veterans.”
Improved services include expanded Telehealth Services, social work services and nutrition psychiatry and laboratory services.
The clinic schedule is 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with extended hours on Thursdays, beginning October 6, 2011, from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Veterans can call the Tinton Falls clinic (732-842-4751) to schedule appointments.

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Filed under Congressman Frank Pallone, Congressman Rush Holt, Department of Veterans Affairs, Fort Monmouth, press release, Tinton Falls, Veterans Clinic

Congressman Holt Makes an Appearance On The Dylan Ratigan Show

If you missed Congressman Holt on the MSNBC Dylan Ratigan show yesterday here’s your chance to see Congressman Holt explain why it is vitally important that the federal government support research in bioscience, energy science and medical innovations.

This research leads to innovations that create jobs and revenues that could help lead the country out of the current economic slump we are facing.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Filed under Congressman Rush Holt, Dylan Ratigan, economic investments, Job creation, MSNBC, President Obama, research and development, scientific research

Congressmen Pallone & Holt Announce Tinton Falls Veterans Clinic is now open

Washington, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. and Congressman Rush Holt Monday will officially open the Department of Veterans Affairs Community-based Outpatient Clinic in Monmouth County. The new location of the clinic features more space and expanded services for over 2,500 veterans who rely on it for specialized medical care.

Congressmen Pallone and Holt will be joined by Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantolo, VA New Jersey Health Care System Director, Mr. Ken Mizrach and VA New York/New Jersey Network Director, Mr. Michael Sabo this coming Monday, October 3, 2011.

The outpatient clinic will be located at:

The Atrium, 55 Gilbert Street North
Tinton Falls, New Jersey 07701
The ceremony will begin at 10am.

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Filed under Community-based Outpatient Clinic, Congressman Frank Pallone, Congressman Rush Holt, Department of Veterans Affairs

Rush Holt: How to Apply for Hurricane Disaster Assistance

If you suffered losses from Hurricane Irene, you have probably had a difficult week of clean-up and recovery. Although you may still have hard work ahead, your country stands ready to help you: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared all 21 counties in New Jersey to be natural disaster areas, which means that you are now eligible to apply for federal disaster assistance.

If you incurred any uninsured costs because of Hurricane Irene – such as the costs to pump water out of your basement, to replace a water heater, to stay in temporary housing, or even the cost of unemployment while your office was flooded – I encourage you to apply, even if you are not sure whether you are eligible.

The first step in the disaster relief process is to register with the FEMA as soon as possible. You may register online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY/TDD 1-800-462-7585 between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

It is critical that you document your losses and any expenses incurred in your recovery. Take pictures of any damaged belongings, and keep your receipts for any repairs. Although documenting your losses does not guarantee your eligibility for relief funds, the documentation may be required by FEMA or your homeowner’s insurance company.

If your insurance policy carries a separate, higher deductible for hurricane-related damage, there is good news. The New Jersey State Department of Banking and Insurance has determined that Irene was a tropical storm – and not a hurricane – at the time of its landfall in New Jersey, so your insurer may not charge you the higher hurricane deductible.

Although not all families will be eligible for all disaster relief programs, federal assistance may include:

  • Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for two months for homeowners and renters. Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements.
  • Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.
  • Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs.
  • Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks from the date of the disaster declaration for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals.
  • Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance.
  • Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million.
  • Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence.

Other relief programs include counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax assistance for filing casualty losses; and advisory assistance for legal matters, veterans benefits, and Social Security. In the future, additional money will be provided to the state to prevent future disasters, and I will continue to share information with you on the availability of these and other funds.

By way of reminder, the first step in applying for any of these programs is registering with FEMA at www.disasterassistance.gov. Once you have registered, you will have access to further information and applications for the programs listed above.

Please do not hesitate to call me at 1-87-RUSH-HOLT (1-877-874-4658) if you have questions. I hope that you and your family are safe and are making steady progress down the road to recovery.

Sincerely,

Rush Holt
Member of Congress

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Filed under Congressman Rush Holt, disaster assistance, FEMA, Hurricane Irene, Social Security, unemployment benefits

Rush Holt: Latest Word On Hurricane Irene Recovery

Many in our community suffered losses in Hurricane Irene. I am continuing to survey the damage and to consult local officials about their observations.

Traveling by helicopter, by car, and door to door, I have seen that the damage is serious but spotty. Some neighborhoods have escaped damage, while others have suffered significant flooding. It is clear that, for tens of thousands of New Jerseyans, the hurricane’s impact is ongoing. I will continue to work with federal, state, and local officials to ensure that our state has every resource it needs to recover.

In the meantime, I encourage you to document any damage to your property for your insurance company. I also have written to the President to urge him to declare a major federal disaster area, and if and when this declaration is issued, I will follow up with information on any assistance for which you may be eligible to apply.

If your home was affected by flooding, I encourage you to follow guidance from FEMA upon returning home, as dangers may persist even after floodwaters recede.

You may also find New Jersey-specific information on the disaster response on the website of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. Up-to-the-minute information on road closures caused by the hurricane may be found at 511nj.org.

Finally, you may have heard that our region is suffering a blood shortage because Hurricane Irene forced the cancelation of many blood drives and donation appointments. If you are able to, I urge you to make an appointment to give blood as soon as possible.

All of us owe deep gratitude to the public servants who worked through the storm to keep our communities safe. Princeton in particular suffered a great loss. One of our local volunteer EMTs confronted swift floodwaters in an effort to protect local residents and, tragically, was swept away and killed. His sacrifice reminds us of the dangers that our first responders face willingly each day, and it underscores the debt we owe to those who risk their lives to keep us safe.

Although we have suffered significant losses, already our community is rallying together. Over the weekend, while volunteering at a shelter in Holmdel, I saw firsthand how countless New Jerseyans gave generously to help those displaced by the storm. At times like these, we remember that we are one community, and we are united in our resolve to help our friends and neighbors.

Sincerely,

Rush Holt

Member of Congress

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Filed under 511nj.org, American Red Cross, blood donations, Congressman Rush Holt, disaster assistance, FEMA, Hurricane Irene, New Jersey, President Obama, recovery efforts