|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 6.17.13
Monday, June 17, 2013 â€“
Honoring Congressman William Wampler, Sr.
On Monday, June 17, family and friends gathered in Bristol, Virginia to honor former Congressman William Wampler, Sr. and designate a portion of Interstate 81 in his honor. Congressman Wampler served our nation as a member of the United States Navy before being elected to serve two different stints as the Ninth Districtâ€™s Representative in Congress, the first time beginning in 1952. The ceremony took place at the Bristol Welcome Center.
Congressman Wampler served as a role model and an advisor to me, and was kind enough to allow me to consult with him on a number of occasions before and after I was elected to represent the Ninth District. Congressman Wampler was a man of principle, integrity, and courage, and always considered it a distinct privilege to serve the people of the Fightinâ€™ Ninth. His legacy and influence will long be remembered.
The New Energy Secretary
Dr. Ernest Moniz, the newly-named Secretary of Energy, recently came before my colleagues and me on the Subcommittee on Energy and Power in a hearing that focused on President Obamaâ€™s proposed 2014 budget for the Department of Energy (DOE). This was Secretary Monizâ€™s first appearance before the Energy and Commerce Committee since he was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 97-0.
The hearing covered a wide range of energy-related topics, including the cleaner use of coal, hydraulic fracturing and our countryâ€™s subsequent dramatic increase in oil and gas production, liquefied natural gas (LNG) permit applications, and the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.
Importantly, I asked Secretary Moniz about recent advances in coal technologies â€“ particularly the developments of an Ohio State University professor who has come up with a way to extract the energy out of coal with virtually no pollutants. I encouraged Secretary Moniz and would encourage the rest of the Administration to embrace the great resource that coal is, and encourage the discovery of new ways to use it. This, in turn, would give jobs back to the Ninth District of Virginia.
I also expressed to Secretary Moniz, Virginiaâ€™s desire to access the significant amount of untapped natural gas and perhaps oil that remains off the shores of the Commonwealth. While that does not directly impact the Ninth District of Virginia, the revenues from offshore drilling would bring in more money for Virginia, which means Richmond would have more money that it could spend in the Ninth District on education, roads, or other projects as our State legislators would determine.
While Secretary Moniz and I may not agree on everything, I was impressed with him. He was very knowledgeable and appeared willing to work with Congress as we continue our efforts to preserve and create energy jobs, address challenges, and secure a strong energy landscape for our countryâ€™s future.
The Bay State Boondoggle â€“ An Update
Previous columns have included sections regarding the so-called â€śBay State Boondoggleâ€ť â€“ a provision in President Obamaâ€™s health care reform law that changes Medicare funding formulas to benefit some States â€“ including Massachusetts, which is the most notable example â€“ at the expense of the remaining States.
As Donald Berwick, the former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, said, â€śWhat Massachusetts gets comes from everybody else.â€ť According to the House Ways and Means Committee, hospitals in Massachusetts are expected to receive hundreds of millions of dollars more than they otherwise would have been entitled to. These hundreds of millions more that Massachusettsâ€™ hospitals receive due to this â€śBay State Boondoggleâ€ť come from the other States, including Virginia.
A recent opinion piece in the Boston Globe highlighting this problem said â€śthe right prescription is to get rid of the boondoggle itself.â€ť I agree. H.R. 2053 was recently introduced in the House to repeal the â€śBay State Boondoggle,â€ť and I am proud to be one of the billâ€™s original cosponsors.
Earlier this year, the Senate adopted an amendment to their budget that symbolically repeals the â€śBay State Boondoggle.â€ť I am hopeful that the House will soon vote on H.R. 2053, evening the playing field for the other States including Virginia.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office by email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.