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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Two Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Gang Members Plead Guilty to Federal Racketeering Charges

FBI, Houston Division Press Release:


Two Aryan Brotherhood of Texas Gang Members Plead Guilty to Federal Racketeering Charges

U.S. Department of JusticeJanuary 31, 2013
  • Office of Public Affairs(202) 514-2007/TDD (202) 514-1888
WASHINGTON—Two members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) gang pleaded guilty to racketeering charges related to their membership in the ABT’s criminal enterprise, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.
Ben Christian Dillon, aka “Tuff,” 40, of Houston, and James Marshall Meldrum, aka “Dirty,” 40, of Dallas, each pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake in the Southern District of Texas to one count of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity.
According to court documents, Dillon, Meldrum, and other ABT gang members and associate, agreed to commit multiple acts of murder, robbery, arson, kidnapping, and narcotics trafficking on behalf of the ABT gang. Dillon, Meldrum, and numerous ABT gang members met on a regular basis at various locations throughout Texas to report on gang-related business, collect dues, commit disciplinary assaults against fellow gang members, and discuss acts of violence against rival gang members, among other things.
Dillon and Meldrum admitted to being ABT gang members and engaging in multiple acts in support of the criminal enterprise. Dillon admitted to trafficking in methamphetamine, acting as an enforcer to collect drug debts owed to the ABT enterprise, committing acts of arson for the gang, and attempting to kill a fellow ABT gang member who had been marked for death by senior ABT officials. Meldrum admitted to trafficking in methamphetamine and severely beating a subordinate gang member.
According to the superseding indictment, the ABT was established in the early 1980s within the Texas prison system. The gang modeled itself after and adopted many of the precepts and writings of the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based prison gang that was formed in the California prison system during the 1960s. According to the superseding indictment, previously, the ABT was primarily concerned with the protection of white inmates and white supremacy/separatism. Over time, the ABT has expanded its criminal enterprise to include illegal activities for profit.
Court documents allege that the ABT enforced its rules and promoted discipline among its members, prospects, and associates through murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, assault, robbery, and threats against those who violate the rules or pose a threat to the enterprise. Members, and oftentimes associates, were required to follow the orders of higher-ranking members, often referred to as “direct orders.”
According to the superseding indictment, in order to be considered for ABT membership, a person must be sponsored by another gang member. Once sponsored, a prospective member must serve an unspecified term, during which he is referred to as a prospect, while his conduct is observed by the members of the ABT.
At sentencing, Dillon and Meldrum each face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Dillon’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 24, 2013, and Meldrum’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 26, 2013.
Dillon and Meldrum are two of 34 defendants charged in October 2012 with conducting racketeering activity through the ABT criminal enterprise, among other charges.
This case is being investigated by a multi-agency task force consisting of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; U.S. Marshals Service; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations; Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety; Montgomery County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Houston Police Department-Gang Division; Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Office of Inspector General; Harris County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office; Atascosa County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Orange County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Waller County, Texas Sheriff’s Office; Fort Worth, Texas Police Department; Alvin, Texas Police Department; Carrollton, Texas Police Department; Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office; Atascosa County District Attorney’s Office; and the Kaufman County, Texas District Attorney’s Office.
The case is being prosecuted by David Karpel of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Hileman of the Southern District of Texas.

Interstate Identity Theft Ringleader Sentenced to Almost 10 Years in Federal Prison

FBI, Detroit Division Press Release:


Interstate Identity Theft Ringleader Sentenced to Almost 10 Years in Federal Prison

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeJanuary 31, 2013
  • Western District of Michigan(616) 456-2404
GRAND RAPIDS, MI—Marcus Montell Thames, 32, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was sentenced to serve nine years and seven months in federal prison for his leading role in an interstate identity theft conspiracy that was based out of Florida, but whose members traveled throughout the Southeast and Upper Midwest committing bank fraud and identity theft during 2010 and 2011. The scheme involved eight charged defendants, all of whom have since been convicted of felonies including conspiracy to commit identity theft and bank fraud; bank fraud; and aggravated identity theft.
The scheme involved the defendants, travelling in teams controlled by Thames, going to locations such as gyms, daycare centers, and other places where they hoped to find purses that had been left in vehicles. After breaking into the vehicles and stealing purses to obtain check books, driver licenses, and other means of identification, the defendants would then forge high, face-value checks from one victim’s bank account made payable to another victim and then travel to branches of the payee victim’s bank that had drive-through teller lanes. There, female fraud-team members wearing basic disguises would cash the forged checks from the lane farthest from the teller window, presenting that victim’s stolen means of identification as proof of identity. The fast-moving and wide-ranging scheme, dubbed “Felony Lane” by the law-enforcement agencies that investigated it, victimized significant numbers of private citizens and federally-insured financial institutions in states that included Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan.
The investigation of Thames and his accomplices began with a February 2011 arrest by the Blackmon Township Police Department of defendant Wendy S. Bailey, 44, of Saginaw, Michigan, after she attempted to cash a forged check while on a trip with Thames and others. After initial investigation by Blackmon Township developed evidence that Bailey was part of an interstate fraud ring, the Lansing Resident Agency of the FBI joined the investigation. From there, the investigation grew to include participation by the Meridian Township Police Department, the Michigan State Police, and numerous other law-enforcement agencies in communities outside of Michigan through which the fraud teams had passed.
The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff, who commented on the seriousness of identity theft in general, and on the aggravated character of this scheme in particular given its geographic reach, the number of victims over time, and the financial and psychic harms it caused.
Other defendants received the following sentences: Peter P. Simone, 50, of Davie, Florida, who was convicted following a jury trial in October 2011, received a sentence of six years in prison; Jarod L. Jackson, 29, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was sentenced to 41 months in prison; Lucious L. Felder, 23, of Ft. Lauderdale, was sentenced to 30 months in prison; Carlton L. Brown, 24, of Ft. Lauderdale, was sentenced to 18 months in prison; Kimberly L, Kirkby, 52, of Florence, Alabama, was sentenced to 12 months in prison; and Wendy S. Bailey, 44, of Saginaw, Michigan, received a sentence of time-served, or approximately three months. Erica S. Robinson, 29, of Smyrna, Georgia, is pending sentencing on February 19, 2013. She is presently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. All of the sentences were imposed by U.S. District Judge Neff, who also presided over the Simone trial.
Commenting on the sentences, U.S. Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. stated, “Identity theft is a particularly pernicious form of property crime because it involves more than simply stealing money, it involves stealing the peace of mind of victims and, sometimes, harming their reputations and their credit-worthiness. For that reason, my office will continue to aggressively pursue identity thieves—particularly those who mistakenly believe that they can escape accountability if they just keep moving quickly enough from county to county or from state to state.”
Robert D. Foley, III, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division, stated, “Those individuals who engage in identity theft and other crimes as part of a ring are robbing citizens of their money and their piece of mind. The FBI is committed to pursuing and prosecuting these criminals for these illegal acts.”
The Lansing Resident Agency of the FBI was the lead investigating agency in the case. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagen W. Frank, who serves as the principal of the Identity Theft and Cybercrime Task-Force of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Four Sent to Prison for Roles in Ring That Stole Autos and Cargo and Then Scrapped and Disposed of Them at Northeast Ohio Locations

FBI, Cleveland Division Press Release:


Four Sent to Prison for Roles in Ring That Stole Autos and Cargo and Then Scrapped and Disposed of Them at Northeast Ohio Locations

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeJanuary 31, 2013
  • Northern District of Ohio(216) 622-3600
Four men were sentenced to prison for their roles in a conspiracy that trafficked in stolen vehicles, backhoes, steel, scrap metal, and other objects through a chop shop and a scrap-metal yard in Cleveland, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office.
Lindsey Blackmon, 48, of Cleveland, was sentenced to nearly five years (57 months) in prison by U.S. District Judge John Adams.
Nayyir Mahdi, aka “Willie Jones,” 42, of Shaker Heights, was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay $22,184 in restitution.
Curtis Wilder, 43, of Bedford Heights, was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $346,845 in restitution.
Gilbert Evans, 48, of Cleveland, was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Mark Brown, 46, of Cleveland, was sentenced to one day in jail followed by eight months of home confinement.
Davies Pierce, of Cleveland, is scheduled to be sentenced next month.
“These defendants ended up with semi-trucks or pickups that were stolen from parking lots and other places,” Dettelbach said. “This conspiracy included thefts in Warrensville Heights, Willoughby, Mentor, Euclid, Elyria, and a slew of other locations.”
“Stealing and selling stolen vehicles and cargo comes with a price of incarceration,” Anthony said. “The FBI and our Organized Crime Task Force partners will continue our efforts to detect and dismantle these illegal enterprises, which negatively impact our economy and our citizens.”
Mahdi operated Express Metals on East 152nd Street and, before that, at 14915 Woodworth Ave., both in Cleveland, and was in the business of selling scrapped metal. Blackmon obtained a location at 19210 Miles Road, Warrensville Heights, Ohio, to be used as a chop shop. Pierce owned and operated Duffy’s Towing at 7810 Colfax Road and salvaged autos for scrap metal, according to court documents.
Wilder, John Jones, and others broke into and stole motor vehicles throughout Northeast Ohio. Between June 2011 and March 2012, they brought the stolen vehicles to Brown, Pierce, and Mahdi. The Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) were then removed from the vehicles, parts were stripped from the vehicle and sold, and the rest of the vehicles were crushed and sold for scrap, according to court documents.
Some of the co-conspirators brought stolen vehicles to Brown, who stripped the autos of parts, including rims and catalytic converters, before towing the vehicles to Pierce’s shop on Colfax Road, where they were destroyed and scrapped, according to court documents.
Blackmon and others would spot and steal loads of cargo after truck drivers parked their rigs. The tractor, trailer, and loads of cargo were then brought to Express Metals, operated by Mahdi, and to Pierce’s scrap yard, where the stolen cargo was broken down, according to court documents.
On March 4, 2012, Blackmon, Evans, Brown, and others possessed a shipment of steel coils worth about $120,000 that were stolen from a Ramada Inn in Elyria. The steel was being shipped to Michigan from Twinsburg, Ohio, according to court documents.
One month earlier, Blackmon, Pierce, Brown, and others possessed steel beams worth $18,700, a 2007 Kenworth semi-truck and a 2005 Eagle flatbed which had been stolen in the vicinity of Streetsboro, Ohio, while being used in interstate commerce between Twinsburg, Ohio, and Virginia, according to court documents.
Nine others were indicted on related charges in state court.
This case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Robert E. Bulford following an investigation by the FBI’s Organized Crime Task Force, which includes the FBI, Ohio State Highway Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Cleveland Division of Police. The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office assisted with making arrests this morning.

Former Maryland National Guard Employee at Aberdeen Proving Ground Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme with Losses of More Than $107,000

FBI, Baltimore Division Press Release:


Former Maryland National Guard Employee at Aberdeen Proving Ground Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme with Losses of More Than $107,000

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeJanuary 31, 2013
  • District of Maryland(410) 209-4800
BALTIMORE—Lynn Carol Williams, age 56, of Middle River, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to misuse the corporate purchasing card and cause losses of more than $107,000 to the Freestate Challenge Academy, a Maryland National Guard program located at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service-Mid-Atlantic Field Office; and Chief Chip Honan of the Aberdeen Proving Ground Police Department.
According to her plea agreement, from October 2007 through February 2011, Williams worked as an administrative aide at Freestate Challenge Academy, a Maryland National Guard youth training program located at Aberdeen Proving Ground. Williams was authorized to use the Academy’s corporate credit card to make purchases for the Academy and was required to prepare a monthly expense report, which included the purchasing card billing statement, original receipts, copies of the approved requisition forms, and a log of activity on the purchasing card. Once her supervisor approved the expense report, it was forwarded to the State of Maryland Military Department, which paid the account balance on the corporate purchasing card.
Williams admitted that from February 2008 through October 2010, she used the corporate credit card to buy gift cards and items over the Internet for her personal use. For example, on May 18, 2010, Williams paid for two airline tickets for her and a friend to travel to Los Angeles, California, with six gift cards purchased with the corporate credit card. To conceal her fraud, Williams prepared false logs of the card activity and fictitious receipts, purportedly for office supplies, snacks for program participants, and other legitimate items purchased from local stores.
Williams faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett scheduled sentencing for May 6, 2013, at 3:00 p.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Aberdeen Proving Ground Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Joyce K. McDonald, who is prosecuting the case.

Joseph W. Jordan Sentenced to Prison

FBI, Atlanta Division Press Release:


Joseph W. Jordan Sentenced to Prison

U.S. Attorney’s OfficeJanuary 31, 2013
  • Middle District of Georgia(478) 752-3511
Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announces the sentencing of Joseph Wiley Jordan, age 64, a resident of Dougherty County, Georgia, on January 30, 2013, in Albany, Georgia, by the Honorable W. Louis Sands, United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia.
On June 4, 2012, Jordan was found guilty by a jury on four felony counts: count one, conspiracy to make bribes or kickbacks to a bank officer; and counts three, four, and five, substantive acts of bribes and kickbacks to a bank officer.
Defendant Jordan was sentenced to 15 months in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons and two years of supervised release after serving his sentence. Defendant Jordan was allowed to remain on bond pending his surrender to the Bureau of Prisons.
The case was jointly investigated by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Secret Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jim Crane for the Middle District of Georgia.
“This prosecution was successful because of the cooperation of our law enforcement partners and the hard work of the agents and the prosecutor assigned to the case,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.
Inquiries regarding the case should be directed to Sue McKinney, Public Affairs Specialist, United States Attorney’s Office at (478) 621-2601.

API calls for reality check as EPA doubles down on mandate for biofuel that doesn’t exist

API Press Release:


API calls for reality check as EPA doubles down on mandate for biofuel that doesn’t exist

EPA proposes to nearly double the mandate of non-existent cellulosic biofuels for 2013
WASHINGTON, January 31, 2013 – API criticized EPA for ignoring a recent court decision in its 2013 proposed mandate for nonexistent cellulosic biofuel.

“The court recognized the absurdity of fining companies for failing to use a nonexistent biofuel,” said API Downstream Group Director Bob Greco. “But EPA wants to nearly double the mandate for the fuel in 2013. This stealth tax on gasoline might be the most egregious example of bad public policy, and consumers could be left to pay the price. EPA needs a serious reality check.”

EPA’s 2013 proposed mandate will require refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to purchase 14 million gallons of the nonexistent biofuel in 2013. Although cellulosic biofuel has never been available on the commercial market, EPA continues to increase the mandate each year and has fined companies for failing to purchase sufficient quantities. In a decision this month, U.S. Court of Appeals said that EPA is not allowed “to let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology,” and said EPA must set more reasonable mandates.

“For four years running, biofuel producers have promised high cellulosic ethanol production,” Greco said. “EPA uses these aspirational claims to set mandates, but the promised production hasn’t happened. With today’s announcement, EPA has proven yet again that its renewable fuels program is unworkable and must be scrapped.”

Greco said API recommends that EPA base its prediction on the current year’s cellulosic biofuel production when establishing the mandated volumes for the following year. This approach would provide a more realistic assessment of potential future production rather than simply relying on the assertions of companies whose self-interest is to advertise lofty projections of their ability to produce the cellulosic biofuel.

API is a national trade association that represents all segments of America’s technology-driven oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 500 members – including large integrated companies, exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms – provide most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy, delivers $86 million a day in revenue to our government, and, since 2000, has invested over $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.

Vitter: EPA Ignoring Reality on Renewable Fuels Standard

Senator David Vitter Press Release:


January 31, 2013

Vitter: EPA Ignoring Reality on Renewable Fuels Standard

EPA releases ridiculous 2013 projections today after embarrassing court decision last week


(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican of the Environment and Public Works Committee, made the following statement regarding today’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the 2013 Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS) and the required volume obligation for cellulosic biofuel. Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated EPA’s unrealistic 2012 projection for cellulosic biofuel production.
“The EPA continues to make up unicorn-like standards in this area of renewable fuels production, and clearly are ignoring last week’s appellate court ruling,” Vitter said. “EPA has been getting away with mandating exaggerated fuel standards based on a pie in the sky wish, and even after last week’s embarrassing loss, they persevere in ignoring the cold hard facts. Increasing the standard after their 2012 requirements were vacated is beyond ludicrous, and they continue to force refiners to either purchase even more gallons of product that doesn’t exist or pay a fine.”
Under the Renewable Fuels Standard, the mandated amount of cellulosic biofuel determines how much refiners, importers, and blenders must use or purchase credits for each year to comply with the law. For 2013, EPA’s proposed volumetric requirement for cellulosic biofuel is 14 million gallons.  In 2013, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected 9.6 million gallons; EPA increased that projection by 4.4 million gallons. The production for the last three years has been virtually zero.
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that EPA was projecting far too much production of cellulosic biofuel for 2012.  In vacating EPA’s 2012 projection of cellulosic biofuel production, the Court found that the RFS program, as amended in 2007, would need to be based on what will actually happen versus a prediction. The Court found EPA’s estimations of growth in the cellulosic biofuel industry did not align with how the Renewable Fuels Standard law is written.
Today, EPA also proposed a process for addressing the fraudulent sales of Renewable Fuel Identification Numbers (RINs) occurring in the area of biomass based diesel. Approximately 140 million fraudulent RINs have been discovered and a careful examination of EPA’s proposal is necessary to guarantee that the generation and sale of fraudulent RINs does not continue.
Earlier this week, Energy Trends Insider published “Why I Don’t Ride a Unicorn to Work,” which compares EPA’s cellulosic ethanol blends to requiring automakers to sell unicorns.

Senate Passes Vitter-Landrieu Catholic Schools Week Resolution

Senator David Vitter Press Release:


January 31, 2013

Senate Passes Vitter-Landrieu Catholic Schools Week Resolution


(Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Senate this week passed a resolution authored by U.S. Sens. David Vitter and Mary Landrieu recognizing Catholic Schools Week and honoring the valuable contributions of Catholic schools in the United States.  This year’s Catholic Schools Week, sponsored by the National Catholic Educational Association and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, runs from January 27 to February 2.
“More than two million students attend Catholic schools in the United States, and more than 85 percent of them go on to pursue a college degree,” said Sen. Vitter. “These students and their families should be commended for their strong dedication to their faith and for their steadfast commitment to furthering their studies.  As a Catholic school alumnus, and father of current Catholic school students, I know the educators and administrators deserve our thanks for their steadfast commitment not just to educating minds, but to shaping hearts and cultivating the virtues in students that make our country and our local communities stronger.”
“Our nation’s Catholic schools have a long history of putting students from all walks of life on the path to success,” Sen. Landrieu said. “Across America, and especially in Louisiana, they are the cornerstones of our communities, enriching the minds and hearts of young people. My time with the Ursaline nuns provided me with an exceptional education, but more importantly, I learned to use my education for the greater good and built a love for serving others. This week, we recognize our parochial schools for their dedication to charity, compassion and intellectual vigor.” 
Both Vitter and Landrieu attended Catholic high schools in New Orleans, with Vitter graduating from De La Salle High School and Landrieu graduating from Ursuline Academy.
The resolution, also co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), commends the overall graduation rate of 99 percent for all Catholic school students.

School Choice Week


Fighting for Florida

Jan 31 2013

School Choice Week

School Choice Week is a time for Americans to consider their priorities when it comes to education. The vast majority of Americans would like an education system that places the interests of students and their parents above all else. Sadly, our public school systems in the United States have too often placed the interests of the teachers' unions at the top. This must end.
As an advocate for school choice, I believe we should provide tax encouragement to help parents pay to send their children to the best schools possible. I support creating both a corporate and an individual federal tax credit to qualifying, non-profit 501(c)(3) Education Scholarship Granting Organizations, so that eligible students can receive a scholarship to pay for the cost of a private education of their parents’ choosing. This will help ensure that all of America's children get the quality education that will allow them to succeed in a 21st century global economy.

Senator Rubio Opposes Continued Inaction On Solving America's Debt Problem


Press Releases

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today voted against the short-term legislation to raise the debt ceiling through May 18 and issued the following statement: 
“Long ago, I established that I would not vote for a debt ceiling increase unless it is tied with measures to actually solve our debt problem through spending reforms and economic policies that will help us grow our way out of this debt. This measure not only raises the debt ceiling without any of these reforms, but it means we will again have to deal with this issue in just a few months.
“President Obama and Congress should stop viewing this debt issue as a political nuisance and instead solve our debt problem once and for all. They should join the American people clamoring for a solution that creates jobs for the middle class, stops Washington’s reckless spending, and preserves America’s exceptionalism in the 21st century.”

Senator Rubio To Oppose Hagel’s Confirmation For Secretary Of Defense


Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement announcing his intention to vote against the confirmation of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense:
“After carefully reviewing Senator Hagel’s record on a number of issues, I cannot support his confirmation as our nation’s next Secretary of Defense.  I oppose his confirmation because of his views on U.S. policy toward Cuba, his past opposition to tough Iran sanctions, his questionable comments in the past about U.S. support for Israel, his support for direct, bilateral negotiations with North Korea and, most importantly, my belief that he will usher in a new era of austere defense budgets that will severely impede U.S. national security by hampering readiness and radically limiting the global force projection of our military.
“Senator Hagel served his country during the Vietnam War with great distinction and has an admirable record of public service.  I also appreciate him taking the time to visit with me this week.  Unfortunately, his policy views are too far apart from what I believe to be the way forward for preserving America’s proper role in the world as a force for security and peace.  Now more than ever, I firmly believe the U.S. needs a robust military capability that includes a renewed commitment to our shipbuilding program, a reliable nuclear deterrent to defend against rogue nations and a nimble counterterrorism force able to confront the asymmetric warfare of the 21st century.”

Portman Statement on Senate Bill to Raise the Debt Limit Without Needed Spending Reforms

Senator Rob Portman Press Release:


January 31, 2013

Portman Statement on Senate Bill to Raise the Debt Limit Without Needed Spending Reforms

"Irresponsible to merely pay our past obligations without having a real debate about Washington's reckless spending habits"

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S.  Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) released the following statement following his vote against H.R. 325, the Debt Limit Bill:
“America must pay its bills - no one is arguing against that point.  What we are debating is how to shrink those bills moving forward so the federal government doesn't continue maxing out its credit card and selling out future generations.  The bills are too high, and it would be irresponsible to merely pay our past obligations without having a real debate about Washington's reckless spending habits and how to avoid this situation in the future.
“I'm disappointed that the Senate did not adopt two bipartisan principles debated on the floor of the Senate today to provide a pathway forward to real spending reform, and I cannot in good conscience vote to move forward without a pathway to making the tough decisions necessary to stabilize the nation's out of control debt and end the era of trillion dollar deficits.  These two commonsense principles would ensure one dollar in savings for every dollar in new debt, which returns Washington's spending back to the historically-average levels, and end the threat of a government shutdown and artificial cliffs.
“I am pleased, however, that Senate Democrats have finally promised to move forward with a budget, something they have failed to do for three whole years.  I hope it is a more serious document than what President Obama has put forward, which has failed to receive a single vote from either party, in either house of Congress, for two years in a row.  With the nation's fiscal situation in such a perilous place, however, just passing a budget is not enough; we must force a real debate on how best to rein in our spending and reduce our deficits in the short-term, which Dollar for Dollar would do."

Senate Votes on Paul Amendment to Prevent Sale of F-16s to Egypt

Senator Rand Paul Press Release:


Senate Votes on Paul Amendment to Prevent Sale of F-16s to Egypt

Jan 31, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate today voted on a series of amendments to H.R.325, the debt limit bill. Included in the amendment votes was one introduced by Sen. Rand Paul that would prohibit the U.S. government from selling F-16 military aircraft, M1 tanks, and similar military weapons to the Egyptian government. The amendment failed, 79-19.
Prior to the vote, Sen. Paul took to the Senate floor to discuss his amendment. Below is video and transcript of his speech.

TRANSCRIPT:
I rise today to present legislation that would stop the transfer of F-16s and Abrams tanks to Egypt. I think it particularly unwise to send tanks and our most sophisticated fighter planes to Egypt at a time at which many are saying the country may be unraveling.
Ironically, a year ago the Arab spring occurred. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Tahrir square to protest a government that was instituting martial law. Ironically the current President now has instituted martial law and once again the dreaded indefinite intention is threatened to citizens in Egypt.
As the writing expands, many see Egypt descending into chaos. What is President Obama's response to this? To send them some of the most sophisticated weapons we have: F-16 fighters and Abrams tanks. I think this is particularly unwise, and this legislation will stop it.
I think this is particularly unwise since Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot, a religious zealot who said recently that ‘Jews were bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs.' This doesn't sound like the kind of stable personality we would be sending our most sophisticated weapons to.
I think it is a grave mistake to send F-16s and tanks to a country that detained American citizens on trumped up political charges. On a country that currently is still detaining Egyptian citizens on trumped-up political charges.
I think it is a blunder of the first proportion to send sophisticated weapons to a country that allowed a mob to attack our embassy and to burn our flag. I find it objectionable to send weapons, F-16s and tanks, to a company that allowed a mob chanting "death to America" to threaten our American diplomats.
I am concerned that these weapons, some of the most sophisticated weapons in the world, someday may be used against Israel. I'm concerned that these weapons threaten Israel's security and that sending weapons to a country with a president who recently was seen to be chanting "amen" to a cleric that was saying "death to Israel and death to those who support Israel."
I think it's foolhardy to support and send arms to both sides of an arms race. We send 20 F-16s to Egypt which already has 240 F-16s. We send 20 in addition. What does Israel feel? They've got to have two for every one Egypt has. It escalates an arms race. It makes it more difficult for Israel to defend herself.
Today we have a chance to stop this folly. I urge my Senators to instruct the President that we will not send any more F-16s and any more Abrams tanks to the current government of Egypt. Thank you, Mr. President, and I yield back my time.
###

Dem Focus on Tax Hikes Distracts From Real Problem – Out-of-Control Spending

Senator Mitch McConnell Press Release:


Press Releases

Jan 31 2013

Dem Focus on Tax Hikes Distracts From Real Problem – Out-of-Control Spending

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the need for Senate Democrats and the President to focus on Washington’s out-of-control spending problem to solve the debt crisis in America:
“Yesterday, we learned that our economy contracted for the first time in more than three years. This news comes, of course, after President Obama spent an entire election promising Americans that a return to robust economic growth was right around the corner, and little more than a week after the President said in his inaugural address that ‘economic recovery has begun.’
“I’m not so sure the people of Kentucky would agree with that assessment, given that the unemployment rate there is still above 8 percent. But this isn’t the first or second time this White House has oversold the recovery. It’s not even the third or the fourth. A lot of us remember the ‘Summer of Recovery.’ A lot of us also remember when the Vice President promised that the stimulus would ‘literally drop-kick’ us out of the recession.
“Look: if the White House spent nearly as much time trying to actually fix the economy as it did claiming it was fixed – and then finding excuses and scapegoats when its premature pronouncements turned out to be false – I suspect the economy would actually be doing better than it is today. But the President seems not to have learned that lesson because, just yesterday, he tried to pin the latest negative economic news on Congressional Republicans again.
“Well, the President can make any excuse he wants, but it’s not going to help Americans find jobs.
“One thing the President could have done instead of wasting so much time blaming others would have been to convene the Jobs Council he created amidst so much fanfare. He hasn’t done that for more than a year. In fact, from what I understand, the council is expected to disband today after having met only four times since 2011.
“We’ve had four years of the Obama Economy. It hasn’t worked. This would be the time to try something new. But the President seems content to simply double down on more of the same. He wants to spend more, which would only worsen our trillion-dollar deficits. And the very same President who warned against raising taxes in a down economy is proposing to raise taxes in a down economy. He’s clearly getting a big assist on that front from the Chairwoman of the Budget Committee, who says she’s going to include tax hikes in the Senate Democrats’ budget plan.
“That’s a bad enough idea to begin with, but it’s especially counterproductive considering yesterday’s dismal growth numbers. Because there are two things we know about tax increases: First, they reduce jobs and hurt economic growth, and second, they distract us from addressing the real problem, which is spending.
“As I’ve explained repeatedly on the floor over the past two weeks, government spending is completely out of control – and it’s projected to get much worse in years to come. Even if the President got the additional tax increases he’s asked for, we still wouldn’t even come close to solving the problem. And we certainly won’t get there by wasting time on poll-tested P.R. gimmicks that will hardly bring in any revenue. Every minute the administration spends talking about corporate jets is one less minute we have to discuss serious ways to confront the challenges we face. Clearly, it’s the spending we have to deal with. And now is the perfect time to do so.
“The key to robust recovery is freeing the private sector to grow and create jobs. We can do that by making government more efficient, by reforming spending, and by eliminating programs that don’t work – which happen to be the very same things we need to do to get our fiscal house in order.
“Economic growth and debt reduction can go hand in hand, but only if we pursue the right policies. So, as a first step, let’s stop making things worse than they already are. Threatening families and businesses with even more job-killing tax hikes is clearly counterproductive, and so is trying to borrow more money from China to fund more failed stimulus packages.
“The President and his allies have had four years to put their ideas into practice; those policies have failed. It’s time for a new approach. And, if Democrats are ready to finally get serious – to end the blame game and pursue real pro-growth policies – then Republicans are here to show them the way forward to a stronger economy and a more secure future.”

INHOFE STATEMENT AT EPW HEARING ON THE HARBOR MAINTENANCE TRUST FUND AND THE NEED TO INVEST IN THE NATION'S PORTS

Senator Jim Inhofe Press Release:


INHOFE STATEMENT AT EPW HEARING ON THE HARBOR MAINTENANCE TRUST FUND AND THE NEED TO INVEST IN THE NATION'S PORTS


 
Contacts: Jared Young 202-224-5762
Donelle Harder 202-224-1282

January 31, 2013


"Thank you, Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter, for holding this hearing and allowing committee members to receive testimony on the Habor Maintenance Trust Fund. I also would like to thank Assistant Secretary Darcy for testifying before us this morning, as well as the four gentlemen who will be joining us during the second panel -- this committee greatly appreciates you and relies on your expertise, so thank you very much for being here.

"I would like to also take a moment to thank the chairman, Senator Boxer, and our new ranking member, Senator Vitter, for all the work they and their staffs have done thus far on the next Water Resources Development Act. I look forward to working with both of you as we build upon our past successes and continue to work toward preserving and enhancing the infrastructure of this great nation.

"Certainly the most immediate challenge this committee faces is the authorization of water resources development legislation. As I’ve said time and time again, we as a Congress must pass authorization bills on a regular schedule so as to preserve the proper authorization-then-appropriations process. It has been six years now since we passed the last Water Resources Development Act, despite the best efforts of this committee—and that, in my judgment, is too long.

"Our harbors and inland waterways are vital to the economic health of our country. In my home state of Oklahoma, over 90% of the grain that is shipped on barges eventually finds its way to New Orleans to be exported. If the harbor in New Orleans is not properly maintained, shipping from Oklahoma will suffer. Andvice versa—for harbors to gain the economic benefit of shipping from places like Oklahoma, our inland waterways must also be properly maintained. As everyone here knows, only about half of the annual revenue in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is spent as intended—on critical maintenance dredging. But because of the current structure of budgetary allocations, we simply cannot afford to allow funding for our inland waterways and ports to be redirected—it, too, needs a source of stable revenue. The only reasonable solution is increased funding for the system as a whole.

"The Inland Waterways Trust Fund helps fund the 18 locks and dams on the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, but it is woefully underfunded. In 2012, over 2.7 million tons of cargo shipped from the Port of Catoosa, with over 12 million tons being shipped on MKARNS, but the system could function much more efficiently and productively if it was deepened from its current 9 foot depth to the authorized 12 feet, and if hours of service on the locks are not further reduced. This must be a priority.

"I have said my entire career that I take fiscal responsibility very seriously. However, I believe the federal government has a responsibility to invest innational defense and infrastructure. In 2011 the President cut the Corps ofEngineers’ budget by $600 million and by $300 million again in 2012. Our nation’s system of inland waterways, highways, and coastal ports are our pathway to trade and economic prosperity, and we cannot continue this downward trajectory. Again, I thank the witnesses and look forward to their testimony."
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