The Leahy Letter - May 28, 2010

Leahy Says Oil Spill Is Both 'Maddening and Disheartening'

Senator Leahy continues to express his outrage over BP oil rig explosion and oil continues to stream into the Gulf at a rate some experts believe to be as high as 200,000 gallons a day.

Senator Leahy has called this catastophe, "both maddening and disheartening.  I am appalled by the dangerous relationships that appear to have developed between powerful oil interests and the agencies that were supposed to protect the public’s stake."

In a letter to President Obama, Senator Leahy is urging the President to ask federal agencies to make information related to the ongoing oil spill available to the public.  Senator Leahy has also called on the Administration to fully investigate this disaster to better learn what happened in order to prevent it from ever happening again.  He also continues to press for holding BP and all responsible parties accountable.

Senator Leahy was pleased to see President Obama’s recent announcement of new restrictions on offshore drilling, extending a moratorium on new deepwater drilling and halting drilling at 33 deep-water rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Senator Leahy Sets Start Date For Supreme Court Hearing

Senator Leahy has announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court will begin on June 28.  Elena Kagan would become just the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court, and if she is confirmed, for the first time in history, three women would serve concurrently on the Court.  Senator Leahy spoke on the Senate Floor on May 25 about Solicitor General Kagan’s record and qualifications to serve on the Nation’s highest court. You can watch video or read his floor statement here.

Vermont Has Voice In Final Negotiations On Wall Street Reform Bill

Earlier this week, Senate leaders appointed Senator Leahy as one of 12 Senate conferees who will negotiate the final form of the landmark financial reform legislation, which has passed both the Senate and the House in different forms.

The Senate bill included a provision - one that Senator Leahy supported and that is expected to draw special interest opposition - to protect small businesses from complicated predatory rules used by big credit card companies.  This amendment would help grocers and other commercial outlets in Vermont who are subject to fees for use of credit card machines. The amendment would allow small businesses to advertise a discount for paying cash, or for using one card instead of another.

Another key issue is oversight and regulation of financial derivatives – investment contracts that are not based on actual assets or commodities, but which instead “derive” their value from market indexes such as foreign exchange rates or from traditional securities like stocks, or even insurance policies.  Senator Leahy voted for the Senate Agriculture Committee’s plan to begin regulating derivatives, and especially their use by the banks that businesses and consumers rely on for the security of their savings and investments.

Leahy Renews Push For U.S. Signing Of The Landmine Ban Treaty

Vermont has a record of leading the effort to end the use of anti-personnel landmines, the indiscriminate weapons that threaten the lives and limbs of innocent civilians in some 70 countries.  Senator Leahy, who has been the leading U.S. officeholder promoting a landmine ban for more than 15 years, observed recently that the United States has made significant efforts to help get rid of mines in other countries and to help mine victims, but that U.S. failure to join the Landmine Ban Treaty gives nations that are the worst offenders an excuse to do the same.

On May 18, Senator Leahy headed a bipartisan letter to President Obama, signed by 67 other senators, urging him to develop a plan to join the Treaty as soon as possible.  The Treaty has been signed by 158 countries.  To watch or read Senator Leahy’s May 18th Senate Floor speech about this issue click here.

New Study Shows That Health Care Reform Plan Will Bring More Medicaid Dollars To Vermont

During the debate earlier this year on health insurance reform, Senator Leahy led in working to ensure that states that took early action to cover more people through Medicaid were not punished for acting early.

A study released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the federal government will largely pay for the historic expansion of the Medicaid program contained in the health insurance reform law.  Click here to read more about this report, or to read the report. 

You can also read more about the health care reform legislation and how it will affect you here.

Leahy Asks For Closing Of Little-Used Border Crossing

After a public meeting was held in Franklin on Saturday, May 22, to air information and Vermonters' views about Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to replace an aging border-crossing facility at Morses Line, Senator Leahy wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to ask that the crossing be closed.  Leahy had asked DHS to hold the public meeting to give Vermonters a direct way to voice their opinions about the project. You can view the letter sent to Secretary Napolitano here.

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