I want to thank all of you who participated in our tele-town hall earlier this week. It was a great opportunity to hear many of your questions, concerns and advice as we head into the end of the year. If you missed me on Tuesday night, I will be hosting more tele-town halls before the end of the year. If you would like to be added to our list and be one of the first called next time, please call my Modesto office at 209.579.5458 or my Fresno office at 559.449.2490and ask to be added to the VIP tele-town hall list.
Since the tele-town hall on Tuesday, a lot has happened here in the Capitol. This morning I spoke with Liz on KMPH's "Great Day" in Fresno about the new high-speed rail plan, which has a new estimate that shows costs skyrocketing to almost $100 billion! With California's economy in shambles and over 12% of its population unemployed, we need to spend our taxpayer dollars wisely. The money should be put towards shovel ready projects that will get people back to work today, not in 2033.
Another project much like this is the plan to build a third Federal courthouse in LA. Congress appropriated $400 million for this project 5 years ago, but construction hasn't started, the lot still sits vacant and the government has burned through nearly $150 million in design and overhead costs. I held a hearing this morning to provide oversight over the construction of this project and examine the amount of waste in the federal court system as a whole. I wanted to know, is a third courthouse in LA necessary? What we found out today is not only is a third courthouse not necessary, but the Government Accountability Office testified and said that the judges can all fit inside just one courthouse complex; one that already exists, mind you. They already have too much space. In a time when Congressional leaders are scrambling to find ways to reduce our $14.3trillion deficit, the government should not be finding ways to spend money, but instead identifying the tens of thousands of excess buildings it doesn't need. I have introduced the Civilian Property Realignment Act to ensure the sale or consolidation of these unneeded properties occurs because the upkeep and management has cost the taxpayer too much for too long. You can watch the video and read testimony from the hearing here.
Earlier this week, I was honored to attend the U.S. Marine Corps (early) birthday celebration in the Library of Congress. I also joined the Red Cross that morning to sign holiday cards for service members, veterans, and their families. Both events were great reminders of the courage and bravery of our service members. While many of our troops will be coming home for the holidays this year, we must continue pray for our troops that are separated from their families this holiday season.
In an effort to make the transition home for these service members as seamless as possible, last week, I introduced the Efficient Service for Veterans Act. Next week, as we celebrate the U.S. Marine Corps birthday and Veterans Day, I will be touring a couple of facilities in our area to see the direct effect this legislation will have on veterans and employees at Vet Centers across the country . More details will be posted on my website early next week.
I am looking forward to seeing many of you next week. For information on my events in the district, be sure to visit the events page on my website, and remember that following me on Facebook and twitter is an excellent way to get updates on my activity and our actions in Congress. I also encourage you to tell your friends and family members to signup forthis weekly re-cap.
A special alert: On November 9, 2011,at 2 PM (EST), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). At that time, an announcement will come on every TV and radio channel indicating that the emergency alert system has been activated. This is only a test. Please do not be alarmed when you see this message. You will not need to take any action. Details will be available on my website next week.
United States Representative