ANOTHER VOICE: Walden comments on government spending bill

From the office of Greg Walden, Second District U.S. Representative. (R-Hood River):

The U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 15 passed a bipartisan bill that funds the government for the remainder of the year. Walden supported this plan, and released a statement:

“Today, the House passed a plan to continue our successful efforts to reduce spending, grow our economy, and prioritize to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.

“This plan reduces spending below 2009 levels — below even what it was when President Obama took office.

“This year will mark the first time since the Korean War that spending has been cut four years in a row — a total of $165 billion since 2010.

“The President asked Congress for an increase in funding for the EPA and Obamacare. We denied him that, and even cut an Obamacare slush fund by $1 billion and the EPA by $143 million. And it reduces unnecessary federal regulations and increases oversight of agencies like the IRS.

“We take care of our troops and veterans as well. The plan funds a 1 percent pay increase for the military, and restores the full, annual cost-of-living increase for medically retired military personnel. And it includes a comprehensive plan to end the claims backlog at the Veterans Administration by next year once and for all.

“The bill is another step in continued efforts to reduce spending, grow the economy, and eventually balance the budget”

Walden points to these features of the plan:

n Freezes funding for the Affordable Care Act and takes $1 billion out of an Obamacare slush fund.

n Supports wildfire operations and reimburses agencies for all fire borrowing last year.

n Directs additional funds to conservation efforts to prevent listing of the sage grouse as an endangered species.

n Prevents the exclusion of fresh, white potatoes from the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) nutrition program.

n Blocks proposals to increasing BLM/Forest Service grazing fees and directs additional funds for reducing grazing permit backlogs.

n Fully funds a 1 percent pay raise for our troops and increases focus on military health like traumatic brain injuries and prosthetics.

n Restores the full annual cost-of-living increase for 63,000 medically retired military personnel.

n Includes a comprehensive initiative to end the claims backlog at the VA by 2015.

n Supports crop research programs important to Oregon agriculture, ranging from wheat to specialty crops like cherries and onions.

n Blocks OSHA’s efforts to regulate family farms as grain handlers

n Delays certain rate increases for federal flood insurance.

n Prevents the closing of rural post offices.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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