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Home   /   Capitol Connection   /   Capitol Connection 06/05/2006

Federal Marriage Amendment

The United States Senate is preparing to vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment this week. I have long believed that marriage is a sacred institution which is reserved for a man and a woman – and only a man and a woman. When the House last considered the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004, the vote was 227-186, unfortunately short of the two-thirds vote needed to pass an amendment to the Constitution. I cast my vote in strong support of the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and will continue to fight for the protection of the American family from activist judges seeking to impose their own personal beliefs on the American people. I will certainly vote for the Marriage Amendment when it is again presented to the House for consideration.

In the meantime, I would encourage you to contact Senators Burr and Dole and let them know of your thoughts regarding the Marriage Amendment. You may reach them by using the following information:

Senator Elizabeth Dole
555 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

(202) 224-6342

Senator Richard Burr
207 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

(202) 224-3154

WNC households receive more unsolicited political phone calls

Over the last few months, thousands of families in Western North Carolina have had their phone lines, answering machines and voicemails flooded with unsolicited political messages. Most often, these calls briefly mention the name of the sponsoring organization – but never give their own phone number or other contact information – and then proceed to deliver an attack on my voting record. These intrusive messages are the work of Washington, DC based political pressure groups, or so-called “527” organizations -- named for the section of federal tax law that regulates them.

This week’s round of calls makes outrageous claims about my voting record on student loans, falsely accusing me of cutting them. The truth is that individual federal student loan amounts have increased for the first time since 1986 and expanded to include individuals that have never before been eligible for student loans. The organization sponsoring these calls has chosen to intentionally distort the facts.

Here are the real facts:

Deficit Reduction Act (P.L. 109-171) – signed into law February 2006

  • Increased first-year student loan limits to $3,500 and second-year student loan limits to $4,500 to give students access to more financial aid. The first increase since 1986.
  • Reduced loan fees from four percent to one percent on all student loans so students can keep more of what they borrow. For the average borrower, that’s a savings of $525.
  • Allows active duty members of the military to receive loan deferment – meaning payments are not required and interest will not accrue – when serving the nation. Members of the military will also be treated as independent students, which could allow access to greater financial aid opportunities.
  • Established additional grant aid to reward low-income, high achieving college students pursuing degrees in math, science, and critical foreign languages.
  • Tripled the amount of loan relief for highly qualified math, science, and special education teachers who commit to teaching in high-need K-12 schools for five years. This provision makes them eligible for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness.
  • For the first time ever graduate students can access PLUS loans, allowing these students to borrow up to the cost of attendance to help them in financing their graduate studies.

College Access & Opportunity Act (H.R. 609) – Passed House on March 30, 2006 with my strong support. This legislation:

  • Makes students eligible for year-round Pell funding so they may accelerate their coursework during the summer.
  • Ensures that institutions that engage in excessive tuition hikes will be publicly identified, giving parents and students a means to track tuition increases and make more informed decisions.
  • Provides honors scholarships to students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in science, mathematics, or engineering.
  • Increase the minimum grant for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Establishes loan relief of up to $5,000 for nurses, early childhood educators, and other professionals serving in fields with demonstrated national need.