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The Congressional Connector

Week of February 6-10, 2006

EPA to Provide $1.2 million to Continue Cleanup of PCB Contamination

On February 7, Rep. Levin and Michigan’s two Senators announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has agreed to return to St. Clair Shores to continue the PCB cleanup in the City’s Ten Mile Drain system.  EPA completed a $7 million cleanup of the Drain and Lange and Revere Street canals in 2003 after high concentrations of PCBs were found in the canals.  In late 2004, routine testing found high levels of PCBs had re-contaminated the Drain system near the intersection of Harper and Bon Brae streets.  Since then, the three lawmakers have been working to get EPA to agree to come back and continue the cleanup.  On February 1, EPA gave formal approval to spend $1.2 million to re-clean the most seriously contaminated sections of the Ten Mile Drain and install a waterproof liner.  “The reoccurring nature of the PCB contamination is a major concern for the citizens and the community so having the EPA return and continue as a partner in the clean-up is essential,” said Rep. Levin, “Addressing the PCBs in the drain is a good first step, but it is clear that additional action will be needed to remove the remaining PCBs outside the drain.”  For additional information, click here.

President Bush Submits His 2007 Budget to Congress

On February 6, the Bush Administration released the President’s $2.77 trillion budget for 2007.  The budget increases defense spending by nearly 7 percent next year to $439 billion and also boosts Homeland Security funding by just over 3 percent, to $33 billion.  The President’s budget also called for a $36 billion reduction in Medicare spending over five years, and proposed spending $712 billion to privatize Social Security over the next ten years.  All told, mandatory spending programs (like Social Security, Medicare, etc.) and defense and homeland security comprise roughly 80 percent of the federal budget.  All the remaining programs – everything from education, to environmental protection, to transportation, to health research – are lumped together in a category called “non-security discretionary spending.”  The Administration’s budget calls for spending cuts in this section of the budget.   Separately, the Administration announced that it will soon ask Congress for an additional $120 billion to continue military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

U.S. Trade Deficit Surges to All-Time High

On February 10, the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. trade deficit hit an all-time high of $725 billion in 2005.  The 2005 trade deficit was 17.5 percent higher than last year’s record.  The skyrocketing trade deficit with China is just one reason for the explosive increase that has contributed to the overall trade deficit.  The enormous trade inequality between the U.S. and China was $202 billion during 2005, a 25 percent increase over 2004. “These startling number must serve as a call to action,” Rep. Levin said, “The federal government is not without tools to enforce our trade agreements, knock down foreign barriers to U.S. products and stop unfair trade practices – the current Administration is just without the resolve and refuses to use them.”

Congress Graded on Environmental Votes

The non-profit group Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund recently released its Conservation Report Card grading members of Congress on nine key environmental votes in 2005.  Michigan’s Congressional Delegation in the House of Representatives earned an average score of 46 percent.  Rep. Levin’s scored an 89% rating.   

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