Offshore Drilling Bill: Good for Oil Companies, Good for Four States, Bad for Everyone Else
On June 29, the House of Representatives voted 232 to 187 for a bill [H.R. 4761] favored by energy companies to remove the longstanding drilling moratorium on certain offshore areas of the United States. The most controversial provision of the measure would dramatically boost four coastal states' share of leasing and royalty revenue from existing and future oil and gas drilling. Even some supporters of opening up additional offshore areas to drilling, including the Bush Administration, opposed the royalty provisions because they would transfer hundreds of billions of dollars in federal revenue to a handful of coastal states. The resources underneath the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, including the Gulf of Mexico, have traditionally been viewed as belonging to all Americans, and not just the states that happen to be adjacent to the ocean. The four states that stand to benefit from the new royalty formula are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Rep. Levin opposed passage of the legislation.
Democrats Unveil Plan to Fix Medicare Prescription Drug Law
This week House Democrats unveiled a plan to make key improvements to the new Medicare prescription drug law. Their proposal would require Medicare to leverage its bargaining power and negotiate lower prices with drug companies; help close the "donut hole" by dedicating the cost savings from price negotiation toward ending the coverage gap; allow seniors to choose a plan administered directly by Medicare; extend the enrollment deadline to December 31st without penalty; stop drug plans from increasing co-payments and creating burdensome administrative hurdles during the year, and ensure moderate-income Medicare beneficiaries get the drug coverage assistance they need by eliminating complex barriers. For additional information, click here.
House Approves Flood Insurance Reform Bill
On June 27, even as areas of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic endured torrential rains that flooded cities up and down the Atlantic coast, the House overwhelmingly approved legislation [H.R. 4973] to reform the National Flood Insurance Program. The Flood Insurance Program was created in 1968 to provide federally-backed flood insurance for millions of U.S. homeowners and businesses; however, the program has had to borrow heavily from the federal government to cover insured losses. H.R. 4973 contains a number of reforms to shore up the program's finances. Rep. Levin support passage of this legislation.
Lawmakers Call for Congressional Hearings on Johanna's Law
Together with the other lead sponsors of the bill, Rep. Levin spearheaded a letter to the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee requesting an immediate hearing on Johanna's Law, the Gynecologic Cancer Education and Awareness Act. Levin and the other 155 signers of the letter reminded the Chairman of the urgent need to provide women, their physicians, and their families with accurate information about the risk factors and early warning signs for gynecologic cancers like ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and uterine cancer. Tens of thousands of women die of the cancers every year, even though they are highly treatable when detected at early stages. Levin first introduced Johanna's Law in 2003, naming the bill in honor of Johanna Silver Gordon, a long-time Southfield teacher who died of ovarian cancer.
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