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Congressman Sandy Levin

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Congressional Connector

The Congressional Connector
 
Week of April 17 - 21, 2006
 

House Democrats Issue Call for Action on China Trade Policy
Rep. Levin joined a group of senior House Ways and Means Democrats in sending a letter to President Bush calling for immediate action on a number of longstanding unfair trade practices in advance of Chinese President Hu Jintao�s visit to Washington, D.C.. The letter highlighted China�s currency manipulation, flagrant piracy of intellectual property, unreasonable restrictions on market access, and reliance on industrial subsidies and policies to promote exports. The letter also stated that "China imposes unscientific and burdensome technical standards and certification requirements to restrict U.S. manufacturing and agricultural exports [to China]". The House lawmakers stressed that China is an important trading partner and that the visit presents an important opportunity to address these problems, which in part have caused unacceptable and unsustainable record trade deficits with China. The U.S.-China bilateral trade deficit in 2005 reached a high of $202 billion, which represents a 25% increase from 2004, and a 140% increase from 2000. To read the letter, click here.

House Adopts Darfur Peace and Accountability Act
On April 5, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to approve the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act [H.R. 3127] to respond to the continuing humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, where as many as 400,000 people have died and millions more have been forced from their homes during the long civil war in that country. In 2004, Congress declared that the atrocities occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan are genocide. H.R. 3127 strengthens sanctions on individuals and governments seen as responsible for the atrocities in Darfur, and authorizes additional funds for peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts in the region. Speaking in support of the legislation, Rep. Levin said: "This legislation directs the President to take a number of steps to stop the genocide in Darfur. This includes providing assistance to an expanded African Union force in Darfur, advocating a NATO role in stopping the violence, pushing for an additional United Nations Security Council Resolution regarding Darfur, and freezing the assets of those responsible for acts of genocide.... The entire international community has a responsibility to work together to stop these crimes against humanity, and the bill before us makes clear that we expect the President to work with our allies to stop the killing in Darfur." To read the entire statement, click here.

Lawmakers Call on IRS to Protect Taxpayer Privacy
On April 4, Rep. Levin and 21 other members of the House of Representatives sent a sternly-worded letter to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Mark Everson, to object to an IRS proposal that would allow taxpayers� confidential tax returns to be sold to marketing companies and data brokers. The letter reads, in part: "As you are well aware, tax returns contain extremely confidential and sensitive personal information, including income, homeownership, employer, investments and other assets, number and age of children, type of vehicle, and even charitable donations.... Under our analysis, and in consultation with the Congressional Research Service and several public interest organizations, the new [proposed IRS] rules appear to weaken the existing privacy rules and explicitly permit broad information sharing.... Rather than giving a veritable gold mine of private information to the billion-dollar information business, the federal government should set the gold standard for taxpayer privacy." To view the entire letter to IRS Commissioner Everson, click here.

Legislation Introduced to Protect Grieving Military Families from Funeral Protests On March 29, bipartisan legislation [H.R. 5037] was introduced in the House to address organized protests that are occurring at military funerals. In recent months, a group from Topeka, Kansas has turned up military funerals around the country to denounce U.S. tolerance of homosexuality. During a recent funeral for a Michigan soldier killed in Iraq, demonstrators from the group held up signs saying, "Thank God for dead soldiers." H.R. 5037 would ban all demonstrations prior to and after funerals taking place at Department of Veterans Affairs� national cemeteries or at Arlington National Cemetery. The legislation would also impose a 500-foot restriction on demonstrations at national cemeteries. Rep. Levin has joined more than 100 other House members as a cosponsor of H.R. 5037.

Rep. Levin Honored by Audubon Society
On April 1, Rep. Levin was presented with the Conservation Leadership Award by the Detroit Audubon Society for his work to restore the Clinton River, Lake St. Clair and the Great Lakes as well as his support for conservation.

Hats off to Senator Carl Levin who was named in Time Magazine as one of the Nation�s Ten Best Senators!

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