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Congressman Emanuel Cleaver

Representing the 5th District of MISSOURI

EC from DC - November 22, 2013

Nov 22, 2013
EC from DC

Kansas City will receive $1 million to bolster multiple neighborhoods with critically needed repairs


Kansas City is receiving grants for more than $1 million to revitalize, repair, and rehabilitate homes in many neighborhoods. The work will create jobs and a more stable environment for many years to come.

Smiling faces all around as representatives from Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity joined Congressman Cleaver and KC Mayor Sly James to accept more than $100,000 in grant monies


A more than $100,000 grant was also awarded to the Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity to target areas in Independence, Buckner, and Grain Valley. The home improvements and repairs there will not only help the homeowners, but will also assist many neighborhoods in retaining their home values, as well as creating jobs through the work itself.

Salvador Riojas, Kansas City grantee, explains how important the assistance has been to his family


Salvador Riojas gave a heartfelt speech to the group about the impact of these grants. As his 4-year old son looked on, Mr. Riojas explained that the improvement to his own home, and his neighborhood in general, has been important in keeping his family safe and moving forward economically. His son, I might add on a personal note, sat so quietly and politely during all of the speakers.

…It was something I never really experienced as a father when my boys were young.


BIG DROP REVEALED IN RECENT REPORT


There are new numbers in the fight against homelessness among veterans that I wanted to pass along to you. A new national report shows a 24% reduction in the last 3 years. The announcement was made recently by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As we have discussed before, the VA has made ending veterans’ homelessness a top priority. The goal is to do so by the end of 2015.

This is being done through more aggressive programs, funding, awareness campaigns, and cooperation and work with the many local agencies throughout the country dedicated to serving our veterans.

This is an effort I think we can all get behind. Those who sacrifice for our country should not come home to suffer in silence. They should not call the streets "home" at all.


FIX THE PROBLEM OR FIGHT ABOUT IT?


There is so much mud-slinging and myth spreading swirling around the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Washington right now, it’s hard to see what is real, and what is simply political posturing.

What I do know is there are some problems with the ACA. I will not be one of those Democrats who refuse to admit, or even see, that there are important issues that need to be addressed. And quite frankly, they need to be fixed right now.

As I said recently on the House Floor, what is happening right now in the partisan attacks reminds me of a story when I was once riding in my son’s car. I had gone to visit him while he was in college. I was riding in the front, passenger seat of his car, as he drove into an intersection, and the car died. It had run out of gas. Was I frustrated with what was happening? You bet I was. Could we have sat there, in the car, in the middle of the intersection, and started bickering about why we were having this problem? You bet we could have.

But the more sensible and productive thing to do at the time, seemed to be getting his car to safety, fixing the problem, and moving on. There would be time for bickering and finger pointing later.

When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, we need to stop arguing in the intersection and fix the problems. And while I know there are some, I also know there are millions of Americans who are in desperate need of affordable health insurance. There are women who are in need of preventive services. There are adult children who are in need of coverage through their parents. There are senior citizens who are in need of hundreds, if not thousands, in savings each year on prescription drugs.

Not to mention that for decades now, insurance premiums have been skyrocketing for many middle-class families. A new report, prepared by the Council of Economic Advisors, credits ACA in part, for the lowest health care cost growth since 2010.

Sometimes, working together to get the job done, is the best and most beneficial course of action for all involved. There will be time for arguing later.


QUICK WASHINGTON ROUNDUP


A couple of items from Washington I wanted to update you on quickly. We don’t hear much about bipartisan agreement in the news, but it does exist. Yes, I will admit it can be rare, but it does exist.

Recently in the House Committee on Financial Services, we had two hearings. The first one was on terrorism insurance. This is a topic that has grown in importance in the twelve years since the attacks on our nation on September 11th.

The second hearing was actually a markup—where we literally “mark up” bills under our jurisdiction so they may later be considered by the full House for a vote. We reviewed several pieces of legislation aimed to assist small businesses and provide relief to small institutions, but I would like to highlight two for you.

The first bill was H.R. 3329, which would raise the qualification threshold in the Federal Reserve’s Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement from $500 million to $1 billion. This bill would provide capital relief for 550 small banks and affords certain small banks with reduced capital relief if they do not participate in activities deemed risky by the Federal Reserve. These banks did not cause our financial crisis, but in many ways they have been unduly punished anyway. The services of community banks play a unique and important role in our economy, both in Missouri and in our nation as a whole. Their value has always been associated with a unique combination of services, as well as the personal level of attention they can bring to their customers, and this bill will help ensure that remains the case.

The second bill I wish to highlight is the Credit Union Share Insurance Fund Parity Act. This legislation would provide parity between credit unions and banks regarding deposit insurance coverage of Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts – known as IOLTAs – as well as similar escrow accounts, including, but not limited, to real estate escrow accounts, funeral trusts and other escrows. It is a specific bill, to be sure, but it helps level the playing field for consumers.

Both of these bills were crafted and passed in a bipartisan manner. While I believe we can and should do more to craft a broader regulatory relief package, create jobs, and move our economy forward, this is a start.


CIVILITY CORNER


While sitting in a recent hearing in the Financial Services Committee, where I have sat for nine years, I became enraged over the tone and tolerance level of the debate. I raised my hand to enter the word-of-mouth melee.

I have always been relatively creative when it comes to the use of words. And I had a doozy just waiting. But just before the chair called on me, I recalled something from my childhood that caused me to alter what I had planned to say.

Percy Cleveland and I grew up together in Wichita Falls, Texas. We lived across the street from each other, we were in the same class, attended the same church, and were running mates on the Booker T. Washington track team.

As I remember the story, Percy was casing out a packed peach tree in the back yard of an older couple who also belonged to our church. As he stood outside the gate to their back yard, just staring at the tree, the women of the house walked out of the back door and yelled, "Hey, aren't you Sister Robingson’s boy? Are you trying to steal my peaches?” Percy quickly, nervously, and a bit angelically replied, "No ma'am, I'm just working on that willpower we talked about in Sunday school."

The point is this: We are all passionate about our beliefs but we must exercise passion with restraint. I cannot control what anyone else says, but I do have the willpower to control what I say.