session, events of Sept. 11
In a recent interview with Missouri Congressman
Sam Graves, he reflected on the most recent legislative
session, as well as the turmoil the country has faced
since the events of Sept. 11.
"It's been an incredible
year of priorities. With the first part of the year focusing
on tax cuts, the education packets, lockbox security and
the farm package," stated Graves.
"Since Sept. 11, there's
been a huge swing towards military improvements and airline
One of Graves' largest priorities
was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.
President Bush's education package included two critical
amendments offered by Graves. The amendments require that
95 percent of every federal education dollar be spent
in the classroom, "instead of bureaucratic red tape"
and it will protect teachers from frivolous lawsuits.
"I discussed this matter
with my wife who's a teacher and she said there are teachers
who are scared to death of discipline in the classroom
for the fear of being sued," said Graves.
"No matter what the
bureaucrats in Washington think, teaching and learning
happens in the classroom. That is where we need the resources.
I want to empower the local teachers and the local school
boards in our districtnot the federal bureaucracy,"
The bill also consolidates
several federal programs and allows greater flexibility
for local schools to transfer funds to the most pressing
needs. Additionally, the bill provides greater resources
for schools to increase teacher salaries and training.
In Missouri, 454 schools
will become immediately eligible for additional funding
to expand tutoring, after-school services, and other programs
to supplement their regular education.
Another important package
is still awaiting approval, the Economic Stimulus Package.
The package offers incentives for businesses offering
job creation, as well as tax cuts for low and middle income
families. While other parts of the package are awaiting
approval, the tax cuts were implemented immediately.
Graves stated that a main priority in the Congress since
Sept. 11 has been the farm bill.
"The bill, which is reauthorized every five years,
provides a safety net for farmers and maintains a safe
and cheap food supply in our nation.
The bill also helps ensure
trade and sell products overseas. The House of Representatives
has passed the farm bill, while the Senate is currently
working on its version.
Since Sept. 11, the shift
in priorities has focused on aviation security. Graves
state, that congressional oversight has been established
to ensure baggage safety.
of the congressional oversight will ensure that all baggage
that got passed by airline security was searched appropriately
and that the baggage handlers are doing their job,"
Graves complimented Americans
across the U.S., as well as people from the district on
their patriotism and generosity offered since the trying
times of Sept. 11.
"It's amazing the amount
of patriotism we're seeing and recognizing how vital and
important our fire fighters and rescue workers are. I
have both a mixed feeling of pride and sorrow," said
Graves. "America has entered a new phase in American
"The generosity from
our district has been amazing. People have opened their
hearts and wallets for the victims in New York, Washington
and Pennsylvania. We have good people and it shows through
on something like this."
Graves also commended the
U.S. military on efforts in Afghanistan and in trying
to bring Osama bin Laden to justice.
"When we were first
briefed on the situation we never thought we'd be as far
as we are right now," said Graves. "Our initial
thoughts were it'd be six to twelve months before we'd
be as far as we are right now.
"We're going to wrap
this up soon as far as Afghanistan is concerned and I
believe we're close to wrapping up our goal of getting
bin Laden and his cohorts, if he is where we think he
is," Graves continued.
With the controversy of the
recent bin Laden tape that was released to the United
States public, Graves felt the government made the right
decision leading up to the airing of the video on television.
"I felt they made the
right decision with the videotape. They made sure the
translation was correct and took their time," stated
Graves. "The tape is extremely revealing of how the
guy is thinking. They're out to ruthlessly kill as many
Americans as they can. They hate us just because we are
With Christmas less then
a week away and many people still apprehensive about flying,
Graves commented on the airline situation.
"In my personal opinion,
I feel airplane travel is as safe now as it ever has been.
I know that I will continue to travel."