Dear Friends,

This week, Congress hammered out the final version of the President’s Jobs and Growth package. The bill, which the House passed early this morning, increases the child tax credit to $1,000, moves more workers more quickly into lower income tax brackets, reduces the tax rate on dividends and capital gains, ends the marriage tax penalty, creates incentives for small businesses to expand and hire more workers, and provides aid to cash-strapped state and local governments. The President is expected to sign the Jobs and Growth package into law soon. The House of Representatives also voted this week to authorize Defense Department programs for next year, prohibit schools from forcing children to take medication to attend class, and advance the President’s Healthy Forests Initiative to lower the risk of wildfire damage. On Monday, I paid tribute on the House floor to a dear friend and colleague, Larry Combest, who retired this week after serving Texas in the House of Representatives for 18 years. I’ll miss working with Larry in Congress but wish him well back home in West Texas. Yesterday, I had the opportunity at a Homeland Security Committee hearing to question Secretary Tom Ridge about actions he is taking to thoroughly vet thousands of airport security screeners whose criminal background checks weren’t completed before they were hired last year. I understand that the new Homeland Security Department is under a lot of pressure, but Congress has an obligation to ensure that passenger safety is not being jeopardized. What’s on Tap for Next Week? Next week, the House of Representatives will not be in session for the Memorial Day legislative break. When we return, however, our top priority will be bringing Medicare into the 21st Century with a prescription drug benefit.

Have a nice holiday weekend,

Kay Granger