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After criticizing Representative Randy Neugebauer for taking part in a suspect international junket, I have received a letter from Mr. Neugebaurer explaining his trip. In the post, I requested that Mr. Neugebauer repay the taxpayers for his wife's expenses and it later came to my attention that he had already done so. The post must have spurned some interest because I had several hits from the US House of Representatives and the House Sergeant-at-Arms. I do understand that "some" of these CODEL's are useful and important, but they can and should be pared down. I will post my response to Mr. Neugebauer at a later time, but in fairness I will post his response now. I do appreciate Congressman Neugebauer taking the time to explain his actions.
As part of my duties as a member of both the Energy and Environment and the Research and Science Education Subcommittees of the House Science and Technology Committee, I joined several of my colleagues, including Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird, on a working trip to observe the reported effects of global warming in Antarctica and the Oceanic region and how your tax-dollars are being spent to conduct research on global warming in these locations.
As part of our duties as United States Representatives, Members of Congress are expected to oversee programs under the jurisdiction of our Committees, and this includes participating in Congressional delegations to various points on the globe to serve in diplomatic capacities and to inspect the operations of programs that are funded with taxpayer dollars in order to gain first-hand knowledge of issues we must deal with in Congress. When Congress travels down the road of potentially spending billions of dollars on programs with questionable effectiveness, it would be irresponsible to saddle future generations with massive spending obligations without being educated about the benefits, as well as the consequences, these expenditures might have.
As you know, the House of Representatives recently passed legislation known as Cap and Trade, which I voted against. I firmly believe that by gaining first-hand knowledge of what many have been claiming about the disputed impacts of global warming only served to reinforce my position that this is unwise policy. With many in the scientific community claiming that global warming is rapidly affecting our oceans and polar ice caps, this trip enabled me to closely observe these findings for myself, rather than settle for the opinions of a hand-picked scientist chosen by proponents of this policy as an unbiased subject matter expert. As a member of the Science and Technology Committee, which has oversight responsibility for the nearly $9 billion in National Science Foundation education and research programs including $443 million for National Science Foundation U.S. Polar Research Programs, my actions in Congress help influence our country’s environmental policies, and I will continue fighting to ensure that decisions are made based on science and not popular public opinion.
Regrettably, the estimated cost of the trip described in recent news articles was not available to us at the time, nor does it take into account the fact that the trip we took to these Antarctic locations was part of a pre-scheduled supply run,on which we were able to ride along. This was not a separate Congressional trip to Antarctica as the media would lead one to believe; it would have happened whether or not Members of Congress went along. Also, several news reports implied that this trip was taken without the knowledge of taxpayers. In fact, I gave a full report of my trip in my weekly newsletter,Randy’s Roundup, upon my return in order to share my experiences with my constituents. In addition, I spoke with the news media in the 19th Congressional District about details of the trip. I encourage you to visit the Abilene Reporter News article published in January 2008.http://www.reporternews.co
Following my trip, I was pleased to work with the staff of the National Science Foundation who were gracious enough to loan me some of the ultra-low temperature protective gear we used, which I was able to bring with me when I visited several schools in the 19th district. I was encouraged by the interest these students had in sciences, and I firmly believe we should work to further enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education in today's schools.
Finally, because this trip took place over the New Year's holiday, my wife, Dana, accompanied me as far as New Zealand at no additional cost to the taxpayer. As is required by House rules, spouse travel is allowable (to non-hostile regions), but all expenses must be paid by me alone. In addition, all travel logs are on file with the House Clerk's office and can be viewed by the public, as they should be.
This trip was extremely informative to me. I believe that much of the push to curb global warming is politically-driven, and I appreciated the opportunity to see for myself that climate change is a natural process. I have also participated in Congressional delegations to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit our troops and witness our progress in the War on Terror. Without access to these trips, I believe Members of Congress would not be properly equipped with the knowledge they need to be efficient stewards of taxpayer dollars, which next to the security of our nation, should be our highest priority.
Thank you for contacting me.
Friday, August 21, 2009
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