During this month, Hunger Action Month, I joined with thousands of Americans and took the Hunger Action Pledge. What this means is that I committed to raising awareness about and working to alleviate hunger. Eliminating hunger has been an important goal throughout our Nation’s history and throughout all of history. However, there are many reasons why right now, this September, we should slow down and pay specific attention toward the issue of hunger. More than one in ten households struggles to put enough food on the table. Nearly one in four children and one in nine seniors are at-risk of hunger. These statistics are not numbers on a page, they are hungry people, hungry children, struggling from day-to-day.
On August 5, the Senate unanimously passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which reauthorizes our Nation's major Federal child nutrition programs. This Act makes the largest new investment in child nutrition programs since their inception in order to better serve America's children, and it does so at a time when many children are struggling to access nutritious meals. I have always believed that what motivates people across the country to invest in the programs and policies that impact our children is a basic and fundamental belief that every child in America is born with a light inside them. Through the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the Senate has taken an important step forward toward eliminating hunger and ensuring that the light inside each child burns as brightly as the full measure of that child's potential.
Whether during Hunger Action Month or any other month of the year, I am and will always be committed to treating each child as a priority as we work towards ending hunger and to ensuring the light inside each child burns as brightly as possible.
Due to my commitment to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians living near pipelines are safe, I sent a letter today to Cynthia Quarterman, the Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Recent accidents across the Nation, such as the natural gas pipeline explosion in California and oil pipeline spill in Michigan, have demonstrated the importance of proper pipeline inspection and maintenance.
Taking care of our national pipeline infrastructure is crucially important to Pennsylvania, which has thousands of miles of pipeline crisscrossing its borders. I am concerned about the aging pipeline infrastructure as well as the new, expanding infrastructure resulting from Marcellus Shale development. I believe it is critical that sufficient resources are dedicated to caring for the entire pipeline transportation system.
For these reasons, in my letter, I call for an assessment on the adequacy of the staff, resources and programs dedicated to inspecting interstate pipelines in Pennsylvania and an assessment of what, if any, resources are needed to do the job right. I also ask for consideration of the establishment of a pipeline inspector training and certification center in Pennsylvania. It is my understanding that the nearest training center to Pennsylvania is located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and only has the capability to accommodate twenty-three inspectors during each certification class. Experience has taught us what happens when pipelines are not properly looked after. It is imperative that we learn from these lessons, take the necessary actions and make sure people are safe in their homes and communities.
Because of the extraordinary pressure placed on our servicemembers due to lengthy deployments and multiple tours, the Department of Defense involuntarily extended servicemembers’ contracts beyond the original term of service during Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. This policy was known as stop-loss affected more than a hundred thousand troops.
In FY2009, I joined my colleagues in successfully pushing for the military to compensate those military personnel who were affected by the stop-loss policy. To date, only 58,000 claims have been filed. Therefore, I want to urge those who were affected by the stop-loss policy to submit their claims for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay, today. The deadline for eligible military personnel to submit claims is THIS TUESDAY, October 21, 2010. The average benefit is $3,800.
For more information, please visit www.defense.gov/stoploss or contact your service at:
- Army 1-877-736-5554
- Navy 1-901-874-4427
- Marine Corps 1-877-242-2830
- Air Force 1-800-525-0102
The form can be found at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/eforms/dd2944.pdf
Eligibility Requirements: Effective Dec. 19, 2009, per the Defense Appropriations Act, stop-lossed servicemembers who voluntarily reenlisted or extended their service, and received a bonus for such reenlistment or extension of service, became no longer eligible to receive retroactive stop loss special pay.
September 15th marks the beginning of the observation of Hispanic Heritage Month, a national celebration of the heritage and culture of Latinos in the United States and their contributions to the nation. I am a cosponsor of the Senate resolution which officially commemorates this celebration.
Throughout American history Latino Americans have risen above many challenges to break new ground in this country. I am proud to have the opportunity to commemorate the achievements of Latinos in Pennsylvania and across the country. I also pledge to continue working with the Latino community to achieve our mutual goals and priorities.
I encourage all Pennsylvanians to visit http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov to learn more about the many contribution and accomplishments of the Latino community.
On Monday, I was pleased to be a part of the groundbreaking ceremony at Albert Einstein Health Network’s New Regional Medical Center in East Norriton. The hospital is the first, completely new hospital in southeastern Pennsylvania and was developed through Albert Einstein’s partnership with the Montgomery County Medical Center and the Montgomery Health System. When this facility opens in September 2012, it will offer the residents of Montgomery County and the Greater Philadelphia region access to top notch comprehensive care across the medical spectrum. Aside from providing increased access to quality healthcare the Center, and its construction, will generate a substantial amount of jobs and economic activity. I look forward to the Center’s completion and the important and necessary services it will provide in southeastern Pennsylvania.