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Vol. LXIV, No. 8
 
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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Holt Denounces Closure of Anthrax Case,Supports Recovery Act, Deficit Spending

Ellen Gilbert

Representative Rush Holt (D-12) has been working hard to engage and inform residents in his district. In a recent “Telephone Town Hall” that was used to address constituents’ concerns, he discussed the release of a statement regarding the FBI’s closing of the anthrax case and another marking the first anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This has been a closed-minded, closed process from the beginning,” said Mr. Holt of the FBI’s handling of the anthrax investigation. “Arbitrarily closing the case on a Friday afternoon should not mean the end of this investigation. The evidence the FBI produced would not, I think, stand up in court. But because their prime suspect is dead and they’re not going to court, they seem satisfied with barely a circumstantial case. The National Academies of Science’s review of the FBI’s scientific methods in this case won’t be released until summer, but the FBI doesn’t seem to care.”

The anthrax attacks originated from a postal box in Princeton, causing the death of five people and disrupting the lives and livelihoods of many of people in the area. Mr. Holt has raised questions about the federal investigation into the attacks a number of times over the years, and last year he introduced the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act (H.R. 1248), legislation that would establish a Congressional commission to investigate the attacks and the federal government’s response to and investigation of the attacks. The bipartisan commission would make recommendations to the president and Congress on how the country can best prevent and respond to any future bioterrorism attack. 

“The people of central New Jersey, who were terrorized by this attack, are not well served by this decision and still deserve answers about what happened,” Mr. Holt noted in his most recent comments. “The families of the victims need to know whether the Bureau’s conclusions can be trusted. All Americans need to know whether their government has learned how to prevent bioterrorism attacks, and how to properly investigate bioterrorism attacks should they occur.”

Economic Recovery

“Everyone in central New Jersey, whether they realize it or not, knows someone who would be out of job without the investments made in the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” said Mr. Holt on the anniversary of the enactment of the Act. “When we passed the Recovery bill, the economy was contracting at a rate of six percent and shedding 750,000 jobs a month. In the year since, $1.7 billion ended up in the pockets of New Jerseyans instead of IRS coffers, nearly $370 million has helped more than 1.4 million New Jersey seniors, and unemployment benefits have been extended for more than 690,000 New Jerseyans looking for work. All of this has gone to economic activity and jobs in New Jersey. Those unsure about the impact of the Recovery bill should talk with the teacher who is still in the classroom, the police officer who is still on the beat, and a small business in Ewing that has hired new employees to develop medical devices as a result of recovery funding.”

Phone Poll

Noting that it was completely “unscientific,” Mr. Holt conducted an informal poll during his “phone-in” last week, asking the approximately 7,000 participants to weigh in on which issue they believed “is the most important one facing the country right now.” First place, with 58 percent of the vote, went to “jobs and the economy.” Health care was foremost in the minds of 22 percent of the participants, “wars” were of the greatest concern to seven percent; “energy dependence” to three percent; education to five percent, and three percent cited “other” issues as being of the utmost importance.

“I hold these phone meetings because I need to hear from you to do my job,” Mr. Holt commented at the beginning of the conversation. Phone-in participants whose questions weren’t answered during the hour-long conversation were asked to either stay on the line and leave a message, or to contact Mr. Holt at his website Holt.House.Gov.

In response to a question about the status of “the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act” that he introduced, the Congressman noted that while “many states and counties are already moving towards auditability and audits in the voting procedure, New Jersey, unfortunately, is not.” He cited the recent state court case where the judge acknowledged that there were problems with voting machines, but failed “to take the next step and require that there be auditability and audits in the voting procedure.”

Deficit Question

“A time of high unemployment and a really fragile economy is not the time to pull back and tighten the reins,” said Mr. Holt in response to a question about the national debt. While acknowledging that the debt is “certainly higher than it should be, and is getting to a troubling size,” he reminded listeners that “there are times when deficit spending makes economic sense, just as long as it’s kept under control.” He noted that “the G.I. Bill was passed near the end of the second World War, when there was still a significant deficit. It gave a boost to the economy and added to productivity for years afterward.”

“This Congress, the 111th, has been one of the most productive Congresses in many decades,” Mr. Holt noted at the conclusion of the phone-in. He cited “fair pay for women, the omnibus public lands act, legislation supporting volunteerism, the credit card holders’ bill of rights, helping families save their homes, and making Amtrak more affordable” as among the “dozens of things that have been done.” He added that as he goes around the 44 towns in this district with 700,000 people he represents, he is constantly reminded that there are a lot of different interests that must be addressed. “We representatives are multitasking all the time — we have to. Balancing those competing interests is what politics is.”

To hear Mr. Holt’s “Telephone Town Hall” in its entirety, go to http://holt.house.gov/media/06Forum.wav.

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