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Vol. LXII, No. 40
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
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Holt Busy: Bailout, Battlefield, Anthrax

Dilshanie Perera

The current economic crisis, battlefield protection, and anthrax, are just a few of the issues that Congressman Rush Holt (D-12) has dealt with in legislation over the past week.

Having supported the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act that was defeated in the House of Representatives on Monday, Mr. Holt explained that he “voted in favor of the Financial Rescue Legislation because it was a significant improvement… over Secretary Paulson’s original $700 billion proposal, and because inaction could have a devastating impact on our already unstable economy.”

Mr. Holt attributes the causes of the economic downturn to “the speculation and greed of Wall Street in recent years,” and the “years of failures, excesses, arrogance, and irresponsibility of the Bush Administration and some in Congress.”

Of the future, Mr. Holt urged, “We need to act to ensure that retirement funds and pension plans are not devastated by investments that have lost value in a jittery market.” He added that he still plans “to lead an effort to fix the economy in the long term.”

For now, legislators must “stand behind our institutions, restore confidence, and protect millions of Americans who would be affected by a continuing meltdown,” Mr Holt said.

A few days preceding the House’s rejection of the financial rescue legislation, it passed the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act that Mr. Holt had introduced to establish a federal grant program to protect such sites, including the Princeton Battlefield.

In July, the National Park Service recognized the Battlefield as a “Priority One Principal Site,” meaning that it is of significant historical import and is particularly threatened by development.

According to Christine Ferrara, a spokesperson for the Institute for Advanced Study, “the 589 acres of Institute Woods and farmlands contiguous to the Princeton Battlefield State Park has been conserved in perpetuity, since 1997.” Currently, the Institute is “planning to build 15 houses on a site of eight acres on land owned by the Institute” and is “awaiting final permissions” from the Department of Environmental Protection before proceeding with the project.

President of the Princeton Battlefield Society Jerry Hurwitz said of the House’s passage of Mr. Holt’s bill, “We are excited and energized by the prospect of federal assistance in the worthy cause of saving the hallowed ground of our Princeton Battlefield.”

Saying that “it would be a desecration of the land to permit housing to be built on it,” Mr. Hurwitz expressed his opposition to the Institute’s proposed development, citing the area as “an integral part of the Battlefield, where we believe George Washington’s counterattack took place.”

“The Berger Group has conducted an extremely thorough and professional archeological survey of the area in question,” reported Ms. Ferrara, adding that they concluded that it is “very unlikely that any concentrations of additional artifacts concerned with the Battle of Princeton will be found on the building site.” She said the group’s report “concluded that the amount of fighting that occurred in the project areas was very limited, and the major events of the battle took place outside of the project area.”

Nonetheless, Mr. Hurwitz advocated further archeological study and evaluation of the land in question.

Mr. Holt’s position is that such battlefield sites “provide a unique opportunity for Americans to experience where and how the epic struggle for our nation’s independence took place.” His bill currently awaits a vote in the Senate.

Besides dealing with battlefield protection and the reinvigoration of the economy, Mr. Holt introduced the Anthrax Attacks Investigation Act of 2008 last week. The legislation would establish a congressional commission to investigate the 2001 anthrax attacks, in which five people were killed and 17 fell ill, as well as the federal government’s response to the attacks.

The origin of the anthrax-tainted letters is believed to be a Nassau Street mailbox, which tested positive for anthrax spores following the attacks.

The apparent suicide in August of scientist Bruce Ivins, who was reportedly about to be indicted for the anthrax attacks, once again linked the anthrax case to Princeton.

Mr. Ivins’s father was a 1928 graduate of the University.

The commission that Mr. Holt proposed “would help ensure that the families of the victims of the attacks receive the credible answers they deserve as to how the attacks happened and whether the case is really closed,” he said.

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