Business & Economy
Bringing Political Intelligence Agents Out of the Shadows PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 23 March 2012 14:29

Senator Chuck Grassley will continue to work to enact legislation requiring the agents of the $400 million political intelligence industry to disclose their interests, as lobbyists do. These operatives collect information from Congress and federal agencies and sell the information to Wall Street firms. This week, the majority leader of the United States Senate dealt a blow for good government and transparency by using his power to shut out Senator Grassley’s effort.  It was a victory for Wall Street and those who prefer the secrecy of the status quo.  It was a defeat for the American people and the overwhelming majority in Congress that supports the legislation.

Click here for the audio clip.

Here is the text of the address:

This week, the majority leader of the United States Senate used his power to shut out my effort to require political intelligence agents to register, as lobbyists do.

At a growing rate, political intelligence professionals collect information from Congress and federal agencies and sell the information to Wall Street firms.  The firms use the information to buy and sell stocks and presumably profit.  My proposal is focused on the people who make their living gathering information and selling it to Wall Street.  It specifically exempts reporters from any disclosure requirements.

A Washington Post news story this week said the political intelligence amendment, combined an enhanced prosecution amendment by Senator Leahy, which also was dropped, “transformed the (insider trading) bill into the most sweeping ethics legislation Congress had considered since 2007.”

The decision to scrap a requirement for registration by political intelligence professionals is a blow for good government and transparency.  It’s a victory for Wall Street and a defeat for the American people.  It’s a victory for those who prefer the secrecy of the status quo.

 

The reform had the support of 60 senators in a vote earlier this year, and the original House bill has 286 co-sponsors.  So, even though political intelligence registration got left out of this bill, I’ll keep looking for ways to bring it back.

 

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Schilling Initiatives to help Job Creators Advance PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Friday, 23 March 2012 14:18

Washington, DC – This week the House Armed Services Committee’s bipartisan Defense Business Panel, on which Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) serves, released the report of its findings, Challenges to Doing Business with the Department of Defense: Findings of the Panel on Business Challenges in the Defense Industry. The Defense Business Panel was chaired by Congressman Bill Shuster (PA-09), with Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02) as its ranking member.

The report is the culmination of six months of work examining the current defense business climate to identify and streamline contracting and regulatory issues facing the defense industry.  In completing its work, the Defense Business Panel met with or received testimony from more than 150 people representing government, industry, think tanks, and academia from around the country.  The Panel traveled to Moline in early October 2011 and met near the Rock Island Arsenal, the largest government-owned weapons and manufacturing arsenal in the United States.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve on this panel, and my thanks goes to Chairman McKeon, Congressman Schuster, and Congressman Larsen for recognizing the vital role the Rock Island Arsenal plays in our country’s defense strategy,” Schilling said.  “Having a strong defense industrial base is an important part of our economy and our national security.  I am hopeful that this Panel’s conversation will go on, and that we continue to work closely with folks in the defense contracting community to stay in tune with what works, what doesn’t, and what we can change to make the defense acquisition process easier for smaller contractors to navigate.”

The report includes several key recommendations, including:

  • Requiring the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Service Secretaries, to develop a long-term strategy for maintaining a robust and effective defense industrial base.
  • Requiring the Secretary of Defense to develop policies and mechanisms to improve communication with industry to better enable industry to allocate independent R&D resources and make investments to meet the future needs of the Department.
  • Ensuring that work being reserved for small business performance is actually performed by small businesses.
  • Continuing to rebuild the breadth and depth of the defense acquisition workforce which will, in all likelihood, save money and improve acquisition outcomes.
  • Simplifying and streamlining the acquisition process by conducting a comprehensive review of the laws and regulations that govern the acquisition process in order to repeal or amend regulations that are outdated or have had unintended consequences that outweigh the original intent of the regulation.

In addition, the House Small Business Committee today approved the Building Better Business Partnerships Act, H.R. 3985, introduced by Schilling and Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32).  Schilling’s legislation, which was introduced in early February as part of the Committee’s contracting reform initiative, would streamline the process for small businesses to participate in mentor-protégé programs, which pair new businesses looking to increase their government contracts with more experienced businesses.  The bill will help all small businesses to more easily and more effectively contract with the federal government, enabling them to grow, create jobs, and get Americans back to work.

Schilling said “I’ve owned my own small pizzeria for more than 15 years, and understand how difficult and limiting some federal programs can be for small business owners to navigate and access.  Contracting with the federal government is no different.

“I’ve heard from numerous job creators in my district about how valuable winning and retaining federal contracts are to growing their business and how the end result affects the men and women they employ.  With unemployment over nine percent in Illinois, every initiative we can take to help businesses of all sizes grow, create jobs, and get folks back to work matters.

“I’m pleased this bill was approved by the Small Business Committee with unanimous bipartisan support, and am hopeful it gets through Congress and to the President for signature along with the rest of the Committee’s contracting reform initiative to help level the playing field for small businesses in contracting."

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State of Iowa Refinances to Save Money PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Karen Austin   
Friday, 23 March 2012 13:46

DES MOINES, IA (03/22/2012)(readMedia)-- State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald announced today the refunding of Iowa's school infrastructure bonds. Iowa issued school infrastructure bonds in 2001 to provide $50 million in grants to help fund the renovation and repair of existing school facilities and the construction of new additions. The bonds will be paid off with proceeds of new bonds issued at a lower interest rate. The refunding transaction, which involved issuing $21 million in bonds at 1.94%, lowered the state's interest rate by almost 2.5%. "This transaction is a lot like refinancing your house. It will save the State $4.3 million over the next nine years." stated Fitzgerald. "Iowa's strong financial position and historically low interest rates made the refunding a great success."

As part of the process to sell the bonds, Iowa made credit presentations to the three largest rating agencies: Standard and Poor's, Moody's and Fitch. In addition to rating the bonds, Iowa's overall AAA credit rating was affirmed. "Iowa has a great story to tell. Our careful approach to financial management, resilient economy, and low debt burden have helped make us one of only eight states to be rated AAA by all three rating agencies," Fitzgerald stated.

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Braley Statement on Stalled Transportation Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Friday, 23 March 2012 13:01

Political gridlock to blame

 

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) released the following statement today regarding delays in passing a transportation bill out of Congress:

 

"Ridiculous partisan gridlock in Washington continues to delay funding to fix Iowa's dilapidated and dangerous roads and bridges. This must stop and the solution is simple.

 

"The House should join Senators Grassley and Harkin and pass the bipartisan transportation bill to fix our roads and bridges and create hundreds of jobs in Iowa. Washington should stop kicking the can down our deteriorating roads, which are putting drivers and passengers at risk.”

 

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Schilling, Loebsack Applaud RIA-JMTC & Mack Partnership PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Friday, 23 March 2012 12:56

First public-private partnership under new Schilling-Loebsack arsenal law

Washington, DC – Congressmen Bobby Schilling (IL-17) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) this morning applauded the Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (JMTC) and Mack Defense agreement that will provide Mack Defense access, via public-private partnerships, to the only remaining U.S. Army foundry and the Army’s only vertically integrated metal manufacturing facility.

The RIA-JMTC and Mack Defense agreement to form a public-private partnership is the first such intent to partner since Schilling-Loebsack Arsenal provisions were signed into law early this year as part of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

“I couldn’t be more pleased by news of the formation of a job-creating public-private partnership between the JMTC and Mack Defense,”  Schilling said. “This new agreement strengthens the Arsenal and the JMTC, and will surely strengthen our case as Team Rock Island Arsenal continues promoting the Arsenal’s value to our national defense needs and to our region.”

“Today’s announcement is a win-win-win agreement for the Arsenal, Mack Defense and the hard working folks in the Quad Cities,” said Loebsack. “This is a great partnership being done under the authority of the new provisions that Rep. Schilling and I were proud to push through Congress. It will strengthen the Arsenal and the JMTC and I look forward to seeing this and future partnerships grow.”

“This is great news that demonstrates once more a success story of partnership between the Department of Defense industrial base and industry in support of our nation’s objectives. Such partnering is the solution to a reduced Department of Defense budget while allowing the U.S. to maintain its warfighting edge,” said Major General (Ret) Yves Fontaine of Fontaine Consulting LLC, former Commanding General of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command at the Rock Island Arsenal.

Schilling and Loebsack secured landmark language in the HASC markup of the NDAA in May to lift the legal cap on the number of public-private partnerships arsenals can enter into.  That cap was limited to eight spread across arsenals throughout the country, limiting RIA’s flexibility to increase its workload and broaden its regional, private-sector economic impact.  The Schilling-Loebsack language went on to pass the House as part of the comprehensive NDAA in a bipartisan vote of 322-92.  The Senate version of the NDAA did not fully remove the cap, instead lifting it to 15.

Schilling and Loebsack were named to the NDAA Conference Committee tasked with working out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA.  As conferees, the Congressmen successfully maintained the House-passed PPP language to maximize the possibility for private-sector job growth at installations like RIA.  They also successfully included a provision in the conference report that would designate the Arsenal as a Center for Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITEs), further improving its ability to enter into public-private partnerships, provide for our men and women in combat, and strengthen the Arsenal’s core skills and manufacturing abilities.  These Schilling-Loebsack provisions were approved as part of the comprehensive NDAA by the House and the Senate, and were signed into law by the president.

The JMTC is a one-of-a-kind U.S. Army facility which manufactures critical equipment for our troops around the world.  The more than 1,700 individuals employed at JMTC specialize in manufacturing artillery, armor, small arms, and mobile maintenance kits for use on the front lines.  The JMTC, perhaps best known for howitzer production, operates the Army’s only foundry and since 2003 has produced half of all armor for Army tactical wheeled vehicles.  Veterans make up more than half of JMTC’s highly-skilled workforce.

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