WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement today after learning that the U.S. Department of Education had approved $96 million in funding for Iowa.  Iowa applied for this funding after the U.S. Senate advanced a measure that provided $10 billion for an education jobs fund to help prevent major teacher layoffs in the coming school year.  This effort was modeled after legislation Senator Harkin introduced on April 14th called the Keep Our Educators Working Act.

Harkin chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that funds education efforts and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

"Just a few months ago, headlines in Iowa and around the country told an all-too-familiar story of educator jobs at risk.   Our public schools were facing the prospect of massive layoffs, which would have meant larger class sizes and a great risk to the state of our kids' education.  

"Today, we have helped to avert a crisis.  With the approval of their application, Iowa will be able to use these funds to stem the loss of teachers, librarians, classroom assistants and others who our kids rely on for a quality education.  I commend the Department of Education for moving quickly to ensure this critical funding is released to states."


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that $1 million in quick release emergency funding is coming to Iowa to help repair roads damaged by the rain and flooding of June and July, 2010.  The funds, which the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration has made available to the Iowa Department of Transportation, will be used to restore essential traffic byways and protect roads from further damage.  

"June and July's storms severely damaged our roads, stopping many Iowans from traveling and limiting our ability to deliver goods and services to the people who need them," Harkin said. "This funding will help repair and restore our roadways and get us back on track."

On June 1, 2010 and continuing, severe storm systems moved across Iowa causing damage, flooding and related impacts to the Federal-aid highway system in Iowa.  Typical damage included shoulder erosion, pavement undermining, landslides, and bridge and road closures on both the state and local system.  Flooding forced the closure of several primary roadway systems and caused substantial damage.  The secondary road system also suffered substantial damage.  Governor Culver proclaimed 51 of Iowa's counties to be a disaster area, along with requesting a Presidential Declaration for an additional 7 counties not included in the Governor's proclamation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement today after the last remaining U.S. combat brigade in Iraq, the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, departed for U.S. soil.

"As this last group of brave combat soldiers heads home, we thank them for their service, professionalism and courage.  

"The state of Iowa lost 56 service members in Iraq over the past eight years - a number multiplied many times over by the loved ones they left behind.  We will continue to grieve with them and support them, and to honor their memories.  They are the true heroes of this story, the best and bravest among us, and their contributions will not be forgotten."
WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 18, 2010 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today applauded Senate passage of legislation to ensure seniors and veterans can continue to receive medical care from the doctors they depend on.  The legislation, which provides a six month extension of the Medicare payment fix for doctors, is fully paid for and was passed by unanimous consent.  The bill now heads to the House for its consideration.

"I am encouraged that the Senate passed an extension of the Medicare payment fix for doctors.  Iowa's seniors deserve to continue to receive the highest quality medical service and stops doctors from taking a 21 percent pay cut," said Harkin.  "I am disappointed, however, that the Medicare fix was separated from an extension of unemployment insurance, a benefit that helps families pay the rent, put food on the table and keep their kids in school as they search for work.  I will continue to fight for this extension and hope that the Senate takes it up expeditiously."

The 21 percent payment cut, which is a result of flaws in Medicare's physician payment formula, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, took effect June 1.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services placed a temporary hold on the processing of Medicare reimbursement claims to delay implementing the reduced doctor payments.  Unfortunately, the agency was forced to begin processing Medicare claims with the 21 percent payment cut today in order to reimburse doctors' offices for their services.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today joined 54 of his Senate Democratic Colleagues in writing to British Petroleum (BP) CEO Tony Hayward calling on the company to set aside $20 billion in a special account to be used to pay for economic damages and clean-up costs stemming from the recent oil spill in the Gulf Coast.  In the letter, the Senators note that damages and liability from the spill may not be evident for years to come and call on BP to establish the fund in order to ensure financial security for persons and businesses harmed by the spill.  The Senators requested a response to this letter no later than Friday, June 18.  A PDF of the letter can be found here.  

"Every day we hear more and more stories from the Gulf of Mexico of people losing their livelihoods and our natural treasures being destroyed, all while BP is considering billions of dollars in dividend payments to shareholders," said Harkin. "As Iowans learned two years ago after the floods that damaged much of our state, recovery from a disaster is an expensive and drawn out process.  We must hold BP accountable and ensure they put aside these funds to help the Gulf Coast clean up and recover after what is easily the worst man-made environmental disaster in our nation's history."

According to the letter, after the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled more than 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound, damages totaled more than $7 billion.  Although Exxon continued making massive profits after the accident, it fought liability at every step and ultimately paid far less than the billions of dollars worth of damages it had caused.

Tomorrow, Harkin will chair a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the effects of the BP oil spill and remediation efforts on public health and what can be done to minimize the negative impacts.  Witnesses and committee members will discuss in detail the many concerns and unknowns regarding the health effects of the oil spill on the workers, the general public and the food supply in the Gulf.

June 10, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement on the future of the Big 12 Conference. 

"I am dismayed by the proposed breakup of the Big 12 Conference and the expansion of the Big Ten.  These are two well settled conferences that have historic rivalries.  Fans and alumni like myself count on those rivalries and look forward to the games, so I question the motivation of schools looking to leave the Big 12.

"Long-standing tradition, school pride and the spirit of teamwork are at the heart of college athletics.  Universities should not send a message to students that chasing dollars weighs more heavily than those values."


Washington, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement in honor of the 47th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act on June 10, 1963.  Harkin is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would strengthen penalties for discrimination, and has introduced the Fair Pay Act, which would require employers to provide equal pay for equivalent jobs and disclose pay scales and rates for all job categories at a given company.  This legislation would give women the information they need to identify and fight discriminatory pay practices.  Harkin is the Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

"Nearly half a century after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, far too many women in this country still do not get paid what men do for the exact same work.  On average, women make only 77 cents for each dollar a man makes.  The circumstances are even worse for Latinas and women of color.  Due to this injustice, women lose an estimated $700,000 over the course of their lifetimes due to unequal pay practices.  This inequality means real hardship for women and their families.

"Unfortunately, there are too many loopholes and too many barriers to effective enforcement of existing laws. That is why I strongly support the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill would strengthen penalties for discrimination and give women the tools they need to identify and confront unfair treatment.  I hope that the Senate can pass the bill and send it to the President's desk this year.

"In addition, we must recognize that the problem of unequal pay goes beyond insidious discrimination. To address this more subtle discrimination, I have introduced the Fair Pay Act to ensure that employers provide equal pay for jobs that are equivalent in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.

"As we observe this anniversary, we must take the necessary steps to end discrimination.  We can start by closing the pay gap and simply paying women fairly."

It is that time of year again when days become longer and nights become shorter, and when the beautiful summer weather calls everyone to enjoy the sun's rays.  Simply being outdoors during the summer months can be quite a pleasure.  But it is also important to take precautions when heading outdoors.

For those with fair skin, being over-exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays can have harmful effects.  In fact, one in five of us will develop skin cancer in our lifetimes, making it the most common form of cancer in the country.  And as the years go on, this number has only been rising.

But skin isn't the only victim. Long-term exposure to UV rays can also cause immune system suppression and premature aging.

In particular, we need to encourage the young people in our lives to take precautions.  Most Americans receive 50 to 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure before they reach the age of 18.  Just one or two blistering sunburns in childhood may double the risk of developing melanoma.

Getting some sun exposure does have its benefits, the most important being the direct intake of Vitamin D, helping us to absorb calcium for stronger and healthier bones.  And spending time outdoors has countless advantages as well, such as the development of a more active lifestyle.

But we need to caution our loved ones from spending too much time in the sun and encourage them to take other precautions, such as wearing extra clothing, always wearing sunscreen and wearing a hat.

Here are six basic tips for protecting yourself and your family year round:

  • When outdoors, use sunscreens rated SPF 15 or higher.  Apply the lotion liberally, uniformly and frequently.  Make sure the sunscreen you are using is broad-spectrum sunscreen (to filter UVB and UVA rays).

  • Stay out of the midday sun (from 10am to 4pm) whenever you can.  You also should protect yourself from UV radiation reflected by sand, water, snow and ice.  UV radiation can go through light clothing, windshields, windows and clouds.

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants of tightly woven fabrics, a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses that absorb UV.

  • Stay away from sunlamps and tanning booths.

  • Do not sunbathe - period.

  • Teach your children good sun-protection habits at an early age.

The American Cancer Association also provides greats resources to better understand how to protect ourselves.  You can find this information at  http://www.cancer.org.

Being outdoors and enjoying the great Iowa weather is highly encouraged!  Just be careful and remember that simply protecting yourself from the sun's harmful rays can help you live a longer and healthier life.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - JUNE 4, 2010 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that the Iowa Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning Agency will receive a grant of $84,945 from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to help keep at-risk youth from entering the juvenile justice system.  Harkin is a senior member of the committee that funds the DOJ.

"It is often said that 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' - and this could not be more true when it comes to preventing crimes, especially among at-risk youth" said Harkin. "By acting early and keeping youth from entering the juvenile justice system, today's funding will help lower future crime rates and give these young Iowans an opportunity to change their lives and become productive members of society."

Specifically, the grant may be used to reduce risks and enhance protective factors that help prevent at-risk youth from entering the juvenile justice system.  It will also help officials intervene with first-time and non-serious offenders to keep them out of the juvenile justice system.
Administration releases guidance for smaller firms to promote biomedical research

- MAY 21, 2010 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement as the Obama Administration released guidance for biomedical research firms to take advantage of a new tax credit.  The new policy became law as part of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health reform bill.  Harkin helped craft that law as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.  He has been a long-time leader to secure funding for biomedical research as chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds health initiatives.

"The promise of health reform continues to become a reality for Iowans," said Senator Harkin. "With the guidance released today, our economy will begin to turn the corner with good jobs in the field
of biomedical research and incentives to boost research and produce new therapies in this critical field.  I urge all eligible firms to look into this new incentive and take advantage."

Key facts on the Therapeutic Discovery Tax Credit:

•    The tax credit is effective immediately and covers up to 50 percent of the cost of qualifying biomedical research.
•    The credit will be allocated among projects that show significant potential to produce new and cost-saving therapies, support good jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness.
•    The credit is only available to smaller firms: those with 250 workers or fewer.
•    Firms can opt to receive a grant instead of a tax credit, so startups that are not yet profitable can benefit as well.

The new tax incentive will be administered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Applications are available on IRS website at http://www.irs.gov/ and are due by July 21st, 2010.