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Congressman Greg Walden's
Oregon Congressional Connection
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Your Direct Link to the News and Events in the Nation's Capital


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Dear Fellow Oregonian:

With Congress out of session this week for the annual President's Day District Work Period, I'm taking the opportunity
to travel to several communities in southern and eastern Oregon and hold meetings with a number of groups to discuss
everything from agriculture policy and public land management to rural health care and job creation.  I hope you'll take
a moment to scroll down and read about some of the events I'll be participating in this week.  I've also included
information about some of the other official meetings I have held earlier this month across the Second District.

In this week's edition of the Oregon Congressional Connection, I've provided an update on some of the developments that
have taken place in Washington, DC since my last e-newsletter.  There's information about a major announcement
concerning the White City Dom that should mean a continuation of the veterans services I've fought to protect in
southern Oregon.  I've also provided information about a new leadership post I've been elected to regarding rural health
care.  Finally, there's a link to testimony I delivered last week about the need to reform the Endangered Species Act by
including scientific peer review.

As always, you can find additional information about developments in Congress on my web site at www.walden.house.gov.
If you have any questions or comments about this e-newsletter or anything else taking place in Congress and our nation's
capital, please visit my web site and click on "Contact Me" to send me an email or call my Medford office toll free at
1-800-533-3303.  My staff and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.

I hope you find this week's Oregon Congressional Connection informative.  Thank you.

God Bless America.

Congressman Greg Walden


In This Week's Edition:
News From Capitol Hill
District Wrap-Up
On the Horizon
Second District Trivia

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News from Capitol Hill

Late last week we received a terrific bit of news when we learned that the Capitol Asset Realignment for Enhanced
Service (CARES) Commission has announced its final recommendation to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that the current
level of care being provided at the White City Domiciliary, or "Dom," should be maintained.  With this announcement, we
appear to be close to a final victory in our effort to keep the Dom open for the veterans of southern Oregon and the
surrounding region.

As you may recall, in July 2003 the CARES Commission proposed closing the inpatient Domiciliary and Compensated Work
Therapy programs of the Dom and relocating them elsewhere in the Northwest.  I've been proud to help lead the effort
among Oregon's congressional delegation in opposition to the original recommendation.

I've made several calls to VA Secretary Anthony Principi and met personally with VA Deputy Secretary Gordon Mansfield in
an effort to persuade the VA not to close the White City Dom.  I also helped convince Secretary Principi to hold a
hearing of the CARES Commission in Medford, which took place last October.  Several hundred local veterans, Dom
employees and community leaders attended the hearing and testified how vital the Dom is to the Rogue Valley.  I've been
told that this hearing was instrumental in convincing the CARES Commission to make its favorable recommendation
regarding the Dom.

The final recommendation of the commission is tremendously good news for the veterans of southern Oregon, as well as the
local economy that depends on the hundreds of jobs provided by the Dom.  This success is a testament to the strong,
cooperative effort we've made on behalf of the Dom.  From Jackson County's commissioner and local vets to Dom employees
and Oregon's elected officials, this has been a dedicated team effort that is likely to pay huge dividends.

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs will make his final decision within 30 days, and I'm optimistic that at the end of the
day, we will have succeeded in preserving this invaluable facility for the veterans who depend on it.

* * *

On February 4, I was elected by my House colleagues to serve as Co-Chairman of the House Rural Health Care Coalition
(RHCC), a bipartisan coalition of approximately 180 Members of Congress that is committed to advancing rural priorities
in the shaping of health care policy.  As Co-Chairman of the RHCC, I'll work collaboratively with my colleagues, health
care providers and patient advocacy groups to identify opportunities to strengthen health care among rural Americans.

The RHCC has been an active and effective force in Congress.  Its members are credited with the successful establishment
of the Office of Rural Health Policy within the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the creation of the
Critical Access Hospital program, which provides higher rates of Medicare reimbursement to allow small community
hospitals to keep their doors open to rural patients.  The work of the House RHCC and Senate Rural Health Caucus was
also the driving force behind the inclusion of rural health care benefits in the historic Medicare reform and
prescription drug bill that passed last year.  Oregon Representatives Darlene Hooley and Peter DeFazio are also members
of the RHCC.

As the representative of the rural communities of central, southern and eastern Oregon, improving health care in rural
America is an extremely high priority of mine.  Lack of access to quality health care is one of the biggest factors that
detracts from the quality of life of those living in rural communities, and it's important that they have a strong voice
in Congress to advocate for their needs.  I'm honored to fight for the health care needs of rural Americans, and I look
forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that quality health care is available in every corner of our country.

For more information on the House Rural Health Care Coalition, click on the following link:
http://www.house.gov/moranks01/rural_healthcare.htm.

* * *

Earlier this month I offered formal testimony before the Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals in support of the
legislation I introduced in Congress last year to reform the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  My legislation, the Sound
Science for Endangered Species Act Planning Act of 2003 (HR 1662), would require that greater weight be given to
field-tested and scientifically peer-reviewed data under the ESA.

Since the 2001 water crisis in the Klamath Basin, I've been at the forefront of the effort in Congress to require ESA
decisions to be field-tested and peer-reviewed.  In April of 2001, more than 1,200 farmers and ranchers in the Klamath
Basin were denied irrigation water following a decision made by federal officials under the ESA.  The water-shut off was
later determined by the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to have been made without sound scientific
justification.

We learned from the NAS that the decisions made either weren't based on adequate science or were made by misinterpreting
the data they had.  In either case, vital irrigation water was withheld and nearly two-dozen farmers went bankrupt.  I
pledged then and there to pursue commonsense changes in the ESA to require outside, independent peer review of the
decisions made by the government when it comes to listing or delisting a species and in formulation of recovery plans.

As I've always said, if you went to a doctor and he said to you, "We're going to have to take off your right leg," you'd
probably want a second opinion.  Right now under the Endangered Species Act, plants, animals and people don't have the
chance to seek a second opinion; you just get cut you off at the knees.  That is why I feel so strongly about this issue
and why we have tried to take a very reasonable and prudent course to improve the decision-making process and make sure
the science is valid and the decisions are sound.  Too much is at stake to do less than that.

My bipartisan ESA reform legislation has been cosponsored by 62 House members, including eight Democrats.  HR 1662 had also been endorsed by 14 state and national organizations, including the Oregon Wheat Growers League, Oregonians for Food and Shelter, the Oregon Potato Commission, the Oregon State Board of Agriculture, the Klamath Water Users Association, the American Farm Bureau, the National Grange, the National Association of Homebuilders, the National Association of Realtors, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the National Water Resources Association.

On January 20, 2004, Senator Gordon H. Smith (R-OR) introduced legislation on the Senate side that is identical to my
bill

To read my testimony in its entirety, click here: http://walden.house.gov/issues/esa/108thcongress/ESAstatement.pdf.

* * *

Last week a measure passed in the House of Representatives that will pave the way for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to undertake the rehabilitation of Celilo Indian Village, one of the oldest and most significant historical sites in the
Columbia Gorge.

The Celilo Village provision was included in a larger measure entitled the Native American Technical Corrections Act of
2003 (S.523), which makes a number of changes to Indian laws relating to tribal sovereignty, culture, and economic
development potential.  The inclusion of Celilo Village rehabilitation authority culminates a multi-year effort I've
made with the other members of the Oregon congressional delegation.

What is now known as Celilo Village is a community of roughly 100 residents located close to an ancient tribal fishing
and trading site on the Columbia River.  The 31-acre village was relocated from its original location in the 1950s after
the Corps of Engineers constructed The Dalles Dam, which created a reservoir that inundated Celilo Falls.  Following
construction of the dam, the Flood Control Act of 1950 authorized the Corps to construct "a new village satisfactory to
the Indians and the Bureau of Indian Affairs," but the village was never fully developed.   Instead, a number of
makeshift dwellings were erected in lieu of the promised facilities.  Over many years the village has fallen into severe
disrepair and poses serious health and safety problems for its residents, many of whom are fishermen and their families
belonging to the Warm Springs, Umatilla, and Yakama Tribes.

This bill will help bring about a long-overdue fulfillment of the promise made to rebuild Celilo Village.  The Columbia
River Gorge has an incredibly rich history, and Celilo Village is one of the sites that remind us of the legacy of the
Native Americans who first called the Gorge home.  I'm pleased this legislation has been passed, and I'm grateful for
the assistance of my Oregon colleagues and the Corps for the cooperative way in which they worked to finally get this
goal accomplished.

* * *

Last week I had the honor of receiving the "2004 Small Business Advocate" award from the Small Business Survival
Committee (SBSC), a national small business advocacy group representing 70,000 members.  The annual SBSC award is given to lawmakers whose voting record in Congress reflects their commitment to America's small business community and their support for creating a favorable atmosphere for economic growth and job creation.  This year's award winners were determined by their votes on a number of legislative measures, including tax relief and business investment incentives, repeal of the estate or "death" tax, health insurance affordability legislation such as Health Savings Accounts and Association Health Plans, and measures that expand business access to international markets.

As a small businessman in rural Oregon myself for almost 18 years, I'm keenly aware of the importance of small
businesses to our state and national economies.  Especially during this time of economic recovery, it's no
understatement to say that small businesses represent the economic engine that powers our nation's growth.  I'm proud to
receive the "2004 Small Business Advocate" award, and as long as I serve in Congress, I'll do everything I can to create
a pro-growth atmosphere for small businesses.

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District Wrap-Up

After the conclusion of votes in Washington, DC during the week of February 2-6, I flew home to Oregon and immediately hit the road for a multi-county trip across northeastern Oregon that took me to Rufus, Boardman, Hermiston, Pendleton, La Grande and Enterprise.  A complete list of my meetings follows.

RUFUS

On Thursday, February 5, my first event of the morning was a "Community Coffee and Conversation" meeting in Rufus.  The coffee gave me an opportunity to meet with residents of Sherman County and discuss issues of importance to them.  I
delivered a brief update on recent developments in Congress and discussed legislative issues affecting the Second
District, including agriculture issues and the state of the economy.  Afterward I opened up the floor to give attendees
a chance to ask specific questions about their particular concerns.

BOARDMAN

During the lunch hour on Thursday, I met with community leaders and Morrow County emergency preparedness personnel to learn more about new technology that will be used to aid first responders in Morrow and Umatilla counties.  I was given a firsthand demonstration of how first responders will use the Incident Response and Information System and WIFI systems.  Along with my colleagues in the Oregon congressional delegation, I've helped secure over $12 million in
funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to aid Umatilla and Morrow County in developing and implementing emergency preparedness plans for local residents.

HERMISTON

After lunch, I took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new traffic control center at the Hermiston Safety Center.
Following the ceremony, I was briefed on the "intelligent" traffic management system that will improve public safety and
help first responders in emergency situations.  A number of local and federal officials, state legislators and other
community leaders attended the event.

Later in the afternoon, I attended a reception held by the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce.  I delivered remarks that
focused on local issues, as well as recent development in Congress relating to economic development and job creation.
Time was set aside at the end to give people in attendance the opportunity to address issues of particular concern to
them.

PENDLETON

On Friday, February 6, I started off the morning in Pendleton with a meeting with leaders of the local credit union and
banking industry to discuss current economic conditions in the Pendleton area and address means of furthering economic
development and job creation.  The meeting was hosted by the Old West Federal Credit Union and was attended by
representatives from Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of the West, U.S. Bank, Community Bank, Pioneer Bank, Banner Bank, and Schools Plus.

Later in the morning I met with members of the Umatilla agriculture community to learn more about how recent federal
investments will help residents in Eastern Oregon.  Last fall I helped secure $225,000 in federal funding in the annual
Agriculture Appropriations bill for the Columbia Basin Agriculture Research Center in Pendleton.  This funding will go
toward the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) Soil Conservations Laboratory, which conducts non-irrigated dryland
research that is critical to Oregon's agriculture economy.  A tour of the facility followed the meeting.

LA GRANDE

The next stop in my northeastern Oregon trip on February 6 was La Grande, where I hosted a roundtable discussion to
educate eastern Oregon community leaders on the process of implementing the Community Wildfire Protection Plans
authorized by the recently enacted Healthy Forests Restoration Act.  I've been hosting similar roundtables across
central, southern and eastern Oregon to help the communities of the Second District to maximize the benefits of the
Healthy Forests bill as soon as possible.  Community Wildfire Protection Plans will allow communities to develop plans
to protect local residents that best fit community needs rather than operate under "one-size-fits-all" plans established
by the federal government.  A number of federal and state officials representing the Bureau of Land Management, U.S.
Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry participated in the roundtable at my request.  Local elected officials,
tribal representatives, state legislators and other community leaders also attended.  The discussion focused on
improving the health of Oregon's forests and reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfires to rural communities.

ENTERPRISE

On Saturday, February 7, I traveled to Enterprise, where I took the opportunity to sit down with proponents and
opponents of the Wallowa Lake Dam Rehabilitation and Water Management Act and attempt to find common ground and relay the hurdles involved in moving legislation through Congress.  This meeting brought together local landowners,
agriculture representatives, public officials, community leaders and other interested parties to discuss the
rehabilitation of the Wallowa Lake Dam and the potential federal assistance for this need.  I spent the night in Wallowa
County before departing Sunday morning to Wasco County.

THE DALLES

On Sunday, February 8, I served as the keynote speaker at the Wasco County 150th Anniversary Celebration in The Dalles.The theme of the celebration was "Linking the Past and Future," and it gave residents of The Dalles the opportunity to reflect on the proud heritage of their community.  As a native of The Dalles and long-time resident of the Columbia
Gorge, I was proud to attend this event and celebrate the history of this wonderful city.

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On the Horizon

Later this week I'm scheduled to visit Medford, Grants Pass, Burns and Hines from Thursday, February 19 through
Saturday, February 21.  My schedule for the three days follows.

MEDFORD

This Thursday morning I will meet with local high school student Josh Press, who has received an appointment to attend
the U.S. Naval Academy.  Press, a senior at St. Mary's High School in Medford, was my primary nominee to the Naval
Academy.  This meeting will give me the opportunity to meet this outstanding young Oregonian and congratulate him on the
path he has chosen to serve his country.

Later in the morning I'm scheduled to serve as the keynote speaker at the Southern Oregon Agronomy Forum.  The theme of
the event is "Preserving Agriculture in America."  More than 200 orchardists, farmers, wine grape growers, ranchers, and
agriculture suppliers will be present at the event.  I'm planning to discuss a number of issues before Congress relating
to the future of agriculture in Oregon and across the nation.

During the lunch hour I will serve as the keynote speaker at a lunch meeting of the Quail Point Rotary Club, where I'll
provide an update on recent developments in Congress and brief club members on my October 2003 trip to Iraq.  Following
my remarks, a question and answer period will allow attendees to asks specific questions about issues of concern to
them.

After lunch I'll meet with Habitat for Humanity officials and tour the new Habitat for Humanity warehouse store, which
opened in October 2003.  Habitat for Humanity is an organization that provides affordable homeownership to low-income
people living in substandard housing.  The store sells used building materials for 30% to 50% below-market value.  The
new outlet provides a significant source of income to support organization's daily operations.   I've been a long-time
supporter of the mission of Habitat for Humanity and have taken part in Habitat building projects in the Columbia Gorge.
Joining me at this event will be store managers, members of the Habitat Board, and representatives of the Medford
Housing Commission, Bank of America, the Medford City Council, and Rogue Valley Oregon Action.

In the late afternoon, I'm scheduled to meet with Bern Case, the Director of the Rogue Valley-Medford Airport, and the
commissioners of Jackson County to receive an update on the expansion of airport facilities under the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) Airport Improvement Program (AIP).  Planning is underway to replace the 50-year-old Medford airport
terminal with a facility that will meet all city, county, Federal Aviation Administration, and Transportation Security
Administration requirements.  The Medford terminal is the oldest unimproved terminal in the state and is long overdue to
be replaced.  Improvements to parking, ticketing, baggage claim, and administrative spaces are planned.

MEDFORD

First thing in the morning on Friday, February 20, I'll be attending a breakfast meeting with the Board of Directors of
ACCESS, Inc., followed by a tour of the organization's facilities.  ACCESS offers a variety of programs and community
services that benefit low-income families, senior citizens and other local residents in need.  These include a medical
equipment loan program, nutrition programs, Junior Achievement, housing programs, energy and weatherization assistance,
events and catering, and information referral services.  I currently serve as an honorary board member of ACCESS.

Later in the morning, I'm scheduled to take part in a tour of the Providence Health System's Children's Health Clinic
program and meet with administrators and health care providers associated with the program.  Also sponsoring the tour
will be the Healthcare Leadership Council.

During the lunch hour, I'll serve as the keynote speaker at a lunch meeting of the Medford Rogue Rotary Club, where I
will provide an update on recent developments in Congress and brief club members on my October 2003 trip to Iraq.
Following my remarks, a question and answer period will allow attendees to asks specific questions about issues of
concern to them.

GRANTS PASS

In the early afternoon, I'm planning to participate in a meeting with members of the Association of Oregon and
California Counties, as well as representatives of the counties that participated in the original Wildland Fire Resource
and Inventory Study. Commissioners representing Douglas, Columbia, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Coos, Curry, Lane, Linn,
and Tillamook counties have been invited to attend.  At the meeting I'll deliver an update on the implementation of the
Healthy Forests Restoration Act, including efforts to establish Community Fire Plans to allow local leaders to take
advantage of new Healthy Forests provisions to protect communities from wildfire.

Later in the afternoon I will have the honor of presenting a check for $100,000 to the Boys and Girls Club from the
Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention.  After the check presentation, I will take a tour of the 31,000
square foot Boys and Girls Club facility, which is named in honor of the project's most significant benefactors, Edward
and Bernice Cleveland.  Nearly 400 young people visit the club every day.  Contributors to the club include the Grants
Pass Fleet Reserve Association, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Meyer Memorial Trust.

* * *

On Saturday, February 21, I'll be traveling to Burns and Hines for a few more official meetings about local issues.

BURNS

During the lunch hour on Saturday, I'm scheduled to meet with a group of young professionals in Harney County to discuss
the challenges facing small business, healthcare and education in rural eastern Oregon.  I'll provide the group with an
update on recent developments in Congress.  Following my remarks, a question and answer period will allow attendees to
ask questions about specific issues of importance.

For my next event, I'll be participating in a Burns Pauite Tribal Council meeting to discuss issues of importance to the
Burns Pauite Tribe and update Tribal members on recent developments in Congress.  Among the issues to be discussed at
the meeting are local economic development activities and the preservation of cultural lands.  A number of Tribal
leaders will attend the meeting.

HINES

Later in the afternoon, I'll head down to Hines, where I will meet with Bureau of Land Management officials and local
community leaders to receive an update on new issues and activities concerning the Steens Cooperative Management Area.
The meeting will include a discussion of the Andrews Resource Management Plan and the SMAC committee process, as well as
an update on Inholder Access.  The commissioners of Harney County and the mayors of Burns, Frenchglen and Hines will be
invited to attend.

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Second District Trivia

This week's question: When he retired from the U.S. Senate in 1996, how many elections had Oregon Senator Mark O.
Hatfield lost in his life?

For the answer to this question and to take a crack at past questions, click here:
http://www.walden.house.gov/trivia/trivia.htm.

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For more information on these and other issues, please visit my website at www.walden.house.gov
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