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Great Lakes Article:

Feingold to work with Bush on Great Lakes protection, Army Corps
Business North
Published December 30th, 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Russ Feingold today, in a letter to the President, outlined a number of initiatives on which he is prepared to work together with the President. After years of rising partisan tensions and another heated, closely contested election, Feingold pledged his willingness to work to find common ground on a number of issues.


"I would have hoped that by now we had made progress on the most pressing domestic needs facing the country, such as ensuring access to health care for all, providing jobs, reducing the deficit, and simplifying the tax code without hurting lower- and middle-income Americans," the letter read. "In a letter I wrote to you four years ago, I identified some of these issues and others as ones on which I hoped we could work together. While I am disappointed that sufficient progress was not made on these issues during your first administration, I remain willing to join you in bipartisan efforts to address these and other issues..."


Earlier this week, Feingold and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) wrote the President regarding their hope and willingness to work with him on 527 reform legislation. Below are issues Feingold highlighted in his separate letter to the President today:


Addressing Energy Costs: In the Midwest, there is a great need to reduce the number of reformulated gasoline blends (RFG). By harmonizing the different fuels required for northern and southern states into a single set of standards, the supply of reformulated gasoline blends from which states like Wisconsin could draw would expand. In Wisconsin, counties that are required to use RFG blends often see price spikes from winter to summer fuel supplies. Reducing the number of blends could help to keep gas prices from spiking in times of supply shortages.


Protecting the Great Lakes: The administration has taken a good first step by creating an Interagency Great Lakes Regional Collaboration, which will increase coordination between the many federal, tribal, state, and local governmental interests with jurisdiction over the Great Lakes. Through this initiative, the Great Lakes delegation and the administration can work to address the problems of invasive species, which have wreaked havoc on the Lakes' fragile ecosystem, and of toxic chemical pollution, which also affects the diverse aquatic life in the Great Lakes.


Reforming the Army Corps: Feingold and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) have worked in the 107th and 108th Congresses to advance legislation to increase accountability and protect taxpayers and the environment by requiring independent review of Corps projects and use of better economic forecasting data about the costs of such projects, as well as mandating that the Corps abide by the same environmental laws as private developers when wetlands are impacted by Corps projects. With an increasing national deficit, the time has come for fundamental reform of the Army Corps.


Combating Terrorism: The East African Counter-Terrorism Initiative that the administration has pursued has made gains in strengthening our partners in the fight against terrorism. However, developing a meaningful policy for Somalia, a state in which we know terrorist organizations are active, still needs to be addressed.


Fighting HIV/AIDS: The administration has made an important commitment to fight HIV/AIDS globally, and we can continue to make progress by emphasizing both treatment and prevention and by addressing some of the factors that have made this pandemic so devastating, such as underdeveloped health care infrastructures and the special vulnerabilities of women and girls. At home, the commitment in recent years to providing an increase in funding for the HIV/AIDS in Minority Communities fund and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), two programs that put resources where they are most needed to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS domestically, has dramatically increased. More work needs to be done, however, particularly in minority communities where the rate of HIV/AIDS infection is disproportionately higher.


"Four years [after you first took office], America is even more polarized, and some might question whether there is any real possibility of a reduction in partisanship during your second administration," the letter continued. "The stakes are too high to give up, however, and I hope that we can work together to end the era of take-it-or-leave-it governing, and to develop truly bipartisan legislation."

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