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May 17, 2011

Constituent Work Period Recap

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Barletta) for 5 minutes.

Mr. BARLETTA. Mr. Speaker, once again it is a privilege to rise this morning and share with my colleagues in the House what my neighbors at home shared with me during the last constituent work period. During those 2 weeks in April, I met with business and community leaders in Wilkes-Barre to see how they're working to keep their downtown alive and vibrant. For example, they converted an old storefront, right in the heart of the city, into a business incubator which encourages local entrepreneurs and start-up firms. The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry is also trying to restore the city's Irem Temple, a local landmark that is a truly beautiful building, one of the last buildings of its kind in the United States.

I toured an ongoing flood control project in the city of Scranton. There, the Army Corps of Engineers is working to make sure the flood walls meet new standards to protect thousands of residents and dozens of businesses. These constituents have been very patient, waiting decades for their relief. Now, the Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are finalizing plans that will provide the protection they deserve.

About 200 people came out to my Home to House public forums, where they learned about the issues we're tackling here in Congress. I was eager to talk with them about Medicare reform and about the steps we're taking to cut the outrageous overspending. Most of my constituents understood what we're doing here, especially the senior citizens. They know that we're trying to save the future for their children and their grandchildren. Many of my constituents also told me they don't want us to raise the debt ceiling without securing substantial budget cuts.

But everywhere I went, my neighbors asked me what we're doing here in Congress to lower the price of gas. Over the 2-week constituent work period, regular unleaded gas cost between $3.90 and $4 a gallon. People would come up to me at the gas station as I was filling up and tell me that we need to work harder here to solve this problem. I am happy to report that this week and last I voted on two bills that will put thousands of Americans back to work, while increasing American energy production to help address rising gasoline prices.

There are two events in the constituent work period that stand out for me. One was speaking to a class of students at St. Jude's School in Mountain Top. These bright, eager young men and women were curious about what we do here in Congress. They asked insightful questions. They wanted to learn about Washington. They offered some insights on how to make their futures brighter. As I continue to examine education and workforce programs as a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, I will remember these students and their advice.

The second event was the arrival of the Patriot Flag in my hometown of Hazleton. This giant symbol of the United States is traveling around the country to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It was my privilege to stand on the steps of city hall and help first responders, law enforcement, Boy Scouts, and members of the military fold the Patriot Flag.

Less than 36 hours later, we learned that Osama bin Laden was dead. The death of the most visible face of international terrorism is a historic event, and it is one that unified our country. My neighbors in the 11th District of Pennsylvania are proud to congratulate our brave men and women in our Armed Forces and intelligence services, and we thank all of them and their families for their continuing sacrifices. We also commend President Obama for taking bold action.

The spontaneous celebrations after bin Laden's death in front of the White

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House, at Ground Zero in New York City, and all across the country once again remind us that there is more that unites us than divides us. We are all, at the core, proud Americans. If we can learn anything from recent events, it is that America is strong and resilient. If we stay dedicated to our efforts, we can get our country back on track.

Fueled with the feedback I heard from my neighbors during 2 weeks at home in northeastern Pennsylvania, I am ready to keep fighting for them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

(House of Representatives - May 12, 2011)

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