Shelley Berkley for Congress


House Passes Bill Safeguarding Student Loans with Berkley Backing

(May 1, 2008 -- Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) praised today’s House passage of legislation that ensures students and families have access to federal student loans.  The Ensuring Continued Access to Federal Student Loans Act of 2008 (H.R. 5715), which carries no new cost for taxpayers, was passed   on a vote of 388 to 21 and now heads to the President’s desk for final approval

House Passes Bill Safeguarding Student Loans with Berkley Backing           
(May 1, 2008 -- Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) praised today’s House passage of legislation that ensures students and families have access to federal student loans.  The Ensuring Continued Access to Federal Student Loans Act of 2008 (H.R. 5715), which carries no new cost for taxpayers, was passed   on a vote of 388 to 21 and now heads to the President’s desk for final approval. 

"As a Nevadan who attended UNLV and law school on student loans, I know first hand the importance of making sure that families and students have access to these financial resources,” said Berkley.  “Affordable student loans provide millions of Americans with the chance to attend college when they might not otherwise have the financial resources necessary and that is why we must protect this system.  The adjustments made by this bill will add stability to the student loan market and improve access to these funds so that more Americans can earn their college degrees” said Berkley, a former Nevada University Regent.   

The Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 (H.R. 5715) provides new protections, in addition to those already in place under current law.  The package will ensure that families continue to have timely, uninterrupted access to federal college loans in the event that the stress in the credit markets leads a significant number of lenders to substantially reduce their activity in the federally guaranteed student loan program. 

Bill to overturn 2006 UIGEA Act

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) was one of eleven cosponsors of the bill, H.R.2046 introduced by Rep. Barney Frank, that would overturn the 2006 Act, which severely  limited options for US online casino players. Many online gambling site refused US players when the UIGEA law first went into effect. Department of Justice went after the credit card companies and banks that processed payments from the online casinos, so that it was impossible for US players to deposit or withdraw monies easily. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act created obstacles and limitations when it came  to finding online casino USA player-friendly sites. Many outside forces, including influential lobbyists, opposed any effort to legalize online gambling, particularly  sports betting. However from the number of online us casino sites that are now available to US players, you can see that the opposition to overturning the 2006 UIGEA law did not win.

Major Provisions of H.R. 5715: 

    * Reduce borrowers’ reliance on costlier private college loans and encourage responsible borrowing.  Over the course of their education, dependent undergraduate students can currently borrow up to $23,000 in total federal student loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized) and independent undergraduates can borrow up to $46,000 in total loans. 
  

    * Increase the annual loan limits on federal unsubsidized student loans by $2,000 for undergraduate students, and increase the aggregate loan limits (the total loan limit over the course of a student’s education) to $31,000 for dependent undergraduates and to $57,500 for independent undergraduates.  

    * Give parent borrowers more time to begin paying off their federal PLUS college loans.  H.R. 5715 would give parents the option to defer repayment until up to six months after their children leave school, giving families more flexibility in hard economic times. 

    * Help struggling families pay for college.  Under current law, parents with an adverse credit history are ineligible to receive a parent PLUS loan, except under extenuating circumstances. H.R. 5715 would temporarily classify as an extenuating circumstance delinquencies of up to 180 days on home mortgages and medical debt, thereby making it possible for parents feeling strained by the current housing market and rising medical costs to secure loans for their children. 

    * Provide the U.S. Secretary of Education additional tools to safeguard access to student loans.  H.R. 5715 would clarify that existing law gives the U.S. Education Secretary the mandatory authority to advance federal funds to guaranty agencies operating as lenders of last resort in the event that they do not have sufficient capital to originate new loans. The bill would also allow guaranty agencies to carry out the functions of lender of last resort on a school-wide basis. 

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BERKLEY WORKS TO PROTECT DOCTOR ACCESS FOR NEVADA MEDICARE PATIENTS

Votes to Block 10% Cut in Payments to Physicians

(June 24, 2008 -- Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today voted to protect access to their doctor for Nevada seniors and millions of other Americans covered under Medicare.
BERKLEY WORKS TO PROTECT DOCTOR ACCESS FOR NEVADA MEDICARE PATIENTS

Votes to Block 10% Cut in Payments to Physicians

 (June 24, 2008 -- Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today voted to protect access to their doctor for Nevada seniors and millions of other Americans covered under Medicare. 
  The House approved The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (H.R. 6331) this afternoon on a vote of 355 to 59. The legislation blocks a scheduled 10% cut in payments to physicians who serve Medicare patients. 

“Congress must act before the end of June to protect Nevada Medicare patients from losing access to their physicians. This bill will protect critical access to medical care for millions of seniors and it recognizes that we cannot ask our doctors to lose money when they see someone covered under Medicare,” said Berkley. “And with the Valley’s rapidly growing senior population, Las Vegas would be especially hard hit as a result of this drastic cut in reimbursement rates. This package is a win-win-win that protects seniors, addresses the concerns of our doctors and makes good on Medicare’s promise of access to quality healthcare services. I hope the President will recognize the importance of this bill and will not seek to veto the package given the July 1st deadline for these cuts to take effect.” 

Berkley noted that the legislation also enhances Medicare preventive and mental health benefits and improves and extends programs for low-income Medicare beneficiaries. 

“In addition to preventing this severe cut, the bill will also allow more low income seniors to take advantage of subsidy programs, it will add additional preventive benefits, and it will lower co-pays for mental health to bring them in line with those of other health benefits.” 

KEY POINTS

* Eliminates the pending 10 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians for the remainder of 2008 and provides a 1.1 percent update in Medicare physician payments for 2009. 
  
* Extends and improves low-income assistance programs for Medicare beneficiaries whose income is below $14,040. This includes the “Qualified Individual” program which pays part B premiums for low-income beneficiaries with incomes of $12,480 to $14,040 a year. 
  
* Increases the amount of assets that low-income beneficiaries can have and still qualify for financial help with Medicare costs. 
  
* Adds new preventive benefits to the Medicare program and reduces beneficiary out of pocket costs for mental health care. 

HOUSE PASSES BERKLEY TAX RELIEF PACKAGE – 138,000 NEVADANS PROTECTED FROM AMT

Blocks Alternative Minimum Tax Liability for 25 Million Americans

(June 25, 2008 -- Washington, D.C.) More than 25 million Americans will be protected from the alternative minimum tax (AMT) under legislation cosponsored by Congresswoman Shelley Berkley and passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives 233-189.

BERKLEY BACKS MORE FUNDING TO SERVE NEEDS OF NEVADA VETERANS

White House Threatens Veto over Increase Needed to Care for America's Troops

(August 1, 2008 -- Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today voted to increase funding to care for America's veterans. The 2009 Military Construction and VA funding package was passed by the House this morning by a vote of 409-4. However, the White House is threatening to veto more funding for the VA, including additional resources to address PTSD and other mental health issues impacting troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure includes $48 billion in funding needed to serve the needs of veterans in Nevada and nationwide, a $3 billion increase over White House funding levels.

BERKLEY BACKS MORE FUNDING TO SERVE NEEDS OF NEVADA VETERANS

White House Threatens Veto over Increase Needed to Care for America's Troops

(August 1, 2008 -- Washington, D.C.) Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today voted to increase funding to care for America's veterans. The 2009 Military Construction and VA funding package was passed by the House this morning by a vote of 409-4. However, the White House is threatening to veto more funding for the VA, including additional resources to address PTSD and other mental health issues impacting troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure includes $48 billion in funding needed to serve the needs of veterans in Nevada and nationwide, a $3 billion increase over White House funding levels.

"The VA is facing its biggest challenge in decades as America welcomes home our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and this additional funding will help make sure we can provide these men and women, and our older veterans, the top notch healthcare they deserve," said Berkley. "Our bill increases funding for the VA by more than $3 billion over the President's budget and I challenge those seeking to block this bill to explain to America's veterans and their families why they oppose a measure that will enable us to better care for those who served our nation in the military. As a member of the Veterans." Affairs Committee, I have heard first hand from the VA about the need for more resources and today we are answering that call by increasing funding to expand healthcare, address mental health issues, modernize VA facilities, to aid homeless veterans and to supply state-of-the-art prosthetics to VA patients who have lost a limb or limbs," said Berkley.

H.R. 6599 - The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs FY09 Appropriations Bill

Total VA Funding: $47.7 billion, $2.9 billion over the President's request, for veterans' medical care, claims processors, and facility improvements.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse: $3.8 billion for specialty mental health care and $584 million for substance abuse programs.

Beneficiary Travel: $100 million above the President's request to increase the beneficiary travel reimbursement rate from 28.5 cents per mile to 41.5 cents per mile.

Assistance for Homeless Vets: $130 million for the homeless grants and per diem program, rejecting the President's $8 million cut and the same as 2008, including $32 million to hire additional personnel for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program.

New Generation Prosthetics: $1.6 billion, $250 million above 2008 and $116 million above the President's request, to provide veterans with appropriate prosthetic support given recent advances in technology. An additional $500 million will go to research to help improve the quality of life for injured and aging veterans.

Construction/Maintenance: $1.9 billion, rejecting the President's $788 million cut and $215 million above 2008, to fulfill the Department's commitment to fund recommendations made by the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES), which was established to look at facilities and determine their construction. Also includes $5 billion for on-going maintenance and renovations.

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