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Quigley's New Year Update

Feb 7, 2012

Dear Friends,

It's been a busy year so far in the Illinois Fifth District. This January we made important strides to address local corruption, promote international relations, and provide our public schools with valuable technology resources.

At the beginning of January, spurred by a request from my office last year, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigation found Cook County's Project Shield program mismanaged $45 million in federal grant funding intended to support first responder efforts during acts of terrorism and other disasters. It's clear that if proper checks and balances are not embedded into projects to ensure accountability from the start, investments like Project Shield can turn into a scandal. Misusing taxpayer dollars on a highway project leaves us with less money, but misusing taxpayer dollars on a homeland security effort leaves us less safe as well.  I commend the current Cook County administration for shutting the program down and hope that those responsible for this past misconduct are held accountable.


 Rep. Quigley (middle) meets President Komorowski (left) at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw.

January was also a big month for U.S.-Poland relations.  I spent five days on a congressional delegation trip to Poland where I met with President BronisÅ‚aw Komorowski and other state officials to discuss Poland's aspirations for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), as well as defense and national security issues.  Poland has been an incredible partner for the United States and their inclusion in the VWP would make it easier for Polish tourists to visit our country.  Not only
would this benefit the numerous Polish-American families in our district who have loved ones overseas, it would also provide substantial increase tourism revenue at a time our economy could use it most.

This is why I introduced the bipartisan Visa Waiver Program Enhanced Security and Reform Act at the end of the month.  This bill will reform outdated VWP application criteria, hopefully opening the door for Poland's inclusion once and for all.  It was created in partnership with Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), highlighting what Congress can achieve when legislators from both sides of the aisle and in both chambers are willing to work together to promote smart reform policies.

Because I feel so strongly about bipartisanship, during the State of the Union address I sat with Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH) and other members of our bipartisan working group.  Over the past several months we have met weekly to draft and move forward legislation that streamlines and reforms government, while also focusing on job creation and closing the inequity gap.

Rep. Quigley presents a holiday card from elementary students to a veteran at the Hines VA Hospital Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder Center. 

During the State of the Union, two themes stood out to me.  First, in tough economic times we must continue to be smart about how we direct funds and resources. Second, in a technology driven world, our education opportunities and resources must keep pace.  To this end, my staff helped Chicago Public Schools receive 2,000 computers and printers, which is their largest donation of technology equipment ever!  This donation is worth $4 million but cost CPS and Chicago taxpayers nothing thanks to Computers for Learning, a federal program that takes donates leftover government equipment to organizations in need.

Hopefully the New Year will continue to bring bipartisan solutions in Congress to reform our government and eliminate waste. As always, it is an honor to serve you. Please don't hesitate to contact our office if there's anything we can do for you. My district staff is here to assist with any federal issue you might have, including passports, Medicare, veterans' benefits and more.


Mike Quigley