Cohen’s Weekly Summary

Always eager to let the ninth district know how he’s been doing something constructive (or is it destructive?) in Washington, Congressman Steve Cohen sends along his list.

First on it is Cohen’s authorship of an amendment to the Keystone Pipeline bill. “The amendment would require TransCanada – which would own and operate the pipeline – to submit its oil spill response plan and any updates to the plan to the Governors of each state in which the proposed pipeline operates. TransCanada is required to develop such a plan under current law and regulations but only certain federal agencies can receive and review the plan. There are no existing federal requirements for the plans to be submitted to states that the pipeline runs through.”

Democrats have to be dragged kicking and screaming towards any energy project that would help Americans. Then they have to regulate it to death, as his description tells it.

He’s working to allow some travelers to take dogs and cats on train trips with them, but his other pet project, marijuana promotion, got some action, too.

“On Tuesday I participated in a Congressional briefing entitled “Legal Marijuana in Colorado and Washington: Implementation and Implications of the New State Laws.” The briefing was sponsored by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Brookings Institute.

“Last November, Colorado and Washington voters approved ballot initiatives to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana — decisions that put them at odds with federal law, which continues to ban marijuana. I discussed legislation I authored to create a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy.

“The Commission would undertake a comprehensive review of the federal government’s current policies toward marijuana, particularly in light of the growing number of states where marijuana is already legal for medicinal or personal use.

“This week I also joined with several of my House colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama asking him to work with Congress and the states to reform marijuana policy across the country. We also asked the President to not use our scarce federal resources for enforcement of federal marijuana laws against those who are operating in compliance with state and local laws. We applauded the first steps the President put forth in the 2013 National Drug Control Strategy toward re-orienting our national drug policy away from an emphasis on law enforcement, but we encouraged him to consider broader efforts to re-shape federal policy regarding marijuana.”

Why is Cohen so intent on this issue? Does he get a cut from it?

He also was busy on the Stolen Valor Act: “As the nation prepares to observe Memorial Day, the House this week approved legislation authored by Congressman Joe Heck that would make it a crime to knowingly benefit from false statements about receiving certain military awards. I was proud to support the bipartisan bill — the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 – which passed the House overwhelmingly.”

I wonder how this stands in regard to John (I served in Vietnam) Kerry whose stories drew questionable scrutiny from those who served with him?

Of course, no Cohen email would be complete without self congratulations. “On Wednesday I received an award for my leadership on animal protection legislation from the Humane Society of the U.S. and the Humane Society Legislative Fund.” Or without a mention of his support for black leaders: “A statue of Frederick Douglass will be unveiled at a ceremony to be held on June 19 in Emancipation Hall of the United States Capitol Visitor Center. The statue is a gift from the District of Columbia to represent the more than 600,000 residents of the nation’s capital. I am pleased that the more than 600,000 American citizens who reside in the District of Columbia will finally have a statue representing them in the U.S. Capitol.”

Wasn’t Douglass a Republican and a friend of Republican President Lincoln? He doesn’t mention that.

Next week Cohen joins a congressional delegation on a trip to Russia in conjunction with the Boston bombers.

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