- Higher Education Act - Castle led the reauthorization of the Higher Education Amendments - saving the student loan program, making loans more affordable to working families, and increasing Pell Grants for college tuition.
- Head Start - Castle led the re-authorization of the Head
Start Amendments in the House of Representatives to ensure each
program is a quality program from which our children can learn.
- Increases in Federal Education Spending - Castle has
fought for and voted for the largest increase in federal education
spending in history.
- No Child Left Behind - Castle helped write the historic
2002 No Child Left Behind Act, which reforms K-12 education by:
testing students, increasing flexibility, encouraging early reading,
providing professional development for teachers and raising the
performance of all students by narrowing the gap between disadvantaged
students and their better-off peers, as well as providing increased
federal funding to support these reforms.
- Education Research - House of Representatives has passed
his legislation to establish clear standards of how federally-funded
must be conducted in order to be considered scientifically valid
and thereby legitimate.
- Vocational Education – In 2004, Castle introduced the Vocational and Technical Education for the Future Act (H.R. 4496), a bill to strengthen and renew vocational and technical education programs. The bill would help states better utilize federal funds for secondary and post secondary vocational education programs, increase accountability and emphasize student achievement, and strengthen opportunities for coordination between secondary and post secondary vocational and technical education.
- Obesity Prevention & Child Nutrition – Castle wrote the bill, which President Bush recently signed into law, aimed at improving child nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, Child and Adult Care Food Program, After-School Snack Program, Summer Food Service Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. Importantly, Castle recognized the threat the rising obesity rates pose to the health of Americans, and secured federal grant programs to enable school districts and schools to implement nutrition education and promote physical activity.
- IDEA - Castle authored legislation that has passed both the House and Senate, to reauthorize IDEA. H.R. 1350, the Improving Education Results for Students with Disabilities Act, would improve education results for children with special needs by shifting the focus away from compliance with duplicative, burdensome, and confusing rules, and placing a renewed emphasis on ensuring that children with disabilities are learning. Castle also established a national web site to hear from parents, teachers, advocate and administrators about their visions for reauthorization.
PROMOTING FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY
- Balanced Budget - One of the main reasons he ran for Congress was to work for fiscal responsibility. Castle led the effort to ensure that tax cuts would not come before the federal government balanced its budget. When the balanced budget talks reached an impasse early in 1997, Castle introduced a compromise budget demonstrating that the differences between Congress and the President could be overcome. The ultimate agreement passed in August, The Balanced Budget Act of 1997, reflected many of the recommendations of Castle's budget proposal, including the overall level of spending and amount of tax cuts.
- Pay As You Go Rules/PAYGO - In an effort to establish fiscal discipline in the nation's Capital, Castle led the House effort to establish new rules within the budget know as PAYGO -- i.e. if the House or Senate wants to increase spending or decrease taxes, they must be "paid for" or "offset" in other areas of the budget.
- Budget Reform - Concerned that the current federal budget process is simply not working, Castle continued to push a number of solid budget reform ideas during consideration of the Fiscal Year 2005 Budget and the "Spending Control Act of 2004" including a constitutionally acceptable line item veto, discretionary spending caps , rainy day accounts, pay go for tax cuts and spending , creation of an account for deficit reduction, giving the budget resolution the force of law , and providing a clear picture of the federal debt.
- Budget Reserve Account - Castle has introduced legislation to establish a budget reserve account, like states' rainy day funds that would set aside fund for emergencies instead of breaking the budget.
- Opposition to Pork Barrel Spending - Working to reduce that amount of unnecessary pork barrel spending and special interest spending attached to larger policy based bills, Castle voted against the comprehensive Energy Bill and the Corporate Tax Overhaul Bill. Castle believes the House-passed energy bill not only contains anti-environmental provisions, it also contains unnecessary subsidies to the coal and oil industries, costing the taxpayers $ 23.5 billion in new tax breaks and $72.4 billion in new program spending.
- Corporate Tax Overhaul bill - Castle voted against legislation, which added pork barrel spending to a must-pass corporate tax bill. Instead of fixing the WTO trade problem, this bill offers tax credits for a variety of interests not affected by the problem and includes a $9.8 billion tobacco farmer buyout paid for by the taxpayers and not the tobacco industry.
REFORMING THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE SYSTEM
- 527 Campaign Finance Reform Legislation - Prior to the passage of Shays-Meehan/McCain-Feingold bill, Castle helped write and pass the first campaign finance reform law in the past twenty years. This law sheds light on secretive political organizations that run ads to influence voters and do not disclose their donors. These so-called 527 organizations must register with the IRS and disclose their donors.
- Shays-Meehan/McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Legislation - Castle served as a key spokesperson and reform leader to pass Shays-Meehan in the House to ban soft money and require that electioneering communications be paid for with hard money. President Bush has signed this legislation into law.
- Stand By Your Internet Ad -- In order to improve transparency in the election process, Castle is a lead author of legislation to reign in Internet advertisements and subject them to the same disclosure requirements as radio and television advertisements.
PROTECTING CONSUMERS AND THEIR INVESTMENTS
- 1994 Crime Bill - After legislative progress had stalled
on the crime bill, Castle was one of several Republican members
who led the successful bipartisan effort to forge a compromise
to win passage of the Comprehensive Violent Crime Control Act.
That act also contains Castle's "Youth Handgun Safety Act"
making it illegal for minors under the age of 18 to use a handgun
except for use in target practice, a gun safety course or hunting
in the supervision of an adult.
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children -
Castle wrote the law designating this center as the national clearinghouse
to protect children from abuse, abduction and exploitation.
- Fallen Firefighters Memorial Law - Castle's law will
lower the American flag to half staff on all federal buildings
to coincide with the national day of recognition for all firefighters
who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This day of recognition
occurs in conjunction with the annual National Fallen Firefighters
Memorial Service held in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
- VISA Act - Sections of Castle's VISA Act were included
in the 2001USA PATRIOT Act, including the development of a real-time,
integrated entry-exit system with biometric identifiers on visas
for foreign visitors.
- Flight School Training Background Checks - Castle's
initiative to push for background checks for flight personnel
was included in the 2001 Aviation Security Law. Castle will continue
to push for background checks for pilots of even smaller planes.
- Stem Cell Research - Castle is the House architect of the effort encouraging Bush to expand his stem cell policy. He authored H.R. 4682, The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, which will holds the promise of finding cures for diseases such as type 1 diabetes and Parkinson's Disease.
- Delaware Health Information Network - Castle is working with the Delaware Health Care Commission, Delaware Medical Society, Delaware Health Care Association, hospitals, business community and the Delaware Delegation to help establish the Delaware Health Information Network, an electronic health records system. Castle is working to secure the funding for this project to make Delaware the first state to implement electronic records.
- Medicare Town Halls - Castle is working to educate seniors throughout the state about the changes to Medicare including the prescription drug card in 04 and 05, the preventative benefits available in 05, and the larger benefit to be established in 06.
- Uninsured Roundtables - Marking Covering the Uninsured Week, Castle hosted roundtables to lay the groundwork for reform with community, business, health leaders, and the uninsured in Delaware to begin the dialogue of what can be done on a state and local level to help address the rising ranks of the uninsured.
- Prescription Drug Reimportation - A strong believer that the rising costs of prescription drugs are providing a real obstacle to seniors in terms of affordability, Castle has consistently supported legislation to allow for reimportation of drugs from other countries which have FDA-approved facilities.
MOVING PEOPLE FROM WELFARE TO WORK
- Welfare Reform - Wrote the only bipartisan welfare reform plan in the House with Rep. John Tanner (D-TN) in 1995. President Clinton endorsed the Castle-Tanner welfare reform bill and nearly 70 percent of the bill became law.
- Reauthorization -- Castle is working to "fine-tune" the original welfare reform law to ensure those moving from welfare to work do not lose their health insurance, to improve child support collections, and ensure early childhood programs have an educational component.
KEEPING COMMUNITIES SAFE
- 1994 Crime Bill - After legislative progress had stalled on the crime bill, Castle was one of several Republican members who led the successful bipartisan effort to forge a compromise to win passage of the Comprehensive Violent Crime Control Act. That act also contains Castle's "Youth Handgun Safety Act" making it illegal for minors under the age of 18 to use a handgun except for use in target practice, a gun safety course or hunting in the supervision of an adult.
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children - Castle wrote the law designating this center as the national clearinghouse to protect children from abuse, abduction, and exploitation.
- Fallen Firefighters Memorial Law - Castle's law will lower the American flag to half staff on all federal buildings to coincide with the national day of recognition for all firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This day of recognition occurs in conjunction with the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service held in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
- Assault Weapons Ban - Castle, an original author of the 1994 Crime Bill, which included the Assault Weapons Ban, has written legislation with Rep. McCarthy to extend the ban for 10 more years and is pushing House Leadership to consider his bill. Congress allowed the ban to expire on September 13, 2004 and Castle continues to work with Million Mom March, Brady Campaign, Americans for Gun Safety, International Association of Chiefs of Police and legislators to find a solution to this public safety initiative.
REFORMING INTELLIGENCE & SECURING THE HOMELAND
- 9/11 Report -- As a Member of the House-Senate Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mike Castle helped prepare recommendations for intelligence reform and now is pushing for the implementation of the 9/11 Commission Report in Congress through legislation he authored with a bipartisan group of colleagues.
- VISA Act - Sections of Castle's VISA Act were included in the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act, including the development of a real-time, integrated entry-exit system with biometric identifiers on visas for foreign visitors.
- Flight School Training Background Checks - Castle's initiative to push for background checks for flight personnel was included in the 2001 Aviation Security Law. Castle will continue to push for background checks for pilots of even smaller planes.
- Rail Security - Working to develop a comprehensive approach to homeland security, Castle has long believed that inner city and passenger rails remain vulnerable to attack. Castle called for a federal study to investigate international methods of rail security and how they can be applied in the U.S. and has worked to set aside funding for rail security initiatives like passenger and baggage screening, intelligence analysis, suicide bomb detection, and reimbursements to state and local governments for safety upgrades. Castle was successful in securing a $135 million carve out this year.
- Port Security - Working to make the Port of Wilmington a model of port security in this nation, Castle has consistently fought for funding to implement security initiatives at the port including cargo screening and employee screening. He joined Secretary Ridge at the Port this past fall in announcing new federal port security guidelines, including development of security plans, implementation of measures to address access control, security monitoring, and physical, passenger, personnel, baggage and cargo security, and the installation of Automatic Identification System (AIS), equipment that automatically sends detailed ship information to other ships and shore-based agencies.
- Natural Gas Working Group - Concerned about the rising costs of natural gas prices and the affect they have on the chemical and agriculture industries, Castle has formed the Natural Gas Working Group in Congress. The goal is to devise a legislative plan to reduce the costs of natural gas. and Castle recently secured a federal study to examine the reasons behind the spike in prices.
- Avian Influenza - As Delaware worked through one of the most significant threats to its poultry industry when avian influenza infected a flock in Kent and Sussex County, Castle immediately began working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to see how the federal government could assist the state. Castle hosted a roundtable with Undersecretary of Agriculture Bill Hawks and local and state industry representatives and has since secured millions in federal funding for surveillance, indemnification, live bird market clean up and testing.
- Environmental Champion -- The League of Conservation Voters has consistently named Mike Castle an "Environmental Champion" for his leadership on environmental issues including increased conservation and preservation.
- Opposition to Drilling in ANWR -- Castle opposed efforts to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling for oil and natural gas.
- Clean Water, Clean Air -- Castle continues to fight to clean up our drinking water and recreational waters and to reduce greenhouse gas and mercury emissions .
WORKING FOR DELAWARE
- Job Corps Training Center – Mike Castle worked to secure a Job Corps Training Center for Wilmington to provide employment skills for low-income youth.
- Affordable Housing - Mike Castle worked with the Fannie Mae Foundation to develop the Home Buyer Funds Finder, to assist low-and moderate home buyers.
- Small Businesses - Worked to grant the SBA Office in Delaware "District Office" status so they are able to approve loans on site as well as offer other information and help to new small business start-ups.
- Protect Public Health - Mike Castle has fought for and secured federal grants to clean up the drinking water in Ellendale, Miller's Creek and Dagsboro.
- Community Health Centers - Stressing the importance of accessible healthcare, Mike Castle supports President Bush's efforts to double funding for community health centers in Delaware, like La Red Community Health Center.
- Chesapeake and Delaware Canal - In an effort to develop a recreational area adjacent to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, Castle has led the effort with county, state and federal officials, environmental groups, recreational groups and local activists to secure funding to study the possible opportunities at the canal. He has requested $150,000 from the Army Corps of Engineers budget to initiate a feasibility study regarding its recreational, cultural, historical, and environmental value.
- Education Grants Fest - Working to increase the amount of federal funding flowing to Delaware and concerned about the lack of information about such opportunities, Castle hosted an Education Grants Fest in Delaware this year with officials from the U.S. Department of Education. Delaware educators and administers were able to learn about the variety of education grants available and receive help with their applications.
- Dover Air Force Base - Castle has worked hard to ensure that Dover AFB remains a strong and important component of both the Air Force's air mobility plans and the nation's overall defense plan. Castle has consistently worked for increased C-5 funding and more importantly for military construction projects, including the mortuary, cargo port, air traffic control tower, military housing and runways.
- Amtrak Funding - A long time supporter of Amtrak and a regular rail rider himself, Castle leads the fight in the House of Representatives to secure federal dollars for Amtrak and fight off efforts to cut funding and privatize national passenger railroad.
- Conservation Corridor - In an effort to control runoff pollution and protect wildlife habitat on the Delmarva Peninsula, Castle helped create the Delmarva Conservation Corridor as part of 2002 Farm Bill. The program allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to direct funds toward ecologically and economically important agriculture areas along the areas established by the corridor, which spans through Delaware and Maryland.
- Beach Replenishment - Recognizing that Delaware's beaches play a critical role in the tourism economy of Sussex County, Castle continues to be a leader in securing federal dollars for beach replenishment along the Delaware coastline. He has fought efforts to cut funding for nourishment and studies.
- UD Child Care Center - A strong believer that early childhood education is critical to future educational and career success, Castle secured nearly $500,000 to help the University of Delaware establish the early childcare center. This center will provide disadvantaged children with the early learning attention and care they need to get a right start in life.
- Nursing School Funds - Concerned about the nursing shortage nationwide and specifically in Delaware and the affect this shortage has on the care patients receive, Castle has secured federal funding for Beebe Hospital Nursing School and the Nursing School at Wesley College to revamp their facilities and increase student enrollment.
- Brandywine Hundred Flyover Issue - Castle has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to address complaints from thousands of residents about the disruptive noise of plane flyovers in the Brandywine Hundred community. Delaware’s Congressional Delegation received official notification from the FAA that it agreed to study the impacts of aviation noise on northern Delaware resulting from proposed improvements to Philadelphia International Airport and EPA Administrator Leavitt has assured Castle that his agency would fulfill their obligations for environmental reviews through their authority under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).