|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
Washington, D.C. – 1998 was a year of landmark accomplishments for U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH). These include the enactment into law of major taxpayer protection measures Traficant has championed for 13 years such as shifting the burden of proof in a civil tax case from the taxpayer to the IRS. Other major accomplishments in 1998 for Traficant included securing $46 million in federal funds for transportation projects for the Mahoning Valley, bringing home $18 million in federal grant money for the continued expansion of Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, and the emergence of Traficant as the leader of Congressional efforts to get the Clinton Administration to take tough action to curb cheap foreign steel imports. Below is a summary of key accomplishments in 1998.
- In May a six-year, $203 billion transportation bill was enacted into law. Traficant was able to secure $46 million in federal funds for eight projects in the Mahoning Valley, including $25 million for the S.R. 711 connection, $5.56 million for the Kings Graves Road interchange, $3 million for the Wellsville Intermodal Industrial Park, $4.72 million to widen U.S. Route 422 through Girard, and $2 million to open up Federal Plaza in Youngstown.
- In July a major IRS reform bill was signed into law by President Clinton. The bill included two provisions authored by Traficant. The first shifts the burden of proof in a civil tax case from the taxpayer to the IRS. The second limits the seizure authority of the IRS, including a requirement that the IRS obtain a court order before seizing a family residence. Traficant fought for 13 years to have these key reform measures enacted into law.
- In August and October Traficant was able to secure two Federal Aviation Administration grants totaling $18 million for the continued expansion of Youngstown Warren Regional Airport in Vienna. The $18 million will be used by the airport to continue work on the establishment of an air cargo distribution facility. Over the past two years Traficant has worked with Clinton Administration officials to secure more than $31 million in federal grants for the air cargo initiative.
- In October Traficant emerged as the key leader in the House in an effort to get the Clinton Administration to take tough action to stop the illegal dumping of below market priced steel in the U.S. Traficant led the fight on the House floor to defeat a watered down resolution on the steel crisis. In its place Traficant offered a tough worded resolution urging the President to impose a one-year ban on steel imports from any country illegally dumping steel in the U.S. Despite the strong opposition of the Clinton Administration and key Congressional leaders, the House approved the Traficant resolution by an overwhelming margin of 345 to 44.
- Following the House's approval of his resolution in mid-October, Traficant led a letter writing campaign to the President to force the Administration to get tough on Japan, Russia and other countries violating international anti-dumping laws. Traficant also filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit filed in October by Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel of St. Clairsville, Ohio against several foreign steelmakers.
- A $500 billion omnibus federal spending bill enacted into law in October included several provisions authored by Traficant, including a provision requiring the privately-run Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown to accept only low to medium security prisoners using federal classification guidelines. Other Traficant-sponsored provisions in the bill included a federal study of the private prison industry, and a Pentagon report on improving the military's contribution to federal anti-drug initiatives.
- The final version of the fiscal year 1999 Department of Defense authorization bill enacted into law in September included three Traficant-authored amendments. The first two provisions authorize the transfer of two military facilities in the city of Youngstown from the Pentagon to the city for educational purposes. Both properties will be used by Cardinal Mooney High School for much needed expansion space. The third amendment requires that U.S. flags used in veteran burials be American made.
- In July Traficant issued a 120-page report on the July 17, 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 off the southern coast of Long Island, New York. Traficant was asked by the chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee in the fall of 1997 to examine the government's investigation of Flight 800. Traficant is a senior member of the subcommittee. Traficant's report revealed some initial missteps by the government in investigating the tragedy, but basically confirmed the findings of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the probable cause of the crash was an internal explosion in the center wing fuel tank.
- In March the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues formally approved the move of the minor league Erie (PA) Seawolves to Niles, Ohio. League approval capped a year-long effort by Traficant to bring professional baseball to the Mahoning Valley. Ground was broken on a new stadium this past summer.
- In October the House approved legislation authored by Traficant to increase the number of community police officers deployed across the country. The bill, which was identical to an amendment Traficant had enacted into law in previous years, requires that federal grant funds used to hire or rehire police officers be used to produce a net gain in the number of officers performing community police work.
- In April Traficant announced that the former employees of the closed Brainard Rivet plant finalized a deal to purchase the assets of the Girard facility, and reopen the plant as an employee-owned company. Traficant worked for a year to convince the plant's owner, Textron, to sell the assets to the employees.
- In October Congress approved a legislative branch funding bill that included several Traficant-authored provisions to raise the pay and benefits of the U.S. Capitol Police department. The provisions, which Traficant has championed for five years, bring the Capitol Police into parity with most other federal law enforcement agencies.
- At a hearing conducted in October by the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Public Buildings, legislation authored by Traficant to overhaul the Federal Protective Service received the strong endorsement of the four unions representing FPS officers. The bill would make major reforms to upgrade the pay, training, benefits and status of FPS, which is responsible for providing security at federal buildings across the country. Traficant introduced the bill in response to shortcomings he uncovered in his ongoing analysis of the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Traficant is the ranking Democrat on the Public Buildings Subcommittee.
- In November Traficant met with Postal Service officials to discuss their plans to deal with serious workplace problems at post offices in Northeast Ohio. Traficant arranged the meeting after hosting a public forum in Youngstown on preventing post office violence. Traficant continues to work with Postal Service officials and employees to deal with the problems discussed at the forum. These include racial discrimination, sexual harassment and mistreatment of disabled employees.
- In December Traficant votes against all four articles of impeachment against the President of the United States. Traficant strongly supported a censure of the President, but felt that impeachment was too severe a punishment. In Traficant's opinion, the President's misdeeds did not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.
- In addition to the $18 million for the airport, Traficant also secured more than $12 million in discretionary federal grants for the Mahoning Valley. This figure includes a $498,000 grant to expand the operations of the Youngstown Business Incubator and a $383,803 grant to establish a special drug court in Mahoning County.