Under the Dome

Dome: GOP delegation says U.S. Capitol still open, y’all come

mcornatzer@newsobserver.comMarch 10, 2013 

The decision to stop tours of the White House because of federal budget cuts has been roundly mocked by Republicans. Two of the state’s Triangle delegation also had something to say about the decision.

U.S. Rep. George Holding, R-Raleigh, sent a letter to his constituents saying he was disappointed “the White House has chosen to cut the public tours,” and pointing out that his own office was staying open despite undergoing cuts as well.

“My Congressional office’s budget has also taken over an eight percent cut in funding – yet we will remain fully operational and ready to serve all of our communities and constituents,” he wrote.

He also noted that tours of the U.S. Capitol also will continue and encouraged people to contact his office for help arranging the tour.

Holding has a Raleigh office at 3725 National Drive, Suite 101. The phone number is 919-782-4400. His D.C. office number is 202-225-3032.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, R-Greensboro, whose district now includes part of Orange, Durham and Granville counties, was one of 50 House members who sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to reinstate the tours.

He also sent a letter to his constituents in the 6th District that was a little more scathing than Holding’s. Coble wrote: “I am appalled that they would play games with people’s long-planned vacation schedules. There is no excuse for the fact that they are closing the People’s House.”

Friday was the last day for the tours.

Burr quells retirement talk

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr recently had a major fundraiser, perhaps punching a hole in rumors that he will not seek a third term in 2016.

There had been some speculation that this would be the Winston-Salem Republican’s last term and that U.S. Rep. George Holding would run for his seat in 2016.

But that talk will likely cool after the fundraiser at the Washington, D.C., home of lobbyist John Milne. Attendees paid $500 to $2,000. Milne is a veteran lobbyist with mCapital Management which represents such clients as Las Vegas Pauite Tribe and Celanese Corp., a global technology and specialty materials company.

Among those attending the fundraiser were fellow Republicans House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who is one of Burr’s best friends in D.C.; Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa.

Burr, meanwhile, has been busy. He introduced the Careers for Veterans Act, a bill that would make licenses and credentials in certain fields more accessible to veterans and their families.

Among other things, the bill would require the Office of Personnel Management to coordinate with federal agencies and departments to hire 10,000 veterans to fill existing vacancies over the next five years.

He also introduced a resolution designating April 5 as Gold Star Wives Day honoring widows of fallen military members.

MetLife precedes tax reform

The MetLife deal – touted as one of the state’s biggest jobs announcements – came without an overhaul of the state’s tax code – a move Republicans say is necessary to make the state’s business climate more friendly.

Democratic Sen. Josh Stein, a Raleigh Democrat, said the announcement weakens those GOP claims, saying the company cited the educated workforce and quality infrastructure as attractions.

“North Carolina has invested in education and invested in our people for decades, and it makes us competitive and an attractive place for companies to relocate, and I think that this MetLife (deal) is reflective of that,” Stein said.

Republicans said the need for lower business and personal income taxes remains. “If we want to see real sustained, substantial job creation in North Carolina, the way to do that is through tax reform,” said Senate leader Phil Berger, noting that would help businesses already in the state. “While this is good news ... it in no way detracts from the need for, nor the potential benefits of, tax reform.”

Rep. Nelson Dollar, a Cary Republican, said lower business taxes can help make incentives less important. “I think in the long term, we’d like to be in a position where we are less reliant on an (incentive) system,” Dollar said.

Staff writers Mary Cornatzer, Rob Christensen and John Frank

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