Saturday, December 3, 2016

Durbin Pushes To Protect DREAMers From Deportation

Washington, D.C. - December 3, 2016 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) continued his push to ensure that the young immigrants known as DREAMers remain shielded from deportation under a Trump Administration. Every day this week, Durbin has gone to the floor of the United States Senate and shared the stories of DREAMers at risk of deportation if the President-elect does not continue President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Durbin also announced that he is working with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham to craft a potential legislative solution that would provide a temporary stay of deportation for young immigrants while Congress works on legislation to fix our broken immigration system.

“My concern and the concern shared by millions across America is what is going to happen to these young kids – 744,000 of them who are currently in college, in high school, currently in professional schools, medical schools, and law schools. They're doing amazing things with their lives and yet things can happen immediately that change their status,” said Durbin. “I’ve talked to a number of my colleagues on the floor, on both sides of the aisle about this, and there are strong emotions in favor of helping these young people. One of the leaders on this has been my friend and ally on some immigration issues – and that’s Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He and I talked about introducing legislation that would give a temporary stay so that these young people could be protected until Congress does its work and comes up with an immigration bill that addresses this issue and many more. Senator Graham and I discussed it again this morning, and we hope to even have this bill ready before we leave next week, a bipartisan effort to say to the new president, ‘give these young people a fighting chance. At least protect them until we've had a chance to act on the larger immigration issues before us.’ I hope that colleagues on both sides will join us.”

Sen. Cruz: For Texans, Border Security Is Not an Abstract Issue

McAllen, TX - December 3, 2016 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) participated in a border security roundtable with local law enforcement officers and elected officials in McAllen, Texas. In the meeting, Sen. Cruz was briefed on immigration enforcement efforts and top border security issues. Cruz also heard from local officials about priorities for their communities.

Following the roundtable, Sen. Cruz met with Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector Chief Manuel Padilla and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials for an update on the immigration crisis on our border with Mexico and ports of entry.

“In Texas, border security is not an abstract or a theoretical issue, it is a simple reality that Texans face every day,” Sen. Cruz said. “I have long been critical of the lack of enforcement of our immigration laws by our current administration. I am incredibly grateful for all of the border patrol officers here in McAllen who risk their lives every day to keep us safe, and I intend to do everything in my power to help address the issues that are unique to the men and women of South Texas.”

About President-elect Trump’s phone call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

Washington, D.C. - December 3, 2016 (The Ponder News) -- Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement on President-elect Trump's phone call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen:

"America's policy toward Taiwan is governed by the Taiwan Relations Act, under which we maintain close ties with Taiwan and support its democratic system. I commend President-elect Trump for his conversation with President Tsai Ing-wen, which reaffirms our commitment to the only democracy on Chinese soil. I have met with President Tsai twice and I'm confident she expressed to the president-elect the same desire for closer relations with the United States."

Senator Coons’ statement on President-elect Trump’s nomination of General James Mattis

Wilmington, DE - December 3, 2016 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Christopher A Coons - (D - DE), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement on President-elect Trump’s nomination of General James Mattis to serve as Secretary of Defense:

“General James Mattis is a serious strategic thinker with an inspiring record of service who has rightfully earned the respect of the American people. He understands that the decision to send our brave men and women into harm’s way is the gravest decision a president will face. General Mattis’ tenure as CENTCOM commander provides him deep experience running U.S. military operations and extensive familiarity with the challenges confronting the United States and our allies. I would hope that General Mattis’ service at NATO signals that the President-elect understands and remains committed to this critical alliance.

“Some of my colleagues have expressed concerns that the nomination of a recently retired former general undermines our country’s deeply held tradition of civilian control of the military. I will consider this argument carefully, but our next president must be surrounded by experienced, qualified leaders who have the courage to provide unvarnished advice. Based on what I know of General Mattis, his record and experience offer a strong balance to the President-elect’s lack of familiarity with foreign affairs. General Mattis is a voracious reader who learns from history and understands the importance of alliances, diplomacy, and other tools of American power and influence. I look forward to digging deeper into the implications that granting General Mattis a waiver would have on our country’s history of civilian control of the military, as well as his record and experience.”


Washington, D.C. - December 3, 2016 (The Ponder News) -- Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) voted Friday for the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 2943), which boosts support for America’s military, enhances national defense capabilities and provides the biggest pay raise for U.S. service members in six years. The bill authorizes the $619 billion in funding necessary to restore adequate readiness for our armed forces, protect our homeland from rapidly evolving threats and provide our troops with the resources they need to be successful.

“The Constitution demands that the federal government prioritize our national security, and the legislation we’ve passed today does just that. In America, we’re blessed with so many freedoms thanks our brave men and women in uniform. We must always ensure they’re equipped with the best training and defense capabilities in the world, and that they receive the pay they rightfully deserve for their selfless service to our country,” Ratcliffe said.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act includes the following notable provisions:

• Increases pay for service members by 2.1 percent and bars the president from blocking this raise
• Prevents Guantanamo Bay detainee transfers to the United States.
• Combats terrorism and radical Islamist extremists
• Reverses the drawdown on troop numbers
• Strengthens support for Israel with funds for Israeli cooperative missile defense including the Iron Dome
• Prioritizes cyber defense capabilities

Ratcliffe also praised the bill’s exclusion of any authorization for another round of base realignment and closure (BRAC) at the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana. This is consistent with his own amendment passed in the House earlier this year to prevent funds from going to BRAC, and it protects more than 5,000 jobs in the region that provide critical readiness capabilities to the Army.

Rangel Applauds Passage of House Bill Encouraging Reunions for Divided Families

Washington, D.C. - December 3, 2016 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) praised the passage of H.Con.Res.40, a resolution that encourages North Korea to allow Korean Americans to meet with their family members from North Korea and calls on North Korea to take concrete steps to build goodwill that is conducive to peace on the Korean Peninsula. Introduced by Rep. Rangel with House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), the bill passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, by a voice vote.

“More than anything else, Congress is saying today that let the people God created of the same blood, same background, same culture – let them meet. Rangel said. “This resolution lays the foundation for divided family members to meet their loved ones whom they have not been able to see for over six decades,” I could never imagine being unable to see my brother or daughter for that length of time. These Americans have every right to see their loved ones and it is our duty to help them by encouraging reunions.”

Rangel first introduced this resolution as H.Con.Res.91 in February 2014. To further raise awareness on the issue, he hosted a screening of the documentary “The Divided Families Film” at the Capitol Visitors Center about Korean Americans' search for lost relatives in North Korea.

The Korean War, which broke out on June 25, 1950, separated more than 10 million families, including some 100,000 Korean Americans. Since the first historic Korean summit in 2000, around 20 rounds of brief reunions between South and North Korean family members have taken place along the border. Unfortunately, Korean Americans impacted by the war have never been provided the same opportunity and their numbers are declining significantly.

“Despite North Korea’s provocations, the United States must remain firmly committed to the humanitarian aspects of family reunions. I am pleased to see this resolution pass before I leave office. I would also like to thank my dear friend and colleague, Chairman Ed Royce, who championed this resolution with me, as well as Divided Families USA, Council of Korean Americans, Korean American Coalition, and KAAGNY among many Korean American organizations and leaders who advocated for its passage,” Rangel added.

The resolution will now go to the Senate for approval, where it has bipartisan support from Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Mark Warner (D-VA. Once passed, separated Korean American families will be one step closer to meeting their long-lost relatives in North Korea. H.Con.Res.40 is one of the final pieces of legislation sponsored by Rangel to pass the House during his 46-year career.


Washington, D.C. - December 3, 2016 (The Ponder News) --In a milestone victory for hundreds of Maine manufacturing jobs—after a hard-fought, months-long battle—the U.S. House of Representatives passed the final version of the NDAA that includes critical language pushed forward by Congressman Bruce Poliquin (ME-02) to ensure the Department of Defense (DOD) follows the law and issues American-made athletic shoes to its new recruits.

Congressman Poliquin, who wore his own red, white and blue, 100% American-made New Balance athletic shoes down to the House floor to cast his vote, released the following statement:

“This is a milestone victory for our Great State of Maine, for our families, and for 900 of the hardest working folks in the world,” said Congressman Poliquin. “This is a win that Mainers have long been waiting for. After a months-long and hard fought battle, I am absolutely thrilled that today we have finally pushed this monumental language through the House. I’m not going to let up an inch until we get this to the President’s desk, signed into law and fully implemented.”

“New Balance is proud to be the only major company that still makes athletic footwear in the United States. We are grateful that the U.S. House and Senate has again agreed that our military’s domestic purchasing requirements as stated by law need to be followed. On behalf of the hundreds of men and women in our five New England shoe factories, we want to thank Representative Poliquin for his tireless advocacy in serving the state of Maine,” said Rob DeMartini, President and CEO, New Balance.

For the past several months, Congressman Poliquin has resiliently advocated and taken strong legislative action to push the DOD to comply with the Berry Amendment, the provision which requires the Pentagon to use American-made products for recruits whenever possible.

Now, the NDAA will go to the Senate for a final vote. If passed, it will go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

This final provision, which was maintained in the NDAA during the conference committee between the House and Senate due to strong support from Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Congressman Poliquin, mandates that the DOD consider athletic footwear issued to military recruits as subject to the Berry Amendment, requiring the Department to treat athletic footwear like other uniform items.

The Berry Amendment is a provision in law that requires the DOD to use American-made products for new recruits whenever possible. However, since 2002 the DOD has circumvented this policy by issuing cash allowances to new recruits for training shoes, which are not required to be American-made or Berry Amendment-compliant. In 2014, the DOD agreed to change its policy and close this footwear loophole. Despite that announcement, more than two years later, the DOD has yet to actually implement it and rectify this fundamental inequity in the application of the Berry Amendment.

Timeline of Progress:

March 2016: Rep. Poliquin testifies in front of the House Armed Services Committee supporting the use of quality American products for our Military Men and Women

April 2016: Rep. Poliquin successfully pushes language to be added to the Defense bill to enforce the Berry Amendment

May 2016: Rep. Poliquin’s Language in NDAA Passes House in Landmark Victory for Hundreds of Maine Jobs

June 2016: The Senate passes their version of the NDAA with the crucial language included

June 2016: Rep. Poliquin successfully urges hundreds of his colleagues on the House Floor to vote down an amendment that would have stripped Made-in-America language

September-November 2016: The House and the Senate go to conference to hash out the differences in the two chambers’ versions of the NDAA

November 2016: The final version of NDAA—including the crucial Made-in-America language—is released and set to be voted on

December 2, 2016: The House passes the final version of the NDAA with the language included