Wednesday, December 27, 2017

US Court Announces Ruling That Should Scare the Hell Out of Every American

Source: Daily News Briefing

Perhaps marking the beginning of the end of religious freedom in America, a federal court has denied a request by the area’s Catholic Archdiocese to force the DC Metro to take its Christmas advertisements.

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington DC denied the Catholic Church’s request essentially saying (for now, anyway) that the DC mass transit system had a right to deny the church’s advertisements because it was “too religious” and would “offend” some people, BizPacReview reported.

Naturally, church officials said that the denial is unconstitutional discrimination against its religious beliefs.

Read more about this at Your Daily News Briefing


Source: Senate Rules and Appropriations Committee


The U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, on behalf of Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (R-Minn.), and the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, on behalf of Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), today released information provided by the Office of Compliance (OOC) regarding the statistical breakdown of awards and settlements involving Senate employing offices from 1997-2017.

“Harassment in the workplace should not be tolerated under any circumstances, but particularly not in the United States Senate,” said Chairman Shelby of the Senate Rules Committee. “While the Rules Committee has been eager to provide this information in a transparent manner, it has been our priority to protect the victims involved in these settlements from further harm. I am pleased that we have received assurances from Senate Legal Counsel that the release of this data does not violate confidentiality and as such, are able to make it public.”

“Harassment of any kind is unacceptable. The Senate should hold itself to the highest standards of professionalism and respect,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman Cochran.

The Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee consulted extensively with Senate Legal Counsel prior to this release to ensure it complied with the confidentiality protections governing these agreements and was sufficiently protective of the victims in these cases. The Committees received assurances from Senate Legal Counsel that the release of this information in no way implicates confidentiality concerns. It should be noted that the Senate – unlike the House – does not have its own records of individual settlements and therefore cannot independently verify the accuracy of the data provided by the OOC.

Read more at the Senate Rules and Appropriations Committee Web site

No One Saw This Coming! President Trump Just Launched Federal Investigation On Liberal Giant, Dems Said He Couldn’t Do It

Source: Guerrilla News

The advancement of unfettered abortion openings is a bedrock position of the Democratic Party. Truth be told, party leaders have contended that such a position must be a litmus test for fitting the bill to try and keep running as a Democratic candidate for office. At any rate, they’re straightforward about their position, if deplorably off-base.

Thus, Planned Parenthood is just about a segment of the Democratic Party. It should be from that organization and the Democrats are joined at the hip. Given the activities of Planned Parenthood, that really ought to be to the Democrats’ disgrace.

A standout amongst the most hostile practices of which Planned Parenthood has been blamed has been the deal for the body parts of aborted babies. The reality of the matter is that once they’ve killed the kid, no further damage is accessible for the abortion mill to cause. However, treating dead babies like some other animal is frightful. What’s more, President Trump has had the FBI launch an examination of Planned Parenthood and claims of this disgusting demonstration. Keeping in mind that despite everything anybody question, Mr. Trump descends in favor of expert life.

Read more about this at The Guerrilla News

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Cities sue after Pentagon failed to report crimes to FBI gun check system

Source: MSN

Three major U.S. cities on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Pentagon to address a "clearly broken system" that they contend allowed a former Air Force serviceman to buy a gun and kill 26 people in a Texas church in November.

New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco seek to have the Defense Department (DOD) "fulfill their long-standing legal obligation to report all service members disqualified from purchasing and possessing firearms to the FBI's national background check system," according to a statement from the law firm filing the case.

Law enforcement officials in all three cities "regularly rely upon the integrity of the FBI's background check system," the attorneys write.

The case was brought after Devin Kelley opened fire Nov. 5 at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people.

Read more about this at MSN

Judge Strikes Down Indiana Law Against Selling Aborted Baby Parts

Source: Life News

Indiana received bad news this Christmas season when a judge struck down part of a state law prohibiting the trafficking of aborted baby body parts.

The Indiana Lawyer reports Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana sided with Indiana University researchers on Friday, arguing that most of the law was unconstitutional.

The university sued the state in 2016 after lawmakers passed a law prohibiting the acquisition, receipt, sale or transfer of aborted baby body parts. Violations would be a felony.

Read more about this at The LifeSite News

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Reports: PA President Mahmoud Abbas Instructs Staff to Sever Ties With U.S.

Source: Breitbart


PA President Mahmoud Abbas president has come to see U.S. President Donald Trump as “a lost cause,” according to the Tims of Israel.

The PA leader reportedly instructed his staff to sever all ties with US diplomatic officials at every level, including relations between the Palestinians and American diplomats posted at the U.S. Consulate in East Jerusalem.

The White House is reportedly looking for a Palestinian liaison other than Abbas.

Read more about this at Breitbart

Trump supporter Joy Villa says she filed a sexual assault complaint against Corey Lewandowski

Source: Fox News

Singer Joy Villa, an outspoken Trump supporter, is accusing the president’s former campaign manager of sexual assault following an alleged incident at a Trump International Hotel party last month. Villa says she's filed a report with the Metropolitan Police Department stating Corey Lewandowski smacked her on her rear end twice.

Villa, 31, told Politico she met Lewandowski through a mutual friend at an invite-only party in November. However, after a photo opportunity, she claims Lewandowski smacked her on the butt.

Read more about this at Fox News by clicking HERE

George Soros Suffers ‘Massive Heart Attack’ On Christmas Eve In Hungary

George Soros suffered a “massive heart attack” while inspecting a new faculty building at his private university in Budapest, Hungary on Sunday morning, according to Hungarian reports.

Read about it at


By National Retail Foundation

Calendar Days

Washington, D.C. - December 26, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The National Retail Federation welcomed tax reform signed into law by President Trump today, saying the measure will dramatically benefit businesses, workers and consumers.

“This is landmark legislation that will boost our nation’s economy more than anything we have seen in decades,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Middle-class taxpayers are the biggest winners, with significantly more take-home pay thanks to tax cuts and vast new employment opportunities because of tax relief that will help large and small businesses alike create new jobs. Consumers finishing up their holiday shopping this weekend can rest assured that there will be more money in their paychecks by the time the bills come due.”

“Retailers are winners under tax reform since our industry receives few of the tax breaks that benefit other sectors of the economy and pay the highest effective tax rate of any industry,” Shay said. “Lower taxes will help us grow our businesses and offer our customers better value. But the biggest benefit for retailers will come as lower taxes and increased global competitiveness help U.S. companies throughout the economy put more Americans to work and pay them higher wages. Consumers with jobs and money in their pockets benefit the entire economy, including retailers and every job behind every product on our shelves.”

NRF analysis shows that cutting the corporate tax rate will save large businesses enough to create between 500,000 and 1.5 million jobs while reducing taxes for “pass throughs” will benefit the small retailers that make up 95 percent of the industry. Congressional estimates show a family earning the average income of $73,000 a year will see a tax cut of over $2,000 in 2018, which is easily enough to cover the $967 NRF research shows the average consumer will spend this holiday season.

NRF has led the retail industry’s fight for tax reform for years, calling on Congress to eliminate tax breaks that benefit only some industries and to use the revenue saved to lower rates for all companies, including small businesses. During this year’s debate, NRF helped defeat a border adjustment tax proposal that would have driven up the price of imports and put many retailers out of business, took retail CEOs to meet with members of Trump’s cabinet, met with Trump at the White House, arranged for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to address retailers on tax reform and rallied with senators on Capitol Hill to support tax relief for small businesses.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

DeSantis Condemns Anti-Israel UN Vote, Introduces Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act

by Ron DeSantis (R-FL, 6th)

Raining Cash Emails

Washington, D.C. - December 26, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL-06), Chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, has introduced the Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act as the United Nations holds an emergency session to condemn President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital.

“Instead of addressing ongoing international conflicts and working to uphold human rights, the United Nations is holding an emergency session in order to indulge its pathological anti-Israel bias,” DeSantis said. “I am proud to stand by our friends in Israel and to follow up on President Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital by introducing the Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act. For decades, the United States has worked hand in hand with our allies at the UN to provide hundreds of millions in foreign aid, but as President Trump said yesterday, ‘we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.’ Congress should take this vote into consideration as we determine which allies are deserving of our generous foreign aid.”

The Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act states that it is U.S. policy to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and expresses the sense of Congress that the President shall relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by January 1, 2019.

Original cosponsors: Reps. Martha McSally, Lee Zeldin, Mark Meadows, Blake Farenthold, Luke Messer, Robert Pittenger, Jody Hice, Claudia Tenney, Todd Rokita, Jackie Walorski, Jeff Duncan, Andy Harris, Bill Johnson, Doug Lamborn, Vicky Hartzler, Dan Donovan, Louie Gohmert, Brad Wenstrup, Steve King, Keith J. Rothfus, Tom McClintock, Jim Jordan, Roger Williams, Adrian Smith, Matt Gaetz, Drew Ferguson, Paul A. Gosar, Ted Yoho.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Senate Sends to President Legislation Honoring Important Civil Rights Sites

by Senator Lamar Alexander (R - TN)

Washington, D.C. - December 26, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said the Senate has sent President Trump legislation to be signed into law that will recognize and connect important landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement, including two potential sites in Memphis. Alexander said the legislation will preserve history for the next generation.

“The African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017 will help recognize and preserve as part of our national history sites that are central to the Civil Rights Movement, such as Memphis’ Mason Temple, the Church of God in Christ, and the Lorraine Hotel,” Alexander said. “This network will ensure the Civil Rights Movement remains at the front of our history and will help our children grow up learning about this pivotal movement. I'm glad the Senate passed this legislation, and I look forward to President Trump signing this legislation into law."

The African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017 would create a national network facilitated by the National Park Service of existing federal, state, local and privately owned sites that have been found to be significant to the Civil Rights Movement. Two sites in Memphis—the Mason Temple, Church of God in Christ, and the Lorraine Hotel—are on the tentative list of sites that could be included in the African American Civil Rights Network. The legislation would allow the National Park Service to form partnerships with existing entities included within the African American Civil Rights Network to provide technical assistance on preservation and interpretation of the Civil Rights Movement. The Senate passed the legislation last night, and Alexander was the lead Republican cosponsor of the Senate version of the legislation. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation on July 26. The legislation now heads to the president's desk to be signed into law.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Friday, December 22, 2017

SAF, Calguns Seek Supreme Court Reversal of 9th Circuit Ruling

By Second Amendment Foundation

Bellevue, WA - December 22, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Attorneys for the Second Amendment Foundation and Calguns Foundation have filed a brief seeking U.S. Supreme Court review and ultimate reversal of a ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in their long-running challenge of California's waiting period requirement on additional firearm transactions for people who already own guns.

The case is known as Silvester v. Becerra, which challenges the Golden State's 10-day waiting period on firearms transfers to gun-owning citizens.

"Rights delayed are rights denied," said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. "By defending this waiting period, the state of California is essentially saying gun owners are potential criminals who are considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent, which is silly because they already own guns.

"The Second Amendment, which was incorporated to the states via the 14th Amendment in SAF's 2010 Supreme Court victory in McDonald v. City of Chicago, is not a second-class right," he added. "Nor are gun owners in California, or anywhere else in the Ninth Circuit, second-class citizens who must be treated differently than any other citizen simply because they wish to exercise their right to keep and bear arms."

Gottlieb said the Silvester case "simply begs for attention from the Supreme Court."

"It is nonsense for the state to enforce a waiting period on someone who has passed a background check and who already owns other firearms and may have a concealed carry permit," Gottlieb observed.

As noted in the brief, "there is no suggestion that the California legislature ever considered or addressed evidence regarding the need for a cooling-off period either generally or, more relevantly, for those who already own a gun."

"It's time for the Supreme Court to straighten out this problem," Gottlieb concluded.

The Second Amendment Foundation ( is the nation's oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Tax Reforms Opening Door for U.S. Investment Boom

By Canary, LLC.

Washington, D.C. - December 22, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The $1.5 trillion tax reform package that Congress approved Dec. 20 has placed corporate America on the cusp of a major investment boom, says Dan K. Eberhart, CEO of oilfield services company, Canary, LLC.

Eberhart anticipates far-reaching benefits as a result of the tax reform in 2018. These benefits include decreased tax-withholdings for every American, increased local spending on capital investments, and new job opportunities from companies—including Canary.

"Now that Congress has sent an historic tax bill to President Trump to sign, I think we're about to see the economy take off after years of anemic growth," Eberhart said.

"This is a great opportunity for businesses like Canary," he added. "After years of uncertainty and slow growth, we have an incentive to invest in our business and our employees. And that's a great thing to be able to tell your staff at the start of 2018."

Key components of the tax reform bill include doubling the standard deductions for individuals and couples, doubling the per-child tax credit, and slashing the capital tax rate.

"Lowering the capital tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent is a huge win, as is full and immediate expensing on capital investments," Eberhart said. "Immediate expensing on short-lived capital equipment is expected to save companies $32.5 billion next year alone. That's huge for medium-sized companies like mine."

As a result, Eberhart said, Canary will finally be in a position in 2018 to respond to pent up demands for new equipment and personnel.

"We're still crunching the numbers, but I expect at the end of the day, that we will put several million dollars back into the business next year that we otherwise wouldn't have. We've got a lot of aging equipment that needs to be replaced—that money is going to be spent locally. And as our activity picks up, we're also going to need to hire more people."

On the Right Side of History?

Eberhart says the weak fund-raising support that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is now experiencing is proof that the Democrats' attempts to thwart tax reform does not line up with what Americans want.

Democrats have claimed the GOP's proposed tax reform would have negligible benefits for the average American and ultimately lead middle-class Americans to pay more in taxes.

The GOP, on the other hand, maintains that every U.S. taxpayer will see meaningful tax savings. A family of four earning $75,000 a year, for example, will be able to hold on to $2,000 more of their pay during that time, the GOP estimates.

In the weeks and months following the tax package's passage—Congress approved the bill with no Democratic support—DNC members may find it increasingly difficult to explain their stance, Eberhart said. Or maybe they'll regret their actions even sooner: Within 24 hours of the tax bill's passage, a number of major U.S. businesses responded with good news for their employees.

These announcements include:

  • Wells Fargo and Fifth Third Bancorp unveiled minimum wage hikes.
  • AT&T and Comcast announced $1,000 bonuses for hundreds of thousands of workers.
  • Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg announced $300 million in employee-related and charitable investments to spur innovation and growth.

    "The bottom line is that our country's new tax reforms are going to have much broader impacts on the economy and employment than critics of the tax bill have given Republicans credit for," Eberhart said.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site
  • US Submarine - One of the Top 10 Most Mysterious Shipwrecks of All Time Discovered

    By Tiburon Subsea

    New York, NY - December 22, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Award-winning explorer and underwater robotics expert Tim Taylor, President and CEO of Tiburon Subsea, has discovered WWII Submarine USS S-28 (SS-131).

    The S-28 is considered the most important lost US WWII vessel in the central Pacific according to the former director of the United States National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Outside Magazine included the USS S-28 in their feature article as one of the top ten iconic missing ships waiting to be discovered.

    US Submarine S-28 lost in 1944 with 49 sailors, now resting in 8700 feet of water. The bow is 115 meters East of the main body of the submarine.

    The USS S-28 sank on July 4, 1944 and was found in 2,650 meters (8700 feet) of water off the cost of Oahu, Hawaii with her entombed crew of 49 US sailors.

    The current mapping and filming of the wreck by the discovery team is yielding valuable information that can help determine and possibly solve the cause of the sinking. The data collected on this expedition is being shared with the US Navy Heritage Command. It is also important to share this news with the family members of the entombed sailors and we encourage direct family members to contact us at

    Tiburon Subsea specializes in advanced underwater technology supplying autonomous and imaging technology rental, training and support solutions. They are proud to support the "Lost 52 Project." This is the third lost US WWII Submarine discovered by Tim Taylor since 2010.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Realtors® Say Tough Work Still Ahead as Tax Reform Bill Heads to President's Desk

    By National Association of Realtors

    Washington, D.C. - December 22, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The U.S. House and Senate today passed the conference agreement of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” marking a near end-of-the-road for Congress’s tax reform efforts this year. The president is expected to sign the bill later this week.

    Read NAR's extensive summary of the tax reform bill.

    The National Association of Realtors® raised strong objections earlier in the year to tax reform proposals put forth by the House and Senate, arguing those proposals threatened home values, eliminated the tax incentives to own a home for most Americans and potentially raised taxes on many middle-class families.

    On Friday, however, Congressional leaders announced a consensus agreement between the House and Senate that included significant changes to the bill. NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty said that while Realtors® still have concerns with the overall structure of the bill, fresh limits on the state and local tax deduction, and other changes, the final product is a significant improvement over previous iterations.

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act - What it Means for Homeowners and Real Estate Professionals

    Mendenhall added that while the work on tax reform is complete for 2017, next year will likely hold opportunities to further improve the tax landscape for middle-class homeowners, and issued the following statement:

    “The final tax reform bill is far from perfect, but it’s been greatly improved for homeowners over previous versions. Realtors® should be proud of the good work they did to help get us here. We generated over 300,000 emails to members of Congress through two calls for action and held countless in-person meetings with legislators, all of which helped shape the final product.

    “The results are mixed. We saved the exclusion for capital gains on the sale of a home and preserved the like-kind exchange for real property. Many agents and brokers who earn income as independent contractors or from pass-through businesses will also see a significant deduction on that business income.

    “Despite these successes, we still have some hard work ahead of us. Significant legislative initiatives often require fixes to address unintended consequences, and this bill is no exception.

    “The new tax regime will fundamentally alter the benefits of homeownership by nullifying incentives for individuals and families while keeping those incentives in place for large institutional investors. That should concern any middle-class family looking to claim their piece of the American Dream.

    “Realtors®’ work to help them get there will continue, and we look forward to joining members of Congress from both sides of the rotunda on that endeavor.”

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    New Report Reveals Rapid Growth of Homeless Tent Cities Across U.S.

    By National Center on Homelessness and Poverty

    Washington, D.C. - December 22, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty released a new report, Tent City USA: The Growth of America’s Homeless Encampments and How Communities are Responding, reviewing the rapid growth of homeless people living in tents across the United States over the past decade, as measured by documentation in media reports.

    Research showed a 1,342 percent increase in homeless encampments reported between 2007 and 2017, with at least one encampment reported in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Encampments ranged in size, with half showing a size of 11-50 residents, while 17 percent had more than 100 residents. The report tracked the number of unique encampments as reported by the media, acknowledging that there are likely more encampments intentionally hidden or forced to move, and therefore not documented.

    As encampments become increasingly common, local governments have enacted laws to prohibit living in tents. Three-quarters of all encampments recorded in the report are prohibited by law; only 4 percent were reported to be legal. Cities such as Denver, CO, Olympia, WA, and San Diego, CA were cited in the report for particularly harsh laws and sweeps that criminalize people experiencing homelessness. The report notes that evicting—or “sweeping”--people from tent communities is costly and ineffective.

    “It’s cruel and counterproductive to take away the only shelter homeless people have,” said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. “The proven solution to homelessness is housing, and ensuring it is available and affordable to people who have fallen on hard times is what will end homelessness, not criminalizing them for trying to survive.”

    City officials often refer to shelters as an alternative to encampments, but in most communities they are full. And even when they have space available, people experiencing homelessness say shelters present their own host of problems.

    “Agreeing to go to a shelter in that moment means losing many of your possessions. You have to pack what you can into a bag and leave the rest behind, to be stolen or thrown away,” said Eugene Stroman, a homeless person living in an encampment in Houston, Texas. “You give up all this property for the guarantee…of a spot on the floor for one night.”

    Eric Tars, senior attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and lead researcher of the report, said, “People shouldn’t have to live in tents, but our report shares principles and practices for how communities can show compassion and meet basic needs in the short term.”

    The report can be viewed here.

    The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (the Law Center) is the only national organization dedicated solely to using the power of the law to prevent and end homelessness. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we address the immediate and longterm needs of people who are homeless or at risk through outreach and training, advocacy, impact litigation, and public education.

    The Law Center thanks the following law firms for their pro bono research support for Tent City USA: Ballard Spahr LLP, Blank Rome LLP, Hunton & Williams LLP, Nixon Peabody LLP, O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. The Law Center also acknowledges the generous support of the Buck Foundation, Butler Family Fund, Deer Creek Foundation, and the Oakwood Foundation.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    UN Votes Against Jerusalem As Capital

    By Liberty Counsel

    Washington, D.C. - December 22, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The United Nations General Assembly voted 128-9 in an emergency session to declare President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “null and void.”

    U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said the United States will put its embassy in Jerusalem regardless of the vote. However, President Trump will cut off financial aid to countries that vote in favor of a United Nations resolution draft calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

    “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in this assembly,” Haley said. “We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution” to the U.N. and when other member nations ask Washington “to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

    The draft U.N. resolution calls on all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem. Today, there were 128 countries voting for the U.N. resolution seeking to challenge President Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Nine nations voted “no” and 35 abstained, including Australia and Paraguay.

    “The U.N. is a theater of the absurd,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, President of Christians in Defense of Israel, and Founder and Chairman of Covenant Journey. “It has become a worthless institution and an instrument of attack against Israel. I am happy that America has a strong president and ambassador who will not be bullied. Why we continue to fund the U.N. is a legitimate question which this vote brings into focus. Of all the pressing world issues with North Korea, Iran, and terrorism, the U.N. ignores them and instead calls an emergency meeting to dispute the historical reality that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and to challenge where the United States chooses to place its embassy. I hope President Trump follows through with consequences that include defunding the U.N.,” said Staver.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Thursday, December 21, 2017


    By Doug Collins (R-GA, 9th)

    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) has introduced H.R. 4706, the Music Modernization Act, to bring music licensing its first meaningful update in almost 20 years. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is the bill’s lead cosponsor.

    “Songs reframe the world. They show us reality as it is and as it could be. I introduced the Music Modernization Act to move music licensing law closer to where it should be. Today, the music industry is shackled to laws devised before streaming, and even basic recordings, existed—laws that penalize music creators and music lovers alike. Only by ushering music licensing into the twenty-first century can we promote artistry and its appreciation long into the future, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with the Music Modernization Act,” said Collins.

    “The House Judiciary Committee has undertaken a thorough review of the issues that adversely affect stakeholders in the copyright ecosystem. We have heard a diverse array of perspectives, and it is clear that stakeholders on all sides believe the copyright system is outdated and needs reform, particularly in the area of music licensing. The Music Modernization Act is carefully crafted legislation that will improve music licensing by increasing efficiency and providing greater transparency. One change it would make is requiring digital services to pay for a Mechanical Licensing Collective that would match songwriters and publishers with recordings to ensure proper payments. I am a proud cosponsor and look forward to working with industry and my colleagues across the aisle and in the Senate on advancing this legislation as well as other needed components of copyright reform,” said Jeffries.

    Additional cosponsors of this legislation include Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), as well as Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas).

    Read more about this bill

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    U.S. Rep. Castor’s bill to help caregivers nationwide passes U.S. House

    By Kathy Castor (D-FL, 14th)

    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The U.S. House of Representatives passed the RAISE Family Caregivers Act, introduced by U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Gregg Harper (MS3), which marks a major step in addressing the nation’s role of caregivers. The Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act is landmark legislation strongly endorsed by the AARP that will finally give caregivers the recognition they deserve.

    U.S. Rep. Castor said: “The passage of the RAISE Family Caregivers Act that I introduced with U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), and U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) will hopefully bring additional support and resources to family caregivers across America. All too often, caregivers are forced to sacrifice jobs and wages to take care of an aging family member or child with special needs. Caregivers often have little or no support themselves. In Florida, almost 3 million caregivers provide more than 2.6 billion hours of care. This bill would establish a diverse group of experts and stakeholders for a national Family Caregiving Advisory Council to help modernize federal policies and support caregivers. I have worked closely with the AARP on this legislation to implement the federal Commission on Long-Term Care’s recommendation that Congress bolster backing for caregivers through an integrated national strategy. Improving the lives of caregivers will improve the lives of our seniors, veterans and all families who need some help. We must give family caregivers the tools they need to survive economically, provide some respite when they need it, and importantly ensure that their loved ones receive the care they need. We have made much progress in recent years in elevating the role of caregivers, but as the complexity and intensity of family caregiving increases, a nationwide blueprint will help boost families, and ensure we are smart and efficient with our resources.”

    View U.S. Rep. Castor’s remarks on the RAISE Family Caregivers Act before its passage yesterday by the U.S. House of Representatives.

    View U.S. Rep. Castor’s recent op-ed on RAISE Family Caregivers Act

    This just goes to prove that sometimes Democrats have good ideas.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Release Data on Incarcerated Aliens—94 Percent of All Confirmed Aliens in DOJ Custody Are Unlawfully Present

    By Department of Justice

    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- President Trump’s Executive Order on Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collect relevant data and provide quarterly reports on data collection efforts. On Dec. 18, 2017, DOJ and DHS released the FY 2017 4th Quarter Alien Incarceration Report, complying with this order.[1] The report found that more than one-in-five of all persons in Bureau of Prisons custody were foreign born, and that 94 percent of confirmed aliens in custody were unlawfully present.

    "The American people deserve a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest," Attorney General Sessions said. "But at the border and in communities across America, our citizens are being victimized by illegal aliens who commit crimes. Nearly 95 percent of confirmed aliens in our federal prisons are here illegally. We know based on sentencing data that non-citizens commit a substantially disproportionate number of drug-related offenses, which contributes to our national drug abuse crisis. The simple fact is that any offense committed by a criminal alien is ultimately preventable. One victim is too many. It's time for Congress to enact the President's immigration reform agenda so that we start welcoming the best and brightest while turning away drug dealers, gang members, and other criminals."

    “While the administration is working diligently to remove dangerous criminal aliens from our streets, this report highlights the fact that more must be done,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. “We will continue to pursue President Trump’s immigration priorities, including securing the border, enhancing interior enforcement, and pursuing a merit-based immigration system, but Congress must act immediately to adopt obvious solutions to strengthen DHS and DOJ efforts to confront dangerous criminal aliens.”

    Section 16 of the Executive Order directs the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to collect relevant data and provide quarterly reports regarding: (a) the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons; (b) the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated as federal pretrial detainees under the supervision of the United States Marshals Service; and (c) the immigration status of all convicted aliens in state prisons and local detention centers throughout the United States.

    A total of 58,766 known or suspected aliens were in in DOJ custody at the end of FY 2017, including 39,455 persons in BOP custody and 19,311 in USMS custody. Of this total, 37,557 people had been confirmed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be aliens (i.e., non-citizens and non-nationals), while 21,209 foreign-born people were still under investigation by ICE to determine alienage and/or removability

    Among the 37,557 confirmed aliens, 35,334 people (94 percent) were unlawfully present. These numbers include a 92 percent unlawful rate among 24,476 confirmed aliens in BOP custody and a 97 percent unlawful rate among 13,081 confirmed aliens in USMS custody.

    This report does not include data on the foreign-born or alien populations in state prisons and local jails because state and local facilities do not routinely provide DHS or DOJ with comprehensive information about their inmates and detainees—which account for approximately 90 percent of the total U.S. incarcerated population.

    Information Regarding Immigration Status of Aliens Incarcerated Under the Supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons

    The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has an operational process for maintaining data regarding foreign-born inmates in its custody. On a quarterly basis, BOP supplies this information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE, in turn, analyzes that information to determine the immigration status of each inmate and provides that information back to BOP.

    Out of the 185,507 inmates in BOP custody, 39,455 (21 percent) were reported by BOP as foreign-born. Further details regarding these 39,455 foreign-born inmates are as follows:

  • 20,240 (51 percent) were unauthorized aliens who are subject to a final order of removal;

  • 14,979 (38 percent) remain under ICE investigation;

  • 2,374 (6 percent) were unlawfully present and now in removal proceedings;

  • 1,852 (less than 5 percent) were lawfully present aliens but are now in removal proceedings; and

  • 10 were aliens who have been granted relief or protection from removal.

  • Information Regarding the Immigration Status of Aliens Incarcerated as Federal Pretrial Detainees

    USMS identified 19,311 aliens and foreign-born inmates under ICE investigation detained at USMS facilities. Further details regarding these 19,311 foreign-born inmates are as follows:

  • 11,459 (59 percent) were aliens who are subject to a final order of removal;

  • 6,230 (32 percent) remain under ICE investigation;

  • 1,261 (6.5 percent) were unlawfully present and now in removal proceedings;

  • 358 (less than 2 percent) were lawfully present but are now in removal proceedings; and

  • 3 were aliens who have been granted relief or protection from removal.

  • Immigration Status of All Convicted Aliens Incarcerated in State Prisons and Local Detention Centers Throughout the United States

    The Departments continue to progress towards establishing data collection of the immigration status of convicted aliens incarcerated in state prisons and local detention centers through the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.

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    ICBA Urges Collaboration on Data Breach Legislation

    By Independent Community Bankers Association (ICBA)

    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- ICBA and other financial services trade groups called on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to support data protection and consumer notification legislation.

    In a joint letter, ICBA noted that during the last Congress the House Financial Services Committee approved legislation to require all entities that handle sensitive financial data to implement data-security processes like those already mandated for banks.

    Like the Data Security Act of the last Congress, any data breach bill should contain robust processes for data protection and appropriate federal and state oversight, the coalition wrote.

    Read Coalition Letter

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    By House Committee on Homeland Security


    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) recently wrote to the Department of Homeland Security, requesting the Secretary convene an advisory body of experts to help the Department—and the wider intelligence and law enforcement community—better understand and respond to the challenges posed by terrorist abuse of widely available encryption technologies. In many ways, this reflects the Chairman’s longstanding call for leaders in the private sector and across government and civil society to work together on this issue.

    As outlined in the Committee’s “Going Dark, Going Forward” report last year, encryption technologies safeguard Americans’ personal information from bad actors, but this same digital security can present significant barriers to lawful access to digital evidence and other information critical to the safety and security of Americans.

    Chairman McCaul: “For years, I have advocated for greater collaboration between leaders across law enforcement, tech community, and other stakeholders to help solve pressing national security issues, including terrorists’ abuse of widely-available encrypted communications tools. I am pleased the Department is taking action to bring together the key players to address this and related security issues so we can find ways to improve cooperation between law enforcement, national security communities, private industry and others. I look forward to continued engagement with the Department and its Homeland Security Advisory Council so we can better to keep criminals and terrorists from exploiting these technologies. The safety and security of our citizens demand no less.”

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    Bishop: Opening ANWR Is Long Overdue

    By House Committee on Natural Resources

    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The House approved the conference report on H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts & Jobs Act.” The bill includes language that opens up a small portion of the non-wilderness 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for responsible energy development. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:

    “How do you improve a historic tax cut? I can’t think of a better way than to add the pro-jobs, pro-growth and pro-American energy provisions opening ANWR to responsible development. Senator Murkowski and Rep. Young should be commended for securing this long overdue win for Alaska, its people and the country.”

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    Generation Opportunity Applauds the Passage of Tax Reform Bill

    By Generation Opportunity

    Arlington, VA - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The House voted to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a bill that will deliver tax reform and provide relief for young people looking to start families and businesses. Generation Opportunity (GO) supports this legislation because it will give younger Americans a greater opportunity to prosper.

    GO Policy Director David Barnes issued the following statement:

    “For young Americans, tax reform will mean a better job market, more revenue and real growth in our economy. Young entrepreneurs deserve every opportunity to pursue the innovations that will improve our everyday lives without a tax code that stands in their way. This bill represents a positive first step towards unrigging our economy and in the coming year, we encourage Congress to continue building on these reforms.”

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    Tax Reform: On to President Trump’s Desk

    By Freedom Works Foundation

    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- FreedomWorks President Adam Brandon released this statement following the final passage of the tax reform bill in the House:

    “The Democrats’ inventive stonewalling of tax relief and simplification for Americans has finally come to an end. Tax reform has come. This simplification of the tax code and the dramatic reduction of complex and manipulative rules in the tax code will benefit individuals, businesses, and our economy. And it should prod high-tax states toward more conservative tax codes.

    “This tax bill will lead to even greater economic growth than we have seen under in the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency. It could lead to the highest rate of growth we have seen in almost 20 years. With higher take home pay, those who will benefit the most are the people and families with low and middle incomes, with a doubling of the standard deduction, effectively doubling the 0% tax bracket. It will be a huge boost to those trying to make ends meet.

    “While FreedomWorks activists are often left exasperated by the leadership in the House and Senate, this victory deserves their appreciation. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have worked hard on this effort and have been influential in getting this improvement to the tax code across the finish line. Chairman Kevin Brady has also played a major role in guiding this bill through the process -- and getting it done this year, which was important.

    “I look forward to seeing President Trump sign this bill into law."

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    A Few Tax Reform Statements from The House

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill is on the way to the President's Desk to be signed into law. According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will result in a 1.7 percent increase in GDP, 1.5 percent higher wages, and an additional 339,000 full-time jobs. The Tax Foundation also predicts that the increased economic activity, increased salaries, and increased jobs will result in an additional $600 billion in tax revenues, substantially reducing the cost of the plan. Below are some statements from the House of Representatives:

    Mark Amodei (R-NV, 2nd)

    “Much to my surprise, the conferencing process with the Senate resulted in the overall improvement of this bill in several areas. Based on the average incomes in CD-2, and the percentage of taxpayers currently taking the standard deduction versus those who itemize, all of the data I have evaluated on both sides of this argument leads me to believe this bill will result in widespread tax relief for Nevadans. These improvements will not only put more money back into the pockets of Nevada taxpayers, but they will also simplify the filing process while giving our nation’s job creators significant potential for reinvestment and growth.

    “Finally, for the newborn deficit hawks, you either believe that more money circulating in the private sector increases tax collections – or you don’t. Based on my research, and the history lessons we’ve learned from the Kennedy and Reagan Administrations, I believe it. While only time will tell, I’ve never been a fan of anyone’s predictions regarding the state of our economy a decade from now.”

    Robert Aderholt (R-AL, 4th)

    “This afternoon, I voted in the House of Representatives, to give back more money to Alabama taxpayers. Far too many of the people in Washington believe that the government should have a right to a high percentage of everything you earn. Those people are wrong. It is your money, and you should be able to keep even more of it.

    “This tax bill does the right thing. It doubles the child tax credit. It doubles the personal tax exemption. It keeps medical deductions and mortgage deductions, and more than 80% of the people in the 4th District of Alabama will receive a tax cut.

    “This is also a jobs bill. By lowering the corporate tax rate, businesses are no longer rewarded for moving their businesses and jobs overseas where tax rates are cheaper. Our cumbersome, 20th Century tax code desperately needed updating. This bill achieves that goal.”

    Pete Aguilar (D-CA, 31st)

    “Instead of providing tax relief to middle-class families and small businesses like the ones here in the Inland Empire, this bill is specifically designed to give massive tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations and individuals in our country. In addition to adding a trillion dollars to the deficit, this bill will drive up health care costs and raise taxes for millions of working Americans. Tax reform should be about creating a level playing field where every American has a chance to find success, not lining the pockets of wealthy corporations on the backs of working people.”

    Rick Allen (R-GA, 12th)

    “I am encouraged by our current economic growth under President Trump and I am hopeful that with the passage of this historic legislation we will continue to see America’s economic potential unleashed. Thankfully, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is on its way to President Trump’s desk, ready to be signed into law – a true Christmas miracle!”

    Alma Adams (D-NC, 12th)

    “I don’t ever want to hear a Republican complain about the deficit or spending again. They just voted to pass a wildly irresponsible tax scam that adds trillions to the deficit, increases health insurance premiums, and raises taxes on 86 million middle class families in order to give a kickback to corporations and the wealthy. Next, they’ll cut essential programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security to pay for it,” said Congresswoman Adams. “American families will remember who sold them out to help their wealthy donors and corporate special interests.”

    Rod Blum (R-IA, 1st)

    “I am very confident that increased economic activity will pay for this $1.5 trillion tax cut. Just as they did in the sixties and again in the eighties after the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts - revenues to the federal government will increase.”

    Earl Blumenauer (D-OR, 3rd)

    “This bill represents the largest transfer of wealth in our nation’s history—financed by mortgaging our children’s future with a mountain of increased debt. It is not tax reform. It’s not even a policy. Rather, it is a collection of special interest provisions, disguised behind a set of false promises.

    “This legislation fails utterly to invest in the American people—it’s no wonder the public is opposed. They are right, and the Republicans are wrong.”

    ??? All of the public I have talked to have been totally FOR the bill.

    Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware at large)

    “The American people were promised a tax reform plan that would simplify our tax system, promote economic growth, and keep our nation’s deficit under control. Unfortunately, that’s not what the Ryan-McConnell tax plan does,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “Instead, this bill makes the tax code more complex with carve-outs and loopholes for Washington special interests and forces the middle-class to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations, while mortgaging our nation’s fiscal future by adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit. I voted against this bill because it’s a bad deal for Delaware and the American people.”

    “When you take a closer look at the Ryan-McConnell plan, it also has stark consequences for health care in our country. Their plan increases the number of uninsured Americans by 13 million and would cut Medicare by $25 billion to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest among us. Republicans chose to negotiate behind closed doors, without input from the American people, and they produced a flawed product that jeopardizes people’s health care, raises middle class taxes in the long-term, and fails to create an environment for small businesses to grow and thrive.”

    Sanford D. Bishop, Jr (D-GA, 2nd)

    “I have stated numerous times that I do support tax relief for Georgia families. However, it needs to be fair, balanced, and fiscally responsible both in the short and the long term. The benefits must be shared among Georgians of all income levels rather than just concentrated at the top. The tax legislation approved by the U.S. House of Representatives today fails this test.

    “As an institution, we in Congress are at a moment of truth. The time is now to put our political differences aside, and to find common ground on a rational tax package that is fiscally responsible, grows the economy, creates jobs, and improves the lives of all Americans.”

    Joyce Beatty (D-OH, 3rd)

    “I support tax reform that helps Americans most in need: the middle-class, seniors, veterans, students, small business owners and hardworking families. Unfortunately, Congressional Republicans and Donald Trump’s hastily written, haphazard plan does the exact opposite—giving a totally unnecessary, budget-busting tax cut to the super-wealthy and well-connected at the expense of ordinary Americans. Adding insult to injury, the bill’s $1.4 trillion price tag will be paid for by future cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other vital programs that help our most vulnerable Americans. This bill is nothing more than a trumped-up, trickle-down scheme that overwhelmingly benefits the fortunate few—people like Donald Trump and his cronies—and scams the rest of us.”

    Jack Bergman (R-MI, 1st)

    "I have been an advocate of pro-growth tax reform long before I announced my candidacy for Congress. The people who work so hard to provide a living and a future for their families in Michigan deserve to keep the money they’ve earned. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will provide real reform to our burdensome tax code and help stimulate the economy. These reforms allow small-businesses and hard-working Americans to keep more of their money. In Michigan’s First District, we understand and appreciate the value of every dollar we earn. By February of 2018, constituents in the First District will begin to see more money in their paychecks. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and as your Representative in Congress, I’m proud to deliver on the promises I’ve made to you.”

    Jaime Hierrera Beutler (R-WA, 3rd)

    “The bill we passed today improves on the earlier version I voted for in several measurable ways for folks in all phases of life – from those preparing to begin their careers, to those in retirement. It protects virtually every middle-class homeowner by raising the mortgage interest deduction to $750,000, it expands vital relief for those families with high medical expenses, it doubles the child tax credit, and reinstates protection for all state and local taxes up to $10,000. I’m pleased that graduate students preparing to enter the workforce will have reduced tuition exempted from taxes – another improvement from our earlier bill. For those planning for retirement, popular savings accounts such as IRA’s and 401(k)s are preserved, and relief from the death tax that inhibits passing small family businesses and farms to the next generation is doubled. For the 75 percent of Southwest Washington taxpayers who use standard deduction, they will now see nearly double the amount of their money protected from taxes, and even more taxpayers will now be able to take advantage of the standard deduction.

    “Importantly, this bill will boost the economy in a manner that will provide tangible benefits to hardworking folks from Bucoda to Vancouver, from bigger paychecks to more job opportunities. We read about the ‘recovery’ from the great recession that may be benefitting Wall Street, but hasn’t boosted workers’ take-home pay or helped enough of the families continuing to live paycheck to paycheck. The critics of this tax cut plan seem to concede that our present ‘recovery’ is good enough, but I don’t accept that. Today I am taking action to jumpstart the real economic recovery that will help residents of Southwest Washington earn more money and live a more economically secure life.”

    Andy Barr (R-KY, 6th)

    “When the President signs the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act it will be a great early Christmas present for the American people – especially hardworking middle income families who haven’t had a pay raise in a decade and who need relief the most,” said Congressman Barr. “Beginning in 2018, workers will be able to keep more of their paycheck, business investment and job creation will boom, and salaries will rise. Importantly, we were able to secure important wins in the final version of the bill based on feedback from Kentuckians to protect Berea College, spur investment in the horse industry, make our signature bourbon industry more competitive, encourage more international investment in the Commonwealth, and help Kentuckians pay off their student loans and medical expenses.”

    “After nearly a decade of sluggish economic growth, lost opportunities, and low confidence, America is making a comeback. This historic legislation will make American businesses more globally competitive and help put our nation back on the right track.”

    Nanette Barragan (D-CA, 44th)

    “While the GOP and their wealthy donors celebrate this massive tax scam, it’s devastating effects will be felt by students, teachers, seniors, workers, homeowners, and basically anyone who is not in the top one percent of earners.”

    Why is it not surprising that Democrats hate the bill while Republicans love it?

    Brian Babin (R-TX, 36th)

    “We are now on the verge of delivering a historic and much-deserved win for the American people right before Christmas,” said Rep. Babin. “By cutting taxes for all Americans, eliminating special interest loopholes, doubling the child tax credit and lowering the tax burden on businesses, our bill will increase paychecks, create more jobs and make the tax code simpler and fairer for hardworking Middle-Class Americans.

    “My priority is to make sure our tax code works for the average American taxpayer. Under the current system, it is the well-connected who have benefited. Our bill eliminates special interest carve outs for lawyers and lobbyists and returns taxpayer money to its rightful owners: hardworking Americans, job creators and savers.

    “The bottom line is that our bill reduces taxes for all Americans and saves the average American family between $1,000 and 2,000 a year. For American workers, this tax reform bill creates more jobs right here in the U.S. by lowering the tax burden on small and large businesses. Currently, U.S. businesses pay the highest tax rate of any industrialized country at 35%.

    “Our bill finally overhauls our broken tax code and puts the American taxpayer first while igniting the American economy and building on the already remarkable economic growth we have seen under the Trump Administration. This is truly an exciting and historic moment for the American people.”

    Don Bacon (R-NE, 2nd)

    “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will give the typical family of four earning the median income of $73,000 a tax cut of $2,059,” said Rep. Bacon. “Families also will benefit from the expanded Child Tax Credit for those making under $400,000.”

    In addition, Nebraska families with existing home mortgages will still be able to deduct their current mortgage interest deduction. Homeowners with new mortgages on a first or second home will be able to deduct mortgage interest on the first $750,000 of principal.

    This legislation will also maintain the Adoption and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credits; the tax exemption for the value of reduced tuition for graduate students; the exemption allowing teachers to deduct the out of pocket cost of classroom supplies; and popular retirements savings options such as 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

    “People in the Second District voiced their support for the larger standard deduction and simplification of the tax code, but expressed the need to keep mortgage interest and other deductions,” added Rep. Bacon. “This will help Nebraskans grow their families, further their education and keep more of their hard-earned paychecks.”

    In addition, the individual mandate tax penalty has been eliminated to allow families the flexibility to buy a health care plan that’s right for them.

    “We have Nebraskans who are paying upwards of $30,000 a year in premiums, and yet they are still not receiving health care because of their high deductibles,” added Rep. Bacon.” Nebraska families simply cannot afford these high costs and not receive the care they need.”

    Jim Banks (R-IN, 3rd)

    “Today is a good day for the future of the American dream. By passing this legislation, Congress has delivered on its promise to deliver sweeping tax reform to the American people for the first time since 1986. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will provide middle-class tax relief while promoting investment, job creation and sustained economic growth. It will lead to bigger paychecks for workers across our country and restore America’s global competitiveness. I commend Speaker Paul Ryan, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and members of the Conference Committee for their hard work that made this day possible. I look forward to swift passage in the Senate and President Trump signing this historic legislation into law.”

    Lou Barletta (R-PA, 11th)

    “Today Congress gave millions of American families a renewed and revitalized shot at prosperity,” Barletta said. “For a generation, Americans have seen good paying jobs leave our shores and their wages stagnate, while the government continued to take more and more money out of their paychecks. Washington forgot the American family and worker. Instead of fighting for Americans, Washington has been fighting to fill the coffers of faceless, nameless bureaucrats. Today, we made clear to Washington the old way of doing business is over. This is a new era of American prosperity. The plan will bring higher wages, create more employment opportunities, and deliver a tax cut to every income group. This tax plan is a much needed Christmas gift every American family. I am very excited to have been part of such a historic event.”

    Congressman Biggs' Statement on the Presidential Transition Team's Right to Privacy

    By Andy Biggs (R-AZ, 5th)

    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Recently, we learned that the General Service Administration (GSA) inappropriately, and potentially illegally, released tens of thousands of private documents from Donald Trump’s Presidential Transition Team (PTT) to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Current law considers records produced by the PTT as private and they are afforded Fourth Amendment protections. These documents are not government property, and the GSA does not have the authority to release any of these records without due process.

    In August, Special Counsel Mueller requested that GSA release copies of the emails, laptops, cell phones, and other materials associated with 13 PTT members responsible for national security and policy matters. Contrary to legal precedent and prior direction from the GSA General Counsel, his Deputy General Counsel turned over mountains of private communications to Mueller. He did so without notifying the PTT or redacting any private, privileged information. Congressman Andy Biggs released the following statement –

    “The GSA’s distribution of unredacted and private records is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. It appears that the request and acquiescence by the GSA Deputy General Counsel was done to fuel Special Counsel Mueller’s overly broad investigation. The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 ensures that transition teams receive the right to privacy and I will introduce legislation to strengthen these rights, if necessary. I will also be sending letters to the General Services Administration and Special Counsel Mueller for clarification as to the basis of the request and transfer of these privileged documents.”

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    Beyer and Wittman Introduce Bill To Protect Federal Workers, With Government Shutdown Looming Amid Budget Uncertainty

    By Don Beyer (D-VA, 8th)

    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA) has introduced bipartisan legislation to protect federal employees’ pay in the event of a government shutdown. The Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Act would guarantee back pay for all furloughed workers if Congress and the White House are unable to come to a funding agreement.

    “We absolutely do not want to see a shutdown of the federal government, but if it comes we must act to protect federal workers from the consequences,” said Rep. Beyer. “If the government shuts down due to Congress’ failure to pass a budget, the effects on civil servants, who need to support their families, would be disastrous without this bill. We cannot allow that to happen.”
    A shutdown would temporarily suspend paychecks for federal employees, and retroactive pay for federal workers must be approved by Congress. The Beyer-Wittman legislation would guarantee that no federal employees would lose pay if a government shutdown occurs.
    "Federal employees should not suffer because Congress refuses to end its govern by crisis mentality," Rep. Wittman said. "Preparing the retroactive pay legislation sends a signal to our federal workers that they won't be forgotten in the unfortunate event of a shutdown. While this legislation minimizes the impacts of funding uncertainty, my focus remains on returning Congress to a regular schedule of budgeting and passing appropriations bills."
    Together the two Virginia Congressmen represent nearly 120,000 federal employees.

    “The National Treasury Employees Union applauds Rep. Beyer and Rep. Wittman for introducing this legislation,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “They recognize that frontline federal employees should not lose pay in the event of a shutdown of the federal government. These employees do not control the funding of the federal government and should not suffer when that funding runs out. I hope we do not get to the shutdown stage but I support this effort to protect the federal workforce.”

    Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday, December 22.

    "AFGE would like to thank Congressman Beyer (D-VA) and Congressman Wittman (R-VA) for introducing the ‘Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act,’” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox. “Federal employees are hardworking public servants who are dedicated to providing quality public services. Federal employees and their families should not be forced to go without pay when they are not allowed to do their jobs because Congress cannot pass a funding measure. Too many Americans—veterans, seniors, and other hardworking people rely on services provided by the federal government. In a government shutdown, it is the American people who pay the price.”

    In addition to Reps. Beyer and Wittman, the bill has 25 bipartisan cosponsors. Text of the legislation can be viewed here.

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    Companies Announce New Investments Following Tax Reform Passage

    By Mike Bishop (R-MI, 8th)

    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Less than 24 hours following House and Senate passage of historic tax reform legislation, companies across America announced key investments in our nation’s workforce.

    AT&T announced that as a direct result of tax reform, more than 200,000 U.S. employees will receive a $1,000 bonus. “This tax reform will drive economic growth and create good-paying jobs,” said AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson. “In fact, we will increase our U.S. investment and pay a special bonus to our U.S. employees."

    Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg praised the tax bill as a critical driver of business, economic growth and innovation for the United States and Boeing. Muilenburg announced a $300 million investment to support corporate charitable giving, workforce development and infrastructure enhancements for Boeing employees.

    Prompted by the tax plan, Wells Fargo also said it would be raising its minimum wage for employees to $15 an hour. The bank added that it would target $400 million in donations to community and nonprofit organizations next year.

    Fifth Third Bancorp is also taking action as a result of the tax bill. They will pay more than 13,500 employees a bonus and raise the minimum wage for their workforce to $15. Senior managers and top executives are excluded from the special payments. "It is good for our communities, employees and Fifth Third Bank," said CEO Greg Carmichael in a statement.

    According to Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, based on the passage of tax reform, the company will provide a $1,000 bonus to more than 100,000 non-executive employees, in addition to an infrastructure investment in excess of $50 billion over the next five years. As a result of these investments, Comcast estimates they will add thousands of new direct and indirect jobs.

    Congressman Bishop said, “By passing this comprehensive tax reform package, we've delivered on our promise to provide relief for hardworking families at every income level, and this is just the beginning. This plan will deliver real changes to the lives of American families across the nation in the form of more jobs and bigger paychecks.”

    To learn more Click HERE

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    Family Research Council Praises the Pro-Family Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

    By Family Research Council

    Washington, D.C. - December 21, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The Congress took a major step forward in reforming America’s tax code as both chambers passed the final conference version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1). This legislation is the first major overhaul of the country's tax code in over thirty years. The bill now goes to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law. Family Research Council (FRC) commends Republican legislators in the House and Senate for advancing tax relief to millions of hardworking families.

    Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement:

    “While the final product is missing components that would have made H.R. 1 an outstanding bill, Congress has finally accomplished something big for the American people: the largest overhaul of the U.S. tax code since Ronald Reagan.

    “The doubling of the child tax credit to $2,000 will provide immediate relief for parents and will bolster the economy further as these children become taxpayers one day. Strong families are the cornerstone of our society and providing relief for families with children is a major win for working low-income and middle-class families.

    “The bill alleviates many marriage penalties in the tax code, which should never have been added to the tax code in the first place. We have long advocated for our government to foster the best environment for children and penalizing marriage has made no sense. With this bill, many families will save thousands of dollars in their taxes next year simply due to the elimination of marriage penalties from nearly all of the income tax brackets.

    “The bill also helps families by allowing parents to save for their children’s K-12 education at private and religious schools using tax-advantaged 529 education savings accounts.

    “We are disappointed that Senate budget rules prevented this historic legislation from gutting the Johnson Amendment which has been used to stifle the free speech of non-profits and religious leaders on political matters and will continue to work with Congress to achieve this important goal. We are also disappointed the budget rules prevented recognition of unborn children as children in the tax code, and for excluding homeschooling families from benefiting from the expansion of 529 education savings accounts. One additional concern is that the increased standard deduction will create a disincentive for charitable giving.

    “However, while not perfect, repealing the Obamacare individual mandate, expanding the child tax credit, removing most marriage penalties, expanding 529 plans for K-12 private schooling, lowering personal income tax rates, and lowering the tax burden on employers are a real benefit to the American family,” concluded Perkins.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Monday, December 18, 2017

    We Can Put Our Embassies Wherever We See Fit

    By Shonda Ponder

    The United Nations security Council demanded that Donald Trump rescind his December 6th decision to put the American Embassy in Jerusalem following a statement that proclaims that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. And then the protests broke out around the world in opposition to Trump's decision.

    When I saw this on the news, my first thought was, who are they to tell us where to put our embassies? Does the world think it can dictate how America makes its own decisions? Who gave them that idea? Of course, we all know who. What they need to realize, is that he  no longer represents our best interests. Trump is our president now, and Obama is not.

    Nikki Haley, our ambassador to the UN, as they mulled over the resolution, stated that it was obvious that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. Then, in so many words, she basically told the UN they had no right to tell us where to put our embassies.

    I love our president for standing up to the UN. And I believe Nikki Haley is doing a fine job. Keep it up.

    Sexual Harassment Remains Persistent Problem for Tipped Workers, Particularly Women of Color

    By Senator Elizabeth Warren (D - MA)

    Washington, D.C. - December 18, 2017  (The Ponder News) -- Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and 17 of their colleagues sent a letter to Acting Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Victoria Lipnic requesting information on the commission's efforts to address sexual harassment in the food and hospitality industries, which have high numbers of tipped workers. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal workplace anti-discrimination laws and investigating discrimination charges that employees file with the commission. In fiscal year 2016 alone, the EEOC received close to 13,000 complaints involving sexual harassment.

    "Women are coming forward to tell stories of the sexual harassment they have endured in jobs in Hollywood, in Congress, and in the news industry. But there are millions more women who work in jobs outside the limelight who fear coming forward because they can't afford to lose their jobs, " said Senator Warren. "The EEOC was created to protect workers, and we want to know what it is doing to make sure that workers all across this country are safe from sexual harassment.  We want the EEOC to do its job."

    "Sexual harassment is pervasive throughout the United States, and it does not discriminate by industry. Yet EEOC data shows that the ‘accommodation and food services' industry-including restaurants and the hospitality industry-is particularly rife with harassment," wrote the senators. "Sexual harassment remains a persistent problem for American workers-particularly women and people of color."

    From fiscal years 2005 to 2015, complaints from accommodation and food services workers accounted for 14.2% of all sexual harassment allegations filed with the EEOC. Over 60% of workers who rely on tips are women, and 40% are people of color. Data show that tipped workers are particularly susceptible to sexual harassment. Some evidence also suggests that tipped workers who are paid less than the minimum wage experience higher rates of sexual harassment than tipped workers paid the standard minimum wage.

    To better understand the EEOC's ongoing efforts to address sexual harassment, the senators asked the EEOC to provide thorough answers on what the EEOC has done to identify, investigate, and limit sexual harassment in the workplace no later than January 5, 2018. 

    Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Corey Booker (D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also signed the letter.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News

    Senator David Perdue: UN Report On Iran Validates U.S. Concerns

    By Senator David Perdue (R-GA)

    Washington, D.C. - December 18, 2017  (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), a member of the Armed Services Committee, comments on the United Nations report describing Iran’s repeat violations of UN resolutions, including weapons transfer and arming Houthi rebels in Yemen:

    “President Trump and Ambassador Haley have been consistently calling Iran out for its nefarious behavior and this report validates their concerns. The UN’s acknowledgement of Iran’s destabilizing actions is also critical to global efforts to rein in Iran and hold them accountable. This report is another testament to Ambassador Haley’s leadership at the UN and the great job she is doing to defend America’s national security interests.”

    Read the full report from the United Nations here.

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    Dr. Rand Paul Applauds First Full-Scale Defense Department Audit

    By Senator Rand Paul - (R - KY)

    Washington, D.C. - December 18, 2017  (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) issued the following statement regarding the Pentagon’s recent announcement of the first full-scale financial audit of the Department of Defense (DoD), with audits to be conducted annually going forward: 

    “Our men and women on the frontlines deserve to know their funding is being used as intended and to the maximum possible effectiveness. Unfortunately, the department charged with carrying out our greatest constitutional responsibility has set the lowest possible standard for accountability. I applaud President Trump’s administration for changing this course, and I will keep working to ensure this is only the start of reform,” said Dr. Paul.

    As part of a series on the DoD in 2013, Reuters stated that it had “found that the Pentagon is largely incapable of keeping track of its vast stores of weapons, ammunition and other supplies; thus it continues to spend money on new supplies it doesn’t need and on storing others long out of date.”  

    Since his arrival in the U.S. Senate, Dr. Paul has been a leading voice for increasing fiscal responsibility at the DoD, including working with former Senator Tom Coburn to introduce the Audit the Pentagon Act, which he has continued to support in the 114th and 115th Congresses. 

    Dr. Paul has also called attention to waste and mismanagement of funds at the DoD through his Waste Report, which has covered stories including millions of dollars in equipment and parts failing to reach their destination or going unaccounted for and a $6 million renovation of a Fort Belvoir dining facility that closed less than a year later.

    You can read these Waste Reports HERE.

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    Grassley Seeks Clarity on Justice Dept.’s Response to Political Texts

    By Senator Chuck Grassley - (R - IA)

    Washington, D.C. - December 18, 2017  (The Ponder News) -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sought additional background on text messages exchanged between two senior FBI employees and records of their communications with the current FBI Deputy Director.  One of the employees, Peter Strzok, played a critical role in the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business and mishandling of classified information.  He also appears to be involved in helping to launch the FBI’s investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election.

    The text messages provided to Congressional investigators on the eve of testimony by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel’s investigation, appear to indicate that some officials took actions beyond expressing their political opinions.  One message by Strzok apparently referenced a discussion in the current deputy director’s office about the chances that candidate Donald Trump could be elected, saying “I’m afraid we can’t take that risk” and making a comparison to the need for an insurance policy. Another missive referenced a second phone used to “talk about hillary because it can’t be traced.”

    In a letter Wednesday to Rosenstein, Grassley is seeking additional information, including when and how the department became aware of the politically-charged messages, and what steps are being taken to fully review the activities referenced in the messages and take any necessary disciplinary measures.

    In October, Grassley sought an interview with Strzok as a part of his ongoing investigation into improper political influence or bias in the Justice Department or FBI. Grassley called on the FBI to turn over any documents related to Strzok’s work and communications following reports of the political messages.

    Full text of the letter along with the press release can be found here

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    Graham: Disappointed Trump Administration Treating Terrorists Like Common Criminals

    By Senator Lindsey Graham  - (R - SC)

    Washington, D.C. - December 18, 2017  (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made this statement on the Trump Administration not holding New York terror suspect Akayed Ullah as an enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.

    “I am incredibly disappointed to see the Trump Administration continue to treat terrorists as common criminals.  Giving Akayed Ullah a lawyer and putting him directly into the criminal justice system means we lose the ability to gather intelligence from a person who fits the profile of an enemy combatant. 

    “We couldn’t possibly have gathered information on the multiple trips Ullah made to Bangladesh and other relevant activity in such a short period of time.  Now that he has a lawyer, there will be no more intelligence gathering and everything will have to be done through plea bargaining. 

    “When it comes to the potential interrogation policies regarding terrorists, it is as if President Obama and his team never left.  How many more attacks will it take before the Trump Administration embraces the fact that we are fighting a war, not a crime? 

    “The evidence against Ullah is so overwhelming, a first year law student could convict him.  Our primary goal for terror suspects like Ullah should be to gather intelligence to ensure we prevent and disrupt future attacks.  Only after all intelligence gathering is complete, should the suspect be turned over for trial.”

    See more headlines at The Ponder News