Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gas Stations Across North Texas Running Out of Gas, Shortages Possible in Wichita Falls Read More: Gas Stations Across North Texas Running Out of Gas, Shortages Possible in Wichita Falls

Source 92.9NIN

We’ve already seen gas prices steadily rise due to the temporary shutdown of a number of oil and gas refineries in South Texas areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. Now, gas stations across North Texas are reportedly expected to run out of gas over the Labor Day weekend.


Tillis Applauds Trump Tax Reform Goal

Source: Senator Thom Tillis - (R - NC)

Washington, D.C. - August 31, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) issued the following statement following President Trump’s speech on tax reform:

"I applaud President Trump for laying out principles for tax reform that include simplifying the tax code, cutting rates, and producing economic growth. In 2013, North Carolina passed historic tax reform based on these principles, which has helped create more than 300,000 jobs and turned North Carolina’s economy into one of the fastest growing in the entire nation. I look forward to working closely with the President and Congressional leaders to fulfill our promises to deliver tax relief to hardworking families and business owners that will provide them with an even better chance to achieve the American Dream."

Senators Push for Increased Sanctions on North Korea

Source: Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE)

Washington, D.C. - August 31, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- As North Korea continues its unacceptable provocations, U.S. Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) continue to push for increased sanctions on both North Korea and China designed to crack down on the rogue regime’s weapons program. Sasse and Donnelly sent a letter today to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) outlining recent findings on North Korean sanctions and outlining key questions for future full committee hearings. Sasse and Donnelly serve as Ranking Member and Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance.

Building on a May subcommittee hearing, Sasse and Donnelly encouraged the Banking Committee to push the Administration on its options to expand sanctions and highlight the additional tools available to punish North Korea and those who assist in their illegal activity.

Sasse and Donnelly said in their letter, in part, “As you plan the Banking Committee’s schedule for the coming months, we welcome your consideration of a full committee hearing on sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)…On May 10, 2017, the Banking Subcommittee on National Security and International Trade and Finance held a hearing on ‘Secondary Sanctions against Chinese Institutions: Assessing Their Utility for Constraining North Korea.’

“…there is a strong consensus that the level of pressure necessary to get the Kim regime to the table, let alone reach an agreement, will be extraordinarily high and must be coupled with a full court diplomatic effort with our allies and with China directly to persuade China to engage more directly with the DPRK. It is our shared belief that the current multilateral sanctions may be insufficient to achieve this goal, even after the progress made at the United Nations in August. Continued U.S. engagement and leadership will therefore be critical in the months ahead and must include a comprehensive effort to ensure rigorous enforcement of all U.S. and multilateral sanctions.

“…Finally, and most importantly, our witnesses stressed that increasing sanctions pressure on the DPRK to the level necessary to force negotiations requires a deliberate, forceful, and coordinated diplomatic effort by the United States coupled with tough sanctions enforcement.”

Portman Praises President Trump's Push on Tax Reform

Source: Senator Rob Portman- (R - OH)

Washington, D.C. - August 31, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, issued the following statement praising President Trump’s push on tax reform in Missouri, saying that simplifying our tax code would create more jobs and increase wages for American families:

“Tax reform is about more jobs and better wages for American families, and I commend the president for making the case about how simplifying our complicated, burdensome, and outdated tax code would benefit our country. Our current tax code encourages U.S. companies to take jobs and investments overseas, and that is unacceptable. I’m focused on ensuring that this reform effort encourages more investment in America, brings jobs home, and gives American workers a competitive advantage. I have been working closely with my colleagues in the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the administration on this effort, and I’m committed to getting this done for Ohio and the American people in order to help grow our economy, create more jobs, and increase wages.”

Campaign Finance Reform Legislation

by Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)

Washington, D.C. - August 31, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) has announced that he has cosponsored two bills to increase transparency in campaign finance and reduce the influence of special interests in Congressional elections. The Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act will require outside groups that spend over $10,000 on election advertising, including super PACs, to disclose their donors and source of funding within 24 hours. Peters is also cosponsoring the Fair Elections Now Act which would establish citizen-funded elections to better strengthen small donors and grassroots voices. Peters previously cosponsored both bills in the 114th Congress.

“For too long, our campaign finance system has given big corporations the ability to spend millions of dollars on federal elections – silencing the voices of Michigan middle class families in the process,” said Senator Peters. “It should be Michiganders deciding who represents them, not corporations looking to buy influence. I’m proud to cosponsor these commonsense bills that will help increase transparency and give power back to the American people in our elections.”

The DISCLOSE Act would require any covered organization that spends $10,000 or more on election ads to file a disclosure report with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) within 24 hours, and to file a new report for each additional $10,000 or more spent. The disclosure report must include the sources of all donations of $10,000 or more that the organization received during that election cycle. The legislation additionally would direct the FEC and U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to share information to identify and prevent foreign election spending. The DISCLOSE Act is supported by a number of campaign finance reform stakeholders, including Public Citizen, the federation of Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), Brennan Center, League of Women Voters, People For the American Way, Center for Responsive Politics, and the Sunlight Foundation.

The Fair Elections Now Act amends the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1971 to establish a voluntary method for financing Senate campaigns. The legislation would provide qualified candidates for Congress with grants, matching funds, and vouchers from the Fair Elections Fund - which would be established by the legislation - to replace campaign fundraising that largely relies on large donors and special interests. In return, participating candidates would agree to limit their campaign spending to the amounts raised from small dollar donors plus the amounts provided from the Fund.

Failure To Deliver On Tax Is Not An Option

From Senator David Perdue (R-GA)

Washington, D.C. - August 31, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, comments on President Trump’s speech on tax reform:

“President Trump's comments today are spot on. Thanks to American voters, we now have the opportunity to create a new tax system that is fairer for everyone and makes our country competitive again. The clock is ticking. There are only 61 session days until the end of the year to pass a plan that eliminates the repatriation tax, lowers the corporate tax rate, and simplifies the individual tax system to bring relief to working men and women. Make no mistake, failure to deliver results on tax is not an option.

“Consumer confidence is at a 16 year high and many businesses are investing and creating more jobs than ever before. We are on the cusp of an economic turnaround, and these tax changes must happen this year in order to have any real impact on business decisions that can produce significant economic growth. Americans are watching the tax debate closely and counting on Congress to deliver real results.”

Houston' s Mayor Turner Tells Houston Residents to Stay Put

Washington, D.C. - August 31, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- On August 24, The Mayor of Houston put out this statement

“False forecasts and irresponsible rumors on social media are interfering with efforts by the city of Houston, and its government and news media partners, to provide accurate information to the public about the expected effects of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Harvey," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said today.

"All residents of Houston and surrounding areas should rely solely on proven information sources, including the National Weather Service and the city Office of Emergency Management, to decide how to prepare for the heavy rainfall expected here," the mayor added.

"No evacuation orders have been issued for the city and none is being considered.

"Please continue to monitor mainstream news sources for updates on the weather and act accordingly as an informed resident. Rumors are nothing new, but the widespread use of social media has needlessly frightened many people today.”

After searching Texas Governor's press releases, I have found that, although the Governor declared a state of disaster on the days before the Hurricane hit, he did not order Houston to evacuate. He did, however, urge all residents to follow the advice of their local authorities on the matter.

They knew it was coming. The mayor of Houston CHOSE to ignore it.

Democrats aren't getting the support they claim they are...

Liberty Writers

Democrats aren't getting the support they claim they are...


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  • Judge Blocks Texas Immigration Crackdown

    Source: Yahoo! News

    A federal judge on Wednesday blocked most of a state immigration crackdown two days before it was set to go into effect on Sept. 1, offering a major victory for opponents as a tropical storm ravages the state and local officials struggle to assure immigrants it’s safe to seek help.

    U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia issued an injunction that prevents Texas Senate Bill 4 from being implemented while a lawsuit challenging the law winds its way through the federal courts. The ruling marks a victory for immigrant rights groups and several local governments ― including those of Austin, Houston, San Antonio and El Cenizo ― that argued the law unconstitutionally requires police to do the work of federal authorities and would lead to racial profiling.


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  • Cities to Congress and the Administration: Tax Reform Must Respect Local Authority

    by the National League of Cities

    Washington, D.C. - August 31, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- During a speech in Springfield, Missouri, President Donald Trump outlined his plan for tax reform. While the speech did not provide many details on specific measures the president hopes to advance, it did reinforce the president’s intention to simplify the tax code through comprehensive reform. In response to today’s speech, National League of Cities President Matt Zone, councilmember, Cleveland, released the following statement:

    “City leaders applaud any effort to streamline our tax code, and welcome the president’s emphasis on Main Street in the tax reform process. The federal government, however, should not attempt to place the burden of reform on cities and the hundreds of millions of residents who call them home.

    “While the administration and Congress have yet to provide details, the president has reiterated his plan to broadly target key deductions for elimination. As local leaders, we remain deeply concerned that the tax exempt status of municipal bonds and the state and local tax deduction may be eliminated in a misguided attempt to offset the costs of lower tax rates for top income brackets and corporations.

    “Each day, state and local governments rely on these critical provisions of the current tax code to calibrate their own local tax rates and raise the revenues necessary to keep housing prices and markets stable, build and maintain infrastructure along main street, fund our schools and educate our children, and keep our communities and law enforcement officers safe. Eliminating these deductions would place tremendous pressure for cities to lower taxes and further strain local budgets already bracing for cuts to city funding in the Fiscal Year 2018 federal budget.

    “Cities, states and counties are not a special interest tax loophole. Rather, they are the bedrock of our federal democracy that expect the continued flexibility to raise the necessary funds to address the concerns and challenges unique to their communities. We urge Congress to respect local authority and include city leaders in their ongoing discussions on tax reform.

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    American Action Network Launches Mail Campaign for Tax Reform

    by the American Action Network

    Washington, D.C. - August 31, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Amidst President Donald Trump and congressional leaders crisscrossing the country to make the case for tax reform, American Action Network’s Middle-Class Growth Initiative (MCGI) announced a mail campaign in 34 congressional districts nationwide reaching one million Americans. The ad highlights America’s broken tax code and urges constituents to call their member of Congress to pass a simpler and fairer tax code with lower rates. View the list of districts targeted here.

    “Thousands of good-paying jobs are fleeing to countries like China, the status quo is failing, and it is leaving America’s middle class behind,” said AAN Executive Director Corry Bliss. “Americans are ready to see meaningful, pro-growth tax reform become a reality. That’s why we are urging people across the country to call their member of Congress to pass reforms that will help create more jobs and raise wages here at home.”

    In addition to this latest campaign, AAN’s MCGI is running television, digital and radio advertising in congressional districts nationwide to further momentum and ensure Congress prioritizes reforms that put America’s middle class and small businesses first.

    The IRS Gives Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Harvey and Warns Against Scams

    The IRS has decided to give tax relief to Hurricane Harvey victims.

    "This has been a devastating storm, and the IRS will move quickly to provide tax relief to hurricane victims," said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. "The IRS will continue to closely monitor the storm's aftermath, and we anticipate providing additional relief for other affected areas in the near future."

    The IRS is now offering this expanded relief to any area designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as qualifying for individual assistance. Currently, 18 counties are eligible, but taxpayers in localities added later to the disaster area will automatically receive the same filing and payment relief.

    The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting on Aug. 23, 2017. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until Jan. 31, 2018, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes the Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018 deadlines for making quarterly estimated tax payments. For individual tax filers, it also includes 2016 income tax returns that received a tax-filing extension until Oct. 16, 2017. The IRS noted, however, that because tax payments related to these 2016 returns were originally due on April 18, 2017, those payments are not eligible for this relief.

    The Internal Revenue Service has also announced that 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make loans and hardship distributions to victims of Hurricane Harvey and members of their families. This is similar to relief provided last year to Louisiana flood victims and victims of Hurricane Matthew.

    The Internal Revenue Service has also issued a warning about possible fake charity scams emerging due to Hurricane Harvey and encouraged taxpayers to seek out recognized charitable groups for their donations.

    While there has been an enormous wave of support across the country for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, people should be aware of criminals who look to take advantage of this generosity by impersonating charities to get money or private information from well-meaning taxpayers. Such fraudulent schemes may involve contact by telephone, social media, e-mail or in-person solicitations.

    Criminals often send emails that steer recipients to bogus websites that appear to be affiliated with legitimate charitable causes. These sites frequently mimic the sites of, or use names similar to, legitimate charities, or claim to be affiliated with legitimate charities in order to persuade people to send money or provide personal financial information that can be used to steal identities or financial resources.

    In response to shortages of undyed diesel fuel caused by Hurricane Harvey, the IRS will not impose a penalty when dyed diesel fuel is sold for use or used on the highway.

    Kathy Griffin Withdraws Apolgy about Trump Decapitation Video

    Kathy Griffin, complaining about how much she has lost due to the video, has taken back her apology about the video that caused so much controversy.

    Cruz Joins Trump in Texas

    Washington, D.C. - August 31, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Tuesday joined President Donald Trump, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to tour areas around Corpus Christi that were impacted by the landfall of Hurricane Harvey late Friday night. Later on Tuesday, Sen. Cruz joined President Trump, along with Gov. Abbott, Sen. Cornyn, and U.S. Reps. Roger Williams (R-Texas), Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) to receive a briefing on the Texas’ storm response and recovery efforts from the Texas Department of Public Safety. While the storm’s impacts continue to be felt throughout South Texas, including devastating, ongoing flooding throughout the Houston metropolitan area, Sen. Cruz expressed gratitude for the Trump administration’s assistance in helping Texans recover from the storm and stressed his commitment to doing everything possible to ensure federal, state, and local resources can be allocated effectively in the rebuilding effort.

    “The devastation we’re dealing with in Texas is still ongoing,” said Sen. Cruz. “Today in Corpus Christi, we saw brave Texans, for whom the work to rebuild is only just beginning. They still need help and assistance and we’re committed to ensuring they get that help, and I was grateful for President Trump’s assurances today that the full extent of the federal government’s resources will be deployed to help our state. My hometown of Houston, in particular, has been underwater for four days as the flooding continues. And in the face of this massive storm, we’re also seeing incredible stories of heroism. We’re seeing first responders, firefighters, National Guardsmen, Coast Guardsmen, law enforcement, and ordinary citizens, stepping up and saving their neighbors and helping them out. It is a huge challenge and yet at the same time it is inspiring to see Texans coming together and helping other Texans. It is with that spirit in mind that my office continues to work day and night with the federal government, with the state government here in Austin, and with the local governments on the ground throughout the affected areas to ensure they are getting the resources and the help they need to save lives, recover from this storm, and rebuild. We are Texas Strong, and Texas will come back stronger than ever before.”

    Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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    A Message to Protesters Seeking Equality, Justice and the Preservation of Freedom:

    From the "I have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.

    "But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.

    Donovan to City: Staten Island Will Take Columbus Statue If You Don’t Want It

    Charlie Daniels recently tweeted that he didn't know what Columbus had to do with the Confederacy, but after Charlottesville, someone vandalized the statue.

    By House Representative Daniel Donovan (R-NY, 11th)

    Staten Island, NY - August 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Amid calls to remove the Christopher Columbus statue in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) today asked Mayor de Blasio to resolve the matter by donating the statue to the National Parks Service, which controls Great Kills Park on Staten Island.

    Donovan said, “Christopher Columbus is a permanent fixture of our national history. Rarely can we trace the wheels of progress over 500 years back to the actions of a single person. If a radical group bent on sanitizing history doesn’t want the statue at Columbus Circle anymore, Staten Island will gladly accept it.”

    Donovan represents Staten Island and South Brooklyn in the U.S. House of Representatives. Approximately one-third of Staten Island residents are of Italian descent, among the largest concentrations in the country, and South Brooklyn also has a high density of Italian-Americans.

    Donovan continued, “Columbus is a symbol of Italian-American culture. He discovered our land, and generations of Italian-Americans helped build New York. I will fight tooth and nail to see to it that his statue remains a fixture in our city.”

    Donovan and his office spoke with senior Department of Interior officials on Thursday afternoon about the matter.

    Self-Driving Vehicles

    by House Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI, 12th)

    Washington, D.C. - August 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) has joined the 2017 Autonomous Vehicle Summit in Detroit to discuss the future of mobility and automated vehicle legislation she is working to advance through the House of Representatives. In July, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted unanimously to approve the SELF DRIVE Act which supports the development and deployment of automated vehicles.

    “Driverless technology is going to be developed whether we like it or not, and the question before us is whether the United States is going to be the international leader in this area,” said Dingell. “It is critical that we have a strong, flexible regulatory framework for automated vehicles that protects consumers and puts safety first, but also keeps up with the pace of rapidly changing technology. Here in Michigan we’ve been working long and hard to launch the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, and know that enacting federal legislation like the SELF DRIVE Act is imperative to reshaping American innovation for generations to come and ensuring the U.S. remains at the forefront of advanced vehicle technology.”

    Dingell was joined by Allison Drutchas, Autonomous Vehicles Counsel at General Motors, for a conversation about how the SELF DRIVE Act addresses automated vehicle testing and regulation, as well as cybersecurity, data privacy and security.

    The SELF DRIVE Act clarifies the federal and state roles for regulating highly automated vehicles (HAVs) to encourage the testing, development and deployment of HAVs in the United States. It includes language from five bills introduced by Dingell that:

  • Create a Federal Advisory Committee within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with subcommittees to examine: mobility access for the disabled community, mobility access for senior citizens and populations underserved by public transportation, and cybersecurity.
  • Establish new exemptions for motor vehicle safety standards to make easier the development or field evaluation of highly automated vehicles

  • The legislation includes important safety provisions, including requiring the submission of safety assessment certifications by manufacturers of HAVs and requiring NHTSA to initiate a rulemaking to develop new HAV standards. The legislation also requires manufacturers to develop a written cybersecurity plan that includes vulnerability detection and response practices and a process for controlling access to automated driving systems.

    Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA)

    Washington, D.C. - August 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- A year after the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) became law, companies are availing themselves of the ability to protect their formulas, processes and other trade secrets in the federal courts. Introduced in the House by Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the DTSA guards the trade secrets of U.S. companies—valued at roughly $5 trillion—which are often the target of economic espionage at the hands of foreign interests, including China.

    According to the National Law Review and other publications, companies are turning to the DTSA for redress when competing firms or foreign governments steal their intellectual property.

    “Last year, Republicans were able to produce the 114th Congress’ most significant piece of legislation protecting intellectual property rights, the Defend Trade Secrets Act. Innovation fuels our economy, and we can’t allow bad actors at home or abroad to appropriate the trade secrets of hardworking Americans.

    “The Defend Trade Secrets Act is already protecting intellectual property rights against those who would undermine our economy, and I know that conservatives will continue to lead in this policy space,” said Collins.

    The law created a uniform standard for the misappropriation of trade secrets and provides plaintiffs with a way to work across state and national boundaries through civil federal courts. The first verdict in a DTSA case, Dalmatia Import Group, Inc. v. FoodMatch, Inc. et al., awarded $500,000 in damages based on stolen trade secrets, and the number of DTSA cases is growing.

    Congressman Cohen Introduces Amendments to Prohibit Federal Spending at Trump-Owned Hotels, Resorts, and other Trump-owned Businesses

    Does it matter where Trump spends his leisure time? I seem to recall that Obama spent a LOT of time on the golf course. Are you saying he spent less money there? I wonder if he went to the Trump golf course...

    Washington, D.C. - August 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Steve Cohen, who serves as the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, has introduced a series of 16 appropriations amendments to prohibit federal spending at Trump-owned hotels, resorts and other Trump-owned businesses. The amendments were offered to an upcoming appropriations package that is scheduled to be considered on the House floor in September.

    “Congress should not allow the President to use his office to profit himself and his family,” said Congressman Cohen. “The President’s refusal to divest from his privately owned businesses creates a conflict of interest when steering federal spending to his resorts and other businesses.”

    According to press reports, President Trump spent 40 of his 181 full days in office – approximately 22 percent of his days in office -- at a Trump-branded golf course. It has also been reported that the Secret Service has spent $73,000 on golf cart rentals at Trump properties.

    “The President’s refusal to divest also continues to raise serious questions about his compliance with the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, which is a vital protection against foreign governments’ corrupting influence.” said Congressman Cohen.

    The Foreign Emoluments Clause prohibits the President from accepting payments and other benefits from foreign governments without seeking and receiving Congressional authorization.

    “The American people should have total confidence that the President is serving their interest, not his own financial enrichment. President Trump’s refusal to disclose information to Congress or seek Congress’s authorization for accepting profits from foreign governments stemming from his sprawling foreign financial interests is a brazen violation of the Constitution and a danger to our democracy.”

    Specifically, Congressman Cohen offered 2 amendments to each of 8 upcoming appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2018: Interior & Environment; Agriculture and Rural Development; Commerce, Justice, Science; Financial Services; Homeland Security; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. Half of his amendments prohibit federal funds from being spent at Trump hotels and resorts. The other half of his amendments prohibit federal funds from being spent at Trump-owned businesses identified in his financial disclosures. A link to the text of these amendments will be posted when it becomes available.

    Congressman Cohen offered similar amendments to an appropriations package that passed the House in July, however the Republican majority blocked them from being considered on the House floor.

    Congressman Cohen is helping lead a lawsuit filed by nearly 200 Members of Congress against President Trump for allegedly violating the U.S. Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause.

    Last week, Congressman Cohen announced he is drafting articles of impeachment for, among other things, potential violations of the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause.

    National Parks

    Washington, D.C. - August 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that President Trump change the borders of “a handful” of National Monuments. The Secretary did not publicly specify which monuments he is recommending be changed, but the recommendation comes after a White House ordered review of 27 National Monuments.

    Below are statements and information from the newsmakers about this subject. (Please keep checking back to this page for updates!:

    House Representative Judy Chu (D-CA, 27th):

    “At the behest of oil companies eager to drill in protected lands, Donald Trump ordered a review of 27 of America’s most beloved national monuments. Now, after visiting just eight of them, Secretary Zinke is ignoring the outpouring of public support from 2.7 million Americans and recommending that an undetermined number be altered. The public deserves to see the complete list of recommendations that were sent to the White House. That he is not recommending any of the monuments be eliminated – as was intended at the start of the review – is an acknowledgement that these monuments all comport with the Antiquities Act. And so he is seeking to change them to cater to corporate interests instead.

    “We invited Secretary Zinke to visit the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to actually hear from the communities that support it. But instead, Zinke and Trump are choosing to listen to corporations and Washington lobbyists. Because of the utter lack of transparency, we do not know if the San Gabriels – which are supported by 80% of Angelenos – are among those to be altered.”

    Tuesday, August 29, 2017

    Confederate Monuments

    Washington, D.C. - August 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) issued the following statement in response to the removal of Confederate statues at the University of Texas at Austin and across the nation:

    "The campaign to remove Confederate monuments across the nation being forced upon us by radical leftists, academia, the mainstream media and the guardians of political correctness is shameful and wrong. Every American should oppose racism and extremism in all its forms. Taking down monuments and hiding our history serves no good purpose, which is why 62% of Americans oppose taking them down and think it's a politically correct mistake.

    "We cannot—and must not—erase our history or judge our past leaders by today's standards. The people of Texas overwhelmingly supported the Confederacy in 1862. This historical fact cannot be changed nor hidden – and it shouldn't. It's a disservice to our citizens and our ancestors who helped create this great country we enjoy today. Where do these politically correct demands end? Do we now begin removing statues of George Washington because he was a slave holder over 200 years ago? Do we change the name of Fort Hood in Texas—the largest US Army base in the country—because it is named after Confederate General John Bell Hood?

    "The absurdity has gotten so extreme that an Asian-American television sports commentator was recently relieved because his name was Robert Lee! I was informed that the reason Confederate statues have been taken down at UT in Austin is to protect them from vandalism by students. I would ask how they have stood for over a century unscathed all that time by the students! Vandalism is against the law and anyone who destroys public property should be prosecuted. I strongly disagree with these actions that revise our true history and divide our country at a time when we desperately need national unity. Let’s preserve our monuments and address the real problems of our nation."

    Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke announced a plan to remove Confederate monuments from military bases, by introducing “Honoring Real Patriots Act of 2017,” which would require the Department of Defense to change the name of any military installation or other property under its control currently named for individuals who fought against the United States during the Civil War or supported the Confederacy’s war efforts.

    The legislation follows requests by Congresswoman Clarke and her colleagues in the Brooklyn Congressional delegation that the Department of the Army change the names of two streets at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn that are now named for Confederate generals. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and other community leaders have since joined in calling for the name change. These requests have been refused by the Army.

    “The time has come for the Army to remove from Fort Hamilton and other military installations the disgraced names of men who waged war against the United States to preserve the evil institution of slavery. Monuments to the Confederacy and its leaders have always represented white supremacy and a continuing attempt to deny the basic human rights of African Americans. As recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, have made perfectly clear, these monuments are nothing more than symbols of white supremacy and a pretext for the violent imposition of an evil ideology that should never have persisted into the Twenty-First Century. For hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn residents, as well as troops stationed at Fort Hamilton who are prepared to fight for this nation, the monuments are an insult. It is clear that these symbols remain an inspiration to some who espouse white supremacist ideology to perpetuate acts of terror and violence on peaceful, law-abiding citizens of our nation. Across the United States, cities and states are removing such monuments as an act of reconciliation and respect for people whose humanity has too often been denied. I strongly urge my colleagues to support this legislation and to dedicate themselves to the eradication of white supremacy, now and forever. The time for change is now.”


    by The Second Amendment Foundation

    Bellevue, WA - August 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The District of Columbia has filed an appeal with the U.S. District Court of Appeals requesting an en banc hearing in a case recently won by the Second Amendment Foundation that struck down the “good reason” requirement for obtaining a concealed carry permit.

    The case is Wrenn v. District of Columbia.

    “The Second Amendment Foundation expected the City of Washington, DC to file this appeal in an attempt to try to overturn our court victory that said their virtual ban on the right to carry a firearm for self-protection was unconstitutional,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb.

    SAF has been battling the city over this issue for some time. The city has strenuously resisted these legal efforts, arguing in its latest petition that the city is “unique” because of its dense population that includes “thousands of high-ranking federal officials and international diplomats.” But earlier this summer, the District Court of Appeals majority opinion is that the “good reason” restriction violates the Second Amendment rights of citizens living in the district.

    “They have no intention of complying with any court decision that supports the right to keep and bear arms,” Gottlieb said. “It took the Heller decision to force them to allow a gun in your own home for self-defense. It took the Palmer decision, another SAF case, to force them to repeal their total ban on carry and now they are kicking and screaming about losing the Wrenn decision.”

    Gottlieb maintains that even if the District is “unique,” the citizens living there still retain their right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. The city’s “good reason” requirement makes it far too easy to deny all but a few people their rights on the flimsy grounds that average citizens never have a good enough reason. The court recognized this problem and ruled against the District’s requirement, he noted.

    “Municipal stubbornness cannot be allowed to outweigh the constitution,” Gottlieb said. “A civil right should not be subject to bureaucratic neurosis.”


    by the Retail Industry Leaders Association

    Washington, D.C. - August 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The South Dakota Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a case that could ultimately persuade the United States Supreme Court to revisit Quill Corp v. North Dakota, a 1992 decision that forbade states from requiring retailers without a physical presence to collect sales tax. In the twenty-five years since the decision, online commerce has exploded, and many policymakers have called for an end to the "loophole" that has given online sellers a distinct competitive advantage over brick and mortar stores.

    "The artificial price advantage created by the United States Supreme Court and enjoyed by online-only sellers for two decades has created a significant market distortion, an inequity that has led to the shuttering of thousands of brick and mortar stores," said Retail Litigation Center President Deborah White. "The time has come to rectify this bias and restore basic free market competition."

    The case heard today stems from a South Dakota statute passed in 2016 designed to challenge Quill directly. The law, passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature and signed by Governor Dennis Daugaard last spring, requires out-of-state retailers to collect and remit sales tax if they transact more than $100,000 of business in the state or more than 200 sales. The law was signed roughly one year after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy recognized in his concurring opinion in DMA v. Brohl that, "[t]he Internet has caused far-reaching systemic and structural changes in the economy" so that "a business may be present in a State in a meaningful way without that presence being physical in the traditional sense of the word." Noting the significant economic harms that were befalling state treasuries and local retailers, Justice Kennedy said that "it is unwise [for the US Supreme Court] to delay any longer a reconsideration of the Court's holding in Quill" and asked the "legal system [to] find an appropriate case for this Court to reexamine Quill."

    State and local governments are as anxious as local retailers for a solution. As online sales have grown exponentially, states have experienced a significant erosion of their sales tax base. While many states have been successful tweaking nexus laws and enacting various sales and use tax compliance measures, no state has come close to fully recovering the revenues lost due to Quill. The combination of fewer storefronts and a deteriorating tax base has meant a slow decline in revenue for the 45 states and the District of Columbia that rely on sales tax revenues to fund state and local government operations. States have sought a solution from Congress for more than a dozen years, but despite multiple bill introductions by supportive members of both parties, these efforts have not led to legislation passing both Chambers of Congress.

    "States have done virtually everything they can to solve this problem, but it's simply not enough," said White. "Congressional inaction means the only hope for retailers and the states is for the Supreme Court to revisit the Quill decision. This is an appropriate step since the U.S. Supreme Court created this distinction in the first place."
    "We are hopeful that the South Dakota Supreme Court will quickly issue an opinion that explains to the federal court the harm the pre-Internet Quill decision has inflicted on both the states and local retailers," added White. "With a quick ruling, it's possible that the U.S. Supreme Court could choose this case to bring resolution to the states and merchant community during its October 2017 term."

    RILA is the trade association of the world's largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.


    Washington, D.C. - August 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Marc Veasey, lead plaintiff in Veasey v. Abbott, released the following statement after U.S. District Judge Nelva Ramos ruled that the Texas voter ID law was enacted with the deliberate intent to discriminate against African American and Hispanic voters:

    “Time and time again, our federal courts have ruled that the Texas voter ID law intentionally discriminates against Texas citizens in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. As the lead plaintiff in Veasey v. Abbott, I am proud that we have so far successfully challenged and blocked these illegal efforts to restrict voting. It is time for Texas Republican leaders to end shameful efforts to hold power through voter suppression.”

    Below are more statements and information regarding Voting (keep checking back for updates):

    A Court Strikes Down Texas’s Voter ID Law For the Fifth Time

    House Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX, 20th):

    "Once again, a federal court has found Texas' voter ID law to be discriminatory and in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Republican state leaders' transparent efforts to make it harder and less likely that some Texans will vote are disgraceful."

    DACA Program

    Washington, D.C. - August 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides temporary protection from removal and work authorization to young students and veterans who grew up in the United States if they register with the federal government, pay a fee, and pass a criminal background check. More than 47,000 individuals impacted by the program reside in the four counties Congressman Valadao represents.

    Earlier this week, United States Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-21) joined with five colleagues to request support from President Donald J. Trump for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.

    Congressman David G. Valadao stated, “It is clear our immigration system is in desperate need of reform and it is imperative Congress act to correct its severe shortcomings immediately. However, targeting individuals who were brought to America as children through no fault of their own is neither the way to repair our broken system nor the way to protect our nation." He continued, “Instead, by temporarily maintaining the protections of the DACA program, Congress can continue our work to repair our system, while allowing these young people to work and study without fear of deportation.”

    Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-Pomona) issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s ongoing attacks against immigrant communities following reports that he intends to end the DACA program as early as this week:

    “It is shocking that with all of the challenges facing our country, the President is continuing his incessant attacks on hard-working immigrants. This past Friday, with the eyes of the nation on Texas and Hurricane Harvey, the President pardoned former Sherriff Joe Arpaio, a man infamous for terrorizing immigrant communities and found guilty by the courts for racial profiling. Now, as thousands face catastrophic conditions in Texas, we are hearing reports that the President may bring an end to the DACA program in the coming days.

    “Dreamers are brave young men and women who embody American values. They deserve certainty, compassion, and an opportunity to contribute to the only country many have ever known. They do not deserve to be the target of Trump’s latest anti-immigrant crusade.

    “As an immigrant, as a Member of Congress, and as an American, I can assure the President that we are watching his every move. We will not be distracted, and we will not stand by while he rips apart our communities and places thousands of hard-working young people at risk. Far too much is at stake, not only for Dreamers, but for the very future of our country.”

    More Statements and information regarding DACA:

    House Representative Jeff Denham (R-CA, 10th):

    “These young adults were brought to America as children through no fault of their own and know no other country to call home, and we must continue pressing for immigration reform that will provide them with a pathway to citizenship. We have violent criminals preying on our communities, and our resources should be going toward their deportation instead of being directed toward the young men and women protected through DACA, who are working toward a better future.”

    Rapid DNA Act

    Washington, D.C. - August 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The bipartisan, bicameral Rapid DNA Act to help local law enforcement use new technology to speed up justice has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

    Traditional DNA analysis can take weeks, but Rapid DNA analysis permits processing of samples in about 90 minutes or less. The technology revolutionizes the way in which those arrested for crimes are enrolled in the criminal justice system; shortens the time required for their DNA to be linked to unsolved crimes; and speeds up innocent people’s exoneration.

    The Rapid DNA Act will let local law enforcement agencies – under standards and guidelines established by the FBI – perform real-time DNA testing at the time of arrest within their own booking stations, comparing samples to profiles in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

    The Rapid DNA Act was introduced in January by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and by Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Swalwell. It was supported by law enforcement organizations including the National Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major City Chiefs Association, National Association of Police Organizations, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and National District Attorneys Association, as well as by the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations.

    Pleasanton-based IntegenX Inc. is a global market leader for Rapid DNA human identification.

    “Today marks a landmark day in more efficiently fighting crime and supporting law enforcement,” said Robert Schueren, President and CEO of IntegenX. “As a company in the 15th Congressional District, we’re grateful for the support and co-sponsorship from Congressman Swalwell.”

    The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office has been a strong advocate of Rapid DNA technology to solve crimes and exonerate the wrongfully accused.

    “Rapid DNA technology provides an exciting new way to identify or clear a suspect within 90 minutes instead of what now can take years,” said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. “Law enforcement agencies across the nation, and the people they serve, will be grateful for this bipartisan effort to make their work more efficient.”

    In testimony before Congress last year, FBI Director James Comey said the authority in the bill would help law enforcement “change the world in a very, very exciting way” by enabling officials to know “near-instantly” whether a person in custody is connected with other crimes or is innocent of the suspected charge.

    Below are statements and information regarding this ACT:

    House Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA, 15th):

    “This law’s enactment proves that, even in troubled political times, we can work together across the aisle to make Americans safer,” said Swalwell, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee. “This new law will help law enforcement agencies across the nation use a more powerful tool to protect and serve our communities, to clear the innocent, and to attain justice for victims.”

    House Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA, 6th):

    “I am extremely proud to see the bipartisan Rapid DNA Act, a product of the House Judiciary Committee, signed into law. While once taking days or weeks, DNA testing can now be completed in a matter of hours. However, a decades-old law prevents the use of Rapid DNA technology in many circumstances, which has created a growing backlog. The Rapid DNA Act remedies this problem so that police stations across the United States can use Rapid DNA technology to quickly identify violent suspects and free the innocent.

    “I also want to thank Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner for his years of leadership on this important issue which is a significant component of the House Judiciary Committee’s ongoing efforts on criminal justice reform."

    Sanctuary Cities

    Washington, D.C. - August 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Fifty-three members of the United States House and Senate are calling out Attorney General Jeff Sessions for holding critical violence prevention funds used by American cities hostage to the Trump Administration’s extreme immigration agenda.

    The Department of Justice has placed new and onerous conditions on local law enforcement’s access to federal funding through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne-JAG) program, forcing cities to choose between redirecting already scarce resources from local policing efforts to enforcing federal immigration laws. The lawmakers are demanding an explanation, including the statutory authority for the Department’s new conditions, which will hurt the ability of local governments to fight violent crime in their communities.

    “These conditions are an unwarranted, coercive effort to leverage communities’ longstanding reliance on Byrne-JAG funds in furtherance of the Trump Administration’s mass-deportation agenda. By forcing local law enforcement to choose between redirecting resources from policing efforts to immigration enforcement or else sacrificing violence prevention funds that the Justice Department itself has described as “critical” and “necessary,” these new Byrne-JAG conditions will undermine the ability of local law enforcement agencies to combat gun violence in communities like Chicago and Baltimore,” the lawmakers wrote.

    Below are statements and information concerning more about Sanctuary Cities (Keep checking back for updates):

    Schiff-Wilson Bill Restricting Tourist Travel to North Korea Passes Committee

    Washington, D.C. - August 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific marked up and reported the North Korea Travel Control Act (H.R. 2372), introduced by Rep. Schiff and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), to the full committee. This bill would instruct the Secretary of State to restrict the use of U.S. passports for travel to North Korea when the primary purpose is tourism, and require all travelers to notify the State Department of their travel and seek prior approval. This latest action in the House comes just over a month after the tragic death of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was imprisoned by North Korea for seventeen months.

    “Given the increased belligerency and provocations by the North Korean regime, this legislation is all the more important now, and I am pleased that the Foreign Affairs Committee understands the urgency to move this legislation forward," said Rep. Schiff. "The tragic death of Otto Warmbier, tantamount to the murder of a U.S. citizen by North Korea, should heighten our resolve to ensure that no more American citizens are endangered or used as bargaining chips by this pariah state. I look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders in Congress to pass it into law.”

    “I’ve visited North Korea on a Congressional delegation in 2003 led by former Congressman Curt Weldon who had been invited after Baghdad had been liberated, getting the attention of the dictator,” said Rep. Wilson. “While there, I saw firsthand how every dollar in North Korea, including the revenue from tourism, goes towards the subjugation of the citizens and towards the very weapons development program it uses to threaten the United States. Additionally, the regime also has no reservations about using illegally detained Americans as bargaining chips in an attempt to score credibility on the world stage. It is past time that we restrict travel to this communist, totalitarian regime, and I am grateful that the legislation overwhelmingly passed the subcommittee. I appreciate Chairman Ted Yoho for scheduling this markup, and hope it is considered before the whole House soon. It is past time that we impose meaningful travel restrictions, while still providing humanitarian exemptions, to North Korea.”

    In late May, Schiff and Wilson introduced the bipartisan North Korea Travel Control Act. At least seventeen Americans have been detained in the past ten years, despite the State Department strongly warning U.S. citizens against traveling to the DPRK. Currently, at least three Americans remain imprisoned. With heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea, the danger that additional Americans will be detained for political reasons has increased. In addition to security concerns, Western visitors bring with them much needed foreign currency, especially valued in a country facing extensive international sanctions for its illegal nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Last week, the State Department indicated its intention to issue regulations restricting travel by Americans to North Korea.

    Hurricane Harvey

    First of all, let me say that I LOVE MY HOME STATE OF TEXAS. Here, in Texas, we pride ourselves on being able to take care of our own problems without interference from anyone -- the state, and the individuals in it. When we do need help, we know we can count on each other, because that's just the "Texas-friendly way".

    The nation is awed by our resilient spirit in this time of crisis since Harvey wreaked havoc. They are amazed at the unity and cooperation we have shown, both with authorities, and with each other. I look at the victims surfacing in Harvey's wake, and I think, "Our state bird should be the Phoenix..."

    You might knock us down, but we don't stay down long -- and we will never stop trying to get back up. Anything less is undignified. The Alamo proved that we don't go down without a fight, and we WILL rise from the ashes into something BIG!

    Texas is my home. Texas is truly a whole other country.


    As a lifetime, born and raised member of the Republic of Texas, I'd like to express my heartfelt thank you to all of the banks, organizations, people and groups who have made donations to the Harvey Relief efforts and its victims. You have truly humbled me, and all of Texas in your generosity. From the first responders to the individuals who offered assistance, ya'll are truly great!

    Hurricane Harvey struck the coast of Texas and caused flooding, triggering a federal disaster declaration covering 18 counties in Texas.

    Below are some statements and information about this catastrophe from the newsmakers (Keep checking back for updates!):

    Cruz Joins Trump in Texas

    The IRS Gives Tax Relief to Victims of Hurricane Harvey and Warns Against Scams

    House Representative John P. Sarbanes (D-MD, 3rd):

    “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of southeast Texas during this catastrophic storm. As this unprecedented downpour continues, we are hearing by the minute the inspiring stories of first responders and ordinary citizens alike who are risking their lives to help friends and neighbors in need. Marylanders are ready to step up in any way we can and, as a member of Congress, I will join my colleagues in authorizing critical aid, support services and other federal resources in order to help the people of Texas weather this harrowing storm and rebuild their communities.”

    Houston combating Harvey looters with mandatory jail time

    How to Help Disaster Surivivors in Texas

    Statement from First Lady Melania Trump:

    "The effects of Hurricane Harvey will be felt in Texas, Louisiana, and other parts of the country for many months and years to come. So far, 1.7 million people are under orders to evacuate their homes, and, as the floodwater in Houston rises, sadly, so will the number of evacuees.

    I want to be able to offer my help and support in the most productive way possible, not through just words, but also action. What I found to be the most profound during the visit was not only the strength and resilience of the people of Texas, but the compassion and sense of community that has taken over the State. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of Texas and Louisiana."

    House Representative Alma Adams (D-NC, 12th):

    “My thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” said Congresswoman Adams. “The flooding that overwhelmed south Texas following Harvey’s landfall has impacted nearly 7 million Texans and caused millions in damages. During this difficult time we thank the many first responders, including the two Helo-Aquatic Rescue Teams traveling from North Carolina, who continue to prioritize the safety and rescue of others over their own wellbeing. I encourage all Texans to heed safety warnings and exercise caution as recovery from the storm continues.”

    House Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY, 14th):

    “The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey is a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with those families impacted, the first responders bravely putting themselves in danger, and the countless workers laboring to ensure shelters and resources are available for those in need.

    “Congress must do whatever it takes to ensure Texas recovers. It is incumbent that lawmakers quickly pass an emergency relief bill so Texas, Louisiana, and all impacted communities have the resources needed to heal and rebuild. I encourage my Republican colleagues to join Democrats in sending a message to our fellow Americans that in the face of struggle and adversity, Congress stands with them. I know how impactful emergency aid can be, having watched New Yorkers rebuild after Sandy ravished our communities. The nation stood behind New York and New Jersey then. I will stand with Texas now.”

    House Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY, 16th):

    “The images coming out of Texas right now are devastating. My heart goes out to everyone down there who has been affected by this powerful storm. As we New Yorkers have seen in the nearly 5 years since Superstorm Sandy, recovery from a major natural disaster can be costly and take many years. In light of that, it’s important for all Americans to stand with our fellow citizens in Texas, and pledge to do all that we can to assist them in their time of great need. New Yorkers have big hearts and we will not allow the people of Texas to have any doubts about whether federal assistance will be provided. Congress can and should move quickly to provide aid to Texas.”

    House Representative Al Green (D-TX, 9th):

    “On Friday, Harris and Fort Bend counties began to deal with the effects of this severe hurricane which has brought unprecedented flooding and tornado damages. We are now three days into this weather event. First responders, emergency personnel, the National Guard, and the Coast Guard are working around the clock. We sincerely thank them for their tireless efforts.

    “The dire situation posed by Hurricane Harvey continues to be life-threatening, and all residents of Harris County and Fort Bend County should continue to heed the warnings of local officials and emergency personnel.

    “My staff and I will remain in close contact with local, state, and federal officials to keep everyone informed as we continue to endure this dangerous storm. I would like to personally thank all the public servants and medical professionals in advance who will be helping those in need in the days, weeks, and months to come.

    “I am inspired by the people in our communities who have put themselves at risk to meet the needs of their neighbors. We are in this together. I ask that everyone please be safe.”

    House Representative Gene Green (D-TX, 29th)

    “Many of our communities in Houston and Harris County have been badly hit by Harvey’s historic rains. Harvey’s wrath has brought out the best in our city, seen through the tireless work of our local first responders and countless Houstonians who are helping neighbors during our time of need.

    Earlier today, I was given assurances from federal and state officials that additional help is on its way, including more National Guard and urban rescue units, and FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers that will provide wrap-around recovery services in our community for victims once rescue operations have completed. Our local, state, and federal partners are committed to ensuring that our communities fully recover and are made whole.”

    House Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL, 20th)

    “President Trump declared that Americans are ‘weary of war without victory.’ Americans are weary of war, period. For more than 17 years, our country has waged a seemingly never-ending war in Afghanistan, at a cost of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

    “The American people deserve to know what President Trump is asking of their sons and daughters. In that regard, the President’s address was unacceptably vague. By refusing to detail the number of troops he will deploy or the missions they will be tasked with, the President has positioned himself to drag out our nation’s longest military conflict indefinitely, in sharp contrast to his statements on the campaign trail.

    “Further, in openly declaring the end of American-led democracy building, President Trump has doubled down on his administration’s abdication of leadership across the globe. As the Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, I have long championed democracy and human rights reforms in nations making the difficult transition towards free and open societies. In announcing this decision, President Trump has given authoritarian despots tacit approval to continue abusing and violating the rights of their citizens with impunity.

    “This address underscores the importance of passing a new AUMF dictating a clear and coherent strategy for American military engagements in Afghanistan. Congress has the constitutional authority to lead this conversation, yet for too long has ceded this immense responsibility. Speaker Ryan must making passage of a new AUMF the first priority when the House of Representatives returns to session.”

    House Representative Jody Hice (R-GA, 10th):

    “The President was very deliberate in reaching his decision on Afghanistan and considered a host of different options for moving forward,” said Congressman Hice. “While his decision was not reached easily, it must be considered in the context of the previous policies which have failed. Most notably, when President Obama set an arbitrary timeline for withdrawing from Iraq, the coalitions we worked so hard to craft fell apart, setting the stage for ISIS and other terrorist organizations to fill the void. Simply put, we cannot repeat this legacy in Afghanistan.”

    “I am pleased that President Trump articulated a strategy rooted in taking the fight directly to the terrorists, lifting engagement restrictions which have for so long tied the hands of our troops in theater, and applying pressure to our partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan to more aggressively combat terrorists operating within their borders,” Hice continued. “It is my hope that these policies will more effectively create the conditions necessary to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a staging ground for those who wish harm upon us. Now it is incumbent upon Congress to provide our brave men and women in uniform with the resources required to achieve that success.”

    House Representative Bill Hulzinga (R-MI, 2nd):

    "President Trump's decision to change the rules of engagement for our troops and allow them to take the fight to the enemy is the right choice. Conditions on the ground should determine how our military conducts operations, not politicians dealing with artificial political deadlines. Additionally, I am encouraged to hear President Trump discuss his plan to strengthen strategic partnerships in the region, while also decisively stating that nations who provide safe harbor for terrorists to launch attacks on our troops, allies, and citizens will no longer be ignored. In order to defeat terrorism, we must employ a strategy that utilizes our economic strength, embraces skilled diplomacy, and provides our men and women in uniform with the resources and flexibility necessary to complete their mission."

    House Representative Alma Adams (D-NC, 12th)

    “My thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” said Congresswoman Adams. “The flooding that overwhelmed south Texas following Harvey’s landfall has impacted nearly 7 million Texans and caused millions in damages. During this difficult time we thank the many first responders, including the two Helo-Aquatic Rescue Teams traveling from North Carolina, who continue to prioritize the safety and rescue of others over their own wellbeing. I encourage all Texans to heed safety warnings and exercise caution as recovery from the storm continues.”

    1033 Program

    Washington, D.C. - August 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Trump administration decided to reinstate the 1033 program, which allows the Department of Defense to transfer surplus military equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies at no cost. Opponents of this program liken it to "militarizing the police" because, after all, what did the cops in Ferguson need with tanks? On the other hand, with all of the police officers today getting shot and killed, they could use a few more bullet proof vests.

    In May 2015, President Obama issued a directive that restricted local police from obtaining certain lifesaving federal gear, and in 2016, the Obama Administration began seizing equipment from local police departments.

    Disturbingly, many of the restricted items are purely defensive, such as "riot helmets" and "riot shields"--items vital to protecting law enforcement during riots, where protesters have been known to torch cars and hurl bricks, cement blocks, and glass bottles at police. The directive also restricted armored vehicles, which were vital to rescuing hostages from an Orlando night club during the terror attack of June 2016.

    The Obama Administration acknowledged that depriving local police of this gear "can have life-threatening consequences, both for the law enforcement personnel and the public," but concluded it was more important to preserve "community trust."

    Sen. Toomey wrote a letter to President Obama the same week in May 2015, urging him to reconsider his decision to restrict access to this lifesaving equipment. You can read that letter by clicking here

    In 2016 and 2017, Sen. Toomey introduced the Lifesaving Gear for Police Act, a bill that reverses President Obama's dangerous restrictions, and requires the executive branch to return gear that has been seized from local police departments.
    Sen. Toomey's legislation was endorsed by:

    • Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
    • Fraternal Order of Police
    • Int'l Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
    • National Association of Police Organizations
    • National Sheriffs' Association
    • Sgts. Benevolent Association of New York City

    Below are statements and information about this subject from the newsmakers (Keep checking back for updates!):

    Senator Patrick J.Toomey - (R - PA)

    "I am pleased to see President Trump take this crucial step to ensure that our police officers have the tools they need to protect themselves and our communities from violent criminals and terrorists. Our police officers should be at least as well equipped as the criminals and terrorists who attack them.

    "I am especially pleased to see that, like my Lifesaving Gear for Police Act, President Trump reversed President Obama's dangerous restrictions on the ability of local law enforcement to access lifesaving federal equipment, such as riot helmets, riot shields, and armored vehicles. As we saw during the San Bernardino and Orlando terror attacks when the police used armored vehicles in their response, these items are vital to protecting law enforcement and civilians."

    House Representative Mark Sanford (R-SC, 1st)

    “Today’s decision to reinstate the 1033 program is a step backwards for the taxpayer. Since the Defense Department started its 1033 program in 1997, over $5 billion of surplus military property has been transferred to police departments across the country free of charge. Police departments should certainly have what they need to accomplish their work on a day-to-day basis, but I think there are obvious flaws in trying to do this through the 1033 program.

    “With nearly $20 trillion in debt, I don’t think that the federal government can afford to give away anything for free. Doing so overstates the cost of federal government and understates the cost of local governments who get this equipment at no cost. We value the things we pay for an often take for granted the things we don’t. I saw the abuses of this program when I was Governor. I will never forget the impression made when I walked into a small county sheriff's office and was told the sheriff was out taking helicopter he could use one of the seven helicopters his office had gotten for ‘free.’

    “This program also incentivizes the militarization of local police departments, as they are encouraged to grab more equipment than they need. In some cases, they even stockpile equipment generally found on battlefields since it’s ‘free,’ and this is neither good for the taxpayer nor the local communities.

    “In an effort to curtail this program, I introduced a bill last Congress - the Responsible Law Enforcement Acquisition Act of 2016 - to replace the zero-cost transfer system with an auction system, where registered police units can bid on surplus military equipment. The proceeds would be sent to the US Treasury, and accordingly, my bill would work to balance the interests of local law enforcement with taxpayers. The police would still have the ability to purchase military equipment at the federal auction. But by requiring that they be purchased, the bill helps to pay for the federal debt, while motivating police departments to prioritize their purchases to equipment they really need to serve their communities.”

    House Representative William “Lacy” Clay, Jr. (D-MO, 1st)

    “Three years ago, as the tragedy in Ferguson unfolded, I personally witnessed local police in armored vehicles pointing military-style sniper rifles with night scopes at my constituents who were peacefully exercising their constitutional rights.

    That over-militarization increased tensions, incited more violence and established a deadly perception that local police officers had become warriors instead of guardians of public safety.

    In response, I worked closely with former President Obama and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Hagel to place reasonable limits on the distribution of military surplus items to local law enforcement. That was in keeping with key findings and recommendations of the President’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing.

    President Trump’s decision to rescind these limitations will allow local police departments to receive grenade launchers, bayonets, tracked armored vehicles, sniper rifles and military grade ammunition; along with other surplus Department of Defense equipment that was intended for use on the battlefield, not in neighborhoods.

    President Trump’s reckless decision to remilitarize local police is another shameful step backwards as he continues to deepen divisions across this country while appeasing hate, bigotry and intolerance.”

    Monday, August 28, 2017

    Tax Relief a Priority

    by Senator Mike Rounds

    Over the past few months, we’ve seen the U.S. economy improve. In July, employers added 209,000 jobs, bringing the unemployment rate down to 4.3 percent. However, wages remain stagnant and economic growth has hovered at 2 percent for the past 10 years, a full percentage point lower than the historic post-World War II average. According to the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), this has cost families an average of $8,600 in income annually. Also according to the JEC, economic growth will remain at 2 percent under our current policies.

    This underscores the need for a pro-growth tax policy that creates jobs, increases our competitiveness overseas and gives our economy a much-needed jolt. Our current tax code is far too complicated – it is more than 74,000 pages in length and takes Americans 8.1 billion hours annually to complete. I support the ongoing efforts by the tax-writing committees in Congress to take on comprehensive tax reform. When we return to Washington in September, we expect to ramp up these efforts. I look forward to working with my colleagues to lower the rates for South Dakota families, rein in the IRS and provide long-term certainty in our tax code.

    It has been more than 30 years since our tax code was reformed. Since then, other countries have lowered their rates and become more competitive, while our tax code has barely changed. The average corporate tax rate in the U.S. is 39 percent, compared to an average of 25 percent by our foreign competitors. It is time to reform the tax code and lower the rates – a plan that we know will help our economy because we’ve seen it work in the past.

    During both the Kennedy and Reagan presidencies, we saw a reduction in regulations and taxes. In turn, the economy prospered and flourished under their respective administrations. They knew that individual citizens know the best way to spend their own money, and they certainly don’t need Washington telling them what to do with it.

    While I continue to advocate for comprehensive tax reform, I recognize the complexity in passing comprehensive tax reform. Earlier this year, I introduced a tax relief plan that would reduce the average South Dakota family’s tax burden by about 16 percent. My plan calls for a simple 2 point rate cut across-the-board for each tax bracket. By lowering the tax rate for all, we will be able to provide direct and immediate relief to hardworking families and shake up our economy. This will result in a more prosperous economy for all Americans.

    We have our work cut out for us in the coming months, and I am ready to work with every senator, on either side of the aisle, to get it done. When Americans are free to spend their money as they see fit—whether that’s sending kids to college, buying a new home, saving for retirement or starting a new business—our economy will benefit. And when our economy is healthy, every American will feel the positive effects.

    About the Main Stream Media

    Trump and the Main Stream Media seem to be at war with one another. As the editor of The Ponder, I am totally in favor of Freedom of the Press. It's just too bad that the Main Stream Media has more money to spend spreading their lies with the freedom they have than the small media that doesn't have as much financial support to tell the truth.

    Below are more statements and information about this "war" (keep checking back for updates!)

    House Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH, 13th):

    "As an elected official in Ohio for over 17 years, I certainly have not appreciated every news article or story that has been published in the media. But after hearing President Trump's tirade last night, I believe it is necessary for public officials to state clearly and unequivocally that a free press is essential to the functioning of our democracy. It isn't always fun to have the scrutiny of the press analyzing and critiquing our policies, our initiatives, and even our personalities. But it is exactly that friction that forces elected officials to answer publicly those who question certain ideas and policies.

    "A free press gives voice to a free people. If we can't fiercely and articulately defend our positions and policies publicly then those ideas won't, and shouldn't, become the law of the land. That is why President Trump feels the need to lash out at the press every chance he gets. They are constantly shedding light on his hyperbole, his hypocrisies, his misrepresentations and his ever more increasing falsehoods.

    "Our system isn't perfect, social media has gotten a bit out of control, making political discourse a lot noisier. But the alternative is the secretive, government controlled media system that we see in Russia, China, and developing countries around the world where power brokers are able to operate in the shadows and against the interests of their own people. If President Trump does not like the free press, what would he have in its place?"

    Opioid Crisis

    Washington, D.C. - August 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently came to a decision decision to host a public meeting next month to seek the expertise of the Pediatric Advisory Committee about the use of prescription opioids containing hydrocodone or codeine to treat a cough in pediatric patients.

    The decision comes less than two weeks after President Trump declared a national emergency on the opioid crisis in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 62 people died every day in 2015 from an overdose death involving prescription opioids.

    In December 2015, Congressman Rogers and 14 of his colleagues signed a joint letter asking the FDA to reconsider its decision to approve OxyContin for use by children and urged the federal agency to allow an advisory committee to gather public input and expert testimony before making an official recommendation.

    Earlier this year, the FDA changed labeling requirements for prescription codeine medications to better protect children from serious risks, including life-threatening respiratory depression and death. The new labels include a warning that codeine should not be used for any reason, including treatment of cough, in children younger than 12 years.

    Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) led a letter to President Trump with Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), urging him to implement the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. It was signed by 52 Members of Congress.

    The letter encourages the President to follow through with the report's recommendation to waive the Institution for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion within the Medicaid program. The IMD exclusion prohibits Medicaid from paying for care for patients in large residential mental health or substance abuse facilities. The commission has recommended this exclusion be waived.

    “Since 1999, more than 300,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses,” Foster said. “This epidemic has affected communities across this country, including the 11th District. Medicaid’s current IMD exclusion limits treatment for the most vulnerable populations. There is widespread, bipartisan agreement that eliminating the IMD exclusion will immediately help people get the treatment they need. I urge President Trump to grant these waivers and work with us to combat the opioid epidemic to save lives."

    Below are statements and more information about this (please keep checking back for updates on this page):

    House Representative Mike (AL) Rogers (R-AL, 3rd):

    “I applaud FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb for taking preliminary steps to safeguard our children and educate prescribers about the unnecessary use of highly addictive painkillers to treat a child’s cough. The risk of addiction and other detrimental side effects should be primary considerations when prescribing opioids to children. It's encouraging to see the FDA take additional measures to make informed decisions before approving powerful painkillers for the nation’s smallest patients. Drug manufacturers who stand to profit from the sale of these medications should never be the sole advisors to the FDA."

    Veterans Appeals Improvement Act

    Washington, D.C. - August 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Thursday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata, who serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee, welcomed the signing into law of the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2288), which she was proud to cosponsor.

    The legislation modernizes the appeals process at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cut down on the claims backlog and reduce delays. Under the current system, veterans must often wait five years or longer for their appeals to be resolved. The Esty-Bost legislation marks the first significant update to the VA appeals process in 30 years.

    The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act creates three “lanes” for veterans’ appeals, including the “Local Higher Level Review Lane,” in which an adjudicator reviews the same evidence considered by the original claims processor; the “New Evidence Lane,” in which the veteran could submit new evidence for review and have a hearing; and the “Board Lane,” in which jurisdiction for the appeal would transfer immediately to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

    The legislation gives the Secretary of the Veterans Affairs the authority to test the new system prior to full implementation and allows some veterans already going through the appeals process to opt into the new system. It also requires the VA to provide a comprehensive plan for how the new system will be implemented and a subsequent certification by the Secretary that the department is prepared to roll-out the reform. Lastly, the Act requires the Secretary to submit periodic reports to Congress, including information on how many appeals are pending in both the modernized system and the legacy system.

    House Representative Aumua Amata (R - American Samoa, At Large) stated:

    “Veterans in American Samoa and elsewhere can face frustrations and delays in getting their claims and cases resolved, and this bill makes important reforms so that they can get the answers they need from the VA,” said Aumua Amata. “I want to congratulate Congressman Mike Bost, the bill’s sponsor, along with Chairman Phil Roe and the entire Committee, on this accomplishment for our veterans.”

    The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 improves the veterans’ appeals process, giving veterans three ways to pursue the appeal, including having an adjudicator review the original evidence as considered previously, submitting new evidence for review followed by a new hearing, and finally, transferring their claim to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

    House Representative Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota)

    “Our veterans deserve the same access and quality of care that everyone else receives in this country. Unfortunately, with the massive backlog of appeals at the VA, they are not receiving the care we promised them. With President Trump’s signing the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act today, the half million veterans who are still waiting for a resolution regarding their VA benefits will finally get a response in a timely manner. I applaud the President for making this a priority.”

    House Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-CT, 5th)

    “Because of the enormous appeals backlog, veterans in Connecticut and across the country are routinely made to wait more than five years to receive the benefits they earned. That’s just not acceptable. Our bill to cut down on these delays is the result of thoughtful collaboration among Republicans, Democrats, veteran service organizations, and the VA itself. Today marks a huge step toward our goal of providing all veterans with the timely compensation they deserve for the injuries they sustained in service to our country.”

    Peter Scirpo, Chairman of the New Britain Veterans Commission and an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan:

    “It’s very apparent that Congresswoman Esty is working tirelessly to see that all veterans have access to the benefits they so desperately need and deserve. It is so important to make sure all veterans get back what they earned.”


    Below are statements and information from newsmakers about Israel (keep checking back for updates):

    David Price (D-NC, 4th)

    “The Trump Administration must stop equivocating on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—a two-state solution is the only viable and just path to achieve peace and security for the Israeli and Palestinian people. This week, the State Department refused to acknowledge whether the Administration would commit to endorsing a two-state solution. This is irresponsible and damaging to the prospects for peace and American leadership in the region. Furthermore, it undermines and reverses decades of longstanding, bipartisan U.S. foreign policy.

    As 191 Republican and Democratic members of Congress warned President Trump in March of this year, “a one-state outcome risks destroying Israel’s Jewish and Democratic character, denies the Palestinians fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations, and would leave both Israelis and Palestinians embroiled in an endless and intractable conflict for generations to come.”

    We implore the State Department and the Trump Administration to reaffirm the United States’ support for a viable, lasting, and mutually-agreed upon two-state solution and to make this support clear in public and private statements.

    The Israeli and Palestinian people deserve a peaceful and secure future—and the United States must not waiver in our conviction to realize a democratic, Jewish state and a demilitarized Palestinian state, coexisting side-by-side in peace and security.”


    During Trump's Afghanistan Speech, he mentioned that Pakistan had to be dealt with harshly for their harboring of terrorists.

    Below are more statements and information from the newsmakers on this subject (Keep checking back as this page gets updated):

    House Representative Ted Poe (R-TX, 2nd):

    “President Trump’s Afghanistan speech on Monday night was a rude awakening for Islamabad," said Congressman Poe. "Those in the Pakistani military and intelligence services who thought they could keep betraying the United States while accepting billions in aid from Washington must now realize that the jig is up. For years I have championed a tougher line on Pakistan in Congress precisely for the reasons the President laid out in his speech: Pakistan supports terrorist groups of all stripes operating inside Afghanistan, providing them with money, arms, and logistical support. Despite Pakistan’s ongoing treachery, Islamabad is among the leading recipients of U.S. foreign assistance since 9/11 and is praised in some quarters of the U.S. government as a “vital” ally. This must stop – if we want to stabilize Afghanistan, we must deal first with Pakistan. President Trump’s speech marked a positive shift in U.S. policy, but it must not be limited only to words. If Pakistan does not stop aiding terrorists with American blood on their hands we must cut all aid to Islamabad, revoke their privileged status as a Major Non-NATO ally, and designate Pakistan a State Sponsor of Terrorism. And that’s just the way it is.”


    Trump has imposed sanctions on Venezuela.

    President Trump signed the Executive Order on August 24, with the sanctions going into effect at a minute after midnight this morning. Vice President Pence unveiled the sanctions on a call with Congressional foreign policy leaders today.

    Starting under now-deceased strongman Hugo Chávez and accelerating under Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela has seen a precipitous drop in living standards while the left-wing dictatorship has consolidated power.

    Further statements and information from the newsmakers are as follows (Keep checking back for updates on this page):

    House Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI, 2nd):

    “With its announcement of the most extensive U.S. financial sanctions against Venezuela to date, the Trump Administration is once again pursuing aggressive unilateral measures abroad in an attempt to distract attention away from the sustained outrage over the president’s disgraceful antics at home–all while designing his sanctions in accordance with the interests of oil-industry lobbyists.

    “While we remain deeply concerned over President Maduro’s efforts to supersede Venezuela’s duly elected National Assembly, these unilateral sanctions will only further complicate efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the country’s political crisis and threaten to create greater economic hardship for ordinary Venezuelans. As we and other progressive lawmakers noted last month in a letter to Secretary Tillerson, U.S. economic sanctions are overwhelmingly rejected by Venezuelans and only undermine dialogue by strengthening the hand of hardliners on both sides of the political divide while weakening the voices of moderation. By applying financial sanctions to Venezuela, President Trump is threatening the country’s ability to access foreign currency, which is desperately needed to alleviate widespread shortages of food, medicine and basic goods.

    “Prior to ratcheting up hostilities through these latest sanctions, President Trump absurdly suggested a ‘military option’ in Venezuela, publicly betraying his campaign promise to avoid regime-change efforts that have undermined U.S. security interests. Such a reckless maneuver, absent Congressional authorization and UN Security Council approval, would be clearly unconstitutional and illegal. A sensible approach to Venezuela’s crisis is obvious: the United States needs to work with other governments in the region to support mediation and negotiations that involve respected international actors such as the Vatican and the United Nations.”

    House Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL, 27th):

    “This morning in a conference call with other Members, I spoke with Vice-President Pence and I thanked him and the White House for its continued leadership on national security matters, especially within the Western Hemisphere. Today’s announcement by the White House is a direct response to those willing to aid the regime as these latest sanctions will prohibit financial transactions and any dealings in new debt and bonds of the Maduro regime and its corrupt state-owned entity, PDVSA.

    “In June, I strongly condemned Goldman Sachs for providing an infusion of financial relief to the Maduro regime. Preventing Maduro and his cronies access to the U.S. financial systems is vital and barring Citgo from transferring any profits to PDVSA reaffirms America’s commitment to the Venezuelan people in their continued push for freedom and democracy.”

    House Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ, 4th):

    “We support the Venezuelan people as they work towards reestablishing their rights that have been taken by the red regime that Dictator Nicolás Maduro has imposed on the country,” said Smith, who chairs the House panel on global human rights. “Venezuela, a nation blessed with natural resources, has been reduced to penury, its people on the brink of starvation, by a dictator who jails his opposition, stifles the media and attacks religious leaders.

    “President Trump's decisive Executive Order imposes financial repercussions on the Maduro dictatorship for its oppression. It will stop the underwriting of the regime and help bring about an end to this nightmare for the Venezuelan people.”

    House Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL, 25th):

    “I commend President Trump for once again imposing tough sanctions against the Maduro regime. Today’s announced sanctions target Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA, and prohibit transactions that finance the regime’s escalating debt and corruption.

    Clearly the Trump administration is listening to opposition leaders in Venezuela, the U.S. Congress, and members of the Venezuelan community in South Florida and has taken a firm stand to protect American values and interests in our hemisphere. When Vice President Mike Pence was in Miami this week, he asserted that the Trump administration was committed to promoting democracy and stated, “our resolve is unwavering; our conviction is clear.”

    I commend the Trump Administration’s principled clarity on opposing tyranny in our hemisphere. As the Maduro regime continues its relentless assaults on democracy and subversion of representative democracy with its sham “Constituent Assembly,” the United States stands in firm solidarity with the Venezuelan people.

    House Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC, 3rd):

    “For far too long, the Maduro regime has exploited the U.S. financial system to line its pockets and oppress its people. I applaud the Trump Administration’s actions to cut off a critical source of financing for the corrupt, illegitimate dictatorship. No government should be able to plunder and suppress its people, destroy all vestiges of democracy, and enable increasing criminal activities in the region without democratic countries responding forcefully.

    “President Trump continues to demonstrate leadership on Venezuela, and I stand firmly with his Administration in urging the Maduro government to end the illegitimate Constituent Assembly, reinstate the democratically-elected National Assembly, hold free, fair elections, release U.S. citizens and political prisoners, and allow humanitarian assistance. I also urge our friends of democracy in Latin America and Europe to take similar measures to stand united behind the Venezuelan people.”

    House Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY, 16th)

    “No one can deny that Venezuela is now a full-fledged dictatorship. I strongly support U.S. efforts to hold Nicolás Maduro and his cronies accountable while ensuring that the Venezuelan people—who have already suffered for far too long—are not forced to bear any further pain. I look forward to receiving a full analysis from the Trump Administration on the impact that these new sanctions will have on both the Maduro regime and the Venezuelan people. As the sanctions are implemented, President Trump must ensure that they have the appropriate impact and adjust them as necessary.

    “At the same time, the United States and our partners must continue to push for action in multilateral fora to address the crisis in Venezuela. In particular, we must increase efforts at the United Nations to address both the country’s political crisis and the Venezuelan people’s lack of access to food and medicine.

    “I have a long record in Congress of supporting strong actions against rogue regimes and will continue to do so.”