Thursday, November 30, 2017

Legislation Promised to Release Accusers from Privacy Agreements

Washington, D.C. - November 30, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- House Representative Luke Messer (R-IA, 6th) has promised that he will introduce legislation to help protect victims of sexual assault and harassment in Congress.

Messer’s bill would ensure victims aren’t silenced by non-disclosure agreements, and prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims with members of Congress.

“It’s not OK that taxpayer money is used to silence victims of sexual harassment,” Messer said. “If these victims want to tell their story, they should be empowered to do so.”

This effort by Messer follows recent reports that John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI, 13th) settled a sexual harassment complaint with a former staff member using taxpayer dollars. The Washington Post reports that the government has paid more than $17 million in taxpayer money over the last 20 years to settle sexual harassment claims and other workplace violations filed by employees of Congress.

Messer’s bill would release Congressional staff from current non-disclosure agreements signed as part of a sexual assault settlement with a Member of Congress, and prohibit non-disclosure agreements like this in the future. It would also prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims by a member of Congress or employee of the House or Senate.

Messer also supports the bipartisan Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act, which would make sexual harassment training mandatory for all members and staff.

Upon the allegations against John Conyers, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal called for Conyers to resign, saying, “The actions and subsequent deflections from the growing tide of sexual harassment cases in Congress not only hurt individual women, but they undermine our institution of democracy. For justice to be done in cases with substantial evidence, a simple denial is not sufficient; the relinquishment of power becomes essential. It is not easy for me to reach this conclusion because, as a civil rights activist, I have looked up to Rep. Conyers for decades. I believe these women, I see the pattern and there is only one conclusion – Mr. Conyers must resign.”

Representative Kathleen Rice (D-NY, 4th) has called on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI, 1st) to intervene in the case of a former employee who accused Rep. John Conyers, Jr. of unwanted sexual advances, and release her from the confidentiality agreement that she was forced to sign as part of a settlement. In a letter sent to Ryan Rice wrote:

“Under the settlement, the complainant was forced into a non-disclosure agreement and has been unable to openly discuss the workplace harassment and abuse she was subjected to, while Rep. Conyers and his attorney, Arnold Reed, have been free to make their case to the public. Three additional women (Maria Reddick, Melanie Sloan, and Deanna Maher) have been able to speak publicly about harassment by Rep. Conyers because they chose not to pursue a complaint through a system that is now universally acknowledged to be stacked against the victim.

“The accuser who attempted to seek help through a deeply flawed system should not continue to be silenced by the institution that failed to protect her in the first place.”

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Legislation Introduced Prohibiting Public Funds to be Used in Sexual Harassment Settlements by Members of Congress

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- On Tuesday, Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10), introduced H.R. 4458, legislation to ensure that taxpayer funds cannot be used to pay settlements resulting from sexual harassment by a Member of Congress. The bill also requires that the Ethics Committee consider the expulsion of a Congressman or Senator if they commit an act of sexual harassment.

Congressman Marino said the following regarding the introduction of this bill:

“Any form of sexual harassment in the workplace in completely unacceptable and Members of Congress should not be held to a different standard. As more information comes out regarding the secretive process for harassment complaints, it is clear that major changes need to be made.

It is unconscionable that Congressman and Senators have taxpayers foot the bill for their disgusting actions. My bill also requires the Ethics Committee to consider expulsion for any Member of Congress who commits an act of sexual harassment. There must be a serious review to determine whether someone is fit to serve in Congress based on the allegations.

My legislation takes a small, but important step, by ensuring that no taxpayer money can be used to settle harassment claims. This is a serious problem, and Congress must act.”

In the wake of media reporting on millions of dollars paid for more than 250 settlements to federal employees, Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick has called for an investigation into the matter.

Fitzpatrick’s call for an investigation followed the Washington Post’s reporting that Congress has made 264 settlements with Capitol Hill employees for various infractions, including sexual harassment. The newspaper said the settlements totaled $17 million over 20 years.

In a statement the congressman said:

“It’s unbelievable – and unacceptable – that elected officials have been using taxpayer dollars to cover up sexual harassment suits for years. As if the American people needed another example of politicians playing by a different set of rules, this is an affront to the hardworking taxpayers forced to foot the bill for these heinous actions. I’m calling on the House Ethics Committee to fully investigate this misuse of taxpayer funds and will work with any member of Congress to prevent this type of abuse. Moreover, this Congress must stand with the victims of this harassment and take swift action to root out those who would sexually harass any other person, regardless of position or title.”

The investigation the congressman is calling for would be handled by the House Committee on Ethics, which enforces standards of ethics and behaviors. The bipartisan committee can forward suggestions on actions that can be taken against members of congress if they are found to have violated standards.

Since the Washington Post’s reporting on the settlements, BuzzFeed News broke the story that Democratic Congressman John Conyers of Michigan settled a complaint using funds from his office budget in 2015. The former employee said she lost her job after not falling for his sexual advances.

Despite calls for a list of settlements to be released, officials have not provided that information.

Fitzpatrick’s office noted that the first-term legislator is a co-sponsor of the Me Too Congress Act that would “set definitive criteria to address sexual harassment in all national legislative branch offices.”

On Wednesday, Congressman Todd Rokita released the following statement after working with Congressman Ron DeSantis (FL-6) to write bipartisan legislation to help ensure justice for victims of sexual harassment and put an end to taxpayers footing the bill to cover up allegations against members of Congress:

“Americans are sick and tired of the special treatment given to members of Congress," said Congressman Rokita. “This legislation will help get justice for victims, and prevent taxpayer dollars from being used as hush money to protect the careers of politicians faced with allegations of sexual harassment. When it comes to draining the swamp, this is a great place to start.”

The Rokita-DeSantis Legislation does the following:

· Prohibits the use of public funds to pay settlements or awards for sexual harassment or assault claims

· Discloses all payments previously made by the Office of Compliance on its website (the name of the victim is expressly prohibited from being disclosed)

· Requires perpetrators to reimburse the taxpayers with interest

· Prohibits non disclosure agreements as a precondition to initiate procedures to address sexual harassment or assault claims

· Permits victims of sexual harassment or assault to make public statements about their claim, regardless of any previously signed non disclosure agreement

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

FBI Failure to Notify of Cyber Attacks Warrants Investigation

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting that he brief Congress on the FBI’s notification policy regarding cyberattacks against current and former U.S. government officials. The letter follows reports that the FBI, despite knowing about the threat, did not notify potential U.S. targets that their personal Gmail accounts could be vulnerable to Russian hacking.

In the letter, Mr. Lieu writes:

“As a computer science major and Member on the House Judiciary Committee, I have been deeply concerned about the breadth and complexity of the cybersecurity threats facing our nation. These threats often outpace our ability to track them, let alone combat them. However, given the FBI’s mission of protecting the United States from the malign efforts of “foreign intelligence and espionage” and “cyber-based attacks," the FBI’s response to this advanced persistent threat appears to have been deficient and demands further attention.

Failing to notify current or former U.S. officials of known cyber attacks hampers their ability to assess and mitigate damage. Threat actors can often glean useful data from private email accounts that is then used to conduct further attacks."


See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Uber Suffers Data Breach

Recent reports have indicated that Uber Technologies Inc. suffered a data breach involving the personal information of 57 million customers, including names, email addresses, and mobile phone numbers. Uber failed to disclose the breach promptly.

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), John Thune (R-SD), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) are seeking answers. They recently wrote the company. “The company maintains that its outside forensic experts have not seen any indication that customer trip location history, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, or dates of birth were downloaded. Nevertheless, the nature of the information currently acknowledged to have been compromised, together with the allegation that the company concealed the breach without notifying affected drivers and consumers, and prior privacy concerns at Uber, makes this a serious incident that merits further scrutiny,” stated the senators in the letter.

Senator Bill Cassidy is the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions, and Family Policy, which has jurisdiction over the protection of social security numbers and programs that are often targeted by identity thieves.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Indonesian Reprieve from Deportation Merits Responses

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Chief Judge Patti Saris of the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts ruled that the court has jurisdiction to delay deportations for members of the Indonesian community residing in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire, who face certain persecution as Christians in Indonesia, so that individuals can refile their cases. This ruling included some individuals who had been ordered to leave as early as this week. This will take a while, so the Indonesians facing deportation are temporarily relieved.

“I am very encouraged by this ruling,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D - NH). “The court made the right call--those who are threatened by deportation should have every opportunity to make their case to remain in their communities. New Hampshire should continue to be a sanctuary to the Indonesian community that fled religious persecution. Deporting these individuals will needlessly split families and communities, and put lives in danger. I’ll continue to make every effort to prevent these deportations so that the Indonesian community can continue to live peacefully in New Hampshire.”

In 2012, Senator Shaheen’s office helped negotiate an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to allow Indonesian immigrants to remain in New Hampshire and obtain work permits in exchange for a commitment to regularly check-in with ICE. This agreement was recently reversed by ICE under the Trump administration, and these individuals were ordered to begin making preparations for deportation. Senator Shaheen has called senior officials in the Trump administration on behalf of the Indonesian community, including the Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan and Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell. In October, Senator Shaheen welcomed New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu’s (R-NH) letter on behalf of the Indonesian community to the President and forwarded it to senior officials in the Trump administration.

“While I appreciate that the court has issued an order temporarily protecting members of the Indonesian community, I remain deeply concerned that the Trump Administration is prioritizing the deportation of these members of New Hampshire’s Indonesian community," Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) stated. "Many of these people came to our country fleeing religious persecution. They have become members of the community, they have worked jobs and paid taxes, and they have raised their families in the Seacoast. I will continue to work closely with the Congressional delegation and do everything I can to protect these Granite Staters.”

“I'm pleased that the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts has delayed removal of members of New Hampshire’s Indonesian Community and will give them more time to defend their right to stay in the state and country they call home,” said Congresswoman Ann Kuster (D-NH, 2nd). “These Indonesians came to the United States fearing religious persecution. They have built lives in the Granite State, contributed to our regional economy, and raised children that know no other home. For years they have voluntarily participated in and complied with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement supervision program. The decision to rescind this program and begin the deportation process for many of these individuals threatens to uproot families and risks renewed persecution for those who would be forced to return to Indonesia. I’m hopeful that a resolution will be reached that will allow these individuals to remain in the United States legally.”

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Enhancing Questions to Understand Intentions for Pregnancy (EQUIP) Act Introduced in the House

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) introduced legislation aimed at improving maternal and infant health outcomes and reducing rates of unintended pregnancy. She thinks that by asking young women questions, like "Are you trying to have a baby?" "Are you sexually active?" "Are you wearing protection?" This will reduce the stresses of unintended pregnancy.

While this does not help lower-income young women who may not be regularly seeing a doctor, it does seem like a step in the right direction for providing information that will, in the long run, prevent a need for an abortion.

The Enhancing Questions to Understand Intentions for Pregnancy (EQUIP) Act supports evidence-based pregnancy intention screening initiatives that facilitate important, patient-centered conversations between women and their health providers. These initiatives prepare health care providers to routinely ask female patients of child-bearing age about their goals regarding pregnancy, and subsequently provide appropriate pre-conception or contraceptive care and counsel.

“Families and communities are healthier when women are able to have healthy, planned pregnancies,” said Bonamici. “Studies show that empowering women and their health care providers to have a discussion about pregnancy intentions reduces unintended pregnancies, promotes maternal health, and improves birth outcomes. I’m proud to support bringing a successful pregnancy intention screening initiative from Oregon to a national scale."

“We applaud Congresswoman Bonamici for her leadership on women’s health issues, and are very hopeful that the EQUIP Act will bring widespread national attention to pregnancy intention screening,” stated Grayson Dempsey, Executive Director of the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health. “Oregon has always been on the forefront of progressive healthcare policy and we are proud that the One Key Question™ initiative has been able to help so many women get the services they need for planning and preventing pregnancy.”

"The EQUIP Act takes an important step towards ensuring that every woman—no matter who she is or where she lives—has the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant, and most importantly, to have the power to act upon those intentions," said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. "It will contribute to strengthening and spreading pregnancy intention screening protocols that support women and their health care providers in having important conversations that allow women to get the health care they need and want in order to avoid an unintended, or prepare for, a healthy pregnancy."

Bonamici modeled this legislation on One Key Question™, a pregnancy intention screening initiative developed by the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health. The initiative supported the implementation of structured pregnancy intention screening pilot studies in Oregon, including at Washington County Family Planning clinics in 2013. This model is now being implemented at sites in at least 30 states.

Bonamici strongly supports access to contraception and opposes efforts by the Trump Administration to terminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site


Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Nebraska Public Service Commission approved the permit allowing for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline last week.

“The Nebraska Public Service Commission set an example for how to carefully evaluate critical energy infrastructure projects, even in the face of strongly held views and opinions,” said American Petroleum Institute's President and CEO Jack Gerard . “It’s been a long path to (today’s) approval and the Commission should be commended. Their action allows the Keystone XL pipeline to be built by highly-trained, skilled tradesmen using state-of-the-art technologies aimed at protecting the environment and promoting the safety of our communities. Pipelines such as this enhance our ability to safely deliver North American energy to our world class refineries, which in turn provide the fuels and products we all rely on every day.”

Among the many benefits that will come from this project like increased energy security for our nation, the Keystone XL pipeline is estimated to support 42,000 jobs during its construction and generate $55 million in property tax revenue in its first year of operation.

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 10.3 million U.S. jobs and nearly 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 40 million Americans.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site


Washington, D.C. - November 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The House Judiciary Committee announced it will mark up House Representative Richard Hudson's (R-NC, 8th) bill, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 (H.R. 38), on Wednesday, November 29.

Concealed carry reciprocity is one of the most important pro-Second Amendment measures in Congress. Currently, the patchwork of reciprocity laws and agreements between states is confusing and has caused law-abiding citizens like Shaneen Allen to unwittingly break the law and suffer arrest and detention. Even the most careful and knowledgeable concealed carry permit holders find it difficult to navigate the current maze of state and local concealed carry laws. H.R. 38 is a common sense solution. The bill, which is supported by major pro-Second Amendment groups and has 213 cosponsors, would allow law-abiding citizens with a state-issued concealed carry license or permit to conceal a handgun in any other state that allows concealed carry. It would also allow law-abiding residents of Constitutional carry states the ability to carry in other states that recognize their own residents’ right to concealed carry.

H.R. 38 would allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed only if they are not federally prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm, are carrying a valid government-issued photo ID, and are lawfully licensed or otherwise entitled to carry a concealed handgun. Each person would have to follow the laws of the state, county and municipality in which they are carrying concealed.

U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08) stated, “For me and the vast majority of Americans who support concealed carry reciprocity, this is welcome progress. I want to thank Chairman Bob Goodlatte for his strong leadership to protect our Second Amendment rights. I will continue to work with my colleagues and President Trump to pass this common sense legislation to protect law-abiding citizens."

In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court ruled that “the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right,” which is “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” This fundamental right does not stop at a state’s borders and law-abiding citizens should be able to exercise this right when crossing state lines. In addition, Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution states, “Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.” This is the clause that allows a driver’s license to be recognized across state lines.

Contrary to the misinformation critics spread, under H.R. 38, states would retain their authority to enact time and place restrictions on where people can lawfully carry in the state. In addition, the bill would not make it any easier to buy a gun. It has nothing to do with the purchase of guns, it would not alter access to guns, and it would not change the federal law requiring background checks.

The American people understand these facts. That’s why an overwhelming majority of Americans support concealed carry reciprocity – 73% according to a recent New York Times survey.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Congress to Consider Harassment, Anti-Discrimination Training Requirements

Washington, D.C. - November 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The House of Representatives will consider Congresswoman Barbara Comstock's (R-VA, 10th) bipartisan Resolution this upcoming week requiring all Members and staff to complete mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training during each session of Congress. The Resolution is also sponsored by Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA), House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS), and Ranking Member Robert Brady (D-PA). The Resolution is expected to be voted on by the full House this week.

“Recent cases of sexual harassment both within Congress, and outside in other industries, make clear that we need increased efforts to provide zero tolerance for any form of sexual harassment in Congress. This bipartisan Resolution is a first step and more will still be done. This Resolution reforms House rules so that staff, interns, and fellows have the necessary protections if they face sexual harassment or discrimination in the Congressional workplace. This resolution will also put in the proper protocols and training so that both staff and Members are fully trained on anti-sexual harassment and anti-discrimination procedures.

“I want to thank House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper in working in a bipartisan manner on this resolution. Fostering a safe and healthy work environment in the House of Representatives is a priority for the Committee. Going forward we also will be working on additional legislation that will bring more accountability and transparency in cases of sexual harassment. The House Administration Committee will also be holding a hearing on December 7th to examine the Congressional Accountability Act and best practices going forward to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.”


· The Resolution requires that all House Members, Officers, employees, including interns, detailees, and fellows, of the House of Representatives shall complete an anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training program during each session of Congress.

· Each individual must complete the training within 90 days of the session. For new hires, staff must complete the training within 90 days of their hire date during the session. For the current 115th Congress, each individual shall complete the training no later than 180 days after the second session of Congress begins.

· Each individual will provide their certificate of completion to the Committee on House Administration and the training must be repeated every session of Congress.

· The Resolution tasks the Committee on House Administration with issuing regulations to ensure compliance and transparency. As part of the Committee’s extensive review, these regulations will be drafted and adopted by the Committee within 30 days of enactment of the Resolution.

· Additionally, the Resolution requires the posting of a statement of the rights and protections provided to employees of the House of Representatives under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995.

Ahead of a vote this week to formally establish mandatory sexual harassment training in the House, U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN, 5th) encouraged House leaders to go much further by unmasking the secret settlements that lawmakers have reached with people accusing them of sexual harassment.

“Training is not enough,” Rep. Cooper said. “Whenever Congress spends taxpayer money, we should disclose it all. Maybe then, our ‘zero tolerance’ policies will actually mean something. No one is above the law.”

Rep. Cooper, whose staff is already required to take an anti-harassment training course offered by the House, said heightened public awareness of sexual harassment issues should be more than enough reason for Congress to take additional steps beyond training.

These steps include naming the House and Senate lawmakers who have used a secret taxpayer-funded account to settle sexual harassment claims in Congress – retroactively and, if necessary, moving forward. But Rep. Cooper believes the current practice of secret settlements should be abolished altogether.

Cheri Bustos (D-IL, 17th) stated, “I find it unacceptable that members of Congress can use taxpayer funds to settle workplace disputes with virtually no transparency, particularly accusations of sexual harassment or discrimination. If a member of Congress is going to settle a sexual harassment claim, taxpayers should have the right to know about it since they’re the ones footing the bill. I am working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to demand a higher standard of leadership, a safer workplace environment and a culture of accountability on factory floors, in office buildings and in the halls of Congress.”

All of this comes in the wake of allegations made against John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI, 13th). In response to Conyer's decision to step down from his committee (although he has not opted to resign) David Cicilline (D-RI, 1st) stated, “Given the seriousness of the allegations against him, it was appropriate for Congressman Conyers to step down as Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee. I have tremendous respect for the work he has done to serve our country, but the accusations that have been presented against him in recent days are very serious. The Ethics Committee needs to conduct a thorough, impartial investigation into these accusations as quickly as possible.”

Some members of Congress say training isn't enough.

Rep. Ron DeSantis has announced his intent to introduce legislation to bring transparency to the congressional claims process and to prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to pay harassment claims.

In an effort to restore accountability, DeSantis' legislation will make public all payments funded by taxpayers, including the nature of the initial allegation and the member of Congress implicated, bar the use of any tax dollars to be used to settle sexual harassment claims where the plaintiff is a member of Congress or an employee of the House or Senate, and require that any member of Congress named in a settlement paid for by taxpayers reimburse the American people.

"Settlements paid with tax dollars should not be kept secret. Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent," DeSantis said. "Furthermore, members of Congress cannot be allowed to use the American people's money as a personal slushfund to cover wrongdoing. I’m working on legislation to unseal the settlement records, bar the use of tax dollars to pay harassment claims against members and staff, prohibit members from using their office budgets to camouflage settlement payments (a Conyers rule), and require reimbursement of the taxpayer by members and staff who have had settlements paid due to their misconduct.”

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Franken Must Take His Own Medicine

by Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

Sen. Al Franken broke his silence and did a media tour explaining away his sexual offenses. "I'm looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow," he said. He should instead take some of his own medicine and resign.

Five years ago, Franken co-sponsored a bill, the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act, to strengthen federal legislation on human trafficking, which includes sexual exploitation. The bill, which was approved by the Senate in December 2012, was necessitated because of the failure of the existing "zero tolerance" policy.

In July 2013, Franken co-sponsored another bill, the Military Justice Improvement Act, to deal with the "epidemic of sexual assault in the military." It was necessitated because of the failure of the existing "zero tolerance" policy.

It was noble of Franken to support going beyond "zero tolerance" to combat sexual abuse by government contractors and subcontractors who operate overseas. Similarly, it was noble of him to support going beyond "zero tolerance" to combat sexual molestation in the armed forces.

It was ignoble of him to go back to work today. Does he think that his support for legislation combating sexual abuse should not extend to him? He has admitted to one act of sexual abuse, and is accused by three other women of violating them.

Ironically, it was the Catholic Church that first instituted a "zero tolerance" policy for abusers. And what did Franken do? He mocked it.

Now that Franken has proven that he has no integrity left, it is up to the Senate to show him the door. He is utterly shameless.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Has Political Correctness Silenced Us?

by The Pastor's Network

The Greek poet Euripides was known to say that “Silence is true wisdom’s best reply.”

But when it comes to discussing political views in this sometimes-tempestuous society, many are taking the stance that silence—especially in difficult conversations about politics, religion and other controversial topics—is preferred and safer.

As evidence, the American Pastors Network, the largest national network dedicated to equipping pastors to be a voice for truth in the public square, is pointing to a new Cato Institute study that found 71 percent of Americans say political correctness has silenced some of the discussions society must have, and 58 percent have political views they are afraid to share.

APN President Sam Rohrer says these findings are telling in regards to how Americans interact with each other, the cultural climate and the role of the church in these important conversations.

“The most pressing topics in our society are not being discussed because a culture has been created that silences our voices,” Rohrer said. “This can be due to a variety of reasons, including fear, isolation or ridicule. These are the topics, however, Americans should be discussing, and especially Christians as they hopefully bring the truth of God’s Word to our everyday conversations. Furthermore, how does this translate to the Church? We pray pastors are not silencing themselves as well, but we know that many choose not to address from the pulpit the crucial matters in our culture for whatever reason.

“One of the missional goals of the American Pastors Network is to encourage biblically faithful clergy to take seriously Jesus’ command to be the ‘salt and light’ to the culture, encourage informed Christian thinking about contemporary social issues, examine public policy issues without politicizing their pulpits and engage their congregations in taking part in the political process on a non-partisan basis,” Rohrer added. “We certainly can’t act as salt and light by hiding the light of God’s truth under a bushel, which is exactly what we resort to when we keep silent in an increasingly PC culture.”

The Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey, which polled 2,300 U.S. adults, also found that political party somewhat dictated how people felt about silencing their conversations. For example, a slim majority (53 percent) of Democrats do not feel the need to self-censor. Conversely, strong majorities of Republicans (73 percent) and independents (58 percent) say they keep some political beliefs to themselves.

Cato also reported, “A solid majority (59 percent) of Americans think people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions in public, even those deeply offensive to others. On the other hand, 40 percent think government should prevent hate speech.”

Despite this, the survey also found Americans willing to censor, regulate, or punish a wide variety of speech and expression they personally find offensive:

  • 51 percent of staunch liberals say it’s “morally acceptable” to punch Nazis.
  • 53 percent of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
  • 51 percent of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people’s preferred gender pronouns.
  • 65 percent of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
  • 58 percent of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
  • 47 percent of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
  • 59 percent of liberals say it’s hate speech to say transgender people have a mental disorder; only 17 percent of conservatives agree.
  • 39 percent of conservatives believe it’s hate speech to say the police are racist; only 17 percent of liberals agree.
  • 80 percent of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say illegal immigrants should be deported; only 36 percent of conservatives agree.
  • 87 percent of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say women shouldn’t fight in military combat roles, while 47 percent of conservatives agree.
  • 90 percent of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say homosexuality is a sin, while 47 percent of conservatives agree.

    “These findings, especially the chasms between liberals and conservatives when it comes to moral and biblical issues such as a homosexuality, immigration, religion and gender, are especially important for church leaders,” Rohrer added. “While every pastor must first and foremost preach the whole counsel of God and reveal the Bible’s truth without waver, it is helpful to know where the people in the pews stand and the conversations they are having—or not having—regarding these important matters.”
  • Congressman Cleaver Joins House and Senate Democrats in Sponsoring New Proposal for Retired Workers

    Washington, D.C. - November 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II joined Democratic leaders from the House and Senate in sponsoring a new proposal to help pension retirees. The proposed legislation would ensure that retired workers keep the pensions they have earned. Specifically, the legislation would allow the Treasury Department to loan money through the sale of U.S. Treasury bonds to pension plans to ensure that retirees and their families are guaranteed their promised benefits.

    “It was time for Congress to act. Millions of pensions are at risk. I listened to thousands of retirees in my district, and across the Midwest, who were worried about their pensions being cut, some by as much as 60 percent. I believe this plan is a practical, common-sense solution that will ensure retirees continue to receive the pensions they have worked for,” said Congressman Cleaver.

    Pension plans – including the massive Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund, the United Mine Workers Pension Plan, and over 200 more plans impacting workers in every state in the country – are on the brink of failure. If nothing is done, these 200 multiemployer plans are projected to fail, many within the next 10 years. The result would be economically devastating, as the retirement benefits of 1.5 million plan participants could be at risk.

    Congressman Cleaver has been working on behalf of retirees on this issue since 2015 when over 800 retirees began contacting his office.

    “In my district alone, there will be over 3,500 people affected. For the state of Missouri, an estimated 32,000 people are impacted with a total of $3 billion dollars’ worth of pensions,” said Congressman Cleaver.

    The proposal would:

    • Provide financing to put failing pension plans back on solid ground to ensure they can meet their commitments to retirees today and to workers for decades to come.

    • Prevent cuts to benefits retirees have already earned.

    • Put safeguards in place so pension plans remain strong for today's workers when they retire.

    In 2016, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver held a town hall meeting for retired workers who are affected by the massive cuts to the Central States Pension Fund (CSPF) and led efforts to bring the U.S. Treasury Department’s Special Master, Kenneth Feinberg, to hear their concerns about the proposed steep cuts to the Central States Pension Fund. Over 1,500 people showed up at the Downtown Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri to share their concerns, regarding the implementation of the Kline-Miller Act.

    This year, Congressman Cleaver sent a letter, which can be found here, to President Donald Trump to address the crisis involving multi-employer pensions and in 2016 Congressman Cleaver sent a letter to the Department of Justice requesting a formal investigation into the management of the Central States Pension Fund to determine if there was any fraudulent or mishandling of funds. He also joined other U.S. House members in requesting a full accounting of the CSPF by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). That study is currently ongoing.

    “It’s time to protect the promise we made to retirees. Protect their pensions,” said Congressman Cleaver.

    Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus.

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    Labor Department’s Fiduciary Rule Delay Met With Opposition

    Washington, D.C. - November 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Department of Labor (DOL) issued a final rule extending the applicability of the full protections of the conflict of interest (fiduciary) rule by a full year and a half, from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019. The fiduciary rule was initially set to take effect in April 2017, but was delayed following a directive by President Trump early in the year. After examining the rule, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced in May that the rule would not be delayed further and would take effect in January 2018. This announcement means the rule – which was originally announced in 2015 – will not be implemented until July 2019.

    The Save Our Retirement (SOR) coalition issued the following statement in response:

    “This action is effectively a repeal of the fiduciary rule’s most critical provisions – the provisions that ensure the rule is effective and enforceable and that financial advisers and their firms are accountable for providing the best interest advice retirement savers both want and need. DOL claims it is simply delaying the full implementation and enforcement of the fiduciary rule by 18 months, but delay implies these provisions will become applicable in the near future. However, the Trump Administration has made clear its goal is that these most critical provisions never become applicable. Instead, the Administration’s intent is to use this time to permanently dismantle key elements of the rule.

    “The Trump Administration’s actions prove that it is far less interested in protecting investors from the harmful effects of conflicts of interest than it is in catering to Wall Street interests. This rule is only as strong as its ability to be enforced. By stripping out the rule’s private enforcement mechanism, and by stating that the Department won’t enforce the rule, the DOL has rendered the rule toothless. This is exactly what the industry rule opponents wanted – a best interest in name only standard that leaves the broker-dealer, insurance, and mutual fund industry free to continue draining retirement savers’ hard-earned money with impunity. This outcome is especially troubling, since many firms in the adviser industry have embraced the rule and were fully prepared to comply by January 1st.”

    U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) also commented, “Today’s decision means that those financial advisors more concerned with their bottom line than with helping customers will now have 18 more months to ignore new consumer-friendly rules that protect Americans’ retirement savings from bad investment advice and hidden fees. This new delay is on top of a six-month delay in enforcement of the conflict of interest rule announced earlier this year.

    “Enough is enough. It’s time to finally enforce these rules and ensure that every financial advisor prioritizes their clients' interests over their own.”

    Senator Booker has been a leading voice in the effort to implement the consumer safeguard. In February 2015, he joined President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren at AARP’s headquarters to announce the new rule and the enormous impact it would have on families saving for retirement. When it was signaled earlier this year that the rule might be scrapped, Booker publicly pressured the Labor Department for months, sending several letters to the Labor Secretary and penning an op-ed with Senator Warren explaining why the rule was so important to Americans saving for retirement.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site


    Washington, D.C. - November 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI, 7th) has been awarded the 2017 Motorcycle Legislator of the Year Award by the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, one of the nation’s leading motorcycle rights organizations. Since the group’s formation in 1984, the Legislator of the Year award recognizes lawmakers for their commitment to advancing policies that support motorcycle riders across the country.

    “As a Harley owner who has been riding since my 20th birthday, receiving this award is particularly meaningful,” said Congressman Walberg, co-chair of the House Motorcycle Caucus. “Millions of Americans from all walks of life rely on motorcycles as a means of transportation or recreation, and I’m proud to advocate for their freedom to responsibly enjoy the open road or off-road trails.”

    “Tim has always been a great friend to the motorcycle community,” said Vince Consiglio, Executive Director of ABATE of Michigan and member of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. “We know we can count on him to make sure our voice is heard in the halls of Congress.”

    In the 115th Congress, Walberg has championed a number of legislative issues of importance to motorcycling, including introducing a bipartisan resolution to address the issue of motorcycle profiling and promote collaboration between the motorcycle and law enforcement communities.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site


    Washington, D.C. - November 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The Congressional Task Force on Election Security, chaired by Committee on Homeland Security Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS, 2nd) and Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Robert Brady (D-PA, 1st) sent a letter to the leaders of the House Appropriations Committee to request funding to help states secure their voting infrastructure.

    Russia’s unprecedented assault on the country’s elections in 2016, targeting 21 states’ voting systems, exposed the urgent need to protect these systems – which includes voting machines and voter registration databases. Currently, there is nearly $400 million remaining from the 2002 Help America Vote Act that could be used for this purpose. The Brennan Center for Justice has reported that replacing outdated, paperless voting machines would cost up to $400 million. Although the election was over a year ago, federal election security action has been nonexistent. Just last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted to Congress that he had “not followed through” to ensure that the 2018 elections are secure.

    Congressman Thompson and Congressman Brady released the following statement along with their letter:

    “When a sovereign nation attempts to meddle in our elections, it is an attack on our country. We created the Task Force on Election Security to better understand what can be done to protect our elections going forward. Finding that voting machines and voter databases can be easily hacked, there is a clear and urgent need for federal funding to help states secure their elections. We cannot leave states on their own to defend against the sophisticated tactics of state actors like Russia. The money that states desperately need to take crucial security steps is available and can be appropriated right now. We urge our colleagues in Congress to recognize with us that ensuring the security of our election systems is a bipartisan issue. With the next federal election less than a year away, Congress must act now.”

    You can read the Letter to Appropriations by clicking HERE

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Monday, November 27, 2017

    Protecting African Elephants

    Washington, D.C. - November 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) led a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke calling on the Department to officially halt any reversal of the ban on importing sport-hunted African elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia. U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and 20 other Democratic Senators joined Menendez in demanding answers to 9 specific questions about the decision.

    Last week, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a decision to lift the ban on elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia, stating it would “enhance the survival of the African elephant.” This decision followed a similar one pertaining to sport-hunted lion trophies last month. The original decision to ban the importation came after inadequate domestic conservation programs failed to rely on scientific data and proven conservation practices.

    “[W]e find it unconscionable that the USFWS has reversed its finding that the conservation programs in these countries fail to meet its standards without sufficient analysis and evidence to ensure that this plan has led to real changes on the ground,” the senators wrote.

    After outrage spread on social media over the apparent decision, President Trump tweeted that the decision was on hold, and then tweeted two days later that he “will be very hard pressed to change [his] mind.”

    “Additionally, the President has tweeted that the decision is currently on hold, but USFWS had already published its decision in the Federal Register, and no subsequent updates have been made,” the senators wrote. “While we appreciate that additional reviews may be underway, the fact remains that tweets alone do not constitute substantive federal policy without commensurate agency action and do not negate the need to file appropriate public notice.”

    In 2015, Senator Menendez introduced the CECIL Animal Trophies Act to disincentivize trophy killings of species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

    This prompted Representatives Grace Meng (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) who led a bipartisan group of lawmakers urging Donald Trump to retain the U.S. ban on the importation of African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

    In a letter to Trump, the lawmakers wrote: “It is imperative that we continue to lead conservation efforts that strengthen local communities and prohibit poaching. African elephants are treasured by people the world over. They are worth far more alive than dead, drawing millions of wildlife-watching tourists who contribute billions to local economies across the continent. As Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, we are in firm agreement that it is of the utmost importance to continue protections for threatened and endangered species both at home and abroad.”

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    North Korea Designated State Sponsor of Terrorism Last Week

    Washington, D.C. - November 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- North Korea has been designated a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Trump's announcement last week garnered support from Congress.

    House Representative Lee Zeldin (R-NY, 1st) commented, “An increasingly rogue nation, North Korea has demonstrated a blatant disregard for international law and human life through its active pursuit of nuclear capabilities, support of assassinations on foreign soil, and other nefarious activities. We cannot afford to disregard the real and escalating threat North Korea poses to the United States and our allies around the world. The President’s redesignation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terror is critical to ensuring the U.S. has the resources it needs to apply effective diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang that protects America's security at home and abroad.”

    In 1988, North Korea was added to the state sponsors of terrorism list following the 1987 bombing of South Korean Air Flight 858, but was removed in 2008 amid nuclear negotiations by President George W. Bush. Since its removal, North Korea has launched cyber attacks against civilian targets, supported assassinations on foreign soil, sold arms to terrorist organizations, and consistently tested intercontinental ballistic missiles. This year, American student Otto Warmbier was brutally tortured at the hands of Kim Jong Un’s regime which resulted in Warmbier’s eventual death.

    Ted Yoho (R-FL, 3rd) called the move "overdue", and stated, “North Korea’s consistent record of facilitating terror is beyond dispute, from the callous murder of American college student Otto Warmbier to the use of a banned chemical weapon to assassinate Kim’s half-brother to sales of arms to terrorist groups around the world.

    “Duly labeling North Korea a State Sponsor of Terror will reiterate to the globe that Kim’s nefarious activities have no place in the civilized world, further discouraging intercourse with this dangerous regime. Thae Yong-ho, the highest-ranking North Korea defector in decades, told me during his testimony before the Foreign Affairs Committee that this redesignation will help keep up the pressure on Kim. I thank the administration for taking this important step.”

    Jackie Walorski (R-IN, 2nd) voiced strong support for the designation, saying, "Congress will continue working with the administration to counter Kim Jong-un’s dangerous and destabilizing actions and to protect the safety and security of the American people.”

    Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL, 27th), Chairman Emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, made the following statement after the announcement that North Korea will be redesignated as a state sponsor of terrorism:

    “Ever since 2008, I have been adamant that North Korea should be redesignated as a state sponsor of terrorism. In addition to a host of illegal and belligerent acts against civilian targets worldwide, the Kim regime has directly supported terrorist groups as part of a destructive nexus with Iran and Syria. Redesignating North Korea provides the administration with important tools to increase pressure on the Kim regime and I commend the decision to put it back on the list where it belongs."

    Ros-Lehtinen is the author of the North Korea Sanctions and Diplomatic Nonrecognition Act, introduced in previous Congresses beginning in 2009. Among other provisions, the bill detailed North Korean acts that can be defined as international terrorism and expressed the sense of Congress that North Korea should be redesignated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

    "There is no question that North Korea has engaged in acts of terrorism endangering the United States and the security of our allies. I fully support President Trump declaring North Korea a state sponsor of terror and increasing sanctions against Pyongyang. North Korea must be held accountable for their actions, including the way they treat their own people,” stated House Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN, 4th).

    “I commend President Trump’s decision to designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Under the reign of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s provocative actions have only increased, and today’s designation to further isolate this rogue regime sends a strong message to our allies and adversaries that we take this threat seriously and will use every tool at our disposal to hold this tyrannical despot accountable,” said Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) chimed in with, "Nuclear-armed North Korea has a long history of cooperating with Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime on ballistic missiles, continues to commit egregious human rights violations against its own people, and is responsible for the recent death of American citizen Otto Warmbier. The United States and other countries, including China, must do everything in our power to end the Kim regime's growing nuclear and missile threats, and bring about a denuclearized Korean peninsula.”

    Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) supported the decision, stating, “This designation will serve as an important tool to exert peaceful pressure on the North Korean regime. I will continue to press the State Department to explore all available options to hold this regime accountable for its actions and prevent their continued dangerous behavior.”

    Under the recently-enacted Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the State Department was required to inform Congress on whether North Korea meets the criteria as a state sponsor of terrorism. Portman led a bipartisan letter to the State Department on October 2 outlining the many destabilizing and terror-related acts taken by this rogue regime.

    All of these reactions came from Republicans. As usual, when Trump does something right, the Democrats remain silent. God forbid they ever praise him for anything.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Several Bills Signed Into Law Last Week

    Washington, D.C. - November 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- On Tuesday, November 21, 2017, the President signed into law:

    H.R. 194, the "Federal Agency Mail Management Act of 2017,"

    which requires the General Services Administration to provide guidance and assistance to Federal agencies to ensure effective processing of the mail;

    H.R. 1545, the "VA Prescription Data Accountability Act of 2017," which require the Department of Veterans Affairs to disclose information about covered individuals to State controlled substance monitoring programs to help to prevent misuse and diversion of prescription medications;

    H.R. 1679, the "FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 2017," which requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ensure that the ongoing modernization of grant systems for the administration of disaster assistance include specified features to improve applicant accessibility and transparency;

    H.R. 3243, the "FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017," which extends and makes permanent several provisions of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA); and

    H.R. 3949, the "Veterans Apprenticeship and Labor Opportunity

    Reform (VALOR) Act of 2017," which provides for the designation of State approving agencies for multi-state apprenticeship programs for purposes of the educational assistance programs of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Leahy Slams Border Wall Funding As “Bumper Sticker Budgeting”

    Washington, D.C. - November 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) --Slamming the proposal as “bumper sticker budgeting,” Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Tuesday focused on a provision in the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would provide $1.6 billion from American taxpayers for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico.

    Leahy said: “This is bumper sticker budgeting to save face for one of President Trump’s failed campaign promises. Instead of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars to fund this costly and ineffective proxy for real action on immigration reform, we should be directing our resources toward finding cures for cancer, building schools for our children, feeding the hungry, rebuilding our infrastructure and real security. We should be investing in what brings us together, not building walls that drive us apart.”

    Placed in strategic locations identified by the Department of Homeland Security as being in need of additional security to prevent illegal border crossings or other illicit activities, the United States already has 654 miles of pedestrian fencing or vehicle barriers along its southern border. The additional 74 miles of President Trump’s border wall proposed in the appropriations bill is estimated to impact 900 landowners and cost as much as $22 million per mile. With legal disputes still ongoing from border wall construction a decade ago in Texas, the legal costs of new construction are expected to be astronomical and drawn out over years.

    With illegal border crossings on the decline and apprehensions along the southern border reaching historic lows, Leahy argued that American tax dollars should be spent elsewhere and invested in the American people. If the bill had gone through markup in the full Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy would have offered an amendment that would have blocked funding for the wall unless it was paid for by Mexico, as President Trump promised.

    Leahy said: “President Trump ran on a clear campaign promise – he was going to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and Mexico would pay for it. He could not have been clearer. I have also been clear about how I feel about this misguided campaign promise. Building a wall along our southern border is a waste of taxpayer dollars and an insult to our neighbor to the South. From every perspective, this costly wall is an unwelcome turkey.”

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Conyers Sexual Harassment Charge Under Investigation

    Washington, D.C. - November 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, has stepped down from his post in light of sexual harassment allegations on Monday. Conyers' lawyer maintained that the Pelosi "icon" was not going to resign, however. This has sparked comments and feigned outrage among Democrats in Congress about the charges.

    Maxine Waters (D-CA, 43rd) went on the defensive in light of a recent speech at a women's luncheon, with, “When I delivered remarks at the Women’s March Convention Sojourner Truth Luncheon in Detroit, Michigan on October 28, 2017, I acknowledged the women of the United States Congress’ Michigan delegation, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and gave particular recognition to Congressman John Conyers, Jr. whose district includes Detroit. I had no prior knowledge of the very serious and disturbing allegations of sexual assault and misconduct by Mr. Conyers that were first revealed on November 20, 2017, nearly one month after the event. My October 28 comments were solely based on Mr. Conyers’ long history of support for women’s issues and organizations such as the National Organization for Women."

    Outraged that sexual harassment claims could be made in Congress, Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, 12th) exclaimed, “There can be no tolerance – whether in Congress or any workplace - for sexual misconduct. We have spent too many years allowing these incidents to be kept a secret and predatory behavior to go on without consequence. Enough is enough. Standards need to change, and we in Congress must start with ourselves. The current system for reporting such incidents in Congress is antithetical to justice. Forcing victims into mandatory mediation with their abuser revictimizes those who chose to come forward. No one should be mandated to wait 90 days to file their formal complaint. This long, dragged out process places an undue burden on victims while shielding abusers. I support a rewrite of these rules through currently proposed legislation like the Me Too Congress Act which will make the reporting process fairer and require staff and Member training to punish and prevent such behaviors.”

    This prompted Zoe Lofgren (D-CA, 19th) to demand, “The reports about Congressman Conyers are as serious as they get. The Committee on Ethics should take up this matter immediately with a goal of promptly assessing the validity of the news account. This reported behavior cannot be tolerated in the House of Representatives or anywhere else.”

    “The allegations against Ranking Member Conyers are extremely serious and deeply troubling. Obviously, these allegations must be investigated promptly by the Ethics Committee. There can be no tolerance for behavior that subjects women to the kind of conduct alleged. We also must support efforts to reform the way the House of Representatives handles these matters to make the process easier and more supportive of victims, as well as more transparent,” said Jerrold Nadler (D-NY, 10th).

    Dina Titus (D-NV, 1st) later stated, “The Ethics Committees in both chambers must investigate credible allegations of sexual harassment. My office has a zero-tolerance policy without exception. Other offices should do the same. Starting with President Trump, no candidate or politician should serve if he or she is guilty of such unspeakable acts. As Minority Leader of the Nevada State Senate, I pushed through the first sexual harassment policy for legislators and lobbyists in 1999. As a member of Congress, I am continuing that effort by supporting much-needed reforms on Capitol Hill.”

    This is going to be an interesting ride, ya'll. Hang on to your seats!

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Office Of The Governor Offers Reward In Murder Case Of Texas Border Patrol Agent

    Austin, TX - November 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Governor Greg Abbott has authorized a reward up to $20,000 through the Texas Crime Stoppers program for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and the serious injury of another. All tips are guaranteed to be anonymous.

    Agent Rogelio Martinez died Sunday as a result of injuries sustained while on patrol in the Big Bend area. His partner, who was injured, remains in the hospital in serious condition.

    “We owe a great deal of gratitude to the brave men and women of the United States Border Patrol who serve every day to protect our homeland,” said Governor Abbott. “Cecilia and I offer our deepest condolences to the families of the agents killed and seriously injured in this attack. As authorities continue their investigation, it is important that they receive any and all information to help apprehend and deliver swift justice to those responsible.”

    To be eligible for the cash rewards, anyone with information on fugitives can provide anonymous tips in three different ways:

  • Call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-252-TIPS (8477)
  • Text the letters ‘DPS’ - followed by your tip - to 274637 (CRIMES) from your cell phone
  • Submit a web tip by visiting

    Texas Crime Stoppers is a program within the Office of the Governor under the Criminal Justice Division (and administered by the Texas Department of Public Safety) that encourages, supports and fosters the development of local crime stoppers organizations as a way to prevent crime. This grant is provided under the Crime Stoppers Fallen Hero Reward program.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site
  • Court Strikes Abortion Buffer Zone Law

    Newark, NJ - November 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- A New Jersey federal court struck down a City of Englewood eight-foot buffer zone that prohibits pro-life speech near abortion facilities. Applying the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous 2014 opinion in McCullen v. Coakley, which held unconstitutional an identically worded Massachusetts buffer zone law, the New Jersey court ruled the ordinance violates the First Amendment.

    The decision provides fresh optimism for Liberty Counsel's lawsuit against the City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to strike down the twenty-foot buffer zone ordinance passed by the City at the behest of Planned Parenthood. The Harrisburg ordinance violates the constitutional rights of Liberty Counsel's clients Becky Biter and Colleen Reilly, who are Christian sidewalk counselors being prevented from telling women about alternatives to abortion they will not hear once inside Planned Parenthood. Just as in Englewood, the Harrisburg City Council failed to consider any less restrictive alternatives to its speech ban, opting instead to become enthusiastic agents for the Planned Parenthood agenda.

    Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania are in the same federal appellate jurisdiction, covered by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, where Liberty Counsel has already secured an early victory in the Harrisburg case. The Harrisburg trial court is now bound by the favorable Third Circuit ruling as the case proceeds, and should be favorably influenced by the plainly sound reasoning of its sister court in New Jersey.

    "The New Jersey decision is a great example of clear constitutional reasoning, uncorrupted by the 'abortion distortion' that has pervaded so many court decisions since Roe v. Wade," said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "The decision should be an encouragement to pro-life sidewalk counselors around the country, and a warning to state and local governments who increasingly abdicate their duties to uphold the constitutional rights of their citizens in order to carry water for Planned Parenthood," said Staver.

    Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    San Diego Abortion Facility Where Abortionist Engaged in Demonic Rant Has Closed

    By Cheryl Sullenger

    San Diego, CA - November 27, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- FPA Women’s Health, a chain of California abortion facilities, has shut down its troubled office on Miramar Road in San Diego, effective on Friday, November 17, 2017.

    The San Diego location was the site of an incident involving abortionist Robert Santella and pro-life activist Zephaniah Mel. Santella threatened Mel with a pair of surgical scissors during a bizarre demonic rant, that included hissing and a confession that he loved killing children during abortions.

    That behavior, along with complaints of malpractice and botched abortions, resulted in Santella’s firing from the abortion chain, which he had been affiliated with for over 30 years. Santella was forced to surrender his medical license after the California Medical Board charged him with negligence and unprofessional conduct.

    Operation Rescue confirmed that Santella’s medical license has been surrendered and his private office on College Avenue in San Diego, where he also conducted abortions, is also closed.

    The FPA office was also the scene of several medical emergencies that required ambulance transport, including one in September 2015, when a mother accompanying her daughter for an abortion was forced to call an ambulance for her bleeding daughter when the FPA Women’s Health staff refused. Her action likely saved her daughter’s life.

    FPA Women’s Health has had a presence in San Diego County since the 1980s. The high-volume abortion business, which once boasted that its “doctors” spent only three minutes per patient completing abortions, has been forced to move a number of times.

    While located in La Mesa, California, in the 1990s, the FPA abortion facility was the site of numerous large pro-life sit-ins, that resulted in the arrests of several peaceful protesters. In early 2002, the abortion business’ landlord finally evicted them from their office. FPA relocated Sixth Avenue across from Balboa Park, until being forced to move again when the building they occupied was slated for demolition. Their most recent address on Miramar Road was considered an odd location since it was situated in the middle of a furniture mall.

    Two years ago, a pro-life alternatives facility, Turning Point Pregnancy Resource Center, moved in next door to the abortion facility, and impacted FPA’s business by offering women assistance and positive alternatives to abortion.

    Now, Operation Rescue has confirmed that the San Diego FPA abortion business is relocating once again, this time to the more conservative East County community of El Cajon. That facility is located at 1625 E. Main Street, Suite 202, in El Cajon — right next to an Albertson’s grocery store, which is sure to create tension in the community.

    “We are thankful that this abortion business has been once again forced to move, thanks to the prayers and action of pro-life activists, who have been so faithful on the sidewalks throughout the decades. When abortion businesses relocate, it usually results in a loss of business – which means babies’ lives are spared,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “We pray the El Cajon FPA office shuts down soon and has nowhere to relocate.”

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Flanagan: Landmark Middle Class Income Tax Cuts to Take Effect January 1

    Washington, D.C. - November 27, 2017  (The Ponder News) --
    New York State Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan today announced that the state’s landmark middle class tax cuts will take effect on January 1. Authored by the Senate GOP, this tax relief program will save taxpayers billions of dollars of their hard-earned money and help tens of thousands of small businesses grow, thrive, and create new jobs.

    One of the largest tax cuts in state history, this Senate Republican-driven cut will reduce middle class tax rates by 20 percent and ultimately provide $4.2 billion in annual savings for individuals and small businesses.

    “New York’s taxpayers need and deserve real tax relief and the Senate Republicans are not only listening, but delivering,” Senator Flanagan said. “We have led the way on controlling state spending, capping local property taxes, and soon, millions of middle class taxpayers will get to keep more of their income to invest and spend as they see fit. This tax savings will continue to be key to creating better opportunities for middle class New Yorkers and ensuring our state is more affordable for both businesses and families.”

    Senator Catharine Young, Chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “This historic tax relief will allow middle class families to achieve a better quality of life because they will keep more from their paychecks. Hardworking taxpayers will be able to afford to buy more goods and services, which in turn will grow more jobs and economic prosperity. Senate Republicans are fighting hard for taxpayers and leading the way so that every New Yorker has the opportunity to succeed.”

    The tax cut plan reduces personal income tax rates for more than 4.4 million New Yorkers and tens of thousands of small businesses in the first year alone. For middle class taxpayers, savings will average approximately $250 in 2018 and grow to $700 annually. The cuts will save a total of $6.6 billion in just the first four years.

    State income tax rates will become the lowest since 1948, with the rate decreasing from 6.85 to 5.5 percent when fully phased in, representing a 20 percent tax reduction and $4.2 billion in annual savings for 6 million middle class taxpayers.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Mad-cow Disease Could be Transmittable by Touch

    Washington, D.C. - November 27, 2017  (The Ponder News) -- National Institutes of Health scientists and collaborators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, have detected abnormal prion protein in the skin of nearly two dozen people who died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The scientists also exposed a dozen healthy mice to skin extracts from two of the CJD patients, and all developed prion disease. The study results, published in Science Translational Medicine, raise questions about the possible transmissibility of prion diseases via medical procedures involving skin, and whether skin samples might be used to detect prion disease. Researchers from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) were co-leaders of the study, which included multiple collaborating groups. They stress that the prion-seeding potential found in skin tissue is significantly less than what they have found in studies using brain tissue.

    CJD is an incurable — and ultimately fatal  —  transmissible, neurodegenerative disorder in the family of prion diseases. Prion diseases originate when normally harmless prion protein molecules become abnormal and gather in clusters and filaments in the human body and brain. The reasons for this process are not fully understood.  The accumulation of these clusters has been associated with tissue damage that leaves sponge-like holes in the brain. Human prion diseases include fatal insomnia; kuru; Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker syndrome; and variant, familial and sporadic CJD. Sporadic CJD is the most common human prion disease, affecting about one in one million people annually worldwide. Other prion diseases include scrapie in sheep; chronic wasting disease in deer, elk and moose; and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in cattle.

    Most people associate prion diseases with the brain, although scientists have found abnormal infectious prion protein in other organs, including the spleen, kidney, lungs and liver. Sporadic CJD is known to be transmissible by invasive medical procedures involving the central nervous system and cornea, but transmission via skin had not been a common concern.

    Using a test for prion diseases known as Real-Time Quaking-Induced Conversion (RT-QuIC), scientists analyzed skin tissue from 38 patients — 23 who had died from CJD, and 15 who died of other causes. They also collected brain tissue from the 23 CJD patients and from seven individuals who died of other causes. RT-QuIC correctly detected abnormal prion protein in each CJD patient sample tested and in none of the non-CJD group. The scientists noted that in the CJD group, the “seeding potential” for normal prion protein to convert to abnormal was 1,000 to 100,000 times lower in skin than brain tissue.

    The scientists then exposed humanized laboratory mice to either brain or skin extracts from two of the CJD patients. All 12 mice inoculated with brain tissue developed prion disease, as did all 12 inoculated with skin extracts, though disease in the skin group took about twice as long — roughly 400 days —  to develop. The group also reported that brain degeneration in both groups of infected mice was similar.

    The study authors say the results should generate discussion about potential surgical instrument contamination and risk associated with procedures involving CJD patients.

    “Perspective is important when interpreting these outcomes,” said Byron Caughey, Ph.D., a senior investigator at NIAID’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) who helped oversee the study. “This study used humanized mice with tissue extracts directly inoculated into the brain, so the system was highly primed for infection. There is no evidence that transmission can occur in real-world situations via casual skin contact. However, the results raise transmission questions that warrant further study.”

    The study also raises the possibility of using RT-QuIC with skin tissue samples as a diagnostic test for human and animal prion diseases. The test is widely used with samples of brain and spinal-fluid for the diagnosis of CJD, but such samples are not always available.

    “Our objective has always been to facilitate RT-QuIC testing using the most broadly available and least-invasive sample possible, whether that is blood, skin, nasal brushings, or other samples,” Dr. Caughey said. His research group has developed RT-QuIC over the past decade at RML, where he also has trained many international colleagues to use and advance the test.

    Dr. Caughey’s group is continuing its development of RT-QuIC applications, including further studies of when and where the pathological prion protein appears in skin, and how to effectively inactivate its infectious forms.

    NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses.

    NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Trump Admin Plans Surveillance of Immigrants’ Social Media

    Washington, D.C. - November 27, 2017  (The Ponder News) -- A group of Senators have sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Elaine Duke calling into question a recent notice by the Trump Administration that DHS would retain “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” of immigrants, including that of lawful permanent residents and naturalized U.S. citizens.

    “Without any information explaining the scope and timing of the Department’s plans to implement social media screening of all applicants for immigration benefits, we are concerned with the constitutional and privacy concerns raised by this action,” wrote the senators. “Not only does this data collection affect immigrants, it would appear to impact any individual in the United States who communicates with an immigrant, including a U.S. citizen.”

    Seen as the latest chapter in President Trump’s broader anti-immigrant agenda, the announcement was immediately condemned by civil rights organizations and immigrant rights groups as a flagrant attempt to intimidate people who have immigrated to this country by censoring their free speech rights. The Senator’s missive asks Acting Secretary Duke to answer a series of questions on the lawfulness and rationale behind a program to indefinitely store electronic communications of citizens and non-citizen immigrants.

    A copy of the letter is available Here .

    See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

    Chicago City Council Votes To Continue Legal Protection Fund

    Washington, D.C. - November 27, 2017  (The Ponder News) -- Last week, Chicago City Council voted to continue to allocate funding for the Chicago Legal Protection Fund in 2018.

    That budget vote meant that several organizations will have the opportunity to continue providing legal education and representation for Chicago immigrants who are living under increasing threat of deportation by the Trump administration.

    To date in 2017, the Legal Protection Fund has allowed the National Immigrant Justice Center to provide legal consultations to about 1,700 Chicagoans and legal representation in nearly 900 cases to help immigrants apply for affirmative forms of relief or defend themselves against deportation. The Resurrection Project  and Community Navigator organizations have reached over 22,000 Chicagoans through “know your rights” presentations and other community education efforts.

    “The Legal Protection Fund has been critical this year to helping us get information to communities about how they can defend their rights and understand their legal options,” said Ruth Lopez McCarthy, the Fund’s managing attorney at NIJC. “Thanks to the Fund, we have been able to educate thousands of Chicagoans about their rights and provide legal representation to help them navigate the system. We are grateful for this continued support from the City of Chicago and City Council to ensure we can continue to provide legal services for another year.”

    “Continuing funds for the Legal Protection Fund demonstrates Chicago’s commitment to its immigrant community,” said Raul Raymundo, chief executive officer of TRP. “The Fund allows us and our partner organizations to reach thousands of Chicagoans to protect our families from deportation by arming them with their rights, showing up with them at court and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement check-ins, and connecting them to legal counsel.”

    Since the Fund launched in January 2017, the Trump administration has stripped legal status from nearly one million immigrants nationwide with the termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status for Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has significantly increased its presence in Chicago neighborhoods, and the administration has been explicit in its intentions of placing any undocumented immigrant its agents encounter into deportation proceedings.

    In the first nine months of 2017, with support from the Fund, NIJC was able to provide legal services to 90 percent more Chicagoans than during the same period in 2016. To read more about the Fund’s accomplishments, read NIJC and TRP’s October 2017 report.

    The National Immigrant Justice Center is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through a unique combination of direct services, policy reform, impact litigation and public education.

    The Resurrection Project is a multifaceted organization that seamlessly blends community development, community organizing, human service delivery, and advocacy to build healthier and engaged communities. Since its founding in 1990 with an initial seed capital of $30,000, TRP has leveraged more than $431 million in community reinvestment through homes for ownership, rental housing, small businesses and community facilities. To date TRP has developed 733 units of affordable housing, and created over 264,000 square feet of community commercial space, creating vibrant, healthier and involved communities.

    Friday, November 24, 2017

    Temporary Protected Status of Haitians Removal Gets Grave Response

    Washington, D.C. - November 24, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti with a delayed effective date of 18 months to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019. This decision follows then-Secretary Kelly’s announcement in May 2017 that Haiti had made considerable progress, and that the country’s designation will likely not be extended past six months.

    The decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original designation were based and whether those extraordinary but temporary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute. Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Duke determined that those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.

    Acting Secretary Duke met with Haitian Foreign Minister Antonio Rodrigue and Haitian Ambassador to the United States Paul Altidor recently in Washington to discuss the issue.

    In 2017 alone, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services conducted extensive outreach to the Haitian communities throughout the country. These include but are not limited to community forums on TPS, panel discussions with Haitian community organizers, stakeholder teleconferences, regular meetings with TPS beneficiaries, news releases to the Haitian community, meetings with Haitian government officials, meetings at local churches, and listening sessions.

    Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent. Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens. Haiti has also demonstrated a commitment to adequately prepare for when the country’s TPS designation is terminated.

    In May 2017, then-Secretary Kelly announced a limited extension for Haiti’s TPS designation, stating that he believed there were indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continued at pace – may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018. At the time, then-Secretary Kelly stated that his six-month extension should give Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients.

    To allow for an orderly transition, the effective date of the termination of TPS for Haiti will be delayed 18 months. This will provide time for individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible. It will also provide time for Haiti to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens. During this timeframe, USCIS will work with the State Department, other DHS components and the Government of Haiti to help educate relevant stakeholders and facilitate an orderly transition.

    Haitians with TPS will be required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the end of the respective termination or extension periods. Further details about this termination for TPS will appear in a Federal Register notice.

    Of course, everyone who wants to bash Trump for anything at all has latched on this as a Hot Topic.

    NEA President Lily Eskelsen García was outraged at the Trump administration’s decision citing that they had "fled multiple natural disasters and a cholera epidemic". She stated, "“Cruel and spiteful are the only words to describe what the Trump administration plans to do to Haitian families, including thousands of our students, in yet another instance on the long list of proposals targeting communities of color that have emerged from this White House. As we prepare to give thanks in the tradition of those who came to our county seeking opportunity and prosperity, Donald Trump has chosen to celebrate by evicting thousands of families who have no place to go with their home country still in humanitarian crisis. Congress must act to provide a permanent solution for Haitians and other TPS holders by passing one of the numerous existing bills that enjoy bipartisan support and would provide stability for these families.”

    The NEA holds that forcing the return of Haitian TPS recipients would disrupt the fragile recovery in Haiti, exacerbate the food, housing, and public health crises, and potentially destabilize the new Government. In fact, it is not the country of Haiti that is fragile, but rather the people in it. Only a strong people will be able to rebuild and return to normalcy in their own land. Just look at what happened in Texas not to long ago for verification of that.

    “Deciding to end TPS for Haiti is heartless and inhumane. This decision will rip apart families who have been living in the United States for almost a decade, sending them back to a country that is still facing a humanitarian crisis and is unable to provide safe refuge for deportees. It is simply unacceptable that the United States will be unnecessarily sending Haitians to live in treacherous conditions. We are turning our backs on our country’s proud legacy of being a beacon of hope for the vulnerable,” said Lia Lindsey, Oxfam America’s Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor.

    In Haiti, there are still 38,000 people internally displaced by the 2010 earthquake and cholera remains a severe problem, with nearly 11,000 new cases and 100 deaths this year alone. Hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition impacts millions of Haitian families across the country; meanwhile hurricanes earlier this year caused damage to crops and livestock. “These ongoing humanitarian issues are examples of conditions that make forced return of thousands of people untenable and cruel,” continued Ms. Lindsey. She does not take into account the hundreds of thousands who were displaced in our own country due to the same hurricanes. The Ponder holds that we cannot possibly continue to support other countries until we get our own taken care of. That would be like trying to save a drowning man without a life-jacket in a current.

    Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at Women's Refugee Commission made the following statement:

    “Women’s Refugee Commission strongly condemns the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status program for the 50,000 Haitians living here in the U.S. Haitians with TPS in America are working in critical industries, buying homes, and raising families that include thousands of U.S. citizen children. We know all too well the effects that a parent’s deportation has on children, whether they are left behind or join their parents in a country they have never known. The decision to end TPS for these countries will devastate communities and could spell setbacks for children that will have a ripple effect on school systems, healthcare, and social services across the U.S. as children are left without primary caregivers and at risk of becoming involved with the U.S. foster care system. This is another example of the cruel and unusual punishment the Trump administration is heaping on to mixed-status families.”

    Our question is this: What responsible family would go to another country where they are NOT a citizen and buy a home, taking on years of payments on property they KNOW they cannot keep because temporary means TEMPORARY.

    Senator Robert Menendez (D - NJ) shot out that "This decision will not only have a seriously destabilizing effect and impair Haiti’s fragile recovery efforts, but it further harms our ability to be an effective leader on the global stage by demonizing people from different countries. But faced by a lack of ‘bad hombres’, the Trump administration is shamelessly creating deportable immigrants out of thin air and tearing apart American families - specifically 27,000 US citizen children who have TPS parents."

    Blaming Trump for the Haitian situation doesn't make sense, and -- of course -- throwing children in front of us that should never have been born here to begin with (had the Haitians shown any sense of intelligent responsibility) is not productive in helping their situation.

    Perhaps one of the conditions for their status should have been that any immigrant that has not yet become naturalized should not be allowed to have children until they do. This is not cruel, when you weigh in the fact that returning home is a BIG possibility until such naturalization occurs.

    Senator Elizabeth Warren (D - MA) has sided with Menendez on the issue, as has House Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA 13th), who said “As a former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, I have fought for years to help Haiti and our Caribbean neighbors in their efforts to recover and rebuild as climate-resilient nations. Congress must act by immediately by passing bipartisan comprehensive TPS legislation that would provide meaningful relief to Haiti and other countries in similar situations.”

    Providing relief to Haiti and taking in their citizens and allowing them to deplete our resources when they are not in immediate danger any more are two different things.