Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration, commutations, student loans, Environment Protection Agency, refugees,

“In his inaugural address, President Trump delivered a unifying message, pledging to fight for a nation and a federal government that works for all Americans. He offered a vision of an America where everyone has an opportunity to share in its successes and no one is left behind. I look forward to working with him and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve these bold, optimistic goals.” Steve Chabot (R-OH, 1st)

“While I do not question the legitimacy of Mr. Trump's election, I do object to his treatment of other Americans, particularly those who disagree with him. In a diverse democracy like ours, patriotic dissent is vital. That is why the values of pluralism, grievance, and criticism are enshrined in the 1st Amendment's protections of religion, speech, and press - all three of which have been targets of the President-elect.

"The personal attacks on John Lewis were just the latest example of behavior unbefitting a president. So after much thought, I, like millions of other Americans, will choose not to attend the inauguration of President Trump. Instead, I will continue to focus on my efforts to ensure a more just and equal country for ourselves and future generations of all Americans - regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or orientation.”
Judy Chu (D-CA, 27th)

“An Inaugural Address by the President is an opportunity to set forth a clear vision for the country with some specifics of the plan to make that vision a reality. I’m disappointed that President Trump did not do this today. The remarks he offered sounded more like a campaign speech addressed to the base of his political party, rather than a speech to the entire country.”

“Sadly, I think President Trump squandered an opportunity to reach out to the majority of Americans who didn’t vote for him last November with a strong message that would have helped to unite our country. Instead, he doubled down on divisive rhetoric, false bravado, and gaudy promises that have no basis in reality. The President painted an unnecessarily dark and negative picture of America. The entire world was watching this speech, and while we certainly have great challenges, America is by far the best and strongest country in the world.”

“Today, Donald Trump became the least popular person to ever take the oath of office as President. There is no mandate for his agenda, nor a clearer understanding of what that agenda really is, even after his address.”

“As I have always done, I will continue working with members of both parties to deliver results for Rhode Island. I hope President Trump will do the same.”

"If President Trump, however, intends to continue down the path he started today, dividing Americans and offering empty promises instead of real solutions, then I will continue to fight him every step of the way.”
David Cicilline (D-RI, 1st)

“Initially, I was inclined to attend the inauguration of the 45th president of our great nation. Like most Americans, I have viewed presidential inaugurations as a ceremonial rite of passage, and representing the people of the Ninth Congressional District of New York at the transition in the governance of our nation was understood as a tradition.

“Unfortunately, I cannot honor this inclination when the normal democratic process has so clearly been undermined. To state the matter simply, the 2016 presidential election lacks integrity. There remains an overriding factor: the deliberate attack by the Russian government on the most sacred exercise of our political process, the election of the President of the United States. With my colleague Congressman John Lewis, I have very real concerns about the legitimacy of the next President of the United States. I believe that we all have an obligation to the American people to have the United States intelligence community and an independent, bipartisan commission thoroughly investigate the hostile intrusion by the Russian government into American politics. As a member of Congress, I have received briefings from intelligence officials about the highly-sophisticated and unprecedented Russian propaganda campaign and massive cyber-attack – done at the behest of the leadership of the Russian government and executed by governmentally sanctioned intelligence agencies and their affiliates – intended to disrupt the presidential election. The success of the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta and the possibility that additional information could compromise and undermine the incoming administration presents a very serious threat to our democracy. We must engage in a thorough investigation to know the truth about the 2016 presidential election, wherever this may lead us.

“In addition, I am deeply concerned about the threat Donald Trump presents to the community I am honored to represent. In his victory speech, Donald Trump promised to unite us as a president for all Americans. But his actions since then reveal that the promise he made was merely words empty of any truth. In the wake of the election, our nation experienced a spike in hate crimes, yet there was no denouncing of this activity by Donald Trump, not even a tweet. The appointments of individuals who have devoted their careers to denying the civil rights of and creating a false, demeaning narrative about African Americans, Latinos, women, Muslims, and immigrants, as with Senator Sessions as Attorney General and Steve Bannon as White House Chief Strategist, demonstrate that Donald Trump plans to try to restore some of the worst chapters from our nation's history. But we will not turn back. Standing alongside me are millions of Americans who are extremely concerned that Donald Trump and members of his administration are hostile to our communities and, indeed, to our very humanity. Donald Trump's recent insults directed at Congressman Lewis, who risked his life and was brutally attacked and nearly killed marching in Selma, Alabama, for the right to vote, are part of a pattern of divisiveness that should not have any audience in our civil society. Anyone who hoped that the magnitude of the Office of President of the United States would change the man who cruelly insulted Senator McCain’s wartime record or Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan has assuredly been disappointed in Donald Trump’s performance thus far. Today, as we honor the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is in his spirit that I formally announce that I cannot in good faith attend the inauguration of a President who threatens the people I represent and the values that we hold dear. Instead, I’ll be in Brooklyn with my constituents.”
Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY, 9th)

Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today released the following statement after reports that President-elect Donald Trump is planning dramatic cuts to several important federal programs.

“On the eve of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, I fear that America will soon be thrust into cultural and societal deterioration, a new Dark Ages,” said Congressman Steve Cohen. “According to a report by The Hill, President-elect Trump and his team are planning to eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency and the Legal Services Corporation, both of which help minority groups participate in the American dream. Trump plans to eliminate the COPS program and the Office of Violence Against Women Grants, both of which help fight crime in our communities. Trump plans to eliminate the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment of the Humanities, both of which support the cultural participation in America. Trump plans to eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, both of which would be detrimental to our environment. And Trump plans to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, limiting the freedom of press guaranteed by our Constitution. Many of these programs are essential to my constituents and for the health, safety and well-being of people all across the country. If they are eliminated, there will be far-reaching negative consequences for the country, setting us back decades. I implore President-elect Trump to preserve these programs.”

According to The Hill, the following federal programs (among others) are being considered by the Trump Administration to be reformed or eliminated:

Corporation for Public Broadcasting
National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Humanities
Minority Business Development Agency
Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women Grants
Department of Justice Office of Legal Services Corporation
Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Department of State Paris Climate Change Agreement
United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

“This presidential inauguration represents more than a celebration of an individual person or party, era or idea. While the peaceful transfer of power testifies to the success of the experiment known as American democracy, this inauguration also underscores the character uniting the citizens of our Republic.

“Our nation was built on principles of universal human dignity and inalienable rights, and our nation stands or falls based on their endurance. I’ve witnessed individuals from both sides of the aisle taking the oath of the presidency, and I’ve seen during these transitions that Americans have an unmatched capacity for humility and mutual respect, regardless of differences in political philosophy. We continue to believe that our fellow men and women have inherent, unquestionable worth, and we draw on this confidence to chart a brighter path forward.

“Americans have chosen President Donald J. Trump to lead us into this new chapter, which I believe will be marked by relief from policies that stifle American creativity, growth, and freedom and by investment in the people who have trusted one another—through the democratic process—to make America greater than she has ever been before.
“I look forward to working with President Trump and Vice President Pence to that end.”
Doug Collins (R-GA, 9th)

“A troubling inaugural address. President Trump offered a dark, dystopian, and defiant inaugural speech that begins a new presidency without aspiration or reconciliation. It failed to unify or reach out to the entire nation, and insists on Trump's view of patriotism and triumphalism. Its insistent nationalism can only encourage Moscow and disconcert our allies.”
Gerald E. “Gerry” Connolly (D-VA, 11th)

The White House announced the commutation of the sentences of hundreds of individuals this week, which brings President Obama’s record to 1,715 commutations in total.

“I plan to attend President-Elect Trump’s inauguration. This is a decision each Member must make for himself or herself. Like many of my colleagues, I have been fighting my entire life to create a more equal society for all Americans, so I certainly understand why some of them have come to the conclusion that they cannot attend.

“There are so many people who came before me who struggled so that African Americans could be full participants in our democracy. I believe that I honor their sacrifice by asserting my democratic right to attend an inauguration.

“The inauguration is bigger than President-Elect Trump. It is a chance for the world to witness our nation’s greatest ritual: the peaceful transfer of power. As millions of Americans witness the event, I want them to know that there will be Members of Congress present who will be vigilant to ensure that the Trump Administration is held to the highest ethical standards. Our democracy is the strongest in the world because our powerful executive is checked by an equally powerful legislative branch.

“All Members of Congress—Republicans and Democrats serving in the House and Senate—swore to uphold the Constitution and protect the American people. It is our responsibility to do everything in our power to make sure that our federal agencies operate the way they were intended, and in an efficient and effective manner.

“In two days, President-Elect Trump will control the world’s most powerful military and largest nuclear arsenal, and he will be the steward of the world’s largest economy. I fear that during his Administration, our political institutions will suffer a crisis of legitimacy. Many of our federal agencies, including the CIA and the FBI, will be tested.
“Unfortunately, House Republicans have made clear that they have no intention of checking the Trump Administration. Instead, they have become contortionists in their efforts to avoid doing their jobs and have coordinated with the Trump campaign in their attacks on our nation’s top ethics officials.

“Congress cannot sit by as a President fails to rectify his many conflicts of interest and refuses to acknowledge his impending violations of the Emoluments Clause. We must act as the last line of defense for our democracy, press Republicans to do their jobs, and hold President-Elect Trump accountable to the American people and the rule of law. We must also guard the progress that was made under President Obama by turning our protest into policy, and advancing legislation that will uplift the lives of the American people.”
Elijah Cummings (D-MD, 7th)

Bonamici and Costello introduced bipartisan legislation to help struggling student loan borrowers enroll in affordable repayment plans. The SIMPLE (Streamlining Income-driven, Manageable Payments on Loans for Education) Act allows at-risk borrowers to make more informed decisions about which repayment plans are right for them, and it automatically connects these borrowers with income-driven repayment plans before they default. Additionally, the SIMPLE Act automates the annual process of updating borrowers’ income information while enrolled in income-driven repayment plans, which will prevent unexpected increases in loan payments and help keep payments affordable.

Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate the troubling deaths of over 20 pelicans and egrets in the Tampa Bay area last week, as well as the massive beaching of false killer whales this weekend that resulted in more than 80 deaths of these mammals. He is requesting the EPA test the toxicity of the surrounding waterways to see if these deaths are linked to poor water quality caused by harmful algal blooms.

Representative John Culberson (TX-07) has introduced the No Resettlement Without Consent Act, which allows governors, not the federal government, to decide if refugees can be resettled in their State

This legislation requires the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement to get a governor’s permission before refugees can be placed in a state.

News Bytes to Ponder...(horses, water, firearms, guns, maternity, outsourcing, Medicaid, illegal immigrants, )

A coalition of leading animal welfare groups has endorsed bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Vern Buchanan to permanently ban the killing of horses for human consumption in America and end the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.

The SAFE Act (Safeguard American Food Exports) is co-sponsored by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.

Congressman Ken Buck (CO-04) introduced H.R. 519, the Water and Agriculture Tax Reform Act of 2017 (WATER Act), a key legislative priority that Buck shepherded through committee last year and hopes to see on the House Floor in the 115th Congress. The legislation permits mutual water and storage delivery companies to retain their non-profit status even if they receive more than 15% of their revenue from non-member sources. The additional non-member revenue raised under the act must be used for maintenance, operations, and infrastructure improvements. By allowing these companies to raise additional revenue from non-members, they can invest in infrastructure improvements that allow them to offer more affordable water resources to their members.

Freshman Representative Ted Budd co-sponsored the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. This bill provides law-abiding citizens with concealed carry permits the legal protection to carry in other states that recognize their own residents’ right to concealed carry.

The House of Representatives passed the Improving Access to Maternity Care Act (H.R. 315), introduced by Congressman Michael C. Burgess M.D. (R-TX), Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act would increase data collection by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help place maternity care health professionals working in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) throughout geographic regions experiencing a health professional shortage.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) introduced her first piece of legislation in the 115th Congress, continuing her focus on growing our economy and boosting our region’s manufacturing industry. She also held a press conference with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and colleagues from the industrial heartland to discuss the legislation.

The Overseas Outsourcing Accountability Act would require President-elect Donald Trump to develop a national strategy to stop outsourcing and allow Congress to measure its success through a review every two years. This legislation does not require Trump to follow a prescribed path; however, it would rein in his inconsistent behavior by requiring him to put a real strategy down on paper for working families to evaluate.

U.S. Representatives G. K. Butterfield (NC-01), David E. Price (NC-04), and Alma Adams (NC-12), the Democratic members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation, sent a letter to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in strong support of a State Plan Amendment to expand Medicaid in the State of North Carolina.

Medicaid expansion is a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. Under North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s proposal, North Carolina will receive $4 billion in federal funding while saving over $330 million in uncompensated care. Studies have shown that expanding Medicaid in North Carolina will provide access to care for over half a million state residents, streamline care delivery, and create tens of thousands of new jobs.

Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) reintroduced legislation aimed at preventing criminal illegal immigrants from being released from custody. The Help Ensure Legal Detainers (HELD) Act, H.R. 514, would require localities to adhere to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers.

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and U.S. Representative Earl L. "Buddy" Carter, R-Ga.-01, introduced legislation in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to expand and protect Fort Frederica National Monument located on St. Simons Island, Ga.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (SC-03) along with Rep. John Carter (TX-31) introduced a bill to cut through the red tape on owning firearm suppressors. The Duncan-Carter Hearing Protection Act will remove suppressors from the scope of the National Firearms Act (NFA), replacing the outdated federal transfer process with an instantaneous National Instant Criminal Background Check )NICS). The bill also includes a provision to refund the $200 transfer tax to applicants who purchase a suppressor after October 22, 2015, which was the original date of introduction. In stark contrast, many countries in Europe place no regulations on their purchase, possession, or use.