Monday, August 28, 2017

Tax Relief a Priority

by Senator Mike Rounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Main Stream Media

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opioid Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veterans Appeals Improvement Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House Representative Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota)

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

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

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

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

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


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

David Price (D-NC, 4th)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Trump has imposed sanctions on Venezuela.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About North Korea

Washington, D.C. - August 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) --The Trump Administration announced new sanctions on 16 Russian and Chinese entities which provide support to North Korea’s brutal regime.

This action expands on Congressman Robert Pittenger’s recent legislation to crack down on international businesses that support North Korean cyberattacks.

Robert Pittenger (R-NC, 9th) stated:

“For far too long, China has enabled North Korea to pursue nuclear development, cyber warfare, global provocation, and egregious human rights violations. Russia has also not been a good faith partner on these issues. The status quo is no longer acceptable,” said Congressman Pittenger. “President Trump’s decisive action, coupled with my legislation to further punish businesses which support North Korean cyberattacks, sends a strong message. If you support the brutal North Korean regime, there will be a punitive response from the United States.”

Congressman Pittenger’s amendment to the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810):

  • Directs the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to create a list of telecom firms who provide essential services or who have been otherwise complicit in enabling North Korean cyberattacks.
  • Prohibits the Department of Defense from doing business with these firms.
  • Provides President Trump with a national security waiver to bypass this amendment on a case-by-case basis.

    Congressman Pittenger’s amendment was unanimously approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 14th.

    More statements and information on this subject from the Newsmakers can be found below (keep checking back for updates)

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

    The following statement was issued by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

    The Secretary-General condemns the latest launch of a ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in violation of Security Council resolutions. The launch undermines regional security and stability and efforts to create space for dialogue.

    The Secretary-General calls on the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully comply with its international obligations and work towards reopening communication channels.

    The Secretary-General remains in close contact with all parties concerned.

    Congresswoman Julia Brownly (D-CA, 26th) issued the following statement regarding the ongoing situation with North Korea:

    “I am deeply concerned about the increasing tensions with North Korea. While the threats posed by a nuclear-armed North Korea are real, President Trump’s belligerent and careless tone is making a bad situation much worse, putting American lives and the lives of our allies in South Korea and Japan at risk. Those advising President Trump need to impress upon him the very serious and real-world consequences of his reckless rhetoric.”

  • U.S.S. John McCain

    Washington, D.C. - August 28, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- On August 21st, 2017 a collision between the USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker left ten American sailors missing and others injured off the coast of Singapore.
    The USS John S. McCain, a missile-guided destroyer named in honor of United States Senator John S. McCain’s father and grandfather, both of whom were admirals in the U.S. Navy, was passing east of the Strait of Malacca on its way to Singapore when it collided with a merchant vessel.

    U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA, 52nd) offered his prayers for those sailors who were killed, injured, or are still missing following the collision between the U.S.S. John McCain and a commercial tanker. He also called for Congress to investigate the collision, as well as the June accident involving the U.S.S. Fitzgerald that led to the death of seven sailors, to provide recommendations for how Congress can help prevent similar accidents in the future.

    Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, announced that his committee will hold a joint oversight hearing with the Readiness Subcommittee to examine several recent US Navy accidents when Congress reconvenes in September. The hearing titled Navy Readiness – Underlying Problems Associated with the USS FITZGERALD and USS JOHN S. MCCAIN will be held on September

    Rep. Peters released the following statement:

    “We are immensely saddened by the news of our fallen sailors and are keeping them, their families, and other members of the crew of the U.S.S. McCain in our thoughts following this terrible accident. I also offer my thanks to the search and rescue crews from the U.S. Navy and our partners that are assisting in the recovery.

    “These tragic, senseless collisions have taken the lives of too many brave sailors. Admiral Richardson, who I know well from his time in San Diego, initiated extraordinary actions to get to the bottom of these tragedies. I fully support the serious approach he is taking, and feel that Congress must also do its part by launching an investigation.

    “As we continue the pivot to the Pacific to counter new and dynamic threats, the Navy is being asked to do more than it ever has. It is Congress’ duty to provide our service members with the resources they need to carry out their missions safely and effectively. A thorough investigation by the Armed Services Committee would give Congress a better understanding of what caused these collisions – the increase in operational tempo, insufficient funding for readiness and repairs, or other factors – and how we can better equip and train our sailors to prevent similar accidents in the future.”

    Here are more statements and information on this subject:

    House Representative Darren Soto (D-FL, 9th):

    “My thoughts are with our injured and missing American sailors; may they return home safely to their families. We continue to pray for good news from the search-and-rescue efforts being conducted by Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the United States.
    “I support U.S. Navy Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, in his decision to pause all operations and perform a comprehensive review of the collision. We must ensure all navigational maneuvers are performed safely, and that all protocols are being properly met.

    “Today’s collision is the second major accident within the last three months. It is appalling that incidents of this sort keep happening and it is clear something needs to change. The U.S. Navy is vital to our national security and we must continue to strengthen it by providing our sailors with the necessary tools, trainings, and resources to succeed.”

    House Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN, 9th):

    “I was saddened to learn that the United States Navy suspended its search-and-rescue operations for the eight missing sailors of the USS John McCain, and to learn of the deaths of two other Navy sailors aboard the ship, Kenneth Aaron Smith and Dustin Louis Doyon. These Americans died serving our country and serving each other in camaraderie as shipmates. I am honored to have the opportunity to represent people in the United States Navy at the Millington Naval Base. I am thankful for their service and for the brave efforts of the sailors of the USS John S. McCain, who gave their lives in service to their country.

    House Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT, 2nd):

    “First and foremost, my thoughts are with the crew and families of the USS JOHN S. MCCAIN who lost shipmates and loved ones in the collision. Like the USS FITZGERALD accident prior to this one, I know the Navy will conduct a full investigation of this matter and promptly report its findings.

    “I am increasingly troubled, however, with the rising trend line of accidents that have occurred over the last year. Our sailors are asked to operate every day in contested waters vital to the interests of the United States. We need to make sure that they have the tools, training, and support they need to do their jobs successfully and safely. While CNO Richardson’s operational pause is a good first step, it is clear that Congress must conduct rigorous oversight into the causes of these incidents and the remedies needed to prevent them in the future. I will push to ensure that this is front and center for our subcommittee as we return to session next month.”

    About the Border

    Washington, D.C. - August 29, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- President Trump made a promise to the American People that he would build a wall along the Mexican/U.S. border (and make Mexico pay for it) during his 2016 Campaign for President. Recently, President Trump threatened to shut down government if Congress does not spend billions of taxpayer dollars to begin construction of his border wall. Recently, Trump visited the border as he readied for a rally in Arizona.

    Below are some statements referring to this subject by the newsmakers. (keep checking back for updates:

    House Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, 12th):

    “Last night, (August 22) President Trump yet again threatened to cause chaos in the lives of millions of Americans if he doesn’t get his way. Make no mistake: the President said he will purposefully hurt American communities to force American taxpayers to fund an immoral, ineffective and expensive border wall.

    “The last time Republicans shut down the government, their callous recklessness cost the American economy $24 billion and 120,000 jobs. With a Republican House, Senate and Administration, Republicans have absolutely no excuses for threatening America’s families with a destructive and pointless government shutdown.

    “President Trump’s multi-billion dollar border wall boondoggle is strongly opposed by Democrats and many Republicans. Democrats will stand fast against the immoral, ineffective border wall and the rest of Republicans’ unacceptable poison pill riders.”

    House Representative Bill Posey (R-FL, 8th):

    "Maintaining operational control over our nation's borders is critical to our security and our ability to crack down on human traffickers, drug smugglers and other violent criminals and terrorists who mean to do us harm. Having been to the border and seen first hand how open and vulnerable it really is, it's important for Congress to supply the President with the tools he needs to keep our communities safe and our nation secure."

    House Representative John Ratcliffe (R-TX, 4th):

    “I’d like to thank the Trump administration for working closely with Congress on securing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws. After the Obama administration’s failure to protect the sovereignty and integrity of our territorial borders – which led to more crimes within our homeland and the unnecessary loss of life at the hands of criminal aliens – it’s encouraging that President Trump’s commitment to prioritizing border security has already made our country a safer place. As a member of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, I look forward to continuing my work alongside the Trump administration in building upon the progress we’ve made to protect the American people.”

    House Representative Bruce Westerman (R AR, 4th)

    "Our nation's southern border has lacked necessary security and control for too long,” Westerman said. “I have toured the border first hand and will be making additional trips. While the brave men and women of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection do an outstanding job with the resources at their disposal, they are unable to prevent the immense flow of illegal immigrants, deadly narcotics, and illicit contraband from pouring into our country. President Trump today proved he is serious about securing our borders and protecting American citizens at home. I applaud his efforts and pledge to continue working with him in the months and years to come as we bring real security and control to our southern border."

    House Representative Dave Brat (R-VA, 7th):

    “The American people placed their trust in the President and Republicans in Congress last November with the expectation that we would finally take action to secure the border. Our country is the melting pot of the world and I support legal immigration, but legal immigrants and American workers should not have to compete with illegal aliens for jobs. Our country was founded upon the rule of law and it is important that we hold to those principles. It is time for Congress to step up and keep the promises we made to the American people by joining with the President to fully fund construction of a border wall and ensure the U.S. Border Patrol has the resources they need to secure our border."

    House Representative Doug Collins (R-GA, 9th):

    “Sanctuary cities and illegal criminals have been put on notice. From 2016 to 2017, illegal border crossings fell 52% for the period covering February to March. A human smuggler based at our southwest border reports that his business is at an all-time low. He’s considering a career change.

    “At the same time, the House continues to work with President Trump to strengthen immigration enforcement policy through legislation like Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, and it’s clear that 2017 has brought new perspective to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As President Trump visits our southern border and we consider the status of illegal immigration into our country today, we realize that the safety of Americans and the rule of law are once again non-negotiables.”

    House Representative Gerald E. “Gerry” Connolly (D-VA, 11th):

    “The President promised that Mexico was going to pay for his wall. That was a lie. Now, he is willing to threaten another Republican shutdown that will hurt millions of Americans who rely on the federal government for everything from social security and veterans benefits to Medicare and Medicaid claims. It is cruel politics at its worst.”

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

    “The President is bringing much-needed focus to the crucial first step in solving our immigration crisis: securing the border. Reforming our broken immigration system will be a pointless exercise if we can’t stop illegal entries. I look forward to continuing to work with the President and my colleagues in Congress on this critical matter.”

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

    "I am pleased by the commitment our President has shown when it comes to securing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws. I believe this was one of his most important campaign promises – not just to “Build the Wall,” but everything else entailed in true border security.

    "The Trump Administration is cracking down on sanctuary cities and campuses, working to begin construction of the wall (as required by the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which President Obama ignored), he’s begun the process of hiring 10,000 new ICE agents (including 5,000 new Border Patrol Agents) and targeted national enforcement of the violent MS-13 illegal immigrant gang.

    "The impact has been that illegal border crossings are down 53%, with ICE conducting 40% more raids than last year. Arrests of convicted criminal aliens are up 20%, and 2,700 criminal gang members have been removed – already more than all of last year by 35%. All in all, the President is doing exactly what I’d hoped he would in enforcing our immigration laws and protecting the country, and I look forward to working with him to do even more.

    "The proof is in the numbers, and President Trump has proven what many of us have said for years, the first step towards securing our border is to have a President who is serious about enforcing the laws already on the books."

    House Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA, 9th):

    “A weak border has consequences for the whole country. National security is jeopardized when we don’t know who is entering and leaving. The rule of law is diminished. Opportunities for legal immigrants who follow the rules are closed.

    “Dangerous and addicting substances routinely cross the border. The 2016 National Drug Threat Assessment found that Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations, which control smuggling corridors across the border, are the biggest criminal drug threat to the United States. Lax border security has fueled the opioid epidemic, the ready availability of meth, fentanyl, and the resurgence of cocaine. Parts of the country far from the border are in pain because the Federal Government didn’t do enough to control who or what entered our territory.

    “Fortunately, the Trump Administration has shown that it takes enforcement seriously. The proof is in the numbers. Apprehensions at the border from January 1 to July 31 of this year are almost half of what they were in the same period last year, a sign that many are choosing not to risk illegal border crossings.

    “We should build on this success to further guarantee the integrity of our borders. To that end, I supported the inclusion of funding for a border wall in the appropriations bill the House passed last month and urge that it be kept in any bill to fund the government.”

    House Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX, 1st):

    “The best thing we can do for BOTH the United States and Mexico is to secure our border. Thankfully, we have a President who understands and is committed to that. A nation founded on laws that apply to everyone, where neither rich nor poor or supposed to be above the law, must have the law enforced to maintain its integrity, fairness, justice and opportunity. If we secure and enforce our border properly, Mexico's drug cartels are reduced dramatically, which reduces corruption and lawlessness in Mexico, and, thereby, helps Mexico finally achieve its place as one of the top economies and vibrant countries in the world.”

    “A good neighbor would help Mexico in this way, which also returns America back to being a nation where the law matters and where we can continue to allow more lawful entries into the United States than any other country in the world. Thankfully, we have a President who not only understands the importance of security and the rule of law, but is doing all he can to make such security, propriety, and opportunity a reality."

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

    “President Trump has demonstrated his commitment to restoring the rule of law by directing his Administration to enforce our nation’s immigration laws. The President’s strong action has caused illegal immigration to drop significantly at the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition to this progress, we also need to improve our nation’s immigration laws and provide more tools to further reduce illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and human smuggling.

    “The House of Representatives recently passed the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act and Kate’s Law. These bills combat dangerous sanctuary policies that allow criminals to remain on our streets and punish felons who repeatedly enter the U.S. illegally, respectively. Both of these bills would dramatically improve public safety, and I call on the Senate again to pass them without delay.

    “The House Judiciary Committee has also approved a number of bills to strengthen the enforcement of our immigration laws within the interior of the United States, reform the refugee and asylum programs, and ensure unaccompanied minors who make the dangerous journey to the U.S. are safely returned home. The House must pass all of these bills to provide the Trump Administration the tools needed to secure the border and enforce our immigration laws, and to ensure that future administrations do not ignore immigration enforcement laws.”

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

    “Securing our borders is vital to maintaining the safety of our homeland,” said Congressman Hice. "I’m grateful that President Trump has brought this issue into the forefront and given it the attention it deserves. I remain firmly committed to supporting the President's security initiatives on the southern border that will help improve our national security and ensure public safety."

    About Transgenders in the Military

    Earlier this year, a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a measure that would have discriminated against transgender Americans who serve or are able to serve in the military. President Donald Trump sent a memorandum ordering the Pentagon to ban transgender Americans from enlisting or commissioning in the military. The memorandum also halts some medically necessary transition-related health care for transgender service members.

    Statements from the Newsmakers (Check back for updates):

    Jimmy Panetta (D-CA, 20th):

    "I am deeply disappointed that the White House is moving forward with this policy that will direct the Pentagon to prevent transgender Americans from serving in our military, and keep those already serving from receiving the medical treatment they need and deserve. With this decision, the President is putting politics and prejudice above the best interests of our military. Our government should not turn its back on those who are already serving, and are able to serve, simply based on their gender identity. Those who volunteer and are able to defend our country should be allowed to do so; gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, color, or gender has no bearing on one’s ability to serve. The diversity of our military has only made it stronger. This decision could negatively affect our readiness and our ability to recruit the most qualified individuals to our armed services. As a veteran, and member of the House Armed Services Committee, I strongly oppose this policy."

    Adam Smith (D-WA, 9th):

    “This Presidential order is a cravenly opportunistic act of discrimination against men and women who volunteer to defend the United States.

    "President Trump has no credible information suggesting that transgender service undermines military readiness. Yet he is willing to ruin lives and deface our government’s commitment to equality in an apparent attempt to secure funding for his border wall. Apparently, if Mexico won’t pay for the wall, President Trump has decided that honorable men and women in uniform should pay instead as their service is traded away for funding. I oppose this decision in extremely strong terms, and we will fight for its reversal.”

    Senator Jeanne Shaheen - (D - NH):

    “The President’s actions to ban transgender Americans from serving their country is disgraceful. There are thousands of transgender Americans putting their lives on the line every day to defend our nation, people and liberty,” said Senator Shaheen. She continued, “Imposing a national defense policy that discriminates against American service members based on their gender identity violates their civil rights, undermines our military readiness and puts those affected by the ban, as well as their commanders, in a terrible position. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I oppose this egregious policy and will work with my colleagues in Congress to push back on the Administration’s decision so we can protect all transgender service members proudly serving our nation.”

    Senator Elizabeth Warren- (D - MA)

    "As a hurricane prepares to devastate Texas, Donald Trump is more concerned with kicking people out of the military and pardoning a racist sheriff who broke the law. Every time we think our President can't go any lower, he goes lower.

    "I've said it before and I'll say it again: the only thing that matters when it comes to allowing military personnel to serve is whether or not they can handle the job.

    "President Trump just issued an official memo that insults the courage and sacrifices being made by thousands of transgender troops, and he once again proved that he cares more about extreme ideology than military readiness. The President can pretend this decision is about military effectiveness, but it isn't. Banning individuals from serving based on gender identity is shameful and wrong - and it makes America less safe."

    House Representative Amy Berra (D-CA, 7th):

    “If you wear an American military uniform, you deserve the respect and support of the Commander-in-Chief. Unfortunately, Donald Trump is more comfortable peddling in discrimination and bigotry, and he’s shown that he is unable to support our troops.

    Thousands of transgender men and women serve in the United States military. Removing these men and women from service or refusing recruits because of who they are goes against every American value they swear to defend. To those who serve, thank you for your sacrifice. You deserve better.”

    House Representative Warren Davidson (R-OH, 8th):

    “The Department of Defense should be focused on fighting and winning our nation’s wars, while also training and equipping the force that will do so into the future. The transgender debate is a distraction from this focus. With this announcement, along with the readiness and training review underway by Secretary Mattis, the Trump Administration is setting a clear expectation for that focus. I look forward to reviewing the details of these changes when they become available.”

    House Representative Susan Davis (D-CA, 53rd):

    “Transgender servicemembers have and are serving with honor, distinction, and courage. No evidence has been ­­­­­­presented to warrant this ban, which is based solely on discrimination.

    “With the National Defense Authorization Act making its way through Congress, I will seek options to block this action. Our servicemembers should be focused on the singular objective of protecting Americans. This ban will only serve as a disruptive distraction of that effort.”

    House Representative Vicky Hartzler (R-MO, 4th):
    “Military service is a privilege, not a right. I’m pleased to see the President putting military readiness first and making sure our defense dollars are spent keeping us safe. With the growing threats from Iran, North Korea, China and others, the U.S. military cannot afford to divert precious defense dollars from our national security. Every dollar must be spent investing in new military technology, getting the right equipment for our troops, and making sure we are protected from threats across the globe.”