Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Confederate Monuments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


by The Second Amendment Foundation

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

The case is Wrenn v. District of Columbia.

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

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

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

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

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


by the Retail Industry Leaders Association

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

DACA Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Statements and information regarding DACA:

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

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

Rapid DNA Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below are statements and information regarding this ACT:

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

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

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

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

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

Sanctuary Cities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hurricane Harvey

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Cruz Joins Trump in Texas

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

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

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

Houston combating Harvey looters with mandatory jail time

How to Help Disaster Surivivors in Texas

Statement from First Lady Melania Trump:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1033 Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senator Patrick J.Toomey - (R - PA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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