Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The House has Passed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act!

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The House has passed H.R. 36, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Jack Bergman (R-MI, 1st) was proud to co-sponsor this bill which prohibits abortions on unborn babies 20 weeks or older.

He states: "Medical evidence has overwhelmingly proven that an unborn child can feel pain by at least this point in the womb. H.R.36 is a great step towards protecting the sanctity and value of every life. As a Marine, I have always worked to protect those who are unable to defend themselves, and as your Representative in Washington, D.C., I will continue my effort to protect and defend all life."

This bill sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), would save over 13,000 human lives each year. This bill would prohibit brutal abortions on unborn babies after 5 months post-fertilization, because they feel excruciating pain as they are ripped apart in the womb.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said of the vote:

"I applaud the House passage of a bill to protect against late abortion of unborn children since they can feel excruciating pain by 20 weeks after fertilization. Unborn children at this age are routinely given anesthesia during prenatal surgery, we know these babies recoil when prodded without anesthesia, and their pain receptors are developed enough to feel pain. This legislation conforms federal abortion law to modern science.

"Now with a pro-life president in the White House, it's heartening to see the country move beyond the outdated Roe v. Wade science of the '70s. Ignoring modern science is harmful to unborn children, since we know babies can also survive as early as 22 weeks after gestation. The horrific pain for these unborn children being ripped apart limb by limb must be stopped.

"Convicted murderer Dr. Kermit Gosnell's house of horrors shows we must stop late abortion. He was convicted of murdering babies born alive but also of 21 counts of illegal late abortions after 24 weeks in violation of state law. Yet many states continue to allow these brutal late abortions through the ninth month.

"The only difference between killing a baby born alive and aborting them just prior to birth is location. Human dignity is not dependent upon location. We should not be one of only seven countries in the world, along with North Korea, China, and Vietnam that have legalized abortion on demand after 5 months of development.

The House was right to prevent painful abortions on unborn babies, and we call on the Senate to bring up the bill and pass it as well. Congress should enact legal protections for pain-capable unborn children to stop those like Gosnell who continue to dissect these unborn children apart. We urge the Senate to follow the House's lead and send this bill to President Trump so he can sign this life affirming legislation into law," concluded Perkins.

Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life stated: “The March for Life stands with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and everyone who voted to pass Micah’s Law, formerly known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This common sense policy that would limit abortion to five months reflects the consensus shared by eight out of ten Americans – abortion should have real legal limits. This bill will not only save between 11,000-18,000 lives a year, but will serve to educate the public on the humanity of the unborn person and affirm the science of fetal pain early in development. We now ask the Senate to also vote on this legislation so that President Trump can fulfill his promise of signing this bill into law.”

Of course, some Democrats in office who wish to take gun rights from law-abiding citizens because a criminal murdered someone, yet has no problem murdering millions of innocent babies, like Alma Adams (D-NC, 12th) are not happy with it. “Just days after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history my Republican colleagues are wasting time re-litigating a woman’s constitutionally protected right to comprehensive healthcare instead of addressing gun violence in America,” said Congresswoman Adams. “I voted against H.R. 36 because this debate was settled by Roe vs. Wade in 1973 and now we’re just wasting time. With each passing day without action nearly 100 people die from gun violence nationwide. When is enough, enough?”

Las Vegas Shooting Statements from the House of Representatives

Continued from this page....(click here)

Tim Ryan (D-OH, 13th)

"Once again, an all too familiar sense of dread and sadness set in when I saw the news this morning. I am shocked and dismayed by last night’s horrific massacre in Las Vegas. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this senseless violence and their families. My heart breaks for their suffering and loss. The truth is, however, I am tired of offering up the same condolences again and again while Congress continues to sit on the sidelines rather than debate common-sense gun safety measures that could mitigate these all-too-common horrors. As is so often the case, last night’s victims were innocent men and women, young people, and friends enjoying an evening of entertainment. For too long, weapons designed for battlefields have been allowed to tear apart lives and communities here at home. We owe it to those killed and wounded last night, as well as to the countless victims of past violence, to have a serious conversation about how to stop these tragedies that have become commonplace in our society. Continued inaction is a failure of our duty as Members of Congress and comes at too high a price.”

Linda Sanchez (D-CA, 38th)

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today with great sorrow and anger.

“Late last night, 58 people were tragically murdered, and over 500 wounded in a senseless act of heinous violence in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“The murderer was found to have over ten guns, including at least one automatic rifle.

“No person should be allowed to possess a weapon that makes indiscriminately killing human beings easier. It just baffles me that some of my colleagues don’t agree with that basic premise.

“Not only do they not agree with sensible gun control measures, like background checks and no fly-no buy, they won’t even allow public research dollars to be used to research gun control and gun violence.

“Until Congress acts to make it harder for dangerous people to acquire these types of weapons, tragedies like this will continue to happen.

“How many more people have to die? How much more blood must be shed before Congress decides to act? Moments of silence and the sympathies, thoughts and prayers from members of this body is not enough anymore.

“The time has come to act. We must act now.”

NOTICE: The only ones politicizing this tragedy and using it to call for more gun safety regulations (which would not have helped prevent this tragedy to begin with) are Democrats. The Ponder says BAN IDIOTS NOT GUNS!

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

“I am horrified and shaken by the violence that took place last night in Las Vegas. My thoughts are with the victims of this heinous act, and my heart goes out to their families and loved ones. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the city’s first responders – not only the courageous law enforcement officials and medical personnel who rushed to the scene, but also the ordinary citizens who risked their lives to help save victims and get people to safety.”

Jan Schakowsky (D-IL, 9th)

“Unspeakable violence terrorized and devastated Las Vegas last night. I cannot imagine the fear and horror that was experienced by tens of thousands of concertgoers outside of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. My thoughts today are with every victim, anyone injured, all those in attendance, and anyone whose loved ones were affected by this national tragedy.

“Only a year and a few months after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, our country has a harrowing new record for the worst mass shooting in our history. Back home in Chicago, our city has seen close to 500 people murdered by guns so far in 2017. As a country, we cannot accept this as the new normal. Gun violence is a scourge and an epidemic, and it requires bold legislative action. We cannot continue to make excuses. Federal comprehensive gun safety legislation must be a national priority.”

Yes. Let's talk about Chicago, with it's highest gun crime rates in the country. Every one of those criminals didn't care about the gun laws, or the city gun ban; so, I ask you, how would having more laws have saved these people?

Bradley Schneider (D IL, 10th)

“I'm horrified by the senseless shooting last night in Las Vegas. This violence sears our hearts and leaves countless families forever, tragically changed.

“I extend my sincere condolences to all those who lost loved ones and send prayers for recovery to those wounded. And I'm grateful for the professionalism and bravery of law enforcement and first responders during and after this attack.

“Words and prayers are not enough for Las Vegas and other victims of gun violence across our country. We must come together to tackle this epidemic. Enough is enough.”

Robert C. Scott (D-VA, 3rd)

“This morning Americans awoke to news of the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and the survivors of this horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. The frequency of mass shootings are far too common in our country. No one deserves to bear witness to the type of carnage that occurred in Las Vegas last night.

“The federal government is charged with the basic responsibility of keeping Americans safe, and the President and Congress have an obligation to address our nation’s gun violence epidemic. Congress cannot continue to sit idly by. The American people are demanding that their elected officials take action to prevent more of these horrendous and widespread incidences of violence in our country from happening again. Addressing this issue must be our top priority and I urge the President and the leadership in Congress to take meaningful action that is long overdue. The House Democratic Gun Violence Prevention Task Force has made many recommendations that could serve as the beginning of deliberations. Congress could also establish a select committee on this issue pursuant to H. Res. 367, Establishing the Select Committee on Gun Violence Prevention. I and many of my colleagues are ready to work together to make sure these mass shootings are no longer a common occurrence in our society.”

Albio Sires (D-NJ, 8th)

“Once again our Nation faces another act of senseless violence that has taken the lives of at least 50 people and wounded hundreds more. I am saddened and troubled by this most recent attack on innocent civilians outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, and I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to all the victims and their families.

I would like to thank all the first responders for their ongoing efforts as this investigation continues. Acts like these are becoming all too frequent in our country, and they are a solemn reminder of the need for Congress to work together to adopt comprehensive legislation that address mass violence incidents such as these. I am confident that the Las Vegas community will prove resilient in the wake of such tragedy and I will keep those affected in my thoughts and prayers as the community continues to come to terms with the events of last night.”

Chris Smith (R-NJ, 4th)

As America grieves for the victims of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, my wife, Marie, and I join our prayers with those being offered across the country. We pray for those whose lives were lost, those suffering critical injuries, and for family members struggling with the sudden shocking loss or injury of loved ones. Our profound gratitude is extended to the first responders and to the brave Americans at the concert who scrambled amidst gunfire to help save friends and strangers alike.

In light of today’s tragedy, I have been asked anew by some about my position on the SHARE Act. Because the current regulations governing the purchasing of silencers are designed to protect Americans and do not threaten Americans’ fundamental Second Amendment rights, I advised the Republican leadership several days ago that I will be voting “no” on the SHARE act.

Steve Stivers (R-OH, 15th)

"I was horrified to hear about this act of mindless violence in Las Vegas. The local law enforcement and first responders are the heroes of this situation. To the families who are experiencing unthinkable loss this morning, we stand with you and will be praying for you."

Mark Takano (D-CA, 41st)

“I am heartbroken and sickened by the tragedy that struck Las Vegas last night. My thoughts and condolences are with the victims and their loved ones during this incredibly painful time. Words cannot express my gratitude to the law enforcement officers and first responders who put their lives on the line in the service of others.

“Tonight, parents will mourn the loss of children, children will mourn the loss of parents, and families will gather in hospitals praying for good news. It is our responsibility to ask ourselves why. Why do mass shootings occur so regularly in America? What are we doing to prevent these acts of domestic terror? How does it serve the public interest to have weapons on our streets that enable one person to inflict such horrific damage on our communities?

“These hard questions have gone unanswered for far too long, and our communities are suffering the consequences.”

Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS, 2nd)

“Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Las Vegas and all who were affected by the terrible mass shooting last night. We are forever thankful to the first responders who put their lives on the line to help those in need. Mass shootings have been too common in recent years and it is clear that much more needs to be done. Only if we work together can we counter the forces of terror and hate – no matter the source.”

Mike Thompson (D-CA, 5th)

“Today, the nation woke up to an unimaginable horror. In an act of violence unlike any we have ever seen before, one gunman killed at least 58 people and injured 515. This is the deadliest shooting in our history. Families have lost loved ones and the wounded will face a lifetime of physical and mental health effects.

“This should serve as a wakeup call to our nation, but most importantly to our lawmakers. In Newtown, we saw 27 lives – including small children – senselessly ended. Americans demanded action. The Congress did nothing. When a madman entered a theater in Aurora and killed 12, Congress did nothing. When a white supremacist entered a church in Charleston and killed 9, Congress did nothing. When a man driven by hate entered a nightclub in Orlando and killed 49, Congress did nothing. When their own colleagues were fired upon at baseball practice, Congress did nothing.

“What is it going to take? If Congress does nothing, its Leadership is complicit.

“Instead of giving us a vote on bipartisan, commonsense legislation to expand the background check on gun purchases, the Republican Leadership is pushing a bill that will deregulate silencers. If the American people knew that in the face of the gun violence epidemic, the only gun provisions this Congress is considering is a proposal to make it easier for more people to get silencers, they would be appalled.

“This isn’t about helping hunters or sportsmen, this is about making more money for gun manufacturers. Their sales are slumping. They need a new revenue stream. Imagine if car sales were falling and we lowered the standards of requirements to get a driver's license. We would never do that for cars. Why would we do it for something as lethal as a silencer?

“That’s why I am calling on my Republican and Democratic colleagues to come together. This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue about saving lives and repairing our communities. I have introduced a resolution that would establish a Select Committee on Gun Violence that would consist of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats and require them to submit a report to Congress on how we can work together to prevent gun violence. We can protect 2nd Amendment rights while making our communities safer. And we can do it together as a nation and as Democrats and Republicans.

“So, while we keep the victims, survivors and their families in our thoughts and prayers, we must act. We must come together. Now is exactly the time. Let’s put party aside and come to the table with solutions. Lives depend on it.”

Dina Titus (D-NV, 1st)

"My heart aches for the victims, their loved ones, and our community. I am grateful for law enforcement's swift response and the many good Samaritans whose selfless acts of bravery showcased Las Vegas' values to the world. We are a resilient and benevolent town that will not be intimidated by acts of violence. During this difficult time, my office will be working closely with local, state, and federal partners to provide support for Southern Nevada as we heal and move forward."

Fred Upton (R-MI, 6th)

“What happened in Las Vegas is heartbreaking beyond belief. Like the rest of the country, my wife Amey and I woke up this morning to the stunning images of victims being mowed down. It almost defies words. Yes, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of these victims and the hundreds who have been hospitalized. We also thank our First Responders whose swift actions ended this grisly nightmare. While details are still emerging, I join with the rest of the nation in sending our deepest condolences to those affected by this senseless, horrific tragedy.”

Timothy J. Walz (D-MN, 1st)

The events that unfolded last night in Las Vegas are tragic and heartbreaking. And they have become all too common in our country today. We have many questions and few answers, but I refuse to believe nothing can be done to reduce the likelihood of these attacks.

As a lifelong sportsman, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. At the same time, there are common-sense things we can do in Congress to prevent these tragedies from taking innocent lives and we must confront the truth that our current laws are not working. To that end, I am calling on Speaker Ryan and my colleagues in Congress to do the following:

1. Establish a select committee on gun violence prevention.
2. Increase access to mental health care nationwide.
3. Lift the ban on Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) research into the gun violence as a public health crisis.
4. Pass universal background check legislation.
5. Oppose current conceal & carry legislation before Congress.
6. Oppose current legislation to reduce restrictions on gun silencers.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL, 23rd)

“While we mourn for the victims, families, survivors and first responders who went through this horrific tragedy in Las Vegas, we cannot stop the conversation there. There was an airport mass shooting in my community in January, and Orlando’s Pulse tragedy is a fresh, painful memory. Now we have a new 'worst-ever gun-shooting' tragedy before us. Congress must send more than thoughts and prayers. It must act, and immediately adopt sensible gun control measures. Every Member of Congress has a moral obligation to take immediate action to prevent these senseless gun deaths from happening yet again.”

Maxine Waters (D-CA, 43rd)

“Like so many across the country, I woke up this morning to the horrific news that our nation had endured yet another act of senseless violence, resulting in the loss of at least 59 innocent lives and leaving more than 500 people injured. This shooting is a painful reminder of just how far we must go to root out acts of mass violence in our country. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, and our resolve as a country must be to stand together in unity and love during such a difficult time.

“There are so many questions surrounding this latest mass shooting, which now has the unfortunate distinction of being the deadliest in modern U.S. history, surpassing the devastating Sandy Hook, Mother Emanuel Church, and Pulse Nightclub massacres. We are still learning more facts about this shooter and his motivations, however, we cannot ignore how deeply disturbing it is to learn that an individual with a capacity for extreme violence was able to gain access to a large number of deadly weapons. When will our society gain the strength and courage to finally face up to the constant threat and danger of guns?

“My heart aches for those who were lost and wounded, their loved ones, the citizens of Las Vegas, and the entire nation as we pull together once again to overcome fear with strength, pride, and love in the face of unconscionable violence.”

Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ, 12th)

“This morning, our nation awoke with grief and despair after learning of the largest mass shooting in our modern history. We will forever hold in our hearts the men and women who tragically and unjustly lost their lives and pray for healing for the wounded, missing and their loved ones.

There are no words for this intentional act of evil and as the investigation continues to unfold I must express my desperation for Congress to take on gun safety reform. Dotted across our map are harrowing accounts of gun violence that have devastated communities – tragedies that claim more and more lives of the innocent with every breaking news report.

There is nothing left to debate. The line has to be drawn – school children were not enough, Members of Congress were not enough, churchgoers at Bible Study were not enough, adults going out to a nightclub was not enough – what will it take?”

Peter Welch (D-Vermont)

“I know I join all Vermonters in reacting with horror and utter disbelief to the slaughter of innocent life in Las Vegas early this morning. It’s hard for any of us to imagine the sheer terror experienced by concertgoers running for their lives, unsure of the depraved shooter’s location. It’s hard to imagine the inconsolable grief being experienced by the families of the victims. And it’s hard to fathom the inaction of Congress in the face of so many mass shootings in this country. What will it take to pass common sense gun laws that take guns out of the hands of people who should not have them? We pray for those injured and killed. And we are grateful yet again for the brave first responders who stopped the shooter and selflessly came to the aid of hundreds of innocent victims.”

Frederica Wilson (D-FL, 24th)

“Today millions of Americans awakened to the stunning news of what is now known as the largest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. This tragic event, which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, and left more than 50 people dead and injured more than 500 others, should also be a wake-up call to U.S. House and Senate lawmakers to pass legislation to ban assault weapons, like the bill I co-sponsored in the last Congress.

“Just a little over a year ago, the nation mourned the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, during which 49 people were killed and 53 were injured, making it at the time the deadliest mass shooting in recent history.

“I cannot think of a single justification for allowing civilian individuals to own semiautomatic assault weapons, which were created for use in war to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. To those who can, I ask the following question:

“How many people must have their lives cut short or changed forever before lawmakers act to end the sale of these weapons and pass other common-sense gun control legislation so that tragedies such as the one that took place last night do not begin to lose their shock value–or better yet, never happen again?”

Lee Zeldin (R-NY, 1st)

“Late last night, a domestic terrorist cowardly attacked concert-goers in a horrific and tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, that left at least 50 people dead and more than 400 injured. Music should bring us all together and yet again has become the target for these most cowardly acts. While the investigation is ongoing, and details are still emerging, all Americans extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to everyone impacted by this senseless tragedy and thank all first responders on the scene.”

I am positive that these are not all of the statements available by House Representatives. If it seems that I have only covered Democrats' statements, it is because the Republicans are remaining silent for the most part, as usual. I do not have the time today to go through all of the statements that are not here, but this is a good start. My POV is this: It doesn't matter whether these guns are legal or not. CRIMINALS will find a way to get them and CRIMINALS kill. Period. To ban weapons of ANY kind only takes it out of the hands of law-abiding people who would never kill someone to begin with, unless it was in defense of their lives.

Wilson Announces Support For Pain-Capable Bill

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-02) has expressed his support for H.R. 36, Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill, which bans abortions 20 weeks or more after fertilization, gives millions of unborn children a chance to live.

“Every life is precious, has value, and is blessed by God,” said Congressman Wilson. “Working together with pro-life leaders such South Carolina Citizens for Life – and its executive director Holly Gatling – I have fought to protect unborn babies, and I will continue to do so, because those who can’t speak for themselves deserve a voice.”

Congressman Wilson delivered a One Minute Speech on the floor of the House in support of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Tuesday afternoon.

Video of Congressman Wilson's floor speech is available at: https://youtu.be/QkGsWkhay6U

According to medical professionals, a fetus that is 20 weeks old can feel pain. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act establishes criminal penalties for anyone who performs or attempts an abortion after the 20-week mark. The bill provides exceptions to save the life of the mother, and in the case of rape or incest.

Members Introduce Bipartisan Legislation on the Dangers of Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), along with Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA), Rep. Andy Harris, M.D. (R-MD), Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA), Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Rep. James Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Ralph Abraham, M.D. (R-LA), Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA), and Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) introduced H. Con. Res. 80, expressing the sense of Congress that legalizing physician-assisted suicide puts the most vulnerable of our society at risk of deadly harm and undermines the integrity of America’s healthcare system. They issued the following joint statement:

“Protecting the vulnerable and providing quality care for all patients are cornerstones of any good healthcare system. Included in that is providing comfort and care for those facing the heart-wrenching challenges of dealing with a potentially terminal illness. In some cases, this commitment to fighting for the best care – even in the face of the most deadly diseases – can result in new and innovative cures, offering the chance of recovery for both the patient and for others suffering in the future. In other cases, it is simply a question of offering end-of-life comfort and support.

Physician-assisted suicide, however, does the opposite. It undermines a key safeguard that protects our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and people experiencing psychiatric diagnoses. Americans deserve better.

We will continue to defend every human being’s inherent dignity, and work to ensure patients facing the end of their lives have access to the best quality and most comprehensive medical care possible, including palliative, in-home, or hospice care, tailored to their individual needs. When governments support, encourage, or facilitate suicide – whether assisted by physicians or others – we devalue our fellow citizens, our fellow human beings. That should not be who we are."

Full text of the resolution is available here.

Nonpartisan patients’ rights and disability rights advocacy organizations across the country have spoken out in strong support of this bipartisan resolution, including:

Patients Rights Action Fund: “Many do not realize that people battling terminal illness, people with disabilities and others are inadvertently targeted by the legalization of assisted suicide. I am grateful to Congressmen Correa, Vargas, Wenstrup and all of the other cosponsors for introducing this Sense of Congress resolution,” said J.J. Hanson, President and a terminal brain cancer patient. “This bill brings attention to this important issue and takes a big step toward protecting me and so many others from a death-too-soon.”

National Council on Independent Living: “Our society places a high value on physical appearance and ability, and stigmatizes significant disability. It's no surprise that those of us who grew up able-bodied and then became disabled might initially see disability as a huge loss of one’s former dreams and physical abilities,” said Kelly Buckland, Executive Director. “When someone is first hit with this, they may feel they’d be better off dead. As one struggles to get basic needs met, some people feel worn down. If assisted suicide had been legal in the past, even if it were supposedly only for those with “terminal” conditions, I might not be here today. I’m grateful that assisted suicide was not legal back then, and I'm committed to keeping it that way. This is an important reason why the National Council on Independent Living opposes assisted suicide laws. NCIL is a leader in the disability rights movement, our political struggle for equal rights. And, among other things, equal rights include equal suicide prevention.”

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF): “Where assisted suicide is legal, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse. No safeguards have ever been enacted or even proposed that can prevent this outcome, which can never be undone,” said Marilyn Golden, Senior Policy Analyst. “The so-called safeguards are very weak, and the lack of oversight hides these dangers from public view. Moreover, assisted suicide laws are a prescription for elder abuse and abuse of people with disabilities. Supporters of assisted suicide say such laws won’t affect disabled people—but they will, whether or not they realize it. But there is a legal alternative: anyone dying in discomfort may legally receive palliative sedation. Under these circumstances, assisted suicide is not real choice, but a phony form of freedom.”

ADAPT: “Disabled people and seniors who need assistance with everyday tasks like dressing and bathing want the choice to get those services at home and to have control over how they’re delivered. We do not want to be forced into a nursing facility, nor forced to live in poverty to qualify. Unfortunately, that choice is not a reality for most of us. In states that have legalized assisted suicide, Oregon data shows, over a third of those who request assistance to die do so because of “feelings of being a burden” and over 90% cite “loss of autonomy” as a factor,” said Stephanie Woodward, Director of Advocacy. “If the only alternative to death is poverty and segregation in nursing facilities, assisted suicide is not a “choice.” Society is failing to ensure access to consumer controlled long-term services. The last thing we need in this time of draconian budget cuts in Medicaid is the legalization of assisted suicide laws, because the untimely deaths of disabled Americans can easily be seen as a cost saving answer.

Not Dead Yet: "As a national, secular, social justice organization, Not Dead Yet strongly supports this bipartisan effort to speak truth to the many myths about legalized assisted suicide," said Diane Coleman, President/CEO. "As Americans with disabilities, we are on the front lines of the nation's health care system that often devalues old, ill, and disabled people. So we are grateful for this Sense of Congress that explains the dangers of mistake, coercion, and abuse under a public policy of assisted suicide."

Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Fund: "Empowering doctors to assist patients in killing themselves has led to an inevitable erosion of trust in the motives of doctors, health care institutions, and insurers. This has been detrimental to patients, degraded the quality of medical care, and compromised the integrity of medical profession wherever assisted suicide has been legalized,” Dr. William F. Toffler, National Director. “The solution to suffering is not to end the life of the sufferer; rather society's focus at the end of life should be to alleviate suffering by improving access to hospice and palliative care whenever it is needed."


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) issued the following statement to mark October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

"As we mark the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we take time to celebrate and remember the millions of individuals and families who have been impacted by this terrible disease.

My family and I are now nearly a decade removed from the day my doctor gave me news I never expected to hear. As a breast cancer survivor, I consider it my responsibility to share my story. As a legislator and Member of the Appropriations Committee, I consider it my obligation to help make lifesaving resources and information available to those battling this disease.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am especially proud that Congress took action this year to extend, until 2019, the PALS Act I introduced to help ensure young women have access to mammograms at age 40. As someone who was diagnosed at just 41 years old, I know how critical it is that women have the information and tools necessary to make decisions about their breast health."

Walorski, Blumenauer, Fitzpatrick, Maloney Introduce Move America Act to Boost Infrastructure Investment

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Monday introduced the Move America Act (H.R. 3912) to strengthen public-private partnerships and boost investment in America’s infrastructure. Through expanded private activity bonds and infrastructure tax credits, this bipartisan legislation would attract billions of dollars in capital and give state and local governments greater flexibility to fund critical infrastructure projects.

“A strong American economy depends on a modern infrastructure built for the 21st century,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “Public-private partnerships are among the most cost-effective ways to revitalize our aging infrastructure and invest in our nation’s future. The bipartisan Move America Act will give state and local governments the tools and flexibility they need to leverage private dollars for the infrastructure projects most important to our communities.”

“American infrastructure is falling apart and we’re falling behind. It is critical that we consider every approach to fixing our crumbling infrastructure,” said Blumenauer. “The Move America Act will support billions of dollars in much-needed investment to help rebuild and renew our country.”

“This bipartisan bill will help jumpstart our local economies and create a ton of good-paying jobs for people all across the country,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “It will help make real investments in our aging infrastructure and allow us to get a lot done by teaming up with the private sector and that’s just good sense.”

The Move America Act would allow states to issue tax-exempt Move America Bonds to expand public-private partnerships and lower borrowing costs. Incentives for state and local governments to offer these bonds include flexible ownership and management arrangements, favorable tax treatment, and up to five years of unused bond carry-over. They would be allocated to states based on population.

The bill would also create Move America Tax Credits to leverage additional private investment by enabling smaller states to trade in some or all of their bond allocation for tax credits at a 25 percent rate. Credits could be attached to direct investment in a project or used to capitalize state infrastructure banks or revolving funds.

Eligible infrastructure projects include roads, bridges, airports, rail, transit, ports, freight transfer facilities, waterways, sewers, and broadband. The Move America Act would leverage $8 billion in federal funding into an estimated $226 billion worth of bond authority or $56 billion in tax credits over the next decade.

The legislation was introduced in the Senate (S. 1229) earlier this year by Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

U.S. House Passes Thompson’s Cooperative Management of Mineral Rights Act

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson’s bill that protects oil and gas production in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF).

H.R. 2316, the Cooperative Management of Mineral Rights Act, clarifies existing law relating to energy production in the ANF.

A federal law passed in 1992 required the Forest Service to write new regulations on oil and gas production in the ANF. However, federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the Forest Service does not have the authority to do so because the minerals in the ANF are privately owned.

Rep. Thompson’s bill, which is consistent with the findings of the courts, corrects federal law by repealing the improper 1992 requirement.

“Federal courts have ruled that the U.S. Forest Service does not hold the legal authority to further regulate accessing oil and gas in the Allegheny National Forest,” Rep. Thompson said. “This legislation will prevent future lawsuits that impede oil and gas production and will ensure that individuals with sub-surface rights can access their property. With overwhelming bipartisan support again in the House, I look forward to working with the Senate and the President to have this legislation signed into law.”

The bill also contains protections for timbering and ensures that existing timbering authorities granted to the Forest Service will not be changed. A previous version of the bill was passed by the full House in 2016.

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney Introduces WHEEL Act to Ease Regulatory Burden on Interstate Trucking, Address Growing Trucking Industry Driver Shortage

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-22) introduced the Waiving Hindrances to Economic Enterprise and Labor (WHEEL) Act, H.R. 3889, to ease the regulatory burden on interstate trucking. This legislation will expand a pilot program to study the safety implications of allowing individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 to operate trucks across state lines. Under current federal law, individuals in this age group may obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in each of the 48 contiguous states; however, they are prohibited from operating trucks across state lines.

“We already allow qualified drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 to drive from Long Island to Buffalo without a problem, but prohibit them from crossing the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, New Jersey into New York City. The WHEEL Act is a common sense measure that would ease the burden on these truck operators by sensibly expanding the interstate truck driving pilot program authorized by the FAST Act, while maintaining strong standards for participants. The trucking industry moves most of our nation’s freight tonnage and is vital to the health of our economy. However, by 2024, estimates suggest that the shortage throughout the country could be as many as 175,000 unfilled driving positions. With a truck driving shortage that is only expected to grow more acute over time, we should take all reasonable steps to address the issue including passing the WHEEL Act,” said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney.

The FAST Act, which Congress passed in 2016 with bipartisan support, created a pilot program to study the safety implications of allowing individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 to operate trucks across state lines. However, this pilot program has been limited by the strict requirements that participants be veterans or active duty between the ages of 18 and 21, a demographic that has been challenging to recruit in statistically significant numbers for the purposes of this study. To address this issue, the WHEEL Act would broaden the criteria for participation in the pilot program.

In a letter of support, Chris Spear, President & CEO of the American Trucking Associations stated, “The bill, which would amend the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to allow for an expansion of participants within the FAST Act’s younger commercial driver license (CDL) holder pilot program, is a critical step towards addressing the trucking industry’s growing driver shortage. ATA supports this proposed change, and applauds your [Rep. Tenney’s] efforts to address this very important issue facing the trucking industry. We look forward to working with you [Rep. Tenney] to enact this much needed legislation.”

“I applaud Representative Claudia Tenney for introducing legislation to address this critical threat to commerce throughout the United States. Forcing young people to wait until they are 21 years of age before they enter the tractor trailer driving profession discourages them from entering the industry at a critical time in their career decision process. There is currently a shortage of 40,000 to 60,000 CDLA drivers nationally with this number potentially expanding to 200,000 by 2020 according to some estimates. Representative Tenney’s common sense approach to this issue can safely and practically improve this critical situation in a manner beneficial for the industry, for the consumer and quite literally for all involved,” said Terry R. Wood, President & CEO, Willow Run Foods, Inc.

“The Trucking industry faces a severe shortage of qualified commercial drivers. A contributing factor for the shortage is the gap between an individual graduating from high school and their ability to begin a career as a professional driver. With the appropriate training, many of these individuals would safely be able to operate commercial vehicles. We appreciate Rep. Tenney’s recognition of this issue and look forward to continuing to work with her to address the commercial driver shortage,” said Kendra L. Hems, President, Trucking Association of New York.

The updated requirements set by the WHEEL Act will remain stringent – participants must not only possess a valid CDL, they must also have a clean driving record and satisfy the added requirement of completing an additional form of training or certification, as determined by the Secretary of Transportation, that demonstrates aptitude, safety, and suitability. Expanding this pilot program safely through the WHEEL Act will enable a larger pool of qualified individuals to participate and begin their career as a CDL operator earlier, helping to end the driver shortage facing the trucking industry.

Suozzi Proposes Legislation to Close “Official Acts” Loophole that Resulted in Overturned Political Corruption Convictions

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Tom Suozzi has introduced the Close Official Acts Loophole (COAL) Act, a bipartisan bill with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) aimed at clamping down on corruption by elected officials. Suozzi’s bill is in response to the recently overturned corruption convictions of former New York State Senate Leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, along with the recent indictments of elected officials on Long Island.

Last year, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling narrowed the legal definition of “official acts” by elected politicians. The Court’s decision was cited in the vacated convictions of Skelos and Silver.

“We can’t allow corruption convictions to be overturned based on legal technicalities,” said Rep. Suozzi. He added, “Passage of the bipartisan COAL Act would clarify Congressional intent and close the loophole opened by the Supreme Court. Those who profit on the public’s trust for personal gain must never be allowed to avoid punishment when we have the power to fix it. While the bill will not have an impact on the existing cases involving Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver, we must close this loophole to stop this from happening in the future. I am open to hearing additional suggestions from prosecutors and others on how to further strengthen anti-corruption laws in New York State and the United States,” said Suozzi.

“As a former FBI anti-corruption special agent who put politicians from both parties behind bars, I saw firsthand the need to strengthen the statutory language governing political corruption cases. Corruption can and does take many different forms, and we must provide investigators and prosecutors with all the tools they need to combat the erosive effects that corruption has on our system of government,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, former FBI Supervisory Special Agent and national supervisor for the FBI’s Political Corruption Unit.

Stefanik Applauds Over 175 Bipartisan Cosponsors on Community Health Bill

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) applauded continued support for her bipartisan legislation, the Community Health Investment, Modernization and Excellence (CHIME) Act of 2017, which has 177 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.

“I thank my colleagues for quickly rallying around this important measure to protect funding for Community Health Centers that provide critical healthcare and preventative services for families across our nation,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “I am pleased this momentum is turning into action, and the Energy and Commerce Committee has announced a markup tomorrow on legislation to extend funding for these critical healthcare facilities. In my district alone, Community Health Centers like Hudson Headwaters Health Network, North Country Family Health Center, and the Community Health Center of the North Country serve over 95,000 patients and it’s critical this funding be extended to serve the needs of our community.”

In response to support for Rep. Stefanik’s efforts to reinstate Community Health Center funding, it was announced that that the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be marking up legislation tomorrow, which includes the Community Care Act, a provision to extend funding for Community Health Centers at $3.6 billion a year for two years. Congresswoman Stefanik is an original cosponsor of this legislation.

Beyer, Speier, 78 House Dems Challenge Sec. Price, Trump Administration Over Healthcare.Gov Shutdowns During Open Enrollment

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Representatives Speier and Beyer have sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price urging him to minimize the damage from shutdowns of Healthcare.gov during open enrollment period. HHS recently announced that it would shut the site down for 12-hour periods on every Sunday but one throughout open enrollment. The letter was signed by 78 Democratic Representatives.

The Representatives wrote:

“The recent announcement by HHS regarding planned shut downs of HealthCare.gov during the 2018 Open Enrollment Period is incredibly concerning. These shut down periods will amount to a full three days in which Americans will not be able to enroll and access health coverage. Furthermore, this does not take into account that HHS has already reduced the time that Americans will be able to enroll this year by 47 days (a 51 percent time reduction) as compared to the 2017 Open Enrollment Period. By contrast, the HealthCare.gov website was online 99.9 percent of the time during the 2015 and 2016 open enrollment periods…

On behalf of the millions of Americans who will have more difficulty or will not be able to sign up for and access health insurance coverage because of the many decisions made by HHS and President Trump, we ask that you take the simple step of tailoring website maintenance to shorter durations during times with low traffic or compensating for the lost hours due to maintenance by adding time to the end of the open enrollment period.”

Added together, the scheduled Healthcare.gov shutdowns would shorten open enrollment by three days. The Trump Administration previously announced that it would cut the duration of open enrollment in half to 45 days after 2016’s 90-day period.

A signed copy of the letter is available here and text is below.

The Honorable Thomas E. Price, M.D.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Price:

We are writing to request that you modify the planned maintenance on HealthCare.gov to avoid unnecessary disruption of the open enrollment period for the health insurance marketplaces. We have great concern over the recent announcement that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to shut down HealthCare.gov every Sunday but one for a twelve-hour time window during the six-week open enrollment period. We therefore ask HHS to limit these outages and tailor them to ensure that outages are not scheduled during times with historically higher traffic or, conversely, add additional days onto open enrollment to make up for the extensive amount of lost enrollment time.

The recent announcement by HHS regarding planned shut downs of HealthCare.gov during the 2018 Open Enrollment Period is incredibly concerning. These shut down periods will amount to a full three days in which Americans will not be able to enroll and access health coverage. Furthermore, this does not take into account that HHS has already reduced the time that Americans will be able to enroll this year by 47 days (a 51 percent time reduction) as compared to the 2017 Open Enrollment Period. By contrast, the HealthCare.gov website was online 99.9 percent of the time during the 2015 and 2016 open enrollment periods.

This is just one of a series of troubling decisions made by HHS to limit Americans’ access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The Trump Administration is spending 90 percent less on advertising to enroll people in the health insurance marketplaces despite clear evidence that advertising is an essential catalyst for enrollment. Also, 41 percent less funding will be allocated to navigators, the individuals who help people sign up for coverage. Most recently, HHS decided to no longer send regional representatives to assist in state-based open enrollment events, a clear move by the Trump Administration to purposefully weaken marketplace enrollment efforts. Therefore, we are extremely troubled by the decision to further limit the opportunity for those who wish to sign up for health coverage.

On behalf of the millions of Americans who will have more difficulty or will not be able to sign up for and access health insurance coverage because of the many decisions made by HHS and President Trump, we ask that you take the simple step of tailoring website maintenance to shorter durations during times with low traffic or compensating for the lost hours due to maintenance by adding time to the end of the open enrollment period. For an agency whose stated mission is “to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans,” we ask that you fulfill your mission and adjust the maintenance window to ensure that Americans are able to access care. We look forward to your response.


Representatives Smith and Jayapal Introduce Legislation to Reform Deeply Flawed Immigration Detention System

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) introduced the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, legislation to reform the systemic problems in our immigration detention system. Our current system is inhumane, unjust, and driven by private, for-profit corporations like The GEO Group, which operates the Northwest Detention Center located in Tacoma, Washington. This bill will end the use of private facilities and repeal mandatory detention, while restoring due process, oversight, accountability, and transparency to the immigration detention system.

“We must fix the injustices in our broken immigration detention system,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “As the Trump Administration continues to push a misguided and dangerous immigration agenda, we need to ensure fair treatment and due process for immigrants and refugees faced with detention. This legislation will address some of the worst failings of our immigration policy and restore integrity and humanity to immigration proceedings.”

“The high moral cost of our inhumane immigration detention system is reprehensible. Large, private corporations operating detention centers are profiting off the suffering of men, women and children. We need an overhaul,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “It’s clear that the Trump administration is dismantling the few protections in place for detained immigrants even as he ramps up enforcement against parents and vulnerable populations. This bill addresses the most egregious problems with our immigration detention system. It’s Congress’ responsibility to step up and pass this bill.”

In addition to repealing mandatory detention, a policy that often results in arbitrary and indefinite detention, the legislation creates a meaningful inspection process at detention facilities to ensure they meet the government’s own standards. The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish legally enforceable civil detention standards in line with those adopted by the American Bar Association. With disturbing track records of abuse and neglect, DHS has a responsibility to ensure that facilities are held accountable for the humane treatment of those awaiting immigration proceedings.

Individuals held in our immigration detention system are subject to civil law, but are often held in conditions identical to prisons. In many cases, detained people are simply awaiting their day in court. To correct the persistent failures of due process, the legislation requires the government to show probable cause to detain people, and implements a special rule for primary caregivers and vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and people with serious medical and mental health issues.

"My time in detention in Artesia was a nightmare, a scene in which there is fear, anguish, and desperation in every breath. The immigration detention system harms the lives of thousands of people every day. The solution is not to just improve conditions in these detention centers, the real solution must be a fundamental change. Congress must urgently act to pass this bill and bring change to this tragic system of immigration detention," said Angelina Marquez, survivor of U.S. detention system.

“Being detained was difficult in every way. You are a prisoner. I am speaking out because the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act gives me hope that the U.S. government can find a way to stop the inhumane treatment being given to so many immigrants. We want to live peacefully and safely, and our country’s leaders must remember that all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity,” said Daniel, survivor of U.S. detention system.

“Our government locks away hundreds of thousands of people every year, hidden in remote jails with punishing conditions and no accountability. President Trump is asking Congress to give DHS even more money to super-fund this abusive network of jails. We applaud Representatives Smith and Jayapal for responding to this madness with a plan - a workable, compassionate and rights-respecting alternative to today's shameful reality,” said Mary Meg McCarthy of the National Immigration Justice Center.

“The Trump administration has made it clear that they will aggressively target immigrants for arrest and detention. This bill is an important step toward stemming the unchecked expansion of the immigration detention system, ensuring much needed oversight and accountability over detention operations and providing greater protections for immigrants. We call on Congress to immediately pass this bill in order to end the over-reliance on an inhumane and ineffective system and treat immigrants in detention with fairness and dignity,” said Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Over the past decade, the immigration detention system has grown dramatically without sufficient safeguards against human and civil rights abuses. It is a system known for egregious violations including sexual assault, prolonged solitary confinement, and life-threatening medical neglect. Many of the people detained are fleeing persecution in their home countries, while others have lived in the U.S. for years. They are often detained in for-profit prisons and county jails isolated from family, community and legal support. Many are detained for months without access to an immigration judge and are denied basic rights.”

“Our immigration detention system is a driving force of the U.S. deportation agenda, ruthlessly separating families and communities. For the past three decades the government has put hundreds of thousands of immigrants behind bars at a massive human, financial and moral cost. Under this administration, an already oppressive, inhumane and deadly system of detention has become even bigger, less transparent and less accountable. It is exactly at this moment—as the administration pushes to massively expand the system and further undermine the rights of all immigrants—that Congress must take immediate and decisive action to intervene. While this bill does not fully end the inhumane and unnecessary system of immigration detention, it takes a bold step forward by ending mandatory detention, ending privatized detention, enacting critical safeguards and reversing the trend of constant, unchecked growth,” said Mary Small, Detention Watch Network.

The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act is cosponsored by John Conyers Jr. (MI-13), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-4), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Bobby Rush (IL-1), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Danny K. Davis (IL-7), James P. McGovern (MA-2), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Gwen Moore (WI-4), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Keith Ellison (MN-5), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-4), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Jared Polis (CO-2), Mike Quigley (IL-5), Judy Chu (CA-27), Bill Foster (IL-11), David N. Cicilline (RI-1), Suzan DelBene (WA-1), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-4), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Kathleen M. Rice (NY-4), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34).

The legislation is also supported by the following civil society organizations: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition, Center for Community Change, The Center for Victims of Torture, Church Council of Greater Seattle, Church World Service, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, Columbia Legal Services, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Democracy for America, Detention Watch Network, FIRM, Grassroots Leadership, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Immigration Equality Action Fund, Just Detention International, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Make the Road New York, Make the Road NJ, MoveOn.org Civic Action, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), National Network to End Domestic Violence, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, OneAmerica, Our Revolution, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Southern Poverty Law Center, Tahirih Justice Center, United We Dream, Washington Defender Association, Women’s Refugee Commission, 21 Progress

Rep. Sewell Statement on Expiration of CHIP

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- On September 30, funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expired after Congress missed a deadline to reauthorize the initiative. CHIP provides insurance coverage for children in low- and middle-income families.

Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) releases the following statement:

“The failure of Republican leadership to reauthorize CHIP puts the health of 150,000 Alabama children and 9 million children nationwide on the line,” said Rep. Sewell. “Many families in my district and across Alabama rely on CHIP to cover their children’s checkups, immunizations, emergency care and more. Rather than wasting more time on partisan attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I am urging my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to focus on what we can do now to help stabilize the insurance marketplace and make health care more affordable for all families. That starts with reauthorizing CHIP and maintaining Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments, which the majority of our hospitals rely on to offset the cost of uncompensated care. As hospitals in my district face closure and Alabama families struggle to pay for doctor visits, I am calling on Republican leadership to hold a vote now reauthorizing CHIP and protecting DSH payments. Not a week from now, not a month from now, but right now.”

Congressman Serrano Sends Letter to President Trump Urging Him to Rebuild Communications Infrastructure in Puerto Rico

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman José E. Serrano together with 50 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump urging him to deploy all available federal assets and agencies to rebuild the communications infrastructure of Puerto Rico. The island has failing infrastructure that needs to be addressed immediately to aid with recovery efforts.

"Puerto Rico is facing a humanitarian crisis and adequate communication systems are necessary in order to adequately carry out the relief efforts," said Congressman Serrano. "President Trump has talked about fixing the failing infrastructure in our country and helping Puerto Rico with theirs in their time of need will show his commitment to this issue."

The full text of the letter is below and was signed by the following members: Serrano, González-Colón, Velázquez, Crowley, Soto, Curbelo, Lujan Grisham, S. Murphy, Huffman, Raskin, Wasserman Schultz, C. Maloney, Welch, Kaptur, Evans, Schakowsky, Cohen, Levin, Vargas, Castor, Pascrell, Ellison, Vela, Khanna, Holmes Norton, Garamendi, S.P. Maloney, Espaillat, Lowey, C. Smith, Moore, Engel, Meng, Doyle, Shea-Porter, Lieu, Cárdenas, Price, Conyers, Hastings, Gomez, DeGette, Beatty, Connolly, Moulton, Slaughter, K. Rice, Lynch, Diaz Barragán, Nolan, Tonko

September 27, 2017

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to urge you to immediately deploy all available federal assets and relevant federal agencies to Puerto Rico for the express purpose of reestablishing telecommunications services such as telephone, cellular phone, and internet services in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The situation is very dire in Puerto Rico right now and with many localities still cut off from the rest of the island, communications are key in sharing information, residents receiving aid from first responders as well as from their relatives in the 50 states, and localities being able to respond to the first aid needs of communities and receive the support necessary to prevent further loss of life.

Currently, private telecommunications service providers are sending response teams from the 50 states and assessing the damage to the infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. While the service providers have been proactive, we believe that due to the gravity of the situation, it is necessary for the federal government to support the reestablishment of services as quickly as possible for individuals and localities throughout the islands. In short, cellular and internet connections for basic communications purposes are crucial in fulfilling basic necessities. FEMA and other government agencies such as the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate have the mission of helping restore emergency communications networks and critical infrastructure for government, first responders, states, and localities. In addition, the Department of Defense has the capacity to provide resources and capabilities when other federal agencies are overwhelmed. We respectfully request that the full extent of these federal assets be deployed immediately to help restore individual service as well- at least until private service providers can fully restore their networks.

The lack of communications is undermining the relief effort- especially in communities currently cut off from other parts of the island. A working cellular network is necessary in order to receive emergency services and medically treat those in need to prevent the loss of life. It is also vital in order for municipalities to communicate with Commonwealth and federal disaster response authorities in order to receive the necessary help. From roads that need to be cleared, to locating missing persons, to communicating with remote areas and maintaining the safety and security of its residents, telecommunications services are vital.

Network restoration will also assist disaster response relief teams in narrowly tailoring aid to those areas most in need and quickly deploying assets across the island. In short, reestablishing communications in a prompt manner is crucial in order to have an effective disaster response and relief efforts.

The people of Puerto Rico need robust assistance at this hour of great need and it is incumbent upon us to help in every manner possible. Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to your response.


Sarbanes Questions Former Equifax CEO about Consumer Data Breach

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) has questioned former Equifax CEO Richard Smith about the data breach that exposed the personal and financial data of at least 145.5 million Americans.

“There are three things that I think the public is angry about,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “First of all, they want to understand why there weren’t sufficient protections in place on the front end so that this kind of breach wouldn’t happen given the sensitivity of the information that you’re keeping in the company. The second thing is how quickly – once a breach was discovered – you came clean to the public and provided information on what was happening. There seems to have been a delay there that concerns people. The third is whether the services that you’re now providing people are going to be a sufficient assurance to folks going forward – that their identity can be protected, that their information is safe.”

A full video of the exchange appears below.

Reps. Roybal-Allard & Jayapal Statement on White House Immigration Proposal

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), co-chairs of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, released the following statement in response to reports that a circulated White House immigration proposal includes policies that will be profoundly damaging to immigrant children and families:

“The Trump Administration’s leaked immigration proposal is a betrayal of our nation’s values and principles.  As the co-chairs of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, we are particularly concerned that the proposal includes policies from two House bills that would place immigrant children and families in grave danger.

“These policies raise the credible fear standard, making it harder for people fleeing from violence and persecution to qualify for asylum; they restrict eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status to protect children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned; and they strip away due process and procedural protections from unaccompanied children seeking refuge in our country.

“As Americans, we should not turn away families fleeing persecution, we should not ignore the suffering youth who have been subjected to abuse or abandonment, and we should not send away unaccompanied children without giving them a meaningful opportunity to make their case for why they need protection.”

Rooney Introduces Bipartisan Child Safety Legislation

Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) introduced the bipartisan National Child Identification Assistance Act with Congressman Charlie Crist (FL-13) today. This bill protects children’s sensitive information by empowering parents to store it themselves, rather than the government.

“The National Child Identification Assistance Act highlights the importance of the National Child Identification Program, a national community service initiative which provides inkless, in-home fingerprinting kits to parents so they can proactively collect and store their child’s vital identification in the privacy of their own homes,” Rooney said. “It also decentralizes the process for law enforcement agencies that may lack the resources to collect and centrally-store information related to individual children. Should a child go missing, parents will be able to immediately furnish all of the pertinent information that law enforcement needs to conduct a search and rescue as quickly as possible. In the past, this program has partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, local law enforcement agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other community service organizations and this bill is an important step to ensure parents are directly involved in its continued success.”

“We must do all we can to protect our children. I am proud to join my friend, Congressman Rooney, in introducing this common-sense bill to do just that, promoting a proactive approach to address the growing issue of missing and exploited children,” added Charlie Crist.

“I am so proud that Congressman Rooney and Crist are leading the effort to help protect our greatest asset, our nations' children.  I was one of the coaches that helped start this program, and to date with 57 million ID kits distributed, it is the largest child ID program in the world. What a blessing,” said former Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden.

Originally recognized by Congress in 2001 for its dedication and efforts to protect children, the National Child Identification Program is a community service initiative that partners with college football teams and NFL teams to provide parents and guardians with ID kits that they can use at home to store their child’s sensitive identification information.

Former West Virginia Head Coach Don Nehlen stated, “Nothing is more important to the country than our children, they are our future.  This ID Kit can be filled out in about 5 minutes, stored in the home and can be provided to authorities in the case of an emergency.”

“It is a great initiative that I have been involved with since 1997.  This is another positive way that we can protect one of our most important natural resources that we have and that's our children,” said Coach Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions and longtime program board member.

Tax Reform Statements Continued

Paul Mitchell (R MI, 10th)

“During today’s discussions, we made significant progress toward developing a tax reform plan that will deliver the fairness and simplicity Americans deserve.  As I have said repeatedly throughout this process, we need a tax reform plan that focuses on delivering relief to those who need it most – the middle class.  The framework released today would double the standard deduction so that families and individuals can keep more of their hard-earned dollars, simplify the code into three tax brackets, and eliminate unfair taxes like the ‘Death tax’ that place an undue burden on farmers and family owned businesses,” said Representative Mitchell.

“The American people asked for tax relief; it’s time for both parties and both chambers of Congress to come together to deliver.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate, and with President Trump, to turn today’s framework into legislation that will put American workers and families first.”

Markwayne Mullin (R-OK, 2nd)

“Our nation’s tax code is broken.  For far too long, our tax code has burdened American families, stunted our economy’s growth, and limited the ability of our businesses to compete in global markets,” said Mullin.  “With our federal tax code exceeding more than 70,000 pages, we can’t expect any individual, family, or small business to keep up.  It’s time that our tax code worked for the American people, not against them.”

“We want to make sure that every American keeps more of their hard-earned paycheck in their pocket.  We want to make sure that filing your family’s taxes is so simple and affordable that you don’t have to hire an expert,” said Mullin.  “Our framework lowers rates for everyone across the board, eliminates loopholes, and allows our businesses—both big and small—to be competitive in the market.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to deliver on our promise to the American people to make our tax code fair and simple for the first time in over 30 years.” 

Tim Murphy (R-PA, 18th)

“This framework is a solid foundation to build a more competitive Southwestern Pennsylvania economy with more opportunities for families to move ahead.

“As Congress gets to work on fixing the broken U.S. tax  code, my focus remains the same: simplifying the tax code; ensuring hardworking families keep more of their paychecks; and growing our local economy by making sure good-paying jobs stay in Southwestern Pennsylvania.” 

Richard E. Neal (D-MA, 1st)

“Despite Republican claims that their tax plan would benefit the middle class, today’s analysis from the Tax Policy Center confirms that the Ryan-McConnell tax plan would overwhelmingly favor the rich at the expense of the middle class and hardworking Americans. Alarmingly, this analysis found that the middle class would be likely to pay more in taxes, directly contradicting claims made by Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell. Paying for massive tax cuts for the wealthy at the direct expense of the middle class would cause great harm to our nation’s economy and further exacerbate income inequality. To put it simply, this tax plan is a gut punch to the middle class and a golden goose for the rich.”

Donald Norcross (D-NJ, 1st)

“Americans want more jobs, higher wages and tax relief. But instead of focusing on working families, the Republican tax reform plan is just another giveaway to billionaires and huge corporations. It fails the President’s own ‘Trump Test’ to not benefit the wealthy.

“This proposal crushes New Jersey’s middle-class by eliminating critical state and local tax deductions. More than a third of New Jersey tax filers would be hit with a large tax increase if Republicans get rid of the State and Local Tax deduction.

“This plan amounts to welfare for the wealthy, paid for out of the pockets of hardworking Americans. It’s a bait and switch. Republicans continue to avoid explaining details about how they plan to pay for this, which means Americans can expect cuts to the vital services they rely on, like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

“I urge Americans to reject this plan and demand that Republicans finally work with Democrats to actually create jobs, raise wages, and bring real relief to working families.”

Steve Pearce (R-NM, 2nd)

“Small businesses are the cornerstone and families are the backbone of our state. For too long, our nation’s complex, antiquated, and one-sided tax code has caused stress, undue burden, and hard-earned money to ensure compliance. This is simply wrong, and must change not only for the success of our communities, but for the success of New Mexico and the nation. The tax framework released today has the potential to finally bring the relief that has long been needed. Done right, it will strengthen the middle-class and working-class, ease the burden and stress on families, make small businesses a priority, and put America back on the competitive global playing field.

This framework simplifies the tax code for businesses, doubles the amount families and individuals are able to deduct, and has the potential to lower rate for individuals and families throughout the nation with a straightforward tax rate. These changes will allow everyday middle-class families to spend less on taxes and tax preparation allowing those hard-earned dollars to be saved and used where needed. Even more, this framework will help businesses expand, but also allow them to create jobs in communities with desperate for growth and services.

New Mexicans have struggled long enough to find good-paying jobs and deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to reform America’s tax code to make New Mexican businesses and families a priority.”

Scott Perry (R-PA, 4th)

“The outline is good, but we need to see the brackets and some other details. As it stands now, I'm supportive of the proposal,” said Perry. “The American People deserve a tax code that prioritizes their needs - one that's simple, fair and easy to understand. Everyone should be able to keep more of their own hard-earned money, and our role as a government is to create the opportunity for small businesses to generate jobs and prosperity.”

Erik Paulsen (R-MN, 3rd)

“This is an exciting week for Minnesota’s middle-class families and small businesses,” said Congressman Paulsen. “After more than three decades since the last major tax reform, the framework released today outlines how fixing our broken tax code will lead to more jobs and bigger paychecks. Tax reform is about one thing: Restoring the hope of prosperity for American workers, their families, and, most importantly, the next generation.”

Jamie Raskin (D-MD, 8th)

“Republicans have apparently decided to approach tax reform with the same failed strategy that they employed for months in the health care debate. Instead of engaging in bipartisan discussions to come up with the best ideas, holding open hearings to solicit expert input, and publicly debating the merits of different policies, Republicans are reportedly meeting in secret behind closed-doors on a one-party basis to come up with a tax plan.  I fear that what follows will be an attempt to ram another lopsided proposal through Congress with no transparency, no public debate and no meaningful opportunity to improve the legislation.

“Democrats stand prepared and ready to work with Republicans to dramatically simplify the tax code, get rid of special interest loopholes and giveaways, and make the whole tax system fairer for middle-class families.  But real tax reform without blowing up the deficit will only be achievable through a thoughtful, public and bipartisan process—the exact opposite of what our friends across the aisle did with their serial health care repeal debacles. I urge the GOP leadership to abandon its secretive partisan tactics and work to engage Democrats – and the American people – in this important discussion so we can produce the best possible legislative outcome.  Regular order and bipartisan collaboration is the only way to make this work.”

David G. Reichert (R-WA, 8th)

"Over the years as I have traveled to all corners or Washington’s Eighth District and met with individuals and families from all walks of life, I have heard the same message over and over again: Americans want a simpler, fairer tax code that leads to more jobs and bigger paychecks.

Today, the House released a framework for a tax reform plan to put us on that path.

The framework outlines a plan that provides tax relief and a simplified code to middle-class families, making Americans’ day to day life more affordable so individuals and families can focus on the things that matter.

And it sets out a path for significant economic growth, by lowering tax rates for American businesses and encouraging investment here at home. America’s outdated tax code has weighed down American workers and businesses as our foreign competitors move forward. We simply must have a tax code that supports the creation of good-paying jobs in America.

This is a once in a generation opportunity that will improve the lives of American families for generations to come. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle over the coming months on a tax plan that will give Americans a raise, help our businesses compete, and simplify the tax code."

Tom Rice (R-SC, 7th)

“Since 1986 Washington has stood by and let the rest of the world tilt the playing field against the American worker. The decline of the American middle class and the growing income inequality that both Democrats and Republicans complain about is a direct result of the continued deterioration of America for a place to do business, in large part because we’ve failed to make ourselves competitive.

Our current tax code puts American businesses at a disadvantage and that translates to the loss of millions of middle class American jobs. If we really want to grow the middle class, give them a raise, reduce income inequality, and stop jobs from leaving our shores, we must make our tax code competitive in the world. That has got to be our number one goal and this plan helps get us there.”

Martha Roby (R-AL, 2nd)

“It was a productive meeting, and the message I would relay to those I represent is simple: We want to lower tax rates for every taxpayer so that Americans can keep and invest more of what they earn,” Roby said. “You should be able to keep more of your money in your pocket.”

“I’m ready to get this done. It is time to deliver some meaningful results to the American people. Tax reform presents a tremendous opportunity to move this country ahead, and I’m committed to getting it done.”

Mike (AL) Rogers (R-AL, 3rd)

“I strongly support the tax reform framework outlined today by President Trump and the House Republican Leadership. Tax reform is the single best way to grow our economy. Hard working Americans are due a fairer and simpler tax code.

“The tax reform framework is just the first step towards helping families keep more of what they earn, create more good-paying jobs in America and help small businesses.

“I look forward to working with President Trump as we work to make our broken tax code fairer and simpler for the folks across East Alabama and the country so they can keep more of what they earn.

Todd Rokita (R-IN, 4th)

“I’m ready to reform our nation’s tax code. It will help your wallet and it will help this business and businesses just like it. We have some of the best products in the world, and it’s time our country’s policies give our businesses the ability to thrive.” 

Peter J. Roskam (R-IL, 6th)

“This is a transformational moment we have to reform a tax code that hasn’t been updated in over 30 years. This is about improving the lives of every single American. It’s about increasing paychecks and giving families, working students and small businesses an easier and fairer tax code. American families are counting on Congress and the White House to work together to fix a tax code that is too complicated and too unfair,” said Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL). “This framework puts us on the right path to accomplishing those goals and I invite my Democrat colleagues to join us in making the changes necessary to enact common-sense, fiscally-responsible measures that grows our economy, supports our middle-class, defends our workers and protects our jobs.”

David Rouzer (R-NC, 7th)

“This week, the House, the Senate, and the Trump Administration released a tax reform framework to bring back jobs and money from overseas and create real prosperity for all Americans.  This is a tax reform plan focused on simplicity and growth that will lead to significant investments and generate better paying jobs, while also enabling every individual and family to keep more of what they earn.  For southeastern North Carolina, this is a first step to enacting into law a tax code that would benefit every individual and family —  including our farm families and small businesses — and so simple you would be able to file your tax return on a postcard.”

More House Statements about the Las Vegas Shooting

Mike Quigley (D-IL, 5th)

"I never thought I’d wake up this morning to the news of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history; but unfortunately, this devastation is all too familiar. I join the world in expressing my deepest sympathies to the victims and their families in last night's heartbreaking attack.

"Many have asked when is the time to discuss gun violence prevention. The answer is yesterday, today, and always. There is no doubt the absence of smart gun laws plays a leading role in these attacks. We can and must do better."

David G. Reichert (R-WA, 8th)

"My heart breaks for the families of the victims, the wounded, and all those impacted by last night’s tragic, senseless, and evil event and I continue to pray for those being treated in the hospital," said Rep. Reichert. "Targeting innocent individuals enjoying time with family and friends is beyond evil and cowardly. As this tragedy continues to be investigated, we must all be thankful for the incredible bravery and swift action of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, Clark County Sheriff’s Office, all first responders, as well as local trauma center personnel. We must remain resilient as one nation."

Phil Roe (R-TN, 1st)

“I am heartbroken by the senseless and horrific shooting in Las Vegas. I am praying for the innocent victims, their families and the city of Las Vegas. I’m grateful to the Las Vegas Police Department, first responders and local authorities who responded quickly – they are true heroes. Clarinda and I echo the sentiments expressed by President Trump this morning and join the nation in praying for the quick recovery of the injured, for unity and for peace.”

Jacky Rosen (D-NV, 3rd)

“There are no words to describe the devastation that our community has suffered and witnessed. I am heartbroken over the evil, horrific act of violence that has shaken Las Vegas and taken scores of innocent lives and injured hundreds more. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and with our community. I am grateful to the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, our first responders, and all of the brave souls who risked their lives to save others. This unspeakable tragedy has left a dark stain on our history, but we will not let this painful moment define us. Las Vegas will always be a strong, vibrant city with an open heart and our lights will always keep on shining.”

Congressman David Price Issues Statement on Tragedy In Las Vegas, Nevada

On Monday, October 2, Congressman David Price (D-NC) issued the following statement regarding the horrific mass-shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Last night, our country witnessed yet another senseless and despicable act of gun violence, this time at a concert in Las Vegas. Lisa and I join the American people in grieving with the families and loved ones of the more than 50 people who lost their lives and more than 400 wounded survivors of what we now know is the largest mass shooting in our nation’s modern history. And yet we are well past the point where grieving is enough—we must summon the will and courage to take concrete action to prevent future tragedies. Anything short of that is a betrayal of the thousands of Americans who lose their lives each year to gun violence, and a betrayal of our values as a great nation.”

<B><I><Font Color="Red">Tougher laws do not prevent criminals from gaining access to guns. It only makes it harder for law-abiding citizens to own them.</Font></I></B>


Washington, D.C. - October 3, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Reps. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Kurt Schrader (OR-05) introduced the Taxpayers Don’t Incur Meaningless Expenses (Taxpayers DIME) Act, which ensures no taxpayer money is spent on government air travel that violates rules applied to senior federal officials, increases transparency and oversight of government travel, and calls for the independent Office of Government Ethics (OGE) to report on ways to strengthen existing rules.

“Taxpayers are rightfully outraged by the disturbing practice of government officials wasting their hard-earned dollars on government and private jets to travel the country. It is time to put an end to this,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “The Taxpayers DIME Act strengthens rules against wasteful government spending and brings greater transparency to how agency resources for government travel are used or abused. Those who serve the American people, regardless of political affiliation, must be held to the highest ethical standard, and I will continue pushing for greater transparency and accountability in Washington.”

"There's often a running, mostly false narrative that Washington doesn't play by its own rules. When we see federal officials jet around the country on taxpayer dollars, the skepticism only deepens," said Rep. Kurt Schrader. "Our Taxpayers DIME Act ensures that public servants are transparent and fiscally responsible in their air travel spending, and it will hold those who aren't accountable. We're here to serve our neighbors back at home, not lavish their hard-earned dollars on personal luxury. If that's too much to ask, then go home -- and fly commercial."

The Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) outline the rules applicable to senior federal officials and agencies for requesting, approving, and using government aircraft for official and non-official travel. However, reports of Cabinet officials inappropriately requesting or utilizing government aircraft demonstrate a violation of the spirit of the FTR, which state clearly that “Taxpayers should pay no more than necessary for [officials’] travel”.

O’Halleran and Schrader co-chair the Blue Dog Coalition’s Task Force on Government Reform and Accountability. The group is responsible for monitoring regulations issued by the federal government and analyzing rules to ensure Congressional intent is appropriately applied.