Sunday, October 15, 2017

Statements on the EPA’s Proposed Rule to Withdraw from the Obama Clean Power Plan (page 4)

Continued from Page 3

Western Caucus Members Applaud EPA Action to Repeal Obama Administration’s Job-Killing ‘Clean Power Plan’

Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA-01), Western Caucus Executive Vice-Chairman Scott Tipton (CO-03), Chairman Emeritus Steve Pearce (NM-02), House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21), and Western Caucus members Adrian Smith (NE-02), Liz Cheney (WY-At Large), Greg Gianforte (MT-At Large), Brian Babin (TX-36), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Trent Franks (AZ-08), Mike Johnson (LA-04), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Jody Hice (GA-10), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Kevin Cramer (ND-At Large), and Tom Emmer (MN-06) released the following statements after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt provided notice of proposed rulemaking which will effectively cancel the Obama Administration’s ‘Clean Power Plan’:

“Not long after President Obama took office, he tried to pass legislation through Congress that would have given the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade program. Despite 60 Democrats holding office in the Senate at the time, the Senate decisively rejected the cap-and-tax plans proposed by the president,” said Chairman Gosar. “Rather than pursuing a true all-of-the-above energy plan that lowered costs for consumers and put us on the path towards energy independence, the Obama Administration continued to churn out new regulations and distort others as the means to accomplish the president’s ideological agenda. The so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ was no exception. It picked winners and losers at the expense of American job creators. I applaud Administrator Pruitt and the Trump Administration for acting to roll back this unconstitutional and fundamentally-flawed Obama mandate.”

Majority Whip Scalise stated, "Just like so many of the Obama administration's radical regulations, the Clean Power Plan rule was a Washington power grab that killed jobs and imposed higher costs on American families. I applaud the Trump administration's decision to reverse this misguided rule so hard-working families get some financial relief and American energy producers once again have the ability to grow and create more jobs, putting our nation on the path to energy dominance while providing affordable energy prices for all Americans.”

Congressman Tipton said, “I am a strong proponent of a responsible all-of-the-above domestic energy strategy that includes emerging technologies, renewables and traditional resources to produce affordable and reliable electricity for all Americans. The federal government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, however, and that is exactly what the previous administration did with this overreaching rule. The administration’s roll back of this flawed rule will protect jobs in rural communities and Americans who are already struggling to make ends meet from a punitive spike in their energy bills.”

“New Mexicans deserve reliable and affordable energy without job-killing restrictions that cripple economic opportunity in our state and across the nation. By cutting government red tape and eliminating unnecessary regulations like the Clean Power Plan, we can gain momentum towards an ‘all the above’ energy plan that creates jobs and sustains low energy prices for all Americans. This action by the EPA today will return power back to the states where it belongs, so economies, like ours in New Mexico, can become stronger and more competitive. It is my hope that New Mexico can have the opportunity to become a greater leader in our domestic energy development and production,” said Congressman Pearce.

“Today's repeal of the so-called Clean Power Plan marks the next crucial step in a new era of transparency based on sound science,” said Congressman Lamar Smith. Through several hearings and oversight of the former administration's overregulation, the Science Committee revealed the faulty, one-sided calculations that the Obama administration employed to justify its Clean Power Plan. We have repeatedly found that the costs imposed on the American people vastly outweigh the rule’s marginal benefits. President Trump and Administrator Pruitt have reviewed the data and chosen to unburden our citizens rather than perpetuate a politically motivated rule that would result in minimal environmental benefits. Our nation can now move forward and develop smart, transparent policies that carry out President Trump’s America First energy strategy and relieve the American people of undue burdens.”

Congressman Adrian Smith stated, “President Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan’ threatened to force hundreds of coal-fired power plants to shut their doors, driving up energy costs across America. Those hurt the most by these misguided, job-killing policies are typically the ones who can afford it least. I was pleased to see President Trump issue an executive order earlier this year requiring the EPA to re-evaluate these regulations, and by signing this proposed repeal, Administrator Pruitt is following through on his commitment to rein in the EPA’s red tape factory and empowering states to pursue responsible energy development.”

"EPA Administrator Pruitt's decision to repeal the Obama Administration's disastrous “clean power plan” is an important and necessary step towards reversing the harmful Obama-era policies that strangled our economy. Wyoming's communities and fossil fuel industry were hit the hardest by Obama's anti-coal agenda for the past eight years. For too long the clean power plan killed jobs and needlessly wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in an unsuccessful attempt to increase renewable energy and decrease fossil fuels," said Congresswoman Cheney.

Congressman Gianforte stated, “The previous administration’s top-down, Washington-centered approach out of the EPA imposed a heavy burden on hardworking Montana families. Its relentless federal overreach threatened our livelihood and our way of life. Today, Montanans welcome much needed regulatory relief with Administrator Pruitt’s announcement that the war on coal is over.”

“I applaud President Trump’s decision to restore common sense at the EPA and put America’s citizens and jobs first. This Obama-era policy would have taken money from the pockets of American workers, unnecessarily harmed seniors and those living on fixed incomes and put American workers at a competitive disadvantage – all for little to no benefit to the environment,” said Congressman Babin.

“After its review of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, the EPA finds that the rule is a flagrant abuse of power by the former administration, just like the Supreme Court did when it ruled a historic stay on the unlawful rule in 2016,” said Congressman Markwayne Mullin. “The Clean Power Plan threatens the reliability of our energy resources, forces a tremendous regulatory burden on their production, raises electric costs for hardworking Americans, and puts good paying jobs at risk. It’s great to see the EPA start to roll back the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan rule so we can provide dependable, affordable energy that American families can count on.”

“The Clean Power Plan made energy expensive, causing average Americans to pay more for less power. Why do government agencies feel the need to squeeze regular American consumers to push their scientifically unproven climate change agenda? Moreover, the Clean Power Plan has been challenged in the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional and unlawful. The Trump administration is right to correct the previous administration’s overreach,” stated Congressman Franks.

“The Obama administration's Clean Power Plan was an egregious overreach by the federal government that overburdened those in the energy sector and forced many out of jobs. Rather than hindering our businesses with excessive regulation, the Trump administration is unleashing the free market again and putting America first with the repeal of this ill-advised rule,” said Congressman Mike Johnson.

Congressman Biggs said, “I commend the Trump Administration’s announcement that it will end the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. American energy independence is critical for sustained economic success and should not be hindered by unelected bureaucrats.”

“Balancing environmental protection with economic growth is vital for future generations,” said Congressman Hice. “Unfortunately, President Obama’s top-down approach under the Clean Power Plan was deeply flawed and yet another blatant regulatory overreach by his administration. Instead of protecting the public interest, it picked winners and losers, jeopardized jobs, and curbed economic growth. I applaud President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for reversing course, which will ultimately create new jobs and spur the energy sector.”

Congressman LaMalfa said, “The Clean Power Plan has a nice sounding name, but in reality, it’s a prime example of burdensome and unnecessary regulation on America’s energy industry. The Obama Administration repeatedly overstepped its authority and ignored the longstanding limits to Executive power, and now we must right the ship. The Implementation of this rule has already been halted by a number of court decisions – including by the Supreme Court. It’s estimated that this rule would costs billions of dollars in compliance costs alone, not to mention the crippling effect on U.S. energy production and global competitiveness. This is the sort of job-killing power grab that the American people cannot and should not accept. I applaud Administrator Pruitt and the EPA for proposing to repeal this rule before it takes effect, and I look forward to a rulemaking process that is transparent and takes into account the needs and input of states before imposing heavy-handed regulations that leave American workers and energy production out in the cold.”

Congressman Cramer said, “President Trump and his Administration have come through for North Dakota, and frankly for energy consumers throughout our country. It has always been clear to North Dakotans that the EPA has overreached its legal authority by going outside the fence line of individual power plants and North Dakota is a good example of arbitrary and capricious emissions standards.”

“The Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan - which was estimated to cost more than $30 billion dollars - was promulgated without Congressional approval, making it the perfect example of federal overreach. It has been proven time and time again that a one-size-fits-all policy does not work for our state and I am pleased the Trump Administration has taken this step. I am proud that Minnesota companies and elected officials have taken it upon themselves to work to reduce carbon emissions without the heavy hand of the federal government demanding so. I applaud the decision to roll back the overreaching Clean Power Plan, and look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Trump Administration towards an all-of-the-above energy plan so that we can maintain a prosperous economy and healthy environment that generations to come can enjoy,” concluded Congressman Emmer.

Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI, 2nd)

"This Administration has taken its latest step backwards in the fight to preserve and protect our environment by repealing the Clean Power Plan, which required states to fulfill specific carbon emission goals based on their individual energy consumption. This plan was a monumental step forward towards combating climate change, and prioritized the health of our children, our planet, and our future over handouts to corporations and the fossil fuel industry. Thankfully, cities and states across the country, like the state of #Hawaii, have stepped up to protect our environment and are committed to address the climate change crisis head on. We must build on the progress of states like Hawai‘i and take bold action. My bill, the OFF Act, would transition our country to a clean energy economy by 2035, and help to increase our competitiveness, improve the health and well-being of our people, and protect the environment for future generations."

Morgan Griffith (R-VA, 9th)

“The Clean Power Plan was bad for the United States and Southwest Virginia. It would have killed jobs, cost too much, and exceeded the EPA’s legal authority. I had argued from the beginning that the rule improperly interpreted the EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act, and the Supreme Court had stayed the rule. I commend the Trump Administration for withdrawing this misguided rule.”

Shame On These NFL Lilliputians For Their Disrespectful Theatrics

Source: Trent Franks (R-AR, 8th)

Washington, D.C. - October 15, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Trent Franks released the following statement reacting to NFL players protesting the American flag and anthem:

“NFL players protesting our flag and anthem at their football games are arrogant and overpaid Lilliputians who dishonor America while their betters are out dying on the battlefield to keep it secure for them and the rest of us.

“I encourage NFL fans to hold the league and its players accountable by shunning them when they fail to respect a noble flag that countless valiant Americans in uniform have died in darkness to protect so that the light of freedom could continue to burn in the world.”

Rep. Franks Calls for De-escalation of Iranian-backed Militia’s Mobilization Against the Kurds

Source: Trent Franks (R-AR, 8th)

Washington, D.C. - October 15, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Over the past couple days, there has been a large concentration of up to 9,000 troops from the Popular Mobilization Front [PMU] and Iraqi Army in the vicinity of Kirkuk and Mosul – less than 100 kilometers to the south and west of Erbil, respectively. In reaction to the reports, Congressman Trent Franks released the following statement:

“The PMU, or Hash’d al Shaabi, is an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-backed militia led by the Badr Corps Commander, Hadi Al-Ameri. In addition to being the top lieutenant to Qassem Soleimani (commander of the IRGC Quds Force), Al-Ameri is the leading candidate for Prime Minister of Iraq. The situation is becoming dangerous and could easily escalate. The Iraqi government must demand these militias deescalate and decamp their forces. I urge Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi to fulfill the pledge made less than two weeks ago to prevent any external or internal attacks against the Kurds.

“In midst of our success against the Islamic State, Iran has clearly been embedding itself as deeply as possible into the Iraqi government and military. It is past time for Baghdad to prove to us they are not a puppet of Tehran; it is no longer tenable for the U.S. to give the government of Iraq money if the funds will simply flow into the coffers of men and forces allied with Iran.”

“Consequently, it is time for the American government to cease its studied indifference to our loyal allies, the Kurds. We must embrace Kurdish self-determination, encourage increased control of the Nineveh Plain by indigenous Christian defense forces and demand Baghdad cease their duplicitous relationship with Iran -- if the U.S. is to remain Iraq’s benefactor. Our fight against ISIS will be for nothing if it results in ceding control of Iraq to Iran.”

U.S. to Withdraw from UNESCO

This week, President Donald Trump announced that the United States will be withdrawing from UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias. Following the United States’ lead, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare for Israel’s withdrawal as well.

The State Department announced on Thursday that the United States would be leaving UNESCO because of its “anti-Israel bias.” Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, called the decision “brave and moral,” and indicated that Israel is planning to withdraw from UNESCO as well. The United States, however, will remain an “observer state” in UNESCO. Rep. Gaetz’s and Senator Cruz’s resolution urges America, regardless of its UNESCO membership, to work with its allies and prevent future anti-Israeli resolutions from being adopted.

In the past, UNESCO has remained silent when acts of anti-Israel terrorism have been committed, but quick to issue resolutions condemning and demeaning Israel. Recent resolutions have called Israel as an “occupying power” in Jerusalem, and recently, they have barred Israeli scientists from performing archaeological excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem, even though scientists’ previous findings have been of great significance to Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike.

Trent Franks (R-AR, 8th)

“UNESCO has proven to be nothing more than a fount of anti-Semitism promulgating a bigoted, anti-Israel agenda. UNESCO had the gall to attempt to rewrite history – they stated that Israel’s heritage sites, like the Temple Mount and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, are exclusively artifacts of Islamic history, despite the fact that these sites have been revered within Jewish and Christian faith for thousands of years. Additionally, UNESCO repeated the ridiculous calumny Israel is an ‘occupying power’ in the Old City of Jerusalem.

“The president is right to withdraw from UNESCO – this is a move that will signal to the global establishment that the United States stands by its strongest ally, Israel, and we will not cow tow to global elites’ rhetoric riddled with ‘political correctness.’ American taxpayers sick and tired of funding the virulent anti-Semitic antics of the world’s worst regimes at the U.N.”

Matt Gaetz (R-FL, 1st)

“The Jewish people, and the people of Israel, have a deep and ancient connection to the holy city of Jerusalem. Yet the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, is actively trying to rewrite history. UNESCO has not been silent in their condemnations of Israel. Each year brings new horrors. Their cruelty, their attempts to erase history, and their anti-Semitism cannot be tolerated any longer,” Rep. Gaetz said.

“The Trump Administration has demonstrated strong moral clarity in deciding to withdraw and continuing to withhold U.S. taxpayer dollars from UNESCO as a result of its relentless hostility towards our close ally Israel,” Sen. Cruz said. “I am proud to have worked with Rep. Matt Gaetz on this bicameral resolution that formally rejects UNESCO’s shameful and absurd attempts to deliberately erase the history of Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital. This resolution reaffirms the profound historical connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem that has existed for thousands of years, describes archeological excavations at the City of David that have revealed incontrovertible, physical evidence of the Jewish, as well as Christian ties to Jerusalem, and denounces efforts at UNESCO to delegitimize Israel and deny historical truth.”

Trump signs executive order on Healthcare (page 3)

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Bill Flores (R-TX, 17th)

“I applaud President Trump’s actions to provide relief for hardworking American families that continue to struggle under the skyrocketing costs and shrinking options of Obamacare. This executive order is a good first step to expand access, create more competition and make health care more affordable. I remain committed to working with my Congressional colleagues and President Trump to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a 21st century health care system that lowers costs, encourages competition and empowers hardworking American families to take control of their health care decisions.”

Bill Foster (D-IL, 11th)

For seven years, the Republican Party promised us a better health care plan with lower costs and better coverage. When they failed to live up to their promises, all that President Trump could deliver was a cruel slap in the face to millions of Americans who depend on these payments for lifesaving care. It is blatantly wrong to punish the American people just because the Republicans who control Congress failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

It's hard to live up to a promise like that when the Democrats refuse to support it out of spite and stick their foot out to trip every effort. There is no one to blame but yourself and the other Democrats you work with, Foster.

Lois Frankel (D-FL, 22nd)

“President Trump has become a one-man wrecking ball of the American health care system, taking actions that will cause millions of people to lose affordable access to their medical care. His most recent directive eliminating cost-sharing payments is projected to cause a 20 percent hike for everyone on ACA plans.

This comes just hours following an Executive Order that will lead to junk insurance coverage and maneuvers to make it harder to sign up for the ACA. With little fanfare, the Trump administration has cut off funding to navigators who help people sign up for plans, shortened the enrollment period from 12 to 6 weeks, and spitefully shut down on Sundays when people are likely to enroll. In a crushing blow to women and their families, he gutted the birth control mandate. All these actions will destabilize the health insurance market and put the well-being of millions of Americans at risk."

Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH, 11th)

“Enough is enough. President Trump’s relentless efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act are pure evil and puts millions of lives at risk. By eliminating the vital cost-sharing reduction payments, hardworking American families will see their premiums rise 20% and millions of Americans could lose their health care coverage.

“Once again this is designed to widen the gap between rich and poor and young and old. Congress has already put children’s lives at risk by allowing CHIP and Community Health Center funding to expire.

“The President’s actions not only hurt families, but also increase the federal deficit by nearly $200 billion over ten years. This action was designed to destabilize and destroy the Affordable Care Act.

“It is time to put an end to growing uncertainty. We must fund the cost-sharing payments and Congress must work together to stabilize the marketplace and find bipartisan solutions to expand access to affordable health care.”

John Garamendi (D-CA, 3rd)

“Trump’s actions are purposely designed to destroy the health insurance systems that millions of Americans depend on. It is heartless and spiteful, and serves no purpose other than harming Americans as a political negotiating tactic.”

“Eliminating cost-sharing reduction payments will make premiums soar by 20 percent, and force insurers to abandon entire counties. And it won’t even save the government any money: the Congressional Budget Office estimates that not making these payments will cost taxpayers nearly $200 billion over 10 years. President Trump is literally spending hundreds of billions of dollars to drive prices up for middle class Americans.”

“Furthermore, President Trump’s Executive Order will create unregulated, fly-by-night TrumpCare plans with few protections and little actual coverage. These junk plans won’t cover essential health benefits, but they may be tempting to younger, healthy Americans—until they find out that it isn’t actually there for them when they need it. In the meantime, these plans could split the risk pool a healthy insurance market depends on, driving up costs for Americans who are older and have pre-existing conditions. When I was California Insurance Commissioner, I fought against the abuses of these fly-by-night plans that took people’s money but weren’t there to provide coverage when they were needed. Promoting these shoddy plans will not bring security to American healthcare.”

“I never thought I would see the day when an American president intentionally made life worse for the American people just to browbeat Congress into submitting to his political agenda. But that is literally what President Trump has done.”

Actually, I saw it during the last President's term. Remember when he refused to sign the bill that actually repealed it after it passed both the House AND the Senate? Talk about going against what America wanted.

Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ, 5th)

"The President tweeted this morning ‘Dems should call me to fix!’ Well, here’s my call: we’re ready to sit down and fix health care.

"The President's decision to scrap CSR payments is an irresponsible blow to Jersey families and to health care costs and coverage. This move will singlehandedly both increase the federal deficit by $200 billion and spike premiums by more than 20 percent in New Jersey next year. It will also limit health care options for Americans across the country. After this latest in a series of executive actions meant exclusively to sabotage the ACA, it’s a time for Democrats and Republicans to come together to improve health care.

“When the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus proposed fixing the Affordable Care Act in July, we proposed guaranteeing CSR payments for this very reason: it's a common sense policy that will lower premiums by twenty percent, cover more people, cost consumers less, and save the government money. If the Administration wants to play politics by making health care more expensive, then I call on the Speaker to bring a bill to the floor to right this wrong for the American health care marketplace. Dropping CSR payments puts politics in the drivers seat, manufacturing a national emergency rather than pursuing common sense, bipartisan solutions to help New Jersey families."

Gene Green (D-TX, 29th)

“President Trump promised to make healthcare more affordable and increase access for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, his decision to end subsidy payments that help almost 7 million people afford out-of-pocket costs and premiums will have an opposite effect. Ending the CSR payments is a spiteful act that will lead insurers to either leave the Affordable Care Act marketplace or increase Americans’ healthcare premiums by 20 percent or more. I am sure the President will continue to say that the ACA is imploding, but he’s the one who will be held accountable for destabilizing the marketplace. It’ll be up to Congress to take legislative action, and as the Ranking Member of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health I hope that my Republican colleagues will work with us to protect consumers and provide stability to the markets.

“If President Trump really wanted to lower premiums in the individual market and encourage participation and competition among insurers, he would fully fund the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments and give insurers long-term certainty. The Executive Order that he proposed today could lead to many association health plans being exempted from core ACA requirements like the coverage of certain essential health benefits, exposing consumers to junk plans and likely destabilizing the markets. From slashing funding for the Open Enrollment outreach to threatening to stop CSR payments to insurers, this Executive Order is just the latest step President Trump has taken to harm Americans by sabotaging the Affordable Care Act. I urge the President and the Republican Majority to quit the sabotage and work with Democrats to improve the ACA though bipartisan solutions.”

Read more on Page 4

House Passes Fleischmann’s Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act of 2017

Source: Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN, 3rd)

Washington, D.C. - October 15, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03) introduced the bipartisan Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act (H.R. 378). The bill, co-sponsored by fellow Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05), will enhance the existing program for federal employees who identify frivolous spending of taxpayer dollars by doubling the previous maximum bonus.

“Good deeds deserve to be rewarded, and that is the purpose of my bill. Federal agencies exhibit a common trend of wasteful spending as the end of a fiscal year approaches. This bill is designed to stop this trend and benefit deserving employees. This legislation is structured after the private sector model where employees receive a reward for identifying unnecessary spending, therefore saving the organization, and in this case the federal government, money.”

“Most importantly, my bill gives people the power to act as administrative agents of their own taxpayer dollars,” said Fleischmann. “This ensures taxpayer dollars are spent wisely while simultaneously motivating employee attention toward spending abuse and fraud.”

“I hate government waste, and all it takes is commonsense ideas like this to help root it out,” Rep. Cooper said. “I have always believed in pay for performance. If federal employees step up and help us save money, why not reward them for their good work?”

H.R. 378 passed the House with a voice vote.

‘Made in America Act’ Introduced in the House

Source: Brian Fitzpatrick, (R PA, 8th)

Washington, D.C. - October 15, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick has introduced legislation this week that would support American manufacturing and incentivize businesses to increase domestic production.

House Resolution 3850, known as the Made in America Act of 2017, would create a voluntary, standardized labeling program that would allow consumers to easily identify the extent to which products are American-made.

“American manufacturing means American jobs. People in my community understand that when they buy American they’re not only buying quality products, they’re helping American businesses – and American workers – in their neighborhoods and across the country,” said Fitzpatrick. “The Made in America Act would connect American consumers to American manufacturers like never before by creating a definitive, standardized definition of American-made goods. I’m grateful for the support of Congresswoman Sinema in working to advance this bipartisan priority.”

The Made in America Act would encourage and educate consumers on buying “Made In America” products by creating an ‘America Star Program’ similar to the successful Energy Star and USDA Certified Organic programs. The new voluntary program would encourage manufacturers to meet certain domestic manufacturing benchmarks, show the percentage of the product made in the U.S.A., while providing consumers with an easy way to identify American made products. The Federal Trade Commission would be responsible for overseeing the development of the guidelines, labeling and enforcement. The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

According to ABC News, our nation has become addicted to imports. In 1960, foreign goods made up just 8 percent of Americans’ purchases. Today, nearly 60 percent of products bought is produced overseas.

Bill to Reduce Student Loan Debt Introduced

Source: Brian Fitzpatrick, (R PA, 8th)

Washington, D.C. - October 15, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) has introduced legislation with Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) to address the ballooning student loan debt crisis in America that cripples over 40 million Americans and their families.

The bipartisan Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculating Act would allow students to refinance their student loan interest rates, lower future student loan interest rates, eliminate origination fees on student loans, delay student loan interest rate accrual for low-income and middle-class borrowers while they are pursuing their education, and allow for borrowers in medical or dental residencies to defer payments until the completion of their program.

“We need to revolutionize American education and job training so we’re preparing students for a 21st century job market. That means, among other things, reducing barriers to educational opportunities and post-graduation success,” said Fitzpatrick. “For too many, student loan debt is a crippling burden that impacts their involvement in our economy and achieving personal goals like owning a home, starting a family and supporting their community. This bipartisan legislation is a step toward addressing this crisis.”

The total student loan debt in America has reached $1.3 trillion, and over $875 billion of it is held by the federal government at interest rates of up to 6.84%. That percentage far exceeds the market rate for most government loans.

“For many Americans, the price of a college education is too high. The average 2016 graduate owes over $37,172 in student loan debt. This mountain of debt prevents graduates from reaching important milestones such as starting a family, buying a house, or opening their own business,” Garamendi said. “This bill would help relieve some of the debt burden faced by American students and their families, while ensuring that the federal government is not making a profit on the backs of students.”

Jean Rash, Chair of the Higher Education Loan Coalition, urged support for the legislation. “By refinancing student loan rates for past borrowers and recalculating rates for future borrowers, this bipartisan bill would establish fairer and market-driven loan terms for all borrowers. Additionally, delaying student loan interest rate accrual for low-income families will ensure financial support to those students who need it the most. Students and families also would benefit immensely from the bill’s elimination of origination fees. We believe such changes will have a real and lasting impact on helping make college more affordable.”

“Orthodontists now graduate with an average of $365,000 in student loans. The AAO supports this legislation because it focuses on reducing the enormous debt load our residents and graduates currently face,” said Dr. Nahid Maleki, President of the American Association of Orthodontists. “Reducing interest rates and fees and allowing refinancing for today’s graduates are critical steps to helping them repay these loans sooner and more efficiently so they can begin to invest in their futures and careers.”

Fitzpatrick: Social Security Announces 2.0 Percent Benefit Increase for 2018

Source: Brian Fitzpatrick, (R PA, 8th)

Langhorne, PA - October 15, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) announced to constituents that the monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase 2.0 percent in 2018.

“The Social Security Administration’s move to provide a 2.0 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for more than 66 million Americans is important to keep our promises,” said Fitzpatrick. “Whether it is ensuring seniors get the benefits they worked for or expanding access to Medicare for those in need, I am committed to standing up for Bucks and Montgomery county residents.”

The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The COLA will begin with benefits payable to more than 61 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2018. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 29, 2017. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits).

In August, Fitzpatrick was named a 2017 Champion of Health Care Innovation by the American Life Sciences Innovation Council (ALSIC) for his efforts to protect Medicare and promote quality care for seniors. He is the cosponsor of the FAST Act – H.R.1148, H.R.2556 – Connect for Health Act of 2017, and H.R.807 - Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2017 which benefit seniors, and helped pass bipartisan legislation to keep the private information of senior citizens secure, and raise the COLA for our nations veterans.

Trump Decertifies Iran Deal (Page 2)

Continued from Page 1

Dwight Evans (D PA, 2nd)

“President Trump’s action is destructive, irresponsible and highlights his utter lack of experience in crafting foreign policy. There is a big difference between governing and campaigning and today’s announcement yet again demonstrates President Trump’s desire to react to situations without taking into account the magnitude of what such actions mean to the lives of Americans. I recognize how complex the Iran Nuclear Deal is, but it is important to remember this is not 2015; we cannot go back in time. We need to ask ourselves not whether we like or agree with the Iran Nuclear Deal, but whether our nation is better off without it. President Trump’s decision leaves our nation isolated internationally because our allies will not also re-impose sanctions in order to force Iran to renegotiate the deal. The President has demonstrated that he’s not ready for prime-time, and proven once again that he cannot see the bigger picture – if we leave the Iran Nuclear Deal, why should countries like North Korea believe that we can be trusted to keep our word? President Trump has no plan once the United States leaves the deal. He is risking our security in order to fulfill a campaign promise. Foreign policy is not a game of golf or a reality TV show. It’s time for President Trump to do what is best for the American people and start acting like a world leader."

Brian Fitzpatrick, (R PA, 8th)

“The nuclear deal with Iran, the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror, was misguided from the start and was rammed through despite the bipartisan objection of Congress and an overwhelming majority of the American people. But even after its enactment there have been serious concerns regarding its enforcement, stipulations and side-deals,” said Fitzpatrick. “Today’s hearing only highlighted the concerns our military and regional allies, like Israel, have about Iran and their geopolitical objectives. Congress needs to work together to keep Americans safe from rogue regimes and terror supporters hellbent on doing us harm.”

“The shortcomings of the JCPOA are numerous and well-known. Suffice to say, the deal places Iran on a trajectory to become as intractable a challenge as North Korea is today – and very possibly worse,” said General Charles F. Wald, USAF (Ret.), former Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command. “Iran is already moving more directly and brazenly against U.S. interests and our allies. This stems in part from what the JCPOA does: it removes the aforementioned restrictions on Tehran’s power projection resources. Yet this also results from what the JCPOA represents: the weakening of U.S. credibility to push back as Iran aggravates the growing security vacuum in the Middle East.”

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act that passed the House in July, Fitzpatrick successfully added language that would require an annual report to Congress regarding the extent of cooperation on nuclear programs, ballistic missile development, chemical and biological weapons development, or conventional weapons programs between Iran and North Korea. Also in July, Fitzpatrick backed bipartisan legislation to increase sanctions on Iran as well as North Korea and Russia.

Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE, 1st)

“Iran’s aggressive posturing throughout the Middle East has made it harder to trust a fragile nuclear agreement. Iran’s proxy military actions, support for violence, and ongoing ballistic missile taunting do not help during this tender period of testing a new relationship with the West. Broadly considered, Iran has generally complied with the structural components of the nuclear deal, but the aggression sadly undercuts the broader opportunity for even the mildest rapprochement.”

Fortenberry voted against the original Iran Nuclear Agreement in 2015.

Bill Foster (D-IL, 11th)

"As the only PhD physicist in Congress, I supported the Iran Deal after a review of its technical enforceability and its ability to functionally dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It has succeeded in every aspect of what was agreed to and has made the world safer thanks to the broad international coalition that made this deal a reality.

Despite President’s Trump’s acknowledgement that Iran is in full compliance with the terms of the agreement, he announced today that he will refuse to certify that compliance to Congress on the grounds that he personally does not believe that the deal is in our national interest. Furthermore, he threatened to unilaterally withdraw from the deal any time he wants. This sort of irresponsible behavior undermines the credibility of the U.S. as a stable and reliable negotiating partner and undercuts our efforts to negotiate agreements to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the world.

There is no doubt among the scientific and diplomatic community that the deal successfully rolled back Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon. This deal gave us the ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear capability, so Iran no longer has the capability to produce a nuclear weapon without our knowledge. Iran has disconnected, removed, and placed in IAEA-monitored storage, two-thirds of its installed centrifuges, reduced their stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, removed all fissile material, centrifuges, and enrichment infrastructure from the underground facility at Fordow. The calandria - the core of Iran’s heavy water nuclear reactor - has been removed and filled with concrete so it is now permanently inoperable. All these actions will be reversed if President Trump walks away from the deal.

There remains a long list of Iranian misbehaviors in the non-nuclear arena. They were never covered by the deal, because the international coalition that brought Iran to the negotiating table was focused only on the prevention of a nuclear Iran. This fact does not provide justification for Trump’s announcement today.

Fortunately, as long as Congress acts responsibly and refuses to take Trump’s bait, President Trump’s announcement today will have no direct effect on the Iran Nuclear Deal."

Trent Franks (R-AR, 8th)

“Before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was willed into being (it was never signed by Iran), the Clinton Administration orchestrated the wildly ineffectual ‘Agreed Framework’ with North Korea. Two decades later, the Hermit Kingdom is armed with a hydrogen bomb and is threatening to turn the United States to ‘ashes and darkness.’ History could not be clearer: appeasement policies do not work.

“The Iran Deal was not a treaty approved by Congress. President Trump has every right decertify Iranian compliance with the JCPOA. Moreover, I applaud his efforts.

“The Iranian regime has twice exceeded the amount of heavy water it is allowed to have under the deal. International inspectors are still denied access to all the pertinent military facilities, and there are hundreds of undeclared sites to which we have been denied access. Furthermore, Iran funnels money and arms throughout the region. Eighty percent of the pro-Assad regime forces fighting in Syria are Iranian proxies, and the commander of the massive Hash’d al Shaabi militia in Iraq is trained and backed in the IRGC and commanded by one Hadi Al-Ameri – the top lieutenant to the commander of Iran’s Quds Force. Iran’s motives are clear, and we are living in a fantasy land if we think the corrupt and despotic Iranian regime will ever call us a friend. To pretend there’s a ‘deal’ worth making with the genocidal theocrats in Tehran is delusional.

“Mr. Obama’s Iran Deal protected protocol to enrich uranium and produce plutonium on its own soil, paid them a $400 million ransom via cargo plane, freed up $100 billion for Iran to spend on exporting terrorism, and provided them a path to a nuclear weapon without having to violate the provisions of the Deal thanks to the sunset provisions. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see why the author of the Art of the Deal might want retract this one.”

Ruben Gallego (D-AZ, 7th)

“Though imperfect, the Iran deal is an important tool that until now has taken the Iranian nuclear threat off the table.

“All evidence points to the fact that Iran has so far complied with the agreement. Just last week, the Secretary of Defense told me that he believes Iran is in compliance, in an open hearing. None of the other signatories to the Deal – including our closest allies – believe Iran to have violated its terms. President Trump stands alone in this misinformed belief.

“To unring this bell, I look forward to working with more sober minds in Congress – Adam Smith, Mac Thornberry, Eliot Engel, Ed Royce, and others, of both parties – who have the power to salvage the Iran deal by not reimposing sanctions on an evil regime that is nevertheless, by all accounts, keeping up its end of the bargain. The stability of the Middle East and our credibility as a nation are at stake.

“It’s now up to Congress to save this deal. The alternatives are a nuclear Iran, an isolated United States, a war with Iran, or all of the above. That is no choice at all.”

Kay Granger (R-TX, 12th)

“Without a doubt, the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was a bad agreement, and I am pleased that President Trump is taking action to reevaluate this dangerous deal. It has given Iran the green light on their nuclear program, as well as billions of dollars to prop up their crippled economy and fund terrorist organizations. As I said at the time, President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran jeopardized the safety and security of Americans and our allies throughout the world. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to do everything possible to ensure that Iran never has the ability to use nuclear weapons against the U.S., Israel or our allies.”

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