Monday, October 16, 2017

Trump signs executive order on Healthcare (page 4)

This is continued from Page 3

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

“The President announced today that he will purposefully spike healthcare premiums for millions of people. Make no mistake about it: this is not about improving healthcare or trying to help the American people; it is about rolling back anything President Obama accomplished.

“Instead of fixing the very workable problems we have, the President and his friends in Congress are purposefully destabilizing the marketplace. Time and time again they have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They have failed every time – not because of Congressional dysfunction, but because they have no alternatives that don’t result in millions of people losing their insurance. This is the second time in 24 hours the President has undermined the ACA marketplaces. The effects will be real and they will be severe.

“President Trump now owns this issue. Every premium increase, every denied claim, and every American life lost from inadequate healthcare now lies at Donald Trump’s feet. This is a shameful and tragic day. The American people will remember who destroyed affordable healthcare.”

Denny Heck (D-WA, 10th)

“I condemn the President’s action to undermine the health insurance marketplace in the strongest terms possible. It is wrongheaded and frankly, just plain mean. It will spike the cost of premiums purchased through the state exchanges and will cause insurance to become unaffordable to countless of our neighbors.

“This is a purposeful sabotage of the Affordable Care Act and the consequences are no mystery — people will be hurt.

“It is now the job of Congress to double down on the bipartisan efforts currently underway to improve the Affordable Care Act and avert the disastrous effects of the President’s executive order.”

Heck is a cosponsor of H.R. 3748, the Medicare Buy-In Health Care Stabilization Act, which would allow Americans ages 50-64 to buy into Medicare, enacts new steps to stabilize the individual market, and requires the Department of Health and Human Services negotiate volume discounts on prescription drugs for all Medicare beneficiaries. Heck is also a cosponsor of H.R.3258, the Marketplace Certainty Act, which would permanently fund Cost Sharing Reductions subsidies (CSRs) to help prevent health care from becoming unaffordable for American families and bring financial stability to the health care marketplace (the Washington Health Plan Finder).

On March 22, Congressman Heck spoke on the House floor and urged his colleagues to vote against the American Health Care Act. He also spoke on the House floor against repealing the Affordable Care Act previously, telling Marty’s story on January 13, telling Shirley and Sarah’s story on February 3, telling Baby Gracie’s story on February 14, , and reading Sherry’s letter on March 8. Congressman Heck also invited Kelty Pierce to share her story with Congress as a guest for the President’s Joint Address to Congress.

Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA, 3rd)

“Here in Washington state, Association Health Plans (AHPs) currently provide roughly 400,000 individuals with quality, affordable health care plans – and that’s despite these popular programs being undermined and restricted by our state’s Insurance Commissioner. For many years, I’ve worked in a bipartisan manner to strengthen AHPs because they are a critical solution to making good health care more attainable for more people. If implemented correctly, the President’s expansion of AHPs could help bring down costs of quality care for thousands of Washingtonians.

“Unfortunately, supporting small businesses who want to provide health coverage for employees is one of the greatest areas of failure under the Affordable Care Act; the Obamacare small business exchange operated by Washington state only insures 164 people across all of Washington. There is no reason why small businesses shouldn’t be able to band together and offer employees the same types of quality health care plans as labor unions and large corporations do, and I will be eagerly monitoring how this executive order is implemented and will help however I can to make sure it is successful here in Southwest Washington.”

Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD, 5th)

“The Trump Administration’s announcement last night that it intends to end cost-sharing reduction payments will irreparably harm thousands of Maryland families. According to the Maryland Health Connection, 56% of Marylanders enrolled in the exchange qualify for a cost-sharing reduction. Without these payments, families across our state will see their copayments and deductibles increase dramatically. Furthermore, the Trump Administration’s action could potentially drive insurers out of the market entirely.

“This reckless action by the Trump Administration will not only raise premiums for thousands of Marylanders, but force the collapse of health insurance markets throughout the nation. I urge my colleagues in Congress to work expeditiously to stabilize our insurance markets and work to ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care.”

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA, 7th)

“This year, the American people defeated Republican attempts to ram through a repeal of the Affordable Care Act on three separate occasions. With this executive order, President Trump is defying the will of the people, damaging our health care and continuing his assault on the Affordable Care Act. This order greenlights the sales of bare-bones insurance policies – what I call Trump Plans – with fewer protections and fewer benefits for patients, and scraps measures that prevent Americans from being charged higher premiums because of medical conditions.

“I call on President Trump to respect the will of the American people and cease and desist in his efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.”

Evan Jenkins (R-WV, 3rd)

“Obamacare is clearly failing, as we saw with this week’s announcement that premiums for West Virginians on the exchange will go up by almost 25 percent next year. That means West Virginians will be paying a nearly 200 percent increase in premiums under Obamacare.

“I applaud President Trump for acting to lower health insurance premiums and give families and small businesses more choices. In fact, I voted in March to help pass a bill that would have allowed for the creation of association health plans, one of the actions the president took today. That bill has stalled in the Senate, along with many other bills to fix our healthcare system, leaving President Trump no choice but to act.

“This executive order is an important step toward more affordable healthcare premiums, more competition and more choices – putting patients in control of their healthcare needs.”

Bill Johnson (R-OH, 6th)

“The Obamacare cost-sharing reduction subsidies were never on solid legal ground – a federal court said as much last year. Congress did not appropriate these funds, as would be required by law. Under our Constitution, the power of the purse belongs to Congress – not the President. That’s how our system of government works.

“Here's what we know...the current health law is unsustainable in its current form. Perhaps today’s announcement to reverse the unappropriated Obamacare subsidies will spur the Senate to follow the lead of the House and pass meaningful legislation to benefit the American people. It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to work together to repeal Obamacare, and replace it with affordable, high-quality, patient-centered health care solutions."

Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX, 30th)

“President Trump is failing the American people when he chooses not to exercise proper judgment and action when reviewing what is truly at stake for those who will lose their health care coverage due to his proposed policies,” said Congresswoman Johnson. “By signing an executive order the president is creating an unleveled playing field for certain insurance companies allowing “short-term” plans to play by different rules.”

“This legislation has the ability to rob millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions of affordable health coverage. And it will allow businesses to provide coverage that doesn’t cover much at all. Congresswoman Johnson continued to stress, “it is important we work together in Congress to provide all Americans with access and affordable health care without driving up costs that will ultimately cut their coverage. We should continue to listen to how our constituents and those across the nation are personally impacted by the health care system, instead of making unilateral decisions that can ultimately harm millions.”

Henry C. (Hank) Johnson, Jr. (D-GA, 4th)

“Today, Trump continued his crusade against President Obama’s legacy by refusing to pay critical life-saving, cost-sharing subsidies,” said Johnson. “These payments enable more than seven million poor and middle-class Americans in the individual marketplace -- many of them chronically ill -- to purchase affordable health insurance. Along with his Executive Order yesterday that enriches health insurers by authorizing them to sell worthless health insurance policies across state lines, President Trump has delivered a double whammy that dramatically weakens the individual marketplace. His callous and thoughtless actions will cause needless suffering and possible death for the more than seven million Americans who depend on the individual marketplace for affordable health care.”

Mike Johnson (R-LA, 4th)

“Obamacare is imploding and harming the American people in the process. High premiums and low-quality care have become the new normal, but President Trump has made a commitment to get real relief to the American people. While I agree with the president’s sense of urgency, a permanent solution requires Congressional action. We must act swiftly and decisively to restore stability in the market place in support of today’s announcement.”

Jim Jordan (R-OH, 4th)

“President Trump is doing what voters sent him here to do. Today’s executive order on healthcare will start to give everyday Americans the relief they need from soaring premiums. But an executive order is not a permanent fix. Republicans in Congress need to follow the president’s lead and repeal Obamacare like we promised we would since 2010.”

Marcy Kaptur (D-OH, 9th)

“The President’s Executive Order and threats to ends cost reduction payments amount to sabotage for the health care of many Americans. People will see higher premiums and loss of coverage as a result of these actions, all to satisfy a careless Republican campaign promise.

“The President has already slashed outreach and assistance programs that helped many Ohioans enroll in health care, and this is another wrongheaded and destructive move. We need solutions that stabilize our health insurance system so Americans can get the care they need without having to worry about another politically motivated action from this President or Republican leaders in Congress.”

Robin Kelly (D-IL, 7th)

"Today's Executive Order is just the latest effort to undermine healthcare for millions of Illinoisans and sabotage market place stability, which will raise costs on American families.

It's time to stop playing politics and work together to reduce premiums and increase access to care.

This order makes zero sense from a health care or economic perspective. It serves only to deliver political points for Republicans entrapped by their own failure to legislate."

Joseph P. Kennedy, 3rd (D-MA, 4th)

“Segregating the sick and suffering from the wealthy and healthy will not only cause physical, mental and emotional pain, it will bankrupt families facing unexpected tragedies. With his unilateral action today, President Trump alone has obliterated the promise of protection for preexisting conditions and the guarantee of essential health benefits for millions of Americans. More than that, he is capitalizing on his belief that our nation is not strong enough to care for all of our citizens and, once again, he will be proven wrong.

“In the midst of an opioid epidemic and a mental health crisis in our nation, this Executive Order hollows out existing behavioral health parity laws. For those in the grips of addiction, treatment will become inaccessible and unaffordable. All of my colleagues in Congress who have expressed concern for this epidemic should immediately announce their opposition to this reckless Order.”

Kennedy has been an outspoken opponent of TrumpCare, with a particular focus on its assault on mental health care, substance use disorder treatment and Medicaid.

Ruben Kihuen (D-NV, 4th)

“One thing is clear: President Trump and Washington Republicans are determined to sabotage our country's health care system, regardless of how many people are left without the coverage they desperately need. Unilaterally ending the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments will increase premiums and deductibles, driving up out-of-pocket costs for hardworking families across the country. Nevadans could see their premiums spike by 15%, putting the health and financial security of our seniors, veterans, and hardworking families in jeopardy. In the absence of leadership from the Trump Administration, I urge my Republican colleagues to work with Democrats to pass the Marketplace Certainty Act, which would make these CSR payments permanent and help stabilize the healthcare marketplace.”

Daniel Kildee (D-MA, 5th)

“President Trump is actively undermining our health care system and causing instability in the marketplace. President Trump’s latest actions to sabotage our health care system will mean higher premiums for working families. Today’s Executive Order allows health insurance companies to offer junk health care plans with few benefits. It is health insurance in name only – it does not provide affordable or quality care.

“I am ready and willing to work with Republicans to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs. Republicans must drop their obsession with repeal and instead be willing to find bipartisan improvements to our system.”

Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL, 8th)

Dear President Trump:

When discussing healthcare on September 27, 2015, you promised that “I am going to take care of everybody... Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.” Earlier this year, on January 15, 2017, you confirmed that “We’re going to have insurance for everybody.”

In light of your decision on October 12 to end the cost-sharing reduction payments, I wanted to call your attention to the August 2017 Congressional Budget Office report entitled “The Effects of Terminating Payments for Cost-Sharing Reductions.”

The conclusions found by the CBO are staggering. Premiums for the average plan would increase 20-25% by 2020, with the full brunt of that cost falling on the consumers. Since 5% of Americans would be unable to purchase insurance on the individual market, 1 million Americans would lose their healthcare. For context, as of October 11, 2017, every county in the United States is expected to have at least one insurance option for 2018's health plans.

Beyond the very human harm, ending CSR payments would have devastating effects on the federal budget. With the above-mentioned increase in premiums, tax credits for premium assistance would necessarily rise as well. Since the government is legally obligated to provide these tax credits, the CBO estimates that the federal budget deficit would increase by $194 billion over 10 years.

This plan is particularly cruel to the 6.7 million middle-class Americans whose premiums will increase but who do not qualify for the tax subsidies. These middle-class families would see their out-of-pocket costs increase just to access the same level of care.

I have enclosed a copy of the report for your review. The CBO has been long-recognized as an independent, nonpartisan, and fact-based source of data for lawmakers. I have found their research invaluable in the past, and I hope this can be equally helpful to you in keeping your promises to the American people.


Ann Kuster (D-NH, 2nd)

"This deliberate effort by President Trump to destroy the ACA is going to have devastating consequences for real people and families in New Hampshire and across the country. Ending cost-sharing reduction payments will spike premiums at a time when we should be working to reduce costs and expand access to care. There is support among both Republicans and Democrats for continuing these payments and for measures such as reinsurance programs that would help to stabilize the individual marketplace and rein in costs, but President Trump is hell-bent on undermining, not fixing the ACA. Sadly, President Trump's damaging executive order will make working together across the aisle to improve our healthcare system all the more difficult."

Doug Lamborn (R-CO, 5th)

"President Trump's executive order reverses many harmful measures taken against healthcare by the previous administration. In 2014, the House voted to challenge the Obama administration's unconstitutional spending. Obamacare made payment that were unauthorized by Congress and therefore illegal. This executive order appropriately restores Congress's authority to govern and represent the American people who voted for them."

Leonard Lance (R-NJ, 7th)

“I have long argued that funding for the cost-sharing reduction program is unconstitutional. Under our Constitution, the power of the purse belongs to Congress and a federal court last year affirmed this view by deeming these health insurance subsidy payments illegal. Now Congress must act and pass the Problem Solvers Caucus health care plan that I have endorsed. It funds the cost-sharing reduction program through the congressional appropriations process and implements free-market policies to improve our health care system and lower medical and insurance costs for all.”

Jim Langevin (D-RI, 2nd)

“I strongly condemn the President’s reckless actions to destabilize the health insurance market just two and half weeks before the 2018 open enrollment period begins. The President’s Executive Order and subsequent decision to abruptly end Cost Sharing Reduction payments is a one-two punch that will directly affect the affordability of health coverage for hardworking families. Choking off these payments will drive up premiums for many Americans already struggling to pay for insurance. The Administration is sabotaging critical pieces of a law that has provided millions of people with access to care in a cynical attempt to precipitate a crisis.

“We should be working together to strengthen our health care system. That is why I introduced the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act to lower costs and give consumers more options. It is high time that Republicans join Democrats in offering constructive solutions to expand access to health care rather than continuing their crusade against the Affordable Care Act.”

John B. Larson (D-CT, 1st)

“Those impacted by this decision are not statistics or a part of a political play; they are human beings, our fellow American citizens, who are being treated unfairly by this administration. Between cutting funding for Affordable Care Act enrollment outreach, to pursuing new regulations to blow holes in the law that allow the sale of junk insurance, they are out to sabotage our health care system. On average, insurers across the nation have already raised their premiums by 20 percent because of threats from the President to end CSR payments. This is harmful, cruel and unnecessary,” said Larson. “In Connecticut, nearly 46,000 residents benefit from the cost-sharing reduction program, which helps reduce the cost of co-payments and deductibles for individuals and families who earn less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Now more than ever, it is time for bipartisan action on commonsense solutions to improve our health care system, since the Trump Administration is determined to sabotage, and not help.”

On September 12th, Reps. Larson, Courtney, and Higgins introduced the Medicare Buy-In and Health Care Stabilization Act (H.R. 3748) to help improve existing CSR payments, make them available for more middle-class Americans, and allow Americans ages 50 to 64 to buy-into Medicare. The bill also proposes other ways to bolster stability in the marketplaces and bring down health care costs by finding innovative ways to reduce billions in waste, fraud, and abuse in the health care system.

Sander Levin (D-MI, 9th)

“President Trump is continuing his hateful efforts to deny or disrupt health coverage for American families. His most recent decision to end needed federal assistance to help reduce out-of-pocket medical expenses will directly increase costs for millions of middle-class and moderate-income families.

“Republicans in Congress have repeatedly rejected efforts by Democrats to prevent the President from taking this reckless step. They bear full responsibility for the consequences of their actions.”

John Lewis (D-GA, 5th)

“This executive order will begin the process of deconstructing the individual and small group insurance markets health insurance markets. Additionally, this administration recently confirmed its intent to end support for the cost sharing reductions that help many Americans afford health insurance.

“Taken together, these mean-spirited actions constitute an attack on women’s health, on those living with illness or injury, and on every American living paycheck to paycheck – month to month. Low-income people will lose their health care. Seniors who are not yet on Medicare will become more vulnerable, and those struggling to make ends meet will suffer unnecessarily. Make no mistake: This is the latest tactic of a piecemeal effort to strip away the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

“I want to be clear – there is no policy justification for this executive order. The sole purpose is to increase the suffering of countless Americans and score political points. The health and well-being of Americans should not be the subject of political games. The American people deserve better – much better. There is no place for such maliciousness in public policy; too much is at stake.”

Alan Lowenthal (D-CA, 47th)

“President Trump has created a constant strain on the healthcare market since before he even took office. By entering the presidency promising to do away with the Affordable Care Act, and continuing to rail against its very existence, he has raised serious concerns and spread uncertainty among insurance providers—all with the result of increased premiums.

Now his actions have graduated from bluster and rhetoric to outright sabotage.

Yesterday, the president signed an executive order allowing cheaper plans with less coverage to be sold across state lines—an obvious attempt to drain younger healthier people out of the ACA marketplace. This would result in increased premiums for those Americans who rely on the ACA marketplaces and are most in need of quality healthcare coverage.

Even worse, today, the president said he plans to stop providing subsidy payments to ACA insurers. But insurers and customers alike will suffer. More than six million low-income Americans who receive cost-sharing subsidies are now threatened with a loss of their insurance. The Congressional Budget Office already stated that this would result in ACA premium increases around 20% and may result in many insurers pulling out of the market all together.

Thankfully, Covered California has already taken precautionary steps to avoid a statewide market collapse resulting from this kind of action from the president.

I also support California’s further action in suing the administration for its efforts not to live up to the promises that the Affordable Care Act granted insurers, states, and the American people.”

Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, 12th)

“This is yet another desperate attempt by President Trump to deliberately sabotage the Affordable Care Act after Republicans in Congress failed to repeal it. Members of both parties support continuing cost-sharing reduction payments because they help maintain stability in the health insurance market and ensure that prices do not spike for low-income Americans. Unfortunately, President Trump seems intent on single-handedly destroying patient protections and cost-saving protections currently in place. Ending cost-sharing payments is a reckless and thoughtless action that will cause severe harm for millions of people across the country.

“In order to reverse President Trump’s action, Congress should immediately take up the Marketplace Certainty Act (HR 3528), which would provide permanent funding for cost-sharing payments. Congress has a responsibility to keep people safe. By continuing cost-sharing payments we can live up to that responsibility by ensuring that millions of low-income Americans continue to have access to affordable health insurance and the care they need.”

Trump Decertifies Iran Deal (Page 3)

This is continued from Page 2

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 was signed into law by President Obama in 2015 and requires the President to submit a report to Congress every 90 days on whether Iran is fully implementing and abiding by the JCPOA.

Andy Harris (R-MD, 1st)

“I strongly support President Trump’s decision not to recertify the Iran nuclear deal. The Iranian government is a dangerous, authoritarian regime that sponsors terrorist groups and has openly threatened the United States and its allies. The deal made by the Obama Administration – without the consent of the United States Senate – failed to properly hold the Iranian regime accountable. Our nation’s strategy on Iran must be reevaluated, and I am committed to working with the Trump Administration and my colleagues in Congress to find a permanent solution that will keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Iranian government and the terrorists they sponsor.”

French Hill (R-AR, 2nd)

“The Iran Nuclear Deal was a bad deal for the American people that puts our safety and security at risk, especially our nation’s allies such as Israel. This deal has major flaws, including sunset provisions that should have never been included, zero monitoring of Iranian military sites, and continued Iranian research on advanced centrifuges. Without decertification, this deal allows Iran to head in the same direction as North Korea, and it is now up to Congress to decide if new sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program are warranted. I support the President’s decision to decertify the Iran Nuclear Deal and I will continue to support policies that target Iran’s terrorist financing, its missile technology, its violations of human rights, and its nuclear program.”

Bill Hulzinga (R-MI, 2nd)

“The action taken by President Trump today is a step in the right direction. The Obama Administration’s nuclear agreement with the Iranian Regime was ill-conceived and shortsighted. Under this flawed agreement international inspectors are unable to properly verify Iran’s compliance, the Iranians are able to continue to develop and improve their centrifuge technology, and worst of all, this dangerous deal puts Iran on the doorstep of having nuclear weapon capabilities.

“Additionally, the regime’s use of civilian airplanes for transporting troops and weapons to destabilize the Middle East combined with their continued testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles demonstrate why Iran is known as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Congress and the Trump Administration must work together to effectively hold Iran accountable for their actions.”

Last year, the House of Representatives passed Congressman Huizenga’s legislation that would prohibit the U.S. Treasury Secretary from allowing any U.S. financial institution from financing the sale of aircraft to Iran.

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA, 7th)

“As many feared and warned, President Trump is proving to be a major threat to our national security and to world peace. The president’s deeply reckless and dangerous decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal defies support for the agreement across partisan lines and from experts on his own national security team. Even those who opposed this nuclear deal in the beginning recognize the value gained in remaining in the deal rather than abandoning it.

“The president is out of control. This decision to decertify the agreement has absolutely nothing to do with protecting Americans from harm. It has everything to do with his devotion to unravel any progress that we made under President Obama.

“All of my colleagues in Congress must stand on the side of peace, not war. We should do everything we possibly can to uphold the Iran nuclear deal and protect the American people.”

Evan Jenkins (R-WV, 3rd)

“I have always believed that the Iran nuclear agreement is bad for our nation and poses a grave threat to our national security. I agree with President Trump that we must work with our allies to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and craft an agreement that actually holds Iran accountable. I will continue to work with President Trump and my colleagues to protect our national interests and those of our allies in the Middle East, including Israel.”

Bill Johnson (R-OH, 6th)

"I am encouraged by the steps taken today by the President to put the rogue Iranian regime, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, on notice. It is clear that a new, comprehensive strategy is vital to preventing Iran from ever creating or acquiring nuclear weapons, and checking its regional aggression.

"The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a deal that America should not have been a party to in the first place. It only temporarily restricts Iran’s nuclear program, and does little to deter Tehran from continuing its thirst for nuclear weapons and technology - all while filling the regime's coffers. Not only has Iran repeatedly displayed a disturbing pattern of behavior while continuing to recruit and fund terrorist groups operating in Syria and Iraq, but the Iranian regime’s continued nuclear testing on military sites also undermines the standards set by the international community to promote security and regional stability.

“History shows that President Trump is right to be wary of Iran, and this announcement today solidifies the Administration’s policy of protecting American security, and preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."

Mike Kelly (R-PA, 3rd)

"I strongly support President Trump's new strategy against the Iranian threat and his decision to disavow the failed Iran nuclear deal. Back when this deal was first proposed in 2015, I called it 'a dangerous mistake of potentially historic proportions.' A year later, on its first anniversary, I said there was 'nothing to celebrate—unless you're Iran' and that 'only a new president unafraid to stand down our enemies can undo this deal and reassert America’s position of strength.' I stand by every word of warning I delivered at that time, and today I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise and standing up for our country's security and that of the free world."

Daniel Kildee (D-MA, 5th)

“By failing to certify the Iran nuclear agreement, President Trump is rejecting the advice of his top defense and diplomatic advisors and putting America’s national security at risk by opening up the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“National security and foreign policy experts, including President Trump’s Secretaries of State and Defense, agree that Iran is in compliance with the agreement. Since it was enacted, the U.S. has certified eight times that Iran is in compliance, including twice by President Trump himself. Thus, President Trump is ignoring not only his own national security team, but also the facts.

“Let me be clear: Iran continues to be a bad actor on the world stage. It held a young man from my hometown, Amir Hekmati, as a political prisoner for nearly five years and continues to hold other Americans. But the nuclear deal was never designed to address all of Iran’s provocations. Rather, it sought to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which the agreement has so far has accomplished. It is easier to address Iran’s other bad behavior without also having to also contend with a nuclear-armed Iran.

“In addition, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently said that walking away from the deal would make other countries less willing to enter into diplomatic accords with the United States. As tensions continue to rise with North Korea, President Trump backing away from the agreement makes a diplomatic resolution with North Korea even harder.

“Congress will now have 60 days to respond to the President’s reckless decision. Congress must abide by the agreement to protect America’s security and interests abroad.”

Adam Kinzinger (R-IL, 16th)

“The decertification of the Iran Nuclear Deal is an opportunity for Congress to reassess our long-term, broader strategy for dealing with this tyrannical regime. I believe it is critically important that we remember that our relationship with Iran goes far beyond this flawed deal.

“From their chants of “Death to America” and provocations against our military, to their destabilizing efforts across the Middle East and active role in propping up a murderous dictator in Syria. This regime is responsible for thousands of innocent deaths as they and the Russian regime assist President Bashar al Assad in his genocide.

“We know that Iran has tyrannical, maniacal, and nuclear ambitions. And we know Iran is actively working against the United States. It’s important to remember that a quarter of the American soldiers killed in Iraq were killed because of Iran.

“Today, the President set the tone and made clear that we cannot allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and we cannot ignore their threats any longer. I'm looking forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to strengthen U.S. policy towards Iran, and improve our national security.”

Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL, 8th)

“President Trump is planning to unilaterally decertify the Iran Nuclear Agreement and effectively deliver a self-inflicted wound to our national security and standing abroad. Only a week after Secretary of Defense Mattis stated that upholding this agreement was in our national security interest, President Trump is dismantling it.

If the President goes through with decertifying this agreement - despite the International Atomic Energy Agency’s confirmation that Iran is in compliance - he will deal a serious blow to American diplomatic credibility. If, in the full face of evidence and international consensus, the United States goes back on her word, it will only harm our ability to reach a negotiated resolution to the current tensions with North Korea. Every nation must now question whether agreements signed by the United States will be revoked at the whim of the next chief executive.

We must remain vigilant to ensure Iranian compliance with the agreement, but the President’s actions would only weaken those efforts and our security.”

Ann Kuster (D-NH, 2nd)

“Our first priority must be ensuring that Iran is not able to obtain a nuclear weapon and President Trump’s announcement that he will decertify the Iran Deal is counter to that goal. Undermining our diplomatic efforts to contain Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon would have serious consequences for efforts to rein in North Korea and other bad actors through diplomacy. I’m hopeful that reason will prevail in Congress and we will stand with our allies around the world to continue holding Iran to its obligations under the nuclear deal.”

David Kustoff (R-TN, 8th)

“The deeply-flawed Iran deal has failed to prevent the Iranian Regime’s ballistic missile testing, terrorism and overall hostility that continues to threaten America’s national security interests and regional stability,” said Kustoff. “In fact, Iran’s aggressive behavior has escalated since the JCPOA was adopted two years ago. We cannot forget that the Iran deal is a non-binding political agreement that President Obama entered into using unilateral executive authority, without the consent of Congress or the American people. This was a bad deal from day one. I applaud the Trump Administration for decertifying the poorly-negotiated JCPOA and for developing a new strategy to counter Iran’s malign activities. We must remain vigilant against those who wish to bring Americans harm and continue to stand with our Middle Eastern allies.”

Doug LaMalfa (R-CA, 1st)

“The previous Administration’s agreement with Iran was as one-sided as it gets. They lifted billions in sanctions, allowing Iran to finance their terrorist operations – and in return, they’re still fully capable of developing ballistic missiles today with the authority to have nuclear weapons in a few short years. This agreement does nothing to protect the lives of American citizens and our allies, and I fully support the decision to revisit it. Iran must truly be held accountable for their dangerous behavior, and a poorly negotiated deal that is filled with concessions doesn’t accomplish that.”

Leonard Lance (R-NJ, 7th)

“The President made the right move in asking Congress to reevaluate the Iran nuclear agreement. Iran has violated both the letter and spirit of the agreement by its failure to establish required nuclear export policies and practices, working with North Korea on boosting prohibited trade, supporting and funding international terrorism, testing ballistic missiles and the brutalization of its own people. If Iran wants to join the world community then the country’s leaders need to comply with the numerous U.N. resolutions designed to keep the world safe.

“Iran’s nuclear weapons program and support for terrorism are not separate conversations. Congress must consider all of the deadly threats posed by Iran. I support improvements to the agreement that hold Iran accountable and actually lower nuclear enrichment levels. An improved deal must deny Iran all steps to a nuclear weapon.”

Jim Langevin (D-RI, 2nd)

“The President’s actions today threaten both our national security and international stability. The objective of the JCPOA is clear: to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear arms capability. Iran continues to comply with the requirements of the agreement, which include a reduced stockpile of low-enriched uranium; strict limitations on centrifuges, research and development efforts, and the amount of fissile materials; and on-the-ground inspections and assessments by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). By decertifying their compliance with the JCPOA, the President risks triggering a regional arms race, increasing tensions across the Middle East, and further dividing the global community.”

“President Trump’s own advisors have publicly agreed with international observers that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal. Despite this clear evidence, the President is again displaying his willingness to desert our international commitments. When the President fails to represent the United States as a forthright international partner, it only emboldens our adversaries across the globe. Rather than recklessly abandoning this agreement, we must continue to conduct rigorous oversight of the plan’s implementation to ensure Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon. I urge the President to reconsider and to certify this important agreement.”

John B. Larson (D-CT, 1st)

“The Iran Nuclear Agreement was not perfect, however, as I have stated before and as others in the Trump administration believe, this agreement is the best option, and it has blocked Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The decertification has now put this deal in the hands of the U.S. Congress and I am calling on my colleagues to act in the best interest of United States’ national security. If we withdraw from the agreement without a credible cause, the United States will not only be abandoning our alliances with regional and European partners, but we will put ourselves in a corner. We will be sending a strong, and dangerous message to North Korea and China, saying that the United States’ word can’t be trusted. Equally as important as the decertification, is our credibility with our allies which is instrumental in our ability to negotiate with North Korea. By going back on our word, this will hamper our ability to do so and our credibility. This is beyond politics. We ought to do what’s right for the country.”

Barbara Lee (D-CA 13th)

“By undercutting the Iran Deal, President Trump is gambling with the safety of the American people. His actions are reckless, illogical and, above all, dangerous.

“Withholding certification for the Iran Deal will isolate the United States and alienate our allies. It could also bring the United States back to the brink of war, undoing years of diplomatic efforts. In Congress, I will continue to advocate for preserving the Iran Deal and work to prevent any legislative action that undermines this goal.”

Sander Levin (D-MI, 9th)

“President Trump is carrying out hyperbolic campaign rhetoric at the expense of America’s national security. His refusal to certify the Iran Nuclear Agreement absent evidence of material breach by Iran is dangerous and reckless. With key members of the Trump Administration having reaffirmed Iran’s compliance with the 2015 Agreement, reached between Iran, the United States, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and Germany, this another example of the President disregarding even the advice of key members of his own Administration.

“During my years in Congress, I actively participated in methodically increasing multilateral sanctions against Iran. Those efforts first led to a broad framework agreement and ultimately the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement, which I strongly supported after having thoroughly considered all the provisions and alternatives. At the time of the Agreement, Iran was estimated to be only two months away from the ability to produce enough material for one nuclear weapon. Key restrictions put in place in the Nuclear Agreement lengthened that period to a year. It contains provisions to reduce stockpile of enriched uranium by 97 percent and refrain from enrichment above a 3.67 percent level for 15 years. It cuts the number of installed centrifuges by two thirds, requires Iran to render its heavy water plutonium reactor inoperable, and allows the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor the uranium supply chain for at least two decades. I supported the Iran Nuclear Agreement because it was the best course of action to ensure peace and security for the United States, and for our allies in the Middle East.

“This Administration risks Iran returning as an imminent nuclear threat and undermines U.S. leadership in the Middle East. In taking steps to unravel the Iran Nuclear Agreement, President Trump erroneously argues that a different agreement may be reached, such as putting constraints on Iran’s ballistic missile activities. This could not occur without offering additional incentives to Iran and without strong support from our allies, who have all repeatedly stated their unwillingness to reopen the terms of 2015 Nuclear Agreement.”

Nita Lowey (D-NY, 17th)

“While there has been much debate over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it must now be rigorously enforced. In the absence of credible information from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the intelligence community indicating Iran’s failure to uphold the agreement, I disagree with President Trump’s decertification of Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.

“Let me be clear – Iran engages in behavior that is deeply destabilizing to the region. The Administration should adopt an aggressive, comprehensive strategy focused on vigorous enforcement of the deal and steps to combat Iran’s activities beyond the scope of the JCPOA, such as its ballistic missile program and conventional-arms transfers. It is paramount that we ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon while working to rein in its dangerous non-nuclear activities.

“We must continue to stand with our allies and partners in the international community. Abruptly leaving the JCPOA risks our country’s credibility and could isolate us at a time when we need international partnerships more than ever to combat Iran’s destructive actions as well as increasing incitement from North Korea. I agree with Defense Secretary Mattis that staying in the deal is vital to U.S. national security, and we must maintain the JCPOA as long as the IAEA and U.S. military and defense leaders verify Iran’s compliance.”

Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, 12th)

“The President’s decision to withhold certification of the JCPOA risks our credibility in the world without doing anything to strengthen the deal. Iran is the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism and must never have nuclear weapon. I’m pleased that Congress has recently passed, with my strong support, sanctions to crack down on Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as its sponsorship of terrorism, human rights abuses, and support for the Assad regime.

“Unfortunately, the President’s non-action today will not help in the effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, nor will it prevent Iran from ramping up its long range missile program or curtail its destabilizing actions in the region. Instead, this unilateral decision to withhold certification will damage our alliances, weaken our country’s standing in the world, hamper our efforts to deal with North Korea, and leave lasting negative consequences for our future diplomatic efforts.

“Less than ten days ago, Defense Secretary Mattis testified that our intelligence community and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe that Iran has been compliant with the terms of the JCPOA. Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the President is required to provide to Congress credible evidence of Iranian noncompliance with JCPOA. To date, he has not provided such information. As long as our military leaders and the IAEA verify that Iran is complying with the JCPOA, and that our partners are abiding by its terms, then I agree with Secretary Mattis that remaining in the Iran Deal is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

Doris O. Matsui (D-CA, 6th)

“This reckless decision is not in the best interest of our country or our global security. Countless experts and analysts have pointed to the extensive damage that will be caused if the United States abandons the JCPOA. While I continue to support ongoing efforts to ensure Iran’s adherence to the agreement, I believe President Trump’s decision to decertify compliance will hinder our work to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. And, wavering on our international commitment will damage our country’s credibility abroad. I urge my colleagues in Congress to remain committed to this critical agreement.”

Michael T. McCaul (R-TX, 10th)

“One of the greatest threats to our homeland is a nuclear armed Iran. Unfortunately, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), negotiated by the Obama administration, is an extremely weak agreement that has already strengthened the murderous dictatorship in Tehran and will allow the regime to obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons once the deal expires even if it’s strictly adhered to.

“This flawed agreement also inhibits real measures to restrict Iran’s ballistic missile program, omits needed sanctions on the IRGC, fails to address the regime’s human rights abuses, and neglects Iran’s active support for terrorist proxies with worldwide reach such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Lastly, Iran’s refusal to allow unfettered access to its military facilities for compliance inspection is a serious concern which the IAEA has noted.

“President Trump clearly articulated that the JCPOA, as currently written, is not in the national security interests of the United States or our allies. Future generations of Americans don’t deserve to be threatened by a nuclear armed Iran. 

“I commend the President for taking a measured approach to strengthen a toothless deal and I look forward to working with the Administration, my fellow Members of Congress, and our allies on tough new measures to prevent this tyrannical regime from expanding its terror footprint and from ever developing nuclear weapons.”

Betty McCollum (D-MN, 4th)

“President Donald Trump’s decertification of the Iran nuclear deal is a reckless decision that imperils global security and isolates the United States from our allies and partners in the world.

“Contrary to the outright falsehoods in President Trump’s remarks, the facts are simple: the Iran deal is working, preventing the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons, and forcing them to submit to comprehensive inspections. There is simply no rationale for either decertifying the deal or threatening to terminate the deal entirely.

“Congress must stand up to President Trump and his policies that endanger global security. In the weeks ahead, I will work with my colleagues to defend the Iran nuclear deal, uphold American credibility, and maintain global peace and security.”

James McGovern (D-MA, 2nd)

“President Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran Deal represents an all-time high in recklessness and stupidity. Every week the president’s Twitter tantrums put the world on edge. Decertifying the Iran Deal will add to this volatility by sending a chilling message across the globe that the United States is abandoning our leadership and our commitments on nuclear non-proliferation.

“With clear consensus by experts that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remains the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, President Trump’s failure to certify the agreement is dangerous and alarming. Ehud Barak, the former prime minister and defense minister of Israel and a strong critic of Iran, is among a growing group of world leaders who said it would be a mistake for President Trump to decertify the deal.

“We must be clear: The Iran Deal is working and making us safer. It set up the toughest international monitoring regime ever enacted. And thanks to the agreement, all of Iran’s potential pathways to obtaining nuclear weapons remain blocked. Walking away from the agreement would cripple America’s credibility on the world stage and endanger any prospects for negotiating with North Korea or other countries. And let me also be perfectly clear, despite what President Trump and Secretary Tillerson appear to assert, Congress cannot unilaterally change the terms of the JCPOA.

“President Trump decertifying the Iran Deal, as well as adding other poorly-conceived unilateral sanctions and conditions against Iran, would put America’s national security at risk and the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran back on the table. Americans deserve better from their leaders. I urge President Trump to reconsider this dangerous move and put the safety of the American people first by reversing this terrible decision.”

Mark Meadows (R-NC, 11th)

“The President’s decision today to decertify the Iran Deal is a major step in the direction of a much safer and more secure America. The Iran Deal was an ill-advised agreement that gave Iran an estimated $100 billion, accelerated Iran's nuclear proliferation, and handed over every U.S. bargaining chip to the Iranian regime. Meanwhile, we have strong evidence that Iran has continued ballistic missile testing, exporting weapons to Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, and failing to comply with the agreement, which requires minimal oversight.

The President is right to send this back to Congress and force us to do our jobs--to develop a comprehensive strategy on how to proceed with Iran using diplomacy rather than ineffective appeasement. This new direction will allow the United States to focus on neutralizing Iran’s reckless behavior in the Middle East and preventing the hostile Iranian regime from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

As I said two years ago when the agreement was announced, the Iran Deal was a historic victory... for Iran. Today is a victory for a safe and secure America.”

Luke Messer (R-IA, 6th)

“I applaud the President’s leadership in decertifying the Iran deal. Iran is not our friend, does not share our values, and unsurprisingly has not upheld the spirit of this deal,” Messer said. “I look forward to working with the Trump administration to pursue a strategy that will keep America and our allies safe from Iranian aggression.”

The Title IX Protection Act Introduced in the House

Source: Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, 12th)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), sponsor of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), today joined Rep. Jackie Speier(CA-14) as she introduced H.R. 4030, The Title IX Protection Act, which will codify Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors. Rep. Maloney is an original cosponsor of the bill.

The Title IX Protection Act codifies into law guidance released under the Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton Administrations to provide clear standards for sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention and response that colleges and universities must meet under Title IX, which ensures educational equality for men and women. H.R. 4030 is a response to Secretary DeVos’s recent actions to rescind this guidance and allow schools to discriminate against survivors.

“I am proud to join Rep. Speier and many of my colleagues to make permanent Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors. Secretary DeVos’s decision to rollback these protections threatens the safety and wellbeing of college students. This change in policy creates confusion at best, and catastrophe at worst.  Students should never feel they are unsafe on their campuses, and they should be confident that college administrators are held accountable for ensuring their safety. The Title IX Protection Act sets clear standards that a preponderance of evidence be used for Title IX grievances, which is the standard for other civil rights law. It is our duty as lawmakers to make sure that students’ civil rights aren’t infringed upon and that they have a safe environment in which to learn and grow.”

Support Startup Businesses Act Passes House

Source: Ben R. Lujan (D-NM, 3rd)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Legislation authored by Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) designed to assist small startup businesses secure funding for early-stage innovation and development was approved today by the U.S. House of Representatives. Luján introduced the bill, H.R.2789 - the Support Startup Businesses Act, earlier this summer along with U.S. Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL). The bill makes a number of improvements to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, existing federal programs specifically intended to help startups.

Improvements in the bill include:

·         increasing overall funding to help startups take their ideas from concept to commercialization;

·         creating more flexibility in funding guidelines for technical and business assistance grants;

·         expanding the number of local vendors eligible to provide services to awardees.

Luján noted the rate of startup creation in the United States has fluctuated greatly in the past 30 years. The United States now ranks 12th among developed nations in terms of business startup activity.

“One of my top priorities in Congress is creating good jobs in our state, and there is no doubt that innovative small businesses are key to our economic growth,” said Luján. “This bill will make it easier for local businesses to access the resources they need to bring their research to market, and I also hope it will foster stronger partnerships between our those businesses and our national labs, who play a critical role in developing advanced technologies. I’m very pleased that the House has approved this legislation targeted at helping start-ups succeed.”

The two programs central to Luján’s legislation, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program are federal assistance initiatives, coordinated by the Small Business Administration, created to support scientific excellence and technological innovation and intended to help small startup businesses conduct research and development; take products from concept to commercialization; and build a strong national network of small startup businesses.

Republicans Oppose Langevin Effort to Stop Multi-million Dollar Gun Giveaway

Source: Jim Langevin (D-RI, 2nd)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- On Thursday, Congressman Langevin offered a Motion to Instruct House conferees on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to reject provisions that would transfer surplus Army pistols to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). The motion was rejected 237-184.

“We have the opportunity in this year’s NDAA to stop tens of thousands of Army pistols from being transferred to an obsolete private corporation,” said Congressman Langevin. “This constitutes a multi-million dollar government giveaway that would serve only to make our streets more dangerous. In voting down this motion, Republicans ignored their own rules regarding earmarks and continued their pattern of refusing to take any action to reduce gun violence.”

“The daily tragedy of gun violence challenges the conscience of our nation,” said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “Congressman Langevin’s commonsense proposal would have prevented tens of thousands of guns from being unleashed in our communities. It is deeply disturbing that House Republicans instead decided to push their dangerous gun giveaway and stick taxpayers with the multi-million dollar bill.”

The CMP was established in 1903 following the Spanish-American War, when the American militia demonstrated several marksmanship and operational failures. With the advent of a professional military, the CMP was no longer essential to national security, and Congress privatized the Program in 1996. At the time, the Army was authorized to provide the CMP with an initial endowment of surplus rifles, ammunition and other spare parts that the CMP could sell to fund its activities, with the intention that it would eventually become self-sufficient.

The FY18 House-passed NDAA contains a provision requiring the Army to transfer surplus M1911A1 pistols to the CMP. The CMP would then be able to sell the pistols to support its activities. Langevin’s motion would have directed conferees to reject the House language and to support the removal of a waiver in the Senate-passed NDAA preventing the pistols from being melted down and repurposed. The conference committee will make a final decision on what language to preserve before final passage of the defense authorization later this year.

Legislation to Limit High-capacity Ammunition Magazines Introduced in the House

Source: Ruben Kehuen (D-NV, 4th)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Kihuen took part in a press conference to introduce the Keep Americans Safe Act, legislation that would prohibit the transfer, importation, or possession of magazines able to hold more than ten rounds of ammunition. The Congressman joined his colleagues from the Nevada Congressional delegation, as well as House members committed to ending gun violence that affects communities across the country.

“Last week, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history took place in the heart of the community where I grew up. We know that high-capacity magazines, which allow shooters to fire dozens of shots without having to reload, directly contributed to the deadliness of this horrific event. The American people are counting on us to take steps to reduce the tragic gun violence affecting communities across the country. That’s why I am proud to help introduce the Keep Americans Safe Act. Congress should take decisive action and pass this legislation to help prevent unnecessary loss of life caused by gun violence.”

Resolution to Retain the Debt Limit Introduced in the House

Source: Walter B. Jones (R-NC, 3rd)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Eliminating the debt limit has long been a cause of liberal commentators, media elites and Washington insiders.  The subject was reportedly broached by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at a September meeting with President Donald Trump.  In addition, three Senate Democrats recently introduced legislation to get rid of the debt limit.          

Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) disagrees.  This week, Congressman Jones continued his fight to protect the fiscal future of the United States, and introduced H.Res. 564, which reaffirms the importance of retaining the federal debt limit.  H.Res. 564 states that “removing limitations on the debt would – (A) inappropriately cede Congress’ constitutional authority; (B) remove a critical check on future increases in deficit spending and the national debt; and (C) potentially exacerbate the already unsustainable fiscal position of the United States, and as a consequence, its national security.”

“Eliminating the debt limit is a very troubling proposition,” said Congressman Jones. “America is over $20 trillion in debt, and running $700 billion annual deficits. We cannot keep spending this way.”

“Article I, Section 8 of our United States Constitution explicitly delegates to Congress the power of the purse, including the power over the debt,” continued Congressman Jones.  “The debt limit is a critical tool that Congress can use to check future increases in deficit spending and the national debt.  Doing away with it will only enable the big spenders in Washington and hasten America’s bankruptcy.”

The full text of H.Res. 564 is attached.  Cosponsors include Congressmen Ted Budd (R-NC), Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Thomas Massie (R-KY).

Congressman Jones has devoted his time in service to sounding the alarm about wasteful spending and the rising debt.  He has consistently voted against raising the debt limit and wasteful spending bills.  He is the only member of Congress to vote against every bloated budget over the past 13 years. Over that time the national debt has grown nearly $13 trillion, over $1 trillion a year.

U.S. District Court Protects Prayer to Open Congress

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) --  Mike Johnson (R-LA, 4th) issued the following statement after the U.S. District Court’s decision in Baker v. Conroy rejected a challenge to Congress' ability to open its meetings with a prayer:

“As an attorney who defended legislative prayer for many years prior to being elected to Congress, I am thankful for the court’s decision invalidating this latest atheist challenge to our cherished tradition. As the Supreme Court has acknowledged many times, 'we are a religious people, whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.' I look forward to continuing to start our work in Congress each day as our founders did, with a prayer to God.”

Congressman  Walter B. Jones (R-NC, 3rd) praised the U.S. District Court’s decision and released the following statement:

“I am very happy to see the district court in our nation’s capital reaffirm the important role of prayer in our legislative branch,” said Congressman Jones. “Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values.  For 243 years, our Congress has opened its day with prayer, and I will fight to make sure that never changes.”

Congressman Jones is a long time member of the House Values Action Team and has consistently supported and defended religious freedom.

FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017 Passes House

Source: Darrell Issa (R-CA, 49th)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation he introduced with Congressman Gerald Connolly (D-VA) that would extend and improve landmark legislation they passed in 2014 to reduce waste, and streamline the way the federal government purchases computer technology. The FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017 (H.R. 3243) which passed today extends three provisions of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition and Reform Act that are set to expire at the end of the year. 

According to estimates from the Government Accountability Office, as much as 75% of the federal government’s $80 billion yearly information technology budget is spent on maintaining out-of-date or obsolete systems. Other reports from the government’s watchdog regularly show that many of the federal government’s IT investments frequently fail or underperform from a lack of oversight.

Issa and Connolly’s landmark federal IT reforms (FITARA) help correct these problems and reduce waste by implementing strong oversight standards, encouraging consolidation of programs within the government, requiring agencies report their progress on initiatives to consolidate and modernize data centers, creating metrics to evaluate the performance of programs, encouraging modernization, and creating a clear line of responsibility, authority, and accountability over IT investment.

“This legislation is critical to ensuring FITARA’s benefits are seen through to their fullest potential,” said Congressman Darrell Issa. “FITARA has made incredible improvements to how the federal government manages its information technology by cutting waste, saving taxpayer dollars, improving security, and bolstering accountability. Yet, as is often the case in government, it has become clear that our problem with wasteful, forgotten, or duplicative data centers is far bigger than was even imagined. When we first started looking into this problem in 2009, it was estimated the government was running only roughly 1,000 data centers. By 2015, it was uncovered it was running as many 10 times the number initially estimated. As these modernization efforts continue being implemented, we can’t miss out on potential taxpayer savings by simply allowing agencies to run out the clock until the requirements expire the end of next year.”

The legislation follows the Representatives’ “dual track” approach to extending FITARA. In addition to the stand-alone bill passed today, Congressman Issa and Congressman Connolly passed a similar amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act in July of this year.

The FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017, specifically extends the reporting requirements for data center consolidation, which is set to expire in 2018, and eliminates 2019 sunset provisions for PortfolioStat reviews (which are face-to-face reviews of an agency’s IT portfolio including potentially duplicative programs or investments that do not appear aligned with the agency’s mission) and the Information Technology (IT) Dashboard (which is a tool that allows the public and officials to track investment and performance of more than 7,000 federal IT investments).

Congressman Issa authored the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act which was signed into law in 2014.

Rep. Huffman Announces Suspension of ICE Enforcements; Urges All Sonoma and Mendocino Residents to Follow Evacuation Orders & Safety Recommendations

Source: Jared Huffman (D-CA, 2nd)

Sonoma County, CA - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today announced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has suspended all non-criminal immigration enforcement operations at wildfire evacuation sites or shelters due to the devastating fires that continue to burn throughout the North Bay and the North Coast.

Rep. Huffman urges all residents, regardless of immigration status, to seek shelter and follow public safety and evacuation warnings, without any threat of action by ICE.

"During this wildfire crisis plaguing our community, I am grateful that ICE has announced they will place public safety first and suspend immigration enforcement in the impacted areas," said Rep. Huffman. "That means shelters and foodbanks and other assistance centers are open to everyone, including undocumented individuals and DACA recipients, without fear of deportations or other immigration repercussions. My message to everyone in the North Coast and North Bay community, no matter their immigration status: stay safe, vigilant, and continue to follow all public safety warnings."

The full text of ICE’s announcement, which Congressman Huffman requested yesterday that the agency issue, can be found below:

ICE is deeply concerned by the devastation wildfires have caused in significant portions of northern California. Our thoughts remain with those impacted by this tragedy, while our highest priority remains the preservation of life and safety wherever possible. In consideration of these distressing circumstances, ICE will continue to suspend routine immigration enforcement operations in the areas affected by the fires in northern California, except in the event of a serious criminal presenting a public safety threat. Likewise, immigration enforcement will not be conducted at evacuation sites, or assistance centers such as shelters or food banks."

House Approves SBIR/STTR Improvements Act, Higgins Amendment to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Source: Clay Higgins (R-LA, 3rd)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The U.S House of Representatives today unanimously approved the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Improvements Act of 2017 (H.R. 2763), sponsored by Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.), vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and chairman of the Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce for the House Committee on Small Business. The bill includes amendments by Reps. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and Clay Higgins (R-La.). This legislation updates and strengthens the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

Rep. Higgins: “Some of the most innovative ideas and products for cyber warfare originate from American startups and small businesses. We need to harness that expertise to prevent, mitigate, and defend against cyberattacks. That’s why I am encouraged to see my amendment, which identifies cybersecurity as a priority field for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants, included in this bill. I want to thank Chairman Smith and Congressman Knight for their leadership and work to pass H.R. 2763.”

Rep. Knight: “H.R 2763 is one step closer towards a more transparent and safe government. This bill would give the opportunity for America’s small businesses to participate in the national security needs for innovation in our country. Small businesses are essential to America’s economic competitiveness and industrial base. Supporting programs like SBIR and STTR is important for the safety and economic stability of our nation. These programs sponsor developments that allow us to compete in the international marketplace and provide innovative tools supported and created by local entrepreneurs that contribute to American security.”

Chairman Smith: “Innovation is a critical component of small business success. The SBIR and STTR programs, through their $3 billion in annual awards to small businesses, spur many innovations and create thousands of jobs. This legislation updates these crucial programs. I thank Congressman Knight for taking the initiative on this issue.

H.R. 2763 was approved unanimously by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on June 22.

H.R. 2763 was approved by the House Committee on Small Business on June 15 by a vote of 19-0.

Congressman Al Green's Statement on Impeachment

Source: Al Green (D-TX, 9th)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- On Wednesday, October 11, 2017, Congressman Al Green (D-TX) released a statement on impeachment:

“I love my Country, I salute my Flag. I say the Pledge of Allegiance and I believe in liberty and justice for all as declared in the pledge.

“I also believe that to acquire liberty and justice for all, some must stand alone.

“Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I believe that the “truest measure of a person is not where you stand in times of comfort and convenience,” when the world is with you, but rather, where do you stand in times of challenge and controversy, when you may stand alone.

“Today, I rise to use the constitutionally prescribed political process of impeachment to speak truth to the most powerful man on earth, the President of the United States of America.

“I do so knowing that the public has been led to believe that a President must commit a crime to be impeached, which is not true. If any President persisted with the lie that “Hitler was right,” he would be, and should be, impeached not for a crime, but for betraying his trust as President.

“I do so knowing that many, of my contemporaries will criticize my actions. Some will castigate me, others may desire to do something more dastardly with hopes of suppressing all embers of courage that might inflame others to speak truth to power or the powerful.

“Ultimately, to again quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I will do that which is “neither safe, nor politic, nor popular.” I will do that which is right and let others do what they may and allow history to judge us all.”

Active Cyber Defense Bill Introduced in the House

Source: Tom Graves (R-GA, 14th)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- As part of Cyber Security Awareness Month, Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14), along with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-09), announced the formal introduction of the Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act (ACDC) (H.R. 4036) today, Friday the 13th. The bipartisan bill makes targeted changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to allow use of limited defensive measures that exceed the boundaries of one’s network in order to monitor, identify and stop attackers.

The CFAA, which was enacted in 1986, currently prohibits individuals from taking any defensive actions other than preventative protections, such as ant-virus software.  

Specifically, ACDC gives authorized individuals and companies the legal authority to leave their network to 1) establish attribution of an attack, 2) disrupt cyberattacks without damaging others’ computers, 3) retrieve and destroy stolen files, 4) monitor the behavior of an attacker, and 5) utilize beaconing technology. The enhanced flexibility will allow individuals and the private sector to develop and use tools that are currently restricted under the CFAA to protect their own network. Additionally, allowing defenders to develop and deploy new tools will help deter criminal hacking.

Although ACDC allows a more active role in cyber defense, it protects privacy rights by prohibiting vigilantism, forbidding physical damage or destruction of information on anyone else’s computer, and preventing collateral damage by constraining the types of actions that would be considered active defense.

This is likely the most significant update to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act since its enactment in 1986.

“While it doesn’t solve every problem, ACDC brings some light into the dark places where cybercriminals operate,” said Rep. Tom Graves. “The certainty the bill provides will empower individuals and companies use new defenses against cybercriminals. I also hope it spurs a new generation of tools and methods to level the lopsided cyber battlefield, if not give an edge to cyber defenders. We must continue working toward the day when it’s the norm – not the exception – for criminal hackers to be identified and prosecuted.”

“I also want to thank the many people who provided feedback throughout the process of drafting this bill,” Rep. Graves continued. “The idea was improved with the help and expertise of many, and I hope each person, whether they support or oppose this approach, will stay engaged in the debate.”

“The Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act gives specific, useful tools to identify and stop cyberattacks that have upended the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans,” said Rep. Sinema. “The recent Equifax data breach shows that cyber vulnerabilities can have real financial and personal implications for Arizona families and businesses. It is our responsibility to find and advance solutions that safeguard the privacy of Arizonans while protecting the security of their data. I look forward to continuing thoughtful conversations as we move forward.”

Click HERE to read the bill text. Click HERE for a two-page bill summary.

The bill is the result of a lengthy feedback process, which began on March 3 when Rep. Graves introduced the first ACDC discussion draft. After incorporating feedback from the business community, academia and cybersecurity policy experts, including recommendations he received at his cybersecurity event in Atlanta, Rep. Graves introduced an updated discussion draft on May 25.  

During the intervening period, Rep. Graves again solicited feedback and suggestions, which resulted in the final version of the bill introduced today.

Key changes to the bill that were made after the release of the second discussion draft are as follows.
A voluntary review process that individuals and companies can utilize before using active-defense techniques;
This provision allows defenders to benefit from review of their proposed active-defense measures by the FBI Joint Taskforce, which will assist defenders in conforming to federal law and improving the technical operation of the measure;

The authority to conduct these reviews would exist under a two-year pilot program, and could be amended or renewed at a later date.

Requires notification to the government for the use of active-cyber defense measures that go beyond beaconing;

Clarification that the bill does not interfere with a person’s right to seek damages;

Clarification that the bill does not interfere with a person’s right to seek damages;

Requires an annual report on the federal government’s progress in deterring cybercrime.

The updated legislation also makes other minor and technical changes.


Source: Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ, 5th)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressmen Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Brian Mast (FL-18) introduced the bipartisan United States-Israel Common Defense Authorization Act. This legislation would authorize the President to protect Israel with the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bomb capable of taking out Iran's underground nuclear infrastructure.

Said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), "We must prepare for the serious threat of a nuclear-armed Iran when key provisions of the deal expire. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to defend Israel from Iran and Hezbollah and reinforce our ally's qualitative military edge in the region with "bunker buster" munitions. Iran and its terrorist proxies throughout the region must never be able to threaten the U.S. or Israel with a nuclear weapon."

Said Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18), “The fact is that Iran has done their very best to undermine peace in the Middle East, including launching a ballistic missile inscribed with the slogan ‘Israel should be wiped off the Earth.’ Congressman Gottheimer and I have worked together successfully in the past to pass the U.S.-Israel Joint Missile Defense Act, and I’m confident that this bill will be another great bipartisan step toward preventing Iranian aggression against Israel and the United States.”

Last year, Iran successfully launched two “Qadr II” ballistic missiles at a target in southeastern Iran approximately 870 miles away, in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. The missiles were inscribed with the slogan, “Israel should be wiped off the Earth.”

Nicholas J. Rasmussen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, indicated Tuesday that Hezbollah "is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook."Hezbollah, designated by the Department of State as a terrorist organization, has an arsenal of approximately 120,000 to 150,000 rockets aimed at Israel.

Experts including General David Petraeus and Ambassador Dennis Ross have supported providing "bunker buster" munitions to Israel as one way to "put some teeth into the nuclear deal with Iran."

In May, Gottheimer and Mast introduced the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel. In July, the Gottheimer-Mast US-Israel Joint Missile Defense Act passed the House in the NDAA. In August, Gottheimer and Mast visited Israel to examine the U.S.-Israel economic, diplomatic, and security alliance.

Bill to Toughen North Korea Sanctions & Policy Introduced in the House

Source: Mike Gallagher (R-WI, 8th)

Washington, D.C. - October 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Mike Gallagher, along with Representatives Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced the bipartisan Leverage to Enhance Effective Diplomacy Act of 2017.  This bipartisan bill would impose tougher sanctions and policies on North Korea as the U.S. continues working on a diplomatic solution to the threat of North Korea’s developing nuclear capabilities. The bill authorizes efforts to combat Pyongyang’s widespread human rights and labor trafficking abuses, and applies economic and diplomatic pressure to North Korea and those who enable it.

After the bill was introduced, Rep. Gallagher released the following quote:

“For more than twenty years, American foreign policy has failed to fundamentally change North Korean behavior. It is time that the United States change its approach to impose significant costs on actors that support and enable the Kim regime’s reckless aggression. The LEED Act takes an important step by making crystal clear that those who do business with Pyongyang will not be welcome to do business with America.”