Friday, November 24, 2017

Temporary Protected Status of Haitians Removal Gets Grave Response

Washington, D.C. - November 24, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced her decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Haiti with a delayed effective date of 18 months to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019. This decision follows then-Secretary Kelly’s announcement in May 2017 that Haiti had made considerable progress, and that the country’s designation will likely not be extended past six months.

The decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original designation were based and whether those extraordinary but temporary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute. Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process, Acting Secretary Duke determined that those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist. Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated.

Acting Secretary Duke met with Haitian Foreign Minister Antonio Rodrigue and Haitian Ambassador to the United States Paul Altidor recently in Washington to discuss the issue.

In 2017 alone, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services conducted extensive outreach to the Haitian communities throughout the country. These include but are not limited to community forums on TPS, panel discussions with Haitian community organizers, stakeholder teleconferences, regular meetings with TPS beneficiaries, news releases to the Haitian community, meetings with Haitian government officials, meetings at local churches, and listening sessions.

Since the 2010 earthquake, the number of displaced people in Haiti has decreased by 97 percent. Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens. Haiti has also demonstrated a commitment to adequately prepare for when the country’s TPS designation is terminated.

In May 2017, then-Secretary Kelly announced a limited extension for Haiti’s TPS designation, stating that he believed there were indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continued at pace – may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018. At the time, then-Secretary Kelly stated that his six-month extension should give Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients.

To allow for an orderly transition, the effective date of the termination of TPS for Haiti will be delayed 18 months. This will provide time for individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible. It will also provide time for Haiti to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens. During this timeframe, USCIS will work with the State Department, other DHS components and the Government of Haiti to help educate relevant stakeholders and facilitate an orderly transition.

Haitians with TPS will be required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the end of the respective termination or extension periods. Further details about this termination for TPS will appear in a Federal Register notice.

Of course, everyone who wants to bash Trump for anything at all has latched on this as a Hot Topic.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García was outraged at the Trump administration’s decision citing that they had "fled multiple natural disasters and a cholera epidemic". She stated, "“Cruel and spiteful are the only words to describe what the Trump administration plans to do to Haitian families, including thousands of our students, in yet another instance on the long list of proposals targeting communities of color that have emerged from this White House. As we prepare to give thanks in the tradition of those who came to our county seeking opportunity and prosperity, Donald Trump has chosen to celebrate by evicting thousands of families who have no place to go with their home country still in humanitarian crisis. Congress must act to provide a permanent solution for Haitians and other TPS holders by passing one of the numerous existing bills that enjoy bipartisan support and would provide stability for these families.”

The NEA holds that forcing the return of Haitian TPS recipients would disrupt the fragile recovery in Haiti, exacerbate the food, housing, and public health crises, and potentially destabilize the new Government. In fact, it is not the country of Haiti that is fragile, but rather the people in it. Only a strong people will be able to rebuild and return to normalcy in their own land. Just look at what happened in Texas not to long ago for verification of that.

“Deciding to end TPS for Haiti is heartless and inhumane. This decision will rip apart families who have been living in the United States for almost a decade, sending them back to a country that is still facing a humanitarian crisis and is unable to provide safe refuge for deportees. It is simply unacceptable that the United States will be unnecessarily sending Haitians to live in treacherous conditions. We are turning our backs on our country’s proud legacy of being a beacon of hope for the vulnerable,” said Lia Lindsey, Oxfam America’s Senior Humanitarian Policy Advisor.

In Haiti, there are still 38,000 people internally displaced by the 2010 earthquake and cholera remains a severe problem, with nearly 11,000 new cases and 100 deaths this year alone. Hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition impacts millions of Haitian families across the country; meanwhile hurricanes earlier this year caused damage to crops and livestock. “These ongoing humanitarian issues are examples of conditions that make forced return of thousands of people untenable and cruel,” continued Ms. Lindsey. She does not take into account the hundreds of thousands who were displaced in our own country due to the same hurricanes. The Ponder holds that we cannot possibly continue to support other countries until we get our own taken care of. That would be like trying to save a drowning man without a life-jacket in a current.

Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at Women's Refugee Commission made the following statement:

“Women’s Refugee Commission strongly condemns the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status program for the 50,000 Haitians living here in the U.S. Haitians with TPS in America are working in critical industries, buying homes, and raising families that include thousands of U.S. citizen children. We know all too well the effects that a parent’s deportation has on children, whether they are left behind or join their parents in a country they have never known. The decision to end TPS for these countries will devastate communities and could spell setbacks for children that will have a ripple effect on school systems, healthcare, and social services across the U.S. as children are left without primary caregivers and at risk of becoming involved with the U.S. foster care system. This is another example of the cruel and unusual punishment the Trump administration is heaping on to mixed-status families.”

Our question is this: What responsible family would go to another country where they are NOT a citizen and buy a home, taking on years of payments on property they KNOW they cannot keep because temporary means TEMPORARY.

Senator Robert Menendez (D - NJ) shot out that "This decision will not only have a seriously destabilizing effect and impair Haiti’s fragile recovery efforts, but it further harms our ability to be an effective leader on the global stage by demonizing people from different countries. But faced by a lack of ‘bad hombres’, the Trump administration is shamelessly creating deportable immigrants out of thin air and tearing apart American families - specifically 27,000 US citizen children who have TPS parents."

Blaming Trump for the Haitian situation doesn't make sense, and -- of course -- throwing children in front of us that should never have been born here to begin with (had the Haitians shown any sense of intelligent responsibility) is not productive in helping their situation.

Perhaps one of the conditions for their status should have been that any immigrant that has not yet become naturalized should not be allowed to have children until they do. This is not cruel, when you weigh in the fact that returning home is a BIG possibility until such naturalization occurs.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D - MA) has sided with Menendez on the issue, as has House Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA 13th), who said “As a former member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, I have fought for years to help Haiti and our Caribbean neighbors in their efforts to recover and rebuild as climate-resilient nations. Congress must act by immediately by passing bipartisan comprehensive TPS legislation that would provide meaningful relief to Haiti and other countries in similar situations.”

Providing relief to Haiti and taking in their citizens and allowing them to deplete our resources when they are not in immediate danger any more are two different things.

New FCC Rules on Net Neutrality Gaining Support and Criticism

Washington, D.C. - November 24, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans to repeal Obama-era regulations that maintain net neutrality, calling it a "Restoring Internet Freedom order" that would roll back the agency’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which created strong net neutrality rules that force broadband providers to treat all internet content and services equally.The agency’s new proposal downgrades broadband from a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act, to a mere “information service.” If adopted at the FCC meeting on December 14, the draft Order will eliminate the existing network neutrality rules (“no blocking, no throttling, and no ‘fast lanes’”). This has become a hot topic (meaning that a lot of people are talking about it), so we thought you might find it interesting.

“Internet service providers should not be able to pick winners and losers on the internet,” said Congresswoman Ann Kuster (D-NH, 2nd), who voted in favor of Net Neutrality in 2015. “Net Neutrality is fundamental to maintaining a level playing field on the web for small businesses and consumers, which is critical to the 21st Century economy. I’m disappointed by the proposal announced by Chairman Pai that will undermine the ability of people from all economic backgrounds to access equal speed and service on the internet.”

Pete Sepp, President of National Taxpayers Union (NTU), offered the following statement of support for the Chairman’s action:

“National Taxpayers Union applauds Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to lift the burdensome and outdated ‘Title II’ regulations on broadband Internet service, and return to the governing approach that has ably served consumers for so many years.

As we outlined in comments to the FCC earlier this year, a light regulatory touch is what has largely given us the Internet ecosystem we Americans enjoy today. A return to this framework will help taxpayers and businesses come out ahead as well. Unfettered Internet access can bring about serious savings for governments, and American businesses thrive when given the freedom to innovate without undue interference. We only have to look at lagging consumer innovation and hefty taxpayer burdens within the European Union to see what our future would look like if these harmful regulations were kept in place.

We are encouraged by Chairman Pai’s efforts, and we strongly believe that his proposal will help guarantee that we have a truly taxpayer- and consumer-first Internet once and for all. It’s time to get back on track.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “Access to a free and open internet is a fundamental right of every citizen. Repealing net neutrality would stifle opportunity for individuals, students and small businesses, while letting huge corporations profit at our expense. New York City stands with other cities against the repeal of Net Neutrality. We will do everything within our power to keep the internet open and accessible for all." He then urged New Yorkers to call their representatives to voice their opinions.

Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge commented that the draft order "shows both an appalling disregard for the record and an astounding disregard for even the basics of administrative law. It would seem more likely, as some have suggested, that Chairman Pai and Congressional Republicans have released this Order to create a crisis atmosphere and push through legislation authored by the cable companies rather than in a serious attempt at policy.

“For almost 20 years, both Republican and Democratic Chairmen of the FCC have asserted the FCC’s ongoing responsibility and authority to protect consumers and promote competition in the broadband access market. Rather than admit that this draft Order is a radical break from a bipartisan consensus on FCC authority to protect consumers generally and net neutrality specifically, Chairman Pai prefers to surrender this power to broadband providers, enabling them to set their own ‘net neutrality’ standards.

“In an even more brazen violation of law, Chairman Pai claims to be able to simultaneously divest the FCC of authority while claiming unlimited power to preempt the states as well. Under Chairman Pai’s expansive theory of preemption, the FCC could -- in theory -- preempt every state law applicable to Google, Facebook, or any other information service. For a man claiming to correct the previous Administration’s ‘overreach,’ this is an astonishing claim to unlimited power to advance corporate interests at the expense of the public.”

Public Knowledge will host a hill briefing on Wednesday, November 29 at 1:30 p.m. EST in the Capitol Visitors Center, Room SVC 215, to provide a legal and policy analysis of the draft order published in the Restoring Internet Freedom proceeding. The hill briefing is open to the public.

Raymond J. Keating, chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), released the following statement in response to the draft order:

“The FCC’s draft order, under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, will roll back onerous internet regulations and is a major pro-investment, pro-innovation and pro-small business step forward. Regulating dynamic, competitive broadband markets and networks as if they were 1930s-style monopolies makes no sense whatsoever. This regulatory mess created under the previous FCC chairman was completely unnecessary, given that broadband providers possess clear incentives to serve both content providers and content consumers well. It was a drastic regulation imposed on a problem that did not, and does not, exist. Such regulation creates uncertainty that restricts investment and innovation, including by threatening government rate and business model regulation. Small companies have been disproportionately and negatively impacted by the onerous ‘net neutrality’ regulations, which have inflicted more costs upon them and more uncertainty into their path.”

Keating expanded upon how this is a serious issue for small businesses:

“The entrepreneurial sector of our economy obviously has benefitted enormously as consumers or users of new and vastly improved broadband services. In addition, smaller firms overwhelmingly populate the telecommunications sector itself. For example, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, 84.1 percent of employer firms in the telecommunications sector have less than 20 employees. When regulation raises costs, creates uncertainty and diminishes investment, that’s a harmful and disruptive barrier for entrepreneurs and small businesses, which then harms competition and innovation in the telecommunications and technology sectors.

“Chairman Pai and the current FCC deserve credit for choosing to guide regulatory activities based on sound, real-world economics, as opposed to the political fantasies and ‘what if’ scenarios that pushed the intrusive and unnecessary internet regulations forward. Small businesses also thank Chairman Pai for his transparency in allowing the public to view the draft order. His actions stand in stark contrast to the previous FCC chairman who did not allow the public to see the language of the order until well after the FCC’s vote. The current FCC, under Chairman Pai’s leadership, has given small businesses and entrepreneurs a voice, and has listened to their concerns. The Restoring Internet Freedom Order is just the latest example of Chairman Pai’s thoughtful and reality-based approach when it comes to regulatory actions and their impact on the entrepreneurial sector of the U.S. economy.”

“Today’s news is a massive blow to pretty much anyone who uses the Internet,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D - OR) said. “Consumers and entrepreneurs alike need a free, open and competitive Internet. What has made the Internet the most powerful tool of the 21st century is that it’s a level playing field, where an interesting idea or an innovative startup can reach millions of people no matter whom it came from.

“Now, the FCC Chair wants to allow the Internet to become a place where big telecom companies can act as gatekeepers or toll collectors, and only the wealthy and powerful can play," Merkley continued. "This is a disaster. Preventing ‘throttling’ and paid ‘fast lanes’ was a huge step forward for consumers and for American innovation, and reversing those rules is yet another way the Trump administration is prioritizing the privileged and powerful over small businesses and consumers.”

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D - HI), Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet said, "“Since its formation, we’ve seen a free and open internet grow our economy and our imaginations. But today the FCC has threatened to end the internet as we know it. If adopted, the FCC’s plan will change the way every American gets information, watches movies, listens to music, conducts business, and talks to their families. By repealing basic net neutrality protections, the FCC is handing over full control of the internet to providers, leaving the American people with fewer choices and less access.”

Senator Roger Wicker (R - MS), a senior member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee supported the move, saying, “I welcome Chairman Pai’s announcement to restore the light-touch regulatory framework that has allowed the internet to thrive since its creation. This action will set the stage for expanding investment and job creation in the internet economy and closing the digital divide that exists in Mississippi and around the United States. I will continue to work with my colleagues to put a legislative solution in place that enshrines net neutrality protections into law and fosters an environment where broadband is accessible, affordable, and reliable for all Americans.”

House Representative Robert (Bob) E. Latta (R OH, 5th) also voiced support by saying, “I commend the current FCC for its commitment to a free and open Internet with a lighter regulatory touch, and today’s announcement is a major step in that pursuit. The Internet has been a powerful tool for private enterprise and economic growth since its inception thanks to a relatively hands-off government approach. I’m a staunch believer in net neutrality principles such as no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. However, top-down regulation of the Internet is not the best way to ensure user access to content — in fact, it’s counterproductive. Ultimately, the most effective path to providing certainty for consumers, providers, and businesses that rely on the Internet is to find common ground in Congress and pass legislation.

“The decision by the Wheeler-led FCC to use the Title II framework to regulate the Internet was misguided from the start. Using an 80-year old law meant for monopoly-era telephone companies doesn’t make sense for technology as dynamic and ever-changing as the Internet. This heavy-handed approach stifles investment, curbs innovation, and limits consumer choice.”

All in all, it looks like this is something that may balloon into Congressional action sooner or later. It seems to be another Democrat verses Republican argument, and it will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Tax Relief for Federal Crumbling Foundations Announced

Hartford, CT - November 24, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- Congressman John Larson (CT-1) and Joe Courtney (CT-2) announced approval of new federal tax relief for homeowners dealing with crumbling foundations. The policy, released through an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) “revenue procedure,” follows nearly 19 months of work by the two members.

“The individuals and families in Connecticut with crumbling foundations have been experiencing an ongoing nightmare. While there is no one silver bullet solution to make up for the loss experienced by these homeowners, today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of Treasury will provide at least some degree of relief for many of them. It is the first time that the federal government has acknowledged the unique harm Connecticut residents have suffered through no fault of their own. I’d like to thank the IRS, the Department of Treasury, the National Taxpayer Advocate, and especially all of the homeowners who have reached out to my office to share their stories and allowed me to tour their homes,” said Larson. “Our work is not done. Rep. Courtney and I will continue to engage with the administration and colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pursue every possible avenue at the federal level to provide relief for these homeowners.”

“Today, the federal government has said ‘yes’ to helping homeowners struggling with the cost and damage of crumbling foundations,” Courtney said. “This is the culmination of a 19-month process with the Treasury Department, IRS, and the National Taxpayer Advocate to get federal recognition of the severe property casualty loss that north-central and eastern Connecticut homeowners are struggling with. This tax guidance adds a powerful new tool to the toolbox of options for homeowners and communities looking for way to get their arms around this extensive and long-term problem for our region. The origins of this effort started at the grassroots level from homeowners speaking out at community meetings and from Connecticut’s CPAs who urged Washington to extend casualty loss deduction to this problem. I thank Assistant Secretary Kautter, Secretary Mnuchin and former IRS Commissioner Koskinen for their personal attention and commitment to this issue - today’s announcement reflects their recognition that this is a severe problem requiring immediate attention. I look forward to continuing to work with my partner in this effort, Congressman John Larson, and officials from Treasury and IRS to make the implementation of this guidance as smooth as possible for homeowners and their communities.”

Under current federal tax law, taxpayers may deduct a casualty loss from their income if they have suffered a sudden loss due to fire, flood, theft, or other sudden and unusual causes. While pyrrhotite-related damage develops over time, Courtney and Larson have been seeking IRS guidance to allow a casualty deduction related to this longer-term damage, citing the precedent of IRS assistance to homeowners affected by corrosive Chinese drywall in 2010.

The new guidance, released by the Treasury Department, approves their request for federal tax relief. Specifically, the guidance allows for the treatment of crumbling foundation-related repair costs as a “casualty loss” deduction from a taxpayer's taxable income. The change is effective immediately, and taxpayers are allowed to submit amended returns.

Click here to read the guidance.

Starting in 2016, the two members and their staffs conducted research on the process of issuing a revenue procedure for crumbling foundation relief and began outreach to IRS staff to learn more about the limits of IRS policy in this area.

In May 2017, they consulted with then-IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who supported the use of the 2010 precedent and agreed to weigh in with Treasury. The former Commissioner remained engaged on the issue as his term ended this month.

The two then wrote to National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson urging her support for applying the deduction to the crumbling foundation situation. In her response, she indicated support for the effort and sharing the proposal that her office submitted for consideration.

After getting support from Koskinen and Olsen, the two submitted a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin requesting a meeting to discuss possible federal tax relief for the homeowners who have been harmed by crumbling foundations. The Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy has the authority to make a decision on providing such tax relief.

Courtney and Larson also enlisted the support of the Congressman Richard Neal, the Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee, who weighed in on behalf of the request with Secretary Mnuchin.

In September, Courtney and Larson met with Secretary Mnuchin and Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy David Kautter at the Department of the Treasury headquarters in Washington, D.C. to discuss assistance for north-central Connecticut residents impacted by crumbling concrete foundation. They requested that Treasury issue an IRS “revenue procedure” that to allow homeowners to deduct foundation repair costs from their federal taxes.

In a September 26 follow up letter to Mr. Kautter, Courtney and Larson provided additional information to help guide the department’s consideration of their request.

The Connecticut Society of CPAs also issued a letter in support of the effort in September.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Small Business Saturday is November 25

Texarkana, TX - November 24, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- On Saturday, November 25, in support of a national movement in celebrating Small Business Saturday, to recognize the strength, value and importance imparted by locally owned small businesses to their communities and the state, The Ponder is encouraging citizens to visit their local mom and pop stores.

Sandwiched between the holiday shopping trends of “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” the Small Business Saturday observation also follows Thanksgiving and gives people an appropriate time and place to give special thanks and patronage for the state’s small businesses.

“As the holiday shopping season commences this weekend, I hope all Louisianans will participate in Small Business Saturday and support small businesses throughout the state,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they do so much to showcase the skills, talent and culture that can only be found in Louisiana. It is important that we acknowledge the tremendous contributions our small businesses owners and their staffs make throughout the year, and supporting Small Business Saturday is a sincere way to express our thanks and gratitude for all they do to better our state.”

According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 154 million shoppers made consumer purchases during Thanksgiving weekend in 2016. Such retail activity supports the nearly 93,000 small business retail jobs in Louisiana. In particular, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to make a larger percentage of their purchases at those locally owned, independent business, thus helping those enterprises thrive in a competitive economy.

“When Louisianans participate in Small Business Saturday, they strengthen their local economies by supporting local businesses and keeping the dollars they spend within the state,” said Secretary Don Pierson of Louisiana Economic Development. Louisiana small businesses account for the majority of jobs in our state. We encourage Louisianans to shop at small businesses to support their friends and neighbors, as well as the strength and employment of their communities.”

In Louisiana, small businesses make up over 97 percent of the state’s employers. More than 910,000 Louisiana residents are employed by small businesses, collectively accounting for 53 percent of all private-sector jobs in the state. In October 2017, Louisiana earned an A+ grade in Thumbtack’s report card on small business friendliness, ranking the state No. 4 in the U.S. – a testament to Louisiana’s commitment to support an economic climate in which small businesses can grow and thrive.

“Small Business Saturday is about supporting local businesses and creating jobs in communities all across America,” said Linda McMahon, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. “Shopping small this Saturday is the perfect opportunity for Americans to support their local community businesses and promote growth and vitality to America’s booming economy during this holiday season and throughout the coming year.”

This year marks the eighth Small Business Saturday, an annual celebration of America’s small business community. Last year on Small Business Saturday, an estimated 112 million Americans spent a combined $15.4 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants.

“Small businesses are the engine of our national economy. We now have in the United States about 30 million small businesses. About half of all American workers are either employed by a small business or own a small business. And two out of three new jobs are created by small business. Those are pretty powerful and compelling statistics,” said McMahon.

“One of my goals in leading the U.S. Small Business Administration is to revitalize a sense of entrepreneurship in America. We want entrepreneurs to feel confident taking a risk on starting or expanding their small businesses. Everyone wants businesses to grow and for people to be employed. Shopping small on November 25 supports these men and women who create the foundation for strong, successful small businesses.”


Washington, D.C. - November 24, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries, praised U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and John Culberson (R-Texas) for their leadership on introducing the bipartisan H.R. 4434, the Fix NICS Act of 2017 into the House of Representatives. The legislation is a companion to an identically titled Senate bill and both drew support from both Republican and Democrat co-sponsors.

“We are deeply appreciative of both Congressmen Cuellar and Culberson to demonstrate leadership in the House of Representatives to encourage state and federal agencies to enter all applicable records in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS),” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “This legislation will offer states the necessary resources to promptly and efficiently provide disqualifying records to NICS on those who are prohibited under current law from possessing firearms. Federally licensed firearms retailers rely upon NICS to prevent the sale of firearms to prohibited persons. This legislation will fix NICS so that background checks are accurate and reliable.”

The bipartisan House of Representatives legislation would ensure federal and state authorities comply with existing law and accurately report relevant criminal history and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill penalizes federal agencies who fail to properly report relevant records and incentivizes states to improve their overall reporting. The bill also directs more federal funding to the accurate reporting of domestic violence records.

Fixing NICS has long been a top priority for NSSF. The FixNICS® campaign was launched by the firearms industry in 2013 when the industry examined how many states were failing to fully submit prohibiting mental health and other disqualifying records to NICS. Since then, NSSF’s work has resulted in reforms being adopted in 16 states and a 170 percent increase in records submission, to 4.5 million in 2013 up from only from 1.7 million in 2013. Several states, and as tragically learned through recent events, some federal agencies, still are not fully participated in submitting records to keep firearms from those prohibited from purchasing them.

Congressman Cuellar praised the bipartisan effort that offers promise to strengthening existing laws and keep firearms from prohibited persons.

“Following the horrific shooting that occurred in my district, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, there is a call to action to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again. But many call for new laws often without considering whether or not current laws are being enforced,” Congressman Cuellar said. “Today, we introduced bipartisan legislation that will fill in the gaps in NICS that led to tragedies like the one in Sutherland Springs. The FIX NICS Act is an example of both parties in both chambers of Congress working together to set aside partisan politics and offer real solutions to the American people.”

Congressman Culberson pointed to the fact this legislation is intended to bolster existing law, the common ground on which both parties should agree.

“Had existing law been enforced, the horrific tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas would have never occurred. The pure negligence of criminal history reporting into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) must end,” said Rep. Culberson. “I’m honored to join my fellow Texas legislators, Senator John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar on the Fix NICS Act and am greatly encouraged at the bipartisan effort to hold federal and state authorities accountable to existing law. I urge my fellow colleagues in Congress to support this critical, lifesaving piece of legislation.”

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

National Association for Gun Rights Opposes the New "Fix NICS Act" While NRA Endorses It.

Washington, D.C. - November 24, 2017 (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the bipartisan Fix NICS Act to ensure federal and state authorities comply with existing law and accurately report relevant criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Fix NICS Act has received endorsements from the National Rifle Association of America, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the National Sheriffs Association.

NRA: “We applaud Sen. John Cornyn’s efforts to ensure that the records of prohibited individuals are entered into NICS, while providing a relief valve for those who are wrongly included in the system.” (Executive Director Chris Cox, National Rifle Association of America, 11/16/17)

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: “The Fix NICS Act is a demonstration of Congressional unity, bringing together not only legislators from both sides of the aisle but also taking meaningful action supported by a diverse cross-section of individuals and organizations.” (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/16/17)

Fraternal Order of Police: “Tragically, recent events have showed us that Federal agencies and State governments have too often failed to upload all relevant information to the NICS, allowing the illegal sale of a firearm. This bill will address this issue in a comprehensive way.” (Fraternal Order of Police, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/16/17)

National Domestic Violence Hotline: “This bill will help save the lives of victims of domestic violence and the communities in which they live and worship, by ensuring that domestic violence records are entered properly and consistently into the background check system.” (CEO Katie Ray Jones, National Domestic Violence Hotline, 11/16/17)

National Shooting Sports Foundation: “This legislation will fix NICS so that background checks are accurate and reliable.” (National Shooting Sports Foundation, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/15/17)

National Network to End Domestic Violence: “Your bipartisan bill would help to avert future tragedies… This legislation will save lives by keeping firearms out of the hands of people with a history of domestic abuse.” National Network to End Domestic Violence, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/16/17)

National Sheriff’s Association: “This legislation is a bold step to ensure federal laws are adhered to and upheld.” (Jonathan Thompson, National Sheriffs Association, 11/17/2017)

“All too often we come to the conclusion that horrible situations could have been prevented with thorough and complete reporting,” said Senator Tim Scott. “As we tragically found out after the heartbreaking shooting at Mother Emanuel, we know the devastation that can manifest if gaps in reporting allow a madman with a criminal history to obtain a weapon. While we cannot legislate against pure evil, we most certainly should do all we can to ensure these individuals do not have access to any type of firearm. This is a commonsense solution that can fix the reporting gaps, and most importantly, has the potential to save countless innocent lives.”

“These provisions will help enforce public safety protections that could mean the difference between life and death. Non-reporting now puts people at lethal risk—riddling a system that should keep guns away from killers with gaping holes. The federal background check program is only as good as the information that is provided to it,” Senator Richard Blumenthal said. “Mass murderers in Sutherland Springs, Charleston, and Blacksburg were legally prohibited from accessing firearms, but gaps in NICS allowed each of them to walk out of a gun store with the weapons used to commit their crimes. Our bipartisan legislation will incentivize states, and hold federal agencies accountable, to build robust reporting systems that can prevent the sale of firearms to people who are a danger to themselves or others—including convicted domestic abusers.”

Background on the Fix NICS Act

  • Requires federal agencies and states to produce NICS implementation plans focused on uploading all information to the background check system showing that a person is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms under current law—including measures to
    verify the accuracy of records.
  • Holds federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload relevant records to the background check system through public reporting and prohibiting bonus pay for political appointees.
  • Rewards states who comply with their NICS implementation plans through federal grant preferences and incentives, while increasing accountability through public reporting for those who do not comply with their plans.
  • Reauthorizes and improves important law enforcement programs to help state governments share relevant criminal record information with NICS.
  • Creates a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing firearms under current law.

    Dudley Brown, President of the National Association for Gun Rights responded to the gun control legislation introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

    “The surrender-monkey Republicans are not only caving to anti-gun Democrats, but working hand-in-hand with them. This bill introduced by Senators Cornyn and Murphy aims to establish a gun control super-database – expanding the Brady-NICS gun owner registry, denying even more Americans of their due process rights.

    “Weak Republicans always push gun control laws under the guise of ‘enforcing the laws we have,’ but only end up pushing the Democrat agenda, giving gun owners more reasons to worry. NAGR will strongly oppose this gun control scheme and fight any Republican who surrenders our Second Amendment rights.”

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