Wednesday, December 13, 2017


By Kevin Yoder (R-KS, 3rd)

Washington, D.C. - December 13, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Representative Kevin Yoder (R-KS) led a group of 12 Republican House members in sending a letter to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act conference committee, calling for the doubling of the educator expense deduction in the final version of the tax reform legislation. The letter urges House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, and the rest of the conference committee to adopt the Senate’s version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in regard to the educator expense deduction. The Senate’s plan would increase the deduction from $250 to $500 per year.

Representative Yoder issued the following statement regarding his letter:

“America’s teachers sacrifice their time, energy and personal finances every day to help our children learn and grow into our next generation of leaders. We've worked hard to produce tax legislation in the House that would give a typical Overland Park teacher a tax cut of about $1,800. But I've listened to many teachers and advocates who recognize the educator expense deduction as one small way to show teachers our appreciation for their hard work. This important deduction should remain in our tax code.

"The best way to legislate in Congress is to work together, listen to our constituents, and take their concerns to Washington. That's what I'm doing here today with this letter to the conference committee. Ultimately, the goal of tax reform is to increase economic opportunity for hardworking Americans like our teachers, and we can do it in an even better way by expanding this deduction in addition to cutting their taxes."

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Bullies Meet Their Match

By Shonda Ponder

Senator Kirsten E.Gillibrand (D-NY) attacked Donald Trump and called for his resignation. Conceding that he wouldn't resign, she called on her colleagues to harass him and make life miserable for him until he does. Okay, so she didn't say that exactly, but that's the gist of it. Democrats don't like someone, they punch and punch and punch until they get what they want -- no matter how irrational or wrong they are for doing it, just like the bullies they are.

People, we have a President in office who isn't afraid of bullies. He responded to her attack with:

Of course, this riled the Democrats up, and true to their mob(ster) mentality and circling the wagon, Congressman John A. Yarmuth (D-KY, 3rd) released the statement below on President Donald Trump’s tweet regarding Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:

“Responding to allegations of sexual misconduct by trying to publicly shame yet another woman, the president has shown us exactly what kind of person he is. This is not about politics. Donald Trump has proven to be a poison for the presidency, a cancer on the country, and a truly disgraceful human being.”

Well, what do you expect? He's dealing with disgraceful human beings. In order to deal with the dirt, sometimes you get dirty. The Ponder thinks that what is disgraceful is bullying someone, then whining when you get punched in the face, then calling them a bully because they fight back.

Wilson Introduces Pro-Israel Resolution In U.S. House

By Joe Wilson (R-SC, 2nd)

Washington, D.C. - December 13, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Joe Wilson, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after introducing H. Res. 662, which recognizes Israel’s sovereignty to choose its own capital, reaffirms the relationship between the United States and Israel, recognizes that Israel is the United States’ strongest ally in the Middle East, and reiterates that the U.S. Congress strongly opposes the United Nations General Assembly’s anti-Israel actions.

“America’s bond with Israel is unique, and its strength is the foundation of American leadership in the Middle East. The president’s recent announcement that our embassy will be located in Jerusalem strengthens that bond. Recently, we have seen the United Nations General Assembly pass six anti-Israel resolutions. This is wrong. Israel has not only been our long-standing ally, but also is our strongest ally in the Middle East.

“When we see the United Nations and members of the international community target Israel, bullying a country that is surrounded by those who would do it harm, we’re going to – in the courageous words of Ambassador Nikki Haley – call them out. The people of Israel should know we have their back.

“I am grateful for the leadership of President Donald Trump and Ambassador Nikki Haley, who have restored American leadership on the world’s stage by renewing our commitment to peace through strength, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to recognize Israel as America’s strongest ally in the Middle East and condemn the anti-Israeli defamation that has defined the United Nations in recent years.”

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

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Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Amendment Signed Into Law

By Greg Walden (R-OR, 2nd)

Washington, D.C. - December 13, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- President Trump signed into law legislation introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) to ensure the military has access to lifesaving medical treatments. Walden’s legislation (H.R. 4374) passed the House and Senate unanimously, and will amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to authorize additional emergency uses for medical products to reduce deaths and severity of injuries caused by agents of war.

“This is an important day for our brave men and women in uniform, ensuring they get the timely care they need while protecting our country,” said Walden. “Today we are well on our way to delivering the newest treatments and devices to our war fighters without forgoing important safety mechanisms.”

Specifically, Walden’s legislation corrects language within the National Defense Authorization Act – which was also signed into law today – that could have usurped FDA’s critical authority of ensuring the safety and efficacy of cutting edge medicines for our soldiers on the front lines.

Walden’s bill will streamline the processes at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure America’s warfighters have access to new, lifesaving medications in a timely manner.

''Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line for this country, and they deserve to have the earliest possible access to medical products that could save their lives on the battlefield,” said Walden in a speech on the House floor when the legislation passed the House in November. “In short, H.R. 4374 addresses the critical issue of military access to the newest available products by expanding the circumstances under which emergency use authorizations can be issued, and by establishing an expedited pathway to full approval of products that the Secretary of Defense requests.”

For Representative Walden’s legislation, please click here.

Gov. Bevin Orders Flags to Half-Staff Wednesday in Honor of Kentucky World War II Serviceman Pfc. Albert Strange

By Kentucky Governor's Office

Washington, D.C. - December 13, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Gov. Matt Bevin has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, in honor of a Kentucky serviceman who was killed in action during World War II but whose remains were only recently recovered and returned home.

Marine Corps Reserve Pfc. Albert Strange, of Mammoth Cave, was 18 years old when he died in battle in the Pacific theater on Nov. 20, 1943. Assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, he was among approximately 1,000 U.S. casualties from the Battle of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands.

In May 2017, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) representatives traveled to the Tarawa Atoll to conduct excavations utilizing advanced investigative techniques. As part of this mission, investigators were able to identify the remains of Pfc. Strange.

Funeral services for Pfc. Strange will be held at 12 noon (CST) on Dec. 13 at Bob Hunt Funeral Chapel (410 North Dixie Highway, Cave City), with visitation beginning at 11 a.m. Burial with full military honors will be immediately following at Cave City Cemetery (Old Bardstown Road, Cave City).

Gov. Bevin encourages individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies to join in this tribute by lowering the flag in honor of Pfc. Strange.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

RNC Statement Celebrating Hanukkah

By Republican National Committee

Washington, D.C. - December 13, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Co-Chair Bob Paduchik issued the following message celebrating Hanukkah:

"We wish our Jewish friends a blessed celebration during this joyous Hanukkah season," said Chairwoman McDaniel. "May the lighting of the menorah serve as a reminder of courage and unwavering faith, for eight nights and beyond."

"Happy Hanukkah to all those celebrating across the country," said Co-Chair Paduchik. "May the Festival of Lights bring you peace and hope."

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Congress Should Protect, Not Expose, Taxpayers to Mortgage Giants’ Bailouts

By National Taxpayers Union

Washington, D.C. - December 13, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The House Financial Services Committee has had a productive year delivering real results to America’s taxpayers -- be it advancing the repeal and replacement of Dodd-Frank, reforming the broken National Flood Insurance Program, or replacing the DOL Fiduciary Rule with one that actually protects consumers rather than expands the bureaucracy. That’s why we are surprised to see legislation marked up in the Committee today that could, if it passes, end the year by missing the mark for taxpayers.

H.R. 4560, the “GSE Jumpstart Reauthorization Act” of 2017, has a catchy title, but in reality it would take a step backward for taxpayers by exposing them to the near-term prospect of a bailout for the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This bill essentially puts further pressure on the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to continue paying the Net Worth Sweep, the ill-advised and risky policy of sending FHFA profits to the US Treasury. Should the Agency retain this profit for building a prudent capital cushion rather than sending it to the Treasury, Fannie and Freddie will be barred from making any contributions to the Housing Trust Fund.

Taxpayers -- and lawmakers -- have every reason to ask hard questions about financial accountability for the money being funneled into the Housing Trust Fund. Congressman Ed Royce introduced a bill in the previous Congress to strengthen the law that requires Fannie and Freddie to suspend housing trust fund payments if they would “cause the GSEs to be undercapitalized.” HR 4560, however, goes well beyond this approach by effectively blocking FHFA from taking interim steps to ensure the GSEs don’t have to tap Treasury resources to stay healthy.

Either way, the FHFA is stuck in a bad situation: the Net Worth Sweep leaves the Agency with less reserve capital to begin with, while the new bill would leave FHFA with fewer options to correct that situation.

Both scenarios increase the likelihood of a taxpayer-funded bailout, given warnings from FHFA that Fannie and Freddie are becoming seriously undercapitalized.

NTU has long advised Congress on the glaring threat Fannie and Freddie could pose to taxpayers, as well as the reckless practice of using the GSEs as ATMs. Rather than complicating and possibly impeding housing reform, NTU believes it is best to tackle all elements of reform at the beginning of 2018 when a complete, comprehensive package can be debated. Until then, all tools should be available, including those residing with the Executive Branch, to shield taxpayers from any potential liabilities from Fannie and Freddie. We strongly urge the Committee to bear in mind these critical taxpayer concerns instead of plowing ahead with unnecessary -- and potentially counterproductive -- legislation.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act H.R. 3971 passed the House

By Claudia Tenney (R NY, 22nd)

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Washington, D.C. - December 13, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-22) announced that her bill, the Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act H.R. 3971 passed the House by a vote of 294-129. The bipartisan bill would rollback escrow regulations on small community financial institutions while providing relief from new regulations that have nearly doubled the cost of servicing loans, specifically for low-income borrowers. The bill would not prohibit community banks from providing escrow services if the institutions still desires to offer the service. The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA) and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX).

“Costly escrow regulations have continued to harm community lending institutions. With smaller staffs and significantly less resources than larger financial institutions, community lending institutions are often unable to bear the costly burden of maintaining escrow accounts for their customers. Mandating that all institutions follow these escrow requirements raises the cost of credit for borrowers who can least afford it while harming small local institutions. In rural areas like the 22nd District, consumers and small businesses rely on relationship lending with local institutions. If these regulations continue, mortgage-lending services will be consolidated within larger institutions which will hurt our family farmers, small business and lower-income borrowers who depend on their existing relationships with these community intuitions to access capital,” said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney.

Tenney continued, “On average, America loses one community bank per day. The Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act works to reverse this problem by lowering the cost of credit for low-income borrowers and rolling back onerous escrow regulations that continue to drive community institutions out of the mortgage lending market. This bipartisan bill will ensure that small institutions can continue to lend to their communities. I’m grateful to Chairman Hensarling for his leadership in working to pass this important bill, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside the Financial Services Committee to roll back onerous regulations and get our economy moving again.”

Under current law, the Truth in Lending Act requires creditors to establish and hold escrow accounts on mortgage loans, a costly and burdensome requirement which small institutions are often unable to manage throughout the life of a loan. This regulation has hurt a number of smaller community lending institutions, forcing these institutions to sell off the loan to larger institutions or mortgage insurance companies that have the resources needed to manage escrow requirements.

Since 2006, more than 1,500 banks have failed, been acquired or merged due to economic factors and the overwhelmingly expensive regulation brought forth by the passage of the Dodd Frank Act. For the first time in over 125 years, there are fewer than 6,000 banks and roughly 6,000 credit unions serving all consumers in the United States. Additionally, a 2014 study by the Independent Community Bankers Association cited that regulatory burdens prevented 73 percent of banks from making residential mortgage loans.

The Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act will work to reverse this trend by exempting community institutions from this regulatory burden, ensuring small institutions can become active in residential mortgage lending once again.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site