Saturday, December 16, 2017

Judge Temporarily Blocks Trump's Birth Control Rule

Washington, D.C. - December 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- A federal court issued a preliminary injunction on Friday effectively blocking interim final rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies that would have allowed employers and universities to deny their employees and students insurance coverage for contraception due to religious or moral objections. The decision by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was issued in a case brought by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the ACLU’s suit challenging these rules is currently pending in California.

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By: Senator John Hoeven (R - ND)

Washington, D.C. - December 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) announced that his amendment to maintain the fair tax treatment of cooperatives, which he authored with Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), has been included in the conference committee’s final tax relief package. The elimination of Section 199 in Congress’ draft tax bills presented a significant problem for cooperatives, threatening to increase their taxes and leading to higher costs for their members. The Hoeven-Thune language included in the final bill fixes this provision, ensuring cooperatives in North Dakota and across the nation will benefit from Congress’ tax relief legislation.

“We worked hard to ensure the final tax relief legislation provided certainty for cooperatives and treated them fairly,” Hoeven said. “Cooperatives provide vital services for our communities and agriculture producers and fill an important role in our economy. I appreciate Senator Thune, as well as our colleagues in the Senate and the House, for working with us to secure this important provision for our cooperatives. I look forward to advancing this and the rest of our tax relief legislation to help grow our economy and benefit middle-class Americans, workers, small businesses, farmers and ranchers.”

“Throughout the debate on tax reform, Senator John Hoeven has worked tirelessly to ensure that farmers and their co-ops were treated fairly. In particular, the Senator recognized early on that the elimination of the Section 199 deduction threatened to raise the tax burden of many producers and cooperatives. The provisions that he and Senator John Thune were able to secure in the bill will, we believe, keep money in the pockets of family farmers across the country at a time when low commodity prices mean that every penny counts. We strongly support this bill and thank Senator Hoeven for his leadership.”—Chuck Conner, President & CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

Tom Astrup, President and CEO of American Crystal Sugar Company, applauds Senator Hoeven for his hard work on behalf of family farmers. Senator Hoeven fought effectively to craft a good alternative to Section 199, the Domestic Production Activity Deduction, which is eliminated under the tax bill. We think the alternative will continue to provide important job creating incentives to rural America, which is extremely important given this challenging period for the farm economy.

“Senator Hoeven’s leadership in the tax reform debate means that CHS members—both farmers and local co-ops—will continue to be engines of economic activity in North Dakota and across the territory we serve. The Section 199 deduction helped to create jobs and broaden the tax base in many rural communities and the loss of the deduction would have had impacts far beyond agriculture. Senator Hoeven has prevented that scenario through his efforts to make the new tax code work for co-ops and their members. On behalf of CHS and our farmer-owners, I would like to thank him for being a champion of agriculture.” – Jay Debertin, President & CEO of CHS Inc.

“Land O’Lakes and our members thank Senator Hoeven today for his dedication to making the tax reform package work for family farmers and the co-ops they own. Senator Hoeven led the effort to ensure that eliminating the Section 199 deduction does not have the unintended consequence of raising taxes on producers during hard times across the countryside. The provisions included in the final package will offset the loss of this deduction, we believe, and help encourage job creation and growth across rural America.”—Chris Policinski, President & CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) worked to gather support for the Hoeven amendment in the House of Representatives, along with Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Mike Conaway (R-Texas). Other cosponsors of Hoeven’s amendment in the Senate included Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tom Cotton (R-Texas) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).
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Record Number of Circuit Judge Confirmations Under Trump


Washington, D.C. - December 16, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The U.S. Senate has now confirmed more circuit court judge nominees under President Trump than any other President has had confirmed during their first year in office.

“I’m proud that the U.S. Senate voted to confirm yet another conservative judge, which brings us to a total of 19 confirmed judges this year, including Justice Neil Gorsuch. Today, we also set a new record; the U.S. Senate has now confirmed more circuit court judge nominees during the first year of President Trump’s Administration than any other president in modern history,” said Senator Dean Heller (R - NV). “Earlier this year, I called on Congress to pick up the pace and now we’ve done exactly that. I’m hopeful that we’ll continue to fill the numerous judicial vacancies and bring tax relief to hardworking Americans. We need to work around the clock until we get the job done.”

In October, Heller pushed his colleagues to work full-time, 24/7 for the remainder of the year to combat Democrat obstruction and get results for the American people. At the time, the Senate had confirmed only seven judges. Since Heller’s call to speed up the number of confirmations, the Senate has confirmed an additional 12 judges.

According to the Federal Judicial Center, the previous record holders for the most confirmed circuit court judges during their first year in office were Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. The U.S. Senate confirmed 11 federal appeals court nominees during President Kennedy’s and Nixon’s respective first year in office.