Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Medicare, Dreamers, Flu Season, FMLA

Brady, Roskam on Policies Included in Continuing Resolution to Improve Medicare, Extend Medicare Policies
House Committee on Ways and Means
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) issued the following statements after House Republicans introduced a continuing resolution that includes reforms to improve the Medicare program and extend specific Medicare policies that could cause people to lose access to care unless Congress acts:
Read it...

Sen. McCain, Coons Introduce Bipartisan Dreamer Bill
Human Rights First
Human Rights First has urged senators to support the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act, introduced by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE), which would provide legal protection for Dreamers and increase border security without erecting further barriers to the U.S. asylum and refugee systems.

On Anniversary of FMLA, A Chance to Improve Paid Leave
Independent Women's Forum
Monday, February 4, is the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), requiring employers to give some workers 12 weeks of paid time off—but not requiring any paid leave.

Marcy Kaptur (D-OH, 9th)
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wrote to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb regarding the current shortage of IV saline and other critical medical products. The shortage resulted from the devastation Hurricane Maria wrought on Puerto Rico’s many major manufacturing facilities. Months after the storm, many of these factories still lack full and consistent access to power. At the height of the deadliest flu season in recent history, the shortage threatens to further endanger public health.

Reactions about the FISA MEMO

President Trump approved the release of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence memo. Below are reactions:

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

“As the Former Vice Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I am outraged that Republicans wrote a classified memo and then voted to make it public in order to undermine the Mueller investigation. The partisan memo is rife with misrepresentations and inaccuracies, and it was released for purely political reasons against the advice of the FBI and the Justice Department.

“Even more shocking is the fact that House Republicans on the Committee blocked a counter-memo on the same subject from being released, preventing any refutation of their partisan smear-campaign. Their decision to politicize the intelligence and selectively release information to drive a political narrative is extraordinarily reckless, and does a grave disservice to the brave men and women in our Intelligence Community. For weeks, social media accounts linked to Russian networks have saturated the airwaves calling for a release of the memo. I am stunned that Republicans actually fell for it.”

Jeb Hensarling (R-TX, 5th)

“Congress has the constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight over the Executive Branch, and our citizens have the right to be informed on these matters unless doing so would present a true threat to national security. The FBI and Justice Department should be held to the highest standards because of their immense power. We must zealously guard these institutions against being politicized. Evidence of inappropriate and potentially politicized actions by individuals entrusted to enforce and uphold the law should not be withheld from the American people. I look forward to this matter being thoroughly investigated and Congress doing what is necessary to correct any abuses."

Richard Hudson (R-NC, 8th)

“After I read the classified memo, I was very troubled and called for it to be declassified and made public. I’m pleased to see President Donald Trump agrees that the American people should see the facts and judge for themselves. This memo raises grave concerns. First and foremost, an American’s civil liberties may have been violated because it appears intelligence officials may have misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain a warrant. Secondly, our intelligence community should be impartial and isolated from politics. They must rely on facts – not unverified documents funded by a political party. Now that this information is public, we must continue to work to protect Americans’ civil liberties and make sure any bad actors are held accountable. This is about transparency, which is why I also support the release of the minority’s memo once it is scrubbed of any information that could pose a national security risk.”

Pramila Jayapal (D-WA, 7th)

“This a dangerous and troubling time for our country. The Nunes memo is a misleading, partisan document – not an intelligence document. It is crafted to undermine any real oversight of this administration and to distract from mountains of evidence suggesting the Trump presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government. Even the president’s hand-picked FBI director has opposed the decision to release the memo.

“Donald Trump clearly wishes he was a dictator with no checks and balances. He is waging war against Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s independent investigation – and what are Republicans in Congress doing? Doubling down on the president’s apparent obstruction of justice and circling the wagons.

“It is critical that the Judiciary Committee hear from FBI Director Christopher Wray about this disturbing development. Now is the time for all Americans to stand up against this slide into authoritarianism, and to take action to defend against the unraveling of our democracy by the president and his accomplices in Congress.”

Evan Jenkins (R-WV, 3rd)

“I read the memo once it was made available to House members, and I called immediately for it to be made available to the American public. This is a matter of transparency and accountability, and Americans can now read the findings for themselves.”

Bill Johnson (R-OH, 6th)

I am glad the memo was released today. I read it, and last week called for it to be released. This is just one piece of information; I will be reading the House Democrats’ memo when it is available as well – and it should also be released to the public. I also look forward to reading the FBI Inspector General’s report when it is completed. There is still a lot of information yet to come forward before we get the full picture.

But, the bottom line is that manufactured work products produced from a political process should not be used to obtain warrants to conduct surveillance on American citizens. Using secret documents in a secret court must have the highest safeguards to protect both national security and civil liberties.

The declassified memo contains deeply disturbing allegations. It certainly does appear that the FBI and Department of Justice used a partisan campaign document to get a warrant to spy on a rival campaign, by omitting critical information from the court - like where the still unverified information came from.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D - ND)

“The goal of this memo is clear: distraction,” said Heitkamp. “It’s a distraction from a valid, important, and fact-based investigation into Russian interference in our election. It’s a distraction to try to turn the focus of this critical investigation into a smear campaign on law enforcement officers who have dedicated their lives to protecting our national security and keeping American families safe from criminals, terrorists, and other adversaries. And it’s a distraction to create a hyper-political food fight around a non-partisan and independent investigation. This memo is politics at its very worst.

“There is no question that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. That is fact. We know they have interfered in the elections of other countries as well, seeking to create distrust and disorder. Unfortunately, it becomes clearer every day that Russia’s goal of creating chaos and division in the U.S. and delegitimizing our most important institutions is succeeding. This memo is the latest example. It’s past time for Congress and the administration to enable the investigation to determine the facts about Russian interference in our election without political sideshows or pressure and follow the rule of law.”

Senator John Hoeven (R - ND)

“Our Constitution provides for a system of checks and balances between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. These checks are important so that the American people know what their government is doing on their behalf and to keep all branches of government accountable to the people. The memo provides this transparency to the people. The House Intel Committee followed the proper procedure necessary to release the memo, which included getting approval from the Administration after review by the National Security Council. Further, House Speaker Paul Ryan indicated that House Democrats could release their memo as well, provided they follow the steps necessary to do it.”

Note: Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement today regarding the memo, which included the following: “I am glad that this memo helps to provide greater transparency, and I reiterate my support for the similar release of the minority’s memo once it is properly scrubbed of all intelligence sources and methods.”

Reaction about the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review

President Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review, a strategy document that aligns with the previously released National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy was released. Below are reactions:

Colleen Hanabusa, (D-HI, 1st)

“We are extremely concerned with the President’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) because it represents a profound shift in policy that undermines our national security and puts our allies, especially the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in a very difficult position. Additionally, like so many of the proposals offered by this administration, they do not provide a plan to pay for it. Congress does not have the money to fund the current $1.2 trillion plan to upgrade our nuclear arsenal.”

“While I agree with the NPR’s assessment that Russia presents our greatest nuclear threat, I do not think initiating new weapon systems and expanding our arsenal is the type of deterrence we should employ. Moreover, increasing our stockpile of low-yield nuclear weapons, particularly on submarines, sends the message that we are preparing for regional conflicts and more likely to use these weapons in targeted circumstances. Finally, the interactions between the President and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and our opaque, confusing relationship with the current Russian leadership, do not suggest we should increase this administration’s ability to initiate a nuclear arms race and risk conflict.”

Senator James M. Inhofe (R - OK)

“As long as there are nuclear weapons, the United States must possess an arsenal that can effectively deter any threat. President Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review recognizes we haven’t been keeping up with the progress of our adversaries and competitors, especially China and Russia. While our aging arsenal is effective for now, without a serious commitment to modernization, we are at risk of losing our strategic advantage.

“This Nuclear Posture Review looks to modernize and diversify our arsenal to keep up with new threats in a changing world. I commend President Trump for making this a priority of his administration, as he outlined in his State of the Union address this week.”