Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sexual Harassment, Budget,

Here are some news items from the press release pile at The Ponder News:

Concerned with Pervasive Sexual Harassment in Industries Outside the Spotlight, Senator Murray Requests Information from Trade Associations in Industries with Millions of Workers
Senator Patty Murray (D - WA)
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking Democrat on the Senate health committee, sent letters to 12 trade associations requesting information on harassment statistics. These associations represent the industries with some of the highest rates of sexual harassment reporting to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As many people are coming forward and sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, Senator Murray is working to ensure every woman and man, no matter where they work, or how much money they make, has a workplace free from harassment.

Kenny Marchant (R-TX, 24th)
This important budget agreement delivers on the promise to rebuild our military, provides disaster relief to Texas communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey, improves Medicare for Texas seniors, cuts government red tape for health care providers and repeals harmful Obamacare IPAB provisions

The Reason Donald Trump Rejected the Memo from the Democrats

On Twitter, Trump tweeted:

The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!

Following news reports that President Trump has blocked the release of the Democratic Memo refuting claims made in the so-called Nunes Memo, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, 12th) released the following statement:

"After viewing both House Intelligence Committee memos, I can say, without a doubt, that not releasing the Democrats' memo is a great disservice to the American people. While I cannot comment on the details contained in the Democrats' memo because the President has refused to release it, I can say that it eviscerates Mr. Nunes' claims. This politicization of intelligence and quest to discredit the brave men and women of our intelligence and law enforcement communities must stop. Mr. Nunes' and President Trump's behavior are abhorrent and dangerous."


Source: Senator Christopher Murphy (D - CT)

Washington, D.C. - February 10, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Chris Murphy released a statement on Friday on the deportation case of Farmington, Connecticut residents, Mr. Zhe Long “Tony” Huang and Mrs. Xiang Jin “Kris” Li. Tony and Kris, who left China to come to the United States nearly two decades ago, have been issued an order to leave the United States by February 16th. Tony and Kris are married, have no criminal records, and have two American-born children, ages 15 and 5. The couple owns a nail salon in Simsbury.

“Kris and Tony own a small business, pay their taxes, and have two children in the Farmington school system. The Trump administration’s backwards immigration policies that target families instead of dangerous criminals make us less safe. I’ve been in touch with ICE, and I will keep fighting to make sure Kris and Tony can stay at home in Connecticut with their kids.”

Related News:

Simsbury, Farmington Rally For Local Couple Facing Deportation; Application Filed for Stay

Hartford Courant
One week before they must board a plane to return to China, Zhe Long Huang and Xiang Jin Li stood in front of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Hartford field office Friday afternoon to make their case to stay in America.
Read about it by clicking HERE

Senator Markey Calls for Greater Scrutiny of LNG Shipments from Russia to the United States

Source: Senator Edward J.Markey (D - MA)

Washington, D.C. - February 10, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, this week sent a letter to the Departments of State and Treasury querying the agencies about potential evasion of U.S. sanctions by Russian companies. Specifically, Boston Harbor recently received a shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) that contained gas from Novatek, a U.S.-sanctioned Russian natural gas producer. The United States imposed broad-based sanctions in 2014 on Russia in response to its ongoing occupation of Crimea and destabilization of eastern Ukraine. Despite these sanctions, Novatek shipped gas partially sourced from Yamal LNG, Novatek’s LNG export facility, to Everett, Massachusetts, potentially evading sanctions by generating revenue from U.S. sales. Another shipment from Novatek to the United States is expected in the coming weeks.

“Although a gas purchase from Yamal LNG many not constitute financing as defined as under the sanctions, the purchase provides revenue to Novatek,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to Secretaries Rex Tillerson and Steven Mnuchin. “This shipment may therefore circumvent the U.S. sanctions and calls into question to what degree those sanctions are serving our broader foreign policy goals regarding Russia or require adjustment to better achieve those goals.”

A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.

In his letter, Senator Markey specifically asks if the most recent shipment of LNG to Everett by Novatek violates either the letter or spirit of the 2014 sanctions. He also asks if the administration is aware of other sanctioned Russian companies engaging in similar transactions where financing is prohibited, as well as if the 2014 sanctions have been effective more broadly.

Senator Markey authored the Fuels Transportation Safety Amendments Act, a law that requires the Secretary of Energy to establish minimum standards for the location, construction, and operation of any new LNG facility. The law also required the Secretary of Energy to establish minimum safety standards for existing LNG facilities, and established civil and criminal penalties for the violation of safety or financial responsibility standards.

Budget Deal

The House and Senate agreed to a deal to lift budget caps on defense and domestic spending and fund the government until March 23, 2018. This legislation also includes emergency funding for disasters caused by hurricanes and wildfires.

Highlights of the budget deal:

  • Continuing Resolution until March 23, 2018 to keep the government funded and provide the necessary time for the FY18 Appropriations bills to conform with new discretionary totals.
  • Reverses the defense sequester and increases total defense funding to match with FY18 NDAA levels and the Administration’s request for FY19.
  • Increases non-defense levels and targets funding for priorities like the National Institute of Health, combating the opioid epidemic, and infrastructure improvements.
  • Advances emergency disaster relief funding that was previously approved by the House but stuck in the Senate – including funding for California wildfire recovery efforts.
  • Provides an extension of the debt limit through 2018.
  • Extends the Community Health Centers and Teaching Health Centers programs for 2 years.
  • Repeals Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
  • Rebuilds and fully funds our military.
  • Helps America’s veterans by reducing the maintenance backlog at the Veterans Administration.
  • Includes a $20 billion investment in America’s infrastructure.
  • Includes Citrus, Dairy, and Cotton fixes that clear a pathway for the Farm Bill.
  • Eliminates the caps on crop insurance policies for livestock producers
  • Establishes a bipartisan budget process reform committee to evaluate and fix our broken budget process.

    Doug LaMalfa (R-CA, 1st)

    “I’m very concerned by the government’s reckless spending, but I’m not willing to allow a prolonged shutdown to occur. There are many provisions in this bill that are very worthy of our investment. At our recent retreat, Secretary Mattis conveyed the gravity of the funding crisis our military faces after eight years of neglect. I’m happy that our armed forces and national defense will now be properly funded for the first time in recent memory. We’re also extending important health care programs, like Community Health Centers and Teaching Health Centers, which are critical to rural California. It’s past time to get wildfire victims some assistance, and this legislation finally advances disaster relief funding that’s been stuck in the Senate for months. Finally, this agreement paves the way for Congress to work on strengthening our southern border and addressing other pressing immigration concerns. I don’t like the Senate’s process and I don’t like the price tag, but this bipartisan compromise is the best option available under these circumstances.”

    Doug Lamborn (R-CO, 5th)

    “Our uniformed men and women should not have to worry about whether they will get paid or not as they continue to selflessly put their lives on the line for our country. That’s not to mention the critical role the defense industry Colorado’s Fifth District plays in our national security, including direct support to many critical local missions.”

    Leonard Lance (R-NJ, 7th)

    “The responsible vote is to keep the government open. I have always opposed governmental shutdowns. The Bipartisan Budget Act is the product of compromise – neither side got everything it wanted. But many critical priorities I have championed were included in the final product, including disaster relief funds, funding for community health centers and meeting Secretary Mattis’ request for Defense Department funding. The package also repeals Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel widely opposed by senior citizen advocacy groups. The legislation also finally secures funding for Medicaid in Puerto Rico, a project I have long advocated for alongside Resident Commissioner González-Colón. Low-cost federal health care will now continue for our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico,” said Lance after passage.

    Medicaid continues to provide critical health care delivery needs for the citizens of Puerto Rico and the program is under significant financial strain as the Commonwealth recovers from Hurricane Maria. Lance and González-Colón’s teamed up to give Puerto Rico financial certainty to continue providing critical services through the Medicaid program.

    Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden also acknowledged Lance’s leadership after the vote. “Rep. Lance has been a critical voice as we worked to provide vital Medicaid resources for the people of Puerto Rico. His steadfast commitment to addressing this Medicaid cliff never wavered and relief will soon be on its way.”

    Jim Langevin (D-RI, 2nd)

    “After months of refusing to negotiate with Democrats, Republicans finally reached across the aisle to develop a bipartisan budget agreement that addresses many important priorities. It lifts stifling budget caps and provides the framework to develop a long-term funding bill that invests in infrastructure projects and supports our military service members, teachers, and law enforcement officers. Communities that were ravaged by hurricanes, floods and wildfires will see much needed relief to rebuild their lives. Community health centers will receive funding so patients have access to quality healthcare. Finally, this bill ensures our nation will not default on its obligations.

    “Like all compromises, this bill is not perfect. Because Republicans spent five months kicking the can down the road, we will need to pass additional legislation to fully implement this framework. This agreement also does nothing to reverse the President’s $1.5 trillion tax boondoggle, which means our national debt will continue to grow. The most glaring omission, however, is the lack of protection for the hundreds of thousands of dreamers who will be forced out of the only country they’ve ever known. I’m extremely disappointed that there has been no agreement to let the majority of House members be heard by holding a vote on the Dream Act, and I will continue to call on Speaker Paul Ryan to do so.

    “As I’ve said time and again, I look forward to continue working with my Republican colleagues to find real bipartisan solutions to our country’s greatest challenges.”

    Rick Larsen (D-WA, 2nd)

    “I am voting yes on the budget deal. It tackles important issues facing Washington’s working families such as infrastructure, the opioid crisis and ensuring the next generation has job skills they need to enter the workforce.

    “Over the last year at community coffee and town hall events, opioid addiction has emerged as the number one issue people care about. It is easy to see why. More than 3,400 Washingtonians have died from an opioid overdose since 2012. While Snohomish County represents less than ten percent of the state’s population, the county accounted for almost 15 percent of all heroin-related deaths from 2012-2016. This last July, 37 overdoses occurred in the county during one week, ten of which occurred on a single day. There is no excuse for not addressing this issue. The $6 billion provides greater access for folks seeking substance abuse treatment and mental health rehabilitation.

    “Since taking office, I have held 63 roundtables with veterans, where I’ve heard about the needs of the 56,000 veterans who live in Washington’s Second District. The budget will improve conditions at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics, and provide better access to health care for those living far away from VA facilities, as many geographically-challenged veterans in my district know.

    “80,000 homeless patients will still have access to critical health resources through Community Health Centers. Additionally, 5,700 children from Washington state’s Second District will continue to receive comprehensive, high-quality health care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Helping these vulnerable communities makes this a budget worth voting for.

    “You can’t have a big league economy with little league infrastructure – and last year the United States got a D+ when it comes to infrastructure. If my son in college came home with a D+ in his calculus class, he’d be in big trouble. The $20 billion in the budget will pull this grade up, provide repairs to crumbling roads, bridges and highways, and support transit projects, all while putting folks in Washington state to work.

    “If the budget deal passes, over the next several weeks Congress will need to work on the appropriations process. Through this process I will focus on further addressing the opioid epidemic, passing a robust funding bill for aviation-relation construction projects, fixing our broken immigration system and building the next generation workforce so young people have a leg up in an ever-changing global economy.”

    Brenda Lawrence (D-MI, 14th)
    “The White House, the Senate and the House are Republican-led, and we have now completed the second government shutdown in just one month. This is no way to run a government.

    “Our nation is facing great needs on many sides and it is the responsibility of Congress to fund the government so the people receive the much needed support that they are due. While this deal is far from perfect, I’m pleased that bipartisanship was reached on a number of critical programs that Michiganders depend on, including funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Community Health Centers, essential Medicare programs, and foster care services. However, with all the efforts made in the bill, there are still questions left unanswered and our Dreamers simply cannot continue to be left in the cold, unsure of their future and future of their families.

    “It is disappointing that the Speaker of the House refused to address the needs of the Dreamers, valued members of the American family, for a vote on the floor. With the March 5th deadline swiftly approaching, Democrats have fought hard to protect Dreamers and fix our broken immigration system. I will continue to fight for the Dreamers and to hold the Republican leadership accountable for their pledge to prioritize our Dreamers so that they can have the answers they deserve.”

    Barbara Lee (D-CA 13th)

    “Last night, despite controlling the White House, the House and the Senate, Republicans forced the government to shut down for the second time in three weeks. The GOP’s inability to conduct the basic function of government is appalling. Playing politics with the lives of the American people is reckless and irresponsible.

    “Budgets and budget agreements are statements of our morals and values as nation. Last night, Congress could have taken a stand for community health centers, disaster relief, and DREAMers to show that America is still the land of opportunity and aide for all. Instead, this deal prioritized excessive defense spending and gave no assurances that the 800,000 undocumented youth currently living in fear would be protected. I could not in good conscience vote for this agreement. We promised these young people that we would fight for them. The time for talk is over, we simply must pass the Dream Act now.”

    Jason Lewis (R-MN, 2nd)

    “I ran for Congress to get the economy going again by reducing taxes, regulations, deficits and debt. A $300 billion increase in discretionary spending along with hiking the debt ceiling fails on all accounts. There is not a department or agency in the federal government that can’t tighten its belt- no serious observer believes otherwise.

    “As I’ve said so many times, the way to get our fiscal house in order is real ‘shared sacrifice’, where everyone has skin in the game when it comes to budget restraint. Instead, we get more of the same DC spending profligacy- ‘I’ll increase your budget if you increase mine’. We should all remember the words of former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen who famously said, ‘the most significant threat to our national security is our debt.’

    “Congress needs to listen.”

    Michelle Grisham Lujan (D-NM, 1st)

    “We certainly have a need for many important investments outlined in the bill. However, for every problem this bill solves, it creates two more and others still remain completely unaddressed. This will be the fifth continuing resolution in a row, Speaker Ryan still refuses to initiate a fair, bi-partisan process for fixing DACA, and because of the Republican tax scam, this budget blows a massive trillion dollar hole into the national debt.

    “It is clear the American people on every side of the political spectrum have lost their trust and faith in Congress. If Congress continues to fail to fulfill its most basic responsibilities and work in a bi-partisan manner, how can it possibly address complex, long-term problems like the opioid crisis, climate change, immigration, poverty, the national debt, or fix our aging infrastructure? Nobody seems to be steering the wheel of the United States of America and that is leading to chaos, instability, and suffering.

    “I have worked with Democrats, Republicans, senators and even the White House. We have reached important compromises to fix the DACA program, but have gotten no commitment from Speaker Ryan that our bipartisan legislation will get a debate and the vote it deserves.

    “This is yet another example of how Speaker Ryan feels accountable to the most extreme anti-immigration members of his caucus.

    “I cannot vote for temporary agreements that depend on empty promises of compromise down the road.

    “Again, I call on Speaker Ryan and the Republican leadership to work in a productive bipartisan fashion to pass a long-term spending bill that addresses America’s most pressing issues. We can’t afford to continue letting the far-right extremists lead our government from crisis to crisis.”

    Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

    “This budget deal shows the American people exactly how broken our budget and appropriations process is. It does not address our runaway deficits and actually takes major steps backwards in the fight to rein in Washington’s overspending appetite. Our budget process has only worked correctly four times since 1974. We desperately need budget reform. I’m ashamed that we have passed five continuing resolutions since the end of last Fiscal Year in September. This is no way to govern.

    “Today’s passage of the budget deal will do some things that should astonish all Americans. Here are just a few. First, it extends the debt ceiling until March 2019, with no reforms and no change in financial direction. Second, it removes critical spending controls that were put in place back in 2011 that were designed to keep our yearly spending in check and not allow deficit spending to grow by more than $150 billion in a year. And third, it extends several special interest tax breaks to everything from Puerto Rican rum, to Hollywood studios, to racehorses.

    “While I strongly support the budgetary certainty and increased military funding that this bill provides, the long-term negative consequences of the bill are too many. The prevailing theme of debt ceiling negotiations is usually avoiding default, but lost in the conversation is how we got here in the first place, and how we can get out of the cycle of deficit spending. We must address our debt and deficit through cuts to wasteful spending, government reform, and a growing economy. Unfortunately, this bill fails to do any of those things.”

    Senator John McCain (R - AZ)

    “This budget deal finally makes good on our promise to provide for the men and women who so faithfully serve our nation in uniform. It lays the groundwork for appropriating the funding level authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 and provides real growth in fiscal year 2019. Now the Defense Department will have the budget certainty it needs to begin the process of rebuilding the military, restoring readiness, and modernizing our forces—all of which are required to maintain America’s military edge over our adversaries in the era of renewed great power competition outlined in the new National Defense Strategy.”

    Kenny Marchant (R-TX, 24th)

    “This important budget agreement delivers on the promise to rebuild our military, provides disaster relief to Texas communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey, improves Medicare for Texas seniors, cuts government red tape for health care providers and repeals harmful Obamacare IPAB provisions.

    “After the disastrous reductions in national security funding under the Obama Administration, we are finally equipping our armed forces with the tools needed to protect and defend our country. Along with providing for our troops, this legislation also has critical disaster relief funding for Texans whose homes and livelihoods have been crippled by Hurricane Harvey.

    “This agreement included provisions to repeal Obamacare’s ‘death panels,’ known as IPAB, and incorporated legislation I introduced to improve Medicare and untangle health care providers from overregulated paperwork. By cutting government red tape and strengthening the relationship between patients and doctors, these commonsense reforms allow doctors to get back to doing what they do best – serving, treating, and healing our constituents.”

    Tom Marino (R-PA, 10th)
    “Today I voted to keep the federal government open and provide certainty to our military servicemembers and their families. This bill will bring the branches of our armed forces into the 21st Century and give our troops the best equipment available in their efforts to protect our freedoms. While many of my colleagues chose to vote ‘no’ on this bill, I believe that our servicemembers deserve all of the support we can provide.

    “My vote was spurred by Defense Secretary James Mattis’ assessment that the U.S. military faces ‘security vulnerabilities’ because of Congress’s inability to provide long-term funding to our troops and that ‘Today’s congressional action will ensure our military can defend our way of life, preserve the promise of prosperity, and pass on the freedoms you and I enjoy to the next generation.’”. Without a solution, the military would ‘not recruit the 15,000 Army soldiers and 4,000 Air Force airmen required to fill critical manning shortages.’

    “As President Reagan said, the United States must provide peace through strength. This bill will help accomplish that pursuit.”

    Roger Marshall (R-KS, 1st)

    “Today we delivered on our promise to our men and women in uniform, I am proud that this bill finally fully funds our military. This bipartisan budget also addressed disaster relief and recognized the severe natural disasters that Kansas faced this year. Specifically including two bills introduced by Senator Moran and myself that retroactively fix payment limits for livestock producers impacted by wildfires and blizzards. This budget agreement is far from the perfect bill but after reviewing it, I truly believe this deal has wins for Kansans.

    While I continue to have concerns about our national debt and the broken federal budget process, I am pleased that we have reached a two-year budget agreement that puts an end to the vicious cycle of continuing resolutions. In the last decade the federal government has operated under a continuing resolution for a third of the time and has added more than $10 trillion to our national debt. Neither of those is sustainable or responsible. To stop this type of status quo spending, the agreement also establishes a bipartisan committee dedicated to evaluating and fixing our broken budget process.”
  • Cambodia Accountability And Return On Investment Act Introduced in the Senate

    Source: Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D - VT)

    Washington, D.C. - February 10, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) introduced the Cambodia Accountability and Return on Investment (CARI) Act of 2018.

    The CARI Act restricts assistance to the Cambodian government due to actions taken as it relates to regional security, enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, and efforts to protect the rights and responsibilities enshrined in the Cambodian constitution including the immediate release of opposition leader Kem Sokha and jailed journalists and other activists. The legislation requires continued implementation of the visa denial policy imposed in December 2017 until free and fair parliamentary elections have taken place, and provides for the freezing of assets of any individual captured by that policy.

    “Democracy is dead in Cambodia today because the Cambodian government is under the influence and control of China,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. “The Cambodia Accountability and Return on Investment (CARI) Act I introduced with my colleagues builds on the State Department’s forceful response to China’s attempts to colonize that country. To the people of Cambodia: The U.S. continues to stand with you and your aspirations for a country that is firmly rooted in democracy and the rule of law, as envisioned in the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement.”

    “The United States has invested heavily in helping Cambodia build a more peaceful, democratic, and stable nation,” said Senator Dick Durbin. “The current government has squandered every opportunity to improve the lives of its people—focusing instead on maintaining their own grip on power. Dissolving the main opposition party marked the end of democracy in Cambodia and robbed the people of their right to choose their leaders. America must send a message that the cowardly repression of political opposition and civil society is unacceptable and must stop.”

    “This legislation is an appropriate response to Hun Sen's protracted tyranny and unrelenting destruction of democracy in Cambodia,” Senator Ted Cruz said. “Kem Sokha remains imprisoned with the opposition party dismantled. How the United States responds to this authoritarian ploy will carry implications throughout the region. Hun Sen and his patrons in Beijing should not underestimate America's resolve to preserve democracy in Cambodia and Asia.”

    “This legislation sends the right signal that the United States will stand up for democratic principles like free and fair elections and free press and civil society in Cambodia,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “The United States has no interest in seeing our support in Cambodia end with an entrenched and abusive autocratic ruler in power.”

    “The United States, having invested so much in Cambodia’s reconstruction and development, cannot stand idly by as its nascent democratic institutions are systematically dismantled, fundamental freedoms are denied, and the opposition is locked away and silenced,” said Senator Patrick Leahy. “Our legislation sends a message to the Cambodian government that there is a cost to suppressing the rights of the people.”

    The CARI Act also requires U.S. executive directors of each international financial institution to oppose assistance to Cambodia until free and fair elections have taken place. Further, it authorizes counter influence programs to highlight China’s uniquely destructive role in that country during the 1970s, serving as a stark reminder to the Cambodian people that history should not repeat itself.

    H.R. 4771, The Small Bank Holding Company Relief Act

    Source: Mia Love (R-UT, 4th)

    Washington, D.C. - February 10, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Mia Love’s bill to make it easier for families, small businesses, start-ups, and family farms to obtain loans from small financial institutions has passed the House of Representatives.

    H.R. 4771, The Small Bank Holding Company Relief Act eases overregulation on these banks and savings and loans, helping these institutions raise capital so they can make loans in their community.

    Congresswoman Love said: “Smaller banks are the lifeblood of many communities in Utah. They support the credit needs of low and middle income families as well as the small businesses, farmers and entrepreneurs that create jobs.”

    “Sometimes these small banks are the only lending source for many hard working and ambitious people,” Rep. Love added.

    Doug DeFries C.E.O., Bank of Utah said: “Rep. Love's bill will make a big difference to the Bank of Utah, to our customers and the community at large. We are impressed at her ability to show bipartisan leadership to obtain success on a very important issue like this.”

    Len E. Williams, CEO, Bank of American Fork and the People’s Intermountain Bank family: “We are thrilled that Congresswoman Love’s leadership has resulted in bipartisan action bringing real relief to our community. Small banks play such an important role in supporting local businesses, families and individuals in our communities, and this law makes it easier for that to happen.”

    In technical terms, Rep. Love’s bill would raise the consolidated asset threshold under the Federal Reserve’s Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement from $1 billion to $3 billion. The Policy Statement exempts small institutions under the threshold from the Fed’s Tier 1 capital-to-risk weighted assets ratio requirements. The effect of the increased threshold will be to allow more of the smaller bank holding companies to downstream the proceeds of any debt or equity they issue to their banking subsidiaries, helping these institutions make loans and provide services in their communities.

    The bill is cosponsored by Representatives from across the aisle, Representative Josh Gottheimer D-NJ, and Representative Gregory Meeks D-NY who say the bill is an important step toward supporting community-focused institutions.


    Source: Ted Lieu (D-CA, 33rd)

    Washington, D.C. - February 10, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA, 33rd) issued the following statement after the White House declined to release the Democratic House Intelligence Committee memo. This memo was created in response to Chairman Nunes’ memo, which was released last week and failed to include material facts about the FBI’s Russia investigation. Rep. Lieu sits on the House Judiciary committee, which has oversight over the FBI, the Department of Justice and the authorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

    “It’s clear that something about the Democratic memo scares the White House. Perhaps it’s because, instead of cherry picking information like the Nunes memo, this one lays bare what we’ve been saying all along: the FBI probe is credible and should continue without interference.

    This whole memo debacle was manufactured by the GOP to discredit and undermine the Russia investigation. The American public deserves the whole truth and Trump’s actions obscure the truth. I read the memo and an innocent person would have released it.”

    Latta Backs Overhaul Of Congressional Sexual Harassment Policies

    Source: Robert E. Latta (R OH, 5th)

    Washington, D.C. - February 10, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) joined his colleagues in supporting two pieces of legislation to overhaul Congressional sexual harassment policies and change the process of reporting sexual harassment claims under the Congressional Accountability Act. The bill, H.R. 4924, and resolution, H.Res. 724, both passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote.

    The resolution would establish an office of Employee Advocacy that would provide resources to House employees regarding harassment procedures. It also requires every House office to adopt an anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy. Congressman Latta’s office already has established anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies in place.

    H.R. 4924 requires any payments of discrimination and harassment settlements to be paid from the personal funds of the Member for Congress, not from taxpayer money. Previously, members would be able to pay settlements using House legal settlement funds or the Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA). It also ends the requirement that accusers go through mandatory counseling and mediation to bring forward a case.

    “The cases of bad behavior in Congressional offices highlighted over the past few months show just how inadequate Capitol Hill policies are when it comes to discrimination and harassment,” said Latta. “As many in the private sector come to grips with employee harassment, Congress can’t keep its head buried in the sand and keep rules in place that put victims at a distinct disadvantage. The pieces of legislation passed today will overhaul the reporting system, and put in place strong protections for employees.”