Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Ranching Industry Praises Department of Interior After Agency Reissues Hammond Ranches' Grazing Permit

Washington, D.C. - January 29, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Public Lands Council (PLC) President Bob Skinner and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President Kevin Kester today issued the following statement in response to the reissuance of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grazing permits to Hammond Ranches:

"In light of a full and unconditional presidential pardon, the reissuance of the Hammond Ranches' grazing permits is the final step in righting the egregious injustices the Hammonds faced. This is the culmination of years of effort on behalf of this industry to restore a family's livelihood. We speak on behalf of the livestock producers nationwide in saying thank you to Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and his team who worked to correct the hardships this family faced."

Additionally, Ethan Lane, Senior Executive Director of PLC and NCBA Federal Lands, issued the following statement on behalf of Hammond Ranches:

"The Hammonds have asked me to convey their appreciation to Acting Secretary Bernhardt and the Bureau of Land Management for reissuing their grazing permits. They are looking forward to digging into the specifics of the reinstatement and, finally, getting back to the business of ranching."


In 2012, Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond were convicted of felony arson and sentenced to five years imprisonment under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. This conviction was the result of two routine, back-burn fires started on their private property spreading to small parcels of adjacent federal land. On July 10, 2018, President Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency for both men. However, the initial conviction resulted in the loss of Hammond Ranches' BLM grazing permits. Today, the Department of the Interior notified Hammond Ranches that their grazing permits had been reinstated.

NY Law Is Infanticide

Albany, NY - January 29, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The so-called “Reproductive Health Act,” recently signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, authorizes the murder of unborn babies up to the point of birth for any reason and revokes medical care for babies who are born alive after a failed abortion. This new law, which also applies to nonresidents who come to New York for an abortion, denies any legal protection or rights for an unborn child.

When any abortion law uses the word “health” in addition to “life,” and the definition of “health” is not clearly specified, it is likely relying on the broad definition of “health” in the 1973 Doe v. Bolton opinion. The New York law does not define the word “health” but states:

“A health care practitioner licensed, certified, or authorized under title eight of the education law, acting within his or her lawful scope of practice, may perform an abortion when, according to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case: the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” (emphasis added).

Under this law, the mother can obtain an abortion for any reason using the broad application of the word “health.” Under Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe v. Wade, the word “health” includes emotional, psychological, familial, situational, and financial considerations.

While many states have laws which require appropriate medical care and treatment for babies who are born alive after a failed abortion, the state of New York repealed that section of the public health law. Now the same medical personnel who would work to save a preemie, need not do anything for a baby the same age who survived an abortion.

This new law also seeks to deny any recognition or protection for human beings before birth under any circumstances. Until now, New York had been one of 38 states whose homicide statute could apply before birth. The law defined homicide as including “conduct which causes the death of...an unborn child” after 24 weeks “under circumstances constituting” existing categories of homicide. The so-called “Reproductive Health Act” repealed that language so that deliberately causing the death of a child whose mother never even considered abortion is no crime at all.

“A child can be tortured and killed seconds before it is born in New York simply because it is seen as an ‘inconvenience’ to some and a money-maker for others,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “If the child happens to be born alive, it can now be left to suffer and die. New York has dehumanized the child in the womb, including those born alive after a failed abortion. This is infanticide. This is nothing to celebrate. This is a crime against humanity, and New York wants to become the world sanctuary for abortions by allowing even nonresidents to come and kill their babies,” said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics. Liberty Counsel provides broadcast quality TV interviews via Hi-Def Skype and LTN at no cost.

Bill to Withhold Pay from Congress, POTUS During Shutdowns

Washington, D.C. - January 29, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Congressmen Jared Golden (ME-02), joined by Reps. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02) and Max Rose (NY-11), introduced a bipartisan bill today to withhold pay from members of Congress, the President, and the Vice President during a government shutdown. The bipartisan group is introducing their legislation, the Solidarity in Salary Act of 2019, to prevent and limit the duration of future shutdowns and ensure that lawmakers feel the harm they cause federal employees when they fail to fund the government.

“Federal workers don’t get paid during a government shutdown. Neither should politicians,” said Golden. “That’s just common sense. Our bill, the Solidarity in Salary Act withholds paychecks from the members of Congress, the President, and the Vice President during a shutdown. This legislation will help prevent the American people from being political pawns for party leaders and help return sanity to the task of funding the government. I thank Representatives Crenshaw and Rose for joining me to offer this important legislation.”

“Federal employees should never have to carry the burden caused by a dysfunctional government; that’s why I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation,” said Crenshaw. “When a Congressional impasse causes federal employees to go unpaid, Members of Congress should have to withhold their pay. We should have to feel the very real effects of a shutdown, just as our fellow federal employees are forced to do.”

“Only in a town as broken as Washington do you still get paid when you don’t do your job,” said Rose. “That’s wrong, and it’s past time to make it right.”

The Solidarity in Salary Act of 2019 places the daily pay of the president, vice president, and members of Congress in escrow for each day a government shutdown was in effect. Once the government is reopened, the withheld pay is released.

View text of the bill here.

Bill to Curb Government Corruption

Washington, D.C. - January 29, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Ruben Gallego, Congressman Ted W. Lieu, Congressman David Cicilline, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo announced they are introducing the Restoring the Public Trust Act of 2019. The bill package incorporates a number of pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening ethical standards in the federal government to prevent government corruption and ensure accountability for the American public.

Upon introduction, the Members said:

“Trump and his administration have made a mockery of government ethics, demonstrating the weak spots in our current laws. He has normalized unethical behavior in a way that was once unthinkable, proving that we need stronger ethics laws. The damage that Trump has done to the public’s confidence in its government won’t be easy to fix but this bill ensures that those gaping holes in our anticorruption and ethics laws are addressed. In doing so, we will course correct our government to ensure it is working for the people, which is a key Democratic priority this Congress. The Restoring the Public Trust Act helps us do the critical work of rebuilding the public’s faith in government.”

The Restoring the Public Trust Act is endorsed By: American Oversight; Campaign for Accountability, Common Cause and Public Citizen.

The bill will include the following provisions:

TITLE I: Draining the Swamp

The SWAMP Act: The President must reimburse the Treasury Department for taxpayer dollars spent at properties in which he has a financial stake, like Mar-a-Lago.

The SWAMP FLYERS Act: Prohibits the use of federal funds for the official travel of a senior political appointee on a non-commercial, private, or chartered flight unless they certify – under penalty of perjury – that no alternative flight was available.

The E. Scott Pruitt Accountability for Government Officials Act:
Creates a federal criminal penalty for use of public office for private gain, endorsement of products, or aiding family and friends for corrupt purposes.

CORRUPT Act: The head of each agency must submit to the Office of Government Ethics a report on the amount expended by that agency to any property owned by the President or his family.

RIGGED Act: Makes the federal nepotism laws applicable to the Executive Office of the President.

DRAIN the Swamp Act: The head of each agency must submit to the Comptroller General an assessment of any regulatory conflict of interest pertaining to the President and various senior advisors that might arise from an agency’s rule.

TITLE II: Rooting Out Conflicts of Interest

CLEARANCES Act (COMMONSENSE LEGISLATION ENSURING ACCOUNTABILITY BY REPORTING ACCESS OF NON-CLEARED EMPLOYEES TO SECRETS): The White House must report to Congress when it grants a security clearance in contravention of an unfavorable clearance recommendation, in part to prevent dangerous and heavily indebted individuals from entering the most sensitive positions in government.

Blind Trusts: Requires members of the President’s Cabinet and certain senior White House advisors to place stocks, bonds, commodities futures, other forms of securities in a blind trust during their tenure.

Preventing domestic emoluments: Prohibits any business interest owned in whole or in part by the President or Vice President, his/her spouse, or immediate family member from doing business with the federal government.

Presidential Tax Transparency Act: Requires all candidates for President to release their tax returns for the past three years.

No more shadow White House meetings: Require the White House to maintain a publicly accessible website that includes data on visitor logs.

TITLE III: Strengthening Our Inspectors General

Protecting our inspectors general: Requires notification to Congress of a president’s decision to place an agency inspector general – whose job is to root out waste, fraud, and corruption – on leave or to change their status in any way.

Filling empty inspector general positions:
Requires the President report to Congress if he or she fails to nominate an Inspector General for a given agency, including a target date for making a formal recommendation.

Gallagher Introduces the Serve the People, Not the Swamp Act

Washington, D.C. - January 29, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI, 8th) introduced H.R. 765, the “Serve the People, Not the Swamp Act”, a collection of common-sense Congressional reforms he has supported since his first term in office. The bill would prevent Congress from going into recess without first adopting a balanced federal budget; establish a 5-year ban on lobbying for Members of Congress and high-ranking executive branch officials; and terminate taxpayer-funded pensions for Members of Congress. Click here to read the bill.

Gallagher released the following statement after introducing the bill:

“We need our representatives to get back to viewing their time in Congress as a deployment, not as a path to a cushy lobbying job with a special pension. Members of Congress shouldn’t be getting retirement deals funded by taxpayers, and we shouldn’t be leaving town for weeks at a time when we haven’t even completed Congress’s most basic task of passing a budget each year. These ideas haven’t made me popular in D.C., but I didn’t run for Congress to be popular. I ran to fix problems and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: We’re One State Away From the Equal Rights Amendment

Washington, D.C. - January 29, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the House floor, urging passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to guarantee legal gender equality for women and men under the U.S. Constitution.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:

“It's been nearly 100 years since women fought for and won the right to vote. Yet, we still do not have equal rights and protection under the United States Constitution. There are too many examples in our everyday lives where women still do not get equal pay for equal work and where we still face discrimination simply for being a woman.

“In 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in Congress to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, and was reintroduced every session until it finally passed in 1972. However, because of an arbitrary deadline in 1982, by that time, only 35 states out of the required 38 had ratified the amendment. In the past two years, we've inched forward with successful votes in Nevada and Illinois, and now we're just one state away from finally passing the Equal Rights Amendment. This is not about politics. It's about equality. It's about humanity. It's long overdue that we pass the Equal Rights Amendment and include equality between men and women in the United States Constitution.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has fought for equal treatment and opportunity for all Americans throughout her time in Congress. She has cosponsored a joint resolution that will remove the arbitrary deadline for state ratification and allow for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. She has also cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act to strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and guarantee that women can challenge pay discrimination and hold employers accountable.

Related News:

Hastings’ Statement on the Introduction of the Paycheck Fairness Act

The Cost of Shutdown

Washington, D.C. - January 29, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX, 15th) issued the following statement following a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that the Trump Shutdown cost the U.S. economy $11 billion from Q4 of 2018 to Q1 to 2019. The report states that $3 billion was lost permanently.

“Financial uncertainty for federal employees, economic turmoil in the markets, and a silencing of critical government services are unacceptable – a far cry from anything resembling ‘security.’

“This week, as thousands of federal workers return to work, many do so with the burden of missing paychecks, credit risks, and thousands of unread e-mails, among other serious issues. The 15th District of Texas holds one of the highest employment rates of federal workers in the nation. This hit home. This hit my constituents, friends, neighbors, and my own community.

“President Trump and Congressional Republicans must join Democrats, as public servants – held accountable by oath, to enact legislation that provides responsible government funding before the February 15 deadline. The American people and economy cannot afford another government shutdown.”

The Democrats could have easily kept the government open. All they had to do was give Trump the 3 Billion that the pending shutdown was gonna cost. Now, no one gets it. Another government shutdown would have completely paid for the Wall. So, it's not on Trump. It's on the Democrats. The 3 Billion could have gone toward paying American workers to build the wall, ultimately going into the economy. Instead, Democrats want to play hardball.