Thursday, March 28, 2019

Bicameral Legislation To Protect Taxpayer Dollars In Government Contracting

by: Ted Bud (R-NC, 13th)

Washington, D.C. - March 28, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Representative Ted Budd (NC-13) and Francis Rooney (FL-19) and Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and David Perdue (R-GA) released the following statements after introducing the Fair and Open Competition Act, which would lower government construction costs by increasing competition and opportunities for contractors to bid on government work. The bill would ensure that the federal government cannot mandate project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal projects, thereby increasing competition and lowering construction costs for taxpayers.

When the government mandates that a PLA is used on a federal or federally assisted construction project, workers that chose not to join a union, and open shop contractors, are essentially prevented from working on that project. In America, over 86% of the private construction workforce does not belong to a union. In Indiana, 72.7% of the private construction workforce has chosen not to join a union. In North Carolina, 99.7% of the private construction workforce has chosen not to join a union . When PLAs are mandated by government entities, all of those nonunion workers are essentially prevented from working on a project.

“As someone who has run a business, I know how important it is to have fair and open competition,” said Rep. Budd. “Government-mandated PLAs are not fair, and it’s taxpayers who take the hit. For the sake of our country and our taxpaying constituents, we should be committed to cost-effective construction projects.”

“PLA’s discourage non-union competition for federal construction projects. As a lifelong businessman, I believe that open competition is best for the market and all businesses should have the opportunity to compete for federal construction projects,” said Rep. Rooney. “That’s why I introduced the Fair and Open Competition Act- to stop federal agencies from discriminating against companies that don’t engage in PLA’s. This will ensure competition for the best price and save taxpayer dollars.”

“With a majority of America’s private construction workers not a part of a union, government-mandated PLAs are inherently unfair. Being raised by a family of small business owners and workers, I understand the economic value of open competition in the workforce,” said Senator Young. “The Fair and Open Competition Act is a simple solution that will lower costs for taxpayers and restore competition in the construction industry.”
“As a business guy, I know how harmful onerous government regulations are for a company’s competitiveness,” said Senator Perdue. “The Obama Administration’s project labor agreement mandate gave unionized construction companies an unfair advantage in competing for federal contracts. We need to unwind this burdensome rule and give the decision-making power back to the markets. This will level the playing field for small businesses, rein in construction costs, and ultimately save taxpayer dollars.”

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

Bill to Help Americans Save for Retirement Introduced

by: Vern Buchanan (R-FL, 16th)

Washington, D.C. - March 28, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressmen Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) has reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to help Americans save for retirement.

“Unfortunately, too many hardworking Americans enter retirement without adequate savings,” Buchanan said. “It is imperative we provide as many resources as possible to help folks prepare for their golden years and invest in their future.”

According to USA Today, the average American has less than $4,000 in savings while nearly 60 percent of adults have less than $1,000 to their names.

The Retirement Security for American Workers Act would make it easier and less costly for small businesses to set up and offer retirement benefits to employees. Specifically, the legislation allows businesses join together in “multiple employer plans” (MEPs) to share the administrative burden and costs of offering a retirement plan.

Incredibly, up to 35 percent of private-sector workers over the age of 22 work for a company that doesn’t offer a retirement plan, while over 40 percent of millennials didn't have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Millions of American employees stand to benefit from expanding the availability of workplace retirement plans. In fact, the AARP has found that workers are 15 times more likely to save when they have access to a retirement plan.

“The American people need improved access to retirement savings,” Buchanan continued. “Congress should approve this bipartisan legislation and help retirees reach a stronger state of financial stability.”

Buchanan represents over 220,000 Social Security recipients in the nation’s eighth-oldest congressional district.

Buchanan and Kind previously introduced the bill in the 114th and 115th Congresses.

VA COST SAVINGS Enhancement Act Introduced

by: Mike Bost (R-IL, 12th)

Washington, D.C. - March 28, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Representative Mike Bost (R-IL, 12th) has introduced the bipartisan VA COST SAVINGS Enhancement Act, which will save the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) tens of millions of dollars annually and improve care for our veterans. The legislation requires the VA to install on-site medical waste treatment systems in VA facilities where it is determined this will result in a cost-savings within 5 years.

“I completely understand that most folks probably don’t think too much about medical waste treatment systems,” said Bost. “I didn’t either. That was until I saw the tens of millions of dollars being spent on the VA’s generally inefficient process of medical waste disposal. This bipartisan legislation is a straightforward, commonsense solution that embraces proven technology that will free up millions of dollars for the VA to better serve our veterans.”


In 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported to Congress that on-site medical waste treatment at individual VA facilities may cost half as much as sending waste off-site to treatment locations. However, despite the efficacy of such a program, little implementation has ever been initiated.

Current waste treatment technologies have demonstrated to be safer, more efficient, more cost-effective, and more environmentally friendly compared to previous technologies. In addition, onsite disposal reduces hazards associated with storing waste on-site and transporting it through communities to regional disposal centers. Implementing this technology will align the VA with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) best practices for infection control, and VA hospitals will no longer truck millions of pounds of hazardous waste on our roads.

Bipartisan Bill to Fight Ocean Acidification Introduced

by: Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR, 1st)

Washington, D.C. - March 28, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-3), and Don Young (AK-AL), reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help fight ocean acidification. The bill, entitled the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, would allow federal agencies to use existing funds to conduct prize competitions to increase the ability to research, monitor, and manage ocean acidification and its impacts.

“Coastal communities in Oregon and across the country are already facing the devastating effects of ocean acidification, and we must strengthen our approach,” said Rep. Bonamici. “The Ocean Acidification Innovation Act’s prize competition will encourage collaboration and spur innovative strategies to mitigate and adapt to ocean acidification. This will help the communities, environments, and industries that rely on healthy oceans and are facing the harsh realities of rising carbon emissions.”

“We know that changing ocean chemistry threatens entire livelihoods and industries in our state. So, this bipartisan bill is really about jobs,” said Rep. Kilmer. “There are generations of folks in our coastal communities who have worked in fishing and shellfish growing, but that’s endangered if we don’t maintain a healthy Pacific Ocean. This bill creates a strong incentive for experts to focus on developing innovative solutions to this serious challenge.”

“Our coastal communities depend on a healthy shellfish and fishing industry,” said Rep. Herrera Beutler. “Ocean acidification threatens those jobs and the health of the ocean’s ecosystem, which is why we’re offering this bipartisan bill that will help us better understand the problem and find solutions.”

“Healthy oceans and waterways are essential to maintaining strong coastal communities and providing for a robust marine economy,” said Rep. Young. “Ocean acidification is an ongoing threat that must be addressed head-on. This bill helps our American innovators develop new tools for tackling this pressing issue. Alaska’s maritime jobs depend on healthy oceans, and I will keep working with my friends on both sides of the aisle in the fight against ocean acidification.”

Ocean acidification is a rising threat to coastal communities throughout the Pacific Northwest and growing evidence suggests that acidic ocean conditions harm the ability of many marine organisms to generate shells. These marine organisms, which include oysters, mussels, and pteropods, are a key part of the food chain for salmon, herring, and other fish. In addition, scientists at the University of Washington recently discovered that ocean acidification also threatens the $220 million Dungeness crab fishery, raising serious concerns about future implications for species and ecosystems in the region.

The legislation was created in collaboration with key stakeholders, including the XPRIZE Foundation, an innovative non-profit organization that creates public competitions designed to encourage increased investment in solutions to major societal problems. For example, the Ansari XPRIZE awarded for personal spaceflight technology helped launch a brand-new $2 billion private space industry.

Federal agencies have increasingly viewed prize competitions as a means of maximizing the return on taxpayer dollars, leveraging prizes to attract more resources to tackle difficult scientific challenges.

Bonamici and Young co-chair the House Oceans Caucus, a bipartisan group of House members committed to taking action to protect the health and future of our oceans. The Caucus is focused on environmental stressors (including ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, and hypoxia); marine debris; ocean data and monitoring; coastal resiliency; and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Bonamici also introduced the bipartisan Coastal and Ocean Acidification Stressors and Threats (COAST) Research Act in February. The COAST Research Act will strengthen federal investments in research and monitoring of changing ocean conditions.

Democrats Vote to Protect Transgender Troops

by: Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Delaware at Large)

Washington, D.C. - March 28, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL) issued the following statement voting protect transgender members of our armed forces.

“No one with the strength and determination to serve in our military should ever be turned away because of who they are. Transgender service members serve with distinction and are prepared to make the sacrifice to our nation. The Trump Administration’s ban on transgender individuals serving in uniform is misguided, discriminatory, and contrary to our values. Despite their honorable commitment, this ban demeans their service and must be ended,” said Congresswoman Blunt Rochester. “By voting to end this ban, we met prejudice with love and intolerance with support. Today, we took an important step forward in fighting for equality, protecting the dignity of our military, and affirming the values that our country stands for.”

See Also:

Brooks Votes Against Taxpayer Funding for Gender Reassignment Surgery

Congressman Blumenauer Introduces Bill to Bolster Alzheimer’s Care Planning

by: Earl Blumenauer (D-OR, 3rd)

Washington, D.C. - March 28, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair of the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus, along with several members of Congress, has introduced H.R. 1873, the Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act. This bipartisan legislation that would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to inform healthcare providers about care planning benefits available through Medicare. The bill would also require HHS to identify other barriers individuals may be facing in accessing care planning.

“Alzheimer’s is the signature disease of boomers, and it’s a disease that touches everybody,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer. “Prevention, early intervention, and care planning with health care providers are key to cutting in half the suffering, the cost, and the trauma that individuals and their families go through every day. The Improving HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act will result in better treatment outcomes and help families to better face the challenges that an Alzheimer’s diagnosis brings.”

Congressman Blumenauer was one of the lead Democrats on the HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act in the 114th Congress, a law that improves Medicare coverage by creating a benefit for comprehensive care planning services following a dementia diagnosis. Unfortunately, many health care providers remain unaware that this benefit is available. As a result, many eligible Medicare beneficiaries are not receiving the assistance that a comprehensive care planning visit can provide. This legislation will increase access to this vital benefit by ensuring more providers are informed and ready to offer it.

Congressman Blumenauer Leads a Letter to FDA in Support of Plant-Based Food Products

by: Earl Blumenauer (D-OR, 3rd)

Portland, OR - March 28, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), along with several members of Congress, wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in support of plant-based alternative food products like almond milk and coconut butter. The lawmakers wrote to urge FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and the agency to preserve use of terms like “milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter” in product labels of plant-based alternatives.

“American consumers seek these [plant-based] alternatives for many reasons, including allergies or intolerance to dairy, nutritional needs, religious and ethical beliefs, sustainability, and, quite often, taste preference,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “To prevent these food products from including the names of dairy foods in their labels would only lead to confusion in the marketplace.”

“We applaud Congressman Blumenauer and his colleagues in the House for advocating for food innovation by asking the FDA to not make unnecessary and harmful labeling changes,” said Michele Simon, Executive Director of the Plant Based Food Association. “The FDA’s proposed labeling changes would undermine our members’ ability to communicate to consumers who are seeking out healthier and more sustainable plant-based options.”

In 2018, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy (NIS) in a speech to the National Food Policy Conference. As part of its strategy, the FDA is considering approaches to modernize “standards of identity,” which are regulations that set forward requirements for the content and sometimes the methods used to produce certain foods.

Click here to read the letter.


by: Sanford D. Bishop, Jr (D-GA, 2nd)

Washington, D.C. - March 28, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr (D-GA, 2nd) issued the following statement after the House approved H.R. 7, 242 to 187. The Paycheck Fairness Act introduced by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), will strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and close loopholes that have allowed many employers to avoid responsibility for discriminatory pay:

“Pay discrimination in the workplace is real. The Paycheck Fairness Act is an important step toward ending gender-based wage discrimination and ensuring all women receive equal pay for equal work. The impact of the wage gap grows throughout a woman’s career. Based on today’s wage gap, a woman who worked full-time, year-round would typically lose $406,760 over a 40-year career. This woman would have to work nearly ten years longer than her male counterpart to make up this lifetime wage gap.

"The wage gap is even larger for women of color: African-American women on average earn only 61 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. When women bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families – groceries, rent, child care, and doctors’ visits. It also means they have far less savings for retirement. I was proud to support this legislation and I urge my Senate colleagues to do the same.”

See also:

Bonamici Praises Passage of Paycheck Fairness Act