Thursday, April 4, 2019

Freedom Partners: U.S.-Mexico Trade Too Critical to Economy to Jeopardize by Closing the Border



by: Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce

Arlington, VA - April 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- In response to reports that the Trump administration is considering closing the U.S.-Mexico border, Freedom Partners urged administration officials to preserve commerce between the two nations.

Freedom Partners Executive Vice President Nathan Nascimento issued the following statement:

“Trade with Mexico and other nations is a big reason why the American economy is as strong as it is today. The flow of goods and people is integral to the larger American economy and central to improving lives and removing barriers to opportunity. Closing down the border would devastate American businesses, families and workers. We urge the administration to support more trade with Mexico, not impose new barriers to it. While immigration reform is long overdue, it’s best addressed by the administration and Congress together – not by punishing Americans.”

Tennessee On the Brink of Becoming First State to Pass Anti-LGBTQ Legislation This Year



by: Freedom for All Americans

Nashville, TN - April 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Tennessee lawmakers advanced two dangerously discriminatory bills this week, both part of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ slate of bills in the nation. The anti-LGBTQ slate of bills includes legislation that would allow businesses and taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and legislation that would undermine the ability of public school districts to provide transgender students with equal protections.

“Tennessee is on the brink of becoming the next North Carolina – and the first state in the nation to pass anti-LGBTQ legislation this year,” said Kasey Suffredini, President of Strategy at Freedom for All Americans. “Tennessee can’t afford to face the economic consequences of passing laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people. The anti-LGBTQ bills advancing in Tennessee are some of the most dangerous in the nation, and we stand with our local partners in opposition to these dangerous attacks on LGBTQ Tennesseans.”

“Year after year, a small group of Tennessee lawmakers appear bound and determined to undermine the rights of LGBTQ people,” said Chris Sanders, executive director of Tennessee Equality Project. “This anti-LGBTQ slate would have catastrophic consequences for our state – and those consequences would hit our young people the hardest. We’ve seen time and again that children pay the price when states pass legislation that allows private child welfare agencies to turn away loving, qualified couples using state funds. All students deserve the same opportunities to participate fully in school activities, including transgender youth. Even with the amendment, HB1274 takes Tennessee down a dangerous road. This slate strikes at the dignity of LGBTQ people in Tennessee and adopting any of these bills would do lasting damage.”

  • Three out of six anti-LGBTQ bills are moving at lightning speed towards Governor Lee’s desk, who has indicated support for at least one of the proposals so far.

  • On Monday, the Tennessee House approved HB 836, which would allow taxpayer-funded child welfare services to discriminate against LGBTQ people and people of minority faiths, among others. Its Senate companion, SB 1304, is expected to be heard next week.

  • The Tennessee House Civil Justice Subcommittee also passed HB 1274 on Monday, which would encourage school districts to pass discriminatory anti-transgender restroom policies and requiring the Attorney General to pay all legal costs to defend theses policies in court, even as amended.

  • A third bill (HB 563) has already passed the House floor and would prevent local governments from providing business incentives to companies on the basis of their internal policies, such as LGBTQ-inclusive antidiscrimination protections.

  • Free Press Action Hails Committee Passage of the Save the Internet Act as Landmark Net Neutrality Bill Advances to House Floor



    by: Free Press

    Washington, D.C. - April 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- On Wednesday, the House Energy & Commerce Committee passed the Save the Internet Act of 2019 (H.R. 1644) out of committee with a 30-22 vote. The legislation, which would restore the FCC’s strong Net Neutrality rules and Title II legal framework for broadband, is expected to move to the House floor, where it could receive a vote as early as next week.

    Introduced in early March, the legislation had already drawn the support of 187 sponsors in the House by the time of today’s markup. It would reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order.

    Free Press Action Government Relations Director Sandra Fulton made the following statement:

    “The Energy and Commerce Committee has responded to the overwhelming public support for strong Net Neutrality protections. It’s now the full House’s turn to pass the Save the Internet Act and take the next step toward restoring the Net Neutrality protections the public demands.

    “Support for the Save the Internet Act is growing every day, and it’s easy to see why. People need the open internet to connect with loved ones, search for jobs, learn, and fight for justice. Without Net Neutrality rules and FCC oversight grounded on the strong legal foundation of Title II, our ability to seek and share information is in jeopardy.

    “People are calling on lawmakers in huge numbers to bring back effective open-internet rules to safeguard their online civil rights. Such protections are exactly what this bill delivers. It takes a light-touch approach to restoring the FCC’s Title II authority over broadband internet-access providers.

    “When those rules were in place from 2015 to 2017, they did nothing to prevent such companies from investing in deployment and improving services and speeds while recording healthy profits. The actual numbers tell the story. Don’t believe anyone in the pocket of the phone and cable lobby who says otherwise.

    “Companies like AT&T and Comcast, of course, don’t care about telling the truth or why Net Neutrality is so popular. Industry lobbyists are resorting to their usual tricks to torpedo this bill, hiring an army of lobbyists, lawyers and PR flacks to spread lies about Title II. Today’s vote demonstrates that people in and out of Congress aren’t buying it anymore.

    “Efforts to paint this legislation as partisan ignore public polling, which shows that overwhelming majorities of Democratic and Republican voters oppose the Trump FCC’s repeal of Title II Net Neutrality safeguards, and support passing this bill to restore those good rules.

    “We thank the committee majority for rejecting any industry-friendly amendments that might have truly undermined this legislation, and we call on lawmakers to keep listening to their constituents and take this bill to the House floor for a vote as soon as possible.”

    FAIR: New Report Reveals How the Southern Poverty Law Center Scams the Media



    by: Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR US)

    Washington, D.C. - April 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Last month, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) imploded. Its founder, Morris Dees, was fired for “workplace misconduct.” Its president, Richard Cohen, and its legal director, Rhonda Brownstein, were forced to resign. Numerous current and former staffers publicly accused the SPLC of institutional racism and ignoring widespread sexual harassment.

    To anyone who has followed the SPLC, these developments were not surprising. A new report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) details a three-decade record of private and public misconduct on the part of the SPLC. A Journalist’s Guide to Understanding the Tactics of the SPLC examines dozens of investigative reports about the group over the past 30 years. These reports, carried out by highly respected journalists and scholars from across the political spectrum, all reach the same conclusions:

  • The SPLC falsely and maliciously labels political opponents as “hate groups.”
  • The SPLC uses these designations to raise massive amounts of money, while doing little to combat the “hate” they claim to be fighting.
  • The SPLC leadership has systematically discriminated against minority and women employees, including subjecting them to demeaning behavior.

  • “Ironically, even as journalists from news outlets as diverse as The Nation and National Review have detailed decades of lies and unethical behavior on the part of the SPLC, others in the media have continued to serve as enablers for this thoroughly discredited organization,” stated Dan Stein, president of FAIR. “As a respected editor of a philanthropy watchdog asked, ‘Why do so many reporters cite the SPLC blacklist as if it were some kind of neutral Consumer Reports guide to what’s intolerable in cultural advocacy?’”

    And yet, many media outlets continue to treat the SPLC as an objective arbiter of those whose views are fit to be part of important social and political policy debates. “Reporters have an ethical obligation to make a good faith effort to determine if third party accusations have merit and to determine the motives of the accusers. Many have flatly failed to uphold the ethical canons of their profession,” Stein charged.

    A Journalist’s Guide to Understanding the Tactics of the SPLC is available here. The publication includes hyperlinks to dozens of source articles and reports examining various aspects of the SPLC’s operations.




    by: Faith and Freedom Coalition

    Washington, D.C. - April 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Faith & Freedom Coalition Executive Director Timothy Head released the following statement in response to the discharge petition filed in the U.S. House of Representatives to force a floor vote on the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act.

    “It is unconscionable that the Democratic leadership in the U.S House will not allow a vote on legislation to protect infants from an excruciating death without any medical care or comfort merely because they dared to survive a botched abortion. Once a baby is born, both sides of the political aisle should be able to agree without argument that it is a heinous and criminal act to withhold medical care to a newborn baby. But, unfortunately, House conservatives are having to force Democrats to vote whether or not to protect the most innocent human life.”

    President Proposes to Close the U.S. – Mexico Border


    by: Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX, 7th)

    Washington, D.C. - April 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) released the following statement concerning President Trump’s proposal to close the United States – Mexico border:

    “Closing the United States-Mexico border is not a solution — it is a problem,” said Rep. Fletcher. “In Texas alone, trade with Mexico represents an estimated $180 billion each year—and more than a third of Texas’ exports. And it’s not just Texas. Closing the border will negatively affect large sectors of the American economy. While we need to address border security and immigration matters, closing the border is simply not a responsible way to address these important issues.”

    Congresswoman Fletcher serves as co-chair of the Trade Task Force in the New Democrat Coalition.

    Fleischmann on Border Crisis



    by: Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN, 3rd)

    Washington, D.C. - April 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03) issued the following statement in response to the crisis at the southern border:

    “I recently visited the southwest border and clearly observed a crisis situation. In the past week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen – as well as President Obama’s former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson – agreed the crisis has rapidly escalated to an unprecedented level.

    “The core of our immigration crisis, stemming from our broken asylum laws, has resulted in an overwhelming surge of migrant caravans, unaccompanied minors, and family units. In 2018, Border Patrol apprehension of family units surpassed 100,000. That is a sharp contrast from the previous status quo of single males that migrated across the southern border. In response to the surge of family units, I advocated for additional ICE detention beds and fought to ensure an 18% increase in the number of detention beds was included in February’s conference committee report. However, it is painfully clear we must revisit this topic of discussion and respond to worsening conditions and inundated facilities.

    “The way to effectively and honestly address the border crisis is for my colleagues from across the aisle to heed the remarks from Former DHS Secretary Johnson, who did not mince words when responding to the apprehension of over 4,000 migrants in a single day. We are a country of law and order, but our broken immigration system is crippling the ability of our border patrol personnel to enforce the rule of law. Congress must work with the Administration to fix our broken immigration system and secure our sovereignty.”

    Finkenauer Votes to Protect Affordable Care Act

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    by: Abby Finkenauer (D-IO, 1st)

    Washington, D.C. - April 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) voted in favor of H. Res. 271, a Resolution Condemning the Trump Administration’s Legal Campaign to Take Away Americans’ Health Care.

    The Trump Administration announced last week that it would not defend any part of the Affordable Care Act after a Texas judge struck down the entirety of the law. This would jeopardize coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, re-open the prescription drug donut hole, and prevent young adults from staying on their parents health insurance until they are 26. Over 130 million Americans have pre-existing conditions, including the 1,290,000 Iowans.

    The Administration's decision to not defend the ACA follows its proposed $845 billion in cuts to Medicare and $241 billion in cuts to Medicaid.

    Finkenauer co-sponsored the resolution and joined Iowa Democrats in sending a letter to the Justice Department calling on it protect the Affordable Care Act.

    “Iowans can’t afford another attack on their health and well-being,” said Congresswoman Finkenauer. “This would return people with heart disease and diabetes and other pre-existing conditions to a time when paying for the medicine they need means bankruptcy. Instead of undermining health care, we need to focus on lowering prescription drug prices, improving Medicare for our seniors, and expanding tax credits to make health care more affordable for middle class families, while working towards adding competition into the marketplace to deal with skyrocketing premiums.”

    Senate Debate Rule Change


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    by: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

    Washington, D.C. - April 4, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement on the Republican Senate rule change to reduce post-cloture debate on many nominees from 30 hours to two hours:

    “Changing the rules is not only unnecessary, but also is dangerous, especially when we are talking about lifetime appointments. Further, given this administration’s failure to properly vet its own nominees, the Senate should not restrict critical vetting and due diligence.

    There is simply no need to limit debate on President Trump’s judicial nominees. In fact, President Trump’s judicial nominees have been confirmed at a record pace.

    Through his first two years in office, President Trump had more circuit court nominees confirmed than any other President had at the same point in their tenure – 30 total. And that is on top of two Supreme Court Justices and 53 district court judges.

    Further, the current administration’s circuit court nominees have been confirmed nearly twice as fast as President Obama’s – 256 days for President Obama’s nominees versus 139 days for President Trump’s nominees.

    The rules change is also unnecessary because Senate Democrats are in no way obstructing confirmations. Senate Democrats have not required cloture votes on more than half of President Trump’s district court nominees.

    On average, the Senate has used only three hours of floor time for debate on President Trump’s district court nominees.

    In addition, a higher percentage of President Trump’s district court nominees have been confirmed by voice vote as compared to President Obama’s district court nominees – 49 percent versus 35 percent. In other words, Senate Democrats have not required the majority to hold roll call votes on nearly half of President Trump’s nominees to the federal district courts.

    Finally, Democrats have worked with the Trump administration to identify qualified judicial nominees.

    For example, Delaware’s two Democratic Senators – Senators Carper and Coons – worked with the White House to identify two qualified nominees to be judges on the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.

    And Senators Durbin and Duckworth of Illinois worked with this administration to identify two highly qualified nominees to be judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Both of those nominees were confirmed unanimously.

    In addition, we are right now in post-cloture time on the nomination of Roy Altman to the Southern District of Florida. Several Democrats voted for Mr. Altman in committee, and Democrats have not demanded a full 30 hours of debate time on Mr. Altman’s nomination.

    Despite all of this, Republicans are nevertheless breaking the rules and pushing the Senate closer to a body that is governed simply by the whim of the majority.

    All of this leads to an unmistakable conclusion – shortening debate time is unnecessary. It is a response to a non-existent problem, and it is simply a power grab meant to stack the courts at an even faster rate.

    It is also important to stress why it is so dangerous to allow the Trump administration to stack the courts in this way, without adequate debate time.

    We have seen this administration fill lifetime positions with young, inexperienced nominees who are often outside the legal mainstream. And we have seen them try to do this without properly vetting those same nominees, as in the case of Brett Talley, who failed to disclose to the Judiciary Committee nearly 15,000 online comments, including one in which he defended the founder of the KKK.

    The Senate needs sufficient time to scrutinize the records of these nominees. Nominees like Matthew Kacsmaryk and Patrick Wyrick, who have led efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

    Nominees like Brian Buescher, who has argued that states should go after women’s reproductive rights “bit by bit.”

    And nominees like Wendy Vitter, who refused to acknowledge that Brown v. Board was correctly decided and who falsely claimed there is a connection between the use of contraceptive pills and the incidence of cancer.

    Two hours is simply not enough time to scrutinize these nominees’ records, especially when so many of this administration’s judicial nominees fail to disclose materials to the Judiciary Committee.

    In conclusion, Mr. President, all Senators – and not just those on the Judiciary Committee – need adequate time to review the records of these judicial nominees, who, if confirmed, will serve for life.

    All Senators need adequate time to make an informed decision about whether these nominees are qualified to decide the fate of thousands of people’s lives. After all, the American people deserve to know that if they find themselves in a federal court, they will have an impartial, qualified, mainstream jurist who has earned the right to sit on the bench.

    This decision to break the rules and reduce debate time on judicial nominees not only harms the institution of the Senate, but also harms the federal judiciary.”