Wednesday, April 10, 2019


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by: David Kustoff (R-TN, 8th)

Washington, D.C. - April 10, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Representative David Kustoff (TN-08) issued the following statement following the Trump Administration’s decision to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including its Qods Force, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

“This action taken by President Trump sends a clear message that the United States will not do business with a country that terrorizes people in and outside its borders. Iran continues to be one of the most dangerous threats to our interests and to stability in the Middle East. It is long past due that we hold the corrupt Iranian regime accountable for their actions,” said Rep. Kustoff. “I applaud this move from President Trump and his Administration. We must remain vigilant against those who wish to bring Americans harm and continue to stand with our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel.”

In Congress, Rep. David Kustoff has taken the lead in standing up to Iran and its corrupt regime. He introduced the Stop Corrupt Iranian Oligarchs and Entities Act which places maximum pressure on Iran and its leaders to help expose the corrupt nature of this dangerous regime. Rep. Kustoff supported the President on getting out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, as well as supported the increased sanctions on Iran. Congressman Kustoff also succeeded in passing a Motion to Recommit to tackle the rise of anti-Semitism.

Bill Empowering State and Local Governments to Counter Cyberattacks Reintroduced

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by: Derek Kilmer (D-WA, 6th)

Washington, D.C. - April 10, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) was joined today by Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) in reintroducing bipartisan, bicameral legislation today to encourage state, local, and tribal governments to strengthen their defenses against cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities. The State Cyber Resiliency Act, which was also introduced in the Senate by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), would create and authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to run a grant program for states seeking to develop, revise or implement cyber resiliency measures—including efforts to identify, detect, protect, respond, and recover from cyber threats.

“America should dedicate far more attention and resources to combating cyber threats,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Cyber-attacks could threaten our election systems, municipally-owned water treatment facilities, local emergency responder networks, or other vital systems that impact our communities. With that in mind, building our cyber resiliency matters to employers, workers, local governments, consumers – and even to our national security. That’s why I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing a bipartisan plan to give state, local, and tribal governments more tools to counter these cyber threats.”

“As our nation continues to face cyber threats, we must ensure all levels of government are prepared to combat the emerging attacks to our cyber networks and other critical infrastructure. The enactment of CISA last year was a positive step forward to recalibrate our federal posture on cybersecurity, however, more needs to be done on a state and local level. Despite playing a vital role in protecting our nation against cyber-attacks, state governments often do not have the vital resources they need to strengthen their cybersecurity capabilities or retain or recruit seasoned cybersecurity professionals,” said Rep. McCaul. “As a co-chair of the House Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, I will continue to think holistically about protecting our networks on a federal, state, and local level. I am proud to join Senators Warner and Gardner, along with Congressman Kilmer, in introducing the State Cyber Resiliency Act to aid state and local governments with a new grant program to enhance their cyber defenses.”

“As cyberattacks increase in frequency and gravity, we must ensure that our nation—from our local governments on up—is adequately prepared to protect public safety and combat cyber threats,” said Sen. Warner. “Nearly 70 percent of states have reported that they lack adequate funding to develop sufficient cybersecurity. This bill will aim to mitigate that need by providing grants to state and local jurisdictions so that they are better prepared to take on these emerging challenges.”

“It’s critical that our state and local governments invest in cyber preparedness and training, and I’m proud to work with Senator Warner and Representatives Kilmer and McCaul to create a grant program to help our communities with this effort,” said Sen. Gardner. “Colorado is at the forefront of our nation’s cybersecurity efforts and home to the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs. As the threat of cyber warfare intensifies, it’s important that local governments are properly prepared to deter and protect themselves from cyber-attacks.”

A 2018 survey by Deloitte-National Association recently found that most state cyber budgets are inadequate, with most states allocating between zero and three percent of their overall IT budget for cybersecurity purposes. Additionally, the survey found that budget and staffing remain top barriers to an effective cyber strategy, with nearly half of all states lacking a cybersecurity budget line item, and 28 percent pointing to an inadequate availability of cybersecurity professionals as a “top barrier.” In the past year, hackers have attacked a number of local governments in states such as Colorado, Georgia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. These serious cyberattacks have cost taxpayers millions of dollars and have wreaked havoc on essential local government processes.

The State Cyber Resiliency Act also addresses the nation’s cybersecurity workforce talent gap by ensuring that participating states enhance recruitment and retention efforts. Currently, there are more than 313,000 cybersecurity job openings nationwide, including 33,500 in Virginia, 24,800 in Texas, 10,200 in Colorado, and 6,300 in Washington.

The full text of the bill is available here.

Legislation to Reform IRS Passes House of Representatives

by: Mike Kelly (R-PA, 3rd)

Washington, D.C. - April 10, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1957, the Taxpayer First Act, the first IRS reform legislation since 1998, which would recast IRS as a service-first agency to better serve American taxpayers. The bill, which passed unanimously, is now headed to the Senate for consideration.

Representatives Mike Kelly, R-Pa. and John Lewis, D-Ga. co-authored the legislation. Kelly, the top Republican on the Oversight Subcommittee, lauded the bipartisan cooperation by members of the Ways and Means Committee over the years to put this legislation together.

Today, Republicans and Democrats set aside their differences and passed legislation together that will greatly benefit U.S. taxpayers. The IRS is one of few federal agencies that Americans, whether they like it or not, will have a constant relationship with throughout their lives. The bill we passed today will make sure that relationship is built on trust rather than fear, and that taxpayers’ rights are safeguarded when they interact with the agency. To protect the integrity of our voluntary tax compliance system, the IRS should be a resource for Americans, not their adversary, said Kelly.

The Taxpayer First Act, if enacted, will require the IRS to alter several of its current practices to focus on service in addition to making it more accountable to Congress and the public.

Legislation would separate commercial and investment banks

by: Marcy Kaptur (D-OH, 9th)

Washington, D.C. - April 10, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- ongresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), the House’s longest serving woman, led a group of 26 House members to introduce the Return to Prudent Banking Act of 2019, legislation that would reinstate and expand the historic provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 restricting affiliations between commercial and investment banks. The legislation has been endorsed by AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Communications Workers of America, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Public Citizen, and Take on Wall Street.

“In the wake of the Great Depression, Congress worked on a bipartisan basis to pass the Glass-Steagall Act to separate commercial banks and securities firms and prevent Wall Street from gambling away the American people’s hard-earned money. Tragically, the Big Banks and their lobbyists pressured Congress to repeal the law in 1999. This misguided deregulation opened the floodgates for growth of financial institutions that are too big to fail and encouraged the type of risky behaviors that led to the crash of the American financial system in 2008. While we made significant progress when President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act, large commercial and investment banks are still tied together in an institutional risk that threatens the financial well-being of our country. I urge my colleagues to join me in passing this vital legislation so we can ensure the security and stability of our financial system,” said Rep. Kaptur.

"The same Wall Street banks that crashed our economy in 2008 and put millions out of work remain too-big-to-fail to this day. We need to ensure that our members' and our retirees' livelihoods aren't jeopardized again by the reckless behavior of a Wall Street megabank. The Return to Prudent Banking Act is a smart solution that would reinstate the barrier between commercial and investment banking and make our financial system safer. CWA fully supports the Return to Prudent Banking Act and we thank Rep. Kaptur for her continued leadership on this important issue,” said Shane Larson, Director of Legislation for Communications Workers of America

“Lessons learned from the Great Depression and the Economic collapse of 2008 are proof enough that the American Public need protection from banks that are too big to fail, most especially a clean separation between investment and commercial banking as was provided by the Glass-Steagall act. We need to put people ahead of irresponsible financial greed. IFPTE is proud to support this legislation,” said Paul Sharon, President of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers

Public Citizen enthusiastically welcomes Rep. Kaptur’s much needed bill to restore prudence to the banking industry. Because Congress repealed the ban on banks owning casino-like securities gambling operations in 1999, it took less than a decade for reckless conduct funded by government-backed deposits to crash the world economy,” said Bartlett Naylor, Financial Policy Advocate for Public Citizen.

"There is nothing inevitable about Too Big To Fail. We separated investment and deposit banking for decades, and Glass-Steagall was very effective at preventing the banks from becoming the unmanageable monoliths they are today. Congresswoman Kaptur's Return to Prudent Banking Act would restore the guardrails for the big banks, and go a long way toward making them manageable again," said Porter McConnell, Director of the Take On Wall Street Coalition.


  • The Glass-Steagall Act was signed into law in June 1933 following the 1929 stock market crash and subsequent Great Depression. The legislation separated commercial banking from investment banking while creating the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The purpose of the legislation was to restrict the use of bank credit for speculation and instead direct bank credit into commerce, industry, and agriculture. In 1999, the provisions that restricted affiliations between banks and securities firms was repealed by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The repeal of these important provisions contributed to the Great Recession.

  • The Return to Prudent Banking Act amends the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (FDIA) to prohibit any insured depository institution from being an affiliate of any broker or dealer, investment adviser, investment company, or any other person or entity engaged principally in the issue, flotation, underwriting, public sale, or distribution of stocks, bonds, debentures, notes, or other securities.

  • Prohibits officers, directors and employees of securities firms from simultaneous service on the boards of depository institutions, except in specified circumstances.

  • Requires any such individual serving as an officer, director, employee, or other institution-affiliated party of any insured depository institution to terminate such service as soon as practicable after enactment of this Act. Requires an insured depository institution to wind-down in an orderly manner and terminate any affiliation prohibited by this Act.

  • Amends the Banking Act of 1933 (Glass-Steagall Act) to expand its prohibition against the transaction of banking activities by securities firms.

  • Declares that Congress ratifies the interpretation by the Supreme Court of specified statutory language in the case of Investment Company Institute v. Camp (ICI) regarding permissible activities of banks and securities firms.

  • Declares that the reasoning of the Court in that case shall continue to apply to the limitations placed upon security affiliations under the FDIA as enacted by this Act. Prohibits a federal banking agency or federal court from issuing an interpretation regarding such security affiliations that is narrower than that of the Court in ICI.

  • Makes technical and conforming changes to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Revised Statutes of the United States, and specified federal law.

  • Requires the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Comptroller of the Currency, or another appropriate federal banking agency to report to Congress a detailed description of the basis for its decision each time it makes a determination or grants an extension concerning an affiliation between insured depository institutions and investment banks or securities firms.

    Endorsing Organizations:

    International Brotherhood of Teamsters
    Communications Workers of America
    International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers
    Public Citizen
    Take on Wall Street

    Original Cosponsors:

    Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-3)
    Rep. Susan Wild (PA-7)
    Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA-8)
    Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17)
    Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14)
    Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12)
    Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-9)
    Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-4)
    Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At-Large)
    Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-2)
    Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-5)
    Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2)
    Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9)
    Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-7)
    Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-1)
    Rep. David Cicilline (RI-1)
    Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18)
    Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20)
    Rep. Peter Welch (VT-At-Large)
    Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13)
    Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-32)
    Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2)
    Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-3)
    Rep. John Yarmuth (KY-3)
    Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)

    Bill text for the legislation can be found here
  • Statement Of Northern Border Shelters On US And Mexico Policy To Restrict Asylum

    by: Kino Border Initiative

    Washington, D.C. - April 10, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The Following is a statement from Kino Border Inititative:

    "We at KBI and other Mexican border shelters express our concern about and opposition to the "Migration Protection Protocols," which would force the vulnerable individuals that we serve to remain in limbo and in danger in Mexico while they await months or years for an asylum decision in the United States."

    Klobuchar Speaks Out Against NRA Opposition to the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

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    by: Senator Amy Klobuchar - (D - MN)

    Washington, D.C. - April 10, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) spoke at a press conference to highlight the need to protect victims of stalking and domestic abuse and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act over the opposition of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA urged Republican representatives to oppose the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) due to a provision based on Klobuchar’s legislation that would prohibit individuals convicted of a stalking misdemeanor from possessing or purchasing a gun and would close the loophole that allows perpetrators of dating violence access to firearms.

    In January, Klobuchar reintroduced the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act to close what is commonly referred to as the ‘boyfriend loophole’ by preventing people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms. The bill would also prevent convicted stalkers from possessing a gun—common sense updates to federal law which many states have already adopted. The Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act has 31 Senate cosponsors. The bipartisan companion bill in the House of Representatives is led by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).

    “This is an opportunity to greatly improve the Violence Against Women Act. One of the things we’ve learned over time is that there is a high rate of domestic homicide with guns, and for too long, the ban on getting a gun if you have been convicted of the serious crime of domestic abuse has only applied to married partners, former married partners, or people who live together.

    “According to the Department of Justice, nearly half of women killed by romantic partners are killed by dating partners, that’s why this is so important, and why it was included in the House bill.

    “VAWA isn’t just about the dating partner or even the married partner—it’s about our whole community, it’s about the kids in the family, it’s about the neighbors, and it’s about everyone that lives in the community when domestic violence hits.”

    On April 4, the House of Representatives passed the reauthorization of VAWA with a vote of 263 to 158. It included provisions based on Klobuchar’s Abby Honold Act, bipartisan legislation with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) that would promote the use of trauma-informed techniques in responding to sexual assault crimes.

    Klobuchar is a national leader in the fight to prevent domestic violence. She is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and prior to her time in the Senate, Klobuchar served as Hennepin County Attorney. In 2018, Klobuchar and Cornyn’s SAFER Act—legislation that would reauthorize, strengthen, and extend the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog—was signed into law. In 2016, the Klobuchar-backed bipartisan Justice for All Reauthorization Act was signed into law. The law strengthens the rights of crime victims by providing the protection they need to restore their lives and enhances law enforcement’s ability to proactively stop violent criminals. The Justice for All Reauthorization Act also aims to reduce the rape kit backlog by supporting grant programs that fund forensic testing.

    Broadcast quality footage of Klobuchar’s remarks at the press conference can be found HERE.

    King Issues Plea to U.S. Navy: Increase Resources to Stop Drug Shipments

    by: Senator Angus S. King Jr. (I - ME)

    Washington, D.C. - April 10, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) urged U.S. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer and Admiral John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, to find opportunities to collaborate with the U.S. Coast Guard to increase our ability to intercept drug shipments being transported into the United States by sea.

    “I’d like to start my questioning with a plea….Of the hundred-percent [of drug shipments] that we have intelligence on, we’re only able to interdict twenty-five percent because of lack of maritime assets,” said Senator King. “Since this hearing started, twelve Americans have died of overdoses. Our country is under attack. People are dying. People are dying in my state – one a day. Please, see if you can find a way to allocate [Littoral Combat Ships] or other maritime assets to work with the Coast Guard to interdict those drug shipments. It is inexcusable that we know of a drug shipment and can’t do anything about it because of a lack of maritime assets… this is a heartfelt request to try to do something that’s within our power to do.”

    Also during the hearing, Senator King expressed his appreciation for the Navy’s efforts to provide the data requested by Senator King regarding the two deadly 2017 collisions involving the USS Fitzgerald and the USS McCain. The data followed up on a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this year, during which Senator King pressed Admiral Philip Davidson on specific ways to prevent fatal collisions in the future. Senator King concluded his recognition of the Navy’s efforts with a request for the leaders to continue to provide, on a quarterly basis, data related to Navy efforts to avoid future collisions.

    Senator King ended his questioning by returning to his focus on cybersecurity – urging Navy leaders to ensure that their private sector partners are fully defending themselves from cyberattacks – particularly subcontractors, who can often have smaller operations and may be more vulnerable. Today’s questioning continues his effort to make sure the military’s private sector partners are secure; last month, he raised the subject with leaders of United States Transportation Command and United States European Command during an Armed Services hearing, and in February Senator King took part in a Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) hearing on cybersecurity where he emphasized the need for urgent action. During that hearing, Senator King questioned James Robb, President and CEO of North American Energy Reliability Corporation, about the dangers of foreign equipment in America’s energy grid, and urged Mr. Robb to recommend red teams to America’s utilities.

    As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator King is recognized as a thoughtful voice on national security and foreign policy issues in the Senate. In addition to his committee work, he serves on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the Senate North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Observer Group, and the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.

    Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) Calls For President Trump To Hold Immigration Summit With World Leaders

    by: Senator John Kennedy (R-LA)

    Washington, D.C. - April 10, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) delivered a speech on the Senate floor about the need for immigration reform, including constructing a border wall, reforming U.S. asylum laws and calling an immigration summit to address the crisis at the southern border.

    “Now, we’re a nation of immigrants, and I’m proud of that,” said Sen. Kennedy. “Americans cannot be called anti-immigrant. Every year we welcome a million people across the world to become Americans (and) to come into our country. They do it legally. They follow the law. They’re properly vetted. They get in line. They wait patiently, and we welcome them in.”

    Floor speech highlights:

    Immigration summit: “I think we should start with a presidential summit. Not a representative of the presidents, but a presidential summit of the president of the United States, the president of Mexico, President Lopez Obrador, and the presidents of the Northern Triangle countries, and let’s see what we can do to solve this problem.”

    Border wall: “We do have a problem at the border. ‘Problem’ is an understatement. In March, we had 100,000 people come into our country illegally. One hundred thousand. That’s the most in 10 years. If that continues, we’re going to set a record this year for people entering our country illegally.”

    “We’ve got to solve this problem ourselves. The first thing we have to do is build a wall. I’m not talking about a wall from sea to shining sea. We have 1,900 miles of border. I’m talking about barriers strategically placed. You cannot seal a 1,900-mile piece of real estate without a barrier. It can’t be done.”

    Illegal immigration: “Illegal immigration is illegal. Even if you think it’s a good idea, and I don’t. If you care about the rule of law, which is one of the bedrock principles in America, then you would want to stop the illegal immigration.”

    Asylum law reform: “The second thing we need to do, Madame President, as you well know, is to pass asylum laws that look like somebody designed the things on purpose. Because what we have now, doesn’t fit that description.”

    “This United States Senate should be debating America’s asylum laws right this second. I’m not saying the other things we’re doing - we are in the personnel business - aren’t important, but there’s not a single issue right now that’s more important. Congress needs to do its job! The Senate ought to be debating this issue right now.”

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    Kaine Introduces Bill To Ensure Reproductive Care Services For American Servicewomen

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    by: Senator Tim Kaine (D - VA)

    Washington, D.C. - April 10, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen to re-introduce the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act to ensure that all women who receive care though the United States military have access to all forms of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved contraception with no health insurance co-pay. This bill would overhaul current Department of Defense (DoD) policy on contraceptive coverage and family planning counseling by making sure health care provided by the military is in line with current law for civilian populations

    “Servicemembers and their families deserve the same access to contraception and family planning resources as other Americans,” said Kaine. “This bill helps ensure that women serving in the military receive comprehensive, affordable health care.”

    The Department of Defense provides health care to approximately 1.1 million women of reproductive age, including servicewomen on active duty, in the guard or reserves, and their dependents. Studies have shown that women in the military have a higher rate of unplanned pregnancy (50 percent higher) than the general population. The studies have also shown that servicewomen face unique challenges accessing their preferred method of contraception and family planning counseling, especially when deployed. Additionally, although the Women’s Health Amendment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees civilian women coverage of women’s health preventive services, without cost sharing, this policy does not apply to many servicewomen and dependents covered through military health insurance (TRICARE).

    The Access to Contraception for Women Service Members and Dependents Act would:

  • Require that all women who receive health care through the military are treated the same as civilian women, and have access to all forms of FDA-approved contraception and family planning counseling services with no health insurance co-pay;
  • Require the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive family planning education program for all servicemembers, ensuring that military families have the information necessary to make informed family planning decisions; and
  • Enhance access to emergency contraception for survivors of military sexual assault.

  • The bill has been endorsed by numerous organizations, including: the American Civil Liberties Union, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Catholics for Choice, Center for Reproductive Rights, Guttmacher Institute, Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, MomsRising, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Council of Jewish Women, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, National Health Law Program, National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH), National Network of Abortion Funds, National Organization for Women, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women's Health Network, National Women's Law Center, Not Without Black Women, People For the American Way, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Population Connection Action Fund, Power to Decide, Service Women’s Action Network, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) and URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity. A letter of support for the legislation on behalf of the organizations can be read here.

    Text of the legislation can be read in full here.