Thursday, April 11, 2019

No Kid Hungry Selects Six States to Participate in 2019 School Breakfast Leadership Institute

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by: No Kid Hungry

Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The national anti-hunger campaign No Kid Hungry has selected six states to participate in its 2019 School Breakfast Leadership Institute. Teams from Georgia, Maryland, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming will attend an in-person convening in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 11-12, and receive a $50,000 grant from No Kid Hungry to implement a comprehensive action plan to expand access to school breakfast in their state. States were selected through a competitive proposal process.

No Kid Hungry’s School Breakfast Leadership Institute brings together national, state and local leaders to develop new and better ways to connect kids with school breakfast. Each state team comprises stakeholders who can influence school breakfast practice and policy including gubernatorial and state education agency staff, school nutrition directors, superintendents, non-profit partners, school board members and education association representatives.

Now in its second year, the Institute has proven a catalyst for expanded access to school breakfast, already helping to move the needle in the six states that participated in 2018: Hawaii, Kansas, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina.

“The School Breakfast Leadership Institute and grant have been a great way for us to be able to focus time and effort on improving breakfast in the state of South Carolina,” said Ellen Mason, an Education Associate with the South Carolina Department of Education’s Office of Health and Nutrition. “It has enabled us to talk to not only child nutrition directors, but superintendents, chief financial officers, and principals about the importance of breakfast for students. We are hopeful that the models developed through this opportunity can be expanded throughout the state to ensure that no student in South Carolina starts the school day hungry.”

School breakfast is an energy source for kids across the nation. Research shows that hunger has long-term ramifications on children, including lower test scores, weaker attendance rates, and a higher risk of hospitalizations and chronic diseases. No Kid Hungry and its partners focus on school breakfast as a critical way to end childhood hunger.

Accessing traditional cafeteria breakfast service can be challenging for many kids. Breakfast after the bell provides breakfast in a way that is more convenient and accessible to students, resulting in more kids starting the day ready to learn.

No child should go hungry in America. But 1 in 6 kids will face hunger this year. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger through effective programs that provide kids with the food they need. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty.

Counseling Ban Violates Free Speech

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by: Liberty Counsel

Atlanta, GA - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Liberty Counsel filed a brief in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, in an appeal challenging the constitutionality of ordinances enacted by the City of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County, which prohibit minors from receiving voluntary counseling from licensed professionals to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions or behaviors, or gender confusion.

The appeal is from an order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Robin Rosenberg denying a preliminary injunction blocking the ordinances which was sought by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Dr. Robert Otto, LMFT, Dr. Julie Hamilton, LMFT, and their minor clients. These licensed therapists provide life-saving counseling to minors who desperately desire to conform their attractions, behaviors, and gender identities to their sincerely held religious beliefs.

In denying the preliminary injunction, Judge Rosenberg disregarded binding precedent and avoided ruling on the central constitutional claim in the case. In National Institute for Family & Life Advocates v. Becerra (NIFLA), involving crisis pregnancy centers, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that the government must satisfy the highest constitutional scrutiny when it enacts laws infringing on the speech of licensed professionals. Although Judge Rosenberg acknowledged that the city and county failed to show that their ordinances satisfy this high scrutiny, she still denied the preliminary injunction.

“These ordinances are unconstitutional speech restrictions that violate the First Amendment,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “We have a number of similar challenges pending in other federal courts. It is just a matter of time before one of them gets to the Supreme Court and may put an end to these draconian speech restrictions,” 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.

Email Print Court Ruling Blocks Trump In Move Against Refugees

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by: League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said a federal court decision Tuesday prevents President Trump from expelling refugees seeking asylum from the United States while their case is being decided. The ruling highlights the wide gap between the Administration and the nation’s historic handling of arriving immigrants fleeing violence in their own countries.

“We thank Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for his courage and fairness,” said Domingo Garcia, National President. “His own words remind us all of America’s true values and speak loudly against xenophobia and scapegoating immigrants, many of them Latinos,” he added.

Judge Seeborg wrote in his decision that the Administration expulsion actions did not include “sufficient safeguards” and that migrants would be returned to places where their “life or freedom would be threatened.” The government argued that refugees asylum applicants were simply being returned to Mexican border cities, under a policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP. However, the judge ruled that refugees should be allowed to enter the United States even if it meant they might be detained until their case is approved or denied.

“This important federal court injunction comes during the same week that LULAC is convening an historic Dreamer Summit in Dallas, Texas where our goal is to come up with a proposal that can win bipartisan Congressional support for a comprehensive solution to immigration,” said Garcia. “This case clearly demonstrates how serious the situation has become when President Trump thinks he has the right to throw desperate asylum seeking men, women and children out of the country even if it means they will be harmed or killed. No American should stand for that kind of inhumane treatment just to fulfill a campaign promise. And LULAC will never allow it,” he added.

Bill To Strengthen Federal Procedure For Pipeline And Compressor Approval Introduced

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by: Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA, 8th)

Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- ongressman Stephen F. Lynch introduced H.R. 2152, the Pipeline and Compressor Safety Verification Act of 2019, to strengthen public health and safety protections during the process by which the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decides whether to grant approval to natural gas systems, such as the proposed Weymouth Compressor Station and West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline. FERC certificates are needed to authorize the approval and operation of pipelines and compressor stations, and H.R. 2152 would add the requirement that the Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security of Massachusetts, the State Fire Marshal for Massachusetts and the Director of the Massachusetts Pipeline Safety Division sign off on the certificate, stating the project would not pose a danger to surrounding residential communities in order to allow FERC to grant a license to proceed.

“The certification process of pipeline approval and maintenance is outdated and does not reflect the robust safety measures we must consider for high-pressure pipelines placed in densely populated areas,” said Lynch. “I believe it is critical to include the Commonwealth’s top public safety officials in the review process in order to protect residents in the affected areas from poor oversight decisions at the federal level. It is imperative we take precautions to put the health and safety of our public above all else, and in this case it means adding another important step to the process. We have already seen too many tragedies to maintain the same requirements in their authorization procedure.”

There are notable gaps in FERC’s permit process for pipeline approval and maintenance oversight, and H.R. 2152 will help remedy those loopholes. Additionally, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has agreed to host a listening session in Weymouth to examine the serious public safety issues relating to the construction and operation of the proposed Weymouth Compressor Station, which is anticipated to be scheduled momentarily. PHMSA will arrange for regional staff members to attend the hearing to ensure those in attendance are equally qualified and familiar with the impacted area. This has been agreed upon in response to overwhelming and validated concerns of health experts, citizens groups, and residents of the community and surrounding areas. Last year the Merrimack Valley in Massachusetts witnessed a series of explosions and fires as a result of high pressured release of natural gas funneled into Columbia Gas’ low-pressure distribution system, which is one out of the total 633 pipeline incidents that occurred across the United States last year, resulting in 8 fatalities, 92 injuries and $1 billion in property damage.

You can read H.R. 2152, the Pipeline and Compressor Safety Verification Act of 2019, here


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by: Ben R. Lujan (D-NM, 3rd)

Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, signed onto legislation from Rep. Deb Haaland, and other New Mexico delegation members including, Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, along with U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, to prohibit school “lunch shaming” – the practice of discriminating against or stigmatizing children who have outstanding credit or don't have enough money to pay for meals at school. The Anti-Lunch Shaming Act would ban schools from singling out children — such as by requiring them to wear hand stamps or do extra chores — because their parents or guardians have not paid their school meal bills.

“It’s simple – you can’t learn if you’re hungry. As legislators – as responsible human beings - we cannot stand by and let antiquated policies bully and stigmatize kids whose parents cannot afford to pay for their lunches. It is far past time that we end lunch shaming for the betterment of all our kids,” said Assistant Speaker Luján.

“No child should have to worry about being hungry at school, but there are still places in this country with outdated policies that force children to bear the burden of poverty,” said Haaland, a member of the Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. “In 2017, New Mexico took the lead on ending these harmful policies and now we’re working to ensure children across the country have full stomachs when they’re in school so they can reach their full learning potential.”

“We all know children learn best when they have access to healthy and nutritious meals. For some students, their school lunch might be their only healthy meal of the day. Yet, in school cafeterias across the nation, schools are publicly shaming children whose families cannot afford for pay for their school meals. Rather than allow this to continue, this bill would require schools to treat all students the same and communicate directly with parents and guardians to address outstanding lunch payments. New Mexico led this initiative to outlaw lunch shaming and I’m proud to stand with the delegation outlaw lunch shaming nationwide,” said Torres Small.

"Lunch shaming is a practice so cruel and backwards that most Americans would be shocked to know it happens. And yet school districts across the country are allowed to use these appalling tactics. Instead of stigmatizing kids who come from struggling households, withholding hot meals from students, and depriving some children of their only healthy meal of the day, we should be working to find solutions to end childhood hunger and to support families in need,” said Udall. “We know that hunger can be an insurmountable barrier to success in the classroom. I was proud when New Mexico became the first state in the country to outlaw the practice of lunch shaming, and I will continue to do everything I can in the Senate to pass this legislation on a federal level so no child will have to spend their time at school feeling ashamed of a debt they have no power to pay.”

“Stigmatizing or shaming students for not being able to afford lunch is unacceptable. Child hunger is a serious problem facing New Mexico. We know that when children are hungry it impacts their ability to focus and learn in the classroom. Nothing is more important than improving the well-being of our children and I will continue working to find solutions that ensure our students can grow and thrive,” said Heinrich.

In March of 2017, New Mexico passed the first law in the United States to prohibit lunch shaming. The legislation spurred a number of other states to pass legislation or take action to combat lunch shaming including Virginia, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Texas, Iowa, Washington, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. A number of other state legislatures are currently considering measures to address this shameful practice and the federal Anti-Lunch Shaming Act aims to provide similar protections to students throughout the country.

The Anti-Lunch Shaming Act prohibits schools participating in U.S. Department of Agriculture school lunch or breakfast programs from using humiliation or throwing a child's meal away because their parent or guardian hasn't paid their school meal bill and other shaming tactics. Instead, it requires schools to direct communications regarding meal debt to the parent or guardian, not the child.

The bill also aims to make the process for applying for free and reduced-price lunch applications easier by encouraging the Department of Agriculture to distribute the maximum number of applications for free or reduce price lunches in an understandable, uniform format and encourage schools to offer assistance to complete the applications; coordinate with State agencies, school food authorities, and local education agency liaisons to ensure that homeless children and youth, and children and youth in foster care are eligible to receive a free or reduced-price lunch; and explore innovative ways to use technology to improve communications between parents or guardians and school food authorities.

The Anti-Lunch Shaming Act has been endorsed by New Mexico Appleseed — the nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization that created New Mexico's Hunger Free Students’ Bill of Rights —whose Executive Director Jennifer Ramo championed the New Mexico law.

“There are few more powerful antidotes to the causes and consequences of child poverty than food and dignity. This important bill ensures that children receive the vital nutrition they need to focus in school through the national school lunch program. And, it ensures that they do so with their self-respect intact. We have saved New Mexican children from the devastating effects of being humiliated and missing meals through our state’s Hunger-Free Student Bill of Rights, and now we are excited to see this protection extended nationally to all children in need,” said Jennifer Ramo, Executive Director of New Mexico Appleseed.

The legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine.), Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Penn.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and U.S. Representatives Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), Conor Lamb (D-Penn.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.).

Other endorsing organizations include: FRAC, Feeding America, National PTA, Share our Strength, First Focus, Food Corps, New Mexico Appleseed, Hunger Task Force, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, California Food Policy Advocates, New Mexico Voices for Children, Hunger Free Vermont, End Childhood Hunger – South Carolina, Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, Children’s Hunger Alliance, Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, Cultivating Community, Alabama Food Bank Association, Feed the Children, Hunger Free Oklahoma, Hunger Solutions New York, West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, Missoula Food Bank, Food Bank of Delaware, & New Hampshire Food Bank.

The full text of the bill can be found HERE. A summary of the bill can be found HERE.

House Passes Historic Anti-Corruption and Democracy Reform Legislation

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by: Zoe Lofgren (D-CA, 19th)

Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- After Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) managed floor debate for three days, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a sweeping reform bill to clean up corruption in Washington, make it easier to vote, and give every day Americans more power in our democracy by a 234 – 193 vote.

Lofgren delivered the following remarks in closing floor debate on H.R. 1 today:

“For eight years, this chamber has been silent. A silence that harmed people. We’ve allowed measures to reduce people’s access to the vote. Measures that caused the Fourth Circuit to find that African Americans voters were “targeted with surgical precision,”—measures that excluded voters on Indian reservations and that wrongfully tried to remove 95,000 naturalized Texans should be removed from the rolls.

“Today, that silence ends.

“This bill is not for its own sake.

“A member of the U.S. Senate said that H.R. 1 is a power grab – he’s right. It grabs power away from the special interests, the elites, the one percent – and gives it to the American people. I tell you plainly what it does: automatic voter registration to allow 50 million eligible citizens to vote, prohibits deceptive practices, increases access to the polls for voters with disabilities, helps states replace outdated voting machines and requires disclosure of dark money donors—not limiting their speech but simply asking them to stand by it.

“These reforms are not difficult. But they will require courage to make.

“Mr. Frederick Douglass who saw what our democracy was, and what our democracy could be, and said: “Where all is plain, there is nothing to be argued.”

“For that reason, I do not argue. But I look forward to joining you all in doing the will of the people and supporting this bill.”

Lofgren’s amendments were key in establishing and financing the Freedom from Influence Fund, a voluntary small-donor campaign finance matching system which amplifies the power of small-dollar contributions and limits the influence of big donors.

Her amendments specified all funding for the Freedom from Influence Fund will originate from a 2.75% assessment on federal fines, penalties, and settlements on bad actors like wealthy tax cheats and corporate lawbreakers who have committed financial crimes.

Earlier this morning on the steps of the House of Representatives, Lofgren highlighted the open, transparent, and deliberative manning in which House Democrats brought H.R. 1 to the House floor for a vote.

On Wednesday, Lofgren opened debate on H.R. 1. Click here to view her floor statement.

H.R. 1 makes critical reforms across three key areas:

Voting Rights
  • Improve Access – H.R. 1 expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at key institutional barriers to voting, such as burdensome registration systems, limited voting hours and many other roadblocks. H.R. 1 creates automatic voter registration across the country, ensures that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored, expands voting by mail and early voting and modernizes the U.S. voting system.
  • Promote Integrity – H.R. 1 fights back against Republicans’ assault on voting rights by committing Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act; prohibiting voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere; and ensuring that discriminatory voter ID laws do not prevent Americans citizens from exercising their rights. H.R. 1 also ends partisan gerrymandering to prevent politicians from picking their voters and lets American voters instead choose their elected officials.
  • Ensure Security – H.R. 1 promises that American elections to be decided by American voters without interference from foreign entities. The bill enhances federal support for voting system security, particularly paper ballots, and increases oversight over election vendors.

  • Campaign Finance
  • Guarantee Disclosure – H.R. 1 shines a light on dark money in politics by requiring any organization involved in political activity to disclose its large donors, which will break the nesting-doll system that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide their spending in networks of so called “social welfare” organizations.
  • Empower Citizens – H.R. 1 levels the political playing field for everyday Americans, empowering individuals with a multiple matching system for small donations and allowing the American people to exercise their due influence in a post-Citizens United world, while reaffirming that Congress should have the authority to regulate money in politics. The new system of citizen-owned elections will break special interests’ stranglehold on politics and enable Congress to advance an agenda that serves the American people.
  • Strengthen Oversight – H.R. 1 ensures that there are cops on the campaign finance beat that will enforce the laws already on the books. H.R. 1 tightens rules on super PACs and restructures the Federal Election Commission to break the gridlock and enhance its enforcement mechanisms. It also repeals Mitch McConnell’s riders that prevent government agencies from requiring commonsense disclosure of political spending.

  • Ethics and Accountability
  • Fortify Ethics Law – H.R. 1 breaks the influence economy in Washington and increases accountability by expanding conflict of interest law and divestment requirements, slowing the revolving door, preventing Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards and requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.
  • Impose Greater Ethics Enforcement – H.R. 1 gives teeth to federal ethics oversight by overhauling the Office of Government Ethics, closing registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents, ensuring watchdogs have sufficient resources to enforce the law and creating a code of ethics for the Supreme Court.

  • Representative Levin Joins Colleagues in Introducing Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Flexibility in Forever GI Bill Benefits

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    by: Mike Levin (D-CA, 49th)

    Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA), Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, joined his colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation to ensure that student veterans have access to the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM scholarship program that was enacted as part of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the Forever GI Bill. The bill was led by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) and cosponsored by Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

    Current law prohibits many student veterans from using this scholarship as there are very few undergraduate programs that meet the current requirement that a program require more than 128 credit hours for completion. The legislation would ensure that student veterans enrolled in a STEM degree program are able to fully utilize their educational benefits, regardless of the current 128 credit hour requirement.

    “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields are the future of our 21st century economy, and it is critical that veterans have the support they need to pursue a STEM degree," said Levin. "I am proud to help introduce bipartisan legislation that will allow more veterans to pursue STEM degrees, and I will continue to work with my colleagues across the aisle on measures to ensure that veterans can launch careers in high-demand industries.”

    “It is incumbent upon us to provide our Veterans with the tools they need to be successful in their transition to civilian life after serving in the Armed Forces,” said Barr. “By removing arbitrary credit hour requirements for student Veterans enrolled in STEM programs and giving them more flexibility to use their Forever GI Bill benefits, Veterans will be able to better take advantage of the education benefits they are owed. I am honored work with Representative Levin and Ranking Member Roe on this important and bipartisan issue.”

    "When the Forever GI bill was signed into law last Congress, it created a scholarship program that helped pay for student veterans who were in STEM degree programs," said Roe. "By eliminating the credit hour requirement for a STEM degree program to qualify for this scholarship, we are ensuring that the scholarship functions as intended and that all student veterans interested in a STEM degree are able to qualify for the additional funding. I am thankful that Rep. Barr and Rep. Levin have taken the lead on fixing this error and ensuring all our student veterans receive access to the educational benefits they have earned.”

    "We must ensure our nation’s veterans can continue to serve our country out of uniform and fully utilize their GI benefits by earning degrees in STEM fields-- regardless of the length of their education program," said Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "Broadening these criteria, not only helps modernize our workforce but prepares our country for the economy of the future.”


    H.R 2196 would ensure that the scholarship program Congress provided for student veterans in STEM programs can be used in the way Congress intended and - more importantly - ensure that student veterans in these important degree programs receive the support they need to pursue their dreams. This program helps student veterans who often need to take additional credit hours to brush up on critical math or science skills necessary for success in a STEM program

    Congresswoman Debbie Lesko Urges Pelosi to Act on Worsening Border Crisis, Release of Illegal Aliens in Arizona

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    by: Debbie Lesko (R-AZ, 8th)

    Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- On Tuesday, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (AZ-08) sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi urging congressional action to address the worsening crisis at the border that has led to the release of illegal aliens on their own recognizance onto the streets of Arizona communities. The letter is available below.

    April 9, 2019

    The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
    Speaker of the House
    H-232, The Capitol
    Washington, D.C. 20515

    Dear Speaker Pelosi,

    Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen issued a letter to leaders of Congress, including yourself, outlining actions Congress must take to combat the growing security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border. I am writing to you today to urge you to put politics aside and take Secretary Nielson’s request seriously. The crisis at our border is worsening. We must secure our southern border and effectively respond to illegal immigration.

    As you may know, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is currently releasing all non-criminal, female head-of-household family units that are seeking asylum into our communities. Those released under current policy are given a Notice To Appear (NTA) in Immigration Court, but not a specific date to appear; their NTA simply states they should appear on a date “To Be Determined.” They are not screened for credible fear, which could allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to send them to Mexico to wait for a hearing, but merely released on their own recognizance.

    Groups of illegal aliens have been and are being dropped off by ICE at bus stations and churches with only a packet of information. The drop-offs have increased in frequency and quantity in the last several months. Specifically, councilmembers from the City of Phoenix detailed that the drastic increase is overwhelming the community and posing a crisis to which Phoenix, Arizona has no solution, nor the resources to deal with this massive influx of migrants.

    Yuma, Arizona has seen a 261% increase in Family Units compared to last fiscal year. These growing numbers are unsustainable. Nonprofits and church leaders are overwhelmed by the daily release of hundreds of migrant families from federal custody. For weeks, they have asked for assistance and support for what they, themselves, say is a humanitarian crisis. Now, because we have failed to act or give our law enforcement the support they need, illegal aliens are being released in Arizona communities by U.S. ICE and U.S. Border Patrol agents.

    The Arizona Sheriffs Association has publicly stated,

    “To suggest there is not a crisis is to be intellectually dishonest. The crisis is neither new, nor manufactured. Sheriffs know this because we have been addressing it for decades. We have been impacted by the public safety crisis in witnessing safety in our communities being eroded by drug trafficking, overdoses and transnational crime organizations. Like all thoughtful Americans, we are concerned about the national security nexus to the lack of border security. We do not know who is coming across the border… We are strong, practical leaders not guided by political partisanship or concern over who wins the gamesmanship of political rhetoric. We are guided by a firm commitment to public safety in our respective counties.”

    The release of these individuals and the ongoing, growing crisis, should be of concern to every American, as their actions are a blatant exploitation of our immigration laws; our inability to properly vet and monitor them puts our communities at risk. Cities and communities should not be forced to bear the brunt of this crisis, which is inherently a federal responsibility. We should be working to improve, not worsen, the morale of ICE and Border Patrol agents who are already under-resourced and overworked.

    We need to listen to our law enforcement and cities who are on the ground and do what we can to support our local communities in this crisis that Congress has let go on for far too long. I look forward to your response and to continuing to work with you to fix our nation’s immigration laws and gain operational control of our southern border. Please let me know if there is any way I can assist you in these efforts.


    Debbie Lesko
    Member of Congress

    Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S.
    Member of Congress

    Andy Biggs
    Member of Congress

    Government Takeover of the Internet Passes House

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

    Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) voted against legislation, H.R. 1644, that would establish government control over Internet services by subjecting providers to regulations imposed under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The legislation was approved by the U.S. House by a vote of 232-190.

    Latta said on the House floor, “This is not about net neutrality – if this was about net neutrality, we would be operating under the long-standing bipartisan premise that net neutrality could be achieved without Title II. Like many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I agree that Congress needs to codify basic internet protection principles such as no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization.”

    Congressman Latta made overtures to the Democratic majority in the House to work together on bipartisan legislation that would codify net neutrality principles without classifying Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under the Title II framework. These principles would ensure no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization by ISPs. He introduced H.R. 1006, legislation that had been previously introduced by former Democratic Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman that would codify net neutrality principles, but the Democratic majority has rebuffed efforts to work in a bipartisan manner.

    Latta also said, “The net neutrality bill I introduced is based directly upon the proposal of former Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman. It would prevent Internet Service Providers from engaging in much of the discriminatory behavior the majority is concerned about, and it would do so under Title I. Both former Republican and Democratic Federal Communications Commission Chairmen have also recognized that net neutrality can be resolved without vastly expanding the FCC’s power under Title II.”

    “We have seen broadband investment and innovation decline during the time the Internet was regulated under the framework that H.R. 1644 would establish. This has been verified through studies, but also in a recent Energy Commerce Committee hearing when a witness who owns a small ISP in Oregon testified on the hampering effects the 2015 Order had on his own business. And, while we can quantify lost investment, we do not know the advancements in technology we have missed out on due to limited resources directed toward innovation.

    “On the point of not knowing, we still do not know the 700+ regulations that H.R. 1644 would permanently forbear from either. Before we permanently lock in anything, I believe Congress should know exactly what we are locking in. We have pressed the majority for this list multiple times and have not received it. That is why I filed an amendment that would have required the FCC to produce this list if the bill does become law.

    “I support net neutrality, but I cannot and do not support H.R. 1644. We should be providing the American people with a real net neutrality solution rather than pushing forward an agenda that does not have the capability to become law and won’t protect the Internet.”

    Latta’s floor speech is available here.

    Latta also criticized that H.R. 1644 includes no provisions that address blocking or throttling by edge providers. Edge providers are websites, web services, applications, or online content delivery services that customers connect with over the Internet. Examples of edge providers are Google, Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. While numerous edge providers prioritize content, block content, and censor content, they would be subject to a different set of rules than ISPs under the legislation.

    Congressman Latta did propose an amendment that was accepted by the House. Currently, proponents of H.R. 1644 have said that the legislation would forbear 700 regulations that were included under the 2015 FCC Open Internet Order. However, those 700 regulations are not publicly available, and Latta’s amendment would require more transparency.

    See Also:

    Rep. Brenda Lawrence Votes on Bold Legislation to Save the Internet

    Congresswoman Lee Votes on Bold Legislation to Save the Internet

    Rep. Andy Levin Votes to Pass Bold Legislation to Save the Internet

    Rep. Lipinski Votes to Restore Net Neutrality Protections

    Loebsack Statement on House Passage of Net Neutrality Legislation

    Rep. Loudermilk Votes to Keep Internet Free from Washington Bureaucracy

    McCaul on Keeping the Internet Open


    Invest in America Act Introduced

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    by: John B. Larson (D-CT, 1st)

    Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Reps. John B. Larson (CT-01) and Kenny Marchant (TX-24) introduced the Invest in America Act that would repeal the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980, which applies capital gains taxes to foreign persons who invest in U.S. real estate. This bipartisan legislation would allow for additional capital to be unlocked that will be invested in American infrastructure, creating jobs and spurring economic development.

    “The American Society of Civil Engineers has given America’s infrastructure a D+ rating. That’s unacceptable. This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue. I am proud to introduce the Invest in America Act today with Congressman Marchant to unlock more opportunities to invest in communities in Connecticut and across the nation and to rebuild our infrastructure,” said Larson.

    “Global investment is critical to our nation’s economy, especially in the Dallas-Forth Worth region. That is why I am proud to partner with Congressman Larson to introduce the Invest in America Act, which will remove the barriers in our tax code that discourage investments in real estate. By providing parity to real estate assets under the law, foreign investors will be able to create more opportunities and more prosperity for American families,” said Congressman Marchant.

    A summary of the Invest in America Act can be found here.

    The bill text can be found here.

    Langevin Votes to Restore Free and Open Internet

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    by: Jim Langevin (D-RI, 2nd)

    Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), released the following statement after voting in favor of the Save the Internet Act, which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 232-190. The legislation would restore the Open Internet Order, an Obama-era net neutrality regulation that was repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in December 2017.

    “In 2017, President Trump’s handpicked FCC chair chose to gut the net neutrality rules that protected the public online. The Save the Internet Act will reverse this decision and once again provide fair and equal Internet access to all, not just the highest-bidders.

    “This legislation restores important protections to prevent consumers from being subjected to blocking, slowed-down service and other discriminatory actions by their Internet service providers. By restoring these protections, we are ensuring the Internet can continue to facilitate the free-flow of information and catalyze new ideas and innovation.

    “Control over the Internet needs to be returned to the people. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this bill and join our fight to the save the net.”

    LaMalfa Slams Proposed Federal Government Takeover of the Internet

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    by: Doug LaMalfa (R-CA, 1st)

    Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after voting against H.R. 1644, the Save the Internet Act. House Democrats passed the legislation with mostly partisan support. This legislation would allow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to have unprecedented control over the internet, including content moderation, new taxes and fees, and other new regulations which would stifle job growth and innovation.

    LaMalfa said: “I believe in a free and open internet. Many of my Democrat colleagues claim that they do as well, yet the bill they passed today would accomplish the exact opposite. Let’s call it what it is: a blatant federal government takeover of the internet. It would have drastic consequences on American innovation. Under this plan, a panel of unelected bureaucrats will have nearly limitless authority to regulate, tax, and moderate content on the internet. The FCC would essentially have the ability to regulate the internet like it’s a 1930s phone company. This would be harmful to all Americans – especially those in rural areas with fewer options, where smaller ISPs will be unable to afford costly regulations and inevitably pass that cost onto consumers. This approach would stifle the already free and open internet, and I strongly oppose it.”

    Under H.R. 1644:
  • A panel of five unelected bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission—not the free market—would have unprecedented power to control the internet, including setting prices, moderating content, and imposing new regulations. This sort of centralized control would stifle American innovation, limit consumer choice, and put the U.S. at a global disadvantage.
  • Rural communities would suffer most. Many rural areas are served by smaller Internet Service Providers, who cannot bear the costs of burdensome regulations in the same way as bigger companies. As a result, they would be forced to pass along added expenses to consumers, resulting in higher prices for worse service in rural communities. In addition, higher regulatory costs mean ISPs would no longer have revenue to continue investment in improving and expanding rural broadband infrastructure in underserved communities across America.
  • Taxes and fees would go up. Democrats want to recategorize the Internet under current law so that home internet and phone data plans could both be taxed, just like a cable bill.

    Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.
  • LaHood Votes Against Government Takeover of the Internet that Harms Rural Illinois

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    by: Darin Lahood (R-IL, 18th)

    Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) voted against the Democrats’ so-called “Save the Internet” Act, which would hand control of the internet over to a panel of five unelected bureaucrats, stunt future innovation, open the door to taxation of the internet, and significantly reduce and delay broadband expansion into rural communities. Rep. LaHood released the following statement after his vote today.

    “As the Representative of 19 counties across central and west-central Illinois, I understand the importance of expanding rural broadband access into our communities and it’s critical we preserve a free and open internet,” stated Rep. LaHood. “It’s unfortunate that Democrats are advancing a bill that stifles innovation, increases expenses on rural areas through burdensome regulations, and slows network expansion into communities in the 18th District. Congress should be empowering internet users through the free market system, not putting unelected officials in Washington in charge of the internet. Communities, like we have in Illinois, deserve better than this government takeover of the internet.”

    The Government Controlled Internet Act

  • This plan negatively impacts rural communities, which already face higher costs and fewer options
    ==Rural communities are typically served by smaller Internet Service Providers, who have a harder time bearing the cost of expanded regulations
    ==These costs will be passed along to consumers, resulting in increased costs with worse service
  • This legislation will give the Federal Communications Commission, a five-member panel of unelected officials, centralized control over the internet
    ==The panel will oversee setting prices, new investments, and dictate how broadband companies interact with their customers
  • This proposal stifles innovation
    ==The FCC will be required to approve new technologies, allowing officials in Washington to block, delay, or discourage investment or innovation

  • As we approach a 5G world, bureaucrats in Washington shouldn’t impede innovative progress that will keep the U.S. as a global leader in technology and expand access to broadband in rural communities

    Senator Lankford Highlights Positive Impact of Federal Tax Reform in OK

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    by: Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

    Washington, D.C. - April 11, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of Tax Day next week about some of the positive news and real stories from Oklahomans about their experience filing their taxes this year. Lankford specifically offered examples shared with our office from Oklahomans. This year is the first opportunity to see the effects of tax reform on Oklahomans, and Lankford reflected on the positive economic impacts tax reform has had for our state and nation. Lankford supported the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act when it passed the Senate in December 2016.


    On national media gloom about the tax reports (Starts at 00:40)

    This story, in particular, the headline was, ‘This Is Going to Wipe Us Out,’ in reference to the new tax law. When you read through the story and find out this is who they say is going to get wiped out, here is their illustration of the person: ‘a person moving from a $400,000 house this past year to one valued at $1.1 million concedes he has a first-world problem of his taxes going up, but he says owing more in taxes is a little disheartening as he moves from a $400,000 house to a $1.1 million home.’ Now, again, I’m excited for him in his home. I'm sure that it's beautiful. But that was their illustration of who is going to get hard hit by the tax changes on it. This article from a national source said, ‘Is a Tax Refund Ahead For You in 2019? Some Taxpayers Received a Tax Bill Instead.’ You go into the middle of the story and they make this one little note, ‘only about five percent of taxpayers are expected to pay more under the new law.’ Or, in other words, 95 percent of Americans, even in this story that's a negative story about the taxes, they hide the simple fact that 95 percent of Americans will pay the same or less. The vast majority of those will pay less in their taxes for the next year.

    On the economic results of the tax cuts (Starts at 04:10)

    Well, here is what happened. Our GDP grew at three percent a year. A dramatic increase from what we’ve had in the past. Inflation-adjusted business investment went up seven percent just since the tax cut. Two-hundred and fifteen thousand new jobs have started, on average, every month since the tax cut change happened—215,000. Those are very strong numbers across the country. Unemployment has gone to 3.9 percent since the enactment of the tax reform. Beginning in April of last year, the number of job openings in the national economy has exceeded the number of unemployed Americans, something that's not been recorded prior to April since records have been kept.

    On real examples of the success of tax reform from Oklahomans (Starts at 07:15)

    Well, I started asking some of my team in Oklahoma, just ask people around. When you're traveling around the state and when you’re visiting people just ask them how their taxes have gone. What's happened because people are filing now, just find out what is going on. One of the dry cleaners in Enid let our team know that he is doing better in his small-business taxes this year, and he’s actually going to be able to put a down payment now on some brand-new equipment at his dry-cleaner in Enid. When another one that we talked to—he’s in his early 30s, married, he and his wife both work--they said that they saved enough on their taxes this year from last year they’re going to start paying off some of their student loans and start paying down faster their car loan. We spoke to one of the gentlemen who’s also in his late thirties. They have one child who was born this past year. They said they have saved enough in their taxes from the previous year that they are going to be able to take care of some health care costs that they had, and they are going to start setting aside some money to allow his wife to start a Roth IRA account, starting their savings for their retirement in their thirties. Where you should start saving for your retirement, they are able to do this year because of the change in the tax cut.

    When another gentleman that we talked to that works in Oklahoma City, he reported that his withholding changes that happened that he is now actually in -- he was in the 25 percent tax bracket that now has moved to the 22 percent tax bracket, and he is using his savings to be able to take care of some of the issues that he had in his own personal debt. We have a married couple in Davis, Oklahoma, down in south-central Oklahoma. Their income actually went up $4,000 this last year. When they finished all their tax payments, their tax actually decreased by $700 from one year to the next even though their income went up. Another couple down the street from Davis in Sulfur, Oklahoma, they own a small farm. Their income went up $7,000 last year from the previous year, and they were panicked about what would happen on their taxes. Well, their taxes actually decreased $1,400 from the year before. We have a police officer in Norman, Oklahoma, just south of Oklahoma City. He and his family, after they finished filing all of their taxes, he said this, ‘I now bring home more in my check every two weeks because of the change in the tax code. It's making things so much simpler for us to be able to make ends meet.’

    On the five percent of individuals whose taxes did not decrease (Starts at 11:35)

    This is what tax reform looks like. Some of my colleagues try to spend all of their time saying tax reform is all about big corporations and Wall Street. Interestingly enough, most of the high-income folks in my state have said, actually, their taxes went up a little bit this year, not down. They are part of that five percent of Americans that didn't end up with a tax change. But for the vast majority of Americans who are working and putting ends together and taking care of their family in my state and in other states, they are finding that tax reform is not some theory to them. It was a real help to their family in paying off debt, starting retirement, taking care of medical costs, taking care of their family, and getting going on with life.