Friday, April 19, 2019



hobby lobby


by: Ron Wright (R-TX, 6th)

Washington, D.C. - April 19, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Last week, Representative Ron Wright (R-TX), along with Ranking Member Mike McCaul (R-TX), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), introduced H.R. 1359, the Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act. This bipartisan legislation promotes internet access in developing countries to spur economic growth, promote democracy, improve education and health, and empower women around the world.

Following introduction of the bill, the sponsors made the following statements, “More than three billion people, mostly concentrated in developing countries, still lack access to the internet, unable to take advantage of the countless benefits it has for commerce, democracy, education, and health. By encouraging better coordination with the private sector and inclusion of internet infrastructure in general infrastructure projects, this bill will maximize the reach of U.S. assistance and, ultimately, close the digital gap.” – Congressman Ron Wright (TX-06)

“Billions of people across the developing world lack access to the Internet, depriving them of the benefits of the biggest technological revolution since the advent of the printing press. The Digital GAP Act will support economic growth by accelerating the deployment of Internet infrastructure through the promotion of cost-effective “build-once” policies, partnerships with the private sector, and the removal of harmful barriers to a positive investment climate. I commend Rep. Wright for leading our efforts to bridge the digital divide and advance commonsense legislation to advance U.S. interests globally.” – House Foreign Affairs Lead Republican, Congressman Michael McCaul (TX-10)

“The internet has had a tremendous economic, social and political impact on those lucky enough to have reliable access to it. But a lack of affordable internet limits the opportunities many people in developing countries have to harness the internet’s transformational power. With the Digital GAP Act, at least 1.5 billion people living in urban and rural areas will be able to access the internet for the first time.” --
Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33)




by: Robert Woodall (R-GA, 7th)

Lawrenceville, GA - April 19, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Last week, the House Rules Committee met to consider H.R. 2021, the “Investing for the People Act.” Representative Austin Scott (GA-08) testified about his amendment to H.R. 2021, which would have provided emergency disaster assistance funding to farmers, ranchers, and others who were harmed by 2018 natural disasters.

In October, Hurricane Michael devastated parts of South and Middle Georgia. Since then, the entire Georgia Congressional Delegation has worked to secure federal assistance for not only Georgia, but for other areas impacted by hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, and other natural disasters during 2018. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to advance disaster aid legislation due to ongoing policy disagreements. Representative Scott’s amendment was a new attempt to secure disaster aid following continued obstruction by Senate Democrats who refuse to support the compromise legislation drafted by Georgia’s Senators Isakson and Perdue.

“Georgia is the number one producer of peanuts and pecans in the United States. Our state is the second largest producer of cotton, has the fourth largest amount of total forest land area, and 24.4 million acres of available timberland for commercial use in our country,” said Congressman Woodall. “Farmers from California to New York and all the way down to Georgia work day and night to fill the refrigerators for all Americans. Each year, our farmers take enormous risks on our behalf, and as Americans, we should do everything we can to stand behind these hardworking men and women who are willing to put their family’s well-being on the line.”

“For months, I have received calls from farmers and the lenders they rely on that the financial impacts from Hurricane Michael were becoming increasingly more difficult to bear. The truth is, if Hurricane Michael had hit Americans who weren’t farmers or farmers who aren’t Americans, the stories of Washington’s apathy to get this done would be the front page of every paper,” said Congressman Austin Scott. “For months, we have stressed the magnitude of the damage to our colleagues, and for months we were promised that this was a priority for the White House and Congressional leadership from both sides of the aisle. Those were nothing but empty promises. American farmers work day-in and day-out to feed and clothe America and the world, and I will continue fighting for them until the White House and Congress keep the promises we made to them.”

Click here to watch Representative Scott’s testimony and Representative Woodall’s motion to include the disaster relief amendment in H.R. 2021.

Representatives Watson Coleman and French Hill Propose Federal Savings Accounts for Taxpayers



by: Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ, 12th)

Washington, D.C. - April 19, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Congressman French Hill (R-AR) announced the introduction of legislation that would allow taxpayers the option to defer a portion of their taxes into an account that earns interest for six months. The bill, The Refund to Rainy Day Savings Act, seeks to give more families the flexibility to handle minor emergencies.

“For too many families, a blown tire, a burst pipe, or even a few days off with the flu result in hard financial decisions — whether to risk your credit score by skipping a payment, miss the month’s rent or mortgage payments, or even pass on needed healthcare,” said Watson Coleman. “Since my first term, I have worked to get more families out of this hole, and the Refund to Rainy Day Savings Act would do just that. Working Americans are living on the brink. We have to find solutions that will give them a stronger financial footing.”

“We have a savings crisis in America,” said Hill. “In order to change the culture of saving money in states like Arkansas, innovative opportunities are needed to make it easier for Americans to build up savings for unexpected expenses. The Refund to Rainy Day Savings Act is a unique and inexpensive solution that can put low-income earners, who may have never saved money before, on the path to financial stability. Giving hardworking families the option to save will unleash more economic prosperity.”

The Refund to Rainy Day Savings Act would allow tax filers receiving a refund via direct deposit to defer up to 20 percent of their refund to a Treasury-held account to accumulate interest. After six months, the refund, plus interest earned, would be transferred to the direct deposit account, encouraging more people to set aside emergency savings.

The bill also creates a pilot program to evaluate matches for low-income tax filers, redeploying the existing Assets for Independence match program with expanded flexibility to allow localities to identify best practices without increasing federal funding.

Last year, the federal Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households report found that 40 percent of Americans couldn’t cover an unexpected expense greater than $400 — an improvement on the same statistic from 2013. The Refund to Rainy Day Savings Act, a companion to legislation introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Todd Young (R-IN), would strengthen the financial foundation of these families.

To see the text of the bill, click here.

Congressional Leaders Oppose BDS


World Nutrition


by: Steve Watkins (R-KS, 2nd)

Washington, D.C. - April 19, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- The Problem Solvers Caucus voted to formally endorse H. Res. 246, a bipartisan resolution opposing the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement targeting Israel. The Caucus’ action, spearheaded by Congressmen Brad Schneider (IL-10) and Steve Watkins (KS-02), unites Democratic and Republican Caucus members behind the effort to denounce the boycott of Israel, and support a two-state solution. Congressman Watkins issued the following statement:

“At a time when anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions are on the rise across the world, I am pleased to see Republicans and Democrats of the Problem Solvers Caucus coming together to endorse this important resolution. The BDS movement only serves to harm and divide communities. As Americans, we must do all we can to protect Israeli sovereignty and their right to exist as a free and democratic people,” said Congressman Watkins.

Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus issued the following statement:

“BDS is anti-Israel, anti-peace, and harmful to America’s interests. I’m proud that all members of the Problem Solvers Caucus are committed to opposing BDS and standing up for the U.S.-Israel relationship because these should not be partisan political issues. Thanks to the leadership of Congressmen Brad Schneider and Steve Watkins, this bipartisan resolution has even more momentum for a vote on the House Floor.”

Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus issued the following statement:

“Israel is an unwavering ally of the United States and one of our most important strategic partners around the globe. I am proud of our Problem Solvers Caucus members who have to stood up to ensure Jewish people are treated fairly and spoken out to show we care about this great nation.”




by: Lauren Underwood (D-IL, 14th)

Chicago, IL - April 19, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Bill Foster (D-IL-11) and Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) today were joined by researchers from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine to announce their bicameral legislation to restore the United States’ commitment to breakthrough scientific and biomedical research. The American Cures Act and the American Innovation Act would create a mandatory fund to provide steady, predictable funding for breakthrough research at America’s top research agencies, allowing the United States to remain a leader in development and discovery for decades to come.

“The American Cures and Innovation Acts will allow America’s smartest scientists and researchers to spend less time figuring out how to cut their budgets and more time finding new ways to produce clean energy and clean water, as well as develop new cures and treatments for Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease,” said Durbin. “In the last two centuries, U.S. government support for scientific research has helped split the atom, put a man on the moon, create the Internet, and map the human genome. Today we face new hurdles, but continuing to support scientific research is the smartest investment we can make for our health, our future, and our economy.”

“It’s more important than ever that we defend America’s place as a world leader in scientific progress,” Congressman Foster said. “Since World War II, investments in science and technology have helped the U.S. lead the world in new innovations, grow the economy, create millions of jobs, and provide critical advancements to our national security. As we confront new challenges, we need to make sure our scientists have the resources they need to perform their work at the highest levels and help us maintain our role as global leaders in research and innovation.”

“Biomedical and life science research create breakthrough treatments and lifesaving cures, while supporting high-quality jobs and billions in economic output. Federal investment has slipped in recent years, and robust, sustained funding is needed. The American Cures Act will ensure our country’s investment and innovation in world-class life sciences and biomedical research continues, led by Illinois,” said Congresswoman Underwood.

The American Cures Act—of which Representative Underwood is the lead House sponsor—would provide annual budget increases of five percent plus inflation at America’s top four biomedical research agencies: the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense Health Program, and the Veterans Medical and Prosthetics Research Program.

The American Innovation Act—of which Representative Foster is the lead House sponsor—would provide annual budget increases of five percent for cutting edge research at five important federal research agencies: The National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Scientific and Technical Research, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Science Directorate. This steady, long-term investment would allow the agencies to plan and manage strategic growth while maximizing efficiencies.

President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request would devastate funding for medical and scientific research by proposing to cut funding at the National Institutes of Health by $5 billion (or 12 percent), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by $750 million (or more than 10 percent), the National Science Foundation by nearly a billion dollars (12 percent), and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science by $1.1 billion (or more than 16 percent) from FY19 funding levels.

Research and development (R&D) funding in the United States has been lagging in recent decades. In 1960’s the United States invested 17 percent of its discretionary budget on research and development—that number is now down to 9 percent. Between 1960 and 1980, federal R&D spending as a share of GDP averaged 1.52 percent per year. However, federal R&D investments now average just under 0.8 percent year. This steady decline has led to a cumulative $1.5 trillion research investment deficit. Meanwhile, China’s research intensity (GDP expenditures on R&D) has increased sharply since the early 2000s – if this trend continues, China will soon surpass the U.S.

The American Cures Act is supported by: the American Heart Association, Research!America, the National Association of Veterans’ Research and Education Foundations, the American Association for Cancer Research, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Arthritis Foundation, ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, as well as many Illinois health and hospital systems, including Advocate Aurora Health, University of Chicago Medicine, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Loyola University Health System, Sinai Health System, Northwestern Medicine, and AMITA Health.

The American Innovation Act is supported by: Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, American Geophysical Union, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Task Force on American Innovation.

Reactions to Release of Redacted Mueller Report


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by: Lori Trahan (D-MA, 3rd)

Washington, D.C. - April 19, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D-MA-03) made this statement following the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s partially redacted report.

“I am deeply troubled by Attorney General Barr’s partisan handling of the Mueller reports’ release, including his March 24th summary, his testimony before Congress last week, and his attempt to spin the report in a press conference earlier this morning before the public or Congress was able to view the document. The Attorney General of the United States is not the President’s personal defense attorney, but you wouldn’t know that based on Mr. Barr’s performance today. The sum of his actions bring into question his independence and impartiality. I believe that the unredacted parts of the report paint a grim picture – particularly in terms of obstruction – that must be fully vetted. In my view the only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible. The American people deserve the truth, and Congress must take steps to assure that they get it.”

See More about the Mueller Report:

TURNER Statement on Special Counsel Report

Thompson Reacts to Release of Redacted Mueller Report


Torres Statement on the Release of the Mueller Report

Rep.Veasey on the Redacted Mueller Report

Greg Walden statement on public release of Mueller report

Wasserman Schultz on Mueller Report

Chairwoman Waters Statement on the Release of the Redacted Special Counsel Report by Attorney General Barr

Congresswoman Wexton on the Release of the Redacted Mueller Report

Congressman Wilson Statement On Release Of Mueller Report

Womack Statement on Public Release of Mueller Report