Tuesday, November 5, 2019

National Security, Substance Abuse, Drug Cartel, Space, Big Pharma, Military, Climate Agreement, Caregivers,

The Senators requested an unclassified assessment on threats to U.S. national security resulting from escaped ISIS prisoners
Source: Senator Benjamin L.Cardin (D - MD)
November 5, 2019
In their letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence Admiral Joseph Maguire, Senators Collins and Warner requested that he produce an unclassified assessment with a classified annex regarding how the escape of ISIS detainees in Syria could impact the security of the United States and our allies following the pullback of U.S. troops and subsequent incursion by Turkey. Senator Collins is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Senator Warner is the Vice Chairman of the Committee.


Source: Senator Cathrine Cortez Masto - (D - NV)
November 5, 2019
“Educating our youth about the dangers of substance abuse is an important step towards ensuring the health and safety of Nevada’s communities. We’re especially thankful for federal funding programs like Drug-Free Communities that promote collaboration with local agencies and coalitions, and we’ll continue to fight to get our kids the resources they need to make healthy choices and stop substance abuse before it starts.”


Sen. Cramer Delivers Floor Remarks on the Death of North Dakotans in Mexico Last Night
Source: Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
November 5, 2019
“What this family has experienced is the personification of evil in the form of this Mexican drug cartel. But we serve a God who personifies pure good, and the greatest response to pure evil is pure good,” said Senator Cramer. “I want to express as much as anything to those grieving that today their burden is our burden too.”


Sen. Cruz: To Maintain U.S. Leadership in Space, We Must Inspire the Future Workforce
Source: Senator Ted Cruz (R - TX)
November 5, 2019
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Aviation and Space, led a hearing with educators and industry leaders on the importance of hands-on learning opportunities for students in developing America's future space workforce. During his introductory remarks, Sen. Cruz highlighted the historic accomplishments of NASA during the Apollo Program and the crucial role a skilled, diverse workforce played, and the importance of inspiring children of all ages and background to become involved in science, technology, engineering, and math:


Durbin: NAFTA 2.0 Is A Trojan Horse Giveaway To Big Pharma
Source: Senator Richard J. Durbin (D - IL)
November 5, 2019
“For all the President's talk, this provision in this trade agreement is a Trojan horse giveaway to Big Pharma at the expense of American patients,” Durbin said. “I guess we shouldn't be surprised, but I'll say this: if Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate, are listening to the people they represent back home about the cost of prescription drugs, they won't fall for this new pharma fleece.”


Ernst Blasts Democrats for Blocking Military Funding
Source: Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)
November 5, 2019
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), the first female combat veteran elected to the U.S. Senate and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, blasted her Democratic colleagues who blocked a measure simply allowing a debate on defense funding. On the floor of the Senate, she called on Democrats to put politics aside and to uphold one of the most important duties of the oath of office—and provide our men and women in uniform with the resources they need to do their jobs.


Feinstein, Cardin, Colleagues Introduce Resolution Urging President Trump to Keep the United States in the Paris Climate Agreement
Source: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
November 5, 2019
Monday, November 4 is the first day President Donald Trump can formalize his threat to withdraw the United States from this historic international agreement. Parties to the Paris Agreement pledged to reduce carbon pollution in an amount and manner determined by each nation that puts the world on a strong trajectory to address climate change.


(See Also:
Heinrich Statement On Administration’s Withdrawal From Paris Climate Agreement

Gillibrand Unveils Bipartisan Legislation To Support Family Caregivers
Source: Senator Kirsten E.Gillibrand (D-NY)
November 5, 2019
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand unveiled the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act, legislation that would support family caregivers by helping to alleviate some of the financial challenges they may face. Family caregivers are family members who take care of a loved one that has a medical or behavioral condition or disability. Gillibrand’s new push comes after hosting roundtables and meetings across New York with older adults and disability rights advocates and hearing directly from them about their specific needs. According to the most recently available data, there are 2.6 million unpaid caregivers throughout New York State.


At Homeland Security Hearing, Harris Questions FBI Director on Rudy Giuliani, Foreign Election Interference, Witness Intimidation
Source: Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
November 5, 2019
U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, on Tuesday questioned FBI Director Christopher Wray about potential threats to the United States, including foreign interference in U.S elections, witness intimidation in ongoing investigations, and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. Wray could not say if the FBI has told the president whether Giuliani is a potential counterintelligence threat or whether Giuliani holds any security clearance of any kind.


Senator Hassan Addresses Foreign & Domestic Terrorist Threats, Ransomware Attacks at Homeland Security Committee Hearing
Source: Senator Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH)
November 5, 2019
Senator Maggie Hassan questioned several of the nation’s top security officials about the rising threats of ISIS affiliates, growing domestic terrorism threats, and cybersecurity during the Senate Homeland Security Committee annual Threats to the Homeland hearing. Senator Hassan and other members of the Committee questioned FBI Director Chris Wray, Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis David Glawe, and National Counterterrorism Center Acting Director Russell Travers.


Cardin Introduces Legislation to Hold Private Prisons Accountable for Treatment of Federal Inmates

Washington, D.C. - November 5, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) unveiled legislation Tuesday that will hold private prisons that receive federal funds to the same transparency standards as federal prisons. After welcoming an expert panel hosted by Open the Government, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Senator Cardin officially introduced S. 2773, the Private Prison Information Act (PPIA), which would mandate private prisons with federal inmates and detainees be bound by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In addition to Cardin, the legislation is cosponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), as well as Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

“Private prisons account for 20 percent of our federal prison and detention population and 70 percent of all immigration detainees. Yet the operators of private prisons hide behind loopholes in the law when it comes to how they perform their job. If they are receiving federal funds and housing federal inmates and detainees, they must be held accountable to the same standards as our federal prisons,” said Senator Cardin.

More than 25 percent of all people in federal custody are held in private prisons and detention facilities and, since 2000, the number of people housed in private prisons has increased by 39 percent. The Department of Justice Inspector General has found that federal prisons run by private companies are substantially less safe and secure than ones run by the federal Bureau of Prisons.

S. 2773, the Private Prison Information Act (PPIA) has been endorsed by: Open the Government, ACLU, NAACP, Human Rights Watch, Southern Poverty Law Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), FreedomWorks, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), and the Rutherford Institute, among others.

“For-profit prisons should no longer be able to use their status as private entities to bypass the public access and information laws with which federal prisons must comply,” said Lisa Rosenberg, executive director of Open the Government. “The PPIA will help close this FOIA loophole and mitigate waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars by holding corporations accountable for their contractual obligations to the federal government.”

“Currently, oversight of America's private prisons is limited to the federal agencies overseeing them, leaving the American people without any way of knowing how their taxpayer dollars are being spent and keeping them in the dark about how private prisons are being operated, even as private prison companies pour millions into politics.Without oversight, profit-driven private prisons are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and shielded from sufficient public accountability,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder, “The Private Prison Information Act will build on FOIA to ensure the American people have access to key information about private prisons in order to hold this multi-billion industry accountable for its actions.”

“For the last 40 years, the Freedom of Information Act has been critical in guaranteeing transparency in government. The private prison industry is now responsible for the incarceration of tens of thousands of federal prisoners, and detention of over 70 percent of all immigrant detainees, but is not obligated to provide the public with critical information under the law. The Private Prison Information Sharing Act will ensure that the public has access to the records necessary to ensure that they are holding these entities accountable,” said Eunice Cho, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU National Prison Project.

Watch the full panel discussion HERE

Senate Democrats Block Permanent Funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Washington, D.C. - November 5, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Alexander continued: “This is not an Alexander proposal. This is a package of proposals by 29 Senators—17 Democrats and 12 Republicans. It's ready to pass the Senate. It's ready to be worked on with the House of Representatives and signed by the President.”

Alexander concluded his floor remarks: “We're not on vacation. I know everybody's talking about impeachment, but we have lots of students around this country who would like to have a simpler way to go to college. We have lots of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions that would like to have permanent funding.”

“We have lots of employers and potential employees who want a short-term Pell grant. And, according to the Congressional Budget Office, simplifying the FAFSA would make 250,000 Americans eligible for the maximum Pell grant. All of that is ready to go. Not by a gimmick, but by a Budget Committee approved method that President Trump and President Obama both had in their budgets.”

And regarding the House-passed legislation, Alexander noted:

“Unfortunately, that bill is a shortcut the House took, which has no way to pass the Senate. It's based upon a budget gimmick. It uses a method of funding that many Senators objected to. It creates a new funding cliff within 23 months. It is unnecessary to rush this short-term solution because the Secretary of Education has written all of the heads of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to say that there are sufficient funds until next September, so there is no funding problem.”

Watch Chairman Alexander’s floor speech here.

See Also:

Booker Urges Senate, McConnell to Renew Funding for Minority-Serving Institutions of Higher Education