Thursday, June 11, 2020

House Judiciary Committee Holds Oversight Hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability

Washington, D.C. - June 11, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Representative Gregory W. Steube (R-FL, 17th) made remarks at the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing titled, “Oversight Hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability.”

“While officers like David Dorn and Dave Underwood have been targeted and murdered during these so-called ‘protests,’ it is extremely troubling that many of my colleagues on the left have failed to condemn the violence and rioting in our cities and communities across the country,” Steube said. “Protests are peaceful. Looting, killing, stealing, destruction and burning some of the very cities where their leaders just weeks ago were arresting people for violating stay-at-home orders is absolute lawlessness.”

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Floyd, I would offer my personal condolence to you in the loss of your brother. I can’t imagine having to watch your family die needless and merciless passing. I feel confident that not only will justice be served for him, but I think that significant and necessary reforms will come of this tragic incident.

And I wish Ms. Underwood-Jacobs was here, but I also want to give my condolence to her, hopefully she’ll watch the video. I have a brother and father in law enforcement and I cannot imagine the pain that you are experiencing knowing that someone intentionally targeted him simply because he was an officer. I’m very sorry for your loss and my prayers are with you and your family and with Mr. Floyd’s family. In my prayers this morning Phillipians 4:13 came to mind so I hope you all can reflect on that.

This is a dangerous, dangerous time for law enforcement and their families. Just in a conversation I had with my brother yesterday he said he had 2 of his deputies quit because of all the issues they are facing, threats, targeting, being reconed at their home and their vehicles being looted and broken at their homes.

And speaking of law enforcement officers, I would also like to give condolences to the family of the Retired Police Captain David Dorn, who was fatally shot last week trying to prevent a pawn shop from being looted during what the left is calling a peaceful protest. His life mattered as well and I commend his service to his community as a law enforcement officer and wish that there was a member of his family here represented today to give their remarks in his passing.

While officers like David Dorn and Dave Underwood have been targeted and murdered during these so-called protests, it is extremely troubling that many of my colleagues on the left have failed to condemn the violence and rioting in our cities and communities across the country.

Protests are peaceful; looting, killing, stealing, destruction and burning some of the very cities where their leaders just weeks ago were arresting people for violating stay at home orders is absolute lawlessness. And the hypocrisy of these leaders arresting those violating stay-at-home orders for say, going surfing, or other activities, gathering in a synagogue with ten or more people. The hypocrisy of these leaders arresting those individuals for violating stay-at-home orders but sitting by while their cities burn is outlandish to me.

On one day alone, on May 31st in Chicago, one city, on one day, saw 18 people murdered due to rioting, in one night. The deadliest day in Chicago in 60 years, there were over 65,000 9-1-1 calls. And can you imagine if we abolished the police department? Those 65,000 people would be calling and nobody would be there to come to the rescue.

That is not America, that is anarchy and when your leaders talk about disbanding police departments you are emboldening criminals to continue to commit crime knowing there we be no one to stop them.

I talked to my brother yesterday and they had an incident at a Walmart where there were thirty individuals looting the Walmart, the Walmart that my wife and I go to on a pretty regular basis. And they only had three officers respond to thirty individuals who had weapons. Well, they’re not going to use three officers to respond to thirty individuals because of the safety risk incurred to those officers. Those thirty individuals got away.

I thought that Pastor Scott had a great statement today in his opening comment: Pastor you said, the prospect of defunding or dismantling our police forces is one of the most unwise, irresponsible proposals made by American politicians. And I would agree.

There are issues in this proposal that we can all agree upon, a law against lynching, which I supported, and this House passed months ago. Which we voted for earlier this year. Ensuring bad cops don’t get rehired at a different agencies - absolutely, that’s an incredible idea. Reporting use of force in an FBI database and creating a commission on the social status of black men and boys based on a Florida program that I participated in as a Florida Senator in the State of Florida. I was proud to be a part of that program.

But there are proposals in this bill that are extremely dangerous for those who protect our communities:

Removing qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is only a protection if officers follow their training and protocols. If they don’t follow their training and protocols, they don’t get to use the immunity because it's ‘qualified.’ If officers do not have qualified immunity to follow their training and protocols, I don’t know a single person who would want to become a law enforcement officer in today's world, knowing that they may or may not be able to use the training and protocols that they would use to apprehend a suspect that is not complying with them. But maybe that’s the goal of the majority, to get less and less people to join our law enforcement offices.

One quick point in the little time I have left, is military equipment, or as Mr. Raskin calls it, the militarization of our police departments. They use bulletproof vests, and bulletproof shields to protect our officers who protect our communities. By stripping them of that ability and stripping them of their ability to use weapons to protect themself is a dangerous, dangerous path to go down. And I don’t think that our country supports that. And Mr. Floyd, I think, said it best. You said, ‘life is precious’ and I would agree with you, and I would contend that all life is precious and all deserves protection. I yield back."

The Stop Evasion of Iran Sanctions Act

Janesville, WI - June 11, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- The Republican Study Committee (RSC) has endorsed Bryan Steil’s bill, H.R. 6015, the Stop Evasion of Iran Sanctions Act, as part of RSC’s National Security Strategy: Strengthening America and Countering Global Threats. Steil has been a member of the RSC since 2019 and is a member of the RSC National Security and Foreign Affairs Task Force.

“The United States will not allow Iran to avoid our sanctions and develop a nuclear weapon. My bill enforces sanctions on Iran and on countries that evade our sanctions to financially support the regime. Our National Security Strategy targets Iran’s malign actions and includes the toughest sanctions ever on Iran. I am grateful for RSC’s support of my bill and will continue working with my colleagues to hold Iran accountable and keep America safe. We must keep our eyes on the ball and never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon,” said Steil.

“We are proud to endorse this important legislation to stop the Iranian regime’s attempt at sanctions evasion and to help enhance President Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ campaign on Iran,” RSC Chairman Mike Johnson said. “Iran has shown it will stop at nothing to circumvent U.S. sanctions so it will have the funds to spread terrorism, obtain nuclear weapons, and threaten Israel. Congress can make sure that doesn’t happen by passing The Stop Evasion of Iran Sanctions Act. I thank Congressman Steil for his continued leadership in the national security arena, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to support his smart, tough approach on Iran.”

You can read the RSC’s National Security Strategy here.

In April, Steil penned an op-ed in the Washington Examiner on the need to hold Iran accountable. Steil also joined Spicer & Co. on Newsmax to discuss the importance of ensuring Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon.

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) has served as the conservative caucus of House Republicans and a leading influencer on the Right since its original founding in 1973. It exists to bring like-minded House members together to promote a strong, principled legislative agenda that will limit government, strengthen our national defense, boost America’s economy, preserve traditional values and balance our budget.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Is Voting by Proxy Constitutional?

Washington, D.C. - June 6, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- On May 15th, 2020, Democrats in the House passed H.Res. 965, which allows members of Congress to designate another member to serve as their “proxy” and cast votes on their behalf. Members may vote for up to 10 other members. This is the first time in the Chamber’s history that the House has voted by proxy. The resolution passed, 217 to 189, with no Republicans supporting the measure.

On May 27th, 2020, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) led a lawsuit against Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democrats over the constitutionality of proxy voting in the House of Representatives.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Protests, Veterans and More at the Ponder News

Donna Shalala Statement on Protests and Civil Disobedience in Miami-Dade and Across the United States
Source: U.S. Representative Donna E. Shalala (D-FL, 27th)
June 1, 2020
“We must vigorously and loudly voice our grievances while peacefully and lovingly respecting the safety of our neighbors and communities.”

Rep. Sewell Statement in Response to Birmingham Protests
Source: U.S. Representative Terri A. Sewell (D-AL, 7th)
May 29, 2020
“We must seek justice for George Floyd, but we must also examine the very nature of policing in America as an institution.  These deadly tragedies are a frequent and persistent symptom of the abdication of our responsibility to reform the system. The full implementation of the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 will provide the data necessary to implement the long overdue reform of policing in America and will honor the legacies of the countless lives lost to these injustices.”

Source: U.S. Representative Robert C. Scott (D-VA, 3rd)
May 29, 2020
“We must seek justice for George Floyd, but we must also examine the very nature of policing in America as an institution.  These deadly tragedies are a frequent and persistent symptom of the abdication of our responsibility to reform the system. The full implementation of the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 will provide the data necessary to implement the long overdue reform of policing in America and will honor the legacies of the countless lives lost to these injustices.”

Sarbanes Statement on Recent Killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd
Source: U.S. Representative John P. Sarbanes (D-MD, 3rd)
June 1, 2020
“I am anguished and outraged at the brutal killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and now, George Floyd in Minnesota. The sad, bitter truth is that our country continues to be betrayed by police who perpetrate racial violence and prosecutors that turn a blind eye. We must end this corruption of justice with transparency and unyielding accountability. The anger and frustration that is boiling in so many communities across the country is real – and it is warranted."

Source: U.S. Representative Bradley Schneider (D IL, 10th)
June 1, 2020
“We all need to listen, and to make the reforms our justice system so desperately needs. We need leadership and empathy. Instead of uniting the country, the President’s rhetoric and actions seek to divide and dangerously escalate the situation. We cannot allow it."

Sanders and Schumer Respond to CBO Estimate Pandemic May Cause $16 Trillion in Long-Term Economic Harm
Source: Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT)
June 1, 2020
“Last week we learned that over 40 million Americans lost their jobs as a result of this horrific pandemic. Today, the CBO tells us that if current trends continue, we will see a jaw-dropping $16 trillion reduction in economic growth over the next decade. How can Senator McConnell look at these catastrophic economic numbers and believe there is no ‘urgency’ to protect America’s working families? At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, how can President Trump believe that what this country needs is another huge tax break for the top one percent? In order to avoid the risk of another Great Depression, the Senate must act with a fierce sense of urgency to make sure that everyone in America has the income they need to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. The American people cannot afford to wait another month for the Senate to pass legislation. They need our help now.”

Schakowsky Slams CMS For Failing To Publish Coronavirus Data From Nursing Homes
Source: U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL, 9th)
June 1, 2020
U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Co-Chair of the House Democrats’ Task Force on Aging and Families, released the following statement after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) failed to publish COVID-19 data that the agency has been collecting from U.S. nursing homes by May 31:

Senate Passes Schatz-Blackburn-Coons-Murkowski Bill Honoring The More Than 100,000 Americans Lost To COVID-199
Source: Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
June 1, 2020
“The nation must mark this dark moment with unity and clarity,” said Senator Schatz. “At this time of almost unimaginable pain, it is essential that we pause to honor every life lost, and that we grieve together.”

Schiff Highlights Need for Nondiscriminatory Blood Donation Guidelines
Source: U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA, 28th)
June 1, 2020
Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Deb Haaland (D-NM), and Katherine Clark (D-MA) introduced a resolution underscoring the need for policies governing blood and blood product donation to be grounded in science and based on individual risk factors that do not unfairly single out any group of individuals so that all those who can safely donate are able to do so.


Washington, D.C. - June 1, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) released the following statement in support of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler's announcement of the agency's final rule on Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The final rule will help accelerate the construction of energy infrastructure projects across the nation:

“I applaud President Trump and EPA Administrator Wheeler for their final rule that will prevent further abuse and politicization of Clean Water Act Section 401 authorities. Some states have abused Section 401 authorities to block the construction of critical energy infrastructure projects for reasons completely unrelated to water quality. This new rule maintains strong standards for water quality, while also supporting the high-paying construction jobs needed to build pipelines, export terminals, and other critical energy projects. This important rule will provide common sense reforms to ensure our nation’s waterways are protected, while putting an end to the radical tactics some states are using to pursue their 'keep it in the ground' agenda."

EPA finalized this rule pursuant to the direction of Executive Order 13868, “Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth.” In this Executive Order, President Trump directed EPA to review Section 401 and EPA’s related regulations and guidance to determine whether the agency’s policies should be updated or clarified.

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act gives states the authority to review whether a federally permitted project will impact the water quality of navigable waters within state borders. While this authority is important in protecting water quality, Section 401 has been abused by some states to deny critical and legitimate energy infrastructure projects for reasons unrelated to water quality. The final rule limits reviews to water quality impacts and requires a final decision be made by states within one year. The final rule:

  • Specifies statutory and regulatory timelines for review and action on a Section 401 certification—requiring final action to be taken within one year of receiving a certification request.
  • Clarifies the scope of Section 401, including clarifying that 401 certification is triggered based on the potential for a project to result in a discharge from a point source into a water of the United States. When states look at issues other than the impact on water quality, they go beyond the scope of the Clean Water Act.
  • Explains EPA’s roles under Section 401.
  • Reaffirms the agency’s statutory responsibility to provide technical assistance to any party involved in a Section 401 water quality certification process.
  • Promotes early engagement and coordination among project proponents, certifying authorities and federal licensing and permitting agencies.

  • In October 2019, Scalise signed a letter in support of the EPA's proposed rule regarding Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

    House increases vets’ COLA

    Washington, D.C. - June 1, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 6168, the Veterans’ Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2020 which would increase compensation rates for disability compensation, clothing allowance, and dependency and indemnity compensation benefits. Raising benefits help veterans, their families, and survivors meet the rising cost of goods and services and maintain quality of life. The amount would be the same as the cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients and take effect December 1, 2020. The bill now heads to the Senate for action.