Monday, September 28, 2020

Federal Judge Certifies Class, Orders Trump Administration to Stop Denying Pandemic Relief Funds to Incarcerated Persons

Oakland, CA - September 28, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- On September 24, 2020, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued an Order certifying a nationwide class of people incarcerated in state and federal prisons, and granting the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction requiring the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and the United States of America ("Defendants") to stop withholding CARES Act stimulus funds from plaintiffs or any class member on the sole basis of their incarcerated status.

A Treasury Department Inspector General report confirms that, as of early May 2020, the IRS had determined that at least 80,000 incarcerated people were eligible for payments of over $100 million. The Judge's order will thus result in desperately needed economic assistance of over $100 million to be delivered to members of the Class.

Congress passed the CARES Act to provide sorely needed economic assistance during the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Incarcerated persons, and their families on the outside, are among the most economically disadvantaged people in the country. Indeed, according to one study, people who are incarcerated had a median income of only $19,185 before their incarceration, compared to $41,250 for non-incarcerated people. Low-income families are disproportionately more likely to have a relative behind bars. The same is true for Black, Latino and Native families.

The Treasury, however, has refused to issue stimulus payments authorized by Congress to eligible incarcerated persons, thereby further exacerbating the economic disadvantages they and their families suffer.

The lawsuit alleges that over 1.4 million incarcerated people have been affected by Defendants' actions. Many rely on financial assistance from their friends or families on the outside, people who are already suffering in the current economic crisis.

The plaintiffs are Colin Scholl and Lisa Strawn. The Lieff Cabraser legal team representing them and the proposed class are Kelly M. Dermody, Yaman Salahi, and Jalle H. Dafa, joined by Eva Jefferson Paterson, Mona Tawatao, Lisa Holder, and Christina Alvernaz of the Equal Justice Society. Kelly Dermody and Eva Paterson have been appointed Co-Lead Class Counsel.

The defendants are the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the United States Commissioner of Internal Revenue Charles Rettig, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and the United States of America.

Sunday, September 27, 2020


Washington, D.C. - September 27, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act. This legislation increases research and development across all forms of energy generation, funds the science to support breakthrough technologies and modernizes the country’s energy infrastructure.

“This legislation is about winning the race to the jobs and technologies of the future. Western Pennsylvania has done it before,” said U.S. Representative Connor Lamb (D-PA, 17th). “Our people drilled the first oil wells, built the first nuclear plant, and changed the world with the shale revolution. We can and must do it again. Government research has always been a key ingredient in winning the race and creating jobs, and this bill will help make sure that Western Pennsylvanians will provide energy and technology to the nation long into the future.”

In addition to expanding research for Fossil, Wind, Solar, Nuclear energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, H.R. 4447 also increases research for industrial technologies that can increase efficiency and drop emissions; boosts funding for electric vehicle manufacturing in the U.S.; increases federal programs to make homes and buildings more energy efficient; facilitates commercializing the scientific breakthroughs developed at our national labs; and more than doubles the authorization for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (known as ARPA-E), which funds the most innovative and moonshot-style research projects.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) located in Western Pennsylvania is the lead lab for Fossil research, and under the bill will research Carbon Capture Utilization and Sequestration (CCUS) technologies, methane leaks, and rare earth elements, among other relevant areas.

Click here for more information on the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act.

California Republican Congressman Opposes Democrats Partisan Energy Takeover Bill

The White House threatens to veto the Democrat's energy bill

Congressman Doug LaMalfa issued the following statement after voting against H.R. 4447, the Democrats’ Partisan Energy Takeover Bill. H.R. 4447 promotes far left energy policies that will cost American taxpayers more than $135 billion dollars.

LaMalfa said: “This legislation is another attempt by Democrats to force expensive, unreliable, and unrealistic ‘Green New Deal’ priorities on the American people. This bill also completely disregards the needs of rural America, prioritizing billions in funding to large cities. California is again facing expected power shut-offs because of the policies found in this legislation. Forcing the rest of the country to adopt the failure of California’s energy policy is wrong. Additionally, by effectively forcing a phase-out of hydropower, thousands of Northern Californians are put at risk to lose their clean, reliable energy source. This legislation is the House Majority’s absurd attempt at pandering to urban environmentalists, and does not contain real solutions for rural Americans, like encouraging the use of hydropower, investing in biomass power development that will help reduce wildfire risks, and increasing water storage.”

Specifically, H.R. 4447 includes the following provisions:

  • $36 billion for electric vehicle (EV) related programs, including federal-fleet mandates requiring at least half of all light-duty vehicles to be zero emission or hybrid by 2025
  • $650 million for areas to convert to electric school busses and EV infrastructure
  • $17.5 billion for city-oriented conservation block programs
  • $20 billion to establish a federal “green bank” to subsidize green energy projects
  • Effectively bans new pipeline projects
  • Discourages new investment in hydropower
  • Saturday, September 26, 2020

    Creating National Standards for Aquaculture

    Washington, D.C. - September 26, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- On September 24, 2020, Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation, the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture (AQUAA) Act (S. 4723) in the U.S. Senate. The bipartisan AQUAA Act, which has companion legislation in the U.S. House, would support development of an offshore aquaculture industry in the U.S. to increase the production of sustainable seafood and establish new economic opportunities in federal waters.

    "The expansion of domestic offshore aquaculture is a win-win for American communities nationwide," said Bill DiMento, president of Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) and vice president of Corporate Sustainability and Government Affairs at High Liner Foods. "Growth of the American aquaculture industry would create new jobs, provide new business opportunities and grow our economy as our country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the opportunities that aquaculture can provide American communities, there is growing bipartisan support and momentum for federal action on aquaculture."

    The AQUAA Act would establish National Standards for offshore aquaculture and clarify a regulatory system for the development of aquaculture in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The legislation would also establish a research and technology grant program to fund innovative research and extension services focused on improving and advancing sustainable domestic aquaculture.

    The expansion of aquaculture, one of the most resource efficient methods of producing animal protein, would complement the wild fish sector to meet growing demand for American seafood while protecting our fisheries and natural resources. In addition to boosting growth for the seafood industry, American aquaculture would provide a new market for U.S. farmers, specifically for crops such soybeans, corn and peas, which can be used to create fish feed and ease pressure on ocean resources.

    "With our extended coastline, expansive ocean resources, skilled labor force, superior technology, and ample feed sources, the U.S. has the potential to be a global leader for aquaculture production. However, our potential will remain untapped unless and until federal action is taken to clarify the permitting process. SATS applauds Senators Wicker, Schatz and Rubio for working across party lines to bring awareness and encourage debate in Congress on the topic of expanding domestic aquaculture," DiMento concluded.

    Tony Dal Ponte, vice president of SATS and general counsel at Pacific Seafood, said, "Expanding domestic aquaculture can help give a much needed boost to the American economy. A clear, predictable regulatory framework will benefit not just the seafood industry, but also the coastal communities who rely on it to support their local economies and provide stable, year-round employment opportunities."

    "Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector, but the U.S. lacks a comprehensive, nationwide system for permitting in federal waters," said Senator Wicker. "This deficiency prevents the development of aquaculture farms, leading to more seafood imports. Our legislation would establish national standards for offshore aquaculture, enabling U.S. producers to create jobs and meet the growing demand for fresh, local seafood."

    "Hawaii leads the nation in modern and traditional aquaculture practices," said Senator Schatz. "With this bipartisan bill, we can expand aquaculture opportunities, opening suitable federal waters for responsible growers. It will create new jobs, spur economic growth in our coastal communities, and ensure our oceans are managed sustainably now and in the future."

    "Marine aquaculture presents an enormous opportunity for Florida's economy and for the food security of our nation," said Senator Rubio. "I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation, alongside Senators Wicker and Schatz, that would streamline the rules for this important industry and responsibly promote its success."

    The companion bill for The AQUAA Act in the U.S. House, H.R. 6191, was introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D, MN-7) and Congressman Steven Palazzo (R, MS-4) in March 2020. The AQUAA Act complements the May 2020 Presidential Executive Order on American Seafood Competitiveness, which outlines a process for developing Aquaculture Opportunity Areas in federal waters, a key to supporting a domestic offshore aquaculture industry.

    Stronger America Through Seafood (SATS) advocates for policies and regulations that help secure a stronger America through increased U.S. production of healthful, sustainable, and affordable seafood.

    Friday, September 25, 2020

    Family Research Council Condemns Attacks on Amy Barrett's Faith

    Washington, D.C. - September 25, 2020 -- (The Ponder News) -- Family Research Council President Tony Perkins called out the ongoing anti-Christian smear campaign against prospective Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, currently under consideration for Justice Ginsburg's vacant seat. Among others, members of the Left and the media have attacked Judge Barrett in the last few days for her religious beliefs. Barrett has made clear in multiple statements that her Catholic faith does not dictate her duties as a judge, but this still has not stopped those on the Left from imposing what amounts to a religious test.

    Family Research Council Tony Perkins responded to the attacks on Judge Barrett:

    "While the confirmation processes for Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were not tame by any means, what we will most likely see in the coming weeks, given the stakes of this nomination, will make those earlier confirmation battles look like a dispute in small claims court. The startling level of anti-Christian bias already on display against Barrett reveals how far outside of the mainstream the Left has become and how determined they are to oppose whoever President Trump nominates to fill this vacancy.

    "Whoever the Supreme Court nominee is, she must be prepared to defend her religious beliefs under intense scrutiny. But she should also know that she will not stand alone. In fact, 'Remember the dogma' like 'Remember the Alamo' may become an enduring battle cry for religious liberty," Perkins concluded.

    Travis Weber, Vice President for Policy & Government Affairs at Family Research Council, added:

    "No person should be forced to undergo the smears that Amy Coney Barrett has undergone just because they want to remain faithful to their beliefs and serve the public in our nation's judiciary. What she went through during her confirmation for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and what she is already facing again, is a total disgrace. I thought we were past unconstitutional religious tests a long time ago. Based on what Judge Barrett has undergone, I was mistaken."

    Read also:

    ACB & Anti-Christian Bigotry

    The Amy Coney Barrett Handmaid’s Tale smear that just won’t die

    Trump Nominates Amy Barrett to Supreme Court

    FDA Allows Legal Importation of Drugs from Canada

    Washington, D.C. - September 25, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took actions to help provide safe, effective, and more affordable drugs to American patients as part of the Safe Importation Action Plan, fulfilling the aspect of the July Executive Order on drug pricing to complete the rulemaking to allow states to import certain prescription drugs from Canada.

    The final rule implements a provision of federal law that allows FDA-authorized programs to import certain prescription drugs from Canada under specific conditions that ensure the importation poses no additional risk to the public’s health and safety while achieving a significant reduction in the cost of covered products to the American consumer. The final guidance for industry describes procedures drug manufacturers can follow to facilitate importation of prescription drugs, including biological products, that are FDA-approved, manufactured abroad, authorized for sale in any foreign country, and originally intended for sale in that foreign country.

    “Today’s action is an important part of FDA’s priorities to promote choice and competition. The Safe Importation Action Plan aims to clearly describe procedures to import drugs that would lower prices and improve access while also maintaining the high quality and safety Americans expect and deserve,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “The FDA will continue to assess and act on opportunities to increase competition in the prescription drug market and help reduce the cost of medicines.”

    The rule allows states (including the District of Columbia and territories), Indian tribes and — in certain future circumstances — pharmacists and wholesalers, to submit importation program proposals to the FDA for review and authorization. An importation program can be co-sponsored by a state, Indian tribe, pharmacist or wholesaler. Referred to as Section 804 Importation Programs, these programs will be managed by the respective sponsor and any co-sponsors and authorized by the FDA to facilitate the importation of certain prescription drugs that are approved in Canada and, with appropriate labeling, meet the conditions of an FDA-approved drug application. Eligible prescription drugs would have to be relabeled with the required U.S. labeling and undergo testing for authenticity, degradation and to ensure that the drugs meet established specifications and standards. These programs will also have to demonstrate significant cost reductions of the covered products to the American consumer.

    The final guidance describes procedures for a drug manufacturer to obtain a National Drug Code (NDC) for certain FDA-approved prescription drugs, including biological products and combination products, that were originally manufactured and intended for sale in that foreign country. The use of an additional NDC for these products may allow greater flexibility for drug companies to offer these products at a lower price than what their current distribution contracts require. Prescription drugs, including biological products, imported under the pathway described in the final guidance could be available to patients in a variety of settings, including hospitals, health care providers’ offices or licensed pharmacies, and would include the FDA-approved labeling (including prescribing information).

    The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) was not happy with the decision.

    "APhA is disappointed that FDA would risk the safety and security of our nation's drug supply by creating a complex and convoluted program allowing legal importation of certain drugs from Canada. We believe FDA's new drug importation program is not a safe way to reduce drug prices—and puts patients at risk.

    FDA's final rule jeopardizes patient safety by creating supply chain vulnerabilities that could potentially introduce counterfeit or unsafe drugs. It also undermines the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), which creates "track-and-trace" safeguards that do not exist in Canada. By commingling FDA-approved and imported versions in the marketplace, this program also creates pharmacy operation disruptions and product selection confusion and may limit patient access to medications by complicating insurance coverage and reimbursement at the pharmacy.

    Given the additional steps in the supply chain, such as relabeling and laboratory testing requirements, additional reporting systems, and the fact that most high-cost drugs are excluded from the program, it fails to produce significant cost savings to American consumers.

    Today's final rule threatens our drug supply by creating opportunities for mischief that could introduce unsafe drugs into the U.S. The lack of clarity around unknown, unproven cost savings does not justify jeopardizing U.S. supply chain integrity and patient safety," said Ilisa Bernstein, PharmD, JD, FAPhA, APhA Senior Vice President of Pharmacy Practice and Government Affairs.

    APhA has long advocated against unsafe drug importation schemes that would allow the introduction of risky products into our secure U.S. drug supply chain. Together with colleague pharmacy organizations, countless concerned pharmacists, and consumers, we opposed the December 2019 proposed rule and emphasized to FDA that patient safety cannot be compromised. FDA failed to consider the thousands of comments that opposed finalizing this program. We will continue to explore ways to protect patients and the drug supply from the perils that importation may bring and to ensure patient safety is not compromised."

    The American Pharmacists Association is the largest association representing all of pharmacy, bringing together practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others to support pharmacists' ability to deliver optimal patient care.

    The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

    Judicial Watch Opposes State/Justice Department Request to End Remaining Discovery in Clinton Email/Benghazi Lawsuit

    Lest we forget: Ambassador Chris Stevens as he is being tortured and killed in Benghazi

    Washington, D.C. - September 25, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- Judicial Watch has filed an opposition to the U.S. Department of State’s motion to overturn a court order authorizing additional discovery in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that led directly to the 2015 disclosure of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton personal email system.

    The State Department’s motion seeks to avoid the depositions of Clinton’s former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills as well as current and former State Department Information Technology Officials Brett Gittleson and Yvette Jacks.

    Judicial Watch argues in its opposition that the State Department is wrong to try to expand an August 2020 appellate court ruling blocking Clinton’s deposition. The ruling did not bar the deposition of Mills or any other witness. Judicial Watch intends to seek further review of the ruling.

    The lawsuit seeks records about the Obama administration’s public statements regarding the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In addition to exposing the Clinton email system, the lawsuit uncovered “talking points” drafted by Obama administration officials demonstrating that then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s statements on the eve of the 2012 presidential election were false (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)).

    On December 6, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ordered that Rice and senior Obama State Department officials, lawyers and Clinton aides be deposed or answer written questions under oath in the lawsuit. Judge Lamberth called Clinton’s email system “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”

    In May 2019, Rice admitted under oath that she emailed Clinton on Clinton’s personal email account and “in rare instances” received emails related to U.S. government business on her own personal email account. Rice claimed she “took steps” to ensure that official emails were “also on her government email account” but did not identify those steps. Rice’s 2019 sworn answers are available here.

    On March 2, 2020, Judge Lamberth ordered Judicial Watch to depose Clinton and Mills, under oath, regarding Clinton’s email system and the existence of records about the Benghazi attack. Clinton and Mills filed an emergency mandamus appeal to avoid testifying.

    “It is shameful that Judicial Watch still must battle Hillary Clinton, the DOJ, and the State Department in court over the Clinton email scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “President Trump should demand answers about these efforts to avoid accountability and the truth.”


    Washington, D.C - September 25, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Representative John Joyce (R-PA, 13th), a member of the House Small Business Committee, this week highlighted his support for small businesses and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

    Though the deadline to apply for Paycheck Protection Program assistance has passed, nearly $138 billion in funding remains unspent. Dr. Joyce signed a discharge petition to force a vote on H.R. 8265, which would extend the Paycheck Protection Program until December 31, 2020 and offer a lifeline to small businesses in Pennsylvania and around the country.

    At Wednesday’s Small Business Committee hearing on the Paycheck Protection Program, Dr. Joyce asked Small Business Administration (SBA) Chief of Staff William Manger to explain the process for reopening the Paycheck Protection Program. Mr. Program testified that the SBA could “flip a switch” and get much-needed funding to small businesses. Watch their full exchange.

    National Suicide Hotline Designation Act

    Washington, D.C. - September 25, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act passed in the House of Representatives by voice vote on Monday.

    The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system. The system will include the Veterans Crisis Line to specifically support veterans seeking mental health support. Additionally, the bill authorizes states to collect a fee dedicated solely to supporting local crisis call centers that are affiliated within the national network for enhancements of such services.

    “As a former chief psychiatric nurse, I have spent my legislative career advocating for more accessible mental health resources in our communities, especially with the significant needs in these difficult times. We must not allow the tragedies of COVID-19 to be compounded by preventable losses of life due to mental health distress, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that 40% of American adults have struggled with mental health or substance abuse during this pandemic,” said U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX, 30th) “I am pleased that the House is considering the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act on the floor today, in honor of September as Suicide Prevention Month. We must move quickly to designate 9-8-8 for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system and to provide the state funding guidance, federal reporting, and specialized service training to implement this new dialing code. I would like to thank my colleagues Representatives Chris Stewart, Seth Moulton, and Greg Gianforte for their partnership on this critical effort.”

    This bill is a subsequent effort following Congresswoman Johnson’s National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act that was signed into law in August 2018, during the previous 115th Congress. That law directed the FCC and SAMHSA to study the feasibility of a 3-digit dialing code for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. The FCC publicly released their report in August 2019, finding that designating a 3-digit code dedicated solely for the purpose of a national suicide prevention and mental health hotline would likely make it easier for Americans in crisis to access lifesaving resources. It was in that report that the FCC recommended 9-8-8 as the best 3-digit code to be used for this purpose, thus setting the framework for Congresswoman Johnson’s National Suicide Hotline Designation Act.

    Supporting organizations of the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act include: American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, American Association of Suicidology, American Counseling Association, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Legion, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Nurses Association, American Telemedicine Association, AMVETS, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Association For Ambulatory Behavioral Health, Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness, Behavioral Health Association of Providers, Behavioral Health Link, Centerstone, College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists, Colorado Access, Confederation of Independent Psychoanalytic Societies (CIPS), Depression Association of America, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Eating Disorders Coalition, Education Development Center, Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice, Illinois Association of Behavioral Health, Kennedy Forum, Kevin & Margaret Hines Foundation, Mental Health America, Mental Health Colorado, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association for Rural Mental Health, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, National Board for Certified Counselors, National Council for Behavioral Health, National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, NowMattersNow, Open Minds, Postpartum Support International, Residential Eating Disorders Consortium, RI International, SMART Recovery, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, Tourette Association of America, The Trevor Project, United Suicide Survivors International, Vibrant Emotional Health, Wounded Warrior Project, and 2020 Mom.

    Introducing the Digital Commodity Exchange Act of 2020

    By: U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-South Dakota at Large)

    Washington, D.C. - September 25, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway and Rep. Dusty Johnson (SD) introduced the Digital Commodity Exchange Act of 2020, legislation that creates a single, opt-in national regulatory framework for digital commodity trading platforms under the jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Cosponsors of the Digital Commodity Exchange Act (DCEA) include Congressmen Tom Emmer (MN-06), David Schweikert (AZ-06), Austin Scott (GA-08), and Darren Soto (FL-09). The text of the bill can be found here, a summary of the bill here, and Rep. Conaway's statement here. Here's what supporters are saying:

    House Agriculture Committee Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member Dusty Johnson (SD-AL): "America is an innovative nation. That innovation often outpaces the federal regulatory environment. The Digital Commodity Exchange Act ensures Americans can have confidence in emerging financial tools. This bill offers necessary protections without stifling the creativity of new market commodity tokens.”

    House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway: “The Digital Commodity Exchange Act (DCEA) provides a clear path forward to improve the regulation of digital commodities. Digital commodity trading platforms are currently required to comply with a complicated labyrinth of 53 state and territory regulatory frameworks, hindering the ability for newcomers to enter the market. The DCEA provides responsible federal oversight of trading platforms and critical consumer protections, while also paving the way for innovators to develop new digital commodity projects. I’m excited by the support this bipartisan legislation has received in Congress and from those in the industry. I look forward to developing a legal framework and providing clarity for fintech innovators and strong protections for users of digital commodities.”

    Blockchain Caucus Co-Chair, Congressman David Schweikert (AZ-06): “We must ensure our laws and regulations are clear to give digital markets the clarity needed to protect consumers while ensuring further innovation can take place. This bill is a great step in the right direction for continuing to update and future-proof our federal policy, and I am pleased to join my colleagues in working to strengthen our regulation framework and fill the regulatory gaps that currently exist.”

    House Agriculture Committee Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit Subcommittee Ranking Member Austin Scott (GA-08): “I appreciate Ranking Member Conaway for his leadership on this legislation which will help us better understand emerging technologies like blockchain, and his continued focus to promote public policy that fosters, rather than inhibits, growth of FinTech in the United States.”

    Blockchain Caucus Co-Chair, Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09): "Regulatory clarity is critical for digital commodity markets to promote innovation and consumer protection. Innovators are spending up to fifty percent of start-up costs on legal fees because of the current regulatory ambiguity between what is a security and what is a commodity. That’s why the Digital Commodity Exchange Act will provide the necessary consumer protections, responsible federal oversight and regulatory clarity for all participating in digital commodity markets.”

    Jerry Brito, Executive Director, Coin Center: "This bill is a win-win. Innovators and entrepreneurs get greater clarity and more regulatory options, while investors benefit from increased supervision of markets. We’re grateful for Mr. Conaway’s innovative thinking and leadership on this issue."

    Kristin Smith, Executive Director, Blockchain Association: “We’re proud to support the introduction of the Digital Commodity Exchange Act and the Securities Clarity Act. Together, these efforts will help clarify outstanding issues related to when and how securities laws and commodities regulations apply to digital assets. Uncertainty over the application of these rules of the road continues to act as a strong headwind for the crypto ecosystem. These bills would do much to clarify the situation and put into law pro-growth policies for the crypto economy.”

    To What Extent is the Government Collecting Your Internet Use Data?

    By: U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA, 7th)

    Washington, D.C. - September 25, 2020 - (The Ponder News) -- U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Warren Davidson (OH-08) sent a bipartisan letter to Attorney General William Barr and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe today, seeking clarification on current surveillance practices since the March expiration of the USA Freedom Act, which includes the business records (Section 215), roving wiretap and lone wolf authorities.

    In order for Congress to conduct its oversight responsibilities, Congress and the American people must know the extent of the government’s surveillance programs and which authorities they rely on. The letter refers to multiple incidences where U.S. intelligence agencies circumvented the will of Congress, violating Americans’ Fourth Amendment right to privacy and agencies’ own internal guidelines in conducting illegal surveillance. Reps. Davidson and Jayapal also question the extent to which the federal government is collecting Americans’ internet search and browser history data.

    “We should all be concerned about the state of every American’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy if this administration is operating any surveillance on U.S. citizens without express Congressional authorization and oversight,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “We need a clear public explanation of the guidance issued to federal agencies to confirm that the administration is not illegally surveilling the American people.”

    “I look forward to a prompt response from Attorney General Barr and Director Ratcliffe. It is of utmost importance that we verify that U.S. intelligence agencies are abiding by the Constitution and upholding Americans’ right to privacy,” said Congressman Davidson. “Given recent history, Americans are entitled to know that, in the absence of Section 215, their Fourth Amendment rights are secure.”

    Thirty-nine representatives joined Jayapal and Davidson in signing the letter.

    The full letter is available here.

    Thursday, September 24, 2020

    Veterans, Forced Labor, Immigration, AI, Abortion Pills, Supreme Court

    Hurd, Kelly Call for Creation of National AI Strategy
    Source: U.S. Representative Will Hurd (R-TX, 23rd)
    September 18, 2020
    “American ongoing and future leadership in AI will be based on today’s policies and investments. We need a real and actionable comprehensive plan, as this resolution calls for, to engage all levers of national power to create and preserve American AI superiority,” said Kelly. “I’m glad to have so many colleagues, experts and advocates standing with us in this call for a comprehensive national AI strategy.”

    Human Rights First Decries Proposed Rules Designed to Put Pressure on Asylum Seekers, Limit Eligibility
    Source: Human Rights First
    September 22, 2020
    “This proposed rule is yet another effort to rig the asylum system against refugees and deny them protection in the United States,” said Human Rights First’s managing attorney, Alysha Welsh. “The proposed regulations are riddled with requirements designed to deny refugees asylum for absurd reasons and will make it impossible for many asylum seekers to file timely applications for asylum. The proposal would exacerbate an application process that is already a minefield of technical requirements which many asylum seekers will not be able to meet, especially those who don’t have legal representation. Even experienced attorneys will be unable to overcome some of these nearly insurmountable barriers.”

    Inhofe Supports Confirming Justice This Year
    Source: Senator James M. Inhofe (R - OK)
    September 21, 2020
    “The precedent here is clear. In the case of a united government, with voters having elected a Senate and White House of the same party, it is our constitutional obligation to consider a nomination of a Supreme Court justice. I look forward to a thorough and swift consideration of President Trump’s nominee. I’ve been pleased at the short lists President Trump has put forward and am confident his nominee will be a well-qualified, constitutional judge.”

    Source: Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)t
    September 22, 2020
    This summer a federal judge in Maryland issued a nationwide injunction cancelling the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) rules intended to protect women seeking the abortion pill by requiring physician involvement and education about the potentially lethal side effects of the prescription.

    Source: House Committee on Veterans Affairs
    September 23, 2020
    The House of Representatives unanimously passed all five bills brought to the floor by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. This legislation will reform VA’s debt collection process and support homeless veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as help reduce veteran suicide through Chairman Takano’s Veterans’ COMPACT Act and the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act Of 2019.

    Source: House Committee on Ways and Means
    September 23, 2020
    “The Chinese government’s widespread use of forced labor of Uyghur and other Muslim populations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China has tainted an overwhelming amount of goods entering the global market. This bill makes it clear that the actions of the Chinese government are unacceptable, and those goods are not welcome in the United States. This is a strong measure, but appropriate given the circumstances. It is critical that the United States holds the Chinese government accountable for its gross human rights violations, and it is essential that our trade policies not perpetuate human suffering. I applaud the bipartisan support for H.R. 6210 and call upon the Senate to quickly pass this measure as well.”

    Tuesday, September 22, 2020

    Child-like Sex Dolls, Apprenticeship, Small Business, Mothers, Hair, Nuclear Modernization, Teachers, Nuclear Testing, Native Americans, Cybersecurity

    FL Delegation Co-Chairs Hastings and Buchanan Lead the Bipartisan Effort to Ban Childlike Sex Dolls Nationwide
    Source: U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL, 20th)
    September 18, 2020
    “There is no more heinous crime than the sexual abuse or exploitation of children,” Buchanan said. “We need to enact a national ban on these obscene products that are known to encourage pedophilia. This is sickening and cannot be allowed to continue.”

    Harder Introduces Bill to Provide College Credit for Apprenticeships
    Source: U.S. Representative Josh Harder (D-CA, 10th)
    September 21, 2020
    “If you’re a carpenter in Modesto and you want to go back to school to get a degree and start your own business, you’ve already spent years in a real-world classroom – that should count for college credit,” said Rep. Harder. “We need to give people who want to continue their education a chance to do that without having to start from scratch and break the bank along the way. That’s where my bill comes in.”

    Jaime Herrera Beutler Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Protect New Mothers from Surprise Bills
    Source: U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA, 3rd)
    September 21, 2020
    “As a mother to three young children, I can report that the last thing on your mind after having a baby is rushing to fill out complex insurance paperwork to ensure your infant’s health insurance is covered,” Herrera Beutler said. “Yet this glaring loophole that leads to surprise billing is saddling countless new parents with thousands of dollars in expenses they weren’t anticipating and is contributing to rising health care costs in our country. I’m pleased to partner on this bipartisan legislation today to ensure new parents will have the flexibility to enroll their new infant in health insurance, and to focus on what is most important – the health and wellbeing of the mom and their new child.”

    Senator Hassan Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Long-Term Financial Assistance for Small Businesses, Nonprofits Hardest Hit by the COVID-19 Pandemic
    Source: Senator Margaret Wood Hassan (D-NH)
    September 22, 2020
    “It could be many more months before our economy can get back to normal, and in the meantime, businesses across New Hampshire have told me that they need additional, long-term financial assistance to help them stay afloat during this challenging time,” Senator Hassan said. “The bipartisan RESTART Act will provide a lifeline to small businesses and nonprofits that have been hardest hit by this unprecedented economic crisis. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this commonsense legislation that will contribute to our economic recovery in New Hampshire and across the country.”

    Source: U.S. Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY, 26th)
    September 22, 2020
    “Nobody should be harassed or discriminated against for wearing their natural hair or choosing a style based on cultural heritage and preferences, yet people face these biases every day,” said Higgins. “The CROWN Act solidifies in federal law that race-based hair discrimination is illegal.”

    Source: Senator John Hoeven (R-ND)
    September 22, 2020
    “Our nuclear deterrent has been key to our national defense for more than 70 years, and at the same time, it is the most-cost-effective investment we can make to prevent conflict with other major world powers,” Hoeven said. “We cannot afford to ignore the advancements our adversaries are making. That’s exactly why we continue working to keep the modernization of our nuclear triad on track, including upgrades for the bombers and ICBMs at the Minot Air Force Base. Task Force 21 is an important partner in these efforts, and we appreciate the opportunity to discuss these critical issues with key leaders during their conference today.”

    Rep. Horn Introduces Educators Hazard Pay Bill
    Source: U.S. Representative Kendra Horn (D-OK, 5th)
    September 22, 2020
    “Our educators are on the front lines of this pandemic,” said Congresswoman Horn. “Where schools have started holding in-person instruction, staff and teachers have gone to great lengths to adapt classrooms and keep students safe while providing a quality education. We know that educators providing in-person instruction are at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. We need to provide our teachers and staff with the resources they need to make it through this crisis, and I’m proud to fight for them.”

    Reps. Horsford, Susie Lee, McAdams, Panetta, Cox Introduce Legislation to Mandate Congressional Authorization for Nuclear Testing
    Source: U.S. Representative Steven Horsford (D-NV, 4th)
    September 22, 2020
    “The Secretaries of Defense and Energy have reported to the President that the U.S. stockpile is safe, secure, and effective in the absence of nuclear testing. Restarting nuclear testing is unnecessary and would have far-reaching consequences on Nevada’s environment and the health and safety of my constituents. Any decision that brings dangerous explosives to our backyard must carefully consider the long-term effects on our state,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “This legislation will ensure that Congress can provide the appropriate oversight and accountability measures necessary and determine any risk this many pose to the surrounding area.”

    Chair Grijalva Applauds House Passage of Bills to Strengthen Indian Country, Combat Crisis of Murdered and Indigenous Women
    Source: House Committee on Natural Resources
    September 22, 2020
    “This Committee is working to strengthen Indian Country at every opportunity,” said Natural Resources Chair Raúl M. Grijalva. “Since the beginning of this Congress we’ve made a point of hearing directly from Native women and Tribal leaders on how to reduce violence against Indigenous women. I’m proud of the work that Democratic members are doing to solve pressing issues in Tribal communities. These bipartisan bills represent the tireless work of many people across Indian Country, and yesterday’s votes show us that persistence really does pay off.”

    Chairwoman Maloney Issues Statement on GAO Report Warning Cybersecurity Response Lacks Leadership
    Source: House Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform
    September 22, 2020
    “GAO recommends that Congress consider legislation to designate a cyber leadership position in the White House. I am a proud cosponsor of the National Cyber Director Act – the bill that would do exactly that: restore a cyber coordination and planning function to the White House and provide resources needed to strengthen our cyber defenses.

    Monday, September 21, 2020

    Election Security, Ginsburg, Health Insurance, Seniors, Farmers, Department of Homeland Security, Guns, Child Care,

    Source: U.S. Representative Brett S. Guthrie (R-KY, 2nd)
    September 16, 2020
    H.R. 4990, the Election Technology Research Act of 2019, authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct research on ways to improve and secure voting systems across the country.

    GOA/GOF Fund Challenge to NFA in U.S. Supreme Court
    Source: Gun Owners of America
    September 16, 2020
    The Obama Justice Department brought criminal felony charges against Kettler for illegally possessing an unregistered firearm suppressor, despite the fact that Kansas’ “Second Amendment Protection Act” protected his actions.

    Guthrie Child Care Bill Passes House
    Source: U.S. Representative Brett S. Guthrie (R-KY, 2nd)
    September 16, 2020
    “Without child care options parents can’t return to work, which is a key component of our nation’s economic recovery,” said Guthrie on the House floor. “Additionally, child care benefits a child’s health and development which are critical to building a strong foundation for future success. In my home state, Kentucky, thanks to the CARES Act, many of our child care centers have been fortunate to reopen; however, one-third of the state’s 2,200 licensed or certified child care centers still have not. The Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers are Safe Act will ensure that child care providers receive guidance and assistance to safely operate, so that parents can return to work, and our economy can continue to recover.”

    Under this bill, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would provide states with educational material and technical assistance related to:

  • COVID-19 prevention in childcare facilities.
  • Professional development for childcare providers on health and safety.
  • How to acquire and use personal protective equipment.
  • How to modify operations to prevent COVID-19 transmission, including optimal staff-to-child ratios.

  • Rep. Grijalva Statement on the Death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    Source: U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ, 3rd)
    September 18, 2020
    “Today we suffer a momentous loss to our nation as we say thank you and goodbye to Justice Ginsburg - a torch-bearer of equity. Throughout her groundbreaking career in advocacy, law, and ultimately the Supreme Court, she never backed down from a fight for social justice. She paved a path of righteousness in this country, stood up to a system tilted toward men, and took a stand for women and vulnerable populations across this nation. I know that the lives of my daughters and granddaughters are better thanks to her work and shining example. To honor her legacy we must continue the work she began. We must never back down, and we must let her strength guide us.

    Griffith Statement on Justice Ginsburg
    Source: U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA, 9th)
    September 18, 2020
    “I am sorry to learn of the death of Justice Ginsburg. Her service as only the second woman on the Supreme Court was the capstone of a long and notable legal career.”

    Republicans Introduce Legislation to Keep America Secure
    Source: U.S. Representative Michael Guest (R-MS, 3rd)
    September 18, 2020
    “After 20 months of Democrat dysfunction and caving to the left-wing of their party, it was clear the Democrats would not be able to build consensus to put forth their own reauthorization package,” Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee Rep. Rogers said. “I’m proud of the collective effort of my Republican colleagues to put together a bill that positions the Department to best combat new and emerging threats to our country. We owe it to the folks who work day-in and day-out to protect our homeland to pass a comprehensive reauthorization that provides them with the authorities and resources they need to effectively do their jobs.”

    Congressman Al Green’s Statement on the Passing of Justice Ginsburg and the Crossroads Our Nation Approaches in Selecting a Successor
    Source: U.S. Representative Al Green (D-TX, 9th)
    September 19, 2020
    “Last night, we learned of the loss of a trailblazing activist attorney whose legacy as a voice for liberty and justice for all will endure the test of time, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. For decades, she was unwavering in the fight for gender equity and lent her voice to much-needed judicial change for the social justice movement. She had the courage to be a catalyst for women’s rights in a male-dominated justice system that seeks to maintain an unjust status quo. Her ability to challenge and change the status quo for the good of all will be missed,” Congressman Al Green stated.

    House Passes Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act
    Source: U.S. Representative Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ, 4th)
    September 21, 2020
    "I am pleased to see this much-needed legislation again pass the House. I hope the Senate takes up this effort soon and I am confident that President Trump is eager to sign the bill. As a healthcare provider for more than two decades, I understand the importance of a competitive health insurance market. Patients, doctors, and hospitals all benefit when health insurers compete to provide a variety of quality coverage options. The healthcare market should be patient-centric and should provide a variety of affordable and quality options, all fostered by competition. There is no reason in law, policy, or logic for the insurance industry to have special exemptions that are different from all other businesses in the U.S. The government should not be picking winners or losers, and the insurance industry should also have to comply with federal antitrust laws. I am proud of this legislation, which would restore the application of federal antitrust and competition laws to the health insurance industry. Imagine the possibilities when we put the patient first and demand that health insurance companies compete for their business. I will continue to work with the Senators Steve Daines, Mike Lee, and Mitch McConnel to ensure that this legislation is presented to President Trump for his signature.”said Congressman Paul Gosar.

    Source: U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ, 5th)
    September 21, 2020
    “With flu season around the corner, I’m here today at this state-run veterans home to ensure we are taking the steps now to prevent another massive COVID tragedy here and at other nursing homes in the coming months,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Today, I am announcing new bipartisan support for my Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act, which will help us protect our seniors and long-term care facilities through COVID and other health crises. I’m also calling on the state to take rapid action on testing protocols at our nursing homes. Unfortunately, according to new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation, data shows that cases and deaths in facilities may be on the rise again. For the sake of our seniors and veterans, we simply can’t allow history to repeat itself.”

    Grassley Joins Iowa Colleagues in Urging Congressional Leaders to Replenish Funds for Farmers
    Source: Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
    September 21, 2020
    “In Iowa, our farmers have not only suffered lost markets and disrupted supply chains from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have also been dealing with drought conditions and the destruction caused by the recent derecho which destroyed thousands of acres of crops and farmland. On top of all of this, farmers are planning to receive farm payments this fall and these resources cannot be taken away when they need it the most. Not providing additional funds to the CCC will delay their payments,” the members wrote.

    Sunday, September 20, 2020

    Censorship, Sexual Harassment, NERD Act, Privacy, Military, Police

    New Legislation Is the Latest Attempt by Trump and His Congressional Allies to Bend Online Platforms to Their Political Will
    Source: Free Press
    September 9, 2020
    The legislation, proposed by Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R–Tennessee), Lindsey Graham (R–South Carolina) and Roger Wicker (R–Mississippi), would take away the free hand both platforms and user communities have to moderate and take down objectionable content. The bill would restrict those takedowns only to materials platforms have an “objectively reasonable belief” violates a specific law or is “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing” or is “promoting self-harm, promoting terrorism, or unlawful”.

    Source: U.S. Representative Sylvia Garcia (D-TX, 29th)
    September 16, 2020
    This bill is in honor of the late SPC Vanessa Guillén and the many survivors of military sexual violence who have bravely come forward in the wake of her disappearance and brutal murder. The legislation responds to these resounding calls for change by offering provisions that would revolutionize the military’s response to missing servicemembers and reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault by making sexual harassment a crime within the Uniform Code of Military Justice and moving prosecution decisions of sexual assault and sexual harassment cases out of the chain of command. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate today. This morning, following a meeting with the Guillén family, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a commitment to hold a House floor vote on the I am Vanessa Guillén Act. President Trump previously announced his support for the bill during a White House meeting with the Guillén family.

    Gianforte Signs Police Pledge
    Source: U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte (R-Montana at Large)
    September 16, 2020
    “Law enforcement officers in Montana leave their homes every day knowing they may not return. They put their life on the line to protect our communities. To protect them, we must stand firmly against efforts to defund the police,” Gianforte said. “I thank the men and women in blue who serve and make a difference in our communities. I support you.”

    Source: U.S. Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL, 22nd)
    September 17, 2020
    "As our nation has reckoned with the pervasiveness of sexual assault and harassment on college campuses, our K-12 schools have largely been left behind," said Rep. Casten. "Countless K-12 students have experienced sexual violence, but our schools simply don't have the resources and guidance to solve this immense problem. It's my hope that the Stop Sexual Harassment in K-12 Act serves as the first, critical step to upholding K-12 students' Title IX rights."

    Gallagher Introduces the NERD Act
    Source: U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI, 8th)
    September 17, 2020
    "A clean energy future will require nuclear energy to be reliable, affordable, and accessible to the private and public sectors. The first step in getting there is setting the right goals and bringing together the necessary stakeholders to expand our nuclear capacity," said Rep. Gallagher. "I'm proud to introduce the NERD Act, and will continue working to ensure the United States stays competitive across all energy sectors."

    Specifically, NERD Act would:

  • Direct the DOE Secretary to advance the research and development of domestic, advanced, affordable, and clean energy through completing at least 2 advanced reactor demonstration projects by December 31, 2025,
  • Establish a program to create at least 2 and no more than 5 operational advanced nuclear reactor designs by December 31, 2035,
  • Call on DOE to work with private sector partners to identify demonstration sites, and
  • Work towards developing technologies that manage, reduce, or reuse nuclear waste.
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Joins Bill to Protect Americans’ Civil Liberties and Privacy During the Coronavirus Pandemic
    Source: U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI, 2nd)
    September 18, 2020
    “Widespread testing and robust contact tracing are the cornerstone of our public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic and are crucial to keep infection numbers down and defeat the virus,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “However, using technology to help us defeat the virus should not violate our civil liberties. This legislation sets clear rules for technology used in our public health response and requires regular scrutiny to ensure it remains safe and that civil liberties are upheld. Urgent passage of this legislation is necessary to ensure our public health response upholds our commitment to privacy and civil liberties.”

    FEMA, Forced Hysterectomies, Ginsburg, Supreme Court Appointments, Children's Health Insurance, COVID-19 Death Toll, Protect and Serve Act

    Fleischmann, Alexander, Blackburn Lead Letter Urging FEMA to Cease Implementation of Problematic COVID-19 Policy
    Source: U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN, 3rd)
    September 17, 2020
    On behalf of the State of Tennessee, we are writing to express our opposition to FEMA Interim Policy FP 104-009-19. This significant policy change will hurt the state’s ability to respond to COVID-19, prevent states from re-opening schools, and undermine recovery efforts in the middle of a global pandemic. We urge FEMA to stop implementation of this policy immediately.

    Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher Statement on ICE Whistleblower Complaint
    Source: U.S. Representative Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX, 7th)
    September 17, 2020
    “The allegations of abuses, including forced, medically unnecessary hysterectomies at the Irwin Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention Center, are shocking and horrifying. There must be an immediate and thorough investigation into these allegations and, if they are true, we must take all actions to bring justice for those who suffered these horrific acts. I join in the sentiments expressed by many of my colleagues in their letter to the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security and in their request for a response and briefing to Congress by Friday, September 25.”

    Finkenauer Statement on Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    Source: U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer (D-IO, 1st)
    September 18, 2020
    "Our country has lost a hero, an icon and inspiration for millions of women and girls. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a champion for equal rights and a pioneer in law and politics who dedicated her life to ensuring our laws lived up to our values. I am heartbroken at the news of her passing and offer my sincerest condolences to her family. Her place in history is assured — it’s now up to us to carry on her legacy."

    Children lose health insurance for 3rd year in a row
    Source: First Focus
    September 18, 2020
    The U.S. Census Bureau has released data that show the number of U.S. children without health insurance rose for the third year in a row, hitting 5.7% in 2019. Hispanic children registered the greatest loss of insurance by far: the uninsured rate among Hispanic children rose a full percentage point, hitting 9.2%, the highest among any race or ethnic group.

    Senator Fischer’s Statement on the Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    Source: Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE)
    September 18, 2020
    “I mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and join all Americans in recognizing her dedicated 27 years of service on the Supreme Court.”.

    FPC: U.S. Senate Must Confirm a Strong Constitutionalist Justice NOW
    Source: Firearms Policy Coalition
    September 19, 2020
    Firearms Policy Coalition calls on President Trump to quickly nominate a strong, courageous, and principled jurist who will vote without hesitation to vigorously protect fundamental rights, including the right to bear arms and freedom of speech, and restore the Constitution’s limits on government. FPC further calls on Senate Leader McConnell and members of the Senate to quickly confirm such a nominee without delay.

    Foster Statement on COVID-19 Death Toll Passing 200,000
    Source: U.S. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL, 11th)
    September 19, 2020
    "We mourn 200,000 Americans who have been killed by COVID-19 in just six months’ time. That's approaching four times the deaths our country suffered during the Vietnam War, and the death toll continues to rise every day. While the United States has about four percent of the world's population, we've accounted for over 20 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 - a striking indictment of the Trump administration's failure to effectively manage this public health crisis.

    Source: Fraternal Order of Police
    September 19, 2020
    The “Protect and Serve Act” would make it a Federal crime to violently target local, State, or Federal law enforcement officers. The House companion bill was introduced by Representatives John H. Rutherford (RFL), Val Demings (D-FL), Peter A. Stauber (R-MN) and Thomas C. O’Halleran (D-AZ), all of whom are former law enforcement officers.

    Saturday, September 19, 2020

    Abraham Accords, Ginsburg. Sex Education, COVID-19 Fraud, Temporary Protected Status, Forced Hysterectomies

    Ninth Circuit Affirms That Temporary Protected Status is Temporary and Subject to the Unreviewable Discretion of DHS, Says FAIR
    Source: Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR US)
    September 14, 2020
    “Today’s ruling by the activist Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for individuals from four nations represents a victory for the American people and an unmistakable rebuke to activist judges who seek to make immigration policy from the bench....

    Source: Faith and Freedom Coalition
    September 16, 2020
    “This week’s peace agreement was an historic event,” said Timothy Head, executive director of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. “No other president has made such advances in the Middle East as President Trump has. This administration understands the importance of maintaining and strengthening peace in the Middle East through fostering respect for human dignity and freedom, including religious freedom, in the region. We expect more peace agreements to be made in the coming months as President Trump advances foreign relations and works to bring religious freedom and peace around the world.”

    Dr. James Dobson Praises Texas State Board of Education for Protecting Children
    Source: Family Talk
    September 17, 2020
    "For two decades, the Texas State Board of Education has done it the right way. While schools are not required to provide sex education, any sex education that is offered must focus on abstinence until marriage. This commonsense approach has served the needs of Texas children well, and it has respected the God-given role of parents.

    Family Research Council Statement on the Passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    Source: Family Research Council
    September 18, 2020
    "I join the American people in offering my condolences and prayers to Justice Ginsburg's family who are mourning the loss of their mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I pray that God will comfort them during this time of grief. Throughout her 27 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, we were frequently at odds with her opinions. However, her perseverance in facing cancer while continuing to serve as a justice was admirable."

    Warwick Man Admits to Conspire to Fraudulently Obtain COVID-19 Stimulus Loans
    Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    September 18, 2020
    David Andrew Butziger, 52, admitted that he conspired with David Adler Staveley, a/k/a Kurt David Sanborn, a/k/a David Sanborn, 53, of Andover, MA, to seek forgivable loans guaranteed by the SBA, claiming to have dozens of employees earning wages at four different business, three restaurants and an electronics business, when, in fact, there were no employees working for any of the businesses.

    Senators to DHS IG: Investigate Alleged Forced Hysterectomies at ICE Facility
    Source: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
    September 18, 2020
    “Forced sterilizations infringe on reproductive rights and autonomy,” the senators wrote. “To understand whether such violations may have been committed against immigrants in our federal government’s custody, the Inspector General’s Office should immediately investigate the reproductive health policies and practices at the ICDC and at other facilities, including but not limited to, all instances of forced, coerced, or medically unnecessary hysterectomies.”

    Family Research Council Action to hold Virtual Values Voter Summit to Rally Freedom Loving Americans to Pray, Vote, and Stand

    Washington, D.C. - September 19, 2020 - The Ponder News -- On Tuesday evening at 8:00 p.m. ET, the 15th annual Values Voter Summit will kick off. Instead of attending in person, this year values voters will join the all-virtual event from their own homes and churches.

    Confirmed speakers include President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, Dr. Ben Carson, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Pastor Jack Hibbs, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Michele Bachmann, Gary Bauer, Abby Johnson, Bishop Vincent Mathews, Eric Metaxas, Dr. Albert Mohler, Tim Wildmon, Benjamin Watson, Andrew Wommack, Melissa Ohden, Virginia Prodan, Scott Rasmussen, Abigail Shrier, Dr. Carol Swain, Larry Taunton, and Scott Turner, the executive director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, among others.

    This year’s summit will also feature a brand-new episode format. These episodes will feature roundtable discussion and interviews and will stream live September 22-25 from 8:00 - 9:30 p.m. Eastern. Additionally, due to the online format, registration is offered at no charge, providing free access to the nightly episodes, as well as the activist training session, which will stream on September 26 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Eastern.

    Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins issued the following statement:

    “This year’s virtual Values Voter Summit will serve as the convention of social conservatives. For each of the last 14 years, thousands have traveled to our nation’s capital to give voice to faith, family, and freedom and hear from our nation’s leaders as they make commitments based on those issues. While values voters won’t be attending in person, they can join the summit virtually and receive the tools they need to engage in what I believe is the most consequential election in our Republic’s history.

    “The November election will be a critical test for America. The party platforms offer a stark contrast; the Democratic platform has grown increasingly radical as the far Left expands its influence, while the Republican platform preserves a robust defense of religious liberty, biblical marriage, and pro-life principles. Nothing less than the future of faith, family, and freedom in America is on the ballot this year.

    “All freedom loving Americans must register and then get out and vote. It’s time to pray, vote, and stand,” concluded Perkins.

    To attend the virtual event, register here:

    Values Voter Summit 2020 sponsors also include AFA Action, American Values, Truth & Liberty Coalition, and Family Research Council. Bott Radio Network is the radio sponsor, and The Christian Post is the first-time media sponsor.

    Thursday, September 17, 2020

    Wildfires, WOTUS, Hydroxychloroquine

    At Wildfire Briefing, Trump Scoffs at Climate Crisis: “I Don’t Think Science Knows”
    Source: Environmental Working Group
    September 14, 2020
    Trump has dismissed the climate crisis as “a hoax” and has said the fires are the result of states failing to clean brush from forest floors. When he met today with California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state’s natural resources secretary challenged him to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming, which is causing record high temperatures and drying out the forests, triggering unprecedented firestorms.

    Ernst, Iowa Farmer Highlight Importance of New, Commonsense WOTUS Rule
    Source: Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)
    September 16, 2020
    In 2015, the Obama Administration finalized a rule that expanded the definition of WOTUS—giving the federal government authority to regulate water on 97 percent of the land in Iowa—and creating confusion and burdensome red tape for Iowa’s agriculture industry and many others. Immediately, Senator Ernst took action and introduced legislation that would have nullified the Obama Administration’s rule. After passing both the House and Senate—with bipartisan support—the bill was vetoed by President Obama.

    Eshoo and Pallone Blast Administration for Withholding Info on Hydroxychloroquine
    Source: U.S. Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA, 18th)
    September 16, 2020
    “The Trump Administration continues to refuse to release the decision memorandum and denial letter issued by FDA in response to a request for an Emergency Use Authorization for hydroxychloroquine," said Eshoo and Pallone. “The drug has had serious health consequences when used to treat COVID-19, and the public has a right to know the critical scientific information in the agency’s denial of the EUA, especially as the Administration is stockpiling the drug and advancing it during the COVID-19 crisis.”

    DREAM Act, Teachers

    Ninety Days Since Landmark Supreme Court DACA Decisions And Following Critical TPS Decision, Durbin Calls On Senate To Pass Dream And Promise Act
    Source: Senator Richard J. Durbin (D - IL)
    September 16, 2020
    “It’s been exactly 90 days since the Supreme Court rejected President Trump’s effort to end deportation protections for Dreamers,” Durbin said. “Let’s be clear. The Supreme Court of the United States rejected President Trump’s repeal of DACA. That means DACA returns to its original status and the Trump Administration, under the court order, must reopen the program. And they must do it now. Instead Mr. Wolf is saying that DHS will turn away 300,000 applicants who are Dreamers and eligible for DACA but have not had a chance to apply… This Administration, which is telling America they are dedicated to ‘law and order’ – is in open defiance of the Supreme Court. The stakes are too high—both for the rule of law and just as important, the lives of Dreamers. To ignore this is to ignore a legitimate order of the highest court in the land. Republicans and Democrats in Congress must come together to compel the President to follow the law and immediately comply with the Supreme Court's mandate.”

    Teachers are paid almost 20% less than similar workers
    Source: Economic Policy Institute
    September 17, 2020
    Although teachers on average enjoy better benefits packages than similar workers, Mishel and Allegretto find that benefits only mitigate part of the wage gap. Including benefits, teachers are still left with a 10.2% compensation gap compared to similar workers. While the data in this paper are through 2019 and thus predate the pandemic, our analysis may provide useful insights as schools struggle to reopen.

    Law Enforcement, Boeing, Desegregation, Cyber Crimes, JBS

    Daines: I'll Always Back the Blue. We Must Defend the Police, Not Defund Them
    Source: Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)
    September 16, 2020
    U.S. Senator Steve Daines today gave a speech on the Senate floor in support of Montana's law enforcement, thanking the men and women who wear the badge for their service and dedication to keeping Montanans safe. Daines' speech follows his co-sponsorship of a Senate resolution expressing support for the brave men and women of law enforcement and condemns the perpetrators, instigators, and celebrators of targeted violence against law enforcement..

    Rep. Sharice Davids’ statement on Boeing 737 MAX final report
    Source: U.S Representative Sharice Davids (D-KS, 3rd)
    September 16, 2020
    “Our investigation uncovered serious problems in the FAA’s safety certification process and revealed that Boeing repeatedly put profit over safety in the development of the 737 MAX. The 346 victims of both tragic crashes and their families now expect and deserve Congress to act. We must strengthen aviation safety and transparency and hold corporations much more accountable so that the tragedy of the Boeing 737 MAX is not repeated.”

    Davis Votes in Support of Diversity and Desegregation Grants for Schools
    Source: U.S Representative Rodney Davis (R-IL, 13th)
    September 16, 2020
    “66 years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, many schools in our country are still facing problems of segregation,” said Rep. Davis. “Even schools like District 186 in Springfield are still operating under decades-old federal desegregation consent decrees. The Strength in Diversity Act works to change that by providing federal grant funding to support voluntary local efforts that encourage diversity and desegregate schools. I’m proud to support this legislation because it will provide new opportunities for minority schoolkids and improve educational outcomes and social cohesion.”

    Seven International Cyber Defendants, Including “Apt41” Actors, Charged In Connection With Computer Intrusion Campaigns Against More Than 100 Victims Globally
    Source: U.S. Department of Justice
    September 16, 2020
    In August 2019 and August 2020, a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., returned two separate indictments charging five computer hackers, all of whom were residents and nationals of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), with computer intrusions affecting over 100 victim companies in the United States and abroad, including software development companies, computer hardware manufacturers, telecommunications providers, social media companies, video game companies, non-profit organizations, universities, think tanks, and foreign governments, as well as pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong

    DeLauro Statement in Support of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 7’s Protest Against OSHA’s ‘Fine’ on JBS
    Source: U.S. Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT, 3rd)
    September 16, 2020
    “OSHA’s meager $15,615 fine on JBS is a slap in the face to all who believe in the difference of right and wrong,” said DeLauro. “My deepest sympathies are with the UFCW 7 victims and their families who have been failed by their employer and the federal agencies tasked with regulating them. No worker should ever have to sacrifice their life for a paycheck.”