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.