2017-04-12 / Political Page

Crowley Speaks Out On Nunes

House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D–Queens/the Bronx) issued the following statement after House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes announced his decision to recuse himself from the panel’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election:

“The House Intelligence Committee has a critical role to play in determining what influence the Russian government had into our recent elections. Chairman Nunes damaged his credibility in overseeing this investigation by choosing to serve the White House instead of the American people. His recusal is entirely appropriate and, quite frankly, past due,” said Crowley, adding, “But solely removing Mr. Nunes from his charge isn’t enough. There needs to be an independent investigation into both the Kremlin’s interference into our democracy and relationships between senior Trump administration officials and the Russian government.”

CHAIRMAN CROWLEY FORCES HOUSE VOTE TO RELEASE TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley issued the following statement after supporting a petition that would force House Republicans to schedule a vote to release President Donald Trump’s long-awaited tax returns:

“We deserve to know who President Trump is truly fighting for – himself or the American people. Without the public release of these tax returns, Americans are left in the dark about the extent of the president’s business ties and financial entanglements,” Crowley said.

“House Republicans should shed their partisan agenda to allow a vote on the House floor on releasing President Trump’s full tax returns. If there is nothing there, if President Trump did nothing illegal, then what are House Republicans afraid of?” Crowley reasoned.

“Americans deserve a president who fights for them – a president who puts the people of this country above his own interests. Only with the release of President Trump’s tax returns can we be sure the American people are the president’s top priority,” Crowley (D–Queens/the Bronx) stated.

Members of Congress can force a vote on legislation through a process known as a discharge petition, which requires 218 Members of the House of Representatives to sign on. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll found that close to three-quarters (nearly 75%) of Americans want President Trump to release his tax returns – a promise he made repeatedly during the 2016 elections.

MALONEY CONDEMNS TRUMP’S DEFUNDING OF UNFPA: Following the announcement that the Trump administration will cease all funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D–Queens/Manh.) a strong defender of international family planning and UNFPA, released the following statement:

“Few organizations save as many women’s lives as the UNFPA, and I deeply oppose the administration’s cruel decision to cut funding for this essential organization. This decision endangers millions of women and girls around the globe. Taking away funding from this organization jeopardizes the integral services UNFPA provides not only in peacetime, but during humanitarian crises as well.

“UNFPA is the world’s largest provider of maternal health care during such crises, including those we are currently witnessing in the Middle East. According to the organization, in 2016 alone, US funding prevented 100,000 unsafe abortions and 10,000 maternal deaths. In the Jordanian Zaatari refugee camp, UNFPA has helped deliver 7,000 babies without a single maternal death. The administration’s refusal to fund the UNFPA and its work is a life-threatening decision.

“Contrary to the State Department’s statements, UNFPA does not engage in forced abortions or sterilization, and targeting this organization for working with Chinese agencies to bring better health care to women and girls is a thinly veiled excuse to once again come between a woman and her doctor. UNFPA has a proven record of success in addressing the health needs of women and their families around the world and we should be supporting and expanding these efforts, not threatening them.”

ADDABBO VETERANS BILLS ADVANCE IN SENATE: Two bills sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. to fund veterans’ service organizations and allow former military members to pursue service-related academic credit at State University of New York (CUNY) institutions, have been approved by the Senate Committee for Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.

“We owe our veterans our deepest respect and gratitude, and helping them to succeed here at home when they leave military service is an important part of our responsibility to them,” said Addabbo, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. “Providing new avenues for veteran’s organizations to raise funds, and helping our veterans to achieve their higher education goals more quickly are two specific proposals I am hoping to advance for our former servicemen and women,” stated Addabbo (D–Howard Beach).

Addabbo’s first bill (S.3675) would establish a veterans’ service organization fund, which would be supported through the generosity of New York residents who decide they want to contribute to veterans’ groups when they file their state personal income tax returns. Under the legislation, New York residents would be able to choose a new income tax “check off” box on their returns to support groups that provide services to veterans. The contributions would be held in a fund maintained by the State Comptroller and the State Division of Taxation and Finance, and monies would be provided to veterans’ service organizations to enable them to better assist former military members in accessing necessary benefits and programs. The contributions would be gifts, and not reduce the amount of tax owed by check-off program participants.

“Veterans are often in need of a variety of services when they return home, but do not always know where to turn to find out about an array of programs that exist to help them,” Addabbo said. ”Veterans’ service organizations serve as a key liaison between veterans and appropriate government agencies, and their efforts are vital to ensuring that our returning servicemen and women gain access to the health, employment, education and other services available to them.”

The second bill (S.3674) will ensure that veterans are able to receive academic credit for their military training and service at SUNY and CUNY institutions. The college courses in which they are enrolled would need to meet the standards of the American Council on Education (ACE) or otherwise adhere to equivalent standards for awarding credit to students for life experience. While the ACE is already engaged in efforts to award credit to veterans for their service and training, Addabbo’s bill would make it clear that SUNY and CUNY could accept military transcripts as a source of transfer credit. Veterans would need to be enrolled full-time in college as undergraduates and have been honorably discharged. There would be no cap on the number of credits and qualifying veteran students would not be charged fees for tuition for the credits.

“Our veterans develop new skills and knowledge every day while serving in the military,” said Addabbo. “My bill will help to make sure they can get academic credit for all they have learned and complete their college degrees more quickly. This will also help to ensure that our veterans are even better equipped to reenter the workforce once their tours of duty are completed.”

ADDABBO REMARKS ON FUTURE OF RIKERS ISLAND: “In order to best serve New York City residents, Mayor de Blasio should concentrate more on ways to improve the situation at Rikers, instead of creating new problems with siting facilities across the boroughs, generating multiple security and public safety issues throughout the city,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. said. “It seems that once again, this administration is looking to merely discard an entire program, much like it has done with cluster sites for homeless individuals, instead of looking for ways to fix it.”

US REPS. ISSUE STATEMENTS ON EQUAL PAY DAY: House Democratic Chair Joe Crowley (D–Queens) and Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) (Queens/Manhattan), the lead sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, and steadfast advocate for women’s rights and House Ranking Member on the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statements on Equal Pay Day, which reflects how far into the current year women must work to match what men earned in the previous year. Crowley is a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which strengthens the Equal Pay Act and helps to ensure women will earn a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

“Equal Pay Day is an important reminder of how much more work we must do to close the gender wage gap and open opportunity for all workers. On average, women are paid only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. The disparity is even worse for Latinas and African American women. This wage gap is not only unfair, it severely hinders women’s long-term financial growth and stability, hurts hardworking families, and is bad for the economy.

“Congress can take action to fix this problem by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will help women fight wage discrimination. It’s really quite simple: equal work deserves equal pay. It is time to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and ensure workplace fairness.”

Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) (Queens/Manhattan) the lead sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment, and a steadfast advocate for women’s rights and House Ranking Member on the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement in recognition of Equal Pay Day, a day symbolizing the gender wage gap by showing how many extra days beyond the calendar year the average woman needs to work to take home the same total wages as the average man.

“The gender pay gap is an economic injustice that has a very real impact on the lives of women and families, not just today, but each and every day. It affects women of every age, every educational level, and in almost every line of work. According to a new report out today from the democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee, a man with a bachelor’s degree is paid $5,000 more than a woman with a graduate degree.

“Across the country, the average woman is paid just 80 cents for every dollar a man is paid. It’s worse for women of color and it varies significantly depending on where you live. The gap starts at the beginning of a woman’s career and then widens as she gets older, with the cumulative effect adding up to as much as nearly half a million dollars in lost income! It is one of the principle reasons that a woman in her senior years is far more likely to live in poverty than a man:

“I was very proud when the great state of New York passed its equal pay legislation in 2015, and I was especially pleased to learn that, according to today’s JEC report, amongst all the states, the gender wage gap is smallest in New York, where women are paid 89 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. Though, we clearly still have work to do if the best circumstance is 89 cents to the dollar.

“Eliminating the gender wage gap would benefit our country as a whole, not just the women. The JEC report also shows that by closing the pay gap we could shrink the poverty rate among working women from 8.2 to 4.0 percent, benefiting families and our economy.

“If we fail to act, if we do nothing, women will not reach pay equity until 2059! I think the women of America have already waited long enough. The time is now to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure greater financial security for women and families today and for the future. “

CROWLEY LAUNCHES 2017 CONGRESSIONAL ART COMPETITION FOR STUDENTS: Rep. Joe Crowley (D–Queens, the Bronx), Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, announced on April 4 the start of the 2017 Congressional Art Competition for high school students in New York’s 14 Congressional District. The winning artwork will be displayed in the US Capitol for an entire year beginning this summer.

“The annual Congressional Art Competition is a wonderful tradition,” said Rep. Crowley. “It affords young, emerging artists an opportunity to share their creativity with the thousands of people who visit our nation’s capital on a daily basis. I enjoy taking a moment each year to walk through the exhibit and I’m always inspired by the way the youth in our country are expressing themselves. I look forward to seeing what the talented students from Queens and the Bronx have in store for us this year!”

The winner of the competition will be invited to attend an annual reception in Washington, D.C., as well as the opening of the exhibit which will also include artwork from other contest winners nationwide.

The 2016 first place finish went to Janice Lin, a senior at the High School for Arts and Business in Corona, for her acrylic painting “No Memories Left Behind.”

The Congressional Art Competition is a nationwide high school art competition that provides an opportunity for Members of Congress to promote and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. Over 650,000 high school students nationwide have participated in the competition since 1982.

Entries for the competition are now being accepted and must be received by Rep. Crowley’s Queens District Office by Tuesday, April 25, 2017 in order to be considered. Rep. Crowley’s Queens District Office is located at 82-11 37th Avenue, Suite 402, Queens, NY 11372.

For more information, please visit Rep. Crowley’s website, the official Congressional Art Competition website, or contact Rep. Crowley’s office at (718) 779-1400.

MILLER: ASSEMBLY BUDGET PROTECTS FUNDING FOR SCHOOLS, EMERGENCY SERVICES, VITAL PROGRAMS: Assembly Member Mike Miller (D–Woodhaven) issued the following statement: “On April 3, I voted to keep state government operating (A.7067/A.7068). Passing a budget extender when we have been working very hard to come to a full budget agreement is a hard decision to make, but it’s the responsible thing to do. A government shutdown absolutely had to be avoided.

“If the state had shut down, funding to schools and emergency services would have stopped. Lifesaving programs – such as those that help seniors afford their prescription drugs, food and housing assistance for the poor, and care for the sick and disabled – would have lapsed. We can’t let disagreements in government become threats to the health and well-being of millions of New Yorkers.

“Now, with the extender in place as a safety net, we must focus on passing a comprehensive, fiscally responsible, fair state budget this week. I will keep fighting to ensure that a final state budget delivers for our community.”

MALONEY – MARKEY BILL AIMS TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE: As community advocates, doctors, elected officials, and public health professionals gather for national public health week, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D–Mass.) introduced legislation on April 15 to address the issue of gun violence across the United States. The bill would set aside $10 million in funding each year for FY2018-2023 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct or support research on firearms safety or gun violence prevention. Last year, more than 100 medical and public health groups sent a letter to then-President Obama and House and Senate leadership in support of federal gun violence prevention research, the lawmakers stated.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis,” said Maloney. “Yet, for too long the gun lobby and its allies in Congress have prohibited our nation’s leading federal public health researchers from studying gun violence to learn more about what drives it and how it can be prevented. With 89 people dying each and every day from gun violence, our country cannot afford Members of Congress playing political games with riders or restrictions on life-saving public health research and data collection. We must finally lift this senseless gag order.”

“Gun violence is ending lives and shattering families in Massachusetts and across our country,” said Markey. “Now more than ever, we must study the causes of gun violence and what can be done to prevent it. No one should be afraid of more nonpartisan, scientific research into this vital issue – not Republicans, not the NRA, and not President Trump. I thank Rep. Maloney for her leadership on this issue and look forward to working with my colleagues to fund this critical research priority.”

A 1996 Republican appropriations rider prohibits federal funds from being used to advocate or promote gun control, which some have misconstrued as a ban on funding scientific research into the causes of gun violence. The author of the original rider, former Representative Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) now supports funding Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gun violence research and has stated that the rider should not stand in the way of researching the epidemic of gun violence.

Groups and individuals endorsing the legislation include: Newtown Action Alliance, Stop Handgun Violence, Doctors for America, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence united with Million Mom March, Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Center for American Progress, Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Public Health, Protect Minnesota, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, American Academy of Pediatrics, Maria Cuomo Cole, Rabbis Against Gun Violence, Women Against Gun Violence, Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

Po Murray, Chairman, Newtown Action Alliance stated, “We applaud Senator Markey and Representative Maloney for re-introducing the bills to fund gun violence research. Over 400,000 Americans have been killed or injured by guns since the Sandy Hook shooting when a severely mentally ill gunman senselessly murdered 20 innocent children and six educators with weapons of war in our neighborhood elementary school on December 14, 2012. Motor vehicle fatalities in our nation have been declining precipitously due to evidence-based research and common sense policies. In 2014, gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 21 states and the District of Columbia. Too many American families from cities and towns across the nation are senselessly and tragically impacted by gun violence, and it is time for Congress to take meaningful action to end gun violence by adequately funding research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.”

According to a statement by The American Medical Association, “Gun violence in the United States is a public health crisis requiring a comprehensive public health response and solution. An epidemiological analysis of gun violence is vital so physicians and other health providers, law enforcement, and society at large may be able to prevent injury and death resulting from firearms.”

Dean Sandro Galea, Boston University School of Public Health, said, “The paucity of research in the area of gun violence has substantially hampered our understanding of this issue, deepening a public health epidemic. Any restoration of research in the area will move us forward, providing data about how we can best promote gun safety, with the potential to save tens of thousands of lives annually. This bill would represent a timely investment in an area we have substantially underinvested over the past decades.”

MALONEY, CICILLINE LEAD OVER 60 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO PUSH FOR GUN VIOLENCE RESEARCH: Congress Members Carolyn B. Maloney and David N. Cicilline (RI-01) led 61 of their colleagues to push for funding for public health research on gun violence at the CDC.

In a letter to House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies leaders, the Members urged Congress to make public health investments in measures to evaluate the epidemic levels of gun violence in America, and possible solutions.

“Gun violence is truly a public health epidemic— it claims the lives of more of our young people than cancer,” said Rep. Maloney. “Yet for too long we’ve let senseless political scores get in the way of the public health research. We need to fully address this crisis. The gag order backed by the NRA and its allies in Congress has frozen this research for more than two decades, and we are less safe because of it. A small investment in public health research this year can help stem this tide of violence and find innovative solutions to make our communities safer,” stated Maloney (D–Queens/Manh).

“Far too many families have been ravaged by the epidemic of gun violence in cities and towns all across this country. This is a public health crisis and we need to address it. That’s why it is so dis- graceful that Congress continues to prohibit research on the causes of gun violence,” said Cicilline, who serves as Vice Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the House. “Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our communities. This funding is critical to ensuring that we finally put a stop to this shameful situation.”

Maloney’s bicameral legislation with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) to authorize dedicated funding for gun violence prevention research, of which Rep. Cicilline is a co-sponsor.

President Obama included $10 million for gun violence research in his administration’s budgets following the Sandy Hook tragedy as part of the Now is the Time initiative, but Congress continually failed to appropriate these funds, Maloney explained. In 2013, as part of the initiative, the Institute of Medicine developed a research agenda on gun violence, but funding is needed to begin this important work. Since the mid-1990s, federal funding for gun violence research has almost halted entirely in response to pressure from the pro-gun lobby. As a result, policymakers, doctors, counselors, and others lack comprehensive, scientific information about the causes and characteristics of gun violence, or the best strategies to prevent future tragedies, Maloney declared.

MALONEY RECOGNIZES BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT AT JEC HEARING ON ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY: Following a Joint Economic Committee Hearing examining “The Decline of Economic Opportunity in the United States,” Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D–Queens/Manh.) House Ranking Member on the committee, released the following statement:

“Today’s hearing made it clear that despite all the division and rancor that sometimes seems to paralyze us here in Washington, there is strong bipartisan agreement on numerous policy initiatives that could help move our nation forward, improve economic opportunity for all, and lift the standard of living for millions.

“Throughout the hearing, there was a consensus among our expert witnesses and most of the members of the Committee present, on commonsense proposals that Congress could act on right now, to help Americans nationwide that have been left behind by the changes in our economy.

“Many of us agreed that we need to invest in a forward-looking infrastructure program; in education, including early-childhood education; workforce training and skill development programs; and comprehensive immigration reform. Each one of these measures will help pave the way for better economic opportunity, especially in rural and distressed communities.

“The Second Avenue Subway project in my district is a great example of the positive impact that results from investing in infrastructure. Just months after its opening, it has already proven to be an engine of economic growth. When Phase 2 of this project is completed, it will connect economically disadvantaged communities in East Harlem with the thriving communities of Midtown and Lower Manhattan, and help to pave the way for greater access to jobs, education, and other services.

“We also must all recognize importance of investing in women. With our observance of Equal Pay Day this week, I took the opportunity to highlight for my colleagues that closing the gender wage gap not only benefits the women who are finally being paid fair wages, but also benefits our economy overall.”

The Joint Economic Committee heard testimony from:

• Mr. John Lettieri, Co-Founder of the Economic Innovation Group

• Dr. Tim Kane, Fellow at the Hoover Institute

• Dr. Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The JEC recently released a report on The Gender Wage Gap with a state-by-state snapshot – that showed New York has the smallest gender gap in the nation.

MALONEY – BILIRAKIS BILL PROVIDES MEDICARE FOR LOW VISION DEVICES: Congress Members Carolyn B. Maloney (D–Queens/Manh.) and Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) reintroduced the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act to help Medicare beneficiaries with low vision lead healthy, safe and independent lives.

This legislation would create a five-year national demonstration project administered by the Department of Health and Human Services to evaluate the economic impact of allowing reimbursement for low vision devices under the Social Security Act which are currently excluded from Medicare coverage.

“Coverage of low vision devices under Medicare will allow seniors with visual impairments to enjoy everyday activities and age independently. For some, reading a book or crossing the street is difficult even with glasses or contact lenses due to blurriness or distortion,” said Maloney. “Doctors can prescribe magnifiers and other special devices, but their current exclusion from Medicare coverage greatly restricts access to these devices. With the rising costs of healthcare, Medicare beneficiaries with these low vision impairments need our help. Necessary medical devices must be covered, period.”

“As someone who lives with visual impairments myself, I understand how important magnifiers and other low vision devices are for visually impaired individuals,” said Bilirakis. “Our bipartisan bill will help seniors access the low vision devices they need to more easily go about their daily lives and enjoy more independence.”

“Medicare coverage for low vision devices will significantly improve the effectiveness of vision rehabilitation services that are already covered under Medicare,” said Alan R. Morse, JD, PhD, President and CEO, Lighthouse Guild. “It is time for CMS to correct this inequitable and unjust policy. I thank the Representatives for their continued support of this issue.”

MALONEY, MEEHAN INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO COMBAT CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney, sponsor of the Campus SaVE Act, and Congress Member Pat Meehan (R–PA) reintroduced the bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) to combat sexual assault on college campuses. Senators Claire McCaskill (D–MO) and Dean Heller (R–NV) introduced the Senate companion bill.

“While we’ve made some progress to protect victims of campus sexual assault with the Campus SaVE Act, which I introduced and became law in 2013, more work is needed to reverse the troublesome persistence of sexual assault on college campuses,” said Rep. Maloney. “CASA is a bipartisan bill that would address ambiguities in the law, beef up protections for victims, improve reporting and training at campuses, and strengthen enforcement. Rape is a horrific crime that exacts a physical and psychological toll on survivors and an entire community. Students should never feel they are unsafe on their campuses.”

“Just this week in Washington, I stood with Connie Clery, founder of the Clery Center, one of the nation’s leading advocacy groups for safe campuses. Connie’s daughter Jeanne was brutally murdered 31 years ago today, and for decades – first as a prosecutor, now as a lawmaker – I’ve worked with Connie to make our campuses safer for young women. Connie’s efforts led to the enactment of the landmark Clery Act, which took tremendous steps to improve on-campus safety and reporting,” said Rep. Meehan. “The legislation we’re introducing today continues this vital effort, and it builds on the work done by a Campus Sexual Violence Task Force I established in my own district. It will help campus personnel prevent assaults and sexual violence – and ensure they know how to respond and care for victims when such acts occur. It strengthens cooperation between schools and law enforcement, and it stiffens penalties for Clery Act violations. I’m pleased to work with my colleague Rep. Maloney on this bill and I thank her for her continued partnership on this issue.”

Maloney explained what the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) would:

• Establish stiff, enforceable penalties for violations of the Clery Act.

• Ensure campus authorities coordinate with local law enforcement to delineate roles and share information when a crime occurs.

• Establish new resources for survivors of campus sexual assault, including Sexual Assault Response Coordinators to provide information and coordinate support services.

• Establish a uniform process to adjudicate sexual assault cases, and ensure on-campus personnel receive proper training.

• Establish a biennial, confidential survey of students about sexual violence on campus.

CROWLEY SUPPORTS AIR STRIKES IN SYRIA: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on the U.S. airstrikes in Syria:

“The recent chemical weapons attack against the Syrian people is an affront to the United States and the civilized world, and demands a compelling strategy to stop the normalization of chemical weapons use. This horrific assault against men, women, and children highlights the pressing need to bring an end to the terrible Syrian civil war that has cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. As the leader of the free world, the U.S. should never sit on the sidelines as atrocities unfold. The decision to strike an air base in Syria after Bashir al-Assad perpetrated the deadly attack against his own people appears to be a proportional response by the Trump Administration.

“President Trump owes it to our men and women in uniform and the American people to explain his long-term strategy toward Syria and how it enhances American security and advances protections of human rights. This explanation is critical given that just last week the administration signaled a hands-off approach in response to the atrocities in Syria, the President’s long, effusive praise for the Assad regime’s patron Vladimir Putin, and his long-held position that the U.S. should not intervene in Syria.

“There is also an unmistakable need to consult with Congress about authorization for the U.S. to move beyond limited strikes. I support calls for Speaker Ryan to bring Congress back to Washington to consider a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, as well as to hold discussions on the path forward.

“Furthermore, the need for military strikes against Syria also begs the Trump administration to reevaluate its inhumane policies toward refugees – many of whom are seeking to flee the brutal dictatorship of Assad. As President Trump explains to the American people what his strategy is, I hope to also hear about how he will welcome refugees who are seeking safety and security in the U.S.”

PERALTA SAYS STATE’S BUDGET ADMIRABLE: State Senator Jose Peralta issued the following statement regarding the state’s budget: “While this budget is not perfect, and no budget is, this is a plan that we can be proud of. I am pleased to announce that my colleagues and I in the Independent Democratic Conference were able to secure $10 million in funding for immigration legal defense services, in a groundbreaking and coordinated effort to fight President Trump’s attacks on our vibrant communities. So too, I am glad that we are finally acting to ‘Raise the Age’ of criminal responsibility in New York State for children ages 16 and 17; everyone deserves a second chance and fair shot at reaching a bright future. Additionally, I am proud to report that we secured a historic increase in overall school aid of about $1 billion, which includes a $700 million increase in foundation aid to public schools, bringing the annual appropriation for foundation aid to approximately $1.1 billion dollars. Assuming that these funds are allocated proportionally by the City of New York, my district would receive approximately $18.3 million for our public schools. Without adequately funded public schools, schoolchildren across the city are placed at a severe disadvantage. Again, while this budget accomplishes a great deal of good, there are several issues that remain on the table. As the legislative session continues, I will be fighting hard in Albany to tie up these loose ends, and to deliver comprehensive policy reforms that enshrine the ideals of equality and fairness that this great State was built upon.”

DROMM HAILS DECISION TO DISCARD IDNYC INFO: Council Member Daniel Dromm released the following statement on Judge Philip Minardo’s ruling allowing New York City to discard personal documents associated with IDNYC: “I hail Judge Minardo’s decision to allow the city to discard personal documents associated with IDNYC cardholders,” said Council Member Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst), lead sponsor of the legislation that created the identification card. ”Let’s be clear: this court case was motivated by racism and xenophobia. I am pleased that the court effectively dismantled Assembly Members Ronald Castorina and Nicole Malliotakis’s effort to put our immigrant families in harm’s way. We must never allow Trump surrogates to tear our communities apart.”

BRAUNSTEIN’S MOTHER’S DAY ESSAY CONTEST: Assembly Member Edward C. Braunstein invites students in grades 2-5 to enter his Mother’s Day Essay Contest.

Submissions can be any length and should have a Mother’s Day theme, such as a favorite experience, or an essay about why your mother is so special to you.

If you would like to participate, print your full name, grade, and school information on your entry and submit your essay by Friday, May 12, 2017 to: Assembly Member Braunstein’s office at 213-33 39 Ave., Suite 238, Bayside, NY 11361 You can also submit your essay by email to braunsteine@nyassembly.gov, or fax it to 718-357-5947.

District-wide winners will be chosen in grades 2-5. New York State Assembly Certificates of Merit will be presented to everyone who participates. For further information, please contact Braunsein’s office at 718-357-3588.

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