2017-05-03 / Political Page

I On Politics

BIPARTISAN CONGRESS VOTE KEEPS U.S. IN BUSINESS: Shutting down the U.S. government will be avoided as Congress approved the funding last Thursday, April 28, sparing everyone in Washington any embarrassment. The new funding will keep the government operating through next September, under the deal worked out by Republicans and Democrats.

Of prime importance, the new funding will primarily be provided for national security. However, no assistance will be earmarked for the wall President Donald Trump wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico, according to Washington sources. Millions of dollars are expected to be earmarked to support agencies guarding the First Lady and Barron Trump in in Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Senate Democratic Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D–NY) issued a statement applauding the bipartisan deal which saved the day. Schumer stated:

“This agreement is a good agreement for the American people and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table.” He noted it did not provide funds for Trump’s wall, but does approve appropriations for “medical research, education and infrastructure.”

TRUMP INVITES PHILIPPINES PRES TO VISIT: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has a somewhat tarnished reputation, having reportedly killed hundreds in the drug war that has been going on in his country. So, when President Trump invited Duterte to visit the White House sometime in the future when they were chatting over the past weekend, it came as sort of a surprise.

The New York Times in Monday’s report warned that, “by essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, the administration is bracing for an avalanche of criticism from human rights groups.”

According to the Daily News’ coverage of Trump’s “very friendly conversation” with Duterte, Trump hadn’t informed his staff about the conversation or invitation to Duterte to visit the White House. But the News said “it drew outrage from political critics and human rights groups.” The call to Duterte, and similar “routine diplomatic outreach to Southeast Asian leaders,” were also made by Trump to Thailand and Singapore.

ADDABBO TO SPONSOR MOTHER’S DAY FOOD DRIVE: In celebration of Mother’s Day, on Sunday, May 14, New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. is partnering with Sacred Heart Church in Glendale to hold a food drive to collect items for those in need.

From now through May 12, Addabbo and Sacred Heart will be collecting nonperishable food items to donate to the church’s food bank.

“Once a year, we celebrate the women who helped shape us into the people we are today,” Addabbo said. “That is why, this Mother’s Day, we ask you to help make it a special holiday for those less fortunate. While usually after major holidays, our food pantries lack available food, and any time is the right time of year to help out a fellow New Yorker, but it is our hope that this simple act of kindness might just make this Mother’s Day even more special. As always, I am proud to once again partner with Sacred Heart for this wonderful cause and look forward to continuing our efforts in the future.”

Requested donations include canned goods, pasta, rice and toiletries. Those who wish to make a donation may drop off items at Addabbo’s Middle Village Office, located at 66-85 73rd Place; open every Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Senator’s office at 718-497-1630.

AVELLA COMMENTS ON TODAY’S WILLETS WEST ARGUMENTS: Final arguments were heard by the Court of Appeals for the appeal of the Willets West “mega-mall” case on April 26. State Senator Tony Avella, who filed the original lawsuit, commented on what he saw in the courtroom that day:

“Words cannot express how painful it was to sit in the courtroom today and listen to the City and Attorney General’s counsel supporting a developer’s proposal to give away parkland for a megamall. It is absolutely disgraceful of the city and state officials who are supposed to represent the people and protect parkland to instead be complicit in the developer’s proposed heist of public land. Sitting in that courtroom was difficult for me as I watched lawyers hired to protect the interest of the people argue against that very interest,” said Senator Avella.

QUEENS ACTIVISTS TRAVEL TO HEAR ARGUMENTS ON FUTURE OF WILLETS POINT: Former Council Member Hiram Monserrate, members of the Black Institute, the East Elmhurst Corona Alliance and the representatives of the Queens Civic Congress filled a bus and travelled from East Elmhurst to Westchester to hear oral arguments being presented at the Court of Appeals of New York State regarding Willets Point West.

Community members have voiced their concerns on new plans that would replace the original Willets Point redevelopment plan. The new plans include expanding the project onto over 40 acres of public parkland and prioritizing the construction of an “unnecessary” commercial mall or casino. The new plan approved by Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and the Mayor also gives 23 acres of Willets Point property to developers for the price of one dollar and no affordable housing guarantees, explained Monserrate in a statement.

Former Council Member Monserrate who represented the 21st Council District and was a driving force of the original Willets Point redevelopment plan stated, “I was encouraged by the line of questioning presented by the panel of judges. I strongly agree with Judge Stein’s comments on how the developers’ position regarding the repurposing of parkland to build a mall appeared to be a ‘bit of a leap.’ I am confident and hopeful that the court will re-affirm the Appellate Court’s decision and not allow Flushing Meadows Corona Park land to be used for a mega mall or casino.”

Last week, community members from the area surrounding Willets Point joined Monserrate at the steps of City Hall to ask Mayor Bill de Blasio to intervene on their behalf and to honor the original agreement detailed in the Willets Point Redevelopment plan – a plan de Blasio lauded and supported with his vote as a member of the New York City Council. Mayor de Blasio did not respond.

In 2008, then-Council Member Monserrate joined Mayor Bloomberg on the steps of City Hall to announce a redevelopment plan that included 5,500 housing units of which 1,925 units would be permanently affordable, an 850-seat public school, the construction of new access ramps to the Van Wyck Expressways and a project labor agreement with a relocation plan for displaced businesses and living wage protections.

MALONEY SLAMS FINANCIAL CHOICE ACT: “IT WOULD TAKE U.S. BACK TO PRE-FINANCIAL CRISIS CONDITIONS”: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) Ranking Member on the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment, during the April 27 Committee on Financial Services full committee hearing, slammed the Republican-proposed Financial CHOICE Act, which would repeal the Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and roll back “the important protections put in place after the financial crisis,” Maloney stated.

“The Republican Financial CHOICE Act is a recipe for disaster that lays the groundwork for another financial crisis by repealing the Dodd- Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,” said Maloney. “During the financial crisis, 6 million people lost their homes and $5 trillion dollars of middle class wealth was destroyed, as millions of Americans saw their pensions and savings evaporate. Since Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, our financial markets have stabilized and consumers enjoy much stronger protections against abusive practices. The Financial CHOICE Act would reverse this progress and take our country back to a time of shady consumer lending practices and large government bailouts for financial institutions.

“Shockingly, the CHOICE Act even repeals Dodd-Frank’s Orderly Liquidation Authority (OLA), which was one of the most bipartisan ideas in Dodd-Frank. The FDIC has long had the author- ity to resolve commercial banks outside of the bankruptcy process and all Dodd-Frank did was give the FDIC the authority to do the same thing for large non-bank financial institutions. But now, Republicans have somehow convinced themselves that this long-standing FDIC authority is an evil new taxpayer bailout, which it clearly is not. But, what is true, is that repealing the OLA would make bankruptcy the only option for a failing bank holding company, while also taking away the only tool that even has a chance to make the normal bankruptcy process work for a large bank.

“I am hopeful this ‘new’ CHOICE Act has the same fate as old one, and ends up nowhere near the President’s desk.”

MALONEY INTROS BILL TO EASE FINANCIAL BURDENS OF AMERICANS LIVING ABROAD: In an effort to address some of the unintended consequences that well-intentioned Treasury regulations have been having on the estimated 6-8 million Americans citizens living and working abroad, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney has introduced the Overseas Americans Financial Access Act. Maloney announced the introduction of her new bill at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing to review the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the lawmakers said.

“For years, I have heard reports from lawabiding American citizens living overseas that they have been without access to essential everyday financial tools such as mortgages, bank accounts, insurance policies, and pension funds because of FATCA’s expensive and duplicative reporting requirements. These regulatory requirements have led foreign financial institutions to simply deny basic banking services to American citizens,” said Maloney. “Some of these institutions have even closed accounts or refused to open new ones for U.S. citizens, just to minimize their exposure to FATCA reporting requirements, withholding fees and potential penalties,” Maloney (D–Queens, Manhattan) explained.

“While I recognize that the Treasury is tasked with the important and difficult job of making sure American money around the world remains compliant with the U.S. tax code, the current FATCA reporting procedures fail to effectively differentiate between lawabiding Americans and criminal tax evaders and money launderers. We need to make technical revisions to these policies so that Americans living abroad can lead normal lives, remain competitive in international business and continue to contribute to economies here in the U.S. and around the world. One metric that shows how burdensome this has become is the spike in citizenship renunciation levels. It is now time to do the right thing and provide these good people with some relief.”

Maloney’s Overseas Americans Financial Access Act would implement the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) recommendation from April 13, 2015 exempting Americans from FATCA reporting if they bank in the same country where they are a bona fide resident, she concluded.

CROWLEY ON TRUMP’S TAX REFORM OUTLINE: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D–Queens, Bronx) issued the following statement on the tax outline released on April 27 by President Donald Trump.

“The outline released by President Trump’s administration is far from a tenable plan for tax reform. Instead, it appears to benefit President Trump’s billionaire friends and powerful companies by giving them a massive tax break while short-changing the middle class. This outline would do little to help the hardest working Americans and their families – a requirement for Democrats in tax reform.

“Tax reform is desperately needed to make our code simpler, fairer, and far more effective. As a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, this is a huge priority of mine. I hope Republicans will join Democrats in looking for common-sense proposals to ensure the tax code works for all Americans.”

CROWLEY ON TRUMP’S ANTIIMMIGRANT OFFICE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley issued the following statement on the decision to open the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) office in the Department of Homeland Security as part of President Trump’s administration crackdown on immigrants.

“Today’s announcement is nothing but the latest in a long line of actions from this administration that demonizes immigrants, spreads falsehoods about immigration, and deflects from the real problems facing our broken system. At a time when DHS and ICE have undertaken deeply troubling deportation and enforce- ment actions, this office will only feed into an anti-immigrant narrative that has led to families being torn apart.

“In fact, with the administration’s insistence on targeting sanctuary cities that welcome immigrants, they are pursuing policies that make communities less safe by eroding the trust between immigrant communities and the law enforcement officers who protect them. I urge President Trump to put aside his anti-immigrant agenda and work with Democrats on comprehensive immigration reform,” said Crowley (D–Queens, Bronx).

MALONEY CELEBRATES OPENING OF FIRST SPAN OF NEW KOSCIUSZKO BRIDGE: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) last Friday applauded the opening of the new span of the Kosciuszko Bridge. The lawmaker helped secure $670 million in federal funds, roughly 85% of the total cost, to pay for the new bridge.

Maloney stated: “After years of planning and construction, I am thrilled that this new state-ofthe art span will finally be open for public use. I am proud to have secured $670 million in federal funds for this project, roughly 85% of the total cost of both spans. With this new bridge, we continue New York’s tradition of bold infrastructure projects that move our economy forward. The 78-year old bridge was a crumbling, dangerous eyesore, widely regarded as the worst bridge in the state. Now construction on the first phase is complete, and when it is all said and done, the new Kosciuszko Bridge will have a transformative impact for drivers and residents alike.” The bridge connects Brooklyn and Queens.

CROWLEY, MENG EVALUATE TRUMP’S FIRST 100 DAYS: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (DNY) and Congress Member Grace Meng issued the following statements on President Trump’s first 100 days in the White House, which ended on Saturday, April 29.

Rep. Crowley: “President Trump’s first 100 days in office were an utter failure. The administration’s petty politics and policy stumbles have done nothing to strengthen our economy or improve the lives of the American people. Instead, President Trump has wasted opportunity after opportunity, leaving our country without a clear path on key issues that seriously impact American families.

“This is not only dangerous, but irresponsible. There are too many families still struggling to put food on the table and make ends meet. Too many Americans are concerned about getting – or keeping – a good paying job. Too many parents are losing sleep over the overwhelming costs of sending their kids to college. And there is great concern across the country about our safety and security, due to threats overseas.

“As President Trump evaluates his first 100 days, I hope he sees the urgent need to change course and abandon the partisan stunts and hateful policy initiatives and instead embrace transparency and common-sense proposals for the good of all Americans.”

Rep. Meng: ”The first 100 days of a new presidency are usually filled with a flurry of legislative activity and accomplishments. Even though nothing about Donald Trump’s presidency has been typical, I have still been vastly disappointed by his performance. He has yet to accomplish anything significant, and many of his actions have been appalling.

“Instead of working with Congress to improve our health care system, create jobs, and fix our crumbling infrastructure, President Trump chose to issue executive orders and push legislation that harm American families. We have seen two racist Muslim bans rightly fail in the courts, a disastrous bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that would have raised costs and left millions uninsured, and a budget plan that puts America last by squeezing the middle class and slashing investment in our nation’s future. Furthermore, President Trump has not even done the most basic part of his job by appointing individuals to the empty positions in his administration – there are still thousands of positions left to fill.

“I strive to listen to and be a voice for my constituents every day. I have worked with House Republicans, and will continue to do so when possible, to advance our shared goals, such as infrastructure investment, affordable childcare, and adequate services for our veterans. If President Trump truly values these priorities, where has he been the past 100 days?

“After President Trump’s disastrous legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act imploded, he said, ‘nobody knew health care could be so complicated.’ Anyone who works in a medical field, or who has struggled to find quality and affordable health care could tell you otherwise. But it is not just health care that is complicated, it is governing. To govern successfully, you have to bring legitimate ideas to the table and work across the aisle. You have to listen.”

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