2017-05-10 / Political Page

I On Politics

GOP WIN ON FIRST HEALTH BILL GIVES THEM FUTURE EDGE: After a very narrow 4-vote victory (217-213) to pass the House, Republicans are preparing for another cliffhanger when they bring the crucial American Health Care Act back for the do-or-die vote before the U.S. Senate sometime soon.

GOP senators will be burdened also by having to present the legislation for approval, which denies coverage to 24 million Americans who were covered by Obamacare but are not included in the Republican-sponsored legislation, presently.

However, with the victory promised by President Donald Trump and GOP leaders in the Senate, their task is reachable and doable for one of the most important votes facing the party’s lawmakers now.

Meanwhile, the Democratic opposition, which fell only five votes short of upsetting President Trump’s and House Chair Paul Ryan’s plan a week ago, should be fully prepared for this clash when it reaches the Senate sometime soon. We think however, that the Republicans’ initial victory will give them the edge when the U.S. Senate votes the next time.

SCHUMER BLASTS TRUMP ON ANTI-DRUG PROGRAM CUTS: Senator Chuck Schumer blasted President Donald Trump for completely cutting off funds for two anti-drug programs. Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, reacted when Trump slashed the appropriation of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s budget from $388 million by about 95%, to just $24 million.

The cuts were made to the Drug Free Communities Office and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area programs, which work with local law enforcement in combating drug trafficking in New York City and on Long Island. Schumer (D–NY) declared, “President Trump’s nonsensical proposal to gut” the two offices is, “the most destructive contribution he’s made yet to the fight against the opioid and heroin epidemic…”

Schumer added, “The move would effectively kick Americans seeking treatment to the curb and make our communities less safe… Senate Democrats will never vote to defund these vital programs…”

Schumer also pushed a bipartisan bill aimed at choking off the supply of fentanyl, a powerful opioid, a popular drug contributing to mounting overdose deaths. It comes in from Mexico and China.

CROWLEY’S BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION ON LOOMING DOCTOR SHORTAGE: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D–NY) and Congress member Ryan Costello (R–Penn.) announced on May 2 the reintroduction of legislation to expand the current cap on the number of Medicare-supported training slots for doctors, helping to ensure teaching hospitals can meet the growing demands for physicians as our nation faces a looming doctor shortage.

The lawmakers said the U.S. is expected to face a shortage of up to 104,900 physicians by 2030, including shortages in both primary and specialty care, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Medical school enrollment is growing, yet the number of residency positions is still subject to an outdated cap, meaning that these medical school graduates will have no place to finish their required training.

“Raising the resident cap is a critical first step in addressing this nationwide crisis. Medical schools have responded by expanding enrollment numbers, but it’s time for Congress to act so these new medical students can complete their training,” said Chairman Crowley. “Additionally, teaching hospitals have taken on a great deal of responsibility, but they need the support of Congress and adequate federal funding to continue. A doctor shortage is something we just can’t ignore. This is a nationwide problem, and the path to ensuring that all Americans have access to high-quality, well-trained physicians is through the strengthening of GME programs.”

“A strong physician workforce is vital to ensuring all Americans have timely access to essential and quality health care. This legislation would allow Congress to address concerns about physician shortages by providing teaching hospitals with the necessary resources to support increased residency openings,” said Rep. Costello. “By demonstrating a bipartisan commitment to developing a new generation of skilled physicians, we can expand the availability of health care.”

The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act was first introduced in 2009 and again in subsequent Congresses. The legislation would increase the number of Medicare-supported hospital residency positions by 15,000 (3,000 slots per year, over five years), bringing the total number of slots available to 105,000 and opening up significant new opportunities for future doctors and for the teaching hospitals that train them, they stated.

“This much-needed bill underscores not only the critical importance of teaching hospitals and their mission to train medical residents, but also the crucial need to address the nation’s looming physician shortage,” said Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth E. Raske. “New York’s entire teaching hospital community thanks Congressman Crowley for his leadership on this vital issue.”

Bea Grause, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS), commended Congress Member Crowley for his leadership in pressing Congress to protect and strengthen Graduate Medical Education, “This bipartisan legislation is critical to supporting our world-class teaching hospitals and academic medical centers whose core mission is excellence in patient care while training tomorrow’s physicians. More residency slots are needed nationwide to support the increased need for physician services.”

The legislation is supported by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, America’s Essential Hospitals, Federation of American Hospitals, and other leading national and state organizations.

GILLIBRAND ON LATEST DEFENSE REPORT ON SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE MILITARY: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released on May 2 the following statement on the Department of Defense’s latest report on sexual assault in the military:

“While DoD touts progress, the truth is that the scourge of sexual assault in the military remains the status quo. Today’s report disappointingly shows a flat overall reporting rate and a retaliation rate against survivors that remains at an unacceptable six out of ten for a 3rd year in a row. This report does not reflect having the good order and discipline that is essential for our military.

“Perhaps most disturbing, this report shows that we have less, not more accountability in the military justice system with fewer cases going to trial and with the relatively few that do, fewer cases are resulting in convictions, and six out of ten survivors surveyed are still not reporting assaults committed against them.

“It is clear that after years of Congressional reforms, men and women in uniform still do not have confidence in the military justice system.

“This data screams for a professionalization and modernization of the military justice system that allows independent military prosecutors to go after and hold accountable sexual predators who harm our military readiness. Congress should take this report as a wake-up call that we can no longer afford the status quo.”

MASPETH’S MOST SUCCESSFUL RECYCLING DAY TO DATE: City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, State Assembly Member Brian Barnwell and Maspeth Federal Savings Bank sponsored yet another successful Recycling Day for the community, bringing in hundreds of residents despite a rainy day.

Hailed as the “most successful event ever” by Maspeth Federal, 150 barrels of paper were shredded, 12 pallets of e-waste were hauled off and eight animals were adopted from the Animal Care Center of New York. The 108th Precinct also provided VIN-etching to safeguard residents’ vehicles from break-ins.

“Despite the rain, we never slowed down,” said Jill Nicolois, Maspeth Federal Savings Bank’s Public Relations Manager.

“I’m so pleased to see the success of this event year after year, and this year especially, with our greatest turnout yet,” Crowley said. “It shows our community is environmentally-conscious, and I’m proud to provide an outlet to further that. Recycling will keep our environment safe and sustainable for generations to come. My thanks to Assembly Member Barnwell, Maspeth Federal Savings Bank, Animal Care Center of New York, the Department of Sanitation, the 108th Precinct, COMET Civic, and everyone who made this event such a success.”

MALONEY ON FY2017 SPENDING BILL: Following the release of the FY2017 Omnibus appropriations Act by the House Committee on Appropriations on May 1, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) released the following statement:

“The bipartisan Omnibus bill is a good step forward in appropriately funding many of our government agencies, fulfilling one of Congress’s most basic responsibilities. The fact that this bill includes a $2 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health’s important medical research and a $42 million increase for the Public Housing Capital Fund suggests that, despite the rise of divisive rhetoric, Democrats and Republicans can work together for the greater good of our nation. The fact that this budget preserves funding for Community Development Block Grants, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for Humanities, despite the President’s proposal to eliminate these programs, is also an important message that Democrats and Republicans oppose such extreme and harmful cuts.

“In addition, with this spending package, our government is also living up to its responsibility to ensure that New York City taxpayers will be fully reimbursed for the costs to protect then-President elect Trump and his family between Election Day and Inauguration Day. And, as the NYPD and FDNY continue to protect Trump Tower, that future costs will be fully covered as well. Protecting the President and First Family is a national security priority and so should be covered by federal funds. This is the right and fair thing to do.

“It is also important to note what is not included in this bill – namely more than 160 policy riders that would have harmed Americans in every state and of every political persuasion, including ‘poison pill’ riders that would harm sanctuary cities like New York City, defund Planned Parenthood and undermine the Affordable Care Act. This is truly a bipartisan bill in the nation’s best interest, demonstrating that Democrats and Republicans can work together to keep our government running and our nation strong.”

MENG STATEMENT ON THE OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS BILL: U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D–NY), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement on the Omnibus appropriations bill that was unveiled on May 1:

“After last week’s short-term Continuing Resolution, I’m pleased Congress has reached a bipartisan agreement on a government spending bill, which includes my requested increase of $300,000 for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. This increase will allow the center to hire three additional staff members and to continue to serve as the leading voice on the Asian Pacific American experience, as well as host events in cities across the country.

“The spending bill provides no funding for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico and does not cut funding to Planned Parenthood or sanctuary cities.

“As a New York member of the House Appropriations Committee, it’s important to me that the bill reimburses New York City for the costs associated with protecting President Trump and the First Family. These costs for the security of Trump Tower should be paid for by the federal government. It should not be on the back of New York taxpayers nor should it further strain our needed police resources. I thank the mayor for noting my work on this effort.”

“In addition, the Omnibus bill permanently extends retired health benefits for miners, provides $2 billion to the National Institutes of Health, and reinstates year-round Pell grants.

“This bill is not perfect though. The American people deserve better than the alternatives of another stopgap funding measure or a government shutdown. I hope this spending bill is a sign that future negotiations will be possible as we begin funding discussions for the next fiscal year.”

Congress is expected to approve the Omnibus bill this week, Meng concluded.

MALONEY APPLAUDS FUNDING TO REIMBURSE NYC FOR TRUMP PROTECTIONS IN SPENDING BILL: Following the release of a bipartisan budget agreement that includes funding to reimburse New York City for the costs incurred to protect the President and his family, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), released the following statement:

“I’m very pleased that this budget agreement ensures that New York City taxpayers will be fully reimbursed for the costs to protect then-President elect Trump and his family and that future costs will be covered as the NYPD and FDNY continue to protect Trump Tower. This is the right and fair thing to do.

“It is ridiculous to expect local law enforcement like the NYPD and FDNY to bear the extraordinary and ongoing costs of protecting the President of the United States. That is clearly a national security concern and paying for it should be federal responsibility. This budget agreement ensures the federal government meets this responsibility.”

The bipartisan budget agreement includes $27 million to reimburse state and local law enforcement for costs associated with protection of the President-elect and $40 million to reimburse costs post-inauguration.

The NYPD’s final calculation for protecting then-President-elect Trump from Election Day to Inauguration Day was $25.7 million. Following this final tally released in March, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY- 12) and Congress Member Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. (R-NY-11), led a bipartisan group of 14 other members of the New York Delegation in a formal request to the Appropriations committee that the City of New York be fully reimbursed for costs incurred to protect then-Presidentelect Donald Trump and his family between Election Day and Inauguration Day.

This formal request followed an initial request made in December before passage of a Continuing Resolution that only included $7 million for reimbursement to New York City.

CHAIRMAN CROWLEY STATEMENT ON INTRO OF EQUALITY ACT: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D–Queens/Bronx) joined his colleagues on May 2 to reintroduce the Equality Act, which would extend permanent protections prohibiting discrimination against LGBT Americans.

“Discrimination against LGBT Americans cannot be tolerated. The Equality Act would provide much-needed protections for our fellow Americans, so no one has to wonder if they would face harassment or discrimination when looking for fair employment or safe housing,” said Crowley. “I’m proud to join Congressman David Cicilline and my House colleagues in introducing this legislation to ensure that no matter who you are, where you come from, or who you love, you are protected by the same laws as everyone else.”

The Equality Act would amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations, and the use of federal funds. The Equality Act was introduced by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and cosponsored by 192 members of the House. The legislation was also introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), with 45 original cosponsors.

LGBT Americans have no protection from discrimination in 29 states. In these states, LGBT persons can be fired, evicted, or denied a loan just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act will ensure nationwide, comprehensive protection from discrimination for LGBT Americans.

MALONEY BILL CALLS ON U.K. TO RETURN PARTHENON SCULPTURES TO GREECE: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D–Queens-Manhattan), Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, Representative Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and Representative Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10) introduced a resolution on May 2 calling on Great Britain to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. The Marbles were removed from Greece 200 years ago by Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin, and transported to Great Britain. The marbles were part of a frieze that wrapped around the Temple of Athena. In 1816, the British Parliament voted to purchase the Marbles, and they now reside in the British Museum. Despite years of efforts by the Greek Government to regain the Marbles, it has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its British counterparts to return the Marbles to Greece.

“The Parthenon Marbles are some of Greece’s greatest examples of artistic expression and beauty, and should be on display in their country of origin,” said Maloney. “They are vital pieces of Greek history that belong to the Greek people. The people of Greece, as well as the visitors who travel from all around the world to experience the magnificence of the Acropolis should be able to enjoy the Marbles. This resolution calls upon Great Britain to finally return these treasures to their rightful home.”

“Art provides a window into history and is the ultimate freedom of expression,” said Bilirakis. “The Parthenon Marbles were made by the citizens of Athens under the direction of renowned artist Phidias to celebrate the pride and majesty of the city of Athens. To not house and view these citizen contributions in the city they were originally intended for does a disservice not only to the people of Athens, but also to the civilization that paved the path for modern democracy and freedom. I sincerely hope to see these original works and other important elements of Hellenic history finally returned to their rightful owner for future generations of proud Greeks to enjoy.”

“The Parthenon Marbles are a national symbol and source of pride for Greece,” said Payne. “These sculptures were taken from Greece, and that is where they belong. Great Britain should do the right thing and reunify the Parthenon temple’s treasures in their homeland.”

According to Maloney, The Parthenon, largely regarded as one of Europe’s greatest architectural wonders, is the preeminent symbol of Greek cultural heritage, including its art, architecture, and democracy, and of the contributions that the ancients made to civilization. More than 100 pieces of the Parthenon Marbles were removed from the site between 1801 and 1816 and now reside in the British Museum. The Greek people have sought the return of these pieces since it won independence from Ottoman rule in 1830.

CROWLEY: SENATE VOTE MAKES IT HARDER FOR WORKING AMERICANS TO SAVE: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D–NY) issued the following statement after the Senate, using the Congressional Review Act, made it harder for millions of working Americans to save for retirement:

“I’m disappointed Senate Republicans passed legislation today that would make it significantly harder for millions of Americans to save for retirement by overturning a policy that broke down the barriers for workers to save their own money, in their own accounts, for their own retirement.

“With one-third of American workers not saving for retirement and private-sector pensions dwindling, the retirement security picture in the U.S. is bleak. Today’s Senate vote makes it even worse.

“It is now up to President Trump to live up to his campaign promises and protect workers’ retirements by vetoing this misguided and politically motivated legislation. We should be doing everything in our power to give American workers the opportunity to save for retirement. I hope President Trump agrees.”

QUEENS GOP PARTY BACKS MASSEY FOR NYC MAYOR: The Executive Committee of the Queens County Republican Party voted on May 1 to endorse real estate executive Paul Massey for mayor of New York City at its meeting in South Ozone Park.

“Paul Massey is the only candidate who can beat Bill de Blasio in November, and I am pleased that the Executive Committee has joined me in endorsing him,” said former Congress Member and Queens County GOP Chairman Bob Turner. “At a time when our city is dealing with failing schools, a growing homelessness problem, and a noticeable decline in quality of life, it is critical that we support a candidate for mayor who has a vision for this city, and an ability to execute that vision.”

The Queens County Republican Party is the first of New York City’s five Republican county organizations to announce an endorsement for mayor this year.

Executive Committee members also voted to endorse Council Member Eric Ulrich (R–Ozone Park) for reelection in the 32nd Council District. Ulrich serves as the Chair of the Council’s Veterans Committee and is currently the borough’s only Republican elected official. “I am truly grateful for Chairman Turner’s support and the steadfast, dedicated and hardworking Republican Party District Leader,” said Ulrich.

The Queens County Republicans endorsed slate also includes the following City Council candidate: retired NYPD Captain Joseph Concannon (R–Bellerose) for the 23rd Council District seat, and accountant Ivan Mossop (R–Rochdale/South Ozone Park) for the 28th Council District.

MASSEY THANKS QUEENS GOP FOR ENDORSEMENT: New York City mayoral candidate Paul Massey has been endorsed by the Queens County Republican Committee, led by Rep. Robert Turner, Queens County GOP Chairman.

Mr. Massey earned the endorsement of the Independence Party in January. Turner said. “I have gotten to know Paul well over the years, and he is a serious man who will work tirelessly to address the city’s problems.”

Massey has recently begun to roll out his Urban Innovation Agenda, starting with his education reform plan, which he released last week. It reflects the best thinking from across the political spectrum, as well as Massey’s experience founding and running a successful business that operated in all five New York City boroughs.

In the coming months, Massey will release detailed policy plans on his priority issues, which include: public safety, jobs and budget, infrastructure, quality of life, housing and homelessness.

“The Congressman’s advice has been crucial as we have ramped up our campaign,” Massey said. “I am proud to have him and the Queens Republican Committee stand with me as we look to serve the hard-working men and women of Queens and each of the five boroughs.”

The Massey campaign is off to a strong start in 2017, having already received the endorsement of the Independence Party of New York and posting record-breaking fundraising numbers for the first two filings.

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