2018-02-21 / Political Page

I On Politics

 

CUOMO: WE NEED SMART FEDERAL GUN SAFETY LEGISLATION: “In the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, New Yorkers from both parties agreed that inaction was not an option. Seizing the moment, we passed with bipartisan support the toughest gun safety legislation in the nation to keep our children and our communities safe.

“New York’s SAFE Act has made our communities more secure, including by banning assault weapons like AR-15s and preventing people who are a risk to themselves or to others from purchasing a gun. As of December 2017, 75,000 people deemed to be dangerously mentally ill by a licensed mental health professional have been added to a database to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

“The horrific shooting at a school in Florida once again has this nation asking how Congress can, in good conscience, continue to turn a blind eye to the dangers of gun violence. It’s time this nation followed New York’s lead and passed smart gun safety legislation that keeps guns away from those who will use them for evil. Too many children have died because of Washington’s failure to act.”

GIANARIS RENEWS CALLS TO PASS HIS BILL EXTENDING WAIT PERIOD FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS: NYS Senator Michael Gianaris urged the State Legislature on Monday, February 19 to pass his Effective Background Check Act, which would extend the waiting period for background checks from 3 days to 10. Senator Gianaris renewed this push following news that the Trump administration is cutting funding for background checks in the federal budget.

“This is the worst time in our history to further erode responsible measures that keep guns away from dangerous people,” said Gianaris. “Improving background checks was necessary before the Trump funding cuts and is even more important now.”

Currently, there is a 3-day waiting period for a background check to be completed before a seller can transfer a firearm to a purchaser. If the check is not completed in that time, the firearm may be sold without a background check at all. Over 300,000 background checks were not concluded in the 3-day period in 2016 alone. Gianaris’ proposal would extend the waiting period to 10 days so that proper background checks could be completed in all cases. His bill would also require firearms dealers report to the police any attempts to make illegal gun purchases and would require employees of gun manufacturers and dealers to also undergo background checks.

MALONEY ANNOUNCES NEW BILL TO COMBAT GUN VIOLENCE: In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, announced on February 16 her plans to introduce new legislation to combat gun violence.

“Americans want action and so do I. That is why today I am announcing plans to introduce a new bill to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a risk to others. This legislation will take the Obama-era mental health background check regulation that President Trump repealed and make it law. This will allow law enforcement to check the Social Security database and add people who are unable to handle their own financial affairs to the national background check system.

“Now is the time to act. Thoughts and prayers do not change anything. Enough is enough.”

Maloney has authored legislation to enact harsher penalties for gun trafficking, to close the gun show background check loophole, to incentivize responsible gun ownership, to fund gun violence research, and to promote the development of “smart gun” technology.

For her work, she has consistently been given an “F” rating from the NRA.

Bills introduced by Rep. Maloney to Improve Gun Safety and Reduce Gun Violence:

HR1475: Gun Trafficking Prevention Act

For years, federal law enforcement has asked Congress for better tools to go after gun traffickers and people who buy guns for those who are prohibited from buying guns on their own, also known as “straw purchasers.” Under Maloney’s bill, gun trafficking will now be a federal felony offense and straw purchasers would face much stiffer penalties.

HR 1612: Gun Show Loophole Closing Act

Currently, people who buy guns at gun shows are not subject to background checks. Maloney’s bill would close this loophole and subject all gun purchasers to the background check requirements already in place at gun stores.

HR1708: Firearm Risk Protection Act

We need to incentivize responsible gun ownership. Maloney’s bill would require gun owners to purchase liability insurance, which will help to ensure they use and store their guns responsibly.

HR1832: Gun Violence Research

Currently, federal public health researchers are prohibited from studying gun violence. Gun violence is a national epidemic and we need to study its root causes so we can come up with realistic, workable solutions. “My bill will allow our federal researchers to do just that,” said Maloney.

HR2380: Handgun Trigger Safety Act

This bill would promote the development of new “smart gun” technology that only allows an authorized user to fire a gun. It would also mandate that all newly manufactured handguns use this technology within five years, and that existing handguns be retrofitted with this technology within 10 years.

CROWLEY: WE NEED ACTION ON HORRIFIC GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on the school shooting in Parkland, Florida:

“My heart breaks for the students, faculty, and families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. No child should be subjected to the horrors of gun violence, especially as they study and prepare for their futures.

“As yet, innocent children at 18 different schools had their lives impacted by horrific gun violence this year. This is an epidemic. We need real solutions and real action.

“As a Congress, we must have a better answer for the victims’ families than our thoughts and prayers. It is unconscionable that Republicans stand in the way of ending gun violence each and every time Americans lose lives due to a mass shooting. Americans are dying waiting for us to act. The time is now.”

SCHUMER: TRUMP BUDGET CRIPPLES GUN BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM: In the wake of the tragic Parkland, Florida shooting that took the lives of 17 innocent individuals, US Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed on February 18 that the just-released White House budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 makes millions of dollars in cuts to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). NICS is used by law enforcement to check records on individuals who may be prohibited from purchasing firearms. Over 90 percent of the public supports a background check system on all gun buyers. Schumer said, “Poll after poll shows Americans overwhelmingly believe in gun background checks; but in the midst of an ongoing national tragedy and 30 mass shootings so far this year, the president’s budget would slash funding for the gun check system by an egregious 16 percent—millions of dollars—and threaten public safety.”

Schumer, who is the author of the Brady Law that passed in 1993, has been a champion of common-sense gun-safety legislation that better protects the American public and said he will do everything in his power to fight these cuts because it has been long proven that this check system saves lives.

“In the midst of the national tragedy in Parkland, Florida, and on the heels of now 30 mass shootings that have taken place this year alone, it is downright dangerous that the president’s budget would seek to undermine the gun background check system,” said Schumer. “No child should have to live in fear of mass shootings and no parent should have to worry about the fate of their child after school drop-off in the morning. Rather than working to strengthen already lax gun safety laws, the White House is threatening to widen gaping holes in our protections by proposing to cut the NICS Background Check system by millions of dollars. While we are in dire need of an even stronger background check system in this country, like one that closes the Gun Show Loophole, the White House’s proposal would hurt one of the only firewalls we have in place to stop dangerous people from legally purchasing guns. President Trump: how can you seriously say that ‘no child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school’ when your team is proposing to dismantle the background check system? As the author of the 1993 Brady Bill, I give the American people my word that I will do everything in my power to fight these cuts and make sure the NICS Background Check System is fully funded so that it can continue to live up to its lifesaving purpose.”

Sen. Schumer authored the 1993 Brady Bill, which amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 to require background checks before a licensed gun dealer makes a sale and created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS determines whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms and contains a buyer’s criminal and mental health records. According to the FBI, more than 230 million checks have been made through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), leading to more than 1.3 million denials. A June 2017 Quinnipiac University poll found that 94 percent of Americans support requiring a background check on all gun buyers.

Schumer also warned that, last year, President Trump rolled back an Obama-era rule that would have added 75,000 names to the NICS database. The rule would have required the Social Security Administration to report the names of individuals who suffer from mental illness and are deemed unfit to handle their financial affairs. Schumer said the Obama-era rule was a small, common-sense gun safety measure and should not have been undone and that the effort in the just-proposed budget to further undermines the check system is proof positive that this administration is not taking seriously the threat of weapons of war in the wrong hands.

Schumer has been a longtime leading advocate of closing the loopholes under current federal law that allow private citizens to sell weapons at gun shows, on the internet, or anywhere else they choose without performing background checks on the purchasers, allowing criminals to purchase guns with ease. This is particularly dangerous in the southern states with lax gun laws. Guns sold in this region are often linked to illegal guns that are used in crimes across New York and other states. The ease with which illegal guns find their way to New York and other states, where they are used in violent crimes—or hateful attacks—occurs via the co-called “iron pipeline.” Schumer has long fought to constrict this illegal flow of guns and said that the lack of background checks contributes significantly to the ongoing problem.

BILL PASSES RAISING FINES ON OWNERS WHO INADEQUATELY SHELTER DOGS: In order to ensure that dogs are cared for properly during very cold temperatures or other weather extremes, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. recently joined with his Senate colleagues in approving legislation he co-sponsored (S.1509) that would increase fines for owners who willfully fail to provide appropriate outdoor shelter for their canine companions.

Addabbo noted that New York State law requires dog owners to provide shelter for their pets when they are left outside that is appropriate to their physical condition, breed and the climate. It is the responsibility of local police or animal control officers to investigate and assess compliance with the sheltering requirements.

“Despite the threat of fines, there have been many instances throughout New York State where dogs have been knowingly left outside without adequate shelter in freezing temperatures and have suffered severe pain and injuries,” said Addabbo. “If we hit irresponsible owners a little harder in the wallet, maybe they will be more inclined to take better care of their companion animals when they are left outside to brave the elements.”

Under the bill, Addabbo explained, fines for knowingly failing to provide adequate shelter would rise from $50-$100 to $250 for a first offense. A second offense, now carrying fines of $100-$250, would rise to $500, and a third violation would bring a charge of $1,000.

“The bottom line is that we need to take the health and welfare of our dogs and other companion animals very seriously, and give them the care they deserve as members of our families,” said Addabbo. “This legislation will help to make sure that dogs left outside are protected from preventable harm.”

The Assembly companion bill is now under consideration by the Committee on Agriculture.

MALONEY SLAMS TRUMP FOR COLLABORATING WITH ‘EXTREME ANTI-CHOICE GROUP’: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), senior member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, released the following statement in response to ranking member Elijah E. Cummings’ letter to Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric D. Hagan.

The letter asks Hagan to provide documents relating to the Department’s decision last month to rescind a 2016 letter issued by the Obama administration prohibiting Medicaid directors from terminating Planned Parenthood and similar healthcare providers from the Medicaid program without legitimate cause. According to documents provided by a whistleblower to the Democratic Minority on the committee, this decision was heavily influenced by an extreme right-wing anti-choice group known as Alliance Defending Freedom.

Maloney continued: “This is just the latest example of how policy from personnel to the President himself shows this administration is more hostile towards women than any other I have seen in my lifetime. As new whistleblower documents reveal, Trump administration officials at HHS took direct instructions from an extreme anti-choice group when it rescinded Obama administration guidance to the states noting that it is illegal to block Medicaid beneficiaries from getting health services from providers like Planned Parenthood, that provide vital, lifesaving health care. I join Ranking Member Cummings in demanding that we get to the bottom of what happened here. We must ensure that state Medicaid directors have clear guidance to follow the law and that HHS is not on a political crusade to circumvent it. Planned Parenthood provides critical healthcare services to over 2.5 million women, men and children, and this action cuts off care for many Americans who have no other alternative. No one has the right to come between a woman and her doctor and decisions made at HHS—or any federal agency—need to be made in accordance with federal law and not to please outside donor groups.”

GIANARIS SUSPENDED DRIVERS BILL ADVANCES: NYS Senator Michael Gianaris has announced that his bill to create stiffer penalties for drivers who hurt or kill people while driving with suspended or otherwise invalid licenses passed the Senate Codes Committee unanimously. Gianaris has led a renewed push to enact this bill following the death of Kevin Flores, a Ridgewood teenager struck down in January by a trucker driving with a suspended license.

“These dangerous drivers continue to kill because the current punishment for taking a life while driving without a valid license does not match the crime,” said Gianaris. “We need to get serious about improving our laws before another life is lost at the hands of drivers we know should not be behind the wheel.”

Currently, the most severe penalty a district attorney can seek in such instances is a misdemeanor Gianaris noted. Rarely are convicted drivers sentenced to any jail time at all and are free to commit additional offenses. Phillip Monfoletto, the driver who killed Kevin Flores, had nine license suspensions on his record and continued to drive with a suspended license, even mocking the leniency of our laws in a Facebook post, he added.

Gianaris’ legislation would increase the penalty to a class E felony for seriously injuring a person and a class D felony if the accident resulted in a death, with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. The Senator introduced his bill, S.3299, after a similar incident killed eight-year-old Noshat Nahian while he walked to school on Northern Boulevard in December 2013. The driver in that case was also operating with a suspended license and there have since been multiple additional deaths at the hands of improper drivers in western Queens alone.

CROWLEY INTRO’S BILLIE JEAN KING CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL ACT: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) have introduced the Billie Jean King Congressional Gold Medal Act to recognize King’s vast achievements and contributions to athletics, women’s rights, the LGBTQ community, and American culture.

“Time and time again, Billie Jean King has broken barriers,” said Chairman Crowley. “Among the numerous accolades she has earned over the course of her career, the Congressional Gold Medal would formally recognize King’s leadership in the fight for equality and her achievements in making professional sports more accessible to all Americans.”

Over her distinguished career, King demonstrated tremendous courage by demanding that female athletes receive equal pay and respect for their work. She harnessed her platform to promote women and pushed the battle for equality significantly forward. In 1973, King defeated Bobby Riggs, a former world no.1 tennis player, in a breathtaking match that solidified women’s place in tennis, Crowley noted.

“Billie Jean redefined the very role of women in both sports and American culture,” said Congress Member Lowenthal. “The word icon is simply too small to capture the enormous impact she has had on not just tennis, not just on the United States, but on the world. She is a pioneer in athletics, a trailblazer in the fight for equality, a role model for women and the LGBT community, and an inspiration to every American. She has not only earned this honor—she deserves it for the ground she has broken and the paths that she has set.”

“I am so proud to be an American and it would be an amazing honor to receive the Congressional Gold Medal,” said King. “I fully appreciate the importance and the significance of this honor and to be considered is a privilege. I am thankful to Chairman Crowley and Rep. Lowenthal for their support and for the work they continue to do for the people of New York and California.”




“Billie Jean King is one of tennis’ all-time greatest champions, but more, she has used her platform of popularity to champion myriad important causes for the betterment of society as a whole,” said President and Chair of the USTA Katrina Adams. “She is a pioneer in the truest sense, a tireless crusader for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and social justice. She has devoted her life to leveling the playing field for all, and for that reason the USTA wholeheartedly supports awarding this legendary champion and courageous crusader the Congressional Gold Medal.”

“Billie Jean King is a national treasure, and I cannot think of an individual more deserving of the Congressional Gold Medal. An accomplished athlete, Billie Jean has dedicated her career and her life to social justice and is a visionary for equality for all,” said Deborah Antoine, CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation. “Receiving the high honor of a Congressional Gold Medal would affirm what many of us already know about Billie Jean King, that she is a change agent, having advocated for all, especially women and the LGBT community both in athletics and our society.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the United States Congress to recognize an individual’s immense contributions to America, Crowley noted. Along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, it ranks as the highest civilian award in the country. In 2009, King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, the lawmaker added.

The legislation is endorsed by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA), Human Rights Campaign, Girls Inc., National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Council of Youth Sports, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, Women’s Tennis Association, Women’s Sports Foundation, and United States Tennis Association.

MENG’S BILL FIRST-EVER TO PROMOTE USA-MADE PRODUCTS: Congress Member Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced legislation to create the first-ever US government website through which consumers can find information about products that are made in America. The “MadeInAmerica.gov Act,” H.R. 4970, would require the United States Department of Commerce to create and maintain a MadeInAmerica.gov website listing American-made products.

“It is time that the federal government did more for American businesses and American workers,” said Rep. Meng. “Consumers who wish to know which products are made in America should have a trustworthy, easy-to-use resource, and American businesses should be provided a space in which they can easily connect consumers to products that are made in America. This legislation will promote products made in the USA, support the labor behind them, and encourage people to buy American.”

Presently, there is no US government website that lists products made in America.

Meng’s legislation has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee where it is awaiting further action.

INSPECT HIGHWAY-RAIL CROSSINGS AFTER CROSSING SIGNALS FAILED TO ACTIVATE: Congress Members Grace Meng (D-Queens) and Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan) sent a letter on Feb. 13 to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) urging an inspection of the highway-rail crossings in Maspeth after crossing signals failed to activate at the intersection of 56th Street and Flushing Avenue.

“The Federal Railroad Administration must immediately send an inspector to investigate the highway-rail crossings in Maspeth after this dangerous incident,” said Rep. Meng. “There is a history of crossing gate and signal malfunctions in the Maspeth community, and the FRA must investigate these issues with all due haste. I thank Councilman Robert Holden for bringing this incident to my attention, and Congresswoman Velázquez for joining me in this effort.”

“It’s deeply concerning that a train would go through this intersection without any crossing signals activating, leaving no warning for pedestrians or motorists,” said Rep. Velázquez. “Maspeth is a significant hub for rail traffic and we need to ensure that the Federal Railroad Administration carefully examines all the rail crossings in this community, before an accident occurs, so residents can feel safe walking about or driving in their own neighborhood.”

At 3:45 pm on Sunday afternoon, Christina Wilkinson, President of Citizens for a Better Maspeth, was walking down Flushing Avenue when a train crossed the intersection of 56th Street and Flushing Avenue without the crossing signals activating or any rail personnel stopping traffic at the intersection. She reported this incident to Council Member Holden. The intersection does not contain crossing gates, making operational crossing signals essential for the safety of pedestrians and drivers in the area.

This incident follows gate and signal malfunctions at the Maspeth Avenue and Rust Street crossing only a few blocks away.

CROWLEY ENDORSES REUNITING FAMILIES ACT: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after endorsing the Reuniting Families Act. He stated:

“Our immigrant communities are under attack. President Trump’s deportation machine has waged an assault in our churches, in our schools, in our hospitals, and in our courtrooms, and he is now attempting to dismantle our family-based visa system. This is unacceptable and goes against every value I know Americans hold. “Our immigrant neighbors and friends must be assured that we are always fighting for them. The Reuniting Families Act is a solid benchmark of how we can promote an immigration policy that keeps families strong, while continuing to protect our borders and pave the way for comprehensive immigration reform. I am proud to sign onto this legislation.”

MENG’S BILL URGES HOUSE TO RECOGNIZE LUNAR NEW YEAR: With the Asian American community celebrating Lunar New Year, US Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) introduced a resolution on February 15 that urges the House of Representatives to officially recognize the holiday.

The measure encourages the House to recognize the cultural and historical significance of Lunar New Year in the year 2018. It also expresses the deepest respect for Asian Americans and all individuals throughout the world who celebrate the holiday. In addition, the resolution details the history and customs of Lunar New Year, and wishes Asian Americans and all who observe the lunar celebration a happy and prosperous New Year.

“For the Asian American community, Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year and it’s also a time to celebrate the important heritage of Asian Americans,” said Meng. “As Lunar New Year continues to grow in popularity, it is important that more be done to acknowledge this annual observance, and official recognition by the House would go a long way towards further appreciating the holiday. I look forward to this resolution passing soon and I wish a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful New Year to all who celebrate the Year of the Dog.”

In addition to the resolution, Meng marked the anniversary of Lunar New Year becoming a school holiday in New York City, a school holiday that she played a role in creating in 2016. She first proposed closing New York City schools for Lunar New Year when she was a member of the New York State Legislature in 2009.

Meng’s resolution has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform where it is awaiting further action.

Original cosponsors include: Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Al Green (D-TX), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Susan Davis (D-CA), Jerry McNerny (D-CA), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Scott Peters (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI).

KOO INTRO’S BILL TO SUSPEND ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING FOR LUNAR NEW YEAR: NYC Council Member Peter Koo appealed to his colleagues on Feb. 15 to sign onto his bill Intro 497, which would suspend alternate side parking in New York City on the eve of Lunar New Year. Koo introduced the bill that day, two years after Lunar New Year became a school holiday, in order to provide for an easier commute on the eve of the holiday for the thousands of Asian Americans living in and visiting New York City.

Koo stated, “Lunar New Year is a time for families to come together, often from across the world, to celebrate and spend time with one another. The days leading up to the New Year is a time of a great commuting for people returning home and those visiting relatives. Suspending alternate side parking on the eve of Lunar New Year will make this arduous commute easier for the thousands of Asian American families living and visiting New York City. Likewise, easing these regulations will reflect the city’s understanding of this important cultural holiday, and I encourage my colleagues to join me in codifying this effort into law.”

ZADROGA SPONSORS SLAM MULVANEY PROPOSAL TO CHANGE OVERSIGHT OF 9/11 HEALTH PROGRAM: On February 18, Congress Members Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Peter King (R-NY), original sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act of 2015, urged Office of Management & Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to withdraw its “ill-thought-out proposal” to separate the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) from National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) direction.

“This proposal from OMB is downright irresponsible,” said Reps. Maloney, Nadler and King. ”These heroes deserve the best care, and this proposal from Director Mulvaney means that will not happen. It needs to be withdrawn immediately. We know Director Mulvaney did not support the reauthorization when he was here in Congress, we just hope he is not purposefully trying to sabotage it because this suggestion is either incompetence or is being done on purpose. We fought for years to pass the Zadroga Act and you can count on that same passion and energy to make sure this proposal is never enacted.”

As the members stated in their letter to Director Mulvaney, “[t]his proposal directly contradicts the legislation Congress passed just three years ago to renew WTCHP for 75 years within NIOSH. This will unnecessarily put at risk the health of those who have been made ill by 9/11, many of whom are still suffering, and in too many cases still dying, from their injuries 17 years later.”

The letter states:

“There are over 83,000 9/11 responders and survivors receiving medical monitoring and or treatment for injuries and illnesses caused by the toxins at Ground Zero. They live in every state and territory, as well as 433 out of 435 Congressional districts. NIOSH has made tremendous progress improving service delivery to those in the New York region, as well as the National Program outside the New York area. Yet this ill-advised proposal, which was made with no input from the 9/11 health community, completely ignores that work. It was written without any understanding of why we worked to integrate WTCHP into NIOSH.

“NIOSH is dedicated to occupational health, the exact expertise that is needed by this injured population.

“If you had spoken to us, or anyone with experience in the 9/11 health community, you would have understood that the World Trade Center Health Program is fully integrated within NIOSH and there are many shared NIOSH staff whose expertise would be lost if the WTCHP is pulled from NIOSH. We also would have explained the amount of progress NIOSH has made in service delivery, all of which would be lost if WTCHP were removed from the institute.”

TRUMP’S IMMIGRATION BILL REJECTED: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after the Senate voted to reject President Trump’s immigration proposal:

“The Senate overwhelmingly rejected President Trump’s cruel and illogical immigration proposal today (February 15). Americans and lawmakers on both sides of the political divide want to secure the future of DREAMers in a reasonable and humane way. President Trump’s demands fail to meet that standard.

“Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell now have a decision to make: Are they content with their legacy being that they were nothing more than a cog in President Trump’s deportation machine? Or will they have the courage to protect DREAMers and do what’s right?”

TRUMP’S INFRASTRUCTURE PROPOSAL ‘FALLS FAR SHORT’: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on President Trump’s Infrastructure proposal:

“President Trump’s infrastructure proposal falls far short of the investment our country desperately needs and deserves. At a time when our bridges and roads are crumbling and our schools and hospitals are severely antiquated, the president’s empty proposal lacks vision. It will force states into debt while robbing critical funds from vital transportation programs that keep America moving forward.

“America needs a 21st century Marshall Plan that will give hard-working men and women career-building jobs and ensure that our country is modern and efficient. Democrats offered this bold alternative last week, and I’m proud to stand behind that plan that would actually help rebuild America and put Americans back to work for decades to come.”

MALONEY: TRUMP INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN IS ALL HYPE, NO SUBSTANCE: In response to President Trump’s infrastructure plan, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) released the following statement:

“Like everything Donald Trump does, this plan is nothing but hype. After more than a year of big promises to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges, and subways, this plan doesn’t add a single new federal dollar for infrastructure and would actually end up cutting the funding New York City needs to repair our subway system, extend the Second Avenue Subway, and fix Penn Station.

“After a century of talking about it, the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway opened over a year ago, thanks to a $1.3 billion federal investment I secured. It’s been a resounding success but under the Trump plan, New Yorkers will likely have to wait another hundred years before it is fully built. I’m not willing to wait.

“Our country needs significant federal investment to rebuild and modernize our infrastructure right now—to upgrade our roads, bridges, tunnels, transit, and rail systems. That is why I strongly support the Democratic plan to invest $1 trillion in new federal funding that will create more than 16 million jobs and allow us to compete in the 21st century.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S BUDGET ‘A PLAN TO BANKRUPT MIDDLE CLASS’: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on President Trump’s 2019 budget:

“This isn’t a budget—it’s a plan to bankrupt the American middle class.

“President Trump’s budget abandons the very men and women he promised to champion. It will leave children in crumbling schools that don’t prepare them to compete in a modern economy. It will leave working men and women without access to quality health care and employment benefits. It will cripple seniors as they try to retire with dignity. And it will leave veterans without access to critical programs that help them transition to meaningful careers and civilian life. At the same time, it will sink the nation further into debt.

“Americans deserve leaders who have a positive vision for our country. Unfortunately, President Trump has shown us time and time again that he lacks the vision and leadership needed to help grow the economy for all Americans. Democrats have proposed an alternative budget that will boost investments in infrastructure and innovation, in working men and women, and in Medicare and Social Security. The Republican majority in Congress must join with Democrats to reject President Trump’s budget and work with us to craft a spending plan for the nation that’s focused on the necessary priorities.”

TRUMP BUDGET ‘A DARK VISION’: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) released the following statement about the Trump Administration’s FY2019 budget impact on New Yorkers:

“President Trump’s proposed budget for 2019 is yet another policy from this administration that would be terrible for New Yorkers. Deep cuts to key federal programs will hurt people across our city.

“Major funding cuts to Medicare and Medicaid jeopardize the health of the millions of seniors, children and families throughout New York State who depend on these programs for basic healthcare services. Higher education may be put out of reach for the roughly 2.8 million New York students who take out loans to pay for school.

“Nearly 3 million New Yorkers need SNAP benefits to feed themselves and their families, yet the president wants to slash federal funding for food assistance programs by $214 billion and eliminate fresh food options. Early childhood education, which we know helps students achieve future success, is under threat with a proposed $13 billion in cuts to the Head Start pre-school program.

Mass transit programs will be especially hard hit at a time when our city can least afford it. The New Starts program, which provides essential funding for the Second Avenue Subway, will lose $1.4 billion. Amtrak would lose almost half of its funding nationwide, slowing down repairs to Penn Station. And TIGER Grants, which provided $25 million for the Vision Zero campaign that reduced traffic fatalities in our city to record lows, would be eliminated.

“The budget plan outlines a dark vision for America and an even worse future for our city. I will be fighting for our city, and against this proposal, because New Yorkers, and all Americans, deserve a better deal.”

ADDABBO’S BILL FOR TASK FORCE ON RESPONSIBLE GAMING APPROVED: Legislation sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. to combat problem gambling as new casinos continue to open their doors around New York State has been approved by the State Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. The bill (S.3067) would create an 11-member Task Force on Responsible Gaming within the New York State Gaming Commission.

“When New Yorkers voted in 2013 to permit non-tribal casino gambling in the state, it allowed for the construction of up to seven new gaming facilities—with the newest of four approved casinos just opening up in Sullivan County on February 8,” said Addabbo, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. ”While we hope these gaming facilities will provide an economic boost for these areas, and the state as a whole, we also need to recognize and address the potential for a serious increase in problem gambling in New York. My legislation would create a framework to confront this issue.”

Addabbo’s bill would create a special legislative task force, with some appointees chosen by the Senate and Assembly. Other members would include the leaders—or their designees—of the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the New York State Gaming Commission, the Division of the Lottery, and the Division of Horse Racing and Pari-mutuel Wagering.

Addabbo’s bill, approved by the full State Senate in 2017, is now under review by the Senate Finance Committee. In the Assembly, the proposal is under consideration by the Ways and Means Committee.

“New York’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services has estimated that one million state residents have a gambling problem, including five percent of adults over the age of 18,” said Addabbo.  “In addition, the 2013 National Survey of Problem Gambling Services found that, in 2012, New York ranked second in the nation in combined lottery sales, commercial casino gaming revenues, and Indian gaming revenues.

Addabbo praised the Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct Raceway in his district for creating jobs for his constituents and generating significant public education revenues, and also acknowledged its proactive approach to promoting responsible gaming. Among other efforts, Resorts World operates a Responsible Gambling Support Center on the premises.

Addabbo pointed out that there are a number of organizations available to help people with gambling disorders, including The Queens Center for Excellence, which is affiliated with the New York State Council on Problem Gambling. The website for the group is www.queenscfe.org, and information about services is available by calling 347-551-2913.

ADDITIONAL CREDITS FOR VETS ON CIVIL SERVICE EXAMS: NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. recently joined his Senate colleagues in approving legislation (S.2387) he co-sponsors which is designed to help New York’s veterans compete for civil service jobs and reduce unemployment among former members of the armed forces.

Specifically, Addabbo explained, the measure would enable veteran civil service credits and disabled veteran service credits to be applied to existing civil service eligible lists at any time prior to a list’s expiration date. The legislation would help New Yorkers who—after taking a civil service test and being added to an eligible list for job openings—later become veterans or become disabled as a result of their military service, by allowing them to claim relevant military service credits.

“There are sometimes circumstances where an individual has taken a civil service exam, been added to an eligible list to be considered for a specific job title, and then either enters military service for the first time or is a veteran who becomes service-disabled after completing the test,” said Addabbo. ”New York State already grants certain civil service test preferences to qualified former servicemen and women, including disabled veterans, by allowing them to add points to their exam scores. This bill would simply allow those credits to be applied at any time to an existing eligible list so that veterans who serve their country after taking civil service exams can get the recognition and helping hand they deserve after serving their country so bravely and so well.”

Under the State Constitution, qualified veterans may receive an additional 2 1/2 points on civil service exams, and disabled veterans may receive 10 points.

Addabbo, who serves as the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs, noted that unemployment among veterans has been decreasing in recent years, but that more efforts to help servicemen and women compete in the job market are welcome.

“I have held job fairs for veterans and their families in my district, so I know first-hand that there are many talented, qualified former service members out there looking for work,” said Addabbo.  “I am hopeful we will continue to make progress this session in providing additional employment and business opportunities for our veterans.”

The civil service credit bill, which has now gone to the State Assembly for consideration, would ultimately be presented to voters as a Constitutional Amendment if approved twice by two separately elected State Legislatures.

BILL CLARIFIES PROCEDURES FOR THE DISPOSITION OF VETERANS’ REMAINS: Under legislation (S.945) recently passed by the State Senate and co-sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., the State of New York would begin to recognize the federal DD Form 93 to identify family members who are authorized to receive and make arrangements for the human remains of veterans who die in service.

“Under federal law, active duty military members, as well as activated Guard and Reserve members, must fill out a DD Form 93 to designate people who should be informed in the event of their deaths, receive their remains, and make arrangements for their final resting place,” said Addabbo.  “However, New York State law does not now recognize this form as an acceptable document for the disposition of service member remains, which has sometimes led to confusion, heartbreak, and legal action within families. By reconciling state and federal laws on this issue, we may be able to prevent greater hardship for families who are already suffering the loss of a loved one.”

Under current law, New York State recognizes certain written documents that govern the disposition of human remains, including the designation of a person to receive them.  In the absence of a written document, the decedent’s surviving spouse, children or others may decide how to dispose of the remains through final arrangements.  However, since the DD Form 93 is not recognized by New York, the disposition instructions provided by the deceased military member on this document do not necessarily need to be followed.

“Losing a cherished family member who dies in service to our nation is hard enough on grieving spouses, children, parents and other loved ones,” said Addabbo.  “This legislation may help to remove a bit of the heartache some families may suffer when disposition instructions cannot easily be determined.”

The bill is now under review by the Assembly Health Committee.

MALONEY: EXPAND NASSAR INVESTIGATION: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), senior member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, formally requested that Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) expand the Larry Nassar investigation to include the FBI, US Department of Education, and NCAA. Maloney first requested that the committee launch an investigation into this scandal on January 25 and joined the Chairman, ranking member Cummings, and other committee members on fact-finding letters sent to the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University, Twistars USA Gymnastics Club and Karolyi Ranch on February 8.

In the letter to Gowdy, Maloney thanked him for answering her request to launch an investigation and stated, “Our committee has taken the important step of launching an investigation, but it will be incomplete if we do not also review the response and involvement of the federal government and the institutions tasked with protecting student-athletes, namely the FBI, US Department of Education, and NCAA. We are obligated to conduct oversight when matters of misconduct are brought to our attention.”

Maloney wants to be sure all the agencies that could have interceded and apparently did not are investigated in order to ensure something like this never happens again.

In Maloney’s letter to Gowdy, she stated that “It has been reported that the FBI was first contacted by Nassar’s victims as early as 2015, yet it would be another year before Nassar’s abuses were brought to light by the Indianapolis Star and the public became aware of his crimes.”

Maloney continued, “Likewise, the US Department of Education deserves similar scrutiny. It has been reported that the Department of Education was aware of issues with Michigan State’s handling of sexual assault allegations (involving other people) dating back to 2010. The Office of Civil Rights within the Dept. of Education and MSU reached an agreement in 2015 which mandated continuing federal oversight, among other requirements. We need further information regarding this oversight, and how, despite many opportunities, OCR investigators failed to uncover the allegations against and investigations into Larry Nassar.

“Finally, I request that the Committee also submit a request for information to the NCAA. As the NCAA stated in its letter to Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis, ‘Article 2.2 of the NCAA constitution establishes the principle of protecting student-athlete well-being, including health and safety....’ Clearly this principle was not upheld by Nassar’s employers. It is important for us to understand any NCAA involvement in the investigation of these allegations, and the policies the organization is considering association-wide to ensure that the safety and well-being of student-athletes is better protected in the future.”

Maloney concluded, “As I asserted in my original request for an investigation, Larry Nassar is one of the worst child molesters this country has ever seen. Our committee has taken the important step of launching an investigation, but it will be incomplete if we do not also review the response and involvement of the federal government and the institutions tasked with protecting student-athletes…”

PERALTA URGES SENATE TO INCREASE ADULT LITERACY FUNDING: NYS Senator Jose Peralta urged the State Senate to include $15.3 million in the final Fiscal Year 2018-19 Executive Budget to support Adult Literacy Education (ALE) programs. The current allocation for ALE classes in the proposed Executive Budget is $6.3 million. Changes to the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) have resulted in $8 million that was previously available for English Language Civics to be allocated for other purposes. This will put 17,000 adult New Yorkers at risk of not been able to access these critical programs.

Modifications in the federal funding stream particularly hurts beginner-level and undocumented learners. Additionally, despite the spike in the immigrant population in New York, investment in ALE programs has remained unchanged for the past 10 years. More than 2 million adult New Yorkers lack a high school diploma and 2.3 million lack English proficiency.

In a letter sent to the State Senate and signed by a number of his colleagues, Senator Peralta pointed out that “only 2.5 percent of those in need of language development skills are able to participate in state-funded classes. It is estimated that over 50,000 New Yorkers are currently on waiting lists to access adult literacy classes.”

ALE programs are designed to help New Yorkers increase their language skills and credentials to improve their earning and employment potential. Classes are provided through community-based organizations, libraries, community colleges and volunteer groups. “Simply put, they are a springboard to a brighter future, with greater opportunity,” Senator Peralta wrote.

Peralta, describing these programs as “lifelines to thousands of New Yorkers,” added in the letter that “a renewed investment in New York’s ALE programs will allow us to capitalize on the potential of hardworking New Yorkers who are seeking to build better lives for themselves and their families.”

JUSTICE DEPT INDICTS 13 RUSSIANS FOR US ELECTION INTERFERENCE: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on the Justice Department announcement that it has brought indictment charges against 13 Russian nationals:

“Russia purposefully interfered in the 2016 US Election to sow disinformation and confusion among Americans. Its aim was to disrupt and alter the outcome of America’s proudest tradition—our free and fair election process. And it’s clear that Russia will do so again if Congress doesn’t act to fix the serious vulnerabilities in our election infrastructure.

“Just this week, Democrats proposed common-sense steps we must take to stop countries from interfering in our elections. The indictment charges brought [on February 17] highlight the serious need for our leaders to act.

“[The February 17] announcement also underscores why Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation must continue unencumbered by political pressure from the White House and congressional Republicans. The investigation must follow the facts wherever they may lead.”

 

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