2018-03-28 / Political Page

I On Politics

KUSHNER CO. ACCUSED OF LYING TO REMOVE RENT-CONTROL TENANTS: Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “Falsifying records in order to increase profits while taking advantage of hardworking Astorians is despicable. Our rent regulation laws protect New Yorkers from tenant harassment and intimidation, including exorbitant rent increases. Kushner Companies’ blatant disregard for our regulations simply to make a profit demonstrates disrespect of our community and our residents who have called this neighborhood home for years. Our office will research the possibility of strengthening these regulations by increasing penalties and opening up possible additional legal remedies for tenants. I will work with Council Oversight & Investigations Committee Chair Ritchie Torres as he examines this flagrant violation of our law.”

MALONEY APPLAUDS REMOVAL OF GUN VIOLENCE RESEARCH BAN IN OMNIBUS FUNDING BILL: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), author of HR.1832, a bill to repeal the Dickey Amendment and fund gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control, applauded language included in the Omnibus spending bill to remove the ban on such research.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis and it needs to be treated like one,” said Rep. Maloney. “That starts with letting the CDC research gun violence to learn more about what drives it and how it can be prevented. I’m glad to see that language to repeal this senseless gag order on research is included in this must-pass omnibus bill. I have been working with Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) for years now on a bill to do just that, and with this important change the CDC can and should begin conducting this research as soon as possible.”

PERALTA, NICE DEMAND INVESTIGATION OF CONSTRUCTION WORKER DEATH: NYS Senator Jose Peralta and the New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) organization demanded a full investigation into the death of Edgar Pazmino, a construction worker killed at his workplace in Jamaica on March 13. Pazmino, an Ecuadorian immigrant and member of NICE, was crushed against a wall by a forklift on 89th Avenue and 150th Street, a high-rise luxury construction site.

Additionally, Senator Peralta called on his colleagues in the New York State Senate to pass Carlos’ Law (S.4373B), legislation that would protect workers from employers who do not comply with safety protocols at construction sites. Under the proposal, which is co-sponsored by the senator, fines and penalties will increase when an employer or supervisor “ignores, disregards or fails to comply with workplace safety protocols or procedures, and that contributes directly to bodily injury, serious physical injury or the death of a worker.”

The legislation was named after Carlos Moncayo, a migrant worker who was killed in an accident at a construction site. Since Congress enacted the Occupational Safety Health Act (OSHA), there were more than 400,000 workplace fatalities. In 2016 alone, according to the US Department of Labor, there were 5,190 work-related deaths, a 7 percent increase from the 4,836 fatalities reported the previous year.

“My heart goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of Edgar, a hard-working immigrant who lost his life while working at a construction site. Enough is enough. We must tackle this epidemic once and for all. It was troubling to find out that this particular construction site is plagued with safety violations, and that there were several stop work orders issued. In fact, last September there was a partial stop work order because a construction worker fell from the 8th to the 7th floor. Latino workers are disproportionately affected by accidents in the workplace that result in death or serious injuries. It is time to put an end to this. It is my hope my colleagues in the Senate take note and finally pass Carlos’ Law,” said Senator Peralta.

 “Our community is heartbroken by Edgar’s death. He will be remembered for his sense of humor and eagerness to participate,” said Manuel Castro, Executive Director of NICE, a workers’ center in Jackson Heights, of which Edgar was a member. “Edgar’s memory must be honored by ensuring this does not happen again. His death could have been avoided.”

He added, “We believe New York can be doing much more to protect workers. With nearly 500 construction related deaths in the past decade, this is a crisis that must be addressed urgently. We implore our representatives to support Carlos’ Law—legislation that could have helped Edgar and many others. Finally, we ask for prayers and support for the family in their time of mourning.”

According to published reports, the site has 37 open violations issued by the Environmental Control Board. The Department of Buildings issued a full stop work order in December.

TOLL-PAYER PROTECTION ACT ADDRESSES CASHLESS TOLLING PROBLEMS: As cashless tolling becomes more commonplace  in Queens and elsewhere throughout New York State, NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. has joined with his Senate colleagues in passing legislation (S.7344) that would improve the toll billing process for motorists while making it easier for consumers to dispute errors and excessive fees.

“Cashless tolling has many benefits, including reduced traffic congestion and decreased air pollution from idling cars,” said Addabbo. “However, many drivers are experiencing late or missing toll statements that can lead to high fees and vehicle registration suspensions, or are receiving bills that are simply inaccurate. There are significant glitches in the existing cashless tolling system, and we need to get them fixed.”

Under cashless tolling, which is in effect on many bridges, roads, and tunnels in Queens and around the state, drivers with EZPass continue to have their tolls automatically deducted from their accounts and receive statements for their trips. Drivers without EZPass, however, have a photograph taken of their license plates when they pass through the facilities, and a bill is later mailed to them at the postal address on file with the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles. Sometimes bills arrive late, or not at all, which can leave consumers unwittingly facing large fines for non-payment, as well as motor vehicle registration suspensions.

“The bill I am supporting creates a Toll Payers’ Bill of Rights, which includes the option of receiving cashless tolling statements via text message or e-mail within a shorter and more specific time frame,” said Addabbo, noting that paper toll statements generally go out to drivers within 30-45 days of the trip.

The legislation also requires that prominent signage be placed at cashless tolling facilities to inform drivers of potential fees, establishes a process to dispute fees, and waives late fees when mailed statements are not received in a timely manner. In situations where non-payment or late payment of fees will lead to suspended registrations, motorists must be notified by certified mail 30 days prior to the suspension. Certified mail is also required when the cashless tolling fee charged to a specific registration reaches $1,000.

 Addabbo noted that the bill will also enable drivers to purchase EZPass at all rest stops along the NYS Thruway. “If we do it right, we can improve our air quality, ease traffic jams, and make sure the state is better able to collect tolls it is owed without making it a costly bureaucratic nightmare for motorists.”

In the Assembly, the bill is under review by the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions.

FEDERAL SPENDING BILL INCLUDES ‘KEVIN & AVONTE’S LAW’: US Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced that the just-unveiled omnibus spending bill includes “Kevin and Avonte’s Law”—a bill that will create and fund a program to provide voluntary tracking devices and expand support services for families who care for someone with autism, dementia, or other special needs, where “bolting,” “elopement,” or “wandering” from parents or caregivers can happen. Schumer first introduced the bill in response to a fatal incident that occurred in 2013, when Avonte Oquendo, a non-verbal boy with autism, bolted from his Long Island City school. His remains were found months later, in January 2014. US Senator Amy Klobuchar is the current lead Democratic sponsor of the bill. Schumer said that preventing wandering-related tragedies is “near and dear to his heart and passage of this bill will help Avonte’s memory live on, while helping to prevent any more children with autism from going missing.”

Now that the legislation was included in the omnibus spending bill, it must be signed into law by the president.

Last week, a Franklin Square teen with autism went missing for the third time. Thankfully, the teen was found safe. Schumer said passage of Kevin and Avonte’s Law could help locate similar children and teens prone to wandering.

“Making voluntary tracking devices available to vulnerable children with autism or adults with Alzheimer’s who are at risk of wandering will help put countless families at ease,” said Senator Schumer. “After Avonte Oquendo ran away from his school and went missing, I learned just how prevalent wandering is among children with autism and other development disorders. Since Avonte’s tragic death, I’ve pushed Congress to pass Kevin & Avonte’s Law, a bill that will create and fund a program to provide voluntary GPS  tracking devices to children or adults with developmental disorders, like autism spectrum disorder.”

This legislation reauthorizes and expands an existing program designed to assist in locating Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients, known as the Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program, to include children with developmental disabilities, such as autism, and renames it the Missing Americans Alert Program. In expanding this program, this bill ensures dedicated Department of Justice (DOJ) grant funds are available for local law enforcement and non-profit entities to provide wandering prevention training and to implement lifesaving technology programs to find individuals who have wandered.

MALONEY, NADLER, NY & NJ MEMBERS OPPOSE TO HELICOPTER TOURISM: Congress Members Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), led a group of their New York and New Jersey colleagues in voicing their continued opposition to helicopter tourism in light of the March 11 helicopter crash in the East River that killed five passengers. They are also asking for more information about the crash from the FAA and the NTSB who are conducting the investigation. Joining Maloney and Nadler on the letter were Congress Members Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Nydia M. Velazquez (NY-7), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), and Adriano Espaillat (NY-13).

In the letter, the members note, “[T]his is the latest example of the dangers posed by helicopter tourism in New York City and Hudson County, New Jersey. Helicopter crashes not only threaten the lives of the passengers, but also endanger all our constituents. Every time a helicopter crashes, it puts at risk the innocent bystanders living, working, and traveling in the heavily populated region below…this disaster reminds us of how much worse things could have been,” because it landed in the river instead.

In their letter they ask FAA Acting Administrator Daniel K. Elwell and NTSB Chair Robert L. Sumwalt to address a number of issues related to doors-off helicopter flights, loose gear, releases for harnesses, FAA regulations for non-commercial flights, flight safety training, pontoons, and flights over densely populated areas.

MALONEY PRAISES SENATE PASSAGE OF BILL TO COMBAT ONLINE SEX TRAFFICKING: The Senate passed the bipartisan HR. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (POSTA), which includes an amendment added in the House to incorporate provisions of S. 1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). After Senate passage of the FOSTA-SESTA legislative package, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), co-Chair and co-founder of the Human Trafficking Caucus, released the following statement:

“I was proud to join Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) on the floor of the Senate today as we watched the Senate pass our bill to deliver overdue justice for trafficking victims. As this bill heads to the President’s desk for his signature, we are one step closer to correcting a grievous ambiguity in our federal laws. For too long, websites like Backpage.com, which actively facilitate advertising on their platforms for sex with trafficking victims and children, have been able to escape accountability. This soon-to-be law will make it clear that internet companies that facilitate sex trafficking are not shielded by federal law. It will also give states better tools to crack down on these horrendous crimes and empowers trafficking survivors and their families to seek justice in court. I hope the President will quickly sign this transformative bill into law.”

FAKE WOMEN’S HEALTH CENTERS CASE AT SUPREME COURT: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), author of the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Healthcare Services Act, released the following statement after attending the Supreme Court oral arguments in the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra. No. 16-1140.

“Fake women’s health centers across this country have been luring pregnant women through their doors by claiming to provide comprehensive healthcare services, but in reality these fake clinics are just fronts for the anti-choice movement with the goal of dissuading women from having abortions. Often there are no medical professionals on premises. We need laws like California’s FACT Act and my Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Healthcare Services Act because it is not acceptable to lie to women and rob them of their right to truthful information about the reproductive health care to which they are entitled.

“This issue was brought to my attention when a young woman told me her story, of visiting what she believed was a Planned Parenthood clinic, but instead was a fake women’s health center. This center fraudulently displayed the colors and logo of Planned Parenthood in their windows to mislead women looking for care. Instead of meeting with qualified health professionals who would give her accurate and comprehensive information about her healthcare options, the employees at this so-called clinic told her that an abortion would cause cancer and other harmful mental and physical health consequences. This is not okay. The last thing pregnant women should have to worry about is being intimidated, lied to or preyed upon when they are seeking care. We would not tolerate this in any other area of health care, and health care for women should be no different.”

INTRO BILL TO REAUTHORIZE DEBBIE SMITH ACT, END RAPE KIT BACKLOG: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), author of the Debbie Smith Act, joined with Congress Member Ted Poe (R-TX) to introduce HR. 5341, the Debbie Smith Crime Victims Protection Act, legislation to reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act and dedicate much-needed resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct forensic analysis of DNA evidence collected from crime scenes, including untested rape kits.

“As the author of the Debbie Smith Act, which has been called the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law, I know how important this grant program is to local law enforcement and victims of crime across the country. It is essential that it be reauthorized as precincts work to process and match DNA evidence, including sexual assault kits, in a timely manner,” said Rep. Maloney. “The resources from this grant program have enabled law enforcement to make 165,000 DNA matches in criminal cases since 2005. This is critical to bringing justice to victims, and also prevents offenders from committing future crimes. I’m very proud of what this program has accomplished, and I hope that Congress will act quickly to reauthorize it for another five years.”

“Roughly every two minutes, an American is sexually assaulted,” said Rep. Poe. “The reauthorization of the Debbie Smith Act will continue the efforts to protect victims of rape and sexual assault, as well as prosecute criminals by actively pursuing the perpetrators through DNA from rape kits. Often victims of sexual assault are forced to live in fear of their attacker, endlessly waiting on the results of their rape kit. The kits are caught in a lengthy backlog, leaving the victims without justice. Not knowing who their attacker was is an additional punishment to the victim, created by bureaucratic excuses. DNA evidence provided by rape kits helps identify the culprits and frees the wrongfully accused. Victims of violent crime should not live in fear and be denied justice while their attackers go about their everyday lives due to a bureaucratic backlog. It’s time to put these dangerous criminals behind bars and give survivors of sexual assault the justice they deserve.”

“I want to thank Rep. Maloney for her tireless leadership on this incredibly important legislation,” said Debbie Smith, sexual assault survivor for whom the legislation is named. “Since 2004, we have worked together to bring vital resources to the crime labs throughout the country as they work diligently on backlogs of DNA evidence from unsolved crimes. Justice matters. It matters to victims and their families, it matters to the public, and it matters to the wrongly accused. DNA helps us to accurately identify perpetrators while exonerating the truly innocent.”

“The man who violently raped and robbed me at gunpoint is now behind bars, thanks to the incredible power of DNA,” said Natasha Alexenko, founder of Natasha’s Justice Project. “The Debbie Smith Crime Victims Protection Act will help keep our communities safe from harm and ensure justice is served fairly, swiftly and effectively for all of us.”

“The Debbie Smith Act has helped bring justice to so many victims. It has also helped take thousands of serial rapists off the streets, which has prevented countless sexual assaults,” said Scott Berkowitz, President and Founder of RAINN. “I’m grateful to Rep. Maloney for her tireless work to create the original Debbie Smith Act and ensure that it is renewed so that it continues to make America safer.”

FUNDING REQUEST TO SUPPORT BUSINESSES IN UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES: Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Don Young (R-AK), and Barbara Lee (D-CA), led 111 of their colleagues in a request to the Committee on Appropriations Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen, Ranking Member Nita Lowey and Subcommittee on Financial Services Chair Tom Graves and Ranking Member Mike Quigley to adequately fund the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. The CDFI fund helps to grow business in underserved communities throughout the country.

In the letter, the members state, “Access to affordable credit is a pressing issue in many underserved rural, urban and Native communities. It is critical that we continue to make the necessary investments in these struggling communities to get people back to work, to empower local communities to develop their economies, and to provide financial services to consumers without access to affordable credit. The CDFI Fund is exemplary of that effort and we respectfully request that you ensure the CDFI Fund continues to receive at least the same funding level the House approved in FY17.”

The letter stated: CDFI Fund Grant Programs include Financial Assistance (FA) awards to certified CDFIs and Technical Assistance (TA) grants to certified or emerging CDFIs; the Native American CDFI Assistance (NACA) Program aimed at increasing the number and capacity of CDFIs serving Native communities; and the Bank Enterprise Award (BEA) Program providing monetary awards to FDIC-insured banks that invest in low-income communities and/or in CDFIs.

CDFI Fund grants are awarded competitively to the organizations that best demonstrate how they will partner with their communities to address their economic development needs. Through its administration of these competitive grant programs the CDFI Fund has not only invested directly in local communities, but has also attracted billions of dollars in additional private-sector investments.

The CDFI Fund is also responsible for administering the New Markets Tax Credit Program, which provides tax credits to attract private investment to distressed communities. In FY17 nearly $2.5 billion in loans and investments were made possible under the New Markets Tax Credit Program, with over 77 percent of the loans and investments made in Severely Distressed Communities. This critical financing generated $8 of private investment for every $1 of federal funding, created over 8 million square feet of manufacturing, office and retail space, and generated 23,000 construction and full-time jobs at nearly 500 businesses.

BILL TO OUTLAW SMOKING WHILE WALKING ON CITY STREETS: City Council Member Peter Koo announced legislation to ban smoking while walking on city sidewalks.

The bill will prohibit smoking while walking on all sidewalks under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and the Department of Parks and Recreation, including sidewalks adjoining parks, squares and public places, pedestrian pathways through any park strip, median or mall adjacent to traffic, and parking lots. 

Koo stated, “In a perfect world, every smoker would have the self-awareness to realize that smoking and walking down a crowded sidewalk subjects everyone behind you to breathing in the fumes. Unfortunately, we’ve all had the experience of getting stuck behind a smoker while walking down a crowded city sidewalk. If you want to smoke, stand off to the side. People can easily walk past you. But if you’re smoking and walking down the sidewalk, you’re forcing the people behind you to breathe it in. I’ve seen too many mothers with strollers, and parents holding hands with their children, walking behind smokers who are blowing clouds of smoke behind them. We live in a city of over 8 million people, and we all share the same sidewalks. One person’s actions impacts everyone around them.”

Koo will introduce the bill at tomorrow’s stated City Council meeting. The bill would take effect 120 days after being signed into law.

CROWLEY ON 8TH ANNIVERSARY OF AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on the 8th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA):

“Eight years ago today, our nation took a historic step to ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, individuals with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage, Americans can access vital preventive care at no cost, insurance companies can no longer charge women higher rates than men for the same coverage, and millions of young people can stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26.

“Sadly, despite the significant progress the ACA has meant for our health care system, the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans have continued their political obsession with dismantling and undermining the law.” Crowley concluded:

“We will keep up the fight to protect the ACA and the progress that has been made, and to build upon these efforts so that every American family can enjoy the right to the care they deserve.”

TRUMP ‘DOUBLES DOWN ON DISCRIMINATORY TRANSGENDER BAN: Governor Andrew Cuomo and Congress Member Joseph Crowley each criticized Donald Trump’s recent statement repeating his ban on transgender individuals being banned from serving in this country’s military service.

Cuomo stated: “The President’s new ban on most transgender troops serving in the military is a disgraceful endorsement of discrimination and hate. The policy takes our military backward, not forward, and undermines this nation’s commitment to ensuring equal rights for all.

“This policy repays bravery and sacrifice with discrimination. Service to our country knows no race, no gender, no creed, no sexual orientation, and no gender identity—period.

“In New York, we stand united with the transgender community against those who wrongly seek to drive us apart. In 2015 we affirmed that all transgender people are protected under the State’s Human Rights Law, and we will never stop fighting to protect the rights of the LBGTQ community and all Americans.”

Crowley stated: “This decision has nothing to do with protecting our country, and everything to do with propelling a hate-filled agenda. Any individual who wants to serve their country should have the opportunity to do so, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Transgender individuals have fought for our nation with honor and they should be welcomed into our military as patriots. With this shameful decision, President Trump is undermining our military readiness and taking away the opportunity for capable, patriotic transgender individuals to join the military and contribute to our country.

“I will continue to fight against this discriminatory ban and work to ensure that any brave individual who wants to serve our country is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

CROWLEY ON HOUSE REPUBLICANS’ ENDING RUSSIA PROBE: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement after Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to end their Russia investigation:

“Today, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to protect President Trump instead of protecting the American people. There is no question that Russia interfered in our elections. Despite the facts, Republicans never showed a true interest in conducting a credible, nonpartisan probe to uncover the full extent of Russia’s meddling. By prematurely voting to end this investigation, House Republicans failed to protect and defend the Constitution and put our national security at risk.”

ARMY CORPS WILL EXPEDITE TIMELINE ON ‘ROCKAWAY & JAMAICA BAY REFORMULATION: US Senator Charles E. Schumer and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on March 20 that, after their push, and following Schumer-secured vital construction funds, a greatly expedited timeline on the Rockaway Reformulation Study has been secured. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the draft report will now be issued in August, followed by a final report in November, allowing for construction in the Rockaways to start as early as next year on the Atlantic side and Jamaica Bay neighborhoods. After Sandy, Schumer pushed for and secured full federal funding for this much-needed resiliency project to better protect the whole Rockaway peninsula from storms and floods. In February, Mayor de Blasio met with the head of the US Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, DC and secured a commitment to expedite construction, while Senator Schumer secured an additional $730 million to ensure the Army Corps had the funds available to deliver coastal resilience projects in the region, including the Rockaway Reformulation, as well as projects on Staten Island and Long Island. This builds on the earlier work by Schumer and de Blasio to secure a commitment from the Army Corps to evaluate coastal storm protections for Southern Brooklyn.

“The residents of the Rockaways and Southern Brooklyn need better protections ASAP, and they are justifiably scared and tired of waiting. This agreement with the Army Corps, forged by Mayor de Blasio and I, will take the flood protection projects from the back burner to the front. In addition to the hundreds of millions we secured by reprogramming hundreds of millions in vital construction funds for this project, this agreement will mean that we can greatly accelerate the actual building of vital protections like a sea wall on the bay side, jetties and groins and more to protect every resident of the Rockaways from future storms and flooding,” said Senator Schumer. “For far too long, the Rockaways have been waiting for a solution. As a strong supporter of this project, I commend the Army Corps for heeding our call and moving full steam ahead on this vital project.”

“New York City’s shoreline is our first line of defense against climate change. We are grateful that the US Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to accelerate its work to protect our coastal neighborhoods. By working with communities and local leaders, we are continuing to deliver on our commitment to build a more sustainable, more resilient, and more equitable city,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The Rockaway Reformulation Study, which Schumer and de Blasio have long supported, will ultimately determine the solution for long-term erosion control and coastal protection projects along the Atlantic Coast, between East Rockaway Inlet, Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay. While the reformulation study dates back to a 2003 agreement with NYSDEC, it has been subjected to various delays in funding and implementation. However in the Sandy Supplemental Appropriation of 2013, Senator Schumer secured full federal funding to complete the Reformulation study and construction of the preferred alternative.  Initially, the Sandy relief bill that was signed into law required only that the feds pick up 65 percent of the project. Immediately after the bill’s passage, Schumer began working with the Army Corps and Office of Management and Budget to recategorize the effort as “ongoing construction” and, therefore, eligible for full federal funding.  This jump started this vitally-needed yet long-stalled plan to better protect the whole Rockaway peninsula.

CROWLEY VOTES DOWN OMNIBUS FUNDING BILL: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) issued the following statement on the passage of the 2018 omnibus funding bill: “Republicans have lurched from crisis to crisis, forcing a government shutdown upon Americans far too many times. While this funding legislation may bring a semblance of balance back to Washington, I voted against this bill because it was a missed opportunity.

“I applaud our Democratic negotiators and leadership team for ensuring that critical priorities such as national security, medical research, opioid abuse prevention, infrastructure, and veterans’ health services were funded at the levels necessary to truly provide better opportunities and services for America’s working men and women. I’m proud of their work, and of the fact that the bill restricts construction of President Trump’s misguided border wall and does not allow for any increase in deportation officers or detention beds.

“But ultimately, Republicans refused to compromise to protect DREAMers as part of this bill, once again showing a disdain for our immigrant communities and their inability to stand up to President Trump. I promised the brave young men and women I’ve met that I wouldn’t support funding legislation that didn’t allow them to achieve the American Dream. I kept that promise today.”

SMITHSONIAN WOMEN’S INITIATIVE FUNDED IN OMNIBUS: Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), author of HR. 19, Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act, released the following statement on the inclusion of $2 million designated for the Smithsonian Women’s Initiation in the FY2018 Omnibus spending package.

“The Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative is integral in laying the groundwork for a future Smithsonian museum dedicated to American women’s history. That is why I offered an amendment providing for $2 million for the initiative to the Interior Appropriations bill last year that was approved by the House. I am pleased that the funding was preserved in the final spending bill. The effort to more completely and more fairly honor both women and men throughout the Smithsonian institutions is an important one for Congress to fully support. After all, how can we expect to inspire women and girls if we do not recognize them?

“I have been fighting for many years for a national museum dedicated to telling American women’s history, and my bill to establish such a museum in the Smithsonian has more than 250 bipartisan cosponsors. I hope that the Congress will follow up this important step today by bringing my important bill to the floor for a vote.”

CROWLEY, SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCE $300 MILLION FOR SUNY MARITIME TRAINING VESSEL: House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, US Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, and US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced $300 million in federal funding for a new training vessel at SUNY Maritime College. This funding is critically needed to replace the aging Empire State VI and will allow SUNY to prepare academy members on the most modern and efficient technologies.

For years, Crowley, Schumer, and Gillibrand have championed increased funding for our nation’s aging training ships and have consistently worked to ensure that the needs of the nation’s six State Maritime Academies are met.

In 2014, Crowley led 25 bipartisan members of Congress in sending a letter to the US Department of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget with the initial request that the agencies develop and support a plan to replace the aging ships used by our nation’s SMAs.

As part of this investment, Crowley will ensure appropriators include additional funding to maintain and repair the Empire State VI until the new training vessel is fully constructed, and will continue to support efforts for other SMAs to have their aging ships replaced.

“This is a significant investment in maritime education,” said SUNY Chair H. Carl McCall and Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “We are so thankful to Chairman Crowley, Senate Minority Leader Schumer and Senator Gillibrand for their persistence and commitment in gaining this much-needed financial support. And, we are thrilled for Maritime College. Students and faculty will be able to learn with current technology, having real hands-on experience on campus for the careers they intend to pursue.

“At the same time, this funding enables us to have a ship that can be called on to help the country’s efforts to recover from natural disasters, which Maritime College’s current ship has been charged to do following the devastation left by hurricanes Maria and Irma.”

“A new training vessel is an investment in the next generation of mariners—one that will foster the expertise and judgment necessary for America’s maritime community to continue leading the world,” said Crowley, whose district includes SUNY Maritime College.

“SUNY Maritime is known for its world-class ability to churn out talented engineers by the boatload, but they need a new, world-class vessel to continue to do that into the future,” said Senator Schumer. “This $300 million investment for a new training vessel will help better train the students of SUNY Maritime and steer them toward an even more successful future.”

“This funding is an important investment to repair and replace the training vessel at SUNY Maritime so that our mariners continue to have the training facilities they need,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I was proud to fight for these funds to be included in the omnibus legislation because our mariners deserve the most up-to-date equipment and training facilities to learn the latest and most efficient technologies.”

“Chairman Crowley, along with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, have been fierce advocates for the urgent need to replace the aging fleet of training ships used by the State Maritime Academies, especially at SUNY Maritime College,” said RADM Michael A. Alfultis, (USMS) PhD, President, State University of New York, Maritime College.  “I deeply appreciate their efforts to secure funding for a new training vessel, which will also serve as a highly capable disaster-response platform in time of national need, and allow SUNY Maritime College to continue producing the maritime workforce for New York and the nation.”

MENG BILL TO COMBAT TELEPHONE SCAM SIGNED INTO LAW: Congress Member Grace Meng (D-Queens) announced on March 23 that her bipartisan legislation to combat a widespread telephone scam that has adversely affected Queens residents has been signed into law.

Meng’s legislation would make spoofing attempts from abroad a criminal act. Presently, spoofing to defraud Americans is not against the law if the calls originate from outside the US. 

The legislation, which was signed into law that afternoon as part of the omnibus spending bill, would crack down on criminals who engage in spoofing, a scheme in which criminals disguise their caller ID to make it appear that they’re calling from a financial institution, police department or government agency, for example. Using technology to impersonate their name and/or phone number, these identity thieves call unsuspecting victims and falsely claim they’re from one of the above official entities. They then steal their money by convincing them to wire cash or provide bank account or personal information.

Thieves posing as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) personnel who demand immediate payment for unpaid taxes – and disguise their telephone numbers to make it appear that the call is originating from the IRS – has been among the more prevalent schemes.

“Spoofing has been one of the fastest growing forms of fraud in America, but the enactment of my Anti-Spoofing Act will provide new and critical tools to stop those who perpetrate this deceitful and malicious crime,” said Meng. “Finally, we can fight back against these unconscionable thieves who for too long have preyed on unwitting consumers, including the most vulnerable in our society such as immigrants and the elderly.”

“Enactment of this legislation has been a long time coming,” Meng added. “Spoofing is an issue that I began to tackle during my first term in Congress. My bill passed the House several times but the Senate refused to act. I kept up the fight though and continuously pushed for this legislation to become law. I thank Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX) and Leonard Lance (R-NJ) who, from the beginning, partnered with me on this measure, and I thank everybody who supported this bipartisan and common-sense effort.”

Her measure would also expand spoofing protections to cover text messaging and internet-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services that enable individuals to make calls from computers and tablets.

In addition, the legislation would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in collaboration with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to regularly update education materials that help consumers identify and protect themselves from caller ID scams.

Meng first sponsored anti-spoofing legislation after receiving spoofing complaints from local seniors and the “Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET),” a civic organization in her district in Queens.

“It’s great to hear that anti-spoofing legislation has been signed into law and I thank Congresswoman Meng for shepherding the bill through Congress,” said COMET President Roe Daraio. “It will help deter con artists from posing as the IRS, banks and other entities, and stop them from stealing cash or identities from unsuspecting victims. Hopefully, this enacted legislation will put an end to this activity once and for all.”



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