2018-04-04 / Political Page

I On Politics

CROWLEY SEEKS $25M TO ELIMINATE FGM IN US: Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Joe Crowley (D-NY) requested $25 million in federal funding for efforts to eliminate female genital mutilation (FGM) in the United States and overseas.

Chairman Crowley has been a steadfast leader in the global fight to end FGM, a goal that many experts believe is achievable within a decade. Nearly two dozen bipartisan members of Congress signed on to Crowley’s letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting an increase in funding to combat this egregious human rights abuse.

“To fulfill the international commitment to eliminate FGM, the US must remain vigilant and pursue a comprehensive approach,” the lawmaker wrote. “In that vein, we request no less than $25 million be dedicated to the implementation of a coordinated and comprehensive effort to end FGM and meet the needs of the women and girls affected by FGM,” Crowley said.

In the United States alone, more than 500,000 women and girls have experienced, or are at risk of, FGM. In 2012, the US supported the UN resolution banning FGM and calling on all countries to develop comprehensive strategies to end the practice by 2030, a goal that Crowley strongly supports.

For several years, Crowley has led efforts to include funding to address FGM in government funding bills. In 2015, he introduced The Zero Tolerance for FGM Act with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to implement a national strategy to protect American girls from FGM. Crowley is also the author of The Girls Protection Act, which would have amended federal law to protect American minors at risk of FGM.

OFFICIALS BLAST TRUMP DECISION TO INCLUDE CITIZENSHIP QUESTION ON 2020 CENSUS:

Meng: Trump Decision to Include Citizenship Question is Reckless Congress Member Grace Meng (D-NY) criticized the Trump administration’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census: “The decision to add this question without any testing at this late stage is deeply troubling and reckless,” said Meng. “Asking respondents if they are citizens will likely decrease response rates in immigrant communities and as a result produce an inaccurate and incomplete count that will impact the distribution of federal resources and the number of Congressional districts that each state receives. Many immigrants who are fearful of deportation under the current administration will simply choose to not participate in the Census out of fear that the information they provide will be used against them. Last week, I expressed my concerns to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross when he testified before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. But unfortunately, the secretary decided to add this misguided question. I am deeply disappointed with Secretary Ross, and I will now look to introduce legislation to stop this question from being included on the Census.”

Simotas Warns Queens Residents Will Be Hurt By Citizenship Question In 2020 Census Assembly Member Aravella Simotas said she was deeply disturbed by the March 26 announcement that the US Commerce Secretary had decided to include a citizenship status question on the 2020 Census. Simotas wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Jr. on March 23, at the request of Queens Congressional Representatives Grace Meng and Carolyn Maloney, saying “I am deeply concerned that a citizenship question would deter many of my constituents from participating in the census.”

In her letter to Secretary Ross, Simotas noted that Queens is home to a large population of immigrants and with heightened fears of deportations and anxiety about the confidentiality of government data, inclusion of a citizenship status question would most likely deter people from participating in the Census. Lack of participation would result in an undercount and unfair federal funding for important healthcare and infrastructure programs.

“An equally awful consequence of an undercount would be the loss of a Congressional delegate if population figures are low, and that means we lose an advocate for New Yorkers,” Simotas said.

“It is critical that the 2020 decennial Census captures accurate data so our communities can be fairly represented and federal funding can be properly allocated…The long-term effects of an undercount would be devastating for families in my community and throughout New York, and I strongly urge you to reject requests to add a citizenship question that would cause depressed and inaccurate responses,” Simotas noted in her letter to Secretary Ross.

Addabbo Denounces Controversial Census Citizenship Status Question I believe it is a mistake for the 2020 US Census to include a question about someone’s citizenship status since it may deter immigrants from participating. The Census is supposed to provide an accurate count of everyone living in the United States and local communities in order to calculate proper funding distribution, assist in determining district lines for government representation and allocation of resources, such as police officers. If these numbers are inaccurate, many states and local communities may not receive much-needed funding or services that all the residents need and deserve.

Maloney: Last-Minute Citizenship Question Will Cripple Census Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney, co-Chair of the House Census Caucus and author of the Census IDEA Act, released the following statement after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that a question regarding respondents’ citizenship status will be included on the 2020 decennial Census.

“This decision by Secretary Ross to add a last-minute citizenship question will cripple the 2020 Census and lead to an incomplete and unfair count of all people living in our country. This is a deliberate effort to politicize the census for partisan gains that violates the standards set forth in the Constitution mandating an accurate count of the nation. Congress should block this action by passing the Census IDEA Act, which I introduced last week. We cannot accept an incomplete or unfair count in 2020—too much is at stake. The Census, mandated by the Constitution, affects the way federal and state funds are distributed and district lines are drawn, and helps businesses grow and non-profits better serve their communities. Republicans need to join with Democrats to protect the integrity of the 2020 Census.”

Maloney explained that the 2020 Census IDEA Act (Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy) is designed to ensure that the decennial Census is executed with the highest level of accuracy at the lowest cost to the American taxpayer. As America’s largest peacetime undertaking, the decennial Census guides the distribution of nearly $700 billion in federal funding and shapes reapportionment of federal, state, and local political jurisdictions. It is the foundation of our democracy and, as such, requires years of planning and preparation before the enumeration process even begins. This bill is crafted to prohibit any late, untested operational design changes or questions that introduce great risk to the accuracy, cost, and public participation in the decennial census.

The 2020 Census IDEA Act prohibits the secretary of Commerce from implementing any major operational design to the decennial Census that has not been researched, studied, and tested for less than 3 years prior to Census Day.

Additionally, it prohibits any subject, type of information, or questions from being included on the questionnaire that were not submitted to Congress on the Census Bureau’s Decennial Census Subjects Report 3 years prior to Census Day.

GAO Analysis: Before Census Day, GAO (the US Government Accounting Office) must certify that the subjects, types of information, and questions included on the Census have been adequately researched, studied, and tested to the same degree as in previous censuses.

Maloney Calls For Action On Idea Act Maloney formally requested on March 29 that House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chair Trey Gowdy (RSC), hold a legislative markup on the 2020 Census IDEA Act.

In the letter Maloney writes, “The recent actions of the Trump Administration raise concerns about its commitment to fulfill the Constitutional mandate to conduct a fair, equitable, and complete count of the nation. The 2020 Census IDEA Act will help mitigate these concerns. I respectfully urge you to hold a legislative hearing on this timely piece of legislation so that we may move forward with our mandate to fully count every American resident.”

Maloney continued, “Since the Committee’s October 12, 2017 hearing with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about the 2020 Census, troubling reports have called into question the Census Bureau’s ability to conduct a fair and accurate count of the nation during the next decennial census. Last minute changes to the census operational plan, hiring of partisan personnel in apolitical positions, and instances of the administration overruling Census Bureau recommendations are serious cause for concern. As such, I respectfully request that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hold a legislative mark up of H.R. 5359, the 2020 Census Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy (IDEA) Act.”

“The career scientists at the Census Bureau have done this work admirably for more than two centuries and produce the world’s “gold standard” of official statistics. These professionals conduct their work in a non-partisan, apolitical manner, seeking only to achieve the most accurate results. Unfortunately, recent reports about actions taken by the Trump Administration threaten both the accuracy and independence of the 2020 Census.”

Regarding the last minute question on citizenship, Maloney stated, “On March 26, 2018, the Department of Commerce announced that the Census Bureau will include a question regarding citizenship status on the 2020 Decennial Census. No such question has been included on the census form sent to every household since 1950 because the American Community Survey, which has been distributed on a monthly basis for the last 13 years—and before that the Census Long Form—already includes such a question.” She noted that “At the Committee’s October hearing, Secretary Ross noted that ‘one of the problems with adding questions is it reduces response rates,’ and the inclusion of a citizenship question will do just that.”

Regarding political appointments in the Census Bureau, Maloney stated, “Historically, the Census Bureau has had only three political appointees… Unfortunately, the Trump Administration seems intent on abandoning this tradition by placing political appointees in positions that have always been held by apolitical career management experts and scientists while leaving the Director position unfilled.”

Visit : maloney.house.gov/sites/maloney.house.gov/ files/Census%20IDEA%20Hearing%20Req uest%20Signed.pdf to read the full letter.

Crowley: Trump Decision Politicizes Census House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-NY) released the following statement after the Commerce Department announced that a question on citizenship would be added to the 2020 Census:

“This is an unacceptable move to politicize and derail the 2020 Census. This effort is a direct threat to our representative democracy, a blatant effort to intimidate immigrant communities, and a complete sabotage of the Census process.

“At a time when we have seen anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies flow from the White House, a question on citizenship would instill fear and distrust among immigrant communities, depressing participation and increasing the risk of an inaccurate count. Census numbers are used to allocate federal, state, and local government funding, as well as to determine the redistricting process for federal and state legislatures. An undercount of the population would be devastating for communities, especially those that are already underrepresented, across the country.

“Congress must now take action to protect the Census and its important mission as laid out in the Constitution. I’m proud to support Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s 2020 Census Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy Act and I urge Republican leaders to bring this critical legislation up for a vote. We must do all we can to ensure our immigrant communities are able to participate in the census.”

CROWLEY SAYS $325M NOT ENOUGH FOR FAMILY PLANNING, DEMANDS MORE IN 2019 BUDGET: Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Joe Crowley (D-NY) announced his request for more than $325 million in federal funding for family planning and health care services in the upcoming 2019 government funding bill.

Title X is the only federal program designed to provide family planning services and is the primary source of health care for 60 percent of women who utilize its services. The Title X program has been targeted for funding cuts and politically motivated attacks over the past several years, leading to staff layoffs and reductions in services.

Title X funding levels for 2017 were $31 million below the 2010 levels, which prevented 1.2 million Americans from being able to access vital health care services. More than 160 House Democrats supported Chairman Crowley’s effort to increase funding for this critical problem.

“Title X supports nearly 4,000 health centers, from specialized family planning providers to federally qualified health centers, and public health departments,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting the funds. “Because of this funding, these centers can remain a lifeline in their communities and continue to provide high-quality reproductive and sexual health care, including cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, contraceptive services and supplies, and pregnancy testing to more than 4 million mostly low-income individuals each year.”

Crowley has led efforts to increase Title X funding since 2007.

PHEFFER AMATO URGES PASSAGE OF HATE CRIME PREVENTION PROGRAM ACT: Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-South Queens) is urging the passage of bill A. 10023, which she co-sponsors. This bill would establish a hate crime prevention training program for state and local law enforcement agencies. The Anti-Defamation League recently released their annual audit on anti-Semitic incidents and New York saw a 90 percent increase from 2016. The training mandated in this bill will help law enforcement officers better recognize and respond to hate crimes.

“This training is essential to ensure that law enforcement officers are prepared to handle, and hopefully prevent, hate crimes,” said Pheffer Amato. “In a state as diverse as ours, we must lead the fight in hate-crime prevention.”

The bill is currently in the Assembly Committee on Governmental Operations.

BRAUNSTEIN, VALLONE: ‘LET PRINCIPALS LOCK THE FRONT DOORS’: The tragic mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in February has sparked a national conversation about school safety. This issue is the primary topic of discussion among members of the educational community throughout the country.

Over the last several weeks there have been many different suggestions put forth about how to make our schools safer. One idea that has generated interest and deserves consideration is reversing the Department of Education (DOE) policy that prohibits school principals from keeping the front door locked from the outside during the day. The importance of allowing principals the discretion to lock the doors to their schools was highlighted just two weeks ago when a suspicious man entered PS 184 in Whitestone multiple times and needed to be escorted out by security. These events ignited serious concerns among parents and teachers. Future incidents such as these may be prevented if principals are allowed to lock the doors to their schools while classes are in session.

“Current DOE policy requires that school principals keep the front door of their school unlocked during the day. This allows an individual to enter the building before a determination can be made if they represent a danger or not. This deviates from the practice at many private schools where visitors must ring a bell and announce themselves before being permitted entry,” said Assembly Member Edward C. Braunstein. “Granting public school principals this same authority to confirm whether or not an individual represents a threat before allowing them into a school could prevent dangerous incidents from taking place. It is a change we must consider.”

“When it comes to our students’ safety, we need to be proactive, not reactive, and principals should have the autonomy to decide when they think it is appropriate to preemptively lock their school entrances,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “Incidents like the one at PS 184 clearly show that our students are not as safe as we think and changes need to be made to make sure that they can learn and grow in the safest environment possible. This request is just the first step in a series of changes that must be made. This must remain our top priority from here on out as we lead the charge for safety in our schools.”

CROWLEY DEMANDS INCREASED FUNDING FOR SOCIAL SECURITY: Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Ways and Means Social Security Ranking Member John Larson (D-CT) announced their letter signed by over 100 members of the House of Representatives calling for a robust increase in federal funding allocated for the Social Security Administration in the 2019 government funding legislation.

Since 2010, the Social Security Administration has been ravaged by a deeply inadequate budget, leading to office closures and service reductions. These cuts have resulted in excessive delays and wait times for Social Security beneficiaries hoping to access their hard-earned benefits.

Funding for the SSA fell by 11 percent from 2010 to 2017, while the number of beneficiaries increased by 15 percent during that same period.

“Without more robust funding, waiting times, benefit delays, and service problems will only grow worse—something that none of our constituents want,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting the funds. “Social Security is essential to American families. We urge you to support more resources for SSA so Americans can receive the benefits they are counting on.”

Chairman Crowley and Ranking Member Larson have vocally opposed Republican-led budget cuts to Social Security and other federal programs that support our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. In February, Crowley and Larson led a joint letter to President Donald Trump demanding increased funding for the Social Security Administration to reduce unconscionable delays for beneficiaries, Crowley said.

Reduced funding for the SSA has spurred a national crisis for beneficiaries, especially in Queens and the Bronx, where wait times are some of the worst in the country. Enhancing federal support for Social Security is a central component of Chairman Crowley’s Better Deal plan for Queens and the Bronx, which was unveiled earlier this year.

CROWLEY INVITES STUDENTS FROM HIS DISTRICT TO PARTICIPATE IN 2018 CONGRESSIONAL ART COMPETITION: Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Joe Crowley (D-NY) announced the start of the 2018 Congressional Art Competition for high school students in New York’s 14th Congressional District. The winning artwork will be displayed in the US Capitol for a year.

“Every year, I have the privilege of showcasing incredible artistic talent from Queens and the Bronx through the Congressional Art Competition,” said Chairman Crowley. “I cherish this opportunity to connect with young artists from the 14th Congressional District, and I always look forward to bringing a little piece of our community with me to our nation’s capital!”

The winner of the competition will be invited to attend the opening of the exhibit in Washington, DC, where artwork from other contest winners nationwide will also be on display.

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

The 2017 first place finish went to Jackson Heights resident Emily Fabrizi, a senior at St. John's Preparatory School, for her digital painting “Searching for Serenity.”

Entries for the competition are now being accepted and must be received by Congress Member Crowley’s Queens District Office by Tuesday, April 24th to be considered. Crowley’s Queens District Office is located at 82-11 37th Avenue, Suite 402, Jackson Heights, NY 11372.

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

PERALTA, IDC FOR DREAM ACT: NYS Senator Jose Peralta released the following statement: “I stood up today for New York’s DREAMers who deserve equality in access to higher education funding by attaching the DREAM Act as an amendment to a budget bill. This would have included the $27 million for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) that we hoped to set aside for students who want nothing more than to attend college with their peers. This amounts to about 87 cents annually for the average taxpayer. These students’ dreams should not be cruelly denied. I’m proud that my colleagues in the Independent Democratic Conference stood up for DREAMers today, and I thank all 27 members who voted with me in favor of this measure.”

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