Tag Archives: Congressman Jim McGovern

SPEAK OUT! 💐🎶 … Congressman McGovern Joins 75+ House Democrats in Censure Resolution Against Trump for Charlottesville Comments … and … from America’s sharpest and funniest political provocateurs!❤❤❤

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Go, Jim, go!

McGovern, Democrats call Trump’s Charlottesville remarks a “moral outrage”

Demand Congress send a clear message by censuring the President for his comments

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(editor’s note: I’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.)

Congressman Jim McGovern joined yesterday Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) in introducing a censure resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives against President Donald Trump for his comments blaming “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and excusing the behavior of participants in the ‘Unite the Right’ rally.

The censure resolution condemns the President for failing to immediately and specifically name and condemn the white supremacist, Ku Klux Klan, and neo-Nazi groups responsible for actions of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville over the weekend, and for doubling-down on his comments by attempting to create a moral equivalency between white supremacists and those counter-protesting the ‘Unite the Right’ rally.

The resolution, which was cosponsored by 79 Members of Congress, offers an official censure by Congress of President Trump for his remarks, and calls for the President to fire any and all advisors who have urged him to cater to white supremacist movements in the United States.

“President Trump’s remarks in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville are outrageous. His refusal to completely and totally denounce white supremacist groups and all who enable their bigotry is unacceptable. America’s leaders must send a clear message to President Trump that these comments are not just wrong, but they insult the moral convictions and ideals our country was built on,” Congressman Jim McGovern said. “This is a moment history will remember. Americans need to know their leaders have the courage to stand with them. We must not only condemn the President’s remarks, we must censure the President for the unacceptable way he has represented our country in this critical moment.”

In addition to Representatives McGovern, Nadler, Watson Coleman, and Jayapal, the following Members have signed on as cosponsors: Joe Crowley (D-NY), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Bill Foster (D-IL), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Scott Peters (D-CA), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Al Lawson (D-FL), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Greg Meeks (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Tim Walz (D-MN), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), David Loebsack (D-IA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), David Cicilline (D-RI), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Al Green (D-TX), Mark Takano (D-CA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Don Beyer (D-VA), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Norma Torres (D-CA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Donald McEachin (D-VA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), James Langevin (D-RI), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Ruben Kihuen (D-NV), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Alma Adams (D-NC), Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Jimmy Gomez (D-CA).

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The full text of the resolution:

H. RES. __

Censuring and condemning President Donald Trump.

115th CONGRESS
1st Session
August 18, 2017

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Mr. NADLER, Ms. WATSON COLEMAN, and Ms. JAYAPAL submitted the following resolution, which was referred to the Committee on _______;

RESOLUTION

Censuring and condemning President Donald Trump.

Whereas on August 11, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, a gathering of white supremacists, including neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members, and other white nationalist groups, marched through the streets with torches as part of a coordinated ‘Unite the Right’ rally spewing racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred;

Whereas on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, a car driven by James Alex Fields, Jr. rammed into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 20 others;

Whereas President Donald Trump’s immediate public comments rebuked “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and failed to specifically condemn the ‘Unite the Right’ rally or cite the white supremacist, neo-Nazi gathering as responsible for actions of domestic terrorism;

Whereas on August 15, 2017 President Donald Trump held a press conference at Trump Tower where he re-asserted that “both sides” were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and attempted to create a moral equivalency between white supremacist, KKK, neo-Nazi groups and those counter-protesting the ‘Unite the Right’ rally;

Whereas President Donald Trump has surrounded himself with, and cultivated the influence of, senior advisors and spokespeople who have long histories of promoting white nationalist, racist and anti-Semitic principles and policies within the country;

Whereas President Donald Trump has provided encouragement and little to no denunciation of white supremacist groups and individuals who promote their bigoted, nationalist ideology and policies;

Whereas President Donald Trump has failed to provide adequate condemnation and assure the American people of his resolve to opposing domestic terrorism: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) does hereby censure and condemn President Donald Trump for his inadequate response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, his failure to immediately and specifically name and condemn the white supremacist groups responsible for actions of domestic terrorism, for re-asserting that “both sides” were to blame and excusing the violent behavior of participants in the ‘Unite the Right’ rally, and for employing people with ties to white supremacist movements in the White House, such as Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka; and

(2) does hereby urge President Donald Trump to fire any and all White House advisors who have urged him to cater to the white supremacist movement in the United States.

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And FYI …

☎BANNON’S OUT! Next WH madman who must GET THE BOOT:☎☎☎

Go, Jim, go!💙💙🎻🌺 … and … O Canada!🍀🌸🌹🌷💐

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Congressman Jim McGovern

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Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Increase Veterans Service Dog Program Funding By $2 Million

editor’s note: I’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved last week a bipartisan measure from Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Martha McSally (R-AZ) to increase funding for the Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program by $2 million.

The measure was passed as part of the FY 2018 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill and was also led by Reps. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ).

“With so many veterans returning from war bearing both physical and emotional scars, we must do all we can to provide treatment that works. The Wounded Warrior Service Dog program has helped countless veterans and military families. Providing grant opportunities for groups professionally engaged in this field is critical to ensuring that our military and veterans receive the care they deserve,” Rep. McGovern said. “I am proud to join with Republicans and Democrats on this bipartisan measure to increase funding for this program and continue to support our veterans as they come home from serving our country.”

“Those who know and love animals like I do understand that they have a unique ability to bring service and healing to our wounded warriors,” Rep. McSally said. “Therapeutic service dog training program is an important program, and by increasing funding more service dogs will be placed with veterans. I was pleased to support this amendment.”

“For many service members suffering from PTSD and TBI, training service dogs to help other service members and veterans can be an effective, non-pharmaceutical therapy that gives comfort and purpose,” said Rep. Shea-Porter. “I am happy our bipartisan work has secured $2 million to expand this and other programs, which are having a positive impact on so many lives.”

“Our men and women in uniform deserve the best care when they return home from service,” said Rep. Jones. “By individually training service dogs for the physical or emotional needs of an individual veteran, the Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program has helped countless service members and military families with their transition and healing process – I could not think of a better program to support. Thank you to all of my colleagues for backing this exceptional program that helps our nation’s heroes.”

“Service dogs have a proven therapeutic role in helping wounded warriors heal. As a representative of military communities in South Jersey and proud dog owner, I applaud this bipartisan effort to fund a program that provides our heroes access to the care they deserve and the treatments they need,” Rep. LoBiondo said.

Administered by the Department of Defense, the Wounded Warrior Service Dog Grant Program supports non-profit organizations whose mission is to address physical and mental health needs of service members and veterans with assistance from service dogs. This program was funded at $1 million in Fiscal Year 2015, $5 million in Fiscal Year 2016, and $5 million in Fiscal Year 2017. With the passage of this amendment, the House bill aims to fund this program at $7 million for Fiscal Year 2018.

Many of our service members and veterans return home from the battlefield suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), blindness or impaired vision, the loss of a limb, paralysis, impaired mobility, loss of hearing, and other mental and physical disabilities. Sadly, too many also struggle with suicidal thoughts and the inability to reintegrate into the social framework of their families and communities. Working with a trained service dog is a promising form of therapy and assistance for these veterans and service members, one that has already been proven to help civilians who confront similar mental and physical disabilities.

Through a highly technical regimen that can take up to two years, non-profit organizations customize the training of each dog to assist its future owner. Depending on the owner’s needs, these dogs can be trained to retrieve medicine from a refrigerator, turn the lights on and scan an empty house before the owner enters, guard an owner’s back in a public setting, and even wake an owner up from a nightmare.

In its three years of existence, the Wounded Warrior Service Dog Program has allowed non-profit organizations to train and pair over 250 highly sophisticated service dogs with veterans in need. The additional $2 million would help place an additional 45 to 60 service dogs with veterans industry wide.

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Make America great: follow Canada’s recommendations!

By Heather Moore

Know what would really make America great? If we followed in Canada’s footsteps and revised our national food guidelines to favor plant-based over animal-based protein.

Our neighbor to the north’s new dietary recommendations, which will likely be issued by Health Canada next year, are expected to specify plant-based foods as the preferred source of protein and to call for the regular consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and other vegan foods.

At least one news outlet has speculated that — because Canada is so culturally diverse, much like the U.S., and because many ethnic groups can’t digest cow’s milk — dairy products won’t be included in the new recommendations at all.

While it remains to be seen if the Canadian government will officially urge citizens to eat beans not beef, many media outlets have already reported on one anticipated — and sensible — guideline: Don’t eat foods that contain mostly saturated fat (i.e., meat, eggs and dairy products) and opt instead for healthy plant-based foods, which also tend to be more environmentally friendly.

That’s sound, science-based advice — not industry-pandering. Canada is one of the world’s largest beef producers, and ranchers and feedlot operators likely didn’t break into a chorus of “O Canada” when they heard that government officials were planning to promote plant-based foods. But it’s the right thing to do, and hopefully Health Canada will hold firm to its mission.

I also hope the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will implement strong guidelines favoring plant-based foods. America’s fruited plains and amber waves of grain are overrun with animal factories and slaughterhouses, and we’ll all be healthier if we stop eating animal-based foods.

We know this. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Chicago — the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals — has pointed out that people who eat mostly plant-based foods are less likely to suffer from obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.

A 2016 position statement by the academy revealed that people can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by 62 percent, suffering from heart disease by 29 percent and succumbing to any form of cancer by 18 percent just by going vegan. Vegan men reduce their likelihood of developing prostate cancer by 35 percent.

The U.S. advisory committee has acknowledged that a diet high in plant-based foods is “more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact.”

But meat industry groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting to keep “eat less meat” from appearing in the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans — that’s why they allow fatty, cholesterol-laden animal-based foods.

Other countries have already taken steps to promote more nutritious, vegan foods. Last year, for example, the Netherlands began advising people to eat a lot less meat — no more than two servings per week — and to replace it with plant foods. The United Kingdom also encourages residents to cut back on animal protein. Brazil puts an emphasis on native plants and minimally processed foods.

The U.S. will have to consider similar guidelines as public-health problems — and Americans’ waistlines — continue to expand. Let’s all avoid the “red tape” and opt for vegan foods well before our dietary guidelines are scheduled to be revised.

Doing so will help local farmers who grow flavorful, health-promoting fruits and vegetables — like red delicious apples, sweet white corn and juicy blueberries. It will also support innovative vegan businesses, such as Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Memphis Meats, three California companies that have made headlines for producing mouthwatering plant-based meats. Most of all, it will benefit our health, the environment and animals — and that will help make America a truly great nation.

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TRADER JOE’S GROCERY STORE ON ROUTE 9 IN SHREWSBURY – just over the bridge – is a GREAT PLACE TO BEGIN YOUR VEGGIE ADVENTURES! Organic fruits and vegetables, nondairy icecream and yogurt that is SO TASTY💙, frozen dinners, sauces, mock meats, spices, cakes, cookies … ALL SO INEXPENSIVE and yummy! Love shopping here! – Rose T.

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Trader Joe crackers – $1.39 – a staple at Rose’s shack. Center: Vintage thermos David C. gave Rose. She’s made a centerpiece of it so Davey is always hanging out in her kitchen☕☕! pics: R.T.

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You can order these cute undies at PETA.ORG!😉

This Memorial Day weekend let us honor our “Atomic Vets” and praise the Veterans Service Dog Program

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Jett, this a.m. He definitely lacks the service dog temperament. pics: R.T.

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Lilac so lacks the work ethic …

Bipartisan McGovern Bill Supports Veterans Service Dog Program

$25 Million in Funding Supports Service Dogs for Veterans with Disabilities

This week, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) reintroduced the bipartisan Wounded Warrior Service Dog Act in the House of Representatives.

The bill, H.R. 2625, would create a competitive grant program for nonprofits that train service dogs for use by veterans.

It defines the term “assistance dog” to mean a dog specifically trained to perform physical tasks to mitigate the effects of a disability.

This bill authorizes $25 million over the space of five years.

“With so many veterans returning from war bearing both physical and emotional scars, we must do all we can to provide treatment that works,” Congressman McGovern said. “I have been honored to work with NEADS and so many other partners to support the extraordinary work they and others are doing to help veterans in need. It is my sincere hope that through this program, we can better connect our veterans with service dogs in an effort to ease their transition into civilian life.”

In recent years, Congressman McGovern has made several visits to the nonprofit National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS) campus in Princeton.

On these visits, Congressman McGovern has learned about how service dogs are helping to treat veterans with physical disabilities as well as individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress.

Assistance dogs are helping service men and women lead more independent lives, assisting with mobility and balance, retrieving and carrying objects, responding to sounds, getting help, and providing social interaction and companionship.

Trained dogs also offer many therapeutic benefits to soldiers and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) by elevating their moods, building confidence, and reducing stress, all of which ease the transition back into civilian life.

Through the Appropriations process, this program has already received $11 million over the past three years. With this money, nonprofit groups like NEADS have trained over 200 service dogs and paired them with veterans in need.

If passed into law, the Wounded Warrior Service Dog Act would fund this program for the next five years.

The Director of Development at NEADS, Cathy Zemaitis, commented, “The Wounded Warriors Service Dog legislation will enable legitimate Service Dog providers the opportunity to better serve the veteran community. This important program will allow veterans with physical disabilities as well as those diagnosed with PTSD realize increased independence and the opportunity to increasingly engage in their community. This legislation will bring about a positive impact on all veterans who require the assistance of a highly trained Service Dog.”

The bill has 29 original cosponsors, including U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). It has been endorsed by the American Legion and the Animal Welfare Institute.

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More news from Congressman Jim McGovern:

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Go, Jim, go!

McGovern, Markey Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Honor Veterans

Bill Recognizes “Atomic Veterans” Exposed to Radiation in Nuclear Weapons Tests

This week, U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Tom Emmer (R-MN) and U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) reintroduced H.R. 2754, the Atomic Veterans Service Medal Act, a bipartisan and bicameral bill that would authorize the award of a military service medal to members of the Armed Forces who were exposed to ionizing radiation as a result of participation in the testing of nuclear weapons or under other circumstances.

Between 1945 and 1962, about 225,000 members of our Armed Forces participated in hundreds of nuclear weapons tests.

These GIs became known as the Atomic Veterans.

They were placed in extremely dangerous areas and constantly exposed to radiation in performance of their duties.

Sworn to secrecy, they could not even speak of their service.

Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton recognized their valiant service, and acted to provide specialized care and compensation for their harrowing duty.

“America has a responsibility to honor all of our veterans and the sacrifices they made to serve our country. Tragically, many of these Atomic Veterans have already died, without receiving recognition. They kept a code of silence that likely led to many passing away too soon,” Congressman Jim McGovern said. “It is long past time for the Defense Department to honor their unique service with a medal recognizing all that they and their families have done to keep us safe. This bipartisan bill will help us to finally right this wrong and I urge Congress to pass it.”

“Our veterans are the best our nation has to offer,” said Congressman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.). “They dedicate their lives and sacrifice so much to protect our freedoms and liberties, so the least we can do is show them our immense gratitude. Unfortunately, we have since lost many of our Atomic Veterans, but I am honored to work with Congressman McGovern and Senator Markey to ensure these brave soldiers get the recognition they deserve.”

“As part of our country’s nuclear program, hundreds of thousands of brave U.S. servicemembers – our Atomic Vets – participated in atmospheric tests, exposing themselves to grave risks, without true recognition for their sacrifice,” Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said. “Many of these brave patriots suffered from radiation-related diseases and other health issues. As a nation, we must honor their sacrifice, and this legislation takes an important step in that direction.”

Keith Kiefer, the Director of the National Association of Atomic Veterans commented, “The National Association of Atomic Veterans has worked hard to achieve acknowledgement of the consequences of exposure to the invisible bullets of radiation exposure. We thank Congressmen McGoven and Emmer and Senator Markey for spearheading our cause in the 2017 legislative session.”

Joining Congressmen McGovern and Emmer as original cosponsors of the House bill include Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Rick Nolan (D-MN).

McGovern, Conyers, Lee lead 64 House Democrats rebuking President Trump’s erratic North Korea Policy

But first …

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Congressman Jim McGovern

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editor’s note: I’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.

U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), and Barbara Lee (D-CA), led a letter signed by 64 House Democrats to rebuke President Trump’s inconsistent and dangerous statements regarding U.S. policy towards North Korea, notify him that military strikes without Congressional approval would violate the Constitution, and urge him to instead adhere to the diplomatic approach recently articulated by his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The 64 signers represent the 64 years since the Armistice Agreement was signed to end hostilities in the Korean War.

“The U.S. and the international community must deal with North Korea and negotiate a tough agreement that freezes further nuclear development and tests and, ultimately, takes their nukes off the table,” Congressman McGovern said. “That requires cool heads and hard-nosed diplomacy. Erratic tweets and saber-rattling with nuclear weapons are not solutions, they’re a fast-track to catastrophe.”

Congressman John Conyers, Dean of the House of Representatives and one of two remaining Korean War Veterans serving in Congress, said “President Trump’s irresponsible statements on North Korea endanger our troops, our regional allies such as South Korea and Japan, and global security more broadly. As someone who has watched this conflict evolve since I was sent to Korea as a young Army Lieutenant, it is a reckless, inexperienced move to threaten military action that could end in devastation instead of pursuing vigorous diplomacy.”

“As a daughter of a veteran of the Korean War and a member of the Military and Veterans Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to demand that President Trump provide Congress with a comprehensive strategy for deterring North Korea that puts diplomacy and non-military strategies first,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “This letter reinforces the constitutional responsibility of the President to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering any use of U.S. military force.”

Responding to Trump’s recent comments that appeared to threaten military action against North Korea, the letter states that “While both the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 provide the Office of the President with the authority to act in cases of emergencies, both require an affirmative authorization from Congress before our nation engages in military action abroad against a state that has not attacked the U.S. or our assets abroad.”

The letter notes that “Military action against North Korea was considered by the Obama, Bush and Clinton Administrations, but all ultimately determined there was no military option that would not run the unacceptable risk of a counter-reaction from Pyongyang.” The letter says that debate over any potential military action against North Korea is crucial, as the North Korean reaction to such a strike “could immediately threaten the lives of as many as a third of the South Korean population, put nearly 30,000 U.S. service members and over 100,000 other U.S. citizens residing in South Korea in grave danger, and also threaten other regional allies such as Japan.”

The letter urges Trump to “adhere to the diplomatic approach recently articulated by Secretary Tillerson,” who recently stated that the Trump Administration’s sole goal is to “seek a denuclearized Korean Peninsula” without pursuing a regime change that could potentially risk a devastating conflict. The letter instead calls on the Administration to engage directly with North Korea and explore the possibility of a negotiated resolution to the nuclear issue.

An Economist/YouGov poll conducted from April 29 to May 2, 2017 found that 60 percent of Americans support “direct negotiations between the United States and North Korea” to end North Korea’s nuclear program, while 10 percent were somewhat opposed and 8 percent strongly opposed. 63 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans support direct negotiations with North Korea, while 70 percent of Hillary Clinton voters and 68 percent of Trump backers were supportive.

The letter also urges the Administration to “address humanitarian issues of mutual concern such as the reunification of Korean and Korean American families as well as the repatriation of the remains of US servicemen left in North Korea following the War.”

“Last fall, traveling to Pyongyang to discuss the return of US Korean War servicemen’s remains collected over the years by the North Koreans, I flew over where my father’s plane went down. It was the closest I’ve been to him since I was three years old,” said Rick Downes, Executive Director of the Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs. “Like thousands of other American families who pray to bring their loved ones home, I hope to go back and bring my father home. Calls for diplomacy like this make that opportunity much more real.”

As of late March 2017, there were 61,322 surviving family members among the list of those waiting to reunite with relatives in North Korea, and more than 62 percent of them are over the age of 80, according to Nan Kim, an associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and author of Memory, Reconciliation, and Reunions in South Korea: Crossing the Divide.

Signers of the letter included 5 Democratic Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The 64 letter signers included: Alma S. Adams (NC-12), Karen Bass (CA-37), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Don Beyer (VA-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Michael E. Capuano (MA-07), Salud O. Carbajal (CA-24), Judy Chu (CA-27), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Katherine M. Clark (MA-05), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO-01), Emanuel L. Cleaver, II (MO-05), Steve Cohen (TN-09), John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Bill Foster (IL-11),Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Alan S. Lowenthal (CA-47), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Richard E. Neal (MA-01), Rick Nolan (MN-08), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Janice D. Schakowsky (IL-09), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Darren Soto (FL-09), Mark Takano (CA-41), Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07),Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Peter Welch (VT-AL), and Frederica Wilson (FL-24)

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Full Text of Letter:

May 23, 2017

President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump:

We write to once again draw your attention to your constitutional responsibility to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering use of U.S. military force, which would include any military action against North Korea that is not in response to an attack by that country. The mandate requiring Congressional consultation and authorization is prescribed in both the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.

While both the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 provide the Office of the President with the authority to act in cases of emergencies, both require an affirmative authorization from Congress before our nation engages in military action abroad against a state that has not attacked the U.S. or our assets abroad. As Section 2 of the War Powers Resolution of 1973 makes clear, absent a declaration of war or a specific statutory authorization approved by Congress, only a “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces” can justify military action undertaken without Congressional authorization.

Few decisions are more needing of debate than a move to launch attacks, or declare war, on a nuclear-armed state such as North Korea. Military action against North Korea was considered by the Obama, Bush and Clinton Administrations, but all ultimately determined there was no military option that would not run the unacceptable risk of a counter-reaction from Pyongyang. This reaction could immediately threaten the lives of as many as a third of the South Korean population, put nearly 30,000 U.S. service members and over 100,000 other U.S. citizens residing in South Korea in grave danger, and also threaten other regional allies such as Japan.

In such a volatile region, an inconsistent or unpredictable policy runs the risk of unimaginable conflict. That is why we strongly urge you to adhere to the diplomatic approach recently articulated by Secretary Tillerson, who stated that your Administration’s sole goal is to “seek a denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” and that you “do not seek regime change” and “do not seek a collapse of the regime,” both of which could lead down a path that could risk nuclear war. We support Secretary Tillerson’s statement that the preferred method for resolution is “direct talks with North Korea,” including persuading them to relinquish their nuclear weapons by assuring them that they “do not need these weapons to secure the existence of [their] regime.”

We respectfully request more information about the steps your Administration is taking to advance the prospects for direct negotiations that could lower the potential for catastrophic war and ultimately lead to the denuclearization of the peninsula. We would also urge the Administration to outline steps to address humanitarian issues of mutual concern such as the reunification of Korean and Korean American families as well as the repatriation of the remains of US servicemen left in North Korea following the War.

We look forward to receiving details about your plans for a negotiated resolution of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, and, in the event that your plans do include an ill-advised military component, we stand ready to exercise our constitutional duty to approve, or reject, any such military action.

Jim! Always in style!

But first …

Oh no!!!!!!!!!😱😱😱😱

THIS WEDNESDAY – President Donald Plump visits New London, Connecticut, to speak at the Coast Guard Academy commencement!!!!! 😱😰😱😱😱😱😱😰😰😰

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Cece!!!!💛💛💛🎵

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The Ultimate Library Magic Show
with Todd Migliacci😄😄😄

FREE TO ALL!

At the Worcester Public Library

3 Salem Square – in the Saxe Room!

Saturday, May 20

2:30 p.m.

Todd is a nationally touring magician who has been performing for a variety of diverse and satisfied audiences for over a decade. He is also. a current Walt Disney World Cast Member.

One word makes Todd stand out – experience. He fuses his impressive array of magic tricks and illusions with juggling and comedy.

Audience participation, along with Todd’s own conversational and intimate style of magic, makes his show one-of-a-kind and unforgettable! … A magical experience.

Sponsored by the Friends of the
Worcester Public Library

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Public Hearing on Worcester School Budget – Fully Funded Schools for Gateway Cities!

Tuesday, May 23

7 PM

Durkin Administration Building

20 Irving St. Room 420, Worcester

Public Hearing on Worcester School Budget for FY 2017/2018.

This is the time to raise concerns about underfunding of schools and the School to Jail Pipeline!

Gateway School Districts and other communities [many poor] are not getting their needed share of the Foundation Budget. New students and special needs students are not fully reimbursed by the State.

-the Mass. Human Rights Committee

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Congressman Jim McGovern💚

McGovern, Larson Host Worcester Town Hall on Social Security at the Worcester Senior Center

Senior House Democrats Discuss Plan to Protect Social Security for Seniors

TOMORROW – Monday, May 15 at 10 a.m…

… Congressmen Jim McGovern (D-MA) and John Larson (D-CT) will host a joint town hall to discuss their agenda to protect Social Security for seniors today and well into the future.

· WHAT: Congressional Town Hall on Protecting Social Security

· WHERE: Senior Center 128 Providence St, Worcester

· WHEN: Monday, May 15 at 10 AM – 12 PM

· WHO: Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Larson (D-CT)

In the wake of House Republicans passing the American Health Care Act, which would let insurance companies charge seniors up to five times more than younger patients – forcing seniors ages 60 and older to pay up to $17,900 more for healthcare … .

Congressmen McGovern and Larson will discuss their work to stop these dangerous price hikes for seniors and ensure they can enjoy their retirement in dignity.

The McGovern-Larson Proposal:

· Tax cut for those who pay taxes on their Social Security benefits

· $300 more per year for the typical retiree

· Improved cost of living adjustment

Additionally, the McGovern Larson Proposal would:

· Provide Greater Retirement Security for Women: Benefit increases that are targeted to women who, on average, live longer than men and receive lower benefits.

· Help Low-Income Americans: A minimum benefit to protect workers from falling into poverty in retirement.

· Help Elderly Americans: For someone retiring today, their benefits will be 5% greater at age 85 than they would be under the current system.

· Workers and Future Retirees: The assurance of knowing the system remains on strong footing and the guarantee that the Trust Fund will be able to meet benefit obligations beyond 2088.

Congressman McGovern: Trumpcare a Disaster for Millions of Americans

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Congressman Jim McGovern

(editor’s note: I’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.)

GOP Claim that Trumpcare Covers Pre-Existing Conditions is a Lie

Secret Negotiations, Backroom Deals and Bribes are Shameful

Congressman Jim McGovern, the senior House Democrat leading debate on the House floor against the American Health Care Act, slammed House Republicans yesterday for trying to steamroll the disastrous bill that would take healthcare away from millions of Americans.

“Pathetic. That’s the word to describe this process and this bill. If the American people could sue Congress for malpractice – my Republican friends would be in deep trouble. How could you do this? How could you do this to the people you represent?

You are taking away essential health care protections. You are allowing insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. You are supporting a bill that will throw 24 million people off of their health care and cut Medicaid by $880 billion to give a $1 trillion dollar tax break to the very wealthy. What is wrong with you?

The American people were justifiably outraged – and they showed up by the thousands at town halls to express their anger. I guarantee you – your constituents are going to figure this out. And they will not be happy. And let me say to my colleagues, to claim or imply that this Republican plan covers pre-existing conditions, is a lie.

“Let me also say a few words about the process that has been used to bring this bill to the floor. It has been a disaster from start to finish with secret negotiations, backroom deals and bribes to buy off factions within the Republican conference. There have been no hearings on this bill whatsoever. And the Republican leadership couldn’t even slow down long enough to receive a score from the CBO.

“Are Republican leaders jamming this bill through to appease President Trump? Are they concerned that a new CBO score will confirm what we already know is true – that this bill would be devastating to the people of this country, force even more people to lose health care, especially older, sick and low-income Americans?

We’re supposed to fix problems and help people – not merely settle for political cover that can be used in a press release. I urge my colleagues to vote no on this bill. Or better yet, do what they did a couple weeks ago and pull this disastrous bill.”

Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Speech:

“Pathetic.

“That’s the word to describe this process and this bill.

“If the American people could sue Congress for malpractice – my Republican friends would be in deep trouble.

“How could you do this? How could you do this to the American people? How could you do this to the people you represent?

“You are taking away essential health care protections. You are allowing insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. You are supporting a bill that will throw 24 million people off of their health care and cut Medicaid by $880 billion to give a $1 trillion dollar tax break to the very wealthy.

“What is wrong with you?

“Today’s rule self-executes three of the newest Republican amendments to the Republican health plan. This means, without any sort of debate or discussion whatsoever, the Palmer, MacArthur and Upton amendments will magically pass the House. What I find so hard to believe about this latest backroom deal is that it actually makes this bill worse! I didn’t think that was possible.

To shore up support among this chamber’s most conservative faction, Representative MacArthur and others made a deal with President Trump to gut protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and to eliminate essential health benefits like maternity care, mental health treatment, and prescription drug coverage, just to name a few. These are among the most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

“The American people were justifiably outraged – and they showed up by the thousands at town halls to express their anger. And there were some on the Republican side who actually got it. They listened to their constituents and they had the courage to stand up and say no.

“But, when Republican leaders once again came up short in their whip count, Representative Upton ran to the White House and concocted a deal with President Trump to try to win back votes. His amendment adds a measly $8 billion spread out over 5 years in a futile attempt to soften the devastating impact that this bill will have on millions and millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.

“$8 billion over 5 years sounds like a lot, but when we are talking about an entire country, it really isn’t. But don’t take it from me. Robert Graboyes from the conservative Mercatus Center said ‘the $8 billion amount is a pittance … spread over five years, it’s a fifth of a pittance.” This is not a left-wing organization. This is an organization funded by Koch Industries, the Koch brothers, my Republican friends love the Koch brothers.

“What’s more, some analysts have already estimated that an additional $200 billion will be needed over a decade to adequately fund high-risk pools, so this amendment is billions upon billions of dollars short. As the Center for American Progress points out, the Upton Amendment ‘will have almost no effect.’

“My colleagues who have been won over by this should be ashamed of themselves. We’re supposed to fix problems and help people – not merely settle for political cover that can be used in a press release. $8 billion to cover a $200 billion shortfall? Back where I come from, we call that being a “cheap date.”

“I guarantee you – your constituents are going to figure this out. And they will not be happy.

“For the so-called moderate Republicans who have contorted themselves this week to find a fix to the damage being done to people with pre-existing conditions, I have breaking news: I have a magic bullet fix if Republicans really want to protect people with pre-existing conditions. Are you ready? Brace yourselves. Don’t change the law! Everyone is already protected by the Affordable Care Act – including people with pre-existing conditions and those who struggle to find affordable care.

“And let me say to my colleagues, to claim or imply that this Republican plan covers pre-existing conditions, is a lie. Plain and simple.

“Let me also say a few words about the process that has been used to bring this bill to the floor. It has been a disaster from start to finish with secret negotiations, backroom deals, and bribes to buy off factions within the Republican conference. There have been no hearings on this bill whatsoever. And the Republican leadership couldn’t even slow down long enough to receive a score from the CBO.

“I have one simple question: What’s the rush? Wait a week and get a CBO score. Why is that such a radical idea?

“Are Republican leaders jamming this bill through to appease President Trump? Are they concerned that a new CBO score will confirm what we already know is true – that this bill would be devastating to the people of this country, force even more people to lose health care, especially to older, sick, and low-income Americans?

“Or maybe, Republican leaders are worried that their colleagues will go home over the week long break and hear from their constituents who overwhelmingly oppose this effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“Honestly, I don’t know how my Republican friends can defend this terrible, closed, authoritarian process. It is an absolute disgrace. So I urge my colleagues to vote no on this bill. Or better yet, do what they did a couple weeks ago and pull this disastrous bill.”

Go, Jim, go!💚💛

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THE REC FARMERS MARKET VAN BRINGS FRESH PRODUCE AND MORE TO WORCESTER’S INNER-CITY NEIGHBORHOODS.

McGovern, DeLauro, Pingree Condemn Trump Move to Rollback School Meals Nutrition Standards

New Policy Attacks Access to Healthy Food for Students Across the Country

(I’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.)

Today Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) – senior House Democrats and leaders on nutrition policy – condemned the move by the Trump Administration to rollback nutrition standards for school meals across the country.

As one of his first acts as Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue announced that the USDA will continue exemptions related to whole grain requirements and will freeze sodium targets.

“Every day school meals help ensure millions of kids get the healthy food they need to learn and succeed. It is outrageous that President Trump and his administration are now pushing a policy that weakens the essential nutrition standards which have strengthened access to healthy food for so many students,” Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) said.

He continued: “The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 helped us make historic progress in tackling child hunger and obesity. School meals are just as essential as textbooks when it comes to helping our kids succeed and, for millions of kids, school is the only place they will get a nutritious meal. We should build on the progress we’ve made, not turn our backs on kids who rely on these meals. This isn’t about flexibility, it’s about making kids less healthy. Just because President Trump thinks fast food is a balanced meal doesn’t mean we should lower our standards for our kids.”

“Just days into his new job as Secretary of USDA, Secretary Perdue has decided to put special interests ahead of the health of America’s children. School meal nutrition standards were enacted, on a bipartisan basis, to bring school meals up to date with the latest nutrition science — ensuring that our children have healthy options on their plates,” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said.

“However, the USDA and President Trump have now decided to roll back much of the progress we have made in the fight against rates of childhood obesity and malnutrition. This interim final rule by the USDA is a slippery slope that will completely undermine school breakfast and lunch programs and the USDA should immediately reverse course,” she said.

It’s disappointing that one of Secretary Perdue’s first actions as the head of USDA is to rollback school nutrition standards with this rule. For many low-income students, the meals they eat in school are all they will eat that day. Minimizing access to healthy food will have consequences for our nation as it grapples with a childhood obesity crisis,” Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) said. “I recognize schools are faced with strict and limited budgets, so we should concentrate on providing support and technical assistance to schools rather than rolling back standards. I hope Secretary Perdue will refocus his priorities on policies that will improve access to nutritious food and withdraw this rule.”

Today’s announcement will allow schools during the 2017-2018 school year to be exempted from the 100 percent whole-grain requirement.

For school years 2017-2018 through 2020, schools will not be required to meet Sodium Target 2 standards and will be able to stay at Sodium Target 1.

Additionally, the USDA will begin a regulatory process to allow schools to serve 1 percent flavored milk.

Bipartisan Group of 46 Lawmakers Calls on Speaker Ryan to Hold Debate on War

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Congressman Jim McGovern

Authorization for ISIS and Syria
Largest Bipartisan Coalition Yet Calling for Congress to Exercise Its Role in Approving U.S. Military Operations

(I’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.)

A bipartisan group of 46 lawmakers – led by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Tom Cole (R-OK), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) – called on Speaker Ryan this week to begin a serious debate on the authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State and express that President Trump must seek approval from Congress before taking any further military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The largest bipartisan coalition yet calling for Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility to vote on whether to approve any future U.S. military operations against ISIS and Syria, the letter includes 7 bipartisan members of House Armed Services Committee, 9 bipartisan members of House Appropriations Committee, and 4 bipartisan members of House Foreign Affairs Committee, including Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY).

“Today, we’re sending a strong bipartisan message that it’s long past time for Congress to take responsibility for the war against ISIS by finally holding a debate and vote on whether to authorize any future military action. With his recent military strike against Syria, we are also declaring that President Trump must not undertake any new military operations without the approval of Congress,” Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) said.

“Every day our brave men and women in uniform are doing their duty, it’s time for Congress to do its duty. Americans didn’t elect us to give a blank check to the White House when it comes to war. Democrats and Republicans are united in saying the time for action is now.”

“The United States has been combating growing global threats with the same Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) since 2003. With American forces engaged against ISIS in Syria, a debate in Congress about the use of force against that enemy in that theatre is long overdue,” Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) said. “The best way to build support and credibility for necessary military actions is for President Trump to seek for an AUMF from Congress. Congress owes President Trump our counsel and advice as we look to fight our enemies abroad.”

For years now, Speaker Ryan has blocked Congress from debating and voting on an ISIS-specific AUMF. President Trump’s recent unauthorized and illegal military strike against Syria showed the extent to which Congress is simply missing in action. It is past time we repeal the 2001 AUMF blank check for endless war and for the Speaker to allow Congress to do its job,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA). “The Constitution is clear: Congress has a responsibility to debate and vote on matters of war and peace. The American people deserve better than a Congress that abdicates this sacred responsibility.”

“One of our most sacred responsibilities in Congress is that of debating war policy and deciding whether or not we send our service members into conflict,” said Congressman Walter Jones (R-OK). “We owe that to the American people, and we owe that to our men and women in uniform.”

In addition to McGovern, Cole, Lee, and Jones, today’s letter was also signed by Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Thomas Massie (R-KY), John Lewis (D-GA), Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (R-AZ), John Garamendi (D-CA), Ted S. Yoho, D.V.M. (R-FL), John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Justin Amash (R-MI), Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), José E. Serrano (D-NY), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Peter Welch (D-VT), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-MA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Daniel T. Kildee (D-MI), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Judy Chu (D-CA), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Ron Kind (D-WI), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Collin C. Peterson (D-MN), and Ted Lieu (D-CA).

Full Text of Letter to Speaker Ryan:

April 28, 2017

The Honorable Paul D. Ryan
Speaker of the House
H-232 U.S. Capitol Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Speaker Ryan:

We write to you with a sense of urgency and ask that the U.S. House of Representatives immediately begin a serious debate on the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State and express that the President must seek approval from Congress before taking any further military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. As you know, we represent a diverse group of political views, but on this matter we are united. We believe that Congress has an important role to play, and based on current events, such a debate should occur as soon as possible.

For too long, the United States has conducted military operations against the Islamic State under the justification of the outdated 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). The U.S. has steadily escalated its role and military presence against the Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq, including additional deployments over the past two months. It is past time for the House to debate and vote on an AUMF that defines the purpose, nature and limits of U.S. military engagement against the Islamic State.

Furthermore, the U.S. has now carried out its first direct military action against the Syrian regime since the country’s civil war began six years ago, again without any authorization by Congress. We believe the President must present a strategy and seek the approval of Congress before any additional military action is taken against the Syrian regime.

We know that you share our respect for the prerogatives, rights and obligations of the Congress as defined under Article I of the Constitution. Congress cannot continue to remain silent and ignore its responsibilities under the Constitution.Engaging in these debates is the minimum we owe the American people and our brave men and women in uniform.

Sincerely,

*******
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🎶🎶 to our ears!

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Go, Jim, go! pic: R.T.

McGovern Slams GOP for Shutdown Threat in Latest Effort to Steamroll Harmful Healthcare Bill

(I’ve made some sentences bold. – R.T.)

Today Congressman Jim McGovern led debate for Democrats on the House Floor and called for Republicans to end their threats to once again shut down the government and steamroll their healthcare bill.

With just one day before the federal government runs out of money, House Republicans are once again trying to ram through a deeply unpopular healthcare bill.

Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Speech:

“Here we are again, just one day from our government running out of funding, confronting yet another manufactured, totally avoidable crisis. And instead of working on a bill to fully fund American’s biggest priorities, we’re back on the floor with more filler legislation. It seems Republicans care more about looking busy than actually doing their jobs.

“This rule provides for the consideration of H.R. 1694, the Fannie and Freddie Open Records Act of 2017. It’s a fine bill designed to strengthen transparency at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I support the legislation. My Democratic colleagues support the legislation. The Republican majority supports the legislation. In fact, I haven’t found one person yet who doesn’t support this bill.

· Freedom of information is a good thing, M. Speaker. I support FOIA.

· But what about freedom from the threat of a government shutdown?

· What about freedom from the threat of a default on our national debt?

· What about freedom to know what our President’s conflicts of interest are, and to see his tax returns?

· What about freedom from having our healthcare protections ripped away? Protections like essential health benefits, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

· And what about freedom to know what Congressional Republicans and the White House are doing to our healthcare system behind closed doors?

“None of this seems to matter.

“But the most troubling part of this rule is that it declares blanket martial law through Saturday that allows Republicans to bring anything to the floor between now and then.

“Now, I understand the importance of rushing something to the floor when the government is about to run out of money – although I’d point out that we’re seven months into the fiscal year and my Republican friends set this deadline themselves back in December, so there is absolutely no excuse for Congress to come within hours of yet another shutdown.

“This is just the latest example of Republican obstruction, obfuscation, and incompetence that has once again brought us to the edge of the cliff. And this is no way to govern.

“This rule would allow Republican Leadership to rush anything to the floor within hours of it being released, not just appropriations.

“It gives them blanket authority to jam us with whatever new disaster they cook up with the White House in the backrooms of Capitol Hill. And that includes the latest health care deal I’ve heard so much about this week.

“Of course, with it being a backroom deal, we were relying on news reports all week to clue us into the terrible new provisions.

“It was only last night – around midnight – when the Republicans finally posted their newest health care proposal, that we were able to confirm just how bad it really is. Incredibly, this new amendment will make the bill even worse than before.

“Honest to God, I didn’t know that was possible!

In addition to killing the requirement to provide basic, crucial, essential benefits like maternity care, prescription drugs, and emergency services, this new amendment will also completely gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“In fact, this amendment directly violates the commitment made by President Trump and House Republicans to protect those with pre-existing conditions.

“This newest proposal will allow insurers to charge an unlimited “age tax” to older Americans. And to make matters even worse, Republicans have set up a system that would allow women to once again be charged more than men for health coverage. It would bring us back to those bad old days when insurance companies could charge women more because they said being a woman was a pre-existing condition. Give me a break.

“All of this on top of a disaster of a healthcare bill that will cause 24 million Americans to lose their healthcare coverage. In addition, their bill would cut Medicaid by close to $1 trillion and take that trillion dollars and give it in the form of tax breaks to the wealthiest individuals in the country.

“This is not the way we should be running this House.

All of this just to appease the most conservative fringes within the Republican conference in an attempt to deliver a “political win” to Donald Trump so he can celebrate his 100th day in office. Doesn’t matter what the details are, he just wants to tout a victory of some sort. Well, this is not a victory for the American people. This would be a disaster for the American people.

“It’s no wonder my Republican colleagues have been overwhelmed by angry calls from their constituents at home demanding that they oppose this reckless and heartless bill. As one Republican remarked, “I spent the whole work period hearing from people pissed about pre-existing conditions. This isn’t helpful.”

“Under this rule, these dangerous backroom deals could be rushed to the floor without any proper deliberation, but they will have a very real, very serious, and very dangerous consequence for millions of Americans. Real lives are at stake here.

I can’t help but also note that this newest amendment exempts Congress from the terrible impacts of this proposal. Can you believe that? Knowing just how damaging these new provisions are, Republicans wanted to keep healthcare protections for themselves, but set up another system for their constituents.

“It was only after the press caught Republicans with their hand in the cookie jar that they introduced yet another bill to un-exempt themselves. But the new bill to un-exempt Congress would require a 60 vote super majority in the Senate. What are the odds that’s gonna happen?

“Are we seriously supposed to trust that they won’t exempt themselves from this terrible plan? To trust that the Senate can muster 60 votes to pass this provision or anything else?

“Let me be clear, this maneuver is a procedural sleight of hand. This is legislative smoke and mirrors designed to give Republicans – who tried to pull a fast one and got caught – a talking point.

“Republicans wrote the bill. So change the damn bill, don’t just say “trust us, we will pass another bill to fix the fix, and we will get the Senate to NOT make any changes, oh while we are at it, we will get a super-majority in the Senate to support it.”

“Who do you think you’re fooling?

“I urge all of my colleagues to defeat this martial law rule, and I reserve the balance of my time.”

McGovern, Warren, more than 130 Members of Congress Urge Secretary DeVos to Reinstate Student Loan Protections

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Congressman Jim McGovern

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UNITED STATES CONGRESS

Lawmakers urge Secretary DeVos to Reverse her Decision to Scrap Obama-Era Student Loan Servicing Reforms

On April 4, DeVos Rescinded Policy Memos that Included Consumer Protections for Borrowers

“Your decision to rescind these memos … will put millions of borrowers and taxpayers at risk.”

Today Congressman Jim McGovern joined Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and a group of more than more than 130 Members of Congress in sending a letter today to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos urging her to reverse a decision to rescind Obama-era memos on student loan servicing reforms.

The reforms had included new consumer protections for borrowers and improvements to the quality of federal loan servicing. In addition to Senator Warren, the letter was led by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

“Your decision to rescind these memos — including the guidance making servicers’ past performance and record of compliance with the law the most important non-cost factor in the evaluation — will put millions of borrowers and taxpayers at risk,” wrote McGovern and more than 130 Members of Congress. “Without accounting for past performance, federal contracts will be open to bidders that have previously violated state or federal consumer protection laws, mistreated members of our military, and consistently ignored the needs of their borrowers.”

On April 11, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education announced Secretary DeVos was rescinding three critical policy memos intended to reform the student loan servicing process meant to better assist borrowers in managing their loans, hold servicers accountable, and set financial incentives that will best support the interest of students.

The memos were issued by the Obama Administration following a request from Senate Democrats for common-sense improvements to the student loan servicing process. House Democrats also requested the Department continue to improve the student loan collection and servicing processes for struggling borrowers. After DeVos’ latest action, it is unclear how the Department intends to move forward with the current contracts for student loan servicing which are worth more than $840 million per year.

“With one in four student loan borrowers in default or delinquent on their federal student loans, it is the responsibility of the Department to address the student debt crisis and ensure that all service providers in the student loan program are doing everything they can to put students and families first ahead of the profits of student loan companies,” McGovern and his fellow lawmakers wrote.

Joining McGovern and Warren from the Massachusetts delegation on the letter were Senator Ed Markey and Representatives Michael E. Capuano, Katherine Clark, William R. Keating, Stephen F. Lynch, Seth Moulton, and Niki Tsongas.

The letter was signed by a total of 111 House Democrats. In addition to Representatives Scott and Bonamici, the letter was signed by Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Theodore E. Deutch (D-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Alma S. Adams (D-NC), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ron Kind (D-WI), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Daniel W. Lipinski (D-IL), Jared Polis (D-CO), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Gwen S. Moore (D-WI), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Val Butler Demings (D-FL), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Peter Welch (D-VT), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Susan A. Davis (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Mark Desaulnier (D-CA), Bill Foster (D-IL), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), John Yarmuth (D-KY), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Suzan Delbene (D-WA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Juan Vargas (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-MN), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU), David Scott (D-GA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), John Lewis (D-GA), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Denny Heck (D-WA), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Robin L. Kelly (D-IL), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), José E. Serrano (D-NY), Judy Chu (D-CA), Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Peter Defazio (D-OR), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Rosa L. Delauro (D-CT), Diana Degette (D-CO), Daniel T. Kildee (D-MI), Al Green (D-TX), Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Ruben J. Kihuen (D-NV), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Gene Green (D-TX), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), William R. Keating (D-MA), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rick Nolan (D-MN), John K. Delaney (D-MD), G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), André Carson (D-IN), Kathleen M. Rice (D-NY), and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)

The letter was signed by a total of 25 Senators. In addition to Senators Murray and Warren, the letter was signed by Durbin (D-IL), Brown (D-OH), Leahy (D-VT), Sanders (I-VT), Harris (D-CA), Feinstein (D-CA), Baldwin (D-WI), Franken (D-MN), Murphy (D-CT), Blumenthal (D-CT), Reed (D-RI), Whitehouse (D-RI), Wyden (D-OR), Merkley (D-OR), Markey (D-MA), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Udall (D-NM), Hirono (D-HI), Menendez (D-NJ), Booker (D-NJ), Schatz (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), and Cantwell (D-WA).

The text of the letter is below:

April 26, 2017

The Honorable Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202

Dear Secretary DeVos,

We are very concerned by your April 11th decision to rescind policy directives that would have protected student loan borrowers. This sudden and unwarranted action raises significant questions about how the U.S. Department of Education (“Department”) plans to proceed with the procurement of new federal student loan servicing contracts (“recompete”) and whether you will manage federal loan servicing activities in a manner that holds federal student loan servicers more accountable, helps millions of borrowers avoid the terrible consequences of default and delinquency, and ultimately protects the rights of students and families.

More than 42 million Americans collectively owe nearly $1.3 trillion dollars in federal student loan debt, and student loan servicers act as these borrowers’ primary point of contact for managing their loans. Whether borrowers are struggling to repay their loans, seeking actionable information about how to lower their payments, or just need help finding the repayment or forgiveness plan that best meets their needs, student loan servicers play a significant role in borrowers’ daily lives and act as official representatives of the federal government.

After years of pervasive and widespread failures in student loan servicing, many borrowers are simply fed up with delays, errors, and mismanagement of their loans. Serious issues with servicing operations and oversight have been repeatedly identified by an avalanche of complaints from borrowers, countless investigations of and settlements with servicers for alleged violations of consumer protection laws, and numerous reports from the Government Accountability Office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Given the strong consensus on the policies needed to dramatically improve customer service for federal student loan borrowers, the Department took steps to overhaul student loan servicing. Under the previous Administration, the Department issued several memos for the recompete to establish rules to prevent predatory, abusive, and unfair behavior by servicers, and to write new consumer rights and protections into the next round of servicing contracts. Your decision to rescind these memos — including the guidance making servicers’ past performance and record of compliance with the law the most important non-cost factor in the evaluation — will put millions of borrowers and taxpayers at risk. Without accounting for past performance, federal contracts will be open to bidders that have previously violated state or federal consumer protection laws, mistreated members of our military, and consistently ignored the needs of their borrowers.

Most notably, your decision to rescind uniform servicing standards—for activities such as the way loan payments are applied, how accounts are transferred between servicers, and the loan forgiveness and repayment information that must be provided to borrowers—signals an unwillingness to support and safeguard the best interest of borrowers. These consumer protections were carefully crafted based upon President Obama’s Memorandum on the Student Aid Bill of Rights and the joint servicing principles that the Department wrote in consultation with the Treasury Department and the CFPB to reform and simplify student loan servicing, improve borrower outcomes, and reduce student loan defaults. The standards also would have helped borrowers receive consistent, adequate, and timely communications from servicers and allowed for much greater transparency on the performance of the entire the federal student loan program.

Contrary to the rationale you provided for withdrawing these policies, which was “to negate any impediment, ambiguity or inconsistency,” the policy directives were quite specific, unambiguous, and consistent with previously-established principles for student loan servicing reform and repeated bipartisan requests from Members of Congress to reform student loan servicing in a manner that puts the interests of students and families first.

During your confirmation process, you stated that the Department “should do everything possible to ensure that our students are getting excellent servicing of their student loans,” and your April 11th memo committed to ensuring “that borrowers are being treated fairly and equitably.” Despite these commitments, you have not presented a strategy for ensuring borrowers are being treated fairly and equitably by servicers and you have not provided a plan for how you intend to move forward with this highly consequential recompete process.

With one in four student loan borrowers in default or delinquent on their federal student loans, it is the responsibility of the Department to address the student debt crisis and ensure that all service providers in the student loan program are doing everything they can to put students and families first ahead of the profits of student loan companies. We ask that you immediately reverse your decision and reinstate the previous memos and directives to Federal Student Aid. Finally, we request that the Department quickly clarify how the initial decision to rescind the memos was made and whether the current recompete will result in the development of a single servicing platform for borrowers, greater transparency and accountability from servicers, and high-quality student loan servicing that conforms to the joint servicing principles by the Departments of Education, Treasury, and the CFPB.