• Advertisement

Members of Congress Bring #MeToo Survivors, Advocates as Guests to State of the Union

 

(Washington, DC) – In solidarity with the #MeToo movement, several Members of Congress, including Reps. Annie Kuster (NH-02), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Susan Davis (CA-53), Katherine Clark (MA-05), and Mike Quigley (IL-05), will bring sexual harassment survivors and advocates as guests to President Trump’s State of the Union address tonight at 9:00 PM ET.

Congresswoman Kuster, the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, has long been a champion for survivors of sexual and domestic violence, sharing her own personal experiences involving sexual assault on the House floor and joining with 17 other Members of Congress to read Emily Doe’s open letter describing her attack and ensuing trial – which marked the first time a victim’s statement has been read in full in the House chambers. Congresswoman Kuster will bring Chessy Prout, a survivor of sexual assault, as her guest.

“The #MeToo moment has truly turned into a national movement,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I’ve been inspired by the courage of Chessy Prout and other survivors of sexual violence, who are bravely using their experiences to let others know they are not alone. By wearing black tonight we are sending a message to the nation that we will not rest until we’ve changed the all too persistent culture of sexual harassment and violence.” 

Rep. Frankel, Chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, will bring Laura Germino, Co-Founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and their Fair Food Program, which successfully protects the right of tomato workers to work free from sexual harassment and assault by partnering with large retailers to ensure they only purchase tomatoes from growers that maintain a safe and dignified workplace.

“Laura’s tireless efforts to provide workers with a safe, dignified workplace is an example that all industries – from farms, to hotels, to Hollywood – can follow,” said Rep. Frankel. “Our nation is in the middle of a cultural revolution, where workers are demanding respectful workplaces that are free of sexual harassment. I’m bringing Laura and her success story to Washington to echo that call.” 

Rep. Lawrence, Vice Chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, will be joined by Danielle McGuire, a historian and author who wrote a book shining a light on Recy Taylor. 

“Wearing black during the State of the Union address is a strong sign of solidarity with victims of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment and sexual abuse. Also, women members of the Congressional Black Caucus will be wearing red pins as a tribute to Recy Taylor, an African American woman who was kidnapped and raped by six white men in Alabama in 1944, threatened with death if she reported the incident but spoke out anyway, only to have the men go free.

This is why I am so glad to host as my guest for the State of the Union address award-winning author and historian Danielle McGuire, who had the conviction and courage to investigate and shine light on the story of Recy Taylor through her book “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance — A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power”.

Sexual abuse and failure of the judicial system in administering justice has been a reality for too many for too long and we certainly cannot and will not stand for it. But more than show unity with our colors, we must show strong unity with our actions. Awareness and action for these issues are long past due. Time’s up for the abuse, neglect and injustice; and the time for action and change—real change, is right now,” said Rep. Lawrence.  

Congresswoman Speier, Policy and Communications Chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, will bring Travis Moore, one of the leading advocates for survivors of sexual harassment and violence in Congress. In addition to being a leading voice in the #MeToo Congress movement, Travis is the Founder and Director of TechCongress. TechCongress places technologists to work directly for Members of Congress and Congressional Committees on key policymaking challenges through its one-year Congressional Innovation Fellowship. Fellows are designing policy on critical issues including Russian hacking, encryption, facial recognition privacy, and autonomous vehicle regulation. Travis worked on Capitol Hill for six years and was the Legislative Director for Rep. Henry A. Waxman, helping guide Rep. Waxman’s work on technology, health care, and the environment. He founded Congress’ first digital communications training program and the institution’s first Congressional staff conference.

“I’m so proud to bring Travis Moore, who – along with Kristin Nicholson – organized over 1,500 former congressional staff in sending a letter to House and Senate Leadership demanding reform of the broken Congressional complaint process for survivors of sexual harassment and violence in Congress. Travis has been a critically important part of the effort to stop this epidemic that has spread across all party lines and into all professions and jobs. This epidemic is also at the root of so many other forms of discrimination and disrespect – such as lack of equal pay, childcare, and flexible work schedules. Travis and I will attend in honor of all the survivors, to show that we believe them and that we stand with them. And those of us in Congress will continue to honor these survivors by cleaning our own House, so that Congress can lead the way on this issue and ensure that this reckoning doesn’t stop at Capitol Hill. We all deserve and demand that bit of basic respect,” said Congresswoman Speier.

Rep. Davis’s guest is Jenna Ben-Yehuda, a former State Department official who has helped launch the #metoonatsec movement. In November, over 200 women who work on national security signed an open letter – co-authored by Ms. Ben-Yehuda – about surviving or knowing someone who experienced sexual harassment and assault. They call on national security agencies to make meaningful changes so that the women who keep our nation safe can be safe at work.

“I want to thank Jenna for her efforts to highlight the stories of women who work in national security,” said Rep. Davis “I’m honored to have her as my guest for the State of the Union. Because of women like Jenna and all other women who refuse to be silent we are seeing positive change. This is just the beginning.”

Rep. Quigley will be bringing Erin Walton, a Chicago resident who serves as Executive Director of Rape Victim Advocates (RVA). RVA is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the healing and empowerment of sexual assault survivors through non-judgmental crisis intervention counseling, individual and group trauma therapy, and medical and legal advocacy in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. RVA provides public education and institutional advocacy in order to improve the treatment of sexual assault survivors and to effect positive change in policies and public attitudes toward sexual assault.

“This is so much more than a movement—we’re in the midst of a transformative and overdue cultural reckoning, and time is up,” said Rep. Quigley. “Today is about all of the brave women who have come forward and shared their stories, as well as the advocates, like my guest Erin Walton, who work tirelessly to raise awareness and support survivors. Erin’s service to our home city of Chicago has undoubtedly empowered individuals and strengthened communities in more ways than we can count. It is up to all of us—women and men in every industry, zip code, and walk of life—to follow Erin’s example and work together to secure justice and safety for all.”

Congresswoman Clark will bring Anny Gonzalez, an airplane cleaner who endured persistent sexual harassment at her job. Clark hopes Gonzalez’s story will spotlight sexual harassment as an economic issue, the #MeToo movement’s role in the service and hospitality industries, and the challenges workers face in coming forward. Gonzalez will be seated in the U.S. House chamber gallery as President Trump delivers his State of the Union address.

“When the president looks up at our guests, I want him to see the face of a mom who was forced to decide between reporting abuse and making sure her daughter was fed,” said Rep. Clark. “Millions of women in the service industry contend with assault, harassment, and abuse from more powerful people because they feel like they have no other choice. The #MeToo movement has to be about creating a safe environment for victims to come forward, establishing accountability, and demanding action from our leaders, including our president.”

Congresswoman Watson Coleman will bring Rose Gunter, the niece of Recy Taylor and her caregiver until her death last year. Taylor was abducted and raped while walking home from work in Alabama in 1944. Taylor reported her attack, but her assailants were never brought to justice. In 2011, the Alabama Legislature apologized to Taylor, calling the failure to prosecute her attackers “morally abhorrent and repugnant.” Taylor’s story rose to national news following Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award. This effort is in conjunction with members wearing black to the State of the Union address in solidarity with those seeking economic security and a cultural shift that enables men and women to work side by side in safety and dignity, free of sexual harassment, and paid fairly for the value of their work.

“I am honored that Rose will be joining me for the State of the Union as many members of the Democratic Caucus will be paying tribute to her aunt,” Rep. Watson Coleman said. “Ms. Taylor’s story represents that of many marginalized women who have spoken up, spoken out and have long been ignored. The transformative movement that’s happening in this country around sexual misconduct must include amplifying the voices of victims that we, in some cases, chose not to hear. Beyond her terrifying experience, Ms. Taylor, herself, is a representation of the many communities this Administration has chosen to leave behind.”

Congresswoman Kuster To Bring Chessy Prout, A Sexual Assault Survivor, As Her Guest To SOTU

Congresswoman Annie Kuster and Chessy Prout at the launch of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence (4/2017)

(Washington, DC) – Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, announced today that she will be hosting Chessy Prout as her guest at the State of the Union. Kuster will also be joining fellow members in wearing black in support of the #MeToo movement and the efforts to end sexual harassment and assault.

“I’ve been inspired by the incredible strength and courage of Chessy as she has grown into a strong advocate on behalf of survivors of sexual assault and harassment,”said Congresswoman Kuster. “The conversation about sexual harassment and assault in our nation is long overdue but through the efforts of Chessy and the #MeToo movement it is finally gaining steam. This is an issue that is deeply personal to me and I’m excited to host Chessy to signal that this national movement will continue to grow and succeed.”

“Congresswoman Kuster is a fierce champion for survivors,” said Chessy Prout. “I am honored to be her guest while showing support of survivors of sexual assault by wearing all black.”

Congresswoman Kuster has long been a champion for victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Kuster shared her own personal experiences involving sexual assault on the House floor and joined with 17 other Members of Congress to read Emily Doe’s open letter describing her attack and ensuing trial – which marked the first time a victim’s statement has been read in full in the House chambers.

Congresswoman Kuster launched the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence in 2017 with her colleagues, Representatives Patrick Meehan (PA-07), Jackie Speier (CA-14), and David Joyce (OH-14). The Task Force focuses on K-12 healthy relationships education, college campus safety, the sexual assault kit backlog, military sexual trauma, harassment online and in the workplace, and improved data collection and law enforcement training. Since its formation in April 2017, the Task Force has held hearings on its areas of focus, and hosted educational briefings for Members and staff to raise awareness about the primary policy issues related to sexual violence. The Task Force will release its legislative agenda this winter.

Chessy Prout is a high school sexual assault survivor. As a freshman at St. Paul’s School, Chessy was the victim of a sexual assault. Chessy’s case and the trial garnered national and international media attention. Two years later, in Chessy’s pursuit of justice, she decided to step forward publicly. In August 2016 she launched the #IHaveTheRightTo initiative with the organization PAVE, for which she is an ambassador. As a PAVE ambassador, Chessy travels around the country to speak about the importance of consent education in K-12 schools; encourages survivors and others to assert their most important, basic rights; and uses her voice to let other survivors know that they are not alone.

Rep Kuster Explains How Trump’s Budget Cuts Hurt Students At Keene State

Kuster Discusses President’s Proposed Budget Cuts to Higher Education Affordability with Students, Higher Education Leaders at Keene State College 

(Keene, NH)- Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined Granite State students and higher education leaders at Keene State College to discuss President Trump’s proposed budget cuts and their impact on higher education. Kuster heard directly from students and education stakeholders on how the President’s proposed budget reductions to critical higher education programs would impact access and affordability for students across New Hampshire.

“Access to quality, affordable higher education is one of the best ways to provide opportunity for our young people and maintain our state’s economic competitiveness,”said Congresswoman Kuster. “The budget proposed by President Trump would decimate critical financial aid programs and be a disaster for Granite Staters who want to pursue higher education. Our young people deserve the opportunity to access the educational opportunities that will help them achieve their goals, which is why I’m pushing legislation to increase financial support and address the costs of education. I will continue to advocate for policies that expand access to education and skills training programs and against President Trump’s harmful cuts.”

“Keene State College is pleased to host this important conversation about the need to keep the cost of college affordable,” said Dr. Melinda Treadwell, President of Keene State College. “As the state’s only public liberal arts college, we are guided by our mission to provide a high quality educational experience that is both accessible and affordable. We deeply appreciate Congresswoman Kuster’s leadership in this area and in other matters of importance to higher education here in New Hampshire and across the country.”

“I welcome the opportunity to join with our counterparts at Keene State to share key insights and information with Congresswoman Kuster,” said Dr. Kim Mooney, President of Franklin Pierce University. “I am encouraged by her interest in talking with us and with our students as budget cuts loom on the horizon that could have a deeply negative impact on our state and our country. New Hampshire has a long tradition of public and private colleges and universities collaborating around common higher-education issues and challenges in the best interests of our students and for the good of our state.”

Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate in promoting college affordability during her time in Congress. She is currently supporting legislation to strengthen and expand Pell Grants through the Affordability for Constant and Continual Education to Enhance Student Success Act and the Year-Round Pell Grant Restoration Act. She has supported the Perkins Loan Program and funding for Pell Grants through her role as a member of the Higher Education Caucus.  This spring, Kuster helped reintroduce the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act to allow students to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates.

Kuster has also worked to expand access to community college and job training programs for Granite Staters. Earlier this year, she introduced her Workforce Development Investment Act, which would create tax incentives to encourage companies to partner with education providers to develop workforce training programs for skills that are in demand within their community or region. It would also create a separate credit for the cost of direct training conducted as part of an educational partnership or licensed apprenticeship.

Kuster was joined at today’s discussion by Dr. Melinda Treadwell, President of Keene State College; Dr. Kim Mooney, President of Franklin Pierce University; Steve Goetsch, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management and Director of Student Financial Aid at Keene State College; Ken Ferreira, Associate Vice President of Student Financial Services at Franklin Pierce University; Debby Scire, Executive Director of Campus Compact for New Hampshire; Tori Berube, Vice President for College Planning and Engagement at New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation (NHHEAF); Jay Kahn, State Senator for New Hampshire District 10; Bailey St. Laurent, resident of Chicester and student at Keene State College; Luke Parkhurst, Littleton resident and student at Franklin Pierce University; and local students and higher education leaders, among others.

Kuster Talks Healthcare at Lamprey Health Center in Nashua

(Nashua, NH) – Today Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined healthcare leaders and local residents to discuss her plan to improve the Affordable Care Act and increase access to quality health care at Lamprey Health Center in Nashua. The visit comes as Congress begins to look at solutions to improve the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Kuster has been vocal about the need for Congressional Republicans to abandon their single-minded focus on repealing the ACA and instead work across the aisle to make meaningful reforms. Earlier this year, Kuster helped unveil a five-part plan to improve upon the Affordable Care Act and stabilize the individual marketplace.

  • Protect Plans for People with Pre-Existing Conditions
  • Keep Costs Down for Lower Income Families
  • Promote Enrollment and Ensure People Pay their Fair Share
  • Creating More Affordable Options
  • Technical Changes and Improvements

Read more about Kuster’s new plan here.

“The Affordable Care Act has made important progress in expanding access to healthcare and ensuring protections for tens of thousands of Granite Staters and millions of Americans,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “We need to defend the ACA from attempts to roll back critical protections for people with preexisting conditions and for those who have been able to access health insurance for the first time. But we also need to recognize the law is not perfect. I’ve put forward commonsense proposals to stabilize the individual market and contain costs. The perspectives of the people here at Lamprey Health Center are so critical for informing how we address these issues in Washington. In conversations with my Republican colleagues, I know there is much common ground and I look forward to working across the aisle to improve the ACA for all Granite Staters.”

“Lamprey Health Care has always been proud of our ability to care for all patients regardless of ability to pay,” said Greg White, of Lamprey Health Center. “Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Expanded Medicaid, we have seen a tremendous reduction in our numbers of uninsured patients.  This law has opened up things beyond our walls such as specialty care, diagnostics, and medications.  We are thrilled that Congresswoman Kuster came here to Lamprey during Community Health Week to talk about these critical issues, and we are grateful for her work to improve this law and expand access to care.”

“Southern New Hampshire Health has worked hard to be a good steward of the community,” said Dr. Wolf-Rosenblum. “Anything that can be done to preserve the individual market allows resources to be deployed towards prevention rather than rescue. This enables us to reach more people and keep them healthier. We truly appreciate Congresswoman Kuster coming to Nashua and sharing the work she is doing to stabilize the individual market and improve our system of care.”

High Praise For The Passage Of The Veterans Affairs “Choice Program”

Friday Congresswomen Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter both voted “yes” on a bipartisan bill to extend the Veterans Choice Program for six months and make critical investments in VA health care, which passed the House with a unanimous vote of 414-0.

“I’m pleased that we were able to come together on the VA committee and in the House to pass this reauthorization of the Choice Program and bolster support for veterans,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “In a state like New Hampshire that lacks a full service VA hospital, we need to ensure that veterans are able to access care outside the VA in a timely and efficient manner. The Choice Program has been an important tool for many Granite State veterans, but not all veterans have found success in the program. I’m committed to working with my colleagues on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to improve the Choice Program so that no veteran struggles to get the care they need.”

“I’m pleased that today’s bill includes an amendment I authored to improve VA hiring of mental health professions, who are on the front lines of our state’s efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid crisis. Today’s bipartisan vote is an example of the good that can come when Democrats and Republicans work together to improve access to healthcare for our nation’s veterans. I was proud to support this bipartisan bill, which will extend the Veterans Choice Program for six months.  It makes much needed investments in the VA and includes several provisions that will help the VA fill its nearly 50,000 open jobs, most of which are in health care,” said Shea-Porter.

Both Congresswomen offered amendments that were included and approved in the final bill.

The new reauthorization also includes a provision from Congresswoman Kuster’s legislation, the GOOD Act, which will help improve veterans’ access to quality care by making the Department of Veterans Affairs more competitive when hiring physician assistants.

“I’m excited that this Choice Authorization includes language from my legislation, the GOOD Act,” said Kuster. “We need to make sure that the VA is competitive when hiring medical staff and my legislation will increase pay for VA physician assistants. I’m thrilled that earlier today the House passed additional provisions of GOOD Act and I urge the Senate to act on this commonsense legislation.”

For months, Shea-Porter has voiced deep concerns about failures in the administration of the Veterans Choice Program by the VA and its contractor, Health Net. In April, Shea-Porter sent a letter to Congressional leadership calling for the reorganization of VA’s Community Care programs, including Choice, into a permanent and sustainable program that meets the needs of New Hampshire veterans. The letter called on Congress to immediately address “problems with access to care as well as the Department’s inability to pay medical claims to community providers in a timely way.”

The legislation passed Friday will provide $2.1 billion for the Veterans Choice Program, funding the temporary program for another six months while the Veterans Affairs Committees continue work on a permanent solution to streamline and improve access to community providers, as Shea-Porter requested.

The legislation also included several provisions to improve hiring at the VA and makes critical investments in VA health care facilities. Several of the hiring provisions were passed by the House in March as part of H.R. 1367. That bill created a database to improve hiring for critical open positions. Shea-Porter successfully amended the bill to require that the database include mental health professionals. The database provision, and her amendment to include mental health professionals, were included in the bill passed today (Sec. 208).

Image from AFGE rally for the passage of the VA Choice Program

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest federal union which also represents civilian employees inside the VA, is “encouraged” by the passage of this bill.

“Today Congressional leaders came together, put party politics aside, and passed legislation that is vital to the future of the VA. We are very encouraged by the passing of this bill, which will allow additional investment in the VA, and allow the VA to manage non-VA care better than the broken Choice program,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr.

“While we still stand with the veterans who overwhelmingly tell us they want the VA for their healthcare, it’s important that those who cannot receive care at the VA have outside options. The VA Choice and Quality Employment Act isn’t a cure-all for the VA or the Choice program, but is a temporary fix that will allow more veterans access to the care they need,” Cox added.

Cox also highlighted that many of the problems plaguing the VA come from years of neglect and austere cuts to funding.

“But after years of starving the VA’s funding for the Choice program, it’s the investment in veterans’ first preference for medical care that has us most in support of this legislation.”

“Infusing our nation’s largest healthcare system with $1.4 billion for hiring, workforce improvements, and the authorization of 28 new leases that increase the department’s internal capacity to deliver care will make a huge difference at a time when the VA is facing nearly 50,000 vacancies nationwide. With the VA now more able to gather data in recruitment, retention, and staffing, there will finally be some transparency – but it’s not enough.”

After praise the passage of the VA choice program, AFGE is also calling on Congress to take action of similar legislation to address the staffing needs of the VA.

“We at AFGE believe that for true transparency, and a fully-operational department, Congress must pass Rep. Anthony Brown’s bill, the VA Staffing and Vacancies Transparency Act of 2017. If Rep. Brown’s bill is passed, we will finally have transparency in the VA, and the ability to identify the necessary hires the department needs. That in turn will allow more veterans to receive more access to the only healthcare system created for veterans, and by veterans in this country.”

NH Elected Officials, Seniors Group, And Labor Unions Speak Out Against Senate Version Of Trumpcare

By now you have probably heard about the Senate Republicans plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with a terrible new bill called the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017“.

The text of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” was released yesterday and it is worse that we thought it would be.  ThinkProgress laid out some of the details in their post last night.  Here are a couple of the top issues with the new legislation from ThinkProgress.

  • The bill would strip health care coverage from millions of low income Americans by rolling back the expansion of Medicaid — and then making even deeper cuts.
  • The bill would follow the Obamacare subsidy model, but help fewer people.  Subsidies would only be available to those making 350% of poverty instead of the ACA’s 400%
  • The Senate bill is a massive tax cut for the rich. Rolling back taxes on those who make $200,000 a year.
  • The bill will mean higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many people with insurance.
  • The bill will seek to limit the ability of insurers to provide coverage for abortions.
  • The bill will hit older Americans especially hard. Rates for older Americans raise astronomically, making healthcare completely unaffordable.

New Hampshire’s elected leaders are speaking out against this new GOP plan.

“The Senate Republican’s secretive healthcare repeal bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that would be devastating to the health of Granite Staters,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “If passed, it would mean less coverage for fewer people at higher costs, all while giving a tax cut to the wealthy. It would significantly cut Medicaid and the program’s expansion, hurting our state’s response to the opioid epidemic, place an age tax on New Hampshire seniors, and take aim at women’s health by defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides vital healthcare services to more than 12,000 Granite State women. Taken together, this is a bad deal for New Hampshire and a bad deal for the American people. I will do everything that I can to fight it, which is why I am holding an emergency field hearing in Concord tomorrow with Senator Hassan to hear directly from Granite Staters. I will also continue to urge my Republican colleagues to work across the aisle to make needed fixes to the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it, so that more Americans have affordable, accessible healthcare.”

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans took the House Trumpcare bill, which even President Trump admitted was ‘mean,’ and managed to make it even more heartless,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “Under the Senate Trumpcare bill, if you buy your own insurance, you could have to pay more for your coverage. You could face an age tax, which would be especially harmful if you are between the ages of 50 and 64. And you could see states undermine the requirement that insurance companies must cover the most important services.

“The Senate Trumpcare bill also ends Medicaid expansion and makes even deeper cuts to the Medicaid program than the House bill, jeopardizing care for tens of thousands of Granite Staters including children, people struggling with addiction, seniors in nursing or at-home care, and people who experience disabilities. Trumpcare also fulfills Washington Republicans’ partisan agenda of defunding Planned Parenthood.

“There is no doubt that the Affordable Care Act needs to be improved, but Trumpcare would make things worse for most Americans – whether they currently get their insurance through their employer, buy it privately, buy it through the exchange or have Medicaid. Trumpcare would raise costs, take away coverage, and hurt people across New Hampshire, all to give billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. I will do everything in my power to stop this devastating Trumpcare bill from ever becoming law, and I urge all Granite Staters to continue telling your stories and making your voices heard about how harmful this bill would be for you,” concluded Hassan.

Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan are holding an emergancy field hearing on the Senate version of Trumpcare, today June 23rd, at 2pm, at the UNH School of Law. (More info here)

“Senate Republicans have crafted a cruel healthcare bill behind closed doors that would threaten access to healthcare for thousands of Granite Staters and millions of Americans,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “This misguided legislation would be a disaster for hardworking families in New Hampshire and cannot be allowed to become law. I’m eager to work across the aisle to repair, not repeal the Affordable Care Act. There are members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, who want to work in a bipartisan way to make constructive improvements to the Affordable Care Act to expand access to care and lower costs. It’s long past time Republican leadership abandon its single-minded focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act and instead got down to the hard work of actually improving our healthcare delivery system for all Americans.”

“I am appalled by today’s Senate Republican healthcare repeal bill,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “Like the House bill I vehemently opposed, it would kick millions off their coverage, charge older Americans more, and leave people who have pre-existing conditions without coverage for the care they need. The bills don’t stop at repealing the Affordable Care Act – they also end Medicaid expansion and drastically reduce funding for Medicaid. Ending Medicaid as we know it would set our state back in the fight against the heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioid crisis and put millions of kids, seniors in nursing homes, and people with disabilities at risk of losing their care.

“Senate Republicans know the majority of Americans oppose their plan, so they wrote it in secret sessions and are now trying to rush it to a vote next week. Every person in New Hampshire who gets health coverage through the individual market, Medicaid, or the New Hampshire Health Protection Program will be affected by this bill if it passes. Even people with coverage through their employer aren’t protected because states could strip back requirements that plans cover essential benefits like hospitalization, prescription drugs, or maternity care. Over the coming days, we must all speak out and make our voices heard,” Shea-Porter added.

The Alliance for Retired Americans represents over 4 million older Americans and “stand fervently against this legislation” calling the legislation as “mean” as the House version of Trumpcare.

“We all heard President Trump say he hoped the Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would be less ‘mean’ than the House version. Today, we finally got to see the secret Senate version, and it is still ‘mean’ by any reasonable test,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “No wonder Majority Leader McConnell hid this dangerous plan for so long. It will cause harm to millions of older Americans, all for the sake of tax breaks for the wealthy.

“The Senate bill decimates Medicaid. In this respect, it is worse than the House bill, enacting even deeper long-term cuts. Medicaid covers long-term care for millions of seniors and health care for people with disabilities, making this bill devastating to older and vulnerable Americans. President Trump promised on the campaign trail that he would not cut Medicaid and Medicare. He should promise to veto a bill that does not keep that promise.”

“The 4.4 million members of the Alliance for Retired Americans stand fervently against this legislation and urge senators to vote ‘no’ for the sake of seniors, the disabled and millions of working families,” Fiesta concluded.

Labor unions were quick to point out how terrible this legislation would be for working people across the country.

“The Senate’s bill follows the same failed approach as the House-passed bill. It would deny health care coverage to millions of Americans in order to lavish huge tax cuts on corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent,” said David Cox, President of the American Federation of Government Employees National, that represents over 700,000 workers. “The Senate may have written its health care bill behind closed doors, but the harmful effects this bill would have on millions of Americans could not be clearer. What Congressional leaders are doing is shameful and disgusting, and anyone with an ounce of compassion for their fellow humans should be outraged.”

“I wouldn’t have believed it possible but the health care proposal released today by Senate Republicans is in many ways worse than the version that House Republicans adopted,” Chris Shelton, President of the Communications Workers of America. “This plan, drafted in complete secrecy by a handful of Republican leaders – all men – would leave millions of Americans without health care coverage. It allows states to drop coverage for services like maternity care and emergency services.”

“Many states would be forced to kick low-income and disabled people off their health care coverage once federal funding for the Medicaid program is cut, as this Senate bill would do. The Senate’s attack on Medicaid is even worse than that of the House bill,” Shelton added 

The Communication Workers warned that union members would be punished under this new proposal as well saying “it is a slap in the face to millions of hard-working Americans who need and want access to quality, affordable care.”

“Health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and of course the wealthiest Americans still would get tax cuts, just like in the House version.  Union members fortunate enough to keep their coverage, however, will be punished with higher costs under the “Cadillac tax” that Republicans left in place. Many Americans will find the cost of health care premiums simply unaffordable.”

The good news is that Democrats in the Senate are united against this horrible piece of legislation, but Republicans should also be outraged at this bill and take a stand for the American people.

“It’s time for those Republican Senators who today are expressing such concern about the impact of this shameful plan on ordinary Americans to show the courage of their convictions,” Shelton concluded.”

A 21st Century New Deal For Jobs: A Progressive Plan To Rebuild America And Put People To Work

With Failing Roads and Water Systems Across The Country:
Democrats Kick Off Massive Infrastructure Investment
and Jobs Campaign in Congress

Via KIRO-TV

One of the greatest problems plaguing the United States right now is our crumbling infrastructure. Throughout the U.S. roads and bridges are literally falling to pieces. During the 2016 election nearly every candidate talked about fixing our growing infrastructure problem.

Since Trump’s election people have been waiting to see what his jobs plan would look like and what he is going to do to fix our growing infrastructure problem.

Last week, Trump unveiled his budget that did increase spending on some infrastructure projects but ultimately it fails to uphold his campaign promises or the needs of the nation.

Trump’s proposal would result in a net negative in direct infrastructure investment. The Washington Post reports, “Despite his much-touted plans to spur significant increases in infrastructure investment, President Trump’s budget would actually cut more federal spending on such programs than it would add, according to an analysis by Senate Democrats.”

Last Monday, Politico reported a Fox News interview in which Department of Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao said, Trump’s plan will center on “some kind of public-private partnerships” and “maybe some sale of government assets as well.” This is basically privatization of our roads and bridges to private corporations that will most likely lead to tolls or fee for use.

According to Bloomberg News, the Trump plan will likely include selling $40 billion of American infrastructure to Saudi Arabia.

Those in the Congressional Progressive Caucus have rejected Trumps proposal and submitted their own “21st Century New Deal for Jobs.” The proposal is a massive infrastructure plan that they estimate will put more than 2.5 million people to work.

“Drawing on the legacy of President Franklin Roosevelt’s bold vision and adapting it to a modern context, our 21st Century New Deal for Jobs makes Wall Street, big corporations, and the wealthiest pay their fair share in order to put America back to work. It invests $2 trillion over 10 years, employing 2.5 million Americans in its first year, to rebuild our transportation, water, energy, and information systems, while massively overhauling our country’s unsafe and inefficient schools, homes, and public buildings.”

“Democrats can lead the way in creating millions of new jobs by using true public investment to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, and outdated water systems. But any plan we pursue must adhere to a set of fundamental principles of social, racial, and environmental justice so our infrastructure planning workforce reflects the needs of our diverse communities,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair. “Any good plan, such as the 21st Century New Deal for Jobs, must provide significant investments to create jobs by addressing the current needs of our country –such as modernizing our outdated schools and replacing our lead-ridden pipelines that have destroyed the public health of children in Flint. Overall, it must commit public money for the public good.”

“Rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure is about so much more than construction projects,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5) who co-chaired the Congressional Progressive Caucus in years past. “It’s about replacing the pipes in Flint that poisoned an entire community, making our roads and bridges safer, and rebuilding crumbling schools. As Democrats, we believe we must improve the lives of millions of hardworking families, putting millions of Americans to work at good jobs, and make our tax system fairer by making the wealthiest pay their fair share. The Republican infrastructure plan is nothing more than another tax break for millionaires and billionaires.”

“Our country is in dire need of a bold vision to repair our crumbling roads and bridges, clean our air and water, restore our children’s unsafe school buildings, and connect our communities to each other with high-speed rail and internet,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-2), Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair. “While President Trump and the Republicans are busy concocting a trillion-dollar Wall Street giveaway under the guise of infrastructure, Democrats believe big corporations should pay their fair share to support dignified employment and build a more sustainable and vibrant economy for everyone.”

The 21st Century New Deal for Jobs currently has over 20 co-sponsors including Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) both from my home state of New Hampshire.

“Smart meaningful investments in our infrastructure are absolutely critical to creating jobs and increasing our economic competitiveness in the 21st Century. We can’t allow our economy to fall behind our global competitors due to inaction,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Improving our aging infrastructure will create jobs, expand our economy, improve public safety, and ensure that our businesses and industries are able to thrive. It’s common sense. I’m proud to support this resolution with a set of principles for job creation and infrastructure investment that will help move our country forward.”

“Too much of our infrastructure is in fair or critical condition, even though there are hard-working people across New Hampshire and our nation ready to do the job,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “It’s time for Congress to work together on a comprehensive infrastructure plan that follows these basic principles to address our urgent needs, invest in our future, and create good jobs.”

Local Granite Staters have already come out in support of the 21st Century New Deal for Jobs plan.

“We have to invest in water infrastructure to provide clean, safe water to our residents,” said NH State Representative Mindi Messmer (District NH-01), “Federal money could support much needed upgrades to aging water supplies and provide support needed to ensure that residents have clean, safe drinking water. The 5-town seacoast area has two pediatric cancer clusters and higher than expected rates of pediatric brain cancer. Children are dying and getting sick. We have to make sure their water is safe!”

“Let’s fund local projects first. Taxation in New Hampshire means that there is little support for local road and bridge repair, much less addressing other infrastructure needs,” said Mary A., a Sanbornton, NH resident and Progressive Change Campaign Committee member.

Unions representing millions of American workers also endorsed the progressive framework, and proposal. Labor endorsers include North America’s Building Trades Unions; Transportation Trades Department of AFL–CIO; Teamsters; United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipefitting and Sprinkler Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada; International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; American Federation of Teachers; National Educators Association; Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers; International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers; and Amalgamated Transit Union.

“We applaud the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ commitment to our nation’s transportation manufacturing sector by calling for strengthened and more defined Buy America rules. Expanding American job creation by maximizing public purchasing power must be included in any infrastructure plan,” said Edward Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department AFLCIO. “We look forward to working with our advocacy partners to pass a large-scale infrastructure investment package that finally ends an era of neglect that has harmed our economy and idled millions of good jobs.”

“The question is, will we have a 21st century infrastructure plan that will create millions of jobs and strengthen the backbone of our communities or will we privatize everything for corporate profit and further the decline of this country,” said Rafael Navar, Communication Workers of America national political director.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus resolution, announced Thursday, clearly differentiates Democrats from Trump. It lays out 10 principles that must be true of any jobs plan:

  1. Invest in creating millions of new jobs.
  2. Prioritize public investment over corporate giveaways and selling off public goods.
  3. Ensure that direct public investment provides the overwhelming majority of the funds for infrastructure improvement.
  4. Prioritize racial and gender equity, environmental justice, and worker protections.
  5. Embrace 21st century clean-energy jobs.
  6. Protect wages, expand Buy American provisions, encourage project labor agreements, and prioritize the needs of disadvantaged communities — both urban and rural.
  7. Ensure the wealthiest Americans and giant corporations who reap the greatest economic benefit from public goods pay their fair share for key investments.
  8. It must not be paid for at the expense of Social Security and other vital programs.
  9. It must not weaken or repeal existing rules and laws protecting our environment, worker safety, wages, or equity hiring practices.
  10. Prioritize resilient infrastructure that can withstand natural disasters and cyber or physical attacks.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus and Millions Of Jobs Coalition will urge all Democrats in the House of Representatives to co-sponsor the resolution and draw a sharp contrast with Trump.

“This bold plan can be summed up in three words: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” said Stephanie Taylor, Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder. Democrats have a plan to put millions of Americans to work rebuilding bridges, roads, and schools in local communities — and to create 21st Century jobs in fields like clean energy. It’s ridiculous that Trump wants to sell off our public roads to Wall Street investors and foreign corporations who would put up tolls and keep the money for themselves. The difference between the progressive Democratic vision of job creation and Trump’s vision of jobless corporate giveaways is night and day, and the Millions of Jobs Coalition will ensure voters see this contrast.”

“From his steaks to his university, Trump believes he can stamp his name on junk and call it gold. His so-called infrastructure plan will be nothing more than a massive giveaway to Wall Street, and he’ll stick our children with the bill for generations to come,” said Dan Cantor, Working Families Party national director. “Progressives have a plan to create millions of jobs, build a 21st century economy, and pay for it by taxing the big banks that still never paid the bill for crashing the economy almost a decade ago.”

“The water shutoffs in Detroit and Baltimore and poisoned water in Flint, East Chicago and other communities should serve as a wakeup call: Our nation is facing a water crisis, and nothing short of a massive, direct federal investment in publicly-controlled water systems will save it. Abdicating control of our water services to corporations is not the answer,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Instead, we need the federal government to renew its commitment to funding community water and sewer systems. Repairing and updating our nation’s water infrastructure will create nearly a million jobs while ensuring that water service is safe and affordable for everyone in the country.”

If your Representative has not already signed on to support the 21st Century New Deal for Jobs plan, contact them today. Rebuilding our nations roads, bridges, and waterways is the right way to spend American taxpayer money and create jobs for millions of Americans at the same time.

NH Congressional Delegation Adamantly Opposes Trump’s Budget Proposal

Today, #45 released his disastrous budget proposal.  The budget slashes major departments and includes cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Education, Student Loan programs, repeals the ACA, and guts worker health & safety programs.

Even though, Candidate Trump promised not to make any cuts to Social Security and Medicare, it turns out he was lying.

After all the cuts, #45 proposes more tax cuts to the ultra wealth, like himself, and to multinational corporations who are hiding trillions of dollars overseas already.

“According to Mulvaney, the proposal looks ‘at the budget through the eyes of the taxpayer’ instead of those who receive benefits from federal programs.” (RawStory)

“If I can look you in the eye and say I’m going to take this money from you so I can help this injured vet, I can do that in good conscience,” Mulvaney continued. “I am a lot less comfortable to the point of not wanting to look you in the eye and say, ‘Look, I need to take this money from you to give to this person over here who really isn’t disabled but is getting a disabled benefit or this person over here who is supposed to use the money to go to school but isn’t actually going.” (RawStory)

The New Hampshire Congressional delegation is united in their opposition to these cuts.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen:

“The President’s budget is even worse for New Hampshire than initially feared,” said Shaheen. “This budget would be detrimental to the health and well-being of Granite Staters. Among its many reckless provisions this proposal would throw millions of Americans off of Medicaid, a key program in our fight against the opioid epidemic and in making sure our children and seniors have the care they need. It also cuts funding for other mental health and substance misuse treatment programs. All in all, this budget completely ignores the urgency of the opioid crisis and would pull the rug out from under New Hampshire’s efforts to combat it.

“This budget also continues the Trump administration’s campaign to roll back women’s rights by defunding Planned Parenthood, jeopardizing vital preventive healthcare for nearly 12,000 women in New Hampshire. In a further assault on New Hampshire families, the budget cuts the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Similarly, it’s dumbfounding that this budget eliminates low income heating assistance for thousands of New Hampshire families and seniors, and economic development for the North Country.

“Fortunately, there’s bipartisan agreement that this mindless proposal should be rejected by Congress. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I look forward to working across the aisle on bipartisan government funding legislation that will responsibly fund key programs that many Granite Staters depend on. The budget is a reflection of an administration’s priorities, and what is clear from this budget is that the Trump administration prioritizes tax cuts for the wealthy over New Hampshire children, seniors, and families.”

Senator Maggie Hassan

“President Trump’s budget proposal would directly undermine our economy and the ability of New Hampshire families to get ahead and stay ahead. This irresponsible proposal would jeopardize critical economic priorities and hurt job-creating businesses in order to pay for tax cuts for corporate special interests and an expensive and ineffective border wall. I am particularly disturbed to see cuts to programs that are essential to our efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis. The drastic cuts to the Medicaid program in this proposal go above and beyond even the devastating cuts included in the Trumpcare bill, further hurting people struggling with substance use disorder, students who experience disabilities, and older Americans in nursing homes. President Trump’s proposed cuts to the Department of Education would also undermine our public education system and hurt efforts to develop the workforce our businesses need to thrive and grow. I will strongly fight this budget proposal and urge my colleagues to work across the aisle on a budget that strengthens our economy, invests in our businesses, and supports New Hampshire families.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)

“A budget is a moral document, and this immoral budget does not reflect the values we share as Americans. The President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal would hurt students, working Americans, seniors, and our most vulnerable citizens by slashing health care, nutrition assistance, medical and scientific research, education, and other programs. President Trump’s budget reveals his true priorities: giving huge tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations.

“Today’s budget abandons the bipartisan progress we made earlier this month, when I voted for and the President signed an omnibus spending bill. As Congress works through the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process, I will fight against reckless and irresponsible cuts that target working families and our most vulnerable citizens; against the President’s proposal to balance the budget on the backs of working Americans and our seniors while giving the wealthiest even bigger tax cuts; against a new BRAC round; and for the priorities that were reflected in this year’s bipartisan omnibus bill.”

Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02)

“The budget proposal released today by President Trump confirms many of our worst fears about the priorities of his administration,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “This budget is cruel, shortsighted, and would be a disaster for efforts to strengthen the middle class. It would hurt hard working families and communities throughout New Hampshire and the country. From public education and student loans to economic development programs like Community Development Block Grants and the Northern Border Regional Commission, this budget would decimate programs for those who can least afford it. It would jeopardize clean air and water and our response to the opioid epidemic, all so that President Trump and his millionaire and billionaire friends can receive a massive tax giveaway. I’ll do everything in my power to fight the harmful elements of this budget and protect programs for Granite State veterans, seniors, and families.”

As if the above cuts were not enough already here are more details on the draconian cuts that Trump is proposing.

  • A $610 billion cut to Medicaid over 10 years, which combined with House-passed American Health Care Act cuts would slice total Medicaid funding almost in half by 2027. About 65 percent of nursing home residents are supported primarily by Medicaid;
  • A $5.8 billion cut to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • A $7 billion cut to National Institutes of Health (NIH), which provided $98.9 million in critical medical research funding in New Hampshire for Fiscal Year 2016, supporting approximately 1,300 jobs;
  • A 10.7% cut to the National Science Foundation, which provided 125 awards totaling approximately $42 million to New Hampshire institutions in Fiscal Year 2016;
  • A 31.4% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including cutting critical climate science research;
  • Authorization for a new round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC);
  • A 29% cut to State Department funding, crippling our nation’s ability to exert soft power and respond to humanitarian crises worldwide;
  • A $193 billion cut over 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helped 93,302 Granite Staters afford food as of February 2017;
  • $72.5 billion cut from programs that support people with disabilities, including Social Security disability insurance;
  • Elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a critical fuel assistance program for low-income households in New Hampshire;
  • A $143 billion cut over 10 years to student loan, financial aid and repayment programs that facilitate access to higher education;
  • A reversal of a proposed 95% cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). After reports indicated that the President’s budget would include severe ONDCP funding cuts, which the NH delegation has already opposed.

This immoral budget must not pass.  We need to stop trying to balance our national budget on the backs of working people and specifically by taking from those who need it the most.  We must stop this tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans and corporations who already fail to pay their fair share of tax and hide profits overseas to avoid being taxed at all.

The government should be working together to help all of the people, not a select few of ultra wealth, (most likely Trump) campaign donors.

New Hampshire Congressional Delegation United Against Cuts To Office Of National Drug Control Policy

New Hampshire Congressional Delegation Writes to President Trump in Opposition to ONDCP Cuts

(Washington, DC) – Today Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, along with U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) wrote to President Donald Trump to express their opposition to proposed cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The letter highlights the importance of ONDCP to addressing the substance misuse crisis in New Hampshire. Recent reports cite up to 94% in cuts to the office, which is critical to coordinating the federal response to the opioid epidemic that is negatively impacting communities throughout the state and the country. The letter comes as the Trump Administration continues to pursue policies that would undermine efforts to address the opioid crisis.

“We write to you as the federal delegation representing New Hampshire, one of the states suffering most from the nation’s opioid crisis, to express our concern after recent reports indicated that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) could face severe budget cuts in fiscal year 2018,” wrote the members. “These cuts would eliminate important programs that improve the ability of local law enforcement to respond to the opioid crisis in our communities. Programs like the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and the Drug-Free Communities Support program provide local law enforcement and public health officials the flexibility needed to tailor appropriate responses to challenges facing their communities.”

The delegation continued, “We urge you to reconsider any proposed cuts to ONDCP that would undermine federal response to the ongoing opioid crisis.”

The proposed cuts to ONDCP include the Drug-Free Communities Support program and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, which coordinates drug trafficking activities in designated areas. Last year, the New England HIDTA region received nearly $4.5 million in funding, including nearly $250,000 specifically for Hillsborough and Rockingham counties in New Hampshire.

The full text of the letter is available below and here.

 

Trump Letter ONDCP May 19

Kuster Helps Introduce Legislation to Assist Student Dealing with Loan Debt

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) helped introduce legislation to assist students in New Hampshire and across the country refinance their loans at lower rates. Kuster is an original co-sponsor of the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, led by Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) and United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Last year, a report found that New Hampshire had the highest student loan debt in the country on average, at $36,101.

“Student loan debt is a huge burden that not only makes life difficult for young borrowers but hurts our economy,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Our students in New Hampshire are facing the highest average debt load in the country and we need to provide relief. The money our young people are spending paying off student loan debt could be going toward starting a new business or buying a home. It’s common sense that students should be able to refinance their student loans at lower rates currently offered to new borrowers. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues to lower the costs of higher education and create opportunities for young people to get the education or training they need without being saddled with large sums of debt.”

Congresswoman Kuster has been a strong advocate in promoting college affordability during her time in Congress.  She has supported the Perkins Loan Program and funding for Pell Grants through her role as a member of the Higher Education Caucus.  During the 114th Congress she cosponsored the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Act to incentivize employer development of student loan repayment assistance plans. Kuster has also worked to expand access to community college and job training programs for Granite Staters.


Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter previously her support for this legislation.

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 12,612 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement