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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

Shaheen, Hassan Join Senate Democrats to Introduce Student Loan Refinancing Legislation

Student loan debt has swelled to $1.4 trillion, surpassing total amount of credit card debt

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined 34 of their Democratic colleagues today to reintroduce the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. The legislation would allow those with outstanding student loan debt to refinance at the interest rates offered to new federal borrowers in the 2016-2017 school year. A previous version of the bill was voted on in the 113th Congress, and every Senate Democrat and three Senate Republicans voted to move the bill forward.

“Throughout New Hampshire, Granite Staters are struggling with the increasing costs of higher education and it’s hurting students, their families and our economy,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Students should be able to refinance their loans just like homeowners can refinance their mortgages. This legislation will help borrowers save thousands on their loans, continuing our effort to make college more affordable and help save students from a mountain of debt.”

Senator Maggie Hassan

“One of the biggest issues I hear about from students, families, and businesses across New Hampshire is the increasing burden of student loan debt,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “This common-sense measure helps students struggling to make their loan payments by allowing students to refinance their loans at the current federal rate. We know that there is far more we must do to make higher education more affordable and to strengthen job training programs, and I will continue fighting to move this important legislation forward.”

Since the original bill was introduced in 2014, student loan debt has gone up more than $200 billion. In 2015, 70% of college seniors graduated with debt. And this year, more than one in four borrowers are in delinquency or in default on their student loans. One in seven borrowers defaults on federal student loans within three years of beginning repayment, and according to a recent analysis, a quarter of borrowers default over the life of their loans.

In addition to Shaheen and Hassan, original sponsors of the legislation in the Senate include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Yesterday, Congresswoman Annie Kuster announced her support for this legislation in the House.

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

NFL Players Association Endorses Shaheen Bill To Prevent Opioid Misuse Among Student Athletes

Shaheen and Former NFL Player Jeff Hatch Welcome NFL Players Association Endorsement of Shaheen’s Bill to Prevent Opioid Misuse Among Students and Student Athletes 

(Washington, DC) — This morning, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Jeff Hatch, a former NFL player and resident of Manchester who fought prescription opioid misuse, welcomed the NFL Players Association’s (NFLPA) endorsement of Shaheen’s legislation aimed at preventing opioid misuse among students and student athletes. In a letter addressed to Shaheen, the NFLPA echoed Shaheen’s concerns about the increased non-medical use of prescription opioids among student athletes, particularly in high-impact sports.

The letter from NFLPA President Eric Winston and Executive Director DeMaurice F. Smith reads in part, “Student athletes are uniquely at risk for opioid misuse and overdose… Additional federal resources and guidance to support prevention efforts regarding the dangers of unsafe opioid use for student athletes would greatly benefit our members ongoing work. To that end, we strongly support the Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act, and look forward to working with you to raise awareness of this important issue.”

“It’s very encouraging to have the NFL Players Association’s support for my legislation to help prevent substance misuse among students and student athletes,” said Senator Shaheen. “The NFLPA and its members know firsthand how at-risk athletes, particularly in high impact sports, are to prescription opioid misuse. This is also born out in studies that show that students and student athletes have a higher risk of substance misuse, yet there hasn’t been a concerted national effort to protect these young people through prevention. My bill would bring together an entirely new community including coaches, parents, athletic trainers, along with student athletes, to inform them of the risk of substance misuse and create a support system for student athletes at risk for addiction. I look forward to working with the NFLPA to draw attention to this important issue and advance my legislation in Congress.”

“The NFL Players Association has always been supportive of player-first initiatives and is keenly aware of the risks opioid medications pose for athletes of all ages, pro and amateur alike.” said Jeff Hatch, a former New York Giants player who fought substance misuse following an injury and now lives in Manchester. “It’s very exciting to see the Association endorse Senator Shaheen’s legislation that will help educate students and student athletes of the dangers of substance misuse. I know how devastating misuse of prescription opioids can be and it’s hard to overstate how important it is to provide access to prevention programs before it’s too late. These prevention programs will save lives and help students avoid the harrowing struggle that I went through. I encourage other professional league organizations to take a look at Senator Shaheen’s bill and join the NFLPA in supporting this important legislation.”

The Student and Student Athlete Opioid Misuse Prevention Act would allow schools, communities, and youth athletic associations in the Granite State and around the country to provide prevention programs to reduce the risk of opioid misuse among students and student athletes. Specifically, the bill would authorize $10 million annually to support programs for students and student athletes, as well as training for teachers, administrators, athletic trainers, coaches and athletic directors specifically targeted at mitigating the risk of opioid misuse and overdose. Research shows that students, and student athletes in particular, are at risk of opioid and heroin misuse. Senator Shaheen’s bill is the first major legislative effort to target the youth, high school, and collegiate sports communities across the country in the effort to combat the opioid epidemic.

Shaheen, Hassan Join 30 Senators to Introduce Bill to Rescind President’s Anti-Climate Executive Order

**The Clean Air, Healthy Kids Act highlights potential threats that Trump’s executive action poses to the economy and environment** 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined more than 30 U.S. Senators today to introduce legislation to rescind President Trump’s Executive Order that reverses several landmark U.S. initiatives to combat climate change.   

The bill, titled the Clean Air, Healthy Kids Act, would block federal agencies from implementing the actions outlined in the Executive Order signed Tuesday by President Trump. These actions include reevaluating the Clean Power Plan, which is currently on track to provide $54 billion in climate and health benefits each year, prevent thousands of premature deaths and asthma attacks in children, reduce electricity bills for homes and businesses, and create thousands of good-paying jobs. 

Yesterday, Senators Shaheen and Hassan released the following statements on President Trump’s Executive Order:

“President Trump is ignoring the mountain of evidence on climate change and plowing ahead with a dangerous agenda that threatens the health and well-being of New Hampshire,” said Shaheen. “Rolling back carbon emissions rules and clean energy initiatives is a shortsighted political move that prioritizes the interests of big oil and coal companies over every day Americans. In New Hampshire, we see the effects of climate change every day and it is a direct threat to our environment, economy and way of life. We owe it to future generations to build on the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

“From our White Mountains to our beautiful Seacoast, New Hampshire’s beautiful natural resources define us as a state and I am extremely concerned by President Trump’s efforts to roll back the Clean Power Plan’s common-sense environmental protections,” said Senator Hassan. “Granite Staters know that protecting our environment while building a stronger, more affordable energy future is critical for our families and our businesses. New Hampshire has been a leader in efforts to cut carbon emissions, conserve our natural resources, and combat climate change and we need to see similar efforts at the federal level. That’s why I have been a strong supporter of the Clean Power Plan, and I will continue fighting for a cleaner environment and stronger renewable energy future that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and helps our citizens, businesses, and economy thrive.” 

A copy of the bill is available HERE.

Shaheen, Hassan Call for Reversal of Proposed EPA Cuts That Would Devastate Americans’ Clean Air and Water

SENATORS: Trump’s pledge for clean air and water is “meaningless” when followed by proposal for drastic cuts that would undercut EPA’s core mission 

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of 36 Senators in opposing President Trump’s proposal to inflict a more than 30 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget.

Expressing “extreme concern” over the cuts, the Senators wrote to appropriations leaders, “During the President’s February 28, 2017 address to Congress, he pledged to ‘promote clean air and water.’ Such a pledge is meaningless when the President follows it by proposing a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget and a 20 percent reduction in its staff. If enacted, this funding cut would effectively eliminate the EPA’s ability to execute its core mission to protect public health and ensure citizens have clean air, clean water, and are protected from hazardous waste and contaminants.” 

The Senators highlighted many areas of concern where the proposed cuts would significantly harm communities across America—from reducing clean air and clean water grants and cutting enforcement against polluters, to cutting funding for Superfund sites by 30 percent, to entirely eliminating efforts to combat climate change and clean up major regional bodies of water, like the Great Lakes and the Columbia River Basin. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has insisted that states should be the primary protectors of the environment. However, this proposed budget would drastically cut grants that are crucial for states to protect their clean water and clean air, monitor health impacts of pollution, and reclaim toxic-contaminated sites throughout the country.

“We urge you to oppose these drastic and dangerous cuts, and support continued funding for the EPA,” the Senators concluded.

The letter was signed by Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE), and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

The full text of the letter is copied below.

Dear Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairman Leahy:

We write to express our extreme concern over the drastic cuts President Trump proposed in FY2018 funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). During the President’s February 28, 2017 address to Congress, he pledged to “promote clean air and water.” Such a pledge is meaningless when the President follows it by proposing a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s budget and a 20 percent reduction in its staff. If enacted, this funding cut would effectively eliminate the EPA’s ability to execute its core mission to protect public health and ensure citizens have clean air, clean water, and are protected from hazardous waste and contaminants.

As the Senate works to finalize FY2017 appropriations and develop legislation to fund the federal government in FY2018, we urge you to oppose these cuts.  The EPA must receive funding and staffing levels that ensure the agency can fulfill its mission to protect the environment, reduce pollution, and safeguard public health.     

Unfortunately, instead of maintaining environmental protections, President Trump’s FY2018 budget blueprint would simply eviscerate the EPA’s core functions and adversely impact state budgets that rely on EPA grants for environmental remediation. President Trump’s vision for the EPA includes:

  • reducing clean air and clean water grants programs and cutting enforcement against polluters by 23%,
  • instituting a 45% cut to core state grants programs which make up nearly 30% of state environmental agencies’ budgets and allow them to implement longstanding environmental laws,
  • eliminating the Energy Star program, which saved consumers over $34 billion in utility bills in 2015 alone, and over $430 billion since 1992,
  • cutting research funding by nearly 50%,
  • eliminating the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program, which allows the EPA to evaluate impacts to human health from chemical exposure,
  • cutting funding for Superfund sites by 30 percent, making it harder to clean up and reclaim contaminated and polluted sites across the country
  • eliminating climate change research and partnership programs, international climate change programs, and defunding the Clean Power Plan,
  • eliminating geographic programs accounts that provide important resources to clean up iconic water bodies that provide millions of Americans with drinking water including the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, Puget Sound, the Columbia River Basin, the Long Island Sound, and the San Francisco Bay,
  • cutting all funding for the U.S.-Mexico border program that support cross-border drinking water and sanitations improvements in the southwest,
  • cutting all funding for Alaska Native villages and rural communities that helps provide critical drinking water and sewer systems, and
  • eliminating the Targeted Airshed Grants program, which provides tools for local states, governments and tribes to reduce hazardous air pollution.

This is not the vision of the EPA that Americans support. We must ensure that vital public health and environment protections are maintained and funded. We urge you to oppose these drastic and dangerous cuts, and support continued funding for the EPA in the FY2017 and FY2018 appropriations process.

Sincerely,

Shaheen Blasts Trumpcare As “Out of Touch” With Stories From Working People In NH

On Senate Floor, Shaheen Shares Stories of Granite Staters Who Rely on the Affordable Care Act, Calls Trumpcare
“Totally Out of Touch” With Lives of Working Americans
 

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor today to share the stories of Granite Staters who have been helped by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, and against President Trump and Republican leadership’s proposed repeal bill. Shaheen highlighted her conversations with Granite Staters across New Hampshire whose lives have been saved thanks to the ACA and Medicaid Expansion. “For ordinary people in New Hampshire and across America, repealing the Affordable Care Act isn’t about politics, it’s about life and death,” said Shaheen. “It’s about people being cut off from treatment for substance use disorders.  It’s about cancer patients being turned away from life-saving therapies.  It’s about children with serious preexisting conditions being denied health coverage.”

During her remarks, Shaheen said Republican leadership’s legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act “would have catastrophic consequences” for New Hampshire. “It is especially distressing that Trumpcare would roll back expansion of the Medicaid program, which has been an indispensable tool in our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic,” Shaheen said. That “could terminate treatment for hundreds of thousands of people across America who are recovering from substance use disorders.”

Shaheen went on to share stories of Granite Staters who are getting treatment for substance use disorders with help from the ACA. One letter that Shaheen read was from Nansie Feeny of Concord, NH, who wrote: “[My son] Benjamin went to Keene State College with the same hopes and dreams many have when building their American dream.   While there he tried heroin.  Addiction overcame him… It was due to Obamacare that we were able to get him insured so that he could get the proper help he needed and [into] a suboxone program that assisted him with staying ‘clean.’  In April it will be a year for Ben in his recovery. Without Obamacare this would not have been possible.”

Shaheen urged her Senate colleagues to “come together to repair the flaws in this landmark law and ensure that it works even better for all Americans.”

During her remarks, Shaheen also voiced her concerns about Seema Verma, President Trump’s nominee to serve as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and said that she will vote against her confirmation. “Ms. Verma made it clear that [prenatal care and maternity coverage] should be strictly optional – and women should pay extra for it if they want it,” said Shaheen. “The American people do not want drastic cuts to Medicaid – cuts that will threaten coverage for children, seniors, people with disabilities, and patients receiving treatment for substance use disorders.”

 

New Hampshire Congressional Delegation Strongly Opposes GOP Repeal Of ACA

This week, Republicans released their new plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with something much worse.

“House Republicans should be ashamed of their new bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would hurt New Hampshire workers and families by ending Medicaid expansion, driving up premiums, leaving fewer people with coverage than before the law passed, and setting us back in the fight against the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid epidemic,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. “Despite months of pleas from their own constituents, who are terrified about losing their coverage, House Republicans have written a bill that shows total disregard for the people they are supposed to represent and instead bows to special interests. Unbelievably, after almost eight years, House Republicans still refuse to say how much their plan would cost and how many people it would force off their coverage – Republican leadership is trying to jam their bill through before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office even has the chance to score it. Instead of House Republicans’ backroom approach, the American people deserve an honest bipartisan debate on a bill that doesn’t erase the Affordable Care Act’s progress in driving the uninsured rate to the lowest on record, but instead makes needed fixes and improvements to our health care system to ensure all Granite Staters have access to affordable, quality healthcare.”

Congresswoman Kuster said the ACA is “not perfect” but “their proposal would increase costs, limit access, and cover fewer Americans” in her statement.

“It’s clear why Republicans in the House felt it necessary to keep this Affordable Care Act repeal plan hidden behind lock and key. Their proposal would increase costs, limit access, and cover fewer Americans. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, and I’m willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to improve the law, but not at the expense of the healthcare of thousands of Granite Staters and millions of Americans nationwide,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. 

“The plan would cut Medicaid spending and phase out the expansion, which has helped thousands of people in New Hampshire access health insurance and has increased treatment and recovery services for those struggling with substance use disorders. Repealing health care subsidies would drive up costs for seniors and less healthy individuals, and provisions to defund providers such as Planned Parenthood do nothing to increase access to care. This is a huge giveaway to the wealthiest Americans, and the plan appallingly even includes a tax break for insurance CEOs making more than half a million dollars. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to rethink this misguided approach and instead come to the table in good faith to help improve the system for all Americans,” Kuster added. 

The Alliance for Retired Americans called the bill “another tax giveaway” to the wealthiest Americans and would “gut” the Medicare Trust Fund.

“After seven years Republicans have finally shown us what their repeal of Obamacare looks like. It would be a disaster for older and working Americans and for our health care system,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “The bill repeals the increase in the Medicare payroll tax for high earners. That will reduce the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by 4 years, from 2029 to 2025. This is an insult to the fifty-seven million Medicare beneficiaries who have earned their guaranteed Medicare benefits, and many millions more who contribute to Medicare expecting it to be there when they retire.   

“The bill also cuts federal funding for Medicaid by $560 billion over 10 years. Cuts of this magnitude will force states to make deep cuts in the number of people who receive benefits, or the amount of health care provided. Over 70 million beneficiaries rely on Medicaid, including almost 6 million seniors who depend on it for their nursing home and home care services. The GOP’s message is, ‘Sorry, you’re out of luck.’

“Republicans have topped this off by changing the age rating for older Americans from 3:1 to 5:1, or even greater in some states. Enabling insurers to charge older Americans that much more will greatly increase costs for people over the age of 50,” Fiesta concluded. 

Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the bill would hurt middle class families in New Hampshire and across the U.S.

“This repeal bill would be nothing short of a disaster for healthcare coverage in New Hampshire and a devastating blow to our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Shaheen. “This is clearly a broken promise by President Trump and Republican leadership who assured the American public that nobody would be kicked off of their healthcare coverage. It’s unconscionable that this bill would decimate the Medicaid program and eliminate healthcare subsidies for the middle class while the wealthy get another tax break and insurance company CEOs get a pay bump. The bill also defunds Planned Parenthood, jeopardizing vital preventative and reproductive care for thousands of women in New Hampshire. It took Republican leadership seven years to come up with this repeal bill.  This proposal clearly demonstrates why Republican leadership should keep the Affordable Care Act and finally commit to working across the aisle to improve it.” 

Senator Maggie Hassan spoke out against the new House bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan, force older Americans and middle class families to pay more while providing tax breaks for insurance CEOs and the wealthiest Americans, force drastic cuts to New Hampshire’s traditional Medicaid program for children, seniors and people with disabilities, and defund Planned Parenthood.

At a press conference in the Capitol with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), Senator Hassan specifically highlighted the devastating impact that the House bill would have on New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan and efforts to combat the heroin, fentanyl and opioid crisis.

“Make no mistake – this so-called replacement plan would end Medicaid expansion, which experts have said is the most important tool available to fight the substance use crisis. The House Republican plan also hurts children, seniors and people with disabilities with drastic federal cuts to the traditional Medicaid program. It would force states to either cut services our citizens need or to raise taxes,” said Senator Hassan.

Senator Hassan added, “Repealing Medicaid expansion would severely hurt the ability of those on the front lines to save lives and turn the tide of this deadly substance abuse epidemic. Substance use treatment providers have been clear that if Medicaid expansion is repealed, they will have to significantly cut back on the help that they can provide to those in need. To pull the rug out from millions of people across the country who are seeking a lifeline from the throes of addiction is the height of irresponsibility. And we cannot – and we will not – let it happen.”

Trump Attempts To Ban Muslims, People And Leaders React, And The ACLU Hails Victory

With the stroke of his pen, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban refugees and citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The order also prevents Iraqis who supported the U.S. mission and face threats as a result, from coming to the United States.

This order was the fulfillment of one of Trump’s most divisive campaign promises blocking all “Muslims” from entering the United States as Trump portrayed all Muslims as terrorists.  Many fear that this ban is only the first step in the Trump administration agenda against Muslims as he repeatedly called for a national registry of Muslim’s living in the US.

“This executive order is un-American and grossly inhumane,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). “We are a nation of immigrants and should remain welcoming to all nations and faiths, particularly those who are fleeing violence and oppression. Refugees, from Syria in particular, are fleeing unspeakable terror and hunger, and it’s unconscionable that the United States will no longer provide any of these refugees a safe haven.

“This order also endangers our troops and diplomats. Discriminating based on religion and nationality severely undermines the local alliances and trust established by our troops and diplomats in the field. This order is so ill-considered that it is even barring Iraqi civilians who have provided essential assistance to the U.S. mission. We owe a tremendous debt to the brave Iraqis who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans in the field, putting themselves and their families at risk to help our soldiers and diplomats accomplish their mission and return home safely. To abandon them now would be a stain on our national honor,” Shaheen concluded. 

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) also spoke out against Trump’s “religious test” saying it goes against “the fundamental values that makes America the greatest country on earth”.

“President Trump’s executive action imposing a religious test on entry into the United States runs counter to the fundamental values that make America the greatest country on earth. It will also make us less safe. We must always be working to strengthen the vetting process for all entryways into the United States, but discriminating against individuals on the basis of their religion will only harm our national security interests.” 

“It is also disgraceful that these executive actions would turn away the brave men and women who have risked their lives to serve as interpreters for our military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is both our moral obligation and a national security imperative to assist those who have helped us, and I will support efforts by Senators Shaheen and McCain to authorize visas for these interpreters,” Hassan added. 

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH01) also condemned Trump’s executive order.

“I condemn President Trump’s decision to reject fundamental American values. Our nation’s founders built this nation on dreams of a better, more tolerant society, and now we must stand together and defend and preserve those ideals. I call on President Trump to immediately reverse his actions, and I invite all Granite Staters to join me in letting our refugee and immigrant neighbors know that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them as one community.”

Ray Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party, and candidate for Chair of the Democratic National Committee, called Trump’s move, “un-American”.

“President Trump may have set a record today in receiving a stunning blowback to his latest executive order restricting travel from Muslim countries. As a candidate for Chair, a member of the Democratic Party, and a patriotic American I condemn this disgrace in the strongest possible terms. It is illegal, reprehensible, and the very definition of un-American. I call upon President Trump to rescind this order, and I call upon lawmakers of both parties to resist this atrocity and remind the President of just what it means to be an American.”

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, takes pride in the fact that Planned Parenthood offers “high-quality care to everyone regardless of faith, country of origin, immigrant or refugee status,” lashed out at President Trump decision.  

“President Trump’s executive order signed today effectively restricts the ability of immigrants and refugees to enter this country based on their country of origin and religious background. This is an appalling attack on refugees and Muslims, designed to sow fear. The Planned Parenthood community is made up of people from all walks of life — including immigrants and refugees of all backgrounds and faith communities, including Muslims.

“Refugees, who have left everything behind and are forced to negotiate their safety in unfamiliar countries and language, also face unique barriers to care. We’ve seen this firsthand through our health centers in the U.S. – many of which proudly serve refugee communities – as well as through Planned Parenthood Global’s community-based partners in Africa and Latin America, who help so many women and families overcome unimaginable barriers to health including poverty, conflict and violence. These policies single out and target those most in need of access to care, and will only make it more difficult for these communities to access the health care they need.

“At Planned Parenthood we believe that health has no borders: the ability to live and thrive without fear of deportation, surveillance, or having your family torn apart, and the ability to access health care, are basic human rights. Planned Parenthood health centers are proud to provide high-quality care to everyone regardless of faith, country of origin, immigrant or refugee status, or to those who may otherwise have nowhere else to turn for health care. We are committed to standing with immigrants and refugees, in the U.S. and in many of their countries of origin, through our global partnerships.  

“These policies hurt the most vulnerable in the world, people fleeing in terror for their lives, or people simply coming from a different faith, just when they need our help the most. The United States was founded on values of refuge and compassion, which is why we are prepared to stand alongside our partners to fight back against this hate and discrimination,” Richards concluded. 

Immediately after the order was signed, outraged Americans took to the streets in protests.  They packed into airports across the country as immigrants were detained and refused entrance into the US even though they had legal visa’s.

The same thing spontaneously happened in Houston, Texas.

By far the largest was in New York and JFK’s international terminal where thousands showed up to protest. Protesters were joined by the NY Taxi Cab Alliance, a union of taxi drivers, who refused to pick up anyone at the airport during the protest.

AND IT WORKED! Last night, a federal judge granted the American Civil Liberties Union’s request for a nationwide temporary injunction that will block the deportation of all people stranded in U.S. airports under President Trump’s new Muslim ban. The ACLU and other legal organizations filed a lawsuit on behalf of individuals who were subject to the ban.  The lead plaintiffs have been detained by the U.S. government and threatened with deportation even though they have valid visas to enter the United States.

Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project who argued the case, said:

“This ruling preserves the status quo and ensures that people who have been granted permission to be in this country are not illegally removed off U.S. soil.”

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, had this reaction to the ruling:

“Clearly the judge understood the possibility for irreparable harm to hundreds of immigrants and lawful visitors to this country. Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders. On week one, Donald Trump suffered his first loss in court.”

(The stay order is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/darweesh-v-trump-order)

Senators And Representatives Send Letter To President Trump Asking For VA To Be Exempt From Hiring Freeze

(Washington, DC) – Ranking Members of the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees, Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Representative Tim Walz (D-Minn.), today led a group of 53 members of Congress to demand President Trump exempt the entire VA and all veterans seeking federal jobs from his executive order that freezes federal hiring.

The members say Trump’s hiring freeze will have devastating impacts on veterans and their families.

“A hiring freeze at the VA will delay veterans’ access to health care and resolution of their disability claims, which for many of our nation’s heroes provides a sole source of income to them and their families,” the members wrote. “Our nation’s veterans should not be made to sacrifice any more than they already have while you review federal hiring.”

The members additionally called on Trump to exempt all veterans seeking employment from his hiring freeze, underscoring that veterans make up 31 percent of the federal workforce. A hiring freeze across the federal government will hurt veterans, many of whom are transitioning from the military to civilian service and may be disabled.

“The negative impacts of this freeze will be felt across the country and disproportionately affect those men and women who have honorably served in our military,” they added.

The Senators and Representatives emphasized that the hiring freeze will add to the chronic workforce shortages that are plaguing the VA, and that more doctors, nurses and administrative staff are needed at VA facilities to reduce wait times across the country and make payments on time. 

The VA has reported it currently has more than 45,000 vacancies.

Dr. David Shulkin, Trump’s VA Secretary nominee, has said “I need to fill every one of those openings in order to make sure that we’re doing the very best for our veterans.”  

The VA has also reported that more than 40 percent of its senior officials are currently eligible for retirement.  Efforts to replace each of these employees would be dramatically impaired by the hiring freeze.       

There are currently more than 450,000 veterans waiting for the VA to fulfill the government’s commitment and provide them with the benefits they earned while serving the country. 

“I urge you to re-evaluate this hiring freeze and take into account the effect it will have on veterans who will have to wait longer for earned benefits,” the group added.

Acting VA Director Robert Snyder this week said the VA will continue to hire front-line caregivers despite the President’s executive order, but Senator Hassan and the other members want the entire VA exempt from the hiring freeze—including support staff, schedulers, IT specialists, and payment processers.

Both New Hampshire Senators Shaheen and Hassan joined Congresswoman Annie Kuster in signing the letter to President Trump to exempt the VA from the hiring freeze. 

The text of the letter is available below:


Dear President Trump:

We are deeply troubled that your freeze on the hiring of federal civilian employees will have a negative and disproportionate impact on our nation’s veterans.  As such, we urge you to take stock of this hiring freeze’s effect on our nation’s veterans and exempt the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as well as any veterans seeking federal employment from your Memorandum Regarding the Hiring Freeze. 

While there can be no debate that the federal government, including VA, should be more efficient in its delivery of services to all Americans, a hiring freeze at VA will delay veterans’ access to health care and resolution of their disability claims, which for many of our nation’s heroes provides a sole source of income to them and their families.  Our nation’s veterans should not be made to sacrifice any more than they already have while you review federal hiring. 

Have you considered how this hiring freeze will affect VA’s ability to provide veterans with access to health care?  For years, VA has faced chronic medical personnel shortages, particularly in rural areas.  As a result of the hiring freeze, the Department’s inability to hire clinicians and the administrative support teams to schedule appointments will have a direct impact on the number of veterans on waiting lists at facilities across the country.  Further, this will have an impact on community providers, who will be forced to continue waiting for delayed payments without VA having the ability to hire employees to process payments on their claims.  We urge you to re-evaluate this hiring freeze and take into account veterans who will face increased delay in accessing health care.

Have you considered how this hiring freeze will affect VA’s ability to provide veterans with decisions on their appeals for disability compensation?  More than 450,000 appeals are pending – that means that more than 450,000 veterans are waiting for the U.S. government to provide them with benefits earned while a disability was incurred while serving in our armed services.  Our nation’s veterans cannot afford an unnecessary wait to receive the benefits they have earned serving our country.  We urge you to re-evaluate this hiring freeze and take into account the effect it will have on veterans who will have to wait longer for earned benefits — whether it’s disability, survivor or education benefits, or whether it’s vocational rehabilitation or job training services.

Have you considered how this hiring freeze will impact those veterans who apply to federal jobs?  Veterans comprise 31 percent of the federal workforce and most receive a well-earned hiring preference when they apply for federal jobs.  An across-the-board freeze will hurt these veterans – many of whom are transitioning from military to civilian service, and many of whom are disabled. The negative impacts of this freeze will be felt across the country and disproportionately affect those men and women who have honorably served in our military. 

Should you move forward with this hiring freeze, one issue that must not be overlooked is VA’s little-known mission of providing support to national efforts to prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and man-made catastrophes.  We urge you to classify VA’s delivery of health care as a national security and public safety responsibility, as outlined in your Presidential Memorandum Regarding Hiring Freeze, and exempt it from this hiring freeze.  To do otherwise is to jeopardize the national security and public safety of our nation. 

Mr. President, this hiring freeze will have a dramatic impact on the quality of health care and benefits veterans receive.  We urge you to reconsider.

See the full list of co-signers here.

Senators Push Legislation To Increase Child Care Tax Credit

Shaheen, Gillibrand, Schatz Introduce ‘Right Start’ Bill to Expand Child Care Tax Credit for Working Families

 The Right Start Child Care and Education Act would make child care more affordable, strengthening the economy 

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Right Start Child Care and Education Act, legislation that would expand the child care tax credit and provide other assistance to help families afford child care. The legislation would expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC), which was first enacted in 1976 to help working families pay for child care. The tax credit does not reflect the current costs of child care, which have risen since the CDCTC was first enacted and can exceed $10,000 annually. In New Hampshire, the cost of child care is nearly $12,000 for a single child. 

“The rising costs of child care is a real burden on families in New Hampshire and across the country, and the Right Start Child Care and Education Act would provide much-needed relief for parents working to make ends meet,” said Senator Shaheen. “Making child care more affordable will help parents, especially working mothers, re-join the workforce, and strengthen our economy.”

“This bill would help reduce the enormous financial burden that comes from paying for child care,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Child care is essential for many families with new babies and young children, but in some states, including New York, it costs as much as college tuition. This legislation would go a long way toward making child care more affordable for families, and I will continue urging all of my colleagues to support it in the new Congress.” 

“Increasing the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit will provide much-needed assistance for working families,” said Senator Schatz. “In Hawai‘i, child care can cost more than $10,000 per year, and nationally costs are rising. This tax credit will help provide economic security for families and allow parents to go back to work.” 

The Right Start Child Care and Education Act would increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, making it equal to 35 to 50 percent of eligible expenses, up significantly from the current range of 20 to 35 percent, and increase the maximum eligible expenses from $3,000 per child to $6,000 per child. The bill would also improve assistance for lower-income families by making the credit refundable, and make it easier for employers to provide working parents with childcare by increasing the tax credit for employer-provided childcare.  It also aims to improve the availability of high-quality child care by adding a new tax credit for college graduates who become childcare professionals. 

The Right Start Child Care and Education Act was introduced in the 113th Congress, and again in the 114th Congress, by fmr. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and co-sponsored by Senators Shaheen, Gillibrand and Schatz.

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