Thursday, May 25, 2017

CONYERS Statement On Circuit Court Ruling To Block Trump's Muslim/Refugee Ban

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) released the following statement after the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a block on President Donald Trump's revised Muslim and refugee ban executive order:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“Today, yet another court has struck down Trump's un-American Muslim and refugee ban.  Even in its so-called revised form, the courts have not closed their eyes to the undeniable truth--that the ban was intended to harm Muslims and thus is in conflict with the First Amendment's prohibition on the establishment of religion.

“The second travel ban executive order, like the first, undoubtedly targets Muslims and is unconstitutional. I’m pleased that the judicial branch has been steadfast in their commitment to upholding the constitution.”

In April 2017, Ranking Member Conyers helped lead 165 Democratic Members of Congress in filing a brief as amici curiae in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the case of International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trumpto highlight the unlawfulness of Trump’s second travel ban executive order.

In their amicus brief, the Members wrote, “…despite the Second Order’s self-serving claims to the contrary, it delivers on President Trump’s repeated promises as a candidate to limit the entry of Muslims into the country.  In so doing, it flies in the face of one of our most deeply rooted constitutional values: that the government must not favor (or disfavor) any particular religion. As the Constitution’s text and history make clear, the Religion Clauses—both Article VI’s prohibition on the use of religious tests, and the First Amendment’s promise of “free exercise of religion” and prohibition on “laws respecting an establishment of religion”—prohibit a religious test that singles out a religion for discriminatory treatment under our immigration laws. . . . The best way to protect the security of the nation and to uphold foundational American values is to respect the Constitution’s fundamental protections and the laws passed by Congress.”

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CONYERSL Billionaires Posing As Populists Won't Support Trade Deals For Working People

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Last week, President Trump’s administration notified Congress of his intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Act, better known as NAFTA.  As someone who fought against NAFTA’s passage and who has watched unfair competition with low-wage nations tear apart his district—count me among the unimpressed. This is likely to be just another trade deal written by billionaires for the benefit of billionaires.

Donald Trump narrowly won my home state in 2016 on a simple promise: he was going to undo, or scrap the unfair trade deals that were hurting Michigan workers.  He promised this despite his past support for free trade, but regardless of his history, people believed he honestly opposed trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Regardless of Trump’s sincerity, he appeared to give voice to the angst that Michigan workers rightfully feel about the impact of NAFTA over the past 20 years. Our workers are tired of competing against Mexican workers who make pennies on the dollar. Michiganders hate that our auto trade deficit—in our largest manufacturing industry—has tripled since NAFTA was passed to over $130 billion as of 2013.

And while NAFTA isn’t the only globalized trade force driving down American wages, Michiganders feel like it was the slippery slope that led so many manufacturers to pack up and leave.  Workers in Michigan feared that Hillary Clinton would not be in their corner on trade. That was costly for her, ultimately proving fatal in the narrow loss she suffered in Michigan.

Decades of losses under NAFTA aren’t easy to fix. Our economy has become so intertwined with Mexico’s that we cannot simply end NAFTA—we have to reform it.  That requires work and that requires a new approach.  To succeed, we need real outsiders who represent working people to write our trade deals—not billionaires like Betsy DeVos and Wilbur Ross and Steven Mnuchin, who will always put Wall Street before Detroit.

Right now, President Trump is relying on donors, family and staff to tell him what a good deal looks like.  With the exception of his Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, who has a reputation as an independent on these matters, Trump’s people are the same ones who have fought for NAFTA and its successors to make it easier to offshore jobs, break up unions, and force workers to compete against people being paid a few dollars a day.

The reason I oppose these billionaire former CEOs writing our trade laws is simple: bargaining power.  If their workers in the United States want higher wages, a CEO can bargain them down by threatening to offshore their jobs.  If environmental agencies or activists want them to stop damaging the environment, the corporate executives call them job killers and threaten to move to a country with fewer regulations and a weaker civil society.

If we want to have fair trade, then we need to be able to enforce the restrictions that make trade fair. But that’s easier said than done.  Enforcing rules and regulations is hard at home and it only gets harder oversees. If Trump gets his way, and guts the American agencies who oversee foreign countries compliance with existing trade rules—it’s going to be nearly impossible.

So far, Trump’s done very little to encourage those who want a fair renegotiation of NAFTA.  After a campaign where he talked tough, he has done little as president to back it up.  He called China a currency manipulator repeatedly during the campaign, but now he says they are not—all while his son-in-law’s family business pitches deals to Chinese investors on their access to President Trump.

At this point in his struggling presidency, Donald Trump needs to do something to fulfill his populist promises and that isn’t unconstitutional, unwise and against American’s interests. Renegotiating NAFTA to protect American workers’ jobs—and workers abroad from exploitation—could be that act.  In order to do so, he needs to have labor unions, consumer advocates, and environmental and safety regulators leading—not advising, but leading—that effort. 

We need people who care deeply about the full implications of trade to be heard with this deal. What we don’t need is another trade deal written by big business for big business.  Unfortunately, looking at Trump’s Cabinet and the people who we know have access to him, another big business trade deal seems like exactly what he’s going to push. We must remain vigilant and prepared to hold his feet to the fire to ensure good jobs for Michigan families. 

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CONYERS: After New Sessions Russia Report, Conyers Calls For Committee Investigation Into Sessions Misstatments

Washington, D.C. - After CNN reported that the Justice Department revealed Attorney General Sessions failed to disclose his contacts with Russian officials as part of his security clearance,  Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“The latest report detailing how Attorney General Jeff Sessions once again concealed his contacts with Russian officials points to a troubling pattern of behavior by the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

“In the face of an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's contact with the Russian government--an investigation from which Mr. Sessions is recused because of his failure to disclose similar contacts--the Attorney General’s decision to omit this information from his security clearance application demands the House Judiciary Committee’s careful review. 

“Chairman Goodlatte should immediately convene a hearing on this matter. We can no longer delay conducting oversight of the Office of the Attorney General.”

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have long called on Chairman Bob Goodlatte to join them in their oversight efforts.

On March 2nd, all House Judiciary Committee Democrats sent a letter to former Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey and former U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., Channing D. Phillips, calling for an immediate criminal investigation into U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ statements before Congress in regards to his communications with Russian officials.

On March 10th, every Democrat on the Committee called on Chairman Goodlatte to “get moving on Trump oversight” by holding formal committee hearings on Russia’s interference with the election and related matters. 

On March 31st, Reps. John Conyers, Jr., Hakeem Jeffries and Ted Lieu, called for Sessions to clarify his involvement with the Russia investigation, after his statements on leaks of classified information.

On May 11th, all seventeen Democrats on the House Committee on the Judiciary sent a letter to Chairman Bob Goodlatte, urging him to conduct immediate hearings into the firing of James Comey. 

On May 12th, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein raising “grave concerns” about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ direct participation in President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey despite the fact that he previously recused himself from any actions involving the investigations of the Trump and Clinton presidential campaigns.

On May 16th, all 33 Democratic Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on the Judiciary, sent a detailed letter to their respective Republican Chairmen outlining their demand for an immediate investigation into the actions of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and top White House aides.

The House Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It also has jurisdiction over the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CONYERS: Top House Judiciary Democrats Call On Trump To Provide Details On All Foreign Gifts & Emoluments

Washington, D.C. – Today, top House Judiciary Committee Democrats sent a letter, below, to President Donald Trump to request that he provide a detailed accounting of all items constituting a “present” or “Emolument” from all foreign governments and their agents. This letter comes after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a document from the Trump Organization, also below, which states, in part, “To fully and completely identify all patronage at our Properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand.”

In their letter, the Members wrote, “…the Trump Organization indicated it would be ‘impractical’ to ‘fully and completely identify all patronage’ at the Organization’s properties.   As a result, it is now all the more important that we ask you directly to provide an accounting of items constituting a “present” or “Emolument” from foreign governments, their agents, and instrumentalities as set forth below.”

The letter is signed by House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI); House Judiciary Subcommittee Ranking Members Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), David N. Cicilline (D-RI); and House Judiciary Committee Vice Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD).

In March 2017, Democrats on the Committee released a document to highlight 15 facts rebutting the myths President Trump has perpetrated regarding the applicability of ethics laws to the Executive Office of the President, his conflicts of interest, his plans to address those conflicts of interest, and his claims regarding the application of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. 

In February 2017,  House Judiciary Committee Republicans voted to kill a resolution of inquiry which would have directed the Justice Department to provide the House of Representatives with information relevant to President Trump’s conflicts of interest, his potential violations of the Emoluments Clause, and ties between his campaign advisors and the Russian regime.

Judiciary Democrats Letter For Trump To Details On All Foreign Gifts & Emoluments by Beverly Tran on Scribd

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CONYERS: Members Of Congress Press Conference On Medicare For All Legislation

On Wednesday, May 24th at 9:45AM, Members of Congress held a press conference at the House Triangle to provide a new update on legislation to expand Medicare to a national, single payer system. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), the sponsor of H.R. 676, The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, will be joined by Members of Congress, along with representatives from Physicians for a National Health Plan and National Nurses United.

In attendance were:

Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives  
Congressman Keith Ellison, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair
Congressman Ro Khanna
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman
Congressman Jamie Raskin
Congressman Adriano Espaillat
Congressman Peter Welch
Dr. Philip Verhoef, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, ICU physician, University of Chicago
Jean Ross, RN., Co-President, National Nurses United
Additional Members of Congress

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CONYERS: Heartless Trump Budget Hurts Nation's Most Vulnerable And Undermines Access To Justice

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), today released the following statement on President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget:

Dean of the U.S, House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“There is no doubt that President Trump’s budget starves many essential government programs across the board.  These proposed cuts threaten to undermine the Justice Department’s critical public safety efforts and jeopardize essential community-based justice programs,” said Conyers

Guts Legal Services Program for America’s Most Vulnerable:

Conyers continued, “The Trump Budget effectively eliminates the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a program that for more than 40 years, with bipartisan support, has provided civil legal representation of hundreds of thousands of Americans in every county in every state and the territories.  By cutting all LSC funding, the Trump Budget would harm America's most vulnerable: seniors victimized by consumer fraud scams, families facing foreclosure and eviction, women trying to escape domestic abuse, and veterans seeking promised benefits.  Last year alone, LSC grantees helped nearly 100,000 veterans and their family members nationwide.  Rather than address the enormous gap between the number of people who need legal services and the resources currently available to LSC to meet their needs, the Trump budget instead guts this critical program, which is particularly needed in rural communities where 20% of the Nation’s population resides in rural areas, but only 2% of lawyers serve these communities.”

Strips Funding from National Instant Criminal Background Check Improvement Program:

“After the Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007, Congress passed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act, a bipartisan measure to require and fund the addition of qualifying mental health information into the background check system,” said Conyers.  “The Trump budget reduces funding for this effort. We must maintain our commitment to making sure this system is as comprehensive as possible to reduce the chances that guns are sold in error to people who are legally prohibited from possessing them.”

Harms Crime Prevention Efforts:

Conyers continued, “The Trump budget severely underfunds programs that help the formerly incarcerated get back on their feet. At a time when we must focus our efforts on programs that actually work to reduce crime, we must not back away from funding critical programs under the Second Chance Act that help prisoners successfully transition back to their communities and thereby reduce recidivism.” 

Americans Foot the Bill for Trump’s Border Wall:

“This budget funds a militarized police force which has the potential to expose Americans to greater racial profiling and additional interrogations at the border. With this budget, Americans will foot the bill for Trump’s un-American border wall,” Conyers concluded.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

CONYERS: Clark Atlanta University to Award Four Honorary Degrees to Iconic Trailblazers

ATLANTA (May 17, 2017)    Clark Atlanta University will bestow four doctoral degrees honoris causa during the 2017 Commencement Convocation Monday, May 22, 8 a.m. at Panther Stadium, 735 Beckwith St. SW. “These four pioneers were selected carefully from the areas of civil and human rights, politics and STEM,” says Ronald A. Johnson, President of Clark Atlanta University. “Their rich legacy is to be honored and celebrated.”

Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa -  U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): Congressman Conyers represents Michigan’s 13th congressional district. Conyers is the longest serving member of the United States Congress, since 1965. He is the first African-American to hold the distinction as Dean. With more than 50 years of public service, Conyers has been the proponent of dozens of legislative bills including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Conyers was the first to introduce the original Martin Luther King Holiday Act of 1983.

Doctor of Human Letters Honoris Causa – William Pickard, Ph.D.: Pickard began his entrepreneurial career as a McDonald’s franchisee more than 45 years ago. He is the chairman and CEO of VITEC and Global Automotive Alliance. In 1982 Pres. Ronald Reagan nominated, and Senate confirmed, Pickard as the first chairman of the African Development Foundation (ADF).

Doctor of Science Honoris Causa (in absentia) - Retired NASA Mathematician Katherine G. Johnson: Johnson made significant contributions to the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) program. During segregation Johnson defeated an oppressive work environment while calculating the trajectories, launch windows and return patterns for NASA’s space shuttle programs. Her career was one of the inspirations behind the box office film “Hidden Figures.”  “I loved learning at all times” says Johnson. “You’ll do better in life if you want to learn, want to teach, want to help others.”

Doctor of Laws Degree Honoris Causa  - Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.: Rev. Jackson has made significant contributions to the Civil Rights movement and to America’s political and religious landscapes. In the 1980s Rev. Jackson fought twice for the Democratic presidential nomination. For his contributions to society, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000 from President Bill Clinton. Rev. Jackson is the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Jackson champions an array of causes including civil rights, economic justice and peace. 

For more information on the 2017 Clark Atlanta University Commencement schedule

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