Thursday, December 27, 2012

Conyers Introduces the “Protecting Students from Worthless Degrees Act”

Making Programmatic Accreditation or State Licensure a Requirement for Educational Study Programs

(DETROIT) – This afternoon, Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) introduced the Protecting Students from Worthless Degrees Act. Currently, schools are eligible for three major federal financial aid programs totaling more than $160 billion even if they lack state licensing or programmatic accreditation for specific programs they offer (Title IV under the Department of Education, GI Bill under the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Tuition Assistance under the Department of Defense). The Protecting Students from Worthless Degrees Act will address this problem by making programmatic accreditation or state licensure a requirement for programs of study when such licensure or accreditation is needed for students to do the job they were prepared for by these programs. Specifically, the bill requires that programs offered by degree-granting institutions will be eligible for federal education dollars only if their graduates fully qualify to take any examination, be certified or licensed, or meet any other academically-related preconditions that are required for entry into the job market for which the degree is supposed to prepare them. For pre-accredited programs, the bill requires institutions to inform students about the lack of full accreditation, and about the effects on their financial aid, if such accreditation is delayed or deniedRep. Conyers issued this statement following the introduction of the bill:

“Since the first G.I. Bill in 1944, federal educational financial aid programs, including student loans and Pell grants, have given generations of Americans the opportunity to pursue an education beyond high school, and obtain the skills and training needed to succeed in the economy,” said Conyers.

“Such aid has empowered millions of Americans who otherwise would not have been able to afford a postsecondary education and has helped build our nation’s middle class. However, with the rise of for-profit and non-accredited programs, serious concerns are being raised about the educational value that students are getting for their hard-earned benefits and financial aidAs a result, legislative action is urgently needed to ensure that such programs are not funding high-cost, low-quality programs that do not lead to successful outcomes and career opportunities for students and safeguard America’s federal investment in higher education.”

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Conyers Opposes Republican Plan to Protect Millionaires and Cut Social Security Benefits

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement criticizing Speaker Boehner’s refusal to accept a balanced approach to avert the end-of-year automatic spending cuts and tax increases, as well as the Speaker’s decision to include Social Security benefit cuts in these discussions:

“Despite clear evidence that the American people support balancing the deficit by requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes, Speaker Boehner announced a plan today that would allow millionaires to keep their tax cuts,” said Conyers.

“This so-called ‘Plan B’ is not a balanced approach to deficit reduction and it should be rejected.   

“I resent that Speaker Boehner has chosen to put cuts to Social Security benefits for current and future retirees on the table as a way to resolve the budget crisis.

“The change in the way Social Security calculates yearly cost-of-living-adjustments, called ‘Chained CPI,’ would place an increased  burden on elderly Americans - nearly 70 percent of whom rely on Social Security for more than half of their income and whose benefits average less than $15,000 per year.  Under this proposed policy, benefits would be cut by 0.3 percent annually and would increase over time.  As a result, the older and poorer a beneficiary becomes, the larger the benefit cut.

“The fact that Republicans would seriously consider cutting the current and future Social Security benefits of all Americans to benefit the wealthy few is unconscionable and unacceptable.  We cannot ask our seniors and the most vulnerable to bear the burden of deficit reduction.

“If Congress were to pursue this unwise course of action, we would not only be embracing a deeply unpopular policy, but also ignoring the will of the American people. A recent poll by Hart Associates in the days before the November election found that an overwhelming 84 percent of Americans said they did not want their Social Security benefits cut. 104 House Democrats have also already stated their opposition to including Social Security in any deficit reduction package. 

“Any debt deal that cuts Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits is unacceptable.”

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Conyers Offers Sympathies to Victims of Newtown Shooting, Calls for Legislation to Reduce Gun Violence

(DETROIT) –Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement today in response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut:

“Today, our hearts go out to the victims of the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  We offer our condolences to their families,” said Conyers.

“The level of gun violence in this country is unacceptable.  There have been too many tragedies: the shootings in Columbine and Virginia Tech, the shooting of citizens including Congresswoman Giffords in Tucson, the Sikh Temple shootings in Wisconsin, the movie theater shooting in Aurora, and now Newtown.  And there is tragic gun violence on our streets every day.  Every year, on average, almost 100,000 people in America are shot and killed with a firearm.

“In response to this wave of violence, which reaches far beyond this one tragic incident, we must commit ourselves to taking action to review and strengthen our national gun laws as we approach the beginning of a new year and a new Congress.“

The bills that Congressman Conyers has co-sponsored this Congress to protect the country from gun violence include measures to ban high capacity ammunition magazines, require background checks for all gun sales, and prohibit the transfer of multiple firearms to anyone who is prohibited by law from possessing guns or who intends to use the guns unlawfully.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Conyers: Governor Snyder’s “Right-to-Work” Policy an Affront to Michigan’s Proud Labor History

(WASHINGTON) – Yesterday afternoon, the Republican Majority in the Michigan House of Representatives approved two pieces of legislation drastically limiting collective bargaining rights in the state. House Bill 4003, which was approved 58-51, instituted “right-to-work” for public sector unions. A companion bill, Senate Bill 116, applied the same “right-to-work” limitations to private sector unions. This legislation was approved 58-52.  These bills also included an appropriation, which has the effect of immunizing these bills from being repealed via referendum at a later date.  Late yesterday evening, Governor Rick Snyder signed both of these bills into law. Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement in response:

“This past February, I witnessed Governor Snyder testify on Capitol Hill that so-called ‘right-to-work’ legislation was not the best course for Michigan, and that the proposal was far too divisive. In less than a year, Governor Snyder has pulled a complete about-face,” said Conyers.

“I am appalled by the actions of Governor Snyder and the Republicans in the State Legislature, forcing through inflammatory legislation during the lame duck session.  It is clear that they have ignored the lessons of Michigan’s history. Our state’s economy was built on a foundation of mutual respect between labor and business, not misguided Tea Party ideology that Governor Snyder has recently signed on to.

“The ‘right-to-work’ bills signed into law are an attack on the civil and human rights of the people of this great state and serve as an inspiration to we who believe in creating an economy that works for all.  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, as far back as 1961, the ‘right-to-work’ law, ‘is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.’”

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Conyers: Governor Snyder Putting Divisive Policies Ahead of Michigan’s Working Families

(DETROIT) – Yesterday, Republican leadership in the Michigan State Legislature, alongside Governor Snyder, unexpectedly announced their support of right-to-work legislation. Later in the evening, the Republican controlled Michigan House of Representatives voted to approve the legislation 58-52 and the Republican controlled Michigan Senate passed a similar bill 22-16. Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement in response:

“After promising to govern Michigan as a unifier, and even stating that so-called ‘right-to-work’ legislation was not on his political agenda, Governor Snyder has gone back on his promises and turned his back on Michigan workers,” said Conyers.

“Michigan’s proud history was built by the working men and women of this state, and the labor movement has and continues to play a monumental role in building our middle class. Expanding the middle class to include an increasing number of families in Michigan will require a robust labor movement, not an embattled one.

“I strongly urge Governor Snyder to reject this divisive ‘right-to-work’ measure that was crammed through the State Legislature during the lame duck session. Working families in Michigan are counting on allies in their public officials, not adversaries.”

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