Friday, November 29, 2013

Conyers Flags $301 Million in Prescription Drug Savings for Michigan Seniors Under the Affordable Care Act

(DETROIT) – Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released new data showing that seniors and individuals with disabilities who have Medicare prescription drug plan coverage have saved $8.9 billion on prescription drugs due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that closed the “donut hole” coverage gap in Medicare Part D. In Michigan, 142,120 individuals with disabilities and seniors saved more than $142 million on prescription drugs in 2013 alone – an average of more than $1,000 for each beneficiary – and more than $301 million since passage of the Affordable Care Act. After the release of this new data, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, seniors and individuals with disabilities who were enrolled in Medicare Part D – the prescription drug benefit program – ran the risk of falling into the ‘donut hole’ coverage gap that would send out of pocket expenses for prescription drug benefits skyrocketing. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the ‘donut hole’ has been closed, saving seniors as well as people with disabilities millions on prescription drug benefits. In Michigan alone, 142,120 individuals have saved more than $301 million since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, with an average beneficiary saving more than $1,000 each. It is clear that the historic Affordable Care Act is already having a positive impact in aiding consumers and reshaping our previously broken healthcare system,” said Conyers.

Under the discount program in the Affordable Care Act, in 2010, anyone with a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan who reached the prescription drug ‘donut hole’ got a $250 rebate. In 2011, beneficiaries who landed in the ‘donut hole’ began receiving discounts on covered brand-name drugs and savings on generic drugs. Next year, Medicare Part D participants who fall into the ‘donut hole’ will receive savings of about 53 percent on the cost of brand name drugs and 28 percent on the cost of generic drugs. These savings and Medicare coverage will gradually increase until 2020, when the ‘donut hole’ will be closed.

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The Annual Open Enrollment period for health and drug plans began on October 15 and ends on December 7. For more information on Medicare Open Enrollment and to compare benefits and prices of 2014 Medicare health and drug plans, please visit:http://www.cms.gov/Center/Special-Topic/Open-Enrollment-Center.html.
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Conyers, Durbin, Cummings & Bicameral Members Request Justice Department Collect More Data on “Stand Your Ground” Laws

(DETROIT) – Today, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), along with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Va.),  Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), and Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that the Department of Justice collect additional information on “Stand Your Ground” laws to fully document their disparate racial impacts in communities across the country.

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.): “As the recent tragic shooting in Wayne County, Michigan demonstrated, the increasing prevalence of ‘stand your ground’ laws are having a negative impact on public safety. While some studies exist demonstrating how ‘stand your ground’ laws have a disproportionate impact on minority communities, it is important for the Department of Justice to collect the information necessary for us to better understand the impact of 'stand your ground' laws on the escalation of conflicts and the tragic use of firearms. This is an important opportunity for the Department and the FBI to work with the states to shed more light on this threat to public safety.”

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.): “More than half of all Americans live in states with ‘stand your ground’ laws on the books. We learned in a recent hearing I chaired that these laws have led to increased vence and wider racial disparities, but the federal government does not collect adequate data on these laws’ impact. That must change.”

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.): “The acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer and the proliferation of stand your ground laws across our nation have added fuel to the flames of racial profiling and discrimination. Getting states to collect and examine data regarding the impact of stand your ground laws in our communities will provide local leaders and advocates with the tools necessary to address the disparate and deadly outcomes that can arise from the expansion of these laws.”

Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.): “Studies show that ‘stand your ground’ laws contribute to increases in homicides and exacerbate racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice, however, has no comprehensive, accurate way of monitoring the impact of these laws on public safety and civil rights.  The steps we call for today will help the DOJ evaluate the impact of these laws.”

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio): “The use of ‘stand your ground’ laws by civilians and the application of the law by courts too often rely on decisions made by those with cultural biases. These prejudices often affect determination if one’s life was truly in danger, while also eliminating all responsibility by those invoking the law to retreat and peacefully end an incident. No individual in our country should live with the fear of death based on race or age, and no individual’s death should be justified because they had the appearance of guilt, rather than being proven to have done anything wrong.”

Congressman Luis Guti√©rrez (D-Ill.): “The use of a weapon to kill another human being is very rarely ‘justified’ in my mind, so I am joining with Senators and Congressmen requesting that more data be collected about the circumstances and sheer volume of killings that are ruled ‘justified’ under ‘stand your ground’ laws and how these laws have a disparate racial impact in our communities.”

In their letter today, the Members requested that the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report for “Justifiable Homicides” be amended to include data on the location of the homicide, whether it resulted in arrest or prosecution and the justification if not, and whether the basis for the finding of “justifiable homicide” was “stand your ground.”
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Conyers Announces Grant Awards to Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall, Michigan Opera Theatre, & Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) announced $185,000 in grant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for prominent artistic and cultural institutions in Detroit. Specifically, the NEA provided $30,000 in grant funding to the Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan to support an arts and culture marketing initiative focusing on music journalism, $75,000 in grant funding for the Detroit Institute of Arts for an exhibition entitled “Art of American Dance,” $50,000 in grant funding to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall to support solo orchestra performances and educational activities, and $30,000 in grant funding to the Michigan Opera Theatre to support performances of “A View from the Bridge.” After the grant recipients were made public, Rep. Conyers issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
"I am so pleased that the National Endowment for the Arts has recognized the robust art scene in metropolitan Detroit, and awarded four of our prominent cultural institutions grant funding to build on our artistic heritage. I can think of no institutions more deserving than the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall, the Michigan Opera Theatre, and the Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan,” said Conyers.

“In particular, these grants will fund an exhibition on the ‘Art of American Dance’ at the Detroit Institute of Arts, orchestra performances at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall, multiple performances of ‘A View from the Bridge’ at the Michigan Opera Theatre, and a program by the Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan to increase artistic awareness in metropolitan Detroit. All of these publicly financed grants are matched with private contributions, and generate - on average - $9 from private sources for every $1 in NEA grant funding. These awards are both a boost to our local economy and a boon to our growing artistic community. I thank the NEA for the important work they conduct and I applaud them for their commitment to preserving and emboldening Detroit’s cultural legacy.”
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Ranking Member Conyers Statement at Patent Markup

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a full committee Markup of H.R. 3309, the “Innovation Act.” During his opening remarks, Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“There are few economic issues our Committee or this Congress will face that are more important than our patent law system. Intellectual property is responsible for nearly half of our Nation’s gross domestic product and one third of all jobs in the U.S. economy.  Our patent system, while not perfect, is the envy of the world. As I have stated before, I believe the issues of non-practicing entities or so-called patent ‘trolls,’ present some unique problems that are worthy of congressional attention. There is a disconnect when shell corporations -- with little or no assets -- can systematically abuse the patent system. If we don’t know who these shell companies are, and – if they are able to unfairly threaten hundreds, if not thousands, of unsuspecting retailers –  we have a problem that requires a legislative solution. Unfortunately, the legislation before us overreacts to these issues and it would severely undermine the role of our federal judiciary in general and innovation in particular. 

“I have been working my entire career to help foster an independent judiciary that can resolve disputes between parties on a fair and dispassionate basis based on an evenhanded set of rules. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what is happening now. The federal circuit and the Supreme Court are in the midst of altering the rules for patent fee shifting, discovery, and pleadings, among other things. There is little doubt that the federal judiciary – as evidenced by its exceedingly deliberative rulemaking process – is in a far better position than 535 Members of Congress to set the proper rules for their own court rooms on these matters.

“Furthermore, by unbalancing the patent system we send a signal to inventors –  the very people doing the research and developing the cures that we benefit from every day – that their inventions are not worthy of full legal protection. This means that the next cure for cancer or technological break though may be stymied and never come, or may be developed abroad rather than in the U.S.

“And, by limiting the Committee to a single legislative hearing, by skipping subcommittee and moving to markup prematurely, we make it all the more difficult for Members and stakeholders to provide meaningful input into the process.

“There is a broad range of patent experts and stakeholders who agree with me, and have expressed significant concern if not outright opposition to the bill before us, including the:



                      Federal Judicial Conference,
                      the American Bar Association,
                      the American Intellectual Property Law Association,
                      the Patent Officers Professional Association,
                      the American Association of Universities,
                      the Biotechnology Industry Association,
                      the Twenty-First Century Patent Coalition,
                      the Innovation Alliance,
                      the American Association for Justice,
                      the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association,
                      the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,
                      the National Association of Patent Practitioners, and
                      the National Bankruptcy Conference.

“Because I feel so strongly that Congress must get this issue right, Ranking Subcommittee Member Watt and I will offer a substitute that responds to the real and identifiable problems of patent abuse without upsetting the entire patent law system. Our substitute will also take the single most viable step we can take towards improving patent quality – ending fee diversion so that poor quality patents are not issued to begin with. 

“I am willing to roll up my sleeves and work with all of the Members of this Committee in developing a fair, reasonable and measured approach to patent reform. This Committee has a long history of cooperation between the Chair and Ranking Member on intellectual property matters.  And while in my judgment that cooperation has been lacking thus far, I am hopeful we can work together to improve the legislation so that it can pass the House and Senate and be signed into law.”

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

As the Prison Population Skyrockets, Conyers Urges Congress to Curb Mandatory Minimum Sentencing & Focus on Rehabilitation


(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Overcriminalization Task Force held a hearing entitled, “Regulatory Crime: Solutions.” At the hearing, Mr. John S. Baker, Jr., Ph.D. - a visiting professor at Georgetown Law School - and Mr. Lucian E. Dervan - an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law - testified, advocating for a rethink in the United States’ criminal justice system. After the task force hearing, Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“With more than 700 out of every 100,000 Americans behind bars in the United States, we have more people incarcerated than any other nation. Some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle know that we have a serious problem on our hands. Since the 1980s, the United States prison population has more than quadrupled, meaning that today 2.3 million Americans are in prison.  At the same time, the number of African Americans behind bars is disproportionately larger than their share of the general population. This situation is an affront to our sense of justice, and must be remedied,” said Conyers.

“An increasing number of Congressmen are concerned about the impact of overcriminalization, and the creation of the Overcriminalization Task Force is a testament to their commitment to reverse this trend in the United States. This can be accomplished through a combination of several measures. First, Congress could act to rescind mandatory minimum sentences that have aggravated the problem of over-sentencing in court rooms and over-crowding in prisons. Mandatory minimum sentencing disproportionately impacts the minority communities and African American men in particular. In addition, Congress should pursue efforts to reduce recidivism, such as the bipartisan Second Chance Act reauthorization that former Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) and I introduced this week, which provides for improved re-entry and educational services for those exiting prison.

“Overcriminalization tears apart families, shatters neighborhoods, and is a stain on our criminal justice system. As the Overcriminalization Task Force continues its important work, I hope we can focus our energies on promoting rehabilitation, recidivism, and curbing mandatory minimum sentencing.”
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Conyers & Watt: Goodlatte’s Manager’s Amendment Will Harm the Patent System

House Judiciary Ranking Members Support Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy’s Nuanced Approach to Addressing Patent Abuse

(WASHINGTON) – Today, U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced the Markup of H.R. 3309, the “Innovation Act,” this Wednesday, November 20th. In announcing the Markup, Chairman Goodlatte released a Manager’s Amendment making changes to H.R. 3309. In addition, this afternoon Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the “Patent Transparency and Improvements Act of 2013” to curb patent abuse, without infringing the independence of the federal judiciary and harming small inventors. In response to these developments, U.S. House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congressman Melvin L. Watt (D-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“While Chairman Goodlatte’s Manager’s Amendment made some improvements to H.R. 3309, the ‘Innovation Act,’ as currently drafted we continue to oppose this legislation that would make sweeping and unnecessary changes to patent litigation and encroach on the independence of the federal judiciary.  While we support measured and balanced changes to respond to the most egregious practices involving patents, we do not believe that this legislation should become a vehicle to pass far ranging changes to the litigation system, such as limits on pleadings and discovery, and intrusive mandates on the court system.  At the same time, we applaud Chairman Leahy and Senator Lee for their introduction of the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act which based on our initial review appears to offer a more balanced and targeted approach to the abusive tactics of some patent litigants.”
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Conyers Presses Senate Republicans to Call Off Their Judicial Blockade and Confirm Judge Robert Wilkins

(WASHINGTON) – This Monday, the United States Senate will consider the nomination of Judge Robert L. Wilkins to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Over the course of the last month, Senate Republicans have derailed the nominations of two other well-qualified appointees to the same court, considered the second highest in the land, leaving three vacancies in place. In light of the upcoming vote, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Judge Wilkins has proven throughout his career that he is both well-suited for the nomination and highly qualified to be appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Judge Wilkins clerked for the Honorable Earl B. Gillian of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. He went on to serve as an attorney and head of Special Litigation for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, and later worked in private practice at Venable LLP. Having litigated numerous cases that have resulted in landmark decisions for civil rights efforts, he has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to justice. The D.C. Circuit Court would benefit immensely from his confirmation,” said Conyers.

“Over the course of the past month, Senate Republicans have engaged in a number of judicial filibusters, based on unfounded opposition to President Obama’s nominees.  Such divisive partisanship only hinders this essential Court from fulfilling its duty to the public and prohibits President Obama from performing his constitutional duty to fill the Court’s vacant seats.  Last month, Patricia Millett’s nomination was blocked along strict party lines, falling five votes short of invoking cloture. Days ago, Cornelia ‘Nina’ Pillard’s nomination was similarly blocked, falling only four votes short of the threshold required to overcome the Republican obstruction.

In the interest of the proficient administration of justice, I urge my Senate colleagues to support the confirmation of Judge Robert Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  The time has come for the Senate to call a ceasefire in the continuing war fought over our federal appellate courts and converge to find bipartisan support for Judge Wilkins’ nomination.”

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Ranking Member Conyers Statement at Judiciary Hearing on Antitrust Enforcement Agencies

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law held a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Antitrust Enforcement Agencies.” Specifically, this oversight hearing focused on the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition’s antitrust efforts. During his opening remarks, Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) delivered the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Today’s oversight hearing on the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition, provides an excellent opportunity for us to focus on the critical purpose of antitrust law:  to ensure that businesses do not behave in ways that injures markets, and, ultimately, consumers. As to mergers, this means that any transaction that would result in a company obtaining an  unfettered ability to raise prices or otherwise harm consumers is contrary to basic antitrust policy. Thus, we should be especially skeptical about the potential detriment presented by a rapid succession of big mergers in a given industry. 

“Unfortunately, antitrust scrutiny of mergers has been woefully insufficient over the past 30 years until only recently. The very fact that many industries are now dominated by just a handful of very large firms attests to this failure of aggressive scrutiny. There has been a wave of mergers in industry after industry.  Just a few examples include the Whirlpool-Maytag, AT&T-BellSouth, AOL-Time Warner, and JPMorganChase-BankOne mergers.  In the banking industry alone there have been 47 mergers since 2001. Basic economics and common sense should tell us that a few dominant firms forces consumers to pay higher prices and to accept suboptimal products or services. This hands-off approach to antitrust merger enforcement reflects the misguided view that corporate power should trump other interests, including the public interest.  As a result, the trend in antitrust law has been against the American consumer.

“Fortunately, recent antitrust enforcement initiatives of both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission appear to reflect a positive change from prior practice.  I am very heartened by the renewed vigor in antitrust enforcement that these agencies have exhibited in the past year or so. Under the Obama Administration, the Justice Department has aggressively pursued litigation to block large, high-profile, and potentially anticompetitive mergers, including lawsuits to block the proposed mergers of AT&T and T-Mobile, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Grupo Modelo and, most recently, American Airlines and US Airways. Such actions would, for the most part, have been unexpected in previous Administrations going back a generation. 

“Even more important is the fact that these suits have achieved pro-consumer results. AT&T and T-Mobile dropped their plans to merge, while Anheuser Busch agreed to divest itself of all of Grupo Modelo’s U.S. business in response to the DOJ’s lawsuit. The FTC, meanwhile, was able to achieve an important victory for consumers before the U.S. Supreme Court this year in the FTC v. Actavis case, which held that agreements between brand-name and generic drug manufacturers to delay introduction of cheaper generic drugs can be subject to antitrust laws.

“Such successes, however, do not necessarily mean further oversight is unnecessary.  For instance, the Justice Department’s tentative settlement agreement announced earlier this week with respect to the proposed American Airlines and US Airways presents some concerns. While this settlement agreement leaves consumers somewhat better off than they would have been had the merger gone through as proposed, I remain concerned that the new merged carrier –  which would be the largest in the world – will result in only four domestic airlines controlling more than 80% of the market. 

“As the New York Times noted in an editorial yesterday, ‘the agreement simply ignores the central concern the Justice Department expressed in its lawsuit: the four big airlines — United, Delta, Southwest and the merged American — will have an even greater incentive to raise fares and fees because consumers will have fewer choices.’

“In closing, I note that strong antitrust enforcement is not possible without adequate resources. As with other federal agencies, the DOJ and the FTC must have sufficient funding to pay for high-caliber attorneys, economists, and other staff and for vigorous and thorough investigations and, when necessary, litigation. The continuing budget battles in Congress, including sequestration and the recent fight over a continuing resolution that led to the shutdown of the federal government, threaten to sap already limited resources for all of our federal agencies. Some of the recent successes in antitrust enforcement would be undermined, and future enforcement efforts could be compromised.   That could return us to the bad old days of lax antitrust enforcement, with higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.  I urge my colleagues to make every effort not to go down that road.”

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Judiciary Committee Announces Next Round of Copyright Review Hearings

(WASHINGTON) – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), and Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-N.C.) today announced the next round of hearings in the House Judiciary Committee’s ongoing review of U.S. copyright law.  The next round of hearings, which will be held over the coming months and into next year, will focus on digital business models, the scope of copyright protection (Section 102 and 106), the scope of fair use (Section 107), and the notice and takedown provisions (Section 512).  After these initial hearings, the Committee plans to proceed roughly in numerical order through the sections of the Copyright Act.  

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.): "As copyright plays an increasingly important part in the American economy, it is essential that we continue to foster the development of intellectual property in general and copyright in particular. I look forward to the next steps in the Judiciary Committee's review of our copyright policies in the 21st century."

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.): “Copyright is a fundamental economic principle enshrined in our Constitution. It has become a core part of our economy and society in ways the framers of our Constitution could never have imagined and so it is important that the House Judiciary Committee continue our extensive review of U.S. copyright laws to ensure that we continue to incentivize creativity and innovation in the digital age. 

“The Committee looks forward to hearing from the witnesses and all interested parties in this next round of hearings.”

Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-N.C.): “I look forward to getting to work on these issues because they could dramatically affect the efficacy of our copyright laws.”

Chairman Goodlatte first announced his intention to undertake a comprehensive review of U.S. copyright law on April 24th in a speech before the World Intellectual Property Day celebration at the Library of Congress. As part of the comprehensive copyright review, the House Judiciary Committee has already held hearings on issues like the Copyright Principles Project, the roles of the copyright and technology industries in our economy, and voluntary agreements.

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CAPAC Encourages Support for Victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda

     

Washington, D.C. – Today, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements encouraging support for the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:
“I am deeply saddened by the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. My thoughts are with individuals, families and loved ones affected by this disaster. The United States committed to sending $20 million in assistance to support recovery efforts. I will do everything I can as Chair of CAPAC to help support the people of the Philippines and their families.”

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12):
“We continue to learn more on the true extent of the damage done by Super Typhoon Haiyan, but there is little question that the storm brought devastation to thousands of lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the survivors working to pull their communities back together.  The United States will do all we can to help those in need – both in these critical early days and in the rebuilding that will come. Under the direction of President Obama, USAID and the Department of Defense are already taking a leading role in delivering disaster relief supplies to the affected areas. Super Typhoon Haiyan was strong, but the people of the Philippines will prove themselves stronger.”

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):
“My heart goes out to the people of the Philippines and to the families in Hawaii who are worried about their loved ones overseas. During this difficult time, I send my sincere gratitude to the tireless aid workers helping communities recover.”

Senator Brian Schatz (HI):
“The stories of loss and devastation coming out of the Philippines are shocking and heartbreaking, and the full extent of the ravage is not yet even known. Millions of people were hit by Typhoon Yolanda, or Typhoon Haiyan, and while there is no official death toll, estimates are upwards of 10,000. My prayers and I know the prayers of all of us in Hawai‘i are with the people of the Philippines. They are a strong people and I know they will come back from this epic tragedy, but they need our help. I'm working to make sure the United States keeps supporting the Philippines now in this emergency and in their recovery efforts in the time to come.”

Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus:
“My heart goes out to everyone affected by Typhoon Haiyan. As the Philippines struggles to recover, I urge all Americans to help in whatever way they can. Donations to the Red Cross or other aid organizations will go a long way toward providing relief to those who need it most. We cannot forget our Filipino brothers and sisters who are in the midst of this devastation, and must continue to give a helping hand, provide comfort, and send our thoughts and prayers to our global neighbors.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Whip:
“I was saddened to learn of devastation in the Philippines this past weekend from Super Typhoon Haiyan. The people of the Philippines are incredibly resilient and I have no doubt that they will recover from this tragedy. I urge the appropriate federal agencies to offer assistance and relief efforts so that Filipinos can begin the rebuilding process as soon as possible and I encourage residents in my district to contact my office if they are having difficulty reaching loved ones. My thoughts and prayers are with the people who were affected by this tragedy and I’m committed to seeing the humanitarian efforts help those in need.”

Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07):
“My heart goes out to the millions of people impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. I am deeply saddened by the magnitude of the damage done by this devastating storm and the thousands of lives, homes and livelihoods lost. America is already working to send aid to help those affected and we must continue to do all we can to help the people of the Philippines as they recover from this tragedy.”

Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (AS):
“I am greatly saddened by the tragic loss of life and widespread damage that Typhoon Haiyan has inflicted on the Philippines. During this difficult time, the thoughts and prayers of the people of American Samoa go out to our brothers and sisters across the Pacific and the many Filipino-Americans whose families are affected by this tragedy. We give thanks for those who are providing assistance and humanitarian relief from this devastating storm and ensure the people of the Philippines that we are standing by them in their road to recovery.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02):
“Following the unimaginable devastation and loss of life this weekend, millions of our brothers and sisters in the Philippines are faced with rebuilding their lives and communities in the wake of total disaster. My heart goes out to all those who have lost, or are still missing, loved ones due to Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda; my prayers are with you. I strongly encourage people in Hawai‘i and across the country to assist those affected in the Philippines in any way they are able, and stand with them as they start down the long road to recovery.”

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01):
“My thoughts are with the people of the Philippines and Vietnam as they work to recover and rebuild from this devastating storm, and I hope the families of the victims are able to find comfort during this difficult time. I am pleased the United States is providing significant relief assistance to help the Philippines deal with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, and I will continue to urge our federal agencies to provide disaster aid to Vietnam wherever possible. Because family is a top priority in our communities, my office has contacted the Philippine and Vietnamese Embassies to see how we can help our constituents contact relatives in those countries. We in Hawaii know all too well the destruction Mother Nature is capable of, and I know our friends in the Philippines and Vietnam are resilient and will overcome this tragedy.”

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13):
“My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected in the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan, as well for those in my own Congressional District in California who have families and loved ones in the Philippines. As the people of the Philippines cope and recover from the widespread devastation and tragic loss of life, I pledge my support for humanitarian efforts to bolster the cleanup, recovery, and rescue efforts.”

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06):
“My thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Philippines as they work to rebuild their communities following the devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan. While the full extent of the damage is still being discovered, we know that thousands lost their lives in the storm, and thousands more lost loved ones, homes and businesses. My heart goes out to all of the families affected, and I will continue to strongly support the humanitarian assistance our nation is offering the Philippines.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06):
“The devastation Typhoon Haiyan wreaked upon the Philippines is a horrible tragedy and our hearts go out to all who have been affected by this natural disaster. The tremendous loss of life and widespread destruction is incomprehensible. My office stands ready to assist constituents impacted by this tragedy, and I urge the U.S. government to continue to assist the Philippines with its rescue and recovery efforts by providing whatever resources they require. At this difficult time, I send my thoughts and prayers to all the Filipino people, particularly those who have lost loved ones in this terrible catastrophe.”

Congressman Gregorio Sablan (CNMI):
“The people of the Northern Mariana Islands know well the suffering that occurs when a typhoon strikes and in the weeks and months of recovery after. So, our hearts and prayers go out to the people of the Philippines as they suffer through the terrible tragedy of Typhoon Yolanda. Many of us have family and friends in the Philippines. Our islands have close ties going back over centuries. We mourn the thousands of dead. And I know we will all do whatever we can to assist the survivors, who have lost so much and now face the long road of rebuilding their homes and their lives.”

Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA-11):
“I join with Filipino-Americans in praying for their loved ones and friends in the aftermath of this devastating typhoon. The widespread destruction has resulted in the loss of many lives and has impacted millions of Filipinos. We must continue to ensure that humanitarian aid is provided to those in the most need. It will take some time for residents to rebuild.”

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13):
“As more details emerge about the damage that Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda has done to the Philippines, I am deeply saddened to hear of the unthinkable loss of life that has occurred. There are no words that could ever provide enough comfort in the face of this immense damage. Yet, I want the Filipino people to know that the U.S. Congress, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the American people stand with them and will do everything in our power to help rebuild.”

Congressman Charles B. Rangel (NY-13):
“My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by the destructive Typhoon, especially those in the East Samar and Leyte provinces, suffering severe damages caused by severe winds, rains and flooding. I am proud of the great work of our government and so many non-profit organizations in providing assistance to the people in the Philippines. We stand ready to continue our relief efforts to the Filipino community, and believe in their resilience to come back stronger than before.”

Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52):
“I offer my thoughts and prayers to the people of the Philippines as they recover from this devastating disaster. With thousands of Filipino-American families in my district I know they are worried about the health and safety of friends and loved ones. I know the American people stand by our Filipino allies as they get back on their feet, revive their economy, and return to a semblance of normalcy.”

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40):
“I am deeply saddened by the images of devastation in the Philippines brought on by Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Southern California is home to the largest Filipino population in the country, and I know many in the community are following the news closely and helping to organize relief efforts.  I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that aid reaches those affected as quickly as possible.”

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09):
“I am very saddened by the destruction and the thousands who have lost their lives from the devastating super typhoon in the Philippines.  The United States has provided meaningful aid to the region still thousands remain in need of food and care. It critical that we continue to coordinate with the Philippines and non-government organizations involved with the relief effort to provide assistance as quickly and effectively as possible.  Washington’s Ninth District is home to thousands of Filipino Americans who have loved ones afflicted by the typhoon and its aftermath. I will continue to do all that I can to help in recovery efforts.  My thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by this horrible tragedy and their families.”

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14):
“The devastation Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda has had on the Philippines is unimaginable. The reported numbers of deaths and nearly 700,000 made homeless so far are jaw-dropping figures. In my district, it has left thousands of Filipino families distraught over not knowing the fate of their loved ones, so many of whom are children. I am so proud though of the local efforts in San Francisco and San Mateo counties to stand up and offer help to the victims. Be assured that the United States too shall stand up and do all that it can to help now and in the rebuilding process.”

Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15):
“I join the Filipino and international community in mourning the lives lost in Typhoon Haiyan and my thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by the storm. I am encouraged by the swift response by aid organizations, and we must continue to ensure the Filipino people receive the humanitarian assistance needed to help the country recover and rebuild from the tragedy. I am proud to represent a vibrant Filipino population in the East Bay, many of whom are very concerned about their family and friends in the country. My office stands as a resource to constituents looking to connect with loved ones in the Philippines at this difficult time.”

Background:
Super Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, made landfall in the central Philippines on Friday, November 8th. The super typhoon brought strong winds and heavy rain that resulted in flooding, landslides and widespread damage. According to Filipino officials, Typhoon Haiyan affected an estimated 9.7 million people, damaged 23,200 homes and public infrastructure, and resulted in thousands of casualties. The U.S. Government is providing $20 million in immediate humanitarian assistance to benefit typhoon-affected populations, including emergency shelter, food assistance, relief commodities, water, sanitation, and hygiene support.

More information on the recovery efforts can be found here.

If you are looking for a missing family member in the Philippines, please contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross to initiate a tracing case.

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Conyers & Sanchez Write to Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte Requesting a Hearing into Unresolved Alex Odeh Case


(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, requesting a hearing on the unresolved case of Alex Odeh, who was murdered in 1985. The U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice originally held a hearing on this matter in 1986.

The full text of this letter can be found below:


November 6, 2013


The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
U.S. House of Representatives
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Goodlatte,

We write to request a hearing to address the unresolved case of Alex Odeh, a human rights activist who was murdered in 1985. It has been 28 years since the Department of Justice launched an investigation to bring justice to Mr. Odeh, and his family and friends. This delay in justice is a terrible tragedy for our criminal justice system. The case was classified as an act of domestic terrorism and a high priority for the FBI by the Department, which is why we believe it is in the best interests of the country that it be resolved. The Judiciary Committee held the only hearing on this case in 1986,1 and has not had a hearing since.

Mr. Odeh was the Southern California Regional Director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) when, on October 11, 1985, he was killed as a pipe bomb exploded as he entered the ADC office in Santa Ana, California. There were several other people who were injured in the explosion and the building was severely damaged.2

Mr. Odeh, a husband and father of three, was a peace activist who worked to promote civil liberties for Arab-Americans in the U.S. and for civil and human rights around the world. He was also a published poet and a lecturer of Arabic language and Middle East history at Coastline College in Santa Ana. The night before his murder, Mr. Odeh appeared on a local TV station, despite his family’s concern for his safety, to discuss the Palestinian hijacking of the Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro.3

In a hearing on Mr. Odeh’s death in 1986, before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, FBI Assistant Executive Director Oliver Revell stated that his agency had designated the investigation into the bombing that killed Mr.Odeh as a highest national priority in 1985 and classified it as domestic terrorism.4 In the same year, the FBI directed all senior personnel to use whatever resources necessary to resolve Mr. Odeh’s case and develop a national strategy to prevent further violent crimes of this nature.5  In 1996, the case was still open and the FBI at that point posted a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator or perpetrators.6

We believe that a hearing is needed to bring swift resolution to this case. The 28 years that have gone by and the unanswered questions as to why this case has never been resolved are just a few examples of how justice has been delayed.  The friends, the family, and the legacy of Mr. Odeh deserve better, and we must ensure that our nation’s law enforcement pushes the investigation in this case forward. 

Sincerely,


John Conyers, Jr.                                                                                   Loretta Sanchez
Ranking Member                                                                                  Member of Congress
Committee on the Judiciary


1.    Ethnically Motivated Violence Against Arab-AmericansHearing Before the H. Subcomm. on Criminal Justice, H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 99th Cong. 65-880 (1986). (Hereafter “1986 Hearing”).
2.    Ed Pilkington, Renewed push to investigate Alex Odeh murder begins 28 years after bombingThe Guardian,Oct. 15, 2013, available at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/15/alex-odeh-bombing-murder-investigation-renewed.
3.    Id.
4.    1986 Hearing at p. 11.
5.    Id. FBI Director Revell described the suspected perpetrators in Mr. Odeh’s case to have “Jewish extremist elements.”  P. 11. At the time he declined to link those elements with the Jewish Defense League, which initially was suspected of being responsible for the bombing. P.11. Director Revell also made clear at that point that the FBI had identified key suspects, but could not reveal more as long as the individuals remained suspects because, “they are, or course, entitled to due process and have the same constitutional rights as anyone else.” P. 28.
6.    Wanted by the FBI, available at: http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/seeking-info/alexander-michel-odeh/. The ADC asserts that some suspects have been identified, but have never been charged or prosecuted in connection with the murder.  SEE Press Release, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Organization Calls on FBI and State Department to Redouble Effort in Ongoing Investigation of 24 Year-old Terrorist Attack, (Oct. 11, 2009), available at http://www.adc.org/media/press-releases/2009/september-2009/adc-observes/.

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