Wednesday, March 29, 2017

CONYERS Statement For Judiciary Markup Of H.R. 1667, The "Financial Institution Bankruptcy Act of 2017"


Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Mr. Chairman --  As you know, I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 1677, the “Financial Institution Bankruptcy Act of 2017.”  I agreed to cosponsor this legislation for several reasons.

To begin with, H.R. 1667 addresses a real need – recognized by regulatory agencies, bankruptcy experts, and the private sector – that the bankruptcy law must be amended so that it can expeditiously restore trust in the financial marketplace after the collapse of a systemically significant financial institution.

As many recall, the failure of Lehman Brothers and subsequent bankruptcy in 2008 caused a worldwide freeze on the availability of credit. This, in turn, triggered the near collapse of our Nation’s economy and clearly revealed that current bankruptcy law is ill-equipped to deal with complex financial institutions in economic distress.

H.R. 1667 would establish a specialized form of bankruptcy relief designed to facilitate the expeditious resolution of a large, systemically significant financial institution. 

Under the bill, the debtor’s operating subsidiaries would continue to function outside of bankruptcy, while the debtor’s principal assets, such as its secured property, financial contracts, and the stock of its subsidiaries, would be transferred to a temporary “bridge company.”

The bridge company, under the guidance of a trustee, would then liquidate these assets to pay the claims of the debtor’s creditors.  The bill would also temporarily prevent parties from exercising their rights in certain qualified financial contracts.  

Each critical step of this process would be done under the supervision of a bankruptcy judge and subject to appeal. 

Another reason why I support this bill is that it appropriately recognizes the important role the Dodd-Frank Act has in the regulation of large financial institutions.   




Without doubt, the Great Recession was a direct result of the regulatory equivalent of the Wild West.      


The Dodd-Frank Act goes a long way toward reinvigorating a regulatory system that makes the financial marketplace more accountable and, hopefully, more resilient.

In particular, Title II of the Dodd-Frank Act establishes a mandatory resolution process to wind down large financial institutions, which is a critical enforcement tool for bank regulators to ensure compliance with the Act’s heightened regulatory requirements.

H.R. 1667 is an excellent complement to Dodd-Frank Act’s resolution process and will help facilitate the rapid administration of a debtor’s assets in an orderly fashion that maximizes value and minimizes disruption to the financial marketplace. 

Finally, I am pleased to note that H.R. 1667 is the product of a very collaborative, inclusive, and deliberative process, which should be the norm, not the exception when it comes to drafting legislation. 

While an excellent measure, the bill unfortunately does not include any provision allowing the federal government to be a lender of last resort, which nearly every expert recognizes is a necessary element to ensure financial stability.

I recognize, however, that this is an issue not within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee. 

Accordingly, I support H.R. 1667 and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

CONYERS Statement At Judiciary Subcommittee Immigration Hearing


Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
President Ronald Reagan once said: “Our nation is a nation of immigrants. More than any other country, our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands.”

That quote was uncontroversial among my Republican colleagues then and it should remain so now.  Affirmation of the moral and social worth of immigrants is not a partisan position. It is simply American.

As we begin today’s hearing, I urge my colleagues to use this forum to examine sensible, effective measures, rooted in fact and practice, for enforcing our laws, and keeping our communities safe.

One fact that we must consider is that studies have repeatedly shown that immigrants in the United States are less likely than native-born Americans to engage in crime.  The vast majority of immigrants in the United States are peaceful, law-abiding individuals who support their families and communities.

Another fact is that the southern border is more secure than ever. Apprehension rates at the southern border have plummeted since the 1980s. And apprehensions of Mexicans specifically have reached their lowest point in nearly half a century. This helps explain why most Americans don’t want Trump’s border wall, which could cost upwards of a staggering $20 billion to build and $750 million annually to maintain.

Notwithstanding these facts, and many more, the current Administration continues to vilify immigrants and attack the communities that have decided not to conscript their law enforcement into a mass deportation force.  In fact, yesterday, Attorney General Sessions threatened to withhold federal funds from such jurisdictions.  

Let me be clear, Attorney General Sessions should not substitute his judgment for that of law enforcement in local jurisdictions, who know what is best to keep their communities safe. The Attorney General purports to place a high priority on fighting crime, but threatens to withhold much-needed Justice Department funding from the very agencies that are on the front lines in protecting all of us. 

Over 600 counties and cities have made the decision to resist the Administration’s efforts to conscript their local officers into a mass deportation force because experience and data show that local enforcement of federal immigration law often makes communities less safe. 

It breeds profiling, discrimination, and distrust. Immigrant victims and witnesses stop reporting crimes to authorities and criminals grow emboldened.  In fact, studies have shown that these sanctuary cities are actually safer and more prosperous than their non-sanctuary counterparts. 

Finally, under the guise of enforcing the law, we have already witnessed Donald Trump and his Administration follow through on divisive campaign rhetoric with actions that threaten our core American values and will do nothing to make us safer.

To cite just a few examples, in less than 90 days this administration has already:
·         Threatened an unconstitutional use of federal spending authority to strong arm local jurisdictions into enforcing federal immigration law,
·         Undermined the 4th Amendment by pressuring cities into detaining immigrants without probable cause,
·         And has conducted indiscriminate raids of peaceful immigrant families in their homes, places of work, and even in their schools.

Such anti-immigrant measures not only raise serious constitutional concerns, they are contrary to our proud history as a nation of immigrants.

I thank our witnesses for their testimony today and I yield back the balance of my time.
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Monday, March 27, 2017

CONYERS: “NFL Players Speak Up: First-Hand Experiences and Building Trust Between Communities and Police”

RVSP Here
Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.

What:            Congressional forum to hear from NFL players about their own experiences and how they hope to improve relationships with minority  communities and the police while supporting programs to help inmates successfully re-enter their communities.

Hosts:             Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member
                       House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

                      Rep. John Conyers Jr., Ranking Member
                      House Committee on the Judiciary

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Ranking Member
                      Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee

Rep. Cedric Richmond, Chair
Congressional Black Caucus

When:            11am on Thursday, March 30, 2017

Where:           2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Who:             Anquan Boldin, Detroit Lions

Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles

                      Phillip Atiba Goff, PhD, Cofounder and President, Center for Policing Equity

[Additional NFL players may accompany Mr. Boldin and Mr. Jenkins.]

RSVP:          Media interested in attending should RSVP toShadawn.reddick-smith@mail.house.gov.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

CONYERS: House GOP Keeps Attacking The Intelligence Community, Ignoring Their Warnings


Washington, D.C. – Earlier today, three senior Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter, below, to the leaders of the U.S. intelligence community, arguing that “unauthorized and felonious disclosures . . . are increasingly casting a pall over not only our country’s intelligence apparatus but also the American people’s trust in the efficacy and integrity of the intelligence community.” 

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) released the following statement in response:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“I do not condone the unlawful release of classified information by anyone, including to or from the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. 

“But, once again, the Majority has chosen to focus on the fire alarm and not on the fire.  Every day, we learn more about possible connections between the government of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump’s campaign for president.  Those connections raise the specter of a massive effort to undermine our democratic institutions.  Once again, the Majority chooses to ignore the warnings of the whistleblowers and journalists who bring us this information.  Every day that they complain about ‘felonious leaking’ and not collusion with a foreign adversary represents another missed or delayed opportunity to get to the bottom of Russia’s attack on our democracy.

“Recent events make it altogether clear that we must have an independent and bipartisan investigation of the substantive issues here—including but not limited to the string of Trump campaign officials who met with Russian officials, attempted to hide those meetings, and were forced to recant or resign when the truth became public.”

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Friday, March 24, 2017

CONYERS & CICILLINE: The Right Approach to Promoting Competition in the Health Care Marketplace

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Healthy competition in the health insurance marketplace is one of the most critical elements in ensuring that Americans can access quality, affordable health care. When insurance companies are forced to compete, the American people win.

Unfortunately, too many families are still paying higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs today because of anti-competitive practices that health insurance giants are allowed to engage in under the law.

One of the reasons? It’s a law few Americans have ever heard of—the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945.

Under this law, insurers can engage in egregious actions like price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation with total impunity. These practices allow insurers to inflate their costs and impose burdens on middle class families all across our nation.

That’s why House Democrats have supported the full repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act since 1988, and passed legislation to end this antitrust exemption for health insurers in 2010 by a vote of 406-19.

This week, we worked with the same Republicans that opposed this measure in 2010 to pass H.R. 372, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, legislation that repeals the antitrust exemption that has shielded health insurers for more than 70 years.

As the Council of Economic Advisors put it last year, robust enforcement of antitrust laws is “an important way in which the government makes sure the market provides the best outcomes for society with respect to choice, innovation, and price as well as fair labor and business markets.”
But make no mistake: while promoting competition in state markets will benefit consumers, the benefits will be lost if Republicans are able to repeal the strong consumer protections that exist as part of the Affordable Care Act.

These protections, which the American people overwhelmingly support, ensure that health insurance markets operate efficiently, lift limits on lifetime coverage amounts, and protect millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions from discrimination.

Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act dramatically increased the number of health insurers operating in local marketplaces, which has helped slow the growth rate in premium costs to their lowest level in 50 years.

In order to protect the progress we have made over the last seven years, it is critical that we work to strengthen the Affordable Care Act.

Yet, since Election Day, Republicans and President Trump have been squarely focused on repealing the law in its entirety and replacing it with a proposal they claim will establish a national marketplace for health insurance.

In fact, the same architects of the Majority’s “repeal and replace” effort—including Speaker Paul Ryan, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Bradyvoted against repealing health insurer’s antitrust immunity in 2010.

They now claim that simply allowing the sale of insurance across state lines will serve as a magical elixir that brings down health care costs for good.

There’s only one problem with this claim: it’s already permitted under ObamaCare.
Section 1333 of the Affordable Care Act already allows states to establish “health care choice compacts” to allow out-of-state health insurers to sell health insurance products in-state.
Several states have already enacted statutes to provide for healthcare choice compacts. The National Conference of State Legislature reports that five states have passed out-of-state purchasing laws since 2008.

The fact is that promoting health insurance competition across state lines, as opposed to cracking down on anti-competitive practices, does little to lower costs for consumers. In fact, despite the existing law, few health insurers choose to engage in cross-state sales because there is little economic incentive for them to do so.

President Trump’s repeal and replace proposal will not change this underlying reality.
The president would be wise to withdraw his proposal and instead focus on joining our bipartisan effort to work across the aisle to improve and strengthen the Affordable Care Act.

Today, thanks to ObamaCare, the uninsured rate is at an all-time low, seniors are paying less for their prescription drugs, millions have received coverage under Medicaid expansion, and the number of competitors in local markets is growing.

The Affordable Care Act is improving Americans’ health care coverage and choice. President Trump owes it to the American people to build on this success rather than tear it down.

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CONYERS, SLAUGHTER, CROWLEY, NADLER & JEFFRIES: GOP Bill To Single Out New Yorkers Represents Worst of Washington


Members Release Legal Analysis Pointing to Provision’s Unconstitutionality

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), House Rules Committee Ranking Member Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY), and House Judiciary Committee Members Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) released a legal analysis, below, prepared by the House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff demonstrating the unconstitutionality of the ongoing Republican plans to single out New York State for sharing Medicaid costs with its counties. The Members  released the following joint statement:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“House Republicans’ Trumpcare bill is nothing more than a tax cut for the wealthy masquerading as a 'healthcare bill.' If this bill were to become law, 24 million Americans would lose their insurance coverage, and seniors would face skyrocketing premiums. Even worse, to appease the extreme conservatives of the House Republican Freedom Caucus, the newly adopted manager’s amendment includes provisions eliminating Essential Health Benefits requirements such as maternity care, prescription drug and emergency coverage – essentially erasing protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

“In a desperate attempt to pass this unconscionable bill, Speaker Ryan and the House Republican leadership have offered to include the Faso-Collins amendment in order to gain the support of vulnerable New York Republican members. This blatant vote buying represents the worst side of Washington politics. In fact, many Republican Attorneys General called a similar provision in 2009 ‘constitutionally flawed’ and ‘violating the most basic and universally held notions of what is fair and just.’  

“By singling out New York State – even though 15 other states have similar systems for sharing Medicaid costs -- and forcing New York to give up its core sovereign power to decide how it will raise funds for its own share of Medicaid, this measure is unconstitutional. This is why we believe New York State would be well within its rights to challenge the provision in court, as Governor Cuomo has suggested.

“The irony of this buyout is that the payment supposedly being delivered in exchange for votes is the legislative equivalent of a check on a closed bank account. It will never deliver the promised benefit. 

“Finally, it is also important to note that House Republican Leadership’s reckless attempt to cram Trumpcare through Congress is that according to the most recent CBO report, the Faso-Collins amendment has no or only incidental impact on the federal budget.  It should therefore be struck under reconciliation rules if this bill even reaches the Senate.” 

Background

For the last 51 years, New York State has chosen to fund a portion of its share of the Medicaid Program by using funds from county property taxes.  Fifteen other states structure Medicaid funding through a similar legally authorized system.

The Faso-Collins amendment, being incorporated into the Manager’s amendment to H.R. 1628, the “American Healthcare Act of 2017,”  specifies that any State that had an allotment of Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funds that was more than 6 times the national average, and that requires subdivisions with populations of less than 5,000,000 to contribute toward Medicaid costs, shall have its reimbursement reduced by the amount of contributions by such subdivisions. This effectively limits the application to New York State, and carves out New York City. Under the amendment, New York State is at risk of losing $2.3 billion of its $32 billion in Federal Medicaid funds.

The amendment would implicate Constitutional limits on the Federal Spending Power, the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses and the Tenth Amendment (reserving all undelegated powers to the States) because it is not related to a legitimate Federal interest; no rational Federal purpose has been proffered for the provision which singles out New York for discrimination; and it severely intrudes on traditional state prerogatives, such as structuring taxing and spending authorities.  Under a series of Supreme Court cases these provisions would exceed Congress’s spending authority, violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses, and violate Tenth Amendment principles. 


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Thursday, March 23, 2017

CONYERS, GOODLATTE, GRASSLEY, FEINSTEIN, LEAHY Call for Quick Action on Legislation to Provide Selection Process for Register of Copyrights



Makes Register a Presidential Appointment with Senate Confirmation 

Washington, D.C. -- House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)  today introduced the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, which is the product of months of bicameral, bipartisan discussions led by Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Chairman Goodlatte, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Senate Judiciary Committee Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act makes important changes to the selection process for the head of the U.S. Copyright Office, known as the Register of Copyrights.  Specifically, the legislation requires the Register to be nominated by the President of the United States and subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  It would also limit the Register to a ten year term which is renewable by another Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation.

Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Senator Leahy released the following joint statement upon introduction of the Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act.

Dean of the U.S, House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“We are pleased to join together in a bipartisan, bicameral effort to make important and necessary improvements to the selection process for the position of Register of Copyrights. We remain absolutely committed to working on modernizing the Copyright Office. Reforms being considered include public advisory committees, improvements to Copyright Office systems for data inputs and outputs, and copyright ownership transparency.  However, time is of the essence when it comes to the selection process for a new Register of Copyrights.

“America’s creativity is the envy of the world and the Copyright Office is at the center of it.  With the current Register serving only on an acting basis, now is the time to make changes to ensure that future Registers are transparent and accountable to Congress.  We must ensure that any new Register is a good manager and fully qualified to lead and make this office more operationally effective as he or she continues to directly advise Congress on copyrights. The next Register of Copyrights should be dedicated to serving all stakeholders in the copyright ecosystem.”  

The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act was introduced with twenty-nine bipartisan cosponsors.

Background:  As part of the copyright review, the House Judiciary Committee held 20 hearings which included testimony from 100 witnesses.  Following these hearings, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers invited all prior witnesses of the Committee’s copyright review hearings and other interested stakeholders to meet with Committee staff and provide additional input on copyright policy issues.  In addition, the House Judiciary Committee conducted a listening tour with stops in Nashville, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles where they heard from a wide range of creators, innovators, technology professionals, and users of copyrighted works. In December 2016, Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers released the first policy proposal to come out of the Committee’s review of U.S. Copyright law.  Additional policy proposals will be released.
Original Cosponsors:

Karen Bass (D- Calif.) Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) Ken Buck (R-Colo.) Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) Judy Chu (D-Calif.) David Cicilline (D-R.I.) Doug Collins (R-Ga.) Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) Blake Farethold (R-Texas) Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) Hank Johnson, Jr. (D-Ga.) Mike Johnson (R-La.) Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) Steve King (R-Iowa) Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) Tom Marino (R-Penn.) Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) Ted Poe (R-Texas) John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) Martha Roby (R-Ala.) Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) Lamar Smith (R-Texas)


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CONYERS: Chairman Nunes Should Be Disqualified


It Is Past Time for an Independent Investigation into Russia and the Trump Campaign

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Chairman Devin Nunes of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence told reporters that, “on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.”  Chairman Nunes then traveled to the White House to share his findings with President Donald Trump.  FBI Director James Comey recently confirmed that President Trump and his associates are the subject of an ongoing counterintelligence investigation. Later in the evening, CNN reportedthat the FBI may be in possession of evidence that indicates direct collusion between President Trump’s team and Russian officials, possibly to coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. 

House Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. released the following statement in response to these developments:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“An after-the-fact apology is not enough. With his reckless behavior, Chairman Nunes has disqualified himself to lead any legitimate investigation into the actions of the Trump campaign.  Despite what evidence he may have, he is not entitled to share that information with President Trump before briefing his colleagues on the intelligence committee.  President Trump is the potential target of an ongoing federal investigation.  This is more than a breach of protocol – it is a direct threat to the work of the FBI.

“The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee cannot be a surrogate of the White House.  At a minimum, this investigation must be taken out of Chairman Nunes’ hands.

“If indeed the FBI has evidence of collusion or communication between President Trump and the Russian government, then we can wait no longer.  It is past time for Congress to establish a bipartisan, independent panel to uncover the full scope of the President’s allegedly treasonous actions.”


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CONYERS At Capitol In Opposition To "Wealth Care" Bill



Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing, crowd and outdoorYesterday, I joined my colleagues and former VP 
Joe Biden in front of the Capitol in opposition to the Republican healthcare bill that I like to call wealth care. Despite all the wrong that this bill does and opposition from both Democrats and Republicans, Trump and Ryan are continuing to try to bully Republicans into passing this bill. We can't afford to have millions of Americans lose their health insurance.


#WealthCare



Image may contain: 19 people, people standing, crowd and outdoor

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

CONYERS: Our Water Infrastructure Deficit is the Real Crisis


Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Politicians nationwide are neglecting one of the most pressing challenges of our generation: an unprecedented and ever-increasing deficit. If left unchecked, it will only grow in severity and continue to saddle our children and grandchildren with its devastating effects. It is a deficit that can only be addressed with decisive action from our nation’s leaders.

I am not talking about mere fiscal shortfalls, which can easily be corrected through fair tax policies. I am referring to America’s $697 billion water infrastructure deficit. On World Water Day, we must commit our nation to fulfilling the basic promise of universal access to clean water.

In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, affirming our government’s commitment to ensuring access to clean water for all Americans. But over the past four decades, Congress failed to fulfill this promise. Funding for water infrastructure peaked in 1977, but fell by 74% in real dollars by 2014. At its zenith the federal government spent $76.27 per person (in 2014 dollars) on water services. By 2014 that number was just $13.68 per person. The sustained lack of funding for water services has led to an aging infrastructure that, according to the latest EPA reports, will require $697 billion in repairs over the next twenty years. In contrast, US defense spending nearly doubled over the same time span to over $700 billion a year, including funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and President Trump says we can afford an additional $54 billion a year in military spending. It is time we acknowledge that a modern, safe drinking and wastewater system is at least as important to American national security as bombs and bullets.

Tragically, the State of Michigan already experienced firsthand the horror of what can happen when aging infrastructure meets the ideology of austerity. Decisions made by the state-appointed officials in Flint resulted in a public health crisis leaving tens of thousands of children exposed to dangerously high levels of lead. Many of the victims will suffer from lifelong impairments because of this exposure.

But the tragedy in Flint is not an anomaly. It is not an isolated incident that merits our thoughts and prayers but little action or accountability. Reports of lead levels in Detroit Public Schools of 100 times the allowable limit caused the Detroit Department of Health to call for lead screening for all students under the age of 6. Flint was a warning sign, a harbinger of a future with a crumbling water infrastructure, a future that looks increasingly like our present situation. Even in the halls of Congress, hundreds of offices lost access to tap water last year due to elevated levels of lead. Without federal funding, the crisis in Flint could very well become the norm across the nation. With over 11,000 community water systems utilizing 6 million lead service pipelines, the risk of another Flint is far too high.

That is why today I am reintroducing an overdue piece of legislation, “The Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act,” which is co-sponsored by 18 members of Congress and supported by over 60 national and grassroots organizations.

The WATER Act will issue grants to ensure homeowners’ service lines that may contain lead are replaced. Our water infrastructure problems extend far beyond lead pipes, however. Over one million miles of piping beneath our streets and homes, a century and a half worth of cast iron, copper, and even wooden vessels, are nearing the end of their lives. The American Water Works Association warns that leaving our decaying infrastructure unchecked will result in “degrading water service, increasing water service disruptions, and increasing expenditures for emergency repairs.” A modern water system may be a challenge for many developing countries – it should not be for the wealthiest nation on the planet.

To directly address the lead found in water at public schools in Detroit and across the country, the WATER Act provides funding to public schools for testing, repairing, replacing, or installing the necessary infrastructure for drinking water. Our children should not endanger their long-term health at the water fountain between classes.

The WATER Act’s $35 billion annual expenditure will be paid for by needed changes to our corporate tax code. The act ends the income tax deferral for offshore corporate profits, a move expected to generate over $60 billion annually. The $35 billion for repairing and replacing our infrastructure will create around one million new jobs here in America—jobs that cannot be outsourced to other countries. I further included Buy America provisions to ensure that the materials used are produced right here, and have indicated that union labor must be given a priority in the construction contracts, so that jobs created by my bill will be family-supporting jobs.

The WATER Act is a win-win-win for the American people. We will no longer feel anxious as we pour our children a glass of water, wondering if it is clean and safe. We will ensure corporations pay their fair share of taxes. And we will put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work modernizing American infrastructure. Congress should give Americans something to drink to, and pass my WATER Act without delay.

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CONYERS Statement on H.R. 1393, the "Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act of 2017"


Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
H.R. 1393, the “Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act,” helps to clarify various record-keeping and state income tax liability issues.  Nevertheless, the bill requires further revision before I can support it.

On the positive side, H.R. 1393 attempts to solve a legitimate problem presented by employee tax liability and employer withholding requirements.

Many employers are subject to multiple tax compliance record-keeping requirements for their mobile workers. 

These workers, in turn, are often subject to potentially conflicting and thereby confusing multiple state income tax requirements.

The paperwork that both employers and workers must file can be complicated and time-consuming.

And the filings, especially for sometimes miniscule amounts of income, can even be burdensome to state revenue departments.

Unfortunately, H.R. 1393, if enacted, could result in some states losing millions of dollars in revenue.

In fact, New York could lose upwards of $100 million in revenue.

Fortunately, this legislation only needs some simple changes to eliminate these negative impacts. 

For example, the bill currently has a 30-day threshold before an employee would be required to pay income taxes in a state. A much lower threshold would be fairer to the states and still provide certainty to employers and employees.

In addition, the bill’s timekeeping requirements could be tightened to help prevent tax avoidance.

A solution appears to potentially close and, accordingly, I look forward to working with my colleagues and the various stakeholders to finally achieve this goal.

I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to urge my colleagues to pass a fair and uniform framework to allow states to collect taxes owed on remote sales, rather than proceed with this flawed bill.

By staying silent since the Supreme Court’s 1992 Quill decision, Congress has failed to ensure that states have the authority to collect the sales and use tax on internet purchases.

While this decision may have made sense in 1992, it does not stand up well over time. In 2015 alone $26 billion dollars owed to states went uncollected.

Lost tax revenues mean that state and local governments will have fewer resources to provide their residents essential services, such as education and health care.

This Congress, House Republicans are advancing both TrumpCare and a disastrous budget that would both cut untold amounts of federal assistance to the states.

In light of these looming funding cuts, the loss of billions of dollars in state revenue is more pressing than ever.  This committee should move swiftly to close the internet tax loophole by passing legislation this Congress.

I thank the Chairman and yield back the balance of my time.

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On World Water Day, Conyers Reintroduces Bill To Address Nation's Water Infrastructure Crisis


Washington, D.C. — Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) today reintroduced the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability(WATER) Act. This legislation would provide nearly $35 billion annually to modernize U.S. water infrastructure. The WATER Act funds infrastructure projects by closing a loophole on offshore corporate profits. The WATER Act would make these profits subject to U.S. tax in the year they are generated and ensure that all funds would go to publicly-owned water systems, rather than for-profit providers.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“Today, we mark World Water Day 2017—where we focus on how important this fundamental resource is to life itself. Around the world, people struggle with access to safe, affordable water—sadly America is no different. Thousands of communities depend on water pipes that are a century old, unsafe, and need to be replaced,” Congressman Conyers said. “That is why I’m introducing the WATER Act of 2017, which funds a massive investment in our public water utilities and creates thousands of jobs in every community. It would help places like Flint, where lead has made the water undrinkable—or Detroit, where outdated infrastructure makes water unaffordable. In the richest country in the world—safe, affordable water in every home is a basic human right.  The WATER Act would make that principle a reality for every American.”

More than 11,200 community water systems have lead service lines, some of which provide water to schools. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates roughly $697 billion is needed to upgrade our drinking water and wastewater systems over the next 20 years.  Without adequate federal support, communities often have to compensate for the funding gap by raising service rates, which some households cannot afford, leading some—including thousands of Detroiters—to be cut off from water and sewer service. Current failing service lines pose a danger to the environment, and wastewater overflows threaten public health. Congressman Conyers introduced the WATER Act to help ensure access to safe, clean, affordable water service. The bill reintroduction comes a day after reports indicated that nearly 380,000 Michigan residents get their water from systems that would fail to meet lead-safety standards proposed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

The WATER Act would allow states to issue grants to replace lead service lines and would establish a School Drinking Water Improvement Grant program to provide funding to public primary and secondary schools that wish to test, repair, replace or install the infrastructure necessary for drinking water foundations or bottle filling stations. Additionally, the WATER Act creates a new grant program to help households install, repair, replace and upgrade septic tanks and drainage fields. The legislation also amends the existing Tribal grant program to increase the amount of assistance from 1.5 percent of Drinking Water SRF funds to 3 percent.

The legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Dwight Evans (PA-02), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Betty McCollum (MN-04), James McGovern (MA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Peter Welch (VT-At Large). It is endorsed by over 60 labor unions, national and grassroots organizations, including:  Food & Water Watch, Public Citizen, AFSCME, UAW, National Nurses United, 9to5, National Association of Working Women, Alliance for Democracy, Center for Biological Diversity, Corporate Accountability International, Hip Hop Caucus, Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network, United Church of Christ, Detroit Metropolitan Association Social Justice Mission Team, Michigan United, Water You Fighting For, We the People of Detroit.

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