Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Democrats Have a Winning Agenda

By John Conyers, Jr.
U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
The conventional wisdom from cable news pundits is that this will be a difficult year for Congressional Democrats. Between website troubles, legislative roadblocks in the House of Representatives, and polls showing Americans' declining faith in government, it seems sensible to expect continued gridlock or conservative drift.
But there's a simple reason why the Democratic agenda has powerful momentum this year:
The Democratic agenda is all about jobs.
In poll after poll, Americans continue to cite unemployment as the number one issue facing the nation. This should be no surprise. There are still more than 20 million people looking for full-time work. There are upwards of 50 million -- including 13 million children -- living in poverty. For every single job opening, there are at leastthree applicants.
Our government has both an ethical obligation and an economic imperative to focus on job creation.

When people are trained, working, earning salaries, and contributing to the tax base, there are more customers for American goods and services, there's less crime, there's more government revenue and lower deficits. Most importantly, workers have greater bargaining power, and everyone's wages rise.
This is why the forthcoming Democratic Budget focuses on needed job-creating investments in infrastructure upgrades, early childhood education, workforce training programs, and scientific research. 

This is why Democrats are committed to restoring emergency unemployment insurance and raising the minimum wage -- actions that would not only restore dignity to millions of people but also inject desperately needed consumer demand into the economy.
This is why Democrats are focused on passing immigration reform -- which would not only bring hard-working people out of the shadows but also boost economic growth by an estimated $1.5 trillion and create up to 900,000 jobs over time.
This is also why Democrats are fighting for comprehensive jobs legislation, including President Obama's American Jobs Act, Whip Steny Hoyer's "Make It in America Agenda," and HR 1000, The Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act -- which I have introduced with support from 57 cosponsors -- to ensure people are trained and able to perform desperately-needed work in areas including healthcare, road repair, energy efficiency, education, and neighborhood renovation.

The Republican agenda, in contrast, is a continuation of the failed experiment of economic austerity. Since winning the House in 2010, GOP leaders have refused to even allow a vote on jobs legislation -- opting instead to focus on dangerous environmental deregulation, healthcare repeals, and harsh budget cuts that ultimately make the economy weaker. The independent economic consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers has estimated that all the fiscal brinkmanship and brazen budget cuts have cost the nation nearly two million jobs.
The failure of the GOP-led House of Representatives to focus on jobs is not just a political blunder. It's a dereliction of duty and has caused real human suffering.
Having a job is essential to having a home and having healthcare. It's essential for enjoying a life of basic stability and dignity. It's essential for sustaining a family. It's essential for enjoying freedom from anxiety and gaining the power to shape one's own destiny.
America urgently needs a jobs agenda.

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Conyers: Time is Running Out on Unclaimed Tax Refunds from 2010

(DETROIT) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) urged taxpayers in Michigan who may be owed a refund on their 2010 taxes to file by April 15 to ensure that they are able to receive it. Nationwide, an estimated 918,600 taxpayers may be missing out on almost $760 million in tax refunds from 2010. The IRS estimates that half the potential refunds for 2010 are more than $571. Rep. Conyers issued the following statement in advance of the April 15th deadline:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
"For so many families, a tax refund can make a real difference in putting food on the table, paying college tuition, and getting free from debt. In Michigan, an estimated 29,200 people have unclaimed tax refunds from 2010 totaling $24,259,000, that will no longer be available if they do not file their 2010 return by April 15. It is crucial for families and our local economy to ensure that no one misses out on their tax refunds - averaging $597 here in Michigan - as we fight to make our tax system simpler and more fair for middle class families,” said Conyers.

Ø  Taxpayers must file a return within three years to claim a refund.  So to collect the refund, a return for 2010 must be filed with the IRS no later than Tuesday, April 15, 2014.  There is no penalty for failure to file if the taxpayer is due a refund. 

Ø  Current and prior year tax forms and instructions are available on the Forms and Publications page of or by calling toll-free 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099 or 5498 for 2010, 2011 or 2012 should request copies from their employer, bank or other payer.

Ø  Taxpayers seeking a 2010 refund may have checks held if they have not filed tax returns for 2011 and 2012.  Refunds may be applied to amounts owed to the IRS and also may be used to offset unpaid child support or overdue federal debts such as student loans.

Ø  By failing to file a return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2010. In addition, many low-and-moderate income workers may not have claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2010, the credit is worth as much as $5,666. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds.

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Conyers Hails $1 Million in Great Lakes Restoration Grant Funding for Green Infrastructure Projects

(DETROIT) – Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that $1,000,000 in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Shoreline Cities grant funding would be provided to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s Near East Side Drainage District for two green infrastructure projects to ensure clean water in the region by preventing stormwater from contaminating the Great Lakes. In particular, a portion of the EPA grant would fund a program to convert vacant publicly owned lots in Detroit’s Lower Eastside into green space; the remainder of the EPA grant will be allocated towards the installation of green infrastructure at Detroit’s Recovery Park. Both of these green infrastructure projects will also serve to prevent flooding that can occur following harsh weather. After the grant recipients were made public, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“I am delighted to announce that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s Near East Side Drainage District $1,000,000 in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Shoreline Cities grant funding for two green infrastructure projects. These two projects will prevent the Great Lakes from being contaminated by stormwater, and avert flooding after bad weather. Both projects will go a long way towards safeguarding our water and preparing the regional ecosystem for the effects of climate change,” said Conyers.

“Specifically, part of the EPA grant will transform Detroit’s Lower Eastside into green space, teeming with trees and other vegetation. Another portion of the grant will fund the installation of green infrastructure at Detroit’s Recovery Park. The combined impact of these projects will reduce the discharge of untreated stormwater into sewer system by 1,100,000 gallons during significant storms. Unfortunately, as extreme weather events occur with increasing frequency due to climate change, the green infrastructure projects’ handling of stormwater will only increase.

“With the potential to create ‘green collar’ jobs for metropolitan Detroit, the EPA’s Initiative Shorelines Cities grants could have a transformative effect on both the environment and the regional economy. ‘Green-collar’ jobs are not only a boon to the environment, but they are also well-paying and lasting. I applaud the EPA for their work in safeguarding the Great Lakes and the American countryside, as well as for helping guide the United States towards a sustainable clean economy.”

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Conyers, Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner, and Scott Statement on President’s Proposed Changes to Intelligence-Gathering Programs

(WASHINGTON) – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) and Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.) issued the joint statement below following President Obama’s proposal to end the bulk telephone data collection program operated under the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA) and reform other aspects of our nation’s intelligence gathering programs.

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“President Obama has outlined many good ideas to reform our nation’s surveillance programs, including ending the bulk telephone data collection program. However, these ideas need to be implemented through legislation that protects our privacy. As the Committee of primary jurisdiction, we look forward to continuing to work on legislation with members from both sides of the aisle on the House Judiciary Committee to strengthen some of the ideas put forth by the President. It’s imperative that we reform our nation’s intelligence-gathering programs so that we better protect our civil liberties and regain the trust of the American people.”

Background: Over the past several months, the House Judiciary Committee has conducted aggressive oversight of our nation’s intelligence-gathering programs operated under FISA.  In July 2013, the Committee held a public hearing to examine the statutory authorities that govern certain surveillance programs operated under FISA, in which the Committee heard from officials from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and from civil liberties groups. In September 2013, the Committee also held a classified hearing where members of the House Judiciary Committee were afforded the opportunity to further probe government officials from the DOJ, the ODNI, the NSA, and the FBI about our nation’s surveillance programs. And in February 2014, the Committee held a comprehensive hearing to examine the various recommendations to reform or end these programs made by President Obama, the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Conyers Kicks Off Jazz Appreciation Month by Introducing a Bill to Preserve & Promote Jazz

(WASHINGTON) – On March 21st, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) reintroduced his jazz appreciation bill, H.R. 4280, the “National Jazz Preservation, Education, and Promulgation Act of 2014.” Tonight, Congressman Conyers will attend the Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Appreciation Month kickoff concert featuring Ravi Coltranewho donated a saxophone owned by his father, John Coltrane, to the Smithsonian earlier today. This year’s activities commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the classic album A Love Supreme. Prior the event, Congressman Conyers issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“This legislation builds upon H. Con. Res. 57, the landmark jazz legislation passed in 1987, which recognized ‘jazz as a rare and valuable national treasure.’ Passed on September 23, 1987 - John Coltrane’s birthday - it was an incredibly important moment in the history of this most American of art forms. However, like so many important efforts, its potential has not yet been fully realized,” said Conyers.

“H.R. 4280 seizes upon the three goals stated in H. Con. Res. 57 - preservation, education, and promulgation - and actually creates programs to achieve those ends.

“The first element, preservation, creates in the Smithsonian Institution a Jazz Preservation Program that will secure artifacts from jazz history and work with groups across the country to maintain collections that tell the story of jazz from its inception to its present, and which will provide learning opportunities for jazz enthusiasts nationwide.

“The understanding component is achieved through two different means. It establishes an education program, Jazz Artists in the Schools, which will ensure that children have access to an enriched curriculum that builds jazz performances into the students’ education. And it also reconstitutes international cultural exchanges built around Jazz music, called Ambassadors of Jazz, which the U.S. State Department first initiated in the 1950s.

“Finally, H.R. 4280 adds a promulgation prong that responds to grassroots input. It supports this goal ofpromulgation by creating a National Jazz Appreciation Program at the Smithsonian Institution, in coordination with the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which will develop a nationwide series of concerts that showcases the diversity and vitality of jazz.

“H.Con.Res. 57 marked a momentous occasion - the formal recognition of jazz as America’s music and the securing of its place in history. H.R. 4280 fulfills the promise of that recognition, ensuring that our children’s children have access to the music that has influenced so much of our history and so many of our lives.”

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Conyers Announces $752,000 in Grant Awards to Wayne State & the Detroit Institute of Arts

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) announced $752,000 in funding - split between five individual grants - from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for Wayne State University and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Specifically, the National Eye Institute within HHS awarded $380,000 to Wayne State University to research the role of the protein HMGB1 in bacterial keratitis. Wayne State University was also awarded: $60,000 in NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant funding for a project entitled “Ethnic Layers of Detroit: Experiencing Place through Digital Storytelling; $6,000 in NEH summer stipend funding for a “Theoretical and Historical Account of Media Viewership” project; and $6,000 in NEH summer stipend funding for a project on, “Black Women’s Disenfranchisement and the Fight for Voting Rights, 1920-1945.” In addition, NEH awarded the Detroit Institute of Arts a $300,000 grant through their Museums, Libraries, and Cultural Organizations Implementation office to put on an exhibit entitled the, “Art of American Dance.”

After the grant recipients were made public, Rep. Conyers issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“I am pleased to announce that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) have awarded a combined $752,000 in grant funding to Wayne State University and the Detroit Institute of Arts for five deserving projects that will improve public health and showcase Detroit’s rich history,” said Conyers.

“A $380,000 vision research grant awarded to Wayne State by the HHS National Eye Institute will aid medical researchers studying the role of a protein in bacterial keratitis. This funding will go a long way towards understanding the complexities of keratitis, a serious infection in the cornea that can lead to severe vision loss.

“Wayne State was also the recipient of three grant awards to further enrich the University’s humanities offerings. These awards included: a $60,000 Digital Humanities Start-Up grant to fund a historical project entitled, ‘Ethnic Layers of Detroit: Experiencing Place through Digital Storytelling”; a $6,000 summer stipend for work on a ‘Theoretical and Historical Account of Media Viewership’ project; and a $6,000 summer stipend for project studying, ‘Black Women’s Disenfranchisement and the Fight for Voting Rights, 1920-1945.’ Additionally, the Detroit Institute of Arts was awarded $300,000 to organize an ‘Art of American Dance’ exhibit for the community.

“I applaud HHS for their commitment to combating troublesome public health concerns, and I commend the NEH for helping to further enhance the Detroit metropolitan area’s creative culture.”

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Ranking Member Conyers Statement at Child Trafficking Hearing

Ranking Member Conyers Statement at Child Trafficking Hearing

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing entitled, “Innocence for Sale: Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.” During his opening remarks, Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) delivered the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Today’s hearing examines the growing epidemic of minor sex trafficking, an absolutely abhorrent practice, that each year entraps more than 100,000 minors - roughly between the age 12 and 14 - into prostitution or child pornography. Although these children come from all socio-economic classes, races, and genders, they all share in common their vulnerability. As we begin our focus on this issue, it must be recognized that these children are victims; they are not criminals, and they should not be treated so,” said Conyers.

“Predators seize upon the insecurities and weakness of these children, whether they are runaways and shelter youth, kids in foster care, or just ‘throwaways’ who have been emotionally and psychologically neglected their whole lives. As such, they are particularly vulnerable to pimps, predators, and sex traffickers through violence, coercion, and fraud. And, when children who have fallen prey to the sex trade are treated as criminals rather than victims, this just further compounds their injuries. They become very afraid to seek help, particularly from law enforcement because of the risk that they will be treated as criminals rather than victims. Instead of criminalizing what these children do, we must ensure that they are recognized for what they:  victims.

“Second, much more needs to be done to improve how we assist these horribly exploited children. They are physically traumatized, often being sold for 10 to 15 sex acts per night. One child may be raped more than 5,000 times in a single year. The extent of the resultant emotional and psychological trauma they endure is hard to fathom. These victims - in order to regain their lives - must receive specialized counseling, educational services, and housing to ensure their physical and mental rehabilitation. Without these specialized programs, these young boys and girls often run away to return back to their abusers because of the unique trauma bonding that occurs between the victim and the trafficker. Yet, there are far too few shelter beds available nationwide to provide for the unique needs of children crushed by the commercial sex trade. We owe it to these youngsters and to our society to help them overcome the horrors that they have been put through.

“Lastly, we must consider how technology and the Internet have enabled the minor sex trafficking business and what this industry can do to help law enforcement stop this crime. After our last hearing on minor sex trafficking in 2010, Craigslist shut down its ‘adult services’ section, which was a primary source of online advertising for the commercial sex trade for both adults and minors. However, this may have been a Pyrrhic  victory. Online sex trafficking has continued, but now in a more dispersed fashion. For example, has roughly 70% of the market share of Internet advertising for the sex trade. It is critical that effective ways for law enforcement to collaborate with these companies be developed so that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are ultimately brought to justice. We must also consider how to rein in the use of decentralized advertising and foreign-based entities that increasingly disseminate this advertising. And, we must also explore how to better educate minors to avoid online predators. More than ever, pimps and traffickers are using social networking sites to coerce and cajole vulnerable children into the sex trade by preying on their insecurities.

“To conclude, I hope that this will be the beginning of a larger discussion that will include human trafficking and labor trafficking. For now, however, I am sure that we can come together in a bipartisan manner to address the evils of juvenile sex trafficking and to find ways that will improve the lives of the far too many children who have already been exploited. We have addressed similar issues in the past, and we should look to such legislation for guidance.  For instance, we should consider effectuating a national standard of care for victims of juvenile sex trafficking, just as past Congresses have for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, to ensure that the these youths receive proper care. Portions of Mr. Poe’s bill will also serve this cause well, as it recognizes the need to greatly improve services to children affected by the scourge of sex trafficking by setting up a revenue neutral fund to provide them aid and creates block grants for sex trafficking deterrence. We should also take steps to curb demand by assisting state and local agencies enforce laws that are already on the books when it comes to dealing with ‘johns’ who patronize minors, as this is a key component in fighting the exploitation of minors. However, we must be careful in creating new federal laws and mandatory minimums in this area, as new federal mandatory minimums for ‘johns’ may lead to unintended consequences.

Tomorrow, the Task Force on Over-Criminalization will be holding a hearing on the over-federalization of criminal laws, and this is just such an instance where state laws that are in place may be just as, or even more effective, in combating demand when they are enforced than a new federal mandatory minimum. I know that we can work together to bring an end to the evils of juvenile sex trafficking, and I look forward to hearing the testimony of our witnesses.”

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Steven Tyler tells Congress to walk his way on copyright

StevenTyler of Aerosmith, in town to lobby for protection of intellectual property rights of singers and songwriters, performed on the rooftop of 101 Constitution Ave, NW, here with Congressman John Conyers, D-MI, who has argued for copyright law revision . (Photo by Susan Biddle/NMPA)
StevenTyler of Aerosmith, in town to lobby for protection of intellectual property rights of singers and songwriters, performed on the rooftop of 101 Constitution Ave, NW, here with Congressman John Conyers, who has argued for copyright law revision . (Photo by Susan Biddle/NMPA)
Some lobbyists have to pound the sidewalks, while others let lawmakers come to them. If you’re rocker-turned-advocate Steven Tyler, it’s members of Congress who come a-calling — like Rep. John Conyers, who actually hopped up on stage with the Aerosmith frontman at a Tuesday-night concert near the Capitol building to join him on the coda to “Walk This Way.”
Or Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Ted Deutsch (R-Fla.), and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), who dropped by the green room before the concert, sponsored by the National Music Publishers Association, to meet with him.
Onstage, with a view of the Capitol in the background, Tyler capped off a few days of lobbying with renditions of hits like “Cryin’” and “Dream On,” to a crowd of suits who looked like they were reliving their high-school days.  The musician spent his visit to Washington meeting with members of Congress to talk about stronger protection for songwriters in the copyright system, including against having their work used, willy-nilly, in samples or mashups by other artists.
Tyler insisted in an interview before the show that he just wants to be a passionate voice in Washington for songwriters  – not just the “rich rock stars” like him. “Hopefully, I can touch them, like a modern-day Will Rogers,” he says, evoking the folksy actor-turned advocate of the 1920s and ’30s. “He’d stand up and speak and everyone would listen.”
"Had a great afternoon with Steven Tyler - thank you for always fighting for artists, sticking up for creators, and for the complimentary office drum session!" says, John Conyers, Jr.

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John Conyers Hosts Job Fair 13th Congressional District Job Fair April 12, 2014

John Conyers Hosts Job Fair 13th Congressional District Job Fair April 12, 2014 by Beverly Tran

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Conyers Welcomes Obama Administration’s Steps Toward Surveillance Reform

(WASHINGTON) – Today, media outlets reported that the White House would propose legislation that would allow the NSA to obtain individual phone records only with the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This morning, the leadership of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence introduced legislation to end bulk collection but allows the government to continue to seize phone records without individualized judicial approval. Although neither proposal goes as far as the USA FREEDOM Act - introduced by Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) - to roll back warrantless surveillance and protect civil liberties, both plans represent an acknowledgement that the government’s bulk collection programs must come to an end. As the news was made public, Congressman Conyers issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
"Over the past year, the American public has become increasingly aware of the government’s sweeping surveillance capabilities. For some time, the public has urged the National Security Agency (NSA) to end its bulk collection of telephone metadata. Last night, President Obama acknowledged these concerns with a legislative proposal to end bulk collection and - critically - to require judicial approval before the NSA demands an individual’s telephone records. Although the details are still forthcoming, I welcome the President’s commitment to ending bulk collection and reining in dragnet surveillance programs. I look forward to reviewing the specific details of the proposal and working with the Administration on this important matter,” said Conyers.

“This morning, Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Ranking Member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence also joined the consensus that bulk collection of telephone metadata must end. While I welcome the fact that two steadfast advocates of the intelligence community are willing to take a step in the right direction, I believe any reform effort must address the government’s secret interpretation of Section 215, under which the word ‘relevant’ was distorted to mean ‘everything.’ Section 215 was never intended to permit bulk collection, and any correction to the statute must correct this clear error.

“Today marks the next step towards genuine surveillance reform, and I look forward to working with both President Obama and our colleagues on the Intelligence Committee to achieve that worthy aim.”

The USA FREEDOM Act, co-authored by Congressman Conyers, Congressman Sensenbrenner, and Chairman Leahy in the Senate, would increase transparency, introduce a public advocate to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and end bulk collection once and for all. More than 130 members in the House - evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and including a majority of the House Judiciary Committee - have cosponsored the USA FREEDOM Act. The House Judiciary Committee is the committee of primary jurisdiction for any reform to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Representative Conyers has previously called on the Committee to markup this legislation.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Conyers: Under Obamacare, Michigan Medicare Enrollees Have Saved $350 Million on Prescription Drugsj

More Than 1.3 Million Michigan Medicare Beneficiaries Received Free Preventive Services in 2013

(WASHINGTON) – Four years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, seniors and people with disabilities continue to enjoy lower costs and greater benefits thanks to the law’s historic reforms, saving$9.9 billion nationally on prescription drug costs alone. In 2013 alone, 178,697 Michigan seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare saved $188,248,200, or an average of $1,053 per beneficiary.  The Affordable Care Act makes Medicare prescription drug coverage more affordable by gradually closing the gap in coverage where beneficiaries had to pay the full cost of their prescriptions out of pocket, before catastrophic coverage for prescriptions took effect - the so-called “donut hole.” The law also made certain preventive services available free of charge, eliminating coinsurance and the Part B deductible for recommended preventive services, including many cancer screenings and other essential benefits. On this anniversary, Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“The Affordable Care Act is protecting the well-being and the wallets of seniors and people with disabilities in Michigan and throughout the nation. In 2013 alone, 4.3 million Medicare beneficiaries, including 178,697 Michiganders have seen dramatic savings on their prescription drugs. The annual checkups and other free preventive services available because of this historic law have also enabled seniors to look after themselves without spending all of their savings and retirement to do so,” said Conyers.

 “Four years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, millions of seniors, students, workers, entrepreneurs and families are discovering new health security - and new financial security as well. With just one week remaining until the March 31st deadline, I encourage everyone to enroll and to ensure that family and friends enroll. With nearly 6 in every 10 uninsured able to find coverage for $100 or less thanks to financial assistance programs, we need to work together to make sure every uninsured individual accesses healthcare.

“Further, I am very pleased that Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, Healthy Michigan, will open as planned at 12:01 am on April 1. This Medicaid expansion is expected to extend health care coverage to an additional 470,000 Michiganders, including many who have never had coverage before.   

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, can no longer limit the amount of care you get or charge woman more. It is already benefiting millions, including the 5 million who have signed up in the state and federal marketplaces, the 4.4 million who have signed up, renewed or found eligibility themselves eligible for Medicaid coverage, and the 3.1 million young adults who can stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26. The Affordable Care Act means personal and economic freedom for millions of Americans. With strong participation so far, we anticipate enrollment momentum to continue to build in this last week. I hope Republicans will work with Democrats to improve and strengthen the law’s historic protections moving forward.”

The deadline to enroll for coverage this year under the Affordable Care Act is Monday, March 31st. Enroll online at or call 1-800-318-2596 for more health insurance information.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Why a progressive budget works

By John Conyers, Jr.

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Budgets are moral documents. In allocating government funds, the federal budget makes a definitive statement about our values and the kind of country we aspire to be.

In the decades following the Second World War, this statement was loud and clear: Congress invested in job-creation, a strong safety net and world-class public institutions. From the interstate highway system to Medicare to the Apollo Program, federal budgets facilitated full employment, rising living standards and unprecedented technological progress.

All this was good for business. Workers had the income needed to buy goods and services, which, in turn, gave employers the certainty needed to invest and hire more people. This shared prosperity paved the way not only for GDP growth but also for progress toward a more socially-inclusive society.
Contrast Congress’s postwar budgets with those of today. With nearly 30 million Americans either unemployed or underemployed, Congress continues to make reckless cuts to education, infrastructure, science research, environmental protection, and the criminal justice system. These cuts cost jobs.

The consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers recently estimated that recent budget cuts and the government shutdown have cost the country up to $700 billion in economic activity and about two million jobs. In addition, these cuts have degraded our public institutions. A big decline in federal revenue sharing with states has made higher education unaffordable for millions of students at public 
universities and vastly worsened fiscal conditions in cities including Detroit.

While we tend to associate conservatism with tradition and progressivism with new thinking, sometimes the opposite is true. In 2014, the progressive vision for the federal budget aims to return to the shared gains and economic stability of the postwar era, while a conservative version aims for a brave new world of shrinking safety nets and reckless short-term profit maximization.

Great business leaders think long-term. That’s why the private sector should support a far-sighted federal budget that prioritizes job-creation through infrastructure upgrades and workforce training, investments scientific innovation and quality education from pre-K to post-secondary, stronger consumer demand through a fair minimum wage and reliable safety net, as well as action to address environmental risks from drought to rising sea levels.

Some conservatives in Congress might call this “big government.” It is more accurate to call it “smart capitalism.” When people are trained, working, earning a salary, and contributing to the tax base, there’s less need for government assistance, and there are higher levels of consumer demand and investment.

As a result, there’s less debt and more economic growth. It should come as no surprise that the 
Congressional Progressive Caucus’s new “Better Off Budget”—a proposal that’s estimated to create 8.8 million jobs by 2017—would also reduce the deficit by $4.08 trillion over the next 10 years.
The United States has a long history of making foresighted investments in its workforce as well as in education, innovation, and conservation. This month, as Congress votes on its budget plans for Fiscal Year 2015, I will urge my colleagues to uphold this proud tradition.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Conyers Announces $16 Million in Improvement Grants for Michigan Schools

(WASHINGTON) – Yesterday afternoon, the Department of Education (DOE) awarded the Michigan Department of Education more than $16.7 million in grant funding – through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) Program – to boost underperforming schools in Michigan. So far, the Obama Administration has provided $2 million per school to more than 1,500 underperforming schools through the SIG Program.Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement after the announcement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“I am pleased to announce that the Department of Education has awarded more than $16.7 million in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding to the Michigan Department of Education. This grant funding will raise student achievement in underperforming schools and extend the promise of quality education to more of our state’s youth. The Obama Administration has already extended $2 million to more than 1,500 underperforming public schools through the SIG Program, with an additional $95 million in grant funding - divided between 10 states - issued today. As Congress continues to pursue misguided austerity policies that rob our children of educational opportunities, such as severe cuts to Head Start, it is reassuring that the Department of Education remains committed to universal, quality education. In announcing these grants Education Secretary Arne Duncan rightly stated that, ‘We owe it to our children, their families and the broader community.’ I agree wholeheartedly, and look forward to working with the Michigan Department of Education to strengthen our public schools in Detroit and across Michigan.”

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Conyers & Wilson Lead Congressional Letter to New Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen Urging Focus on Full Employment

(WASHINGTON) – Today, in response to the ongoing jobs crisis in America, Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), and 19 of their Congressional colleagues sent a letter to new Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen urging her to focus on the Federal Reserve’s mandate to promote maximum employment. The Federal Reserve’s jobs mandate has a long history, with origins in the Employment Act of 1946, and further affirmations in both the Federal Reserve Reform Act of 1977 and the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978.  For much of the last century, our political leaders were in agreement: government has a responsibility to strive toward the attainment of full employment. Today, monetary policy remains an essential vehicle for reducing unemployment. The letter encourages Chairwoman Yellen to explore options beyond the current quantitative easing programs to boost the economy as directly as possible. After the letter was sent to Chairwoman Janet Yellen, the leaders of the letter, Representatives Conyers and Wilson issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.):  “While Wall Street is booming, tens of millions of Americans continue to suffer unemployment or underemployment.   Our entire government - including Congress and the Federal Reserve - must work towards a comprehensive agenda to pursue full employment. Chairwoman Yellen has a powerful arsenal of policy tools to combat unemployment and a long history of standing up for working Americans. We know that her policy priorities align with those of the Congressional Full Employment Caucus, and that she will guide Federal Reserve’s policymaking with the plight of the unemployed in mind. In our letter, we encourage the Federal Reserve to search for options beyond quantitative easing to boost the economy directly and efficiently.”

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.): “I came to Congress to fight for jobs. With the Republican House leadership inexcusably unwilling to act on any meaningful jobs legislation, we must make use of all the economic tools at the government’s disposal. That’s why we’re calling on the Federal Reserve to commit to strong job-creation policies. We have faith in Dr. Yellen, who is not only a historic figure as the first female Fed Chair, but also a champion for low-income Americans.”

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