Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Conyers and Jackson Lee Praise President Obama’s Action to Commute Sentences, Continue Work to Pass Legislation to Reform Sentencing Laws

WASHINGTON- Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) released the following joint statement after the White House announced the commutation of the sentences of 61 individuals:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“We applaud the commutations announced today and commend the President’s continued commitment to using his constitutional authority to reduce sentences when appropriate.  During his time in office, he has now commuted the sentences of 248 individuals – more than the previous six presidents combined.  President Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch recognize that incarcerating people for unwarranted lengths of time serves no constructive purpose and that we need to take meaningful steps, including sentencing reform, to make our criminal justice system more just and, at the same time, more effective. We are pleased to be working with them in this effort as Congress continues its bipartisan initiative to adopt legislation to address the problems of unfair sentencing and over-incarceration.” 

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

House Judiciary Democrats Introduce Resolution Urging Senate to Give Full and Fair Consideration to SCOTUS Nominee Merrick Garland

Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), together with the support of all House Judiciary Democrats, introduced a resolution (below) that urges the Senate to observe regular order and to give President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court full and fair consideration and an up-or-down vote.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives'
John Conyers, Jr.
“Judge Garland is an eminently seasoned jurist and an exemplary nominee for the Supreme Court. His deep respect for and fidelity to the Constitution and his sensitivity to the impact of the law on ordinary people make him a good choice to fill the vacancy,” said Rep. John Conyers. “Unfortunately, with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, we have seen partisan politics regarding Supreme Court nominations reach a new low.  While the House of Representatives does not have a formal say in the nomination process, it is important that its voice be heard on this important constitutional matter. I urge the House to pass my resolution and for the Senate to do its job.”

The resolution expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the Senate should fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide full and fair consideration of President Obama’s nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

Justice Antonin Scalia passed away on February 13, 2016, leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Acting pursuant to his authority under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland on March 16, 2016 to fill the vacancy with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Within hours of Justice Scalia’s passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared that the Senate would not consider any nominee that President Obama would select, regardless of the nominee’s qualifications.  On February 23, 2016, all Republican Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Senator McConnell in which they pledged not to hold any hearings on any person that President Obama nominated to fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

“During my more than 50 years in Congress, I have witnessed few comparable examples of partisan politics and complete obstructionism.  There are too many important cases still pending before the Supreme Court to allow this vacancy to stall America’s progress. This is not the first time we have confronted this very situation, as the confirmation of Justice Anthony Kennedy by President Ronald Reagan occurred in 1988, a presidential election year,” continued Conyers. “The Senate should do its job, comply with regular order, hold fair hearings on Judge Garland’s nomination, and then hold an up-or-down vote on the nomination.” 

The resolution was introduced with the support of all Democratic Members of the House Committee on the Judiciary: Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Pedro Pierluisi (D-Res.Comm.- PR), Judy Chu (D-CA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Karen Bass (D-CA), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Susan DelBene (D-WA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), David Cicilline (D-RI), and Scott Peters (D-CA).
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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. Markup of H.R. 4771, the “Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2016"

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Today’s markup of H.R. 4771, the so-called “Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare Act of 2016,” or “HEALTH Act,” is the eleventh time since 1995 that we have considered legislation intended to deny medical malpractice victims the ability to be made whole and to hold wrongdoers accountable.

Notwithstanding the fact that this measure has repeatedly failed to become law because of its many problems, the rushed consideration and timing of this markup are not a coincidence.  We are taking up this bill because the Majority cannot keep its Members together on what to do about the federal budget.   

To begin with, H.R. 4771 is a solution in search of a non-existent problem.

Although the bill’s proponents claim too many medical malpractice lawsuits are driving up medical malpractice premiums, the facts do not support this claim.

It is not the frequency of litigation or the size of jury awards that determines medical malpractice insurance premiums.  Rather, insurance premiums are largely driven by the investment practices of insurance companies that invest premium dollars for maximum return. 

So, when the stock market plummets or interest rates drop, insurers sharply increase premiums and reduce coverage. H.R. 4771 does nothing to address this boom-and-bust cycle in the investment practices of the insurance industry.

And, it does nothing to address the McCarran-Ferguson Act’s unjustified antitrust exemption for the “business of insurance,” repeal of which would go a long way towards stabilizing the medical malpractice insurance market. There is simply no evidence that premiums are going up because of malpractice lawsuits. While not addressing a real harm, this bill would cause real harm by severely limiting the ability of victims to be made whole.

For instance, it imposes an unjustifiably low cap on noneconomic damages.
The bill’s $250,000 limit for noneconomic damages – an amount established more than 40 years ago pursuant to a California statute – would have a disparately adverse impact on women, children, the poor, and other vulnerable members of society.

These groups are more likely to receive noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases because they are less able to establish lost wages and other economic losses. For instance, women recover lower amounts in economic damages than men because they receive lower overall wages, and, not surprisingly, they are 3 times more likely than men to receive noneconomic damages. 

Women are also more likely to suffer noneconomic loss, like disfigurement or loss of fertility, or to be the victim of conduct that is likely to lead to punitive damages, such as sexual assault.
These harms are furthered heightened by the bill’s new burdens on proving punitive damages and its expansive application to all “health care lawsuits,” not just medical malpractice suits. Whatever the short term savings, the bill would impose broad social and financial costs in the long term, including the additional strains on Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs caused when malpractice victims are denied full restitution.

Finally, the bill represents a deep intrusion into state sovereignty. As any first-year law student knows, tort law is supposed to be the domain of states.

Yet this bill preempts medical malpractice and product liability law in all 50 states to protect insurance companies, providers, and pharmaceutical manufacturers at the expense of victims.

Accordingly, I strongly oppose H.R. 4771 for these and many more reasons and urge the Committee to reject this bill.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Conyers, Goodlatte, Upton, and Pallone Announce Bipartisan Encryption Working Group

Encryption a Top Issue for House Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committees

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Washington, D.C.  – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) today announced the creation of an encryption working group to examine the complicated legal and policy issues surrounding encryption. The group will identify potential solutions that preserve the benefits of strong encryption – including the protection of Americans’ privacy and information security - while also ensuring law enforcement has the tools needed to keep us safe and prevent crime. The House Judiciary Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee have primary jurisdiction over encryption and the issues it presents for citizens, law enforcement, and American technology companies.

Members of the working group are:

Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
Darrell Issa (R-CA)
Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
Bill Johnson (R-OH)
Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)
Yvette Clarke (D-NY)
Joe Kennedy (D-MA)

Chairmen Goodlatte and Upton and Ranking Members Conyers and Pallone will serve as ex officio members of the working group and released the following joint statement:

“The widespread use of strong encryption is important to protecting Americans’ privacy.  We also recognize that challenges remain for law enforcement agencies seeking to disrupt criminals and terrorists from doing us harm. The bipartisan encryption working group will examine the issues surrounding this ongoing national debate. Members will work toward finding solutions that allow law enforcement agencies to fulfill their responsibility without harming the competitiveness of the U.S. technology sector or the privacy and security that encryption provides for U.S. citizens. We look forward to continuing our work on this important issue facing our country.”

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Michigan emergency manager law targeted in congressional bill

DETROIT, MI -- Democrats in Congress on Thursday introduced a bill seeking to hinder emergency management policies that give far-reaching power over local governments to state appointees.
Michigan Former Emergency Manager, Darnell Earley
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, introduced the bill with support from 30 other Democrats, including Michigan Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Twp., and Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield.
The Emergency Financial Manager Reform Act would give the U.S. Attorney General authority to withhold law enforcement funding from states where an state-appointed emergency manager rejects collective bargaining agreements or other contractual agreements without local consent.
The law would also allow funding to the be withheld if an emergency manager "fails to protect against... discriminatory impact on voting rights, harm to public health or safety, conflicts of interest, mismanagement, and abuse of discretion," according to Conyers' office.
It would allow states to be stripped of up to 5 percent of funds allocated under the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program.
"We cannot undo the damage already done by the lead-poisoned water in Flint or fix the harm already caused by the hazardous conditions in Detroit's public schools," Conyers said in a statement.
"But we can stand together and make sure the unaccountable emergency managers responsible for these disasters – and the legal system that empowered them – are not permitted to inflict further harm on our citizens or our constitutional rights."
Michigan's powerful emergency manager law has placed state appointees in control of Detroit, Pontiac, Flint, Ecorse, Hamtramck, Allen Park Lincoln Park and Benton Harbor in recent years.
Each of those cities have since transitioned out of emergency management and remain under oversight of financial advisory boards.
Emergency managers remain in the school districts of Detroit, Highland Park and Muskegon Heights.
"Sadly one only has to look at my hometown of Flint, Michigan, to see the dangerous consequences of emergency financial managers," said Kildee in a statement.
"It was decisions by such unelected emergency financial managers that led to the current water crisis in Flint. They are entirely bottom-line focused, bringing a failed philosophy to government that puts saving money at any cost ahead of the livelihood of people. Under Michigan's current laws, democracy is suspended in cities like Flint in favor of absolute power in the hands of emergency financial managers."
Detroit schools have been under emergency management since 2009, and the district is now seeking $715 million from the state legislature to relieve it of burdensome debt built up over years of state control.
But state control over Detroit city government in 2013 and 2014 has faced less criticism, with the city being relieved of $7 billion in debt after a bankruptcy case that was led by an emergency manager.
A message seeking comment on the bill was left with Gov. Rick Snyder's office.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Congressman John Conyers to Join National Action Network for Press Conference To Urge Congressional Action on the Flint Water Crisis

Immediately following the testimony of Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder before the House Oversight Committee, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Rev. Sharpton and Rev. Williams will join families from Flint, Michigan that have been impacted by the water crisis to call for a greater Congressional response.

WASHINGTON – Tomorrow, March 17, 2016, U.S. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) will join the National Action Network in urging Congressional action to resolve the Flint water crisis and to announce introduction of legislation to reform the Michigan Emergency Financial Manager law.

Dean of the u.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
WHO:  U.S. Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13)
Rev. Al Sharpton, President and Founder of National Action Network
Rev. Charles Williams, President of National Action Network Michigan Chapter
Families from Flint, Michigan affected by water crisis

WHAT:  Press conference to announce introduction of legislation to reform the MI Emergency Financial Manager law and urge Congressional action to resolve the Flint water crisis.

WHEN:  Thursday, March 17, 2016 – NOON

WHERE:  House TriangleU.S. Capitol Complex (map)
*Please note the House Triangle is adjacent to the intersection of Independence Avenue and South Capitol Street SE. *

All media is invited to attend/cover the press conference. For any specific questions, please reach out to Stephanie Báez at(202) 999 – 9699.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Conyers and Cohen Urge Senate to Hold a Vote on SCOTUS Nominee Merrick Garland

WASHINGTON – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice Ranking Member Steve Cohen (D-TN) released the following statement after President Obama announced D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland as nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“Fulfilling his constitutional duty to nominate justices to the Supreme Court, President Obama has nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.  The Senate should now fulfill its responsibility by giving its full and fair consideration to the President’s nomination.

“Judge Garland is an eminently seasoned jurist who has all the qualities that make him an upstanding nominee for the Supreme Court.  His unquestioned intellect, long judicial experience, and even temperament are widely admired and respected.  His deep respect for and fidelity to the Constitution and the law and his sensitivity to the impact of the law on ordinary people make him an optimal choice.

“Leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court for a prolonged period would be irresponsible. Such a prolonged vacancy would impair the Supreme Court’s ability to fulfill its role and leave many critical constitutional and legal questions subject to only lower-level court review.

“The American people twice elected President Obama to fulfill the duties of the presidency, including the duty to nominate Supreme Court justices.  President Obama has fulfilled that duty, and now it is incumbent upon the Senate to give Judge Garland a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote. It is what the American people deserve and expect of their elected officials.”

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Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member, for the Markup of H.R. 4731, the ‘‘Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act,”

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
We are in the midst of a global refugee crisis.  There are currently more displaced people – approximately 60 million – than at any time since World War II. 

They are in refugee camps in Africa.  They are on boats, in trains, and traveling by foot from the Middle East to Europe.  And they are coming to our border from Central America.  These are the world's most vulnerable, many of them women and children.

Unfortunately, the Majority's answer to this crisis is H.R. 4731, a bill that would reduce refugee admissions to the United States by nearly one third, deem all refugees suspect, and effectively build walls around entire communities.

First, H.R. 4731 would impose an arbitrarily low cap on the number of refugees permitted to be resettled each year and would transfer the authority to establish the annual refugee admissions ceiling from the President to Congress.  Doing so, would tie the hands of the President, making it difficult – if not impossible – for him or her to utilize the refugee program to respond in a time of war or other crisis. 

As a result, those fleeing persecution will be turned away because we have reached an arbitrary level that is far below what is needed, what we can do, and what other countries - including Germany and Canada - are doing.

In addition, H.R. 4731 would erect new, costly and ineffective hurdles for those seeking to start a new life in America and would deem all refugees suspect.

It authorizes surveillance monitoring and additional security checks for all refugees without cause and for no other reason than having arrived legally through the refugee program.  It stigmatizes refugees as potential criminals.  It is simply un-American to treat those fleeing persecution, who want nothing more than to start a new life in safe and welcoming communities, as potential criminals.

Finally, this legislation would effectively wall off entire communities from refugee resettlement by empowering governors and local legislatures to block to block the resettlement of refugees.  We know that the U.S. refugee program relies on support from state and local governments, as well as faith-based and other non-governmental organizations.  Without them, it just doesn’t work.

In my home state, I opposed the governor when he tried to exclude Syrian refugees from being resettled in Michigan.  And I am pleased he has backtracked.

In closing, I would note that this is not a serious attempt to legislate.  A draft of H.R. 4731 was just made available to Members on Monday, there have been no legislative hearings or even the opportunity for input from the Administration or organizations that are best equipped to understand how such sweeping changes will affect refugees. 

Instead, I suspect this is just another political exercise to play on our worst fears – similar to the divisive and dangerous rhetoric being used by certain political candidates.

I have watched with dismay as the leading candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination talks of building a wall and closing our country to Muslims.  I know the Muslim community in and around my district.  These are hard-working, family-oriented people of faith.  Their dreams are the same as immigrants who came before them – safety and protection from oppression, educational opportunities for their children, and a better life for those willing to work for it. 

H.R. 4731 would have us turn our back on those in most need of refugee resettlement.  It is inconsistent with the letter and spirit of U.S. and international refugee law. Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this mean spirited legislation and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Is It Time for Reparations?

How do we heal the wounds of slavery in the U.S.?
Posted by AJ+ on Tuesday, March 8, 2016
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Statement of Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Hearing: “The Chevron Doctrine: Constitutional and Statutory Questions in Judicial Deference to Agencies”

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Today’s hearing focuses on whether the Supreme Court’s articulation of judicial deference in Chevron is a concept that should be retained in federal administrative law. I believe the Chevron doctrine should be retained for several reasons.

To begin with, enhanced judicial review would make rulemaking even more costly and time-consuming for agencies. 

The federal rulemaking process is already deeply ossified. 

As the Nation’s leading administrative law scholars have long-observed, agency rulemaking is hampered by burdens imposed by both the courts and Congress.  Indeed, Professor Richard Pierce, one of our witnesses today, noted more than 20 years ago that the “the judicial branch is responsible for most of the ossification of the rulemaking process.”  

Heightened judicial review would only worsen this problem because it would force agencies to formulate even more detailed factual records and explanations. 

Enhanced judicial review could also have the perverse effect of undermining agency accountability and transparency.

It could encourage agencies to conduct rulemaking out of the public view, to issue guidance documents in lieu of rulemaking, or to cause them to avoid rulemaking altogether. 

I am also concerned that enhanced judicial review will undermine public participation in the rulemaking process.

As the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has observed, “[p]ublic participation in agency decision making is highly sensitive to cost and delay” and applying greater judicial scrutiny of agency rulemaking will favor those who can afford these greater costs. 

Large corporate interests – which are accountable only to shareholders and devoted to maximizing profits – already have the edge with their vast resources to bury an agency in paperwork demands and litigation with a goal of weakening regulatory standards.

Rather than providing even more opportunities for the voices of corporate interests to prevail, we should be considering ways to ensure that the voices of the public are strengthened in the rulemaking process. 

Finally, enhanced judicial review would encourage judicial activism.

A less deferential judicial review standard would allow judges to effectively make public policy from the bench while lacking the specialized expertise that agencies possess.

The Supreme Court has had numerous opportunities to expand judicial review of rulemaking, but it has consistently rejected this approach.  This reflects its long-held belief that generalist courts lack the subject-matter expertise of agencies, are politically unaccountable, and should not engage in making substantive determinations from the bench.

Enhanced judicial review, on the other hand, would allow generalist courts to impose their personal policy preferences.

It is ironic that the Majority – which has long decried “judicial activism” – now seeks to give the judiciary a greater role in agency rulemaking.

And, what would be the impact of slowing down the rulemaking process?  It means that rules intended to protect the health and safety of American citizens would take longer to promulgate and become effective. This means a delay for regulations that protect the quality of the air we breathe and the safety of the water we drink, and the food we consume. 

In closing, I thank the witnesses for being here today and I look forward to hearing their testimony.
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Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. for the Executive Overreach Task Force Hearing on “Executive Overreach in Domestic Affairs Part I – Health Care and Immigration”

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Today’s Executive Overreach Task Force hearing examines whether President Obama has violated the U.S. Constitution with respect to his authority to enforce the Affordable Care Act and the immigration laws.  These are both issues that the full Committee has repeatedly considered in the past and it is clear to me that the President hasnot violated any constitutional limitations on the exercise of his executive authority as to either of these areas.

            To begin with, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration programs are clearly lawful exercises of executive discretion.

            Presidents from both parties, including George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, routinely have used similar deferred deportation policies to promote family unity in our immigration system. 

            These programs are common sense solutions to our broken immigration system that has divided families for decades and subjected many to harsh immigration enforcement policies.  

            The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs are not only appropriate, but perfectly lawful.

            Prominent legal scholars – including liberal professors such as Laurence Tribe and conservative professors such as Eric Posner – concur that these programs represent a lawful exercise of the President’s executive authority. 

            Moreover, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy have previously held that the Executive Branch retains broad discretion in immigration proceedings and this is a “principal feature of the removal system.”

This discretion permits the Executive Branch, through the Department of Homeland Security to set priorities and, accordingly, the agency has chosen to focus its enforcement efforts on those with serious criminal convictions instead of focusing on hardworking immigrants who simply lack documentation. 

            Although oral argument before the Supreme Court in United States v. Texas is scheduled for next month, I fully expect the Court, in keeping with prior precedent, will uphold the Administration’s immigration programs. 

            And, we must note that the principal reason why these programs are necessary is because this Congress has repeatedly failed to take any action to fix our Nation’s broken immigration system.  

            Rather than addressing this problem, the Majority has chosen to focus only on legislative initiatives aimed at deporting Dreamers and the parents of U.S. citizen children as well as denying basic protections to children fleeing violence and persecution.

            I sincerely hope this Congress can move forward towards repairing our broken immigration system instead of blaming this President for taking lawful actions that were well within his Executive authority.

            And, finally, with respect to the Affordable Care Act, the Majority in the House has on more than 60 occasions voted to repeal this law, but to no avail. So their assertion that it is an unconstitutional exercise of the President’s executive power should come as no surprise.

Specifically, the Act’s opponents claim that the Administration – by providing transitional relief to large employers that do not provide health insurance for their employees and by authorizing subsidies  – usurped Congress’ responsibilities under Article I of the Constitution and violated the Constitution’s Take Care Clause.

Yet, as Simon Lazarus, the Minority witness, has previously explained, the Administration’s actions in implementing Affordable Care Act’s complex statutory scheme were well within its statutory authority and we consonant with the President’s obligation to “faithfully” execute the law.
Clearly, we should be able to have legitimate policy differences without making unfounded accusations. There is substantial precedent supporting the President’s actions in health care and immigration.

            I thank the witnesses for appearing today and I look forward to hearing their testimony. 
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Monday, March 7, 2016

Conyers, Goodlatte Sensenbrenner and Jackson Lee on the Passing of Tiffany Joslyn

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI), and the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) today released the following joint statement in the wake of the death of Tiffany May Joslyn, Deputy Chief Counsel of the Crime Subcommittee (Democratic staff), who died on Saturday, March 5, 2016:

“We are deeply saddened by the sudden, tragic loss of Tiffany May Joslyn and her brother, Derrick T. Joslyn, who died in an auto accident in Rhode Island.   

“Tiffany joined the committee almost one year ago and came into the office everyday with boundless energy and positivity.  She was brilliant, determined, compassionate and kind.  

“Her hardworking nature and diligent spirit served as an inspiration to everyone who knew her and worked with her, regardless of political affiliation.  

“Tiffany’s passionate work and dedication to social justice is unparalleled.  From her time working in the non-profit sector as a young criminal defense attorney to her many months of hard work to reform our criminal justice system as Deputy Chief Counsel of the U.S. House Judiciary Crime Subcommittee – her work made a lasting  impact.  

“Though her life was cut short by tragedy, Tiffany had a profound and positive impact on the world. She made a true difference in the lives of many, both professionally and personally.  We are grateful for the time we were able to spend with Tiffany, and for her critical work on the committee. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family.”

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Congressman Dan Kildee Leads Twenty-Six Members of Congress to Flint to Meet Directly with Families Affected by Water Crisis

The #FlintWaterCrisis is not just a local Michigan problem—it is a national issue that tells us how the story of how...
Posted by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. on Friday, March 4, 2016
FLINT – Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today led a congressional delegation to Flint, Mich., to hear directly from residents affected by the city’s ongoing water crisis. In addition to Congressman Kildee, twenty-five other Members of Congress joined the trip to Flint, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn (SC-06), and leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus. This is the third delegation to visit Flint with Congressman Kildee in recent weeks.

While in Flint, the members toured the city and held a ‘Speak Out’ to hear directly from families affected by the water crisis. The members also received a briefing from Dr. Nicole Lurie, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that provided an update on current federal response efforts. The briefing also allowed the members to discuss additional resources needed in Flint.

“The Flint water crisis is not just a local concern or Michigan problem—it is a national issue that tells us how the story of how de-industrialization, de-regulation, and disinvestment can result in tragedy.  What we are seeing in Flint appears to be a perfect storm of global and national headwinds and unforgivable, reckless disregard that must be fixed.  I am thankful that my Democratic colleagues in Congress were able to join us here today to hear directly from those that have been impacted and from Dr. Lurie to learn firsthand how we can provide a stronger federal response to bring relief to these families and help remedy the wrong they have suffered.  I thank Congressman Kildee for his leadership and determination to resolve this ongoing crisis.” stated Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13).

“Flint is a strong community and our families are tough people,” said Congressman Kildee. “While this crisis is a setback for our community, I know we will emerge from this tragedy. Flint families just need the resources to overcome this crisis. State decisions created this crisis, and the state of Michigan must step up and do more to help. The federal government, including the President and numerous federal agencies, has already helped in many ways. Congress should also act without delay to help Flint recover from this man-made crisis.”

“No parent should have to worry about the water their kids drink or the safety of their back yards. It’s outrageous that lead poisoning is an ongoing issue affecting families in Flint and across the country. In the Los Angeles area, including in my district, we are confronting a possible environmental crisis due to contamination from a lead battery plant that could affect up to 10,000 homes.  Families want solutions and they need action now,” said House Democratic Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA-34). 

“What is happening to families in Flint is a tragedy. Every level of government must act in a coordinated effort to solve this crisis. Members of Congress are going to Flint to listen to residents directly and see first-hand what their needs are. With investments in health, education and infrastructure, the children of Flint can live successful, healthy lives. We cannot turn our backs on them, or the children of any other city like it. We must act,” said Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-05).

“The CBC was among the first to demand a thorough federal investigation of the Flint water crisis and we will be visiting with Flint families to further amplify the urgency of this health and environmental crisis. The harm experienced by the residents of Flint is irreversible and multi-generational. Governor Snyder has been a central figure in the decision-making process that led to the water crisis and we look forward to his testimony before the Committee.  The lack of oversight and accountability demands a thorough investigation and we have come to Flint to remind them that elected officials will not ignore this crisis. We will hold the right parties accountable for the lack of oversight and accountability that has led to more than 10,000 children unknowingly being exposed to dangerous amounts of lead in their drinking water. This crisis demands more and we must all do our part to ensure the citizens of Flint have the resources they need, both in the short- and long-term,” said Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC-01).

“It is unconscionable that the Flint water crisis continues to affect families and children. Not only did the State of Michigan fail to protect and serve its people, the government created the crisis and magnified its effects with delayed responses and outright lies that endangered the public,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03). “We must ensure that every child exposed to lead has access to nutrition and childhood development services to mitigate the adverse effects of exposure. Federal programs continue to play a critical role in aiding Flint and we have to stop this crisis from happening elsewhere.”

“I want to thank Congressman Kildee for organizing today’s visit, and I appreciate my colleagues who represent constituents in other parts of our country for taking the time to hear directly from Flint families affected by this terrible crisis. I am hopeful that the U.S. Senate will act soon on a bipartisan agreement that I authored with Senator Peters to help fix the pipes and address health care needs. However, federal funds do not replace what the State of Michigan is morally and legally obligated to do to meet its responsibility to the community,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

“We’ve had the opportunity today to listen to the concerns of Flint residents, and we’ve seen the hard work being done to coordinate services. This week, the Administration announced the expansion of Head Start, Early Head Start – and just yesterday of Medicaid – for Flint residents. However, these actions should only be the beginning. Now it is time for the State to act to solve the crisis they created. Resident of Flint must be guaranteed not only clean and safe water, but continued access to health and educational services for their children the foreseeable future to help mitigate the effects of the tainted water,” said Congressman Sander Levin (MI-09).

“I join my Michigan colleagues in thanking my House colleagues from across the country for visiting Flint to hear firsthand from residents and to learn how we can best work together at the federal level to support them. Flint faces many challenges, but Michiganders are strong and resilient and we are committed to standing together to overcome this crisis. It is also imperative that we ensure this never happen in another community in America,” said Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12).

“I want to thank Rep. Kildee, Leader Pelosi and my fellow members of the CPC and CBC for making this Speak Out possible. It was so important for the residents of Flint, whose trust has been shattered and whose rights have been violated, to have the opportunity to let Congress know firsthand what they need to rebuild their health and lives. It was also important for my fellow members and me to show the people of Flint that we are here, we care, and we will not stop until the truth about this man-made disaster is revealed and steps are taken to ensure it never happens anywhere in America again,” said Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (MI-14).

“As a mom, I can’t imagine the horror parents must have felt after learning their children were being poisoned by the water coming into their homes and schools,” said Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-05). “It’s outrageous that it takes an emergency like this to underscore that vulnerable families are hit hardest when budgets are slashed without regard for health and safety. I want my colleagues to hear the stories we bring back from Flint so that we can ensure the resources that Flint’s families need to care for their children, fix the problem permanently, and make sure this never happens again to any of our nation’s children.”         

“Today I stand in solidarity with the women, men and children of Flint, Michigan as well as my colleagues to witness firsthand the extent of the devastation caused by the city’s contaminated water,” stated Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09). “The State of Michigan made a clear choice to divert Flint’s  source of water for the sake of saving money with little consideration of the impact on public health. This choice has proven to be catastrophic for the tens of thousands of people living in Flint and in turn created an environmental justice community in the process. Access to clean water is a fundamental human right irrespective of socio-economic status and ethnic origins. I will work extensively to hold those responsible accountable, and fight for justice on behalf of the people of Flint.”

“People should never have to worry about the safety of their drinking supply and parents shouldn’t be afraid of giving their child a simple glass of water. Congress must not only act to help Flint but also ensure this doesn’t happen in other communities,” said Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53).

“The Flint water crisis has shown us that the trust and ability to protect our citizens’ basic right to clean water has been shaken. We all have a duty to ensure justice and protection of our citizens. This is an important topic and one that Congress must turn its attention to with urgency and unity of effort to address the harms caused, get an accounting of what happened, understand how the water was poisoned, make the lives of people damaged by this tragedy whole, find justice for those lives that may have been lost and determine and provide for the long-term health needs of those impacted. Not only will the dangers and hazards of this disaster be felt by the residents of Flint, Michigan for years to come, but the American public remains at risk to national security vulnerabilities exposed through our most basic infrastructure that supports the delivery of clean water to homes and businesses nationwide,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18).

“Thank you to Leader Pelosi and Congressman Kildee for organizing this important delegation so Members of Congress can bear witness to the real impact of this man-made and entirely preventable tragedy. My constituents and I are appalled by this injustice and we are committed to doing everything necessary to help this community,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13). “The tragedy in Flint is a direct result of institutional racism and structural classism that devalued the lives of people living Flint. This happened because public officials with the power to act ignored their responsibility as children and families were poisoned by the very water in their homes. This is simply unacceptable. As Members of Congress, we have a duty to hold officials accountable and take real action to empower and uplift the people of Flint following this unthinkable tragedy.”

“Americans across the country are outraged by the tragedy here in Flint. As Dr. King once said, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ We simply cannot stand by while our fellow Americans – including thousands of innocent children – are suffering. We are here today because we wanted to meet with the local leaders and families who are confronting this crisis, hear their stories, and stand up for them in Washington. Congressman Kildee is a powerful champion for these families and we are proud to join him in this effort to ensure that justice is done. Flint families deserve answers from the leaders who failed them and solutions that will help them recover from this terrible crisis. We are committed to doing everything we can in Congress to send the resources they need and ensure that those who are responsible will be held accountable. The families of Flint deserve nothing less,” said Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02).

“We come to the city of Flint, not as Members of Congress or elected officials, but as Americans concerned for the well-being of our fellow brothers and sisters,” said Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04). “The ongoing tragedy occurring in this community demands more than just our collective attention and empathy. It demands swift and effective action from federal, state, and local stakeholders. We are here to let the residents and families of Flint know that they are not alone, for we are reminded by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”

"This trip with Leader Pelosi and other Members to our colleague Dan Kildee’s district is special for me because the District of Columbia experienced its own lead-in-water crisis 15 years ago,” said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC). “No Americans are in greater solidarity with Flint than D.C. residents. The opportunity to talk with actual residents going through this crisis is the highlight of this trip. For me, this is also a fact-finding trip to see whether legislation is in order to make sure other jurisdictions can guard against the harm we least expect--in the water we drink. Flint has become the poster child warning the entire nation to take steps to ensure water is free of lead and other contaminants. The Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment on which I serve has a special responsibility to investigate the safety of our nation’s water infrastructure. The federal government has stepped up by sending many agencies to Flint. However, the state of Michigan itself, whose responsibility it is to provide safe drinking water, has to take the leadership that was so deficient and that could have prevented this crisis. We go back to Washington equipped with a practical to do list that I hope will benefit the people of Flint and the rest of the country.”

“The Flint water crisis is a disgrace to this nation,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10). “A glaring lack of oversight created this emergency, and as a result, thousands of children may suffer irreparable harm, never reaching their full potential because of neglect and indifference from Governor Snyder’s administration. We have a moral obligation to protect the health and well-being of our communities. I am proud to join my Democratic colleagues on this visit to listen to the people most impacted by this crisis and see that they are given the justice they deserve.”

“The crisis in Flint is unimaginable,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02). “With thousands of children and other residents exposed to lead contaminated water in their own homes, we need to hear directly from the families affected. Our first priority is to ensure the people of Flint get the resources they need. By joining together, we can start repairing the damage suffered by Flint residents, so they can have faith in their government again.”

“I am glad to be in Flint to hear firsthand from the families who have been affected by this crisis. The adverse effects of lead exposure are myriad, among them decreased academic attainment, increased need for special education, and higher likelihood of behavioral challenges. As Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, I am working with Congressman Kildee to mobilize programs and implement policies under my committee’s jurisdiction that will help appropriately respond to this crisis. After taking into account each of these programs that can help Flint children, we estimate that it will cost $1.3 billion in supplemental funding over ten years to ensure every Flint youth is receiving the necessary services to mitigate the effects of lead exposure. I was happy to see the Department of Health and Human Services announce some additional funding for health centers and Head Start this week, but that is only a first step. The impact of lead exposure on young children is long lasting and our response must have a long-term approach,” said Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03).

“I am left heartbroken after speaking with the families of Flint, who have suffered so much." said Congressman Takano. “This terrible crisis was entirely preventable and I join with my colleagues in demanding accountability for those responsible.  I am grateful to Congressman Kildee and Congresswoman Lawrence for their invitation and hope that under their leadership we can protect communities across the country from a similar tragedy,” said Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41).

Last month, Congressman Kildee introduced two pieces of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives in response to the Flint water crisis, focusing on immediate and long-term investments for Flint. The Families of Flint Act would make critical investments in infrastructure repairs, wrap-around services for families and children exposed to lead, economic development for Flint and long-term health monitoring for city residents. Since the decision to switch the city of Flint’s water source was made by a state-appointed emergency financial manager, Congressman Kildee’s legislation would require state-matching funds equal to the total of the federal bill.

Additionally, the U.S. House of Representatives has already passed Congressman Kildee’s bipartisan Safe Drinking Water Improved Compliance Awareness Act, which would strengthen requirements to have the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) step in to notify the public when concentrations of lead in drinking water are above federal requirements. The bill, supported overwhelmingly by Democrats and Republicans, passed the House 416 to 2 on February 10, 2016.

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