Thursday, May 25, 2017

CONYERS Statement On Circuit Court Ruling To Block Trump's Muslim/Refugee Ban

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) released the following statement after the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a block on President Donald Trump's revised Muslim and refugee ban executive order:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“Today, yet another court has struck down Trump's un-American Muslim and refugee ban.  Even in its so-called revised form, the courts have not closed their eyes to the undeniable truth--that the ban was intended to harm Muslims and thus is in conflict with the First Amendment's prohibition on the establishment of religion.

“The second travel ban executive order, like the first, undoubtedly targets Muslims and is unconstitutional. I’m pleased that the judicial branch has been steadfast in their commitment to upholding the constitution.”

In April 2017, Ranking Member Conyers helped lead 165 Democratic Members of Congress in filing a brief as amici curiae in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the case of International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trumpto highlight the unlawfulness of Trump’s second travel ban executive order.

In their amicus brief, the Members wrote, “…despite the Second Order’s self-serving claims to the contrary, it delivers on President Trump’s repeated promises as a candidate to limit the entry of Muslims into the country.  In so doing, it flies in the face of one of our most deeply rooted constitutional values: that the government must not favor (or disfavor) any particular religion. As the Constitution’s text and history make clear, the Religion Clauses—both Article VI’s prohibition on the use of religious tests, and the First Amendment’s promise of “free exercise of religion” and prohibition on “laws respecting an establishment of religion”—prohibit a religious test that singles out a religion for discriminatory treatment under our immigration laws. . . . The best way to protect the security of the nation and to uphold foundational American values is to respect the Constitution’s fundamental protections and the laws passed by Congress.”

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CONYERSL Billionaires Posing As Populists Won't Support Trade Deals For Working People

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Last week, President Trump’s administration notified Congress of his intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Act, better known as NAFTA.  As someone who fought against NAFTA’s passage and who has watched unfair competition with low-wage nations tear apart his district—count me among the unimpressed. This is likely to be just another trade deal written by billionaires for the benefit of billionaires.

Donald Trump narrowly won my home state in 2016 on a simple promise: he was going to undo, or scrap the unfair trade deals that were hurting Michigan workers.  He promised this despite his past support for free trade, but regardless of his history, people believed he honestly opposed trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Regardless of Trump’s sincerity, he appeared to give voice to the angst that Michigan workers rightfully feel about the impact of NAFTA over the past 20 years. Our workers are tired of competing against Mexican workers who make pennies on the dollar. Michiganders hate that our auto trade deficit—in our largest manufacturing industry—has tripled since NAFTA was passed to over $130 billion as of 2013.

And while NAFTA isn’t the only globalized trade force driving down American wages, Michiganders feel like it was the slippery slope that led so many manufacturers to pack up and leave.  Workers in Michigan feared that Hillary Clinton would not be in their corner on trade. That was costly for her, ultimately proving fatal in the narrow loss she suffered in Michigan.

Decades of losses under NAFTA aren’t easy to fix. Our economy has become so intertwined with Mexico’s that we cannot simply end NAFTA—we have to reform it.  That requires work and that requires a new approach.  To succeed, we need real outsiders who represent working people to write our trade deals—not billionaires like Betsy DeVos and Wilbur Ross and Steven Mnuchin, who will always put Wall Street before Detroit.

Right now, President Trump is relying on donors, family and staff to tell him what a good deal looks like.  With the exception of his Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, who has a reputation as an independent on these matters, Trump’s people are the same ones who have fought for NAFTA and its successors to make it easier to offshore jobs, break up unions, and force workers to compete against people being paid a few dollars a day.

The reason I oppose these billionaire former CEOs writing our trade laws is simple: bargaining power.  If their workers in the United States want higher wages, a CEO can bargain them down by threatening to offshore their jobs.  If environmental agencies or activists want them to stop damaging the environment, the corporate executives call them job killers and threaten to move to a country with fewer regulations and a weaker civil society.

If we want to have fair trade, then we need to be able to enforce the restrictions that make trade fair. But that’s easier said than done.  Enforcing rules and regulations is hard at home and it only gets harder oversees. If Trump gets his way, and guts the American agencies who oversee foreign countries compliance with existing trade rules—it’s going to be nearly impossible.

So far, Trump’s done very little to encourage those who want a fair renegotiation of NAFTA.  After a campaign where he talked tough, he has done little as president to back it up.  He called China a currency manipulator repeatedly during the campaign, but now he says they are not—all while his son-in-law’s family business pitches deals to Chinese investors on their access to President Trump.

At this point in his struggling presidency, Donald Trump needs to do something to fulfill his populist promises and that isn’t unconstitutional, unwise and against American’s interests. Renegotiating NAFTA to protect American workers’ jobs—and workers abroad from exploitation—could be that act.  In order to do so, he needs to have labor unions, consumer advocates, and environmental and safety regulators leading—not advising, but leading—that effort. 

We need people who care deeply about the full implications of trade to be heard with this deal. What we don’t need is another trade deal written by big business for big business.  Unfortunately, looking at Trump’s Cabinet and the people who we know have access to him, another big business trade deal seems like exactly what he’s going to push. We must remain vigilant and prepared to hold his feet to the fire to ensure good jobs for Michigan families. 

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CONYERS: After New Sessions Russia Report, Conyers Calls For Committee Investigation Into Sessions Misstatments

Washington, D.C. - After CNN reported that the Justice Department revealed Attorney General Sessions failed to disclose his contacts with Russian officials as part of his security clearance,  Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“The latest report detailing how Attorney General Jeff Sessions once again concealed his contacts with Russian officials points to a troubling pattern of behavior by the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

“In the face of an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's contact with the Russian government--an investigation from which Mr. Sessions is recused because of his failure to disclose similar contacts--the Attorney General’s decision to omit this information from his security clearance application demands the House Judiciary Committee’s careful review. 

“Chairman Goodlatte should immediately convene a hearing on this matter. We can no longer delay conducting oversight of the Office of the Attorney General.”

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have long called on Chairman Bob Goodlatte to join them in their oversight efforts.

On March 2nd, all House Judiciary Committee Democrats sent a letter to former Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey and former U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C., Channing D. Phillips, calling for an immediate criminal investigation into U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ statements before Congress in regards to his communications with Russian officials.

On March 10th, every Democrat on the Committee called on Chairman Goodlatte to “get moving on Trump oversight” by holding formal committee hearings on Russia’s interference with the election and related matters. 

On March 31st, Reps. John Conyers, Jr., Hakeem Jeffries and Ted Lieu, called for Sessions to clarify his involvement with the Russia investigation, after his statements on leaks of classified information.

On May 11th, all seventeen Democrats on the House Committee on the Judiciary sent a letter to Chairman Bob Goodlatte, urging him to conduct immediate hearings into the firing of James Comey. 

On May 12th, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein raising “grave concerns” about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ direct participation in President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey despite the fact that he previously recused himself from any actions involving the investigations of the Trump and Clinton presidential campaigns.

On May 16th, all 33 Democratic Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on the Judiciary, sent a detailed letter to their respective Republican Chairmen outlining their demand for an immediate investigation into the actions of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and top White House aides.

The House Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It also has jurisdiction over the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

CONYERS: Top House Judiciary Democrats Call On Trump To Provide Details On All Foreign Gifts & Emoluments

Washington, D.C. – Today, top House Judiciary Committee Democrats sent a letter, below, to President Donald Trump to request that he provide a detailed accounting of all items constituting a “present” or “Emolument” from all foreign governments and their agents. This letter comes after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a document from the Trump Organization, also below, which states, in part, “To fully and completely identify all patronage at our Properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry and putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand.”

In their letter, the Members wrote, “…the Trump Organization indicated it would be ‘impractical’ to ‘fully and completely identify all patronage’ at the Organization’s properties.   As a result, it is now all the more important that we ask you directly to provide an accounting of items constituting a “present” or “Emolument” from foreign governments, their agents, and instrumentalities as set forth below.”

The letter is signed by House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI); House Judiciary Subcommittee Ranking Members Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), David N. Cicilline (D-RI); and House Judiciary Committee Vice Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD).

In March 2017, Democrats on the Committee released a document to highlight 15 facts rebutting the myths President Trump has perpetrated regarding the applicability of ethics laws to the Executive Office of the President, his conflicts of interest, his plans to address those conflicts of interest, and his claims regarding the application of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. 

In February 2017,  House Judiciary Committee Republicans voted to kill a resolution of inquiry which would have directed the Justice Department to provide the House of Representatives with information relevant to President Trump’s conflicts of interest, his potential violations of the Emoluments Clause, and ties between his campaign advisors and the Russian regime.

Judiciary Democrats Letter For Trump To Details On All Foreign Gifts & Emoluments by Beverly Tran on Scribd

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CONYERS: Members Of Congress Press Conference On Medicare For All Legislation

On Wednesday, May 24th at 9:45AM, Members of Congress held a press conference at the House Triangle to provide a new update on legislation to expand Medicare to a national, single payer system. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), the sponsor of H.R. 676, The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, will be joined by Members of Congress, along with representatives from Physicians for a National Health Plan and National Nurses United.

In attendance were:

Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives  
Congressman Keith Ellison, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair
Congressman Ro Khanna
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman
Congressman Jamie Raskin
Congressman Adriano Espaillat
Congressman Peter Welch
Dr. Philip Verhoef, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, ICU physician, University of Chicago
Jean Ross, RN., Co-President, National Nurses United
Additional Members of Congress

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CONYERS: Heartless Trump Budget Hurts Nation's Most Vulnerable And Undermines Access To Justice

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), today released the following statement on President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget:

Dean of the U.S, House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“There is no doubt that President Trump’s budget starves many essential government programs across the board.  These proposed cuts threaten to undermine the Justice Department’s critical public safety efforts and jeopardize essential community-based justice programs,” said Conyers

Guts Legal Services Program for America’s Most Vulnerable:

Conyers continued, “The Trump Budget effectively eliminates the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a program that for more than 40 years, with bipartisan support, has provided civil legal representation of hundreds of thousands of Americans in every county in every state and the territories.  By cutting all LSC funding, the Trump Budget would harm America's most vulnerable: seniors victimized by consumer fraud scams, families facing foreclosure and eviction, women trying to escape domestic abuse, and veterans seeking promised benefits.  Last year alone, LSC grantees helped nearly 100,000 veterans and their family members nationwide.  Rather than address the enormous gap between the number of people who need legal services and the resources currently available to LSC to meet their needs, the Trump budget instead guts this critical program, which is particularly needed in rural communities where 20% of the Nation’s population resides in rural areas, but only 2% of lawyers serve these communities.”

Strips Funding from National Instant Criminal Background Check Improvement Program:

“After the Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007, Congress passed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act, a bipartisan measure to require and fund the addition of qualifying mental health information into the background check system,” said Conyers.  “The Trump budget reduces funding for this effort. We must maintain our commitment to making sure this system is as comprehensive as possible to reduce the chances that guns are sold in error to people who are legally prohibited from possessing them.”

Harms Crime Prevention Efforts:

Conyers continued, “The Trump budget severely underfunds programs that help the formerly incarcerated get back on their feet. At a time when we must focus our efforts on programs that actually work to reduce crime, we must not back away from funding critical programs under the Second Chance Act that help prisoners successfully transition back to their communities and thereby reduce recidivism.” 

Americans Foot the Bill for Trump’s Border Wall:

“This budget funds a militarized police force which has the potential to expose Americans to greater racial profiling and additional interrogations at the border. With this budget, Americans will foot the bill for Trump’s un-American border wall,” Conyers concluded.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

CONYERS: Clark Atlanta University to Award Four Honorary Degrees to Iconic Trailblazers

ATLANTA (May 17, 2017)    Clark Atlanta University will bestow four doctoral degrees honoris causa during the 2017 Commencement Convocation Monday, May 22, 8 a.m. at Panther Stadium, 735 Beckwith St. SW. “These four pioneers were selected carefully from the areas of civil and human rights, politics and STEM,” says Ronald A. Johnson, President of Clark Atlanta University. “Their rich legacy is to be honored and celebrated.”

Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa -  U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): Congressman Conyers represents Michigan’s 13th congressional district. Conyers is the longest serving member of the United States Congress, since 1965. He is the first African-American to hold the distinction as Dean. With more than 50 years of public service, Conyers has been the proponent of dozens of legislative bills including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Conyers was the first to introduce the original Martin Luther King Holiday Act of 1983.

Doctor of Human Letters Honoris Causa – William Pickard, Ph.D.: Pickard began his entrepreneurial career as a McDonald’s franchisee more than 45 years ago. He is the chairman and CEO of VITEC and Global Automotive Alliance. In 1982 Pres. Ronald Reagan nominated, and Senate confirmed, Pickard as the first chairman of the African Development Foundation (ADF).

Doctor of Science Honoris Causa (in absentia) - Retired NASA Mathematician Katherine G. Johnson: Johnson made significant contributions to the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) program. During segregation Johnson defeated an oppressive work environment while calculating the trajectories, launch windows and return patterns for NASA’s space shuttle programs. Her career was one of the inspirations behind the box office film “Hidden Figures.”  “I loved learning at all times” says Johnson. “You’ll do better in life if you want to learn, want to teach, want to help others.”

Doctor of Laws Degree Honoris Causa  - Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.: Rev. Jackson has made significant contributions to the Civil Rights movement and to America’s political and religious landscapes. In the 1980s Rev. Jackson fought twice for the Democratic presidential nomination. For his contributions to society, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000 from President Bill Clinton. Rev. Jackson is the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Jackson champions an array of causes including civil rights, economic justice and peace. 

For more information on the 2017 Clark Atlanta University Commencement schedule

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

CONYERS & SCOTT Introduce Bill to Address Racial Inequities in Public Education

WASHINGTON – TODAY, Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) introduced the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act (EIEA). This legislation would empower parents and communities to address – through robust enforcement – racial inequities, including inequities in access to educational resources, in public education.

Today marks the 63rd anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case, which struck down lawful school segregation and affirmed that education was a right that “must be made available to all on equal terms.” Last year on the anniversary of Brown, Ranking Members Scott and Conyers unveiled the findings of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which found that our nation’s schools are, in fact, re-segregating by race and class.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“Though the Nation can celebrate the progress made over the course of the last 63 years after the Brown v. Board decision, we should acknowledge the long path ahead of us in the battle toward equal education,” said Ranking Member Conyers. “Last year’s GAO report confirmed our fears -- that many of our schools are re-segregating at alarming rates. On this landmark occasion, I’m proud to join Rep. Scott in introducing the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act, legislation that will help us on our path to providing equal educational opportunities for all students.”

On this anniversary of Brown, we are reminded that we have a long way to go to achieve educational equity for all students,” said Ranking Member Scott. “Last year’s GAO report confirmed that increasing segregation along the lines of race and poverty continue to be a driver for inequities in education. The Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act provides parents and communities with the tools necessary to ensure all children have a chance to succeed, and moves us one step closer to fulfilling the promise of Brown.”

In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, a decade after the Brown decision. Title VI of the Act mandates that federal dollars cannot subsidize or support programs or activities that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. The EIEA would:
  • restore a private right of action to file disparate impact claims under Title VI;
  • create Title VI monitors to ensure that every school has at least one employee to specifically carry out the responsibilities of the law; and
  • create an Assistant Secretary in the Department of Education to coordinate and promote Title VI enforcement of equity and inclusion in education.

Earlier today, a companion bill - the Rebuild America’s Schools Act of 2017 - was introduced to support new investments in school infrastructure to help level the playing field for students in under-resourced communities. 

Organizations supporting the EIEA: NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Advancement Project, NAACP, and Teach Plus.

The Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act (EIEA): Restoring Private Right of Action to Disparate Impact Clai... by Beverly Tran on Scribd

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

CONYERS: All Dems on Oversight and Judiciary Committees Demand Immediate Investigation of President, Attorney General, and Top White House Aides

Request Public Hearing with FBI Director, Memos and Tapes in Light of
Reports that Trump Pressured Comey to End Flynn Investigation

Washington, D.C. (May 16, 2017)—Today, all 33 Democratic Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the House Committee on the Judiciary sent a detailed letter, below, to their respective Republican Chairmen outlining their demand for an immediate investigation into the actions of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and top White House aides:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“We are writing to request that the Oversight Committee and the Judiciary Committee launch an immediate joint investigation into whether President Donald Trump and his top officials are engaged in an ongoing conspiracy to obstruct the criminal, counter-intelligence, and oversight investigations currently being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and Congress into members of his presidential campaign and their contacts with Russian officials.”

The letter explains:

“Given the gravity of the events that have occurred over the past several weeks, there is simply no reasonable question that the Oversight Committee and Judiciary Committee should already be conducting a robust investigation of these issues that includes public hearings, document requests, and interviews and depositions.  It is unacceptable to continue ignoring these scandals.”

With respect to the Oversight Committee’s lack of action to date, the letter states:

“Although Chairman Chaffetz recently sent a letter to the Department of Justice Inspector General, we believe that response is anemic—especially for the Oversight Committee, which claims to be the premiere investigative body in the House of Representatives—and particularly in comparison to the multiple ‘emergency’ hearings he called and the unilateral subpoenas he issued as part of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

With respect to the Judiciary Committee’s lack of action to date, the letter states:

“On several occasions—through at least four letters to Chairman Goodlatte, and in debate on three separate resolutions of inquiry debated in the Judiciary Committee—we have called for the Majority to take action ‘to ensure the integrity and independence of both the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’.”

The Members conclude:

“We are concerned that the continued failure of House Republicans to take action in the face of this onslaught of allegations will cause significant damage to the faith that the American people have in the credibility and integrity of our Committees and the House of Representatives.  We have a solemn obligation under the Constitution to act as a check on the Executive Branch and to hold President Trump accountable.  It is time to do our job.”

The letter requests an immediate public hearing with Director Comey and copies of all of the FBI Director’s memos relating to the President, as well as all associated agency and White House records, including any audio tapes, and notes, if they exist. 

The letter also requests that the Oversight Committee schedule an immediate vote on a motion to subpoena the White House to produce documents it has been withholding in response to the bipartisan request from Ranking Member Cummings and Chairman Chaffetz on March 22, 2017.  All Democratic Members of the Oversight Committee sent a letter to Chairman Chaffetz on April 27, 2017, insisting that he press the White House to produce these documents, but the Chairman refused to even hold a meeting.
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Washington, D.C. – Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) released the following statement after reports that Ford will cut 10 percent of its workforce:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“I join my fellow Detroiters in their concerns regarding reports that Ford may be cutting its worldwide workforce by up to 10 percent.  While I understand that certain shareholders are pushing the company to cut costs—it is important that Ford prioritize American jobs and the communities that support them.  Ford is one of America’s most enduring companies. As an American icon, they have a responsibility to minimize layoffs of American workers.  I encourage them to let myself as well as the rest of the Michigan delegation know how we can help protect our constituents’ jobs.”

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CONYERS, BOOKER & CICILLINE Introduce Bill To Repeal Congressional Review Act

Republicans have abused law to roll back health, environmental, and consumer protections, while benefiting special interests

WASHINGTON – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member JohnConyers, Jr. (D-MI), U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a bill to repeal the Congressional Review Act, a measure Republicans have exploited this year to overturn public health, environmental, and consumer protections while advancing special interests.  

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“From stripping the privacy rights of American consumers to repealing women’s healthcare protections, President Trump has recklessly used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to abolish fourteen critical protections for hardworking Americans without a single hearing or markup,” Cicilline said. “Rather than keep his promise to protect American workers, President Trump has repealed guarantees that federal contractors actually comply with the law—including workers’ wage, safety, and civil rights protections—before receiving new contracts, along with rules to provide economic security to retirees. There can be no mistake that this for-profit President has no interest in putting people ahead of corporate profits. I am introducing the SCRAP Act to repeal the CRA once and for all so that this never happens again and to provide agencies with fast-track authority to reinstate the rules that have been repealed through the CRA by President Trump.”

The CRA allows Congress to quickly overturn recently issued agency rules – many of which were years or decades in the making – by bypassing Congress’s regular lawmaking process. Once a rule is reversed by the CRA, an agency can never reissue a substantially similar rule unless specifically authorized to do so under a new law.

Since February, Republicans have used the CRA to roll back a wide range of public health, environmental, and consumer protections, benefiting special interests by making it easier for internet providers to collect users’ personal information, making it easier for businesses to hide workplace dangers from workers, and making it easier for states to discriminate against family planning providers, to name just a few examples.

“Abuse of the CRA has allowed Congressional Republicans to fast track the repeal of a host of protections that benefit everyday Americans with little notice or public debate,” Booker added. “President Trump and Republicans are misusing this legislative mechanism to reward special interests and big corporations at the expense of consumers, working families, and the environment."

“Congressional Republicans and President Trump have just provided us with all the evidence needed to conclude that the Congressional Review Act is nothing more than a crass corporate payback scheme,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said. “Republicans repealed 14 popular and important public protections, including measures to protect consumers, worker health, and the environment. They even repealed a rule to protect privacy on the Internet; it’s hard to imagine that any American not connected to the telecom industry favored that move – but Republicans responded to their political patrons nonetheless. If there was any doubt before, it’s now certain that the CRA must go. Public Citizen applauds Senators Booker and Udall and Rep. Cicilline for introducing legislation to repeal the CRA.”

In addition to repealing the CRA, the Sunset the CRA and Restore American Protections (SCRAP) Act would remove the prohibition on agencies reissuing a previously overturned rule and would give those agencies greater flexibility in reinstating such rules.

The CRA was designed to go after “midnight” rules issued in the final days of an administration, but as written, it authorizes rule reversals going as far back as six months or more into the previous administration. Since early February, House and Senate Republican leadership in Congress has used the CRA to reverse 14 agency rules, yet prior to this Congress, the CRA had been used only once in 20 years.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

CONYERS & CUMMINGS Respond to Reports that President Trump Revealed Highly Classified Info to Russians

Washington, D.C. (May 15, 2017) – Reps. John Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Judiciary, and Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued the following statement in response to press reports that President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian diplomats:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
"We need to be clear, we do not know if these allegations are true or false, but if -- IF -- these allegations are true, President Trump may have just disclosed top secret information to the Russians and possibly jeopardized an intelligence source in the process.  This is the same meeting in which Russian officials laughed with the President in front of Russian photographers inside the Oval Office while members of the American press were excluded.  Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives need a briefing from the National Security Adviser and the directors of our nation’s intelligence agencies to get to the bottom of these allegations, and if there are audio recordings of this meeting, Congress needs to obtain them immediately. After an unprecedented week in which many thought it would be impossible for President Trump to be any more irresponsible, he now may have sunk to a dangerous new low.”

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Friday, May 12, 2017

CONYERS: Top House Dems To White House: We Need 'Tapes'& All Communication Between Trump & Comey

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
Washington, D.C.—Today, after President Donald Trump tweeted “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Rep. John Conyers, Jr., the Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter, below,  to White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II to request copies of all recordings in possession of the White House regarding this matter.

In their letter, the Members also requested, “…all documents, memoranda, analyses, emails, and other communications relating to the President’s decision to dismiss Director Comey—a decision which the President declared yesterday he planned to make “regardless of [the Deputy Attorney General’s] recommendation”—and all discussions with Director Comey.
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CONYERS & JACKSON LEE: Sessions Memo Doubles Down On Tragic & Counterproductive Sentencing Policies

Washington, DC - Today, the Department of Justice announced the issuance of memorandum from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to all federal prosecutors, establishing new policies for charging criminal offenses and seeking sentences when convictions are obtained.  The memorandum explicitly rescinds prior memoranda of the Department of Justice, which includes memoranda issued by former Attorney General Eric Holder.  In particular, Sessions’ memo specifically states that mandatory minimum sentences should factor in the determination of which is the most serious crime that can be and therefore should be charged, and directs that prosecutors must disclose to the sentencing court, all facts that impact the sentencing guidelines or mandatory minimum sentences.  This directive reverses the policies, outlined in Eric Holder’s memo of August 12, 2013, that were designed to “ensure that our most severe mandatory minimum penalties are reserved for serious, high-level, or violent drug traffickers.” 

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:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives,
John Conyers, Jr.
“We are deeply disappointed that Attorney General Sessions has rescinded the fair-minded charging and sentencing policies instituted by former Attorney General Holder.  The prior policies represented a better approach, in recognition of the need to treat each case based on its unique circumstances and acknowledging the inequities that result from one-size-fits-all mandatory minimums.  We are particularly troubled that such a divisive, counterproductive and ill-informed memo would be issued without so much as a discussion or consultation with Members of the Congressional Black Caucus whose constituents are disproportionately targeted by this change in policy. 

“There is growing bipartisan consensus that mandatory minimums, which in drug cases are based on quantity and not culpability, are unjust and fiscally unwise.  We are suffering from a crisis of overincarceration, which harms public safety and is fiscally unsustainable.  The memorandum that the Attorney General has issued doubles down on sentencing policies that are tragic and counterproductive.  We urge the Attorney General to reconsider and work with us to develop a more fair and reasonable policy going forward.”  

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CONYERS: Top House Dems Raise “Grave Concerns” About Attorney General Violating Recusal Law on Comey Firing

Letter to Deputy AG Seeks Report on Removing Sessions or Other Discipline

Washington, D.C. (May 12, 2017)—Today, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., the Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter, below, to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein raising “grave concerns” about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ direct participation in President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey despite the fact that he previously recused himself from any actions involving the investigations of the Trump and Clinton presidential campaigns.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“If the facts now being reported are accurate, it appears that the Attorney General’s actions in recommending that President Trump fire Director Comey may have contradicted his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at his confirmation hearing, breached the public recusal he made before the American people, and violated the law enacted by Congress to prevent conflicts of interest at the Department of Justice,” Cummings and Conyers wrote.

Cummings and Conyers cited Section 528 of title 28 of the United States Code which is entitled, Disqualification of Officers and Employees of the Department of Justice, which directs the Department to establish regulations to “require the disqualification of any officer or employee of the Department of Justice … from participation in a particular investigation or prosecution if such participation may result in a personal, financial, or political conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof.”

The penalty for any Justice Department official who violates such a recusal could be termination.  The statute states:  “Such rules and regulations may provide that a willful violation of any provision thereof shall result in removal from office.”

“Since the Attorney General previously recused himself from these matters—and since he may not sit in judgment on his own failure to comply with the law—we request that you, as the Acting Attorney General in this matter, report to us on the steps that must now be followed to address this apparent abuse,” the Ranking Members wrote. 

“We recognize that the Attorney General’s actions have thrust you into a very delicate position with respect to enforcing the law of the land against your superior,” Cummings and Conyers wrote.  “In this case, however, the Attorney General previously recused himself from these matters, leaving you with the solemn obligation to fulfill your responsibilities to the Department of Justice and the nation.”

The Ranking Members also requested a wide range of documents and information relating to the Attorney General’s involvement in the President’s recommendation to fire Director Comey.

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