Monday, October 30, 2017

CONYERS: In Wake Of Trump Campaign Indictments & Russia Investigation Guilty Plea, Conyers Urges Goodlatte To Move In More Bipartisan Manner, Protect Special Counsel From Partisan Attacks

Conyers Expresses Concern about Efforts to Divert Attention from ongoing Russian Threat to our Elections

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) today sent a letter, below, to Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), calling for him to widen the scope of the investigation he launched last week with Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy into decisions made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2016, to include the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, foreign interference in American elections, and related issues. 

The letter comes after Special Counsel Mueller reached a plea agreement with George Papadopoulos for making false statements to the FBI regarding Russian efforts to meet and coordinate directly with the Trump campaign, and issued a twelve count indictment against Paul Manafort and Richard Gates for false statements, money laundering, failure to register as a foreign agent, and conspiring against the United States.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
In his letter to Chairman Goodlatte, Conyers wrote, “The circumstances call for extraordinary bipartisan cooperation.  Working together is the only way to reassure the American public of the credibility and fairness of our political, legal, and electoral processes…Based on our years of bipartisan, first-hand experience working directly with Mr. Mueller, we are uniquely positioned to ensure he is given the space and independence he needs to complete his important work on behalf of the American people.”

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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Thursday, October 26, 2017

CONYERS & CUMMINGS Demaind Top Trump Campaign Conosultants Disclose Details Of Campaign Data Operations

Washington, D.C. – Top House Democrats, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter, below, to several Trump campaign consultants to demand information regarding their campaign operations, whether they engaged with known hostile foreign actors such as Wikileaks, cooperated with foreign governments, or used misappropriated data during the 2016 election.

The letter is addressed to Cambridge Analytica, Giles-Parscale, TargetPoint Consulting, The Data Trust (aka GOP Data Trust) and Deep Root Analytics, which provided data analytics and voter analysis to the Trump campaign under a data operations team managed by Jared Kushner.  The letter notes that “The campaign hired Giles-Parscale to run its San Antonio-based internet operation to maximize merchandise sales, heighten voter outrage, and discourage voter turnout in certain segments of the population.  Cambridge Analytica provided the analysis to help choose the right targets for directed advertisements and other online media.  The republican data firms Deep Root Analytics, TargetPoint, and Data Trust ‘were among the RNC-hired outfits working as the core of the Trump campaign’s 2016 general election data team.’”

Recent reports have stated that Cambridge Analytica and possibly other members of the Trump data operations team actively solicited Wikileaks -- a known hostile foreign intelligence actor -- to acquire stolen information.

In their letter, the Members wrote, “It is now clear that Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election involved the careful targeting of certain voters through social media and other online platforms.   This targeting appears to have been executed with an extraordinary level of precision that suggests a deep familiarity with American voter preferences and habits and exceeds the reported capabilities of foreign cyber operations.  As we assess legislation that addresses whether American businesses directly engaged with known hostile foreign actors such as Wikileaks, cooperated with foreign governments, or used misappropriated data, it is important we understand what happened…The prospect that any American company may have aided a foreign government, worked with hostile foreign actors, or benefited from unlawfully accessed information is concerning and could impact the consideration of ongoing legislation.”
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CONYERS & PALLONE: Trump's Opioid Announcement Is Meaningless Without Additional Funding

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) today released the following statement in response to President Trump’s declaration that our nation’s opioid crisis is a public health emergency:

“President Trump’s announcement today falls far short of the recommendations of his own commission, and is essentially meaningless because it does not provide any new funding to fight an epidemic that is killing 91 Americans every day.  The opioid crisis continues to grow, cutting lives short, tearing families apart and leaving people in communities all around our nation with few places to turn as they struggle to find treatment."

“Despite his previous claims that the opioid crisis is a ‘national emergency,’ the President’s announcement today does not unleash the financial resources necessary to end this epidemic.  Instead it simply allows the federal agencies to shift already limited resources away from other public health programs.  This is not the way to fight an epidemic of this magnitude.”

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CONYERS & LOFGREN: Detention of 10-year-old Disabled Chid Unjust and Inhumane

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following reports that a ten-year-old disabled child was taken into custody by Border Patrol agents immediately after emergency surgery at the Driscoll’s Children hospital in Corpus Christi, U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) wrote to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke today raising concerns that the child’s detention is unjust, inhumane, and will create community-wide fear resulting in immigrants not seeking medical care, even for their children.

According to news reports, Rosamaria Hernandez was brought to the United States as a three-month-old baby. She suffers from cerebral palsy, and was detained after her ambulance crossed a Border Patrol checkpoint traveling from Laredo to Corpus Chirsti. Border Patrol agents followed her to the hospital and waited outside her hospital room.

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CONYERS, MARKEY & 60 Members of Congress Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Reaffirm Congress's Constitution Power Over a First Strike on North Korea

Legislation would ensure no funds are used to launch an unconstitutional strike that experts say would lead to catastrophic war on the Korean Peninsula

Washington (October 26, 2017) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) led more than 60 members of Congress in introducing new bipartisan, bicameral legislation to ensure that President Donald Trump cannot attack North Korea without the approval of Congress by prohibiting any expenditure of funds for such a strike. The No Unconstitutional Strike Against North Korea Act of 2017 restricts funds available to the Department of Defense or to any other federal department or agency from being used to launch a military strike against North Korea without the prior approval of Congress or the imperative to respond to an attack against the United States or its allies. Recent polling demonstrates that more than two-thirds of the American people believe that the United States should attack North Korea only if North Korea attacks first.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“As a veteran of the Korean War, I am ashamed that our Commander-in-Chief is conducting himself in a reckless manner that endangers our troops stationed in South Korea and our regional allies,” said Rep. Conyers, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee and the only Democrat in Congress to have served in the Korean War. “That is why Congress is standing up today to ensure that this Administration understands that the Constitution does not permit military attacks without Congressional approval. During the campaign, people feared a President Trump with the power to initiate a nuclear conflict—less than a year later, those fears are far too close to being realized. Trump must immediately cease talk of pre-emptive war and commit to the diplomatic path advocated by both American experts and the South Korean government.”

“President Trump’s provocative and escalatory rhetoric, with threats to unleash ‘fire and fury’ and ‘totally destroy’ North Korea, cannot be allowed to turn into reality,” said Senator Markey, Ranking Member of the Senate East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee. “As long as President Trump has a Twitter account, we must ensure that he cannot start a war or launch a nuclear first strike without the explicit authorization of Congress. It is time for the legislative body to act and reassert its constitutional role as the branch of government with the sole power to decide when the United States goes on the offensive. I thank Congressman Conyers for his partnership on this legislation and will continue to press for a diplomatic solution to the threat of a nuclear North Korea.”

A copy of the legislation can be found, below. The bipartisan House version of the legislation, H.R. 4140, is co-led by Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) and has 61 co-sponsors. 

The Conyers-Markey legislation adds an additional safeguard to the current prohibitions on waging war or unprovoked military action without Congressional approval by restricting any funds for such a strike unless there is an authorization from Congress that comports with well-established legal and constitutional standards. There are exceptions to account for current legal and constitutional standards for repelling a sudden attack, defending our allies, and rescuing U.S. personnel. The legislation also calls for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. Both the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 already require an affirmative authorization from Congress before the Executive Branch can initiate military action abroad against a state that has not attacked the U.S. or our assets abroad.  As Section 2 of the War Powers Resolution of 1973 states, absent a declaration of war or a specific statutory authorization approved by Congress, only “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces” can justify military action undertaken without Congressional authorization.

The legislation cites words of the framers of the Constitution, such as George Washington, who wrote that ‘‘The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure’’ (Letter from George Washington to William Moultrie, August 28, 1793). The legislation also cites James Madison, who wrote that ‘‘The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature… the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war’’ (Madison Papers, ‘‘Helvidius’’, Number 4, September 14, 1793).

The legislation is endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Ploughshares Fund, Council for a Livable World, Arms Control Association, Win Without War, Indivisible, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Peace Action, Union of Concerned Scientists, Beyond the Bomb, Women Cross DMZ, United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, Global Zero, Korea Peace Campaign, Veterans For Peace, Women's Action for New Directions, Women for Genuine Security, United Methodist Women, Action One Korea, GoodFriends USA, Presbyterian Church USA, Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security, and the National Association of Korean Americans.

In August 2017, Conyers led more than 60 Members of Congress, in sending  an urgent letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to express “profound concern” over “irresponsible and dangerous” statements made by President Trump regarding North Korea and to urge Tillerson to do everything in his power “to ensure that President Trump and other Administration officials understand the importance of speaking and acting with the utmost caution and restraint on this delicate issue.”

In May 2017, Conyers led a letter signed by 64 Democratic Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, to rebuke President Trump’s inconsistent and dangerous statements regarding U.S. policy towards North Korea, notify him that military strikes without Congressional approval would violate the Constitution, and urge him to instead adhere to the diplomatic approach recently articulated by his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The 64 signers represented the 64 years since the Armistice Agreement was signed to end hostilities in the Korean War.

‘‘No Unconstitutional 5 Strike against North Korea Act’’Introduced by U.S. Representative Conyers & Senator... by Beverly Tran on Scribd
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

CONYERS Bill To Add More Judges To Detroit Bankruptcy Court Set To Become Law; Helps Residents Seekk Economic Relief

Conyers Bill Included as part of Legislation Providing Funds for Disaster Relief

Washington, D.C. –H.R. 2266, a $36.5 billion humanitarian aid package for victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate passed the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and is now set to become law. The bill includes an amended version of Congressman John Conyers’ (MI-13) legislation that will extend 14 temporary bankruptcy judgeships and establish four additional bankruptcy judgeships across the Nation.  The bill extends the temporary bankruptcy judgeship in the Eastern District of Michigan as well as authorizes an additional bankruptcy judgeship for that District, which serves the City of Detroit.  

According to the Judicial Conference, without extending the temporary judgeship and adding another judgeship for the Eastern District of Michigan, the District’s caseload would exceed by 40 percent of the caseload standard for a federal judicial district.  The legislation passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives on October 12th, the U.S. Senate on October 24th and now heads to the president’s desk for signature.

Congressman Conyers released the following statement:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“This legislation will ensure that citizens of Detroit, especially those facing economic distress, are able to obtain financial relief from a fully-staffed bankruptcy court.  While I would have preferred the original version of my legislation, which would have made these judgeships permanent, I am pleased that Congress took action.  

“H.R. 2266 also contains much needed economic aid to those who were harmed by recent hurricanes and wildfires and provides critical debt relief to the citizens of Puerto Rico by forgiving certain flood insurance obligations and loans owed by the Commonwealth.

“This aid package reflects how our Nation -- when called upon to address overwhelming devastation resulting from natural disaster and economic distress -- can come together to provide critical aid to those most in need.”

In addition to extending a temporary bankruptcy judgeship and adding an additional bankruptcy judge in Detroit, this legislation will expand temporary judgeships in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, and Virginia. The legislation also adds additional bankruptcy judges in Delaware and Maryland.  The Judicial Conference of the United States has warned that without this legislation, the Nation’s bankruptcy courts would “face a serious and, in many cases, debilitating workload crisis if these temporary judgeships were to expire.” 

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

CONYERS Floor Statement In Opposition To H.R. 732, the "Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017"

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
H.R. 732, the “Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2017,” would prohibit the federal government from entering into or enforcing any settlement agreement requiring donations to remediate harms that are not “directly and proximately” caused by a wrongdoer’s unlawful conduct.

I oppose H.R. 732 for several reasons.  

To begin with, the bill would prohibit these types of settlement agreements even though they have been successfully used to remedy various harms, particularly those caused by reckless corporate actors. 

For example, these settlement agreements helped facilitate an effective and comprehensive response to the predatory and fraudulent mortgage lending activities of financial institutions that nearly caused the economic collapse of our Nation and that led to the Great Recession. 

In fact, settlement agreements with two of these culpable financial institutions—Bank of America and Citigroup—required a donation of less than 1% of the overall settlement amount to fund foreclosure prevention and remediation programs to help harmed consumers.

Contrary to the Majority’s claim, the Justice Department did not use any of these settlement agreements to fund “activist groups.”

Notwithstanding the production of hundreds of pages of documents by the Justice Department, along with hundreds of pages of documents produced by private parties, we have not seen a shred of evidence that the government included unlawful or politically motivated terms in its settlement agreements with Bank of America or Citigroup.

The Majority also asserts that these settlement agreements are used by the Justice Department and other agencies to circumvent the congressional appropriations process. 

But, existing law already prevents agencies from augmenting their own funds. By law, donations included in settlement agreements must have a clear nexus to the prosecutorial objectives of the enforcement agency.

And, both the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service have concluded that settlement agreements providing for secondary remediation do not violate Congress’ constitutional power of the purse.

Finally, H.R. 732 would prevent the remediation of systemic harms in civil and criminal enforcement actions.

These settlement agreements allow parties to resolve their civil or criminal liability by voluntarily remediating the harms caused by their unlawful conduct. 

For some types of unlawful conduct—such as discrimination based on race or religion—secondary remediation of harms may be the only remedy available for systemic violations of the law.

The victims of such conduct are typically not themselves parties to the underlying action.

Therefore, secondary remediation in the form of voluntary compliance and training programs serves as an important tool in these cases to protect victims of discrimination. Yet, H.R. 732 would effectively prohibit such relief.

Given these serious problems and others presented by the bill, I strongly oppose H.R. 732, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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CONYERS & CUMMINGS Respond To Partisan GOP Investigation OF Former FBI Director Comey's Actions During 2016 Election

Top Dems:  New GOP Investigation Ignores Russia’s National Security Threat;
Uses Hillary Clinton to Distract From Lack Of Trump Oversight

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 24, 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, issued the following statement in response to an announcement that Chairmen Trey Gowdy and Bob Goodlatte are opening a partisan Republican investigation into decisions made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2016:

“This new investigation is  a massive diversion to distract from the lack of Republican oversight of the Trump Administration and the national security threat that Russia poses. Ten months into the Trump Administration and House Republicans still have not held a single substantive oversight hearing on clear abuses by the President or his top aides.  That amounts to ten months of abdication of responsibility—a near total failure to question, investigate, or challenge the President or the White House, including on grave allegations of obstruction of justice.

“The Russian government continues to represent a clear and present threat to the United States and our democratic system, and we are the targets of near-constant cyberattacks by foreign adversaries.  Yet House Republicans have taken no concrete steps to secure our next election.  Apparently, House Republicans are more concerned about Jim Comey than Vladimir Putin.   

“If Republicans want to know why Director Comey discussed the investigation of Secretary Clinton publicly, maybe they should ask their own former Republican Chairman, Jason Chaffetz, who harassed the FBI for months to reveal public details about the case.  Rep. Chaffetz hauled Director Comey before the Oversight Committee to demand his public testimony, issued twelve unilateral subpoenas to Comey and others to force the production of internal investigative documents, and held five ‘emergency hearings’ directly before the election to harm Secretary Clinton’s presidential bid—all while completely ignoring the extremely troubling reports about Donald Trump and his campaign’s connections to the Russians. We must protect our democracy.”

Democratic Members have made repeated requests to Republican leadership to investigate these issues.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have written to Chairman Goodlatte 11 timesto request oversight hearings. These letters have gone unanswered and House Judiciary Republicans have so far blocked several resolutions of inquiry from reaching the House floor.

On May 16, 2017, all of the Democrats on the Oversight and Judiciary Committees sent a letter to Chairmen Gowdy and Goodlatte requesting that they launch an “immediate joint investigation” into whether President Trump and his top officials were attempting to obstruct the criminal, counter-intelligence, and oversight investigations conducted by the FBI, Department of Justice, and Congress into members of his presidential campaign and their contacts with Russian officials.

In addition, on January 12, 2017, the top Ranking Democratic Members of 22 House Committees sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan requesting that Congress evaluate all of then-President-Elect Trump’s global financial entanglements for conflicts of interest and constitutional violations—including in particular those involving Russian investors, business interests, and development partners.  

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Friday, October 20, 2017

CONYERS: The Smithsonian Honors VHS Grad John Hasse

Honored By SmithsonianTop officials of the Smithsonian Institution – and Rep. John Conyers, dean of the House of Representative – saluted music curator John Edward Hasse upon his retirement from the Smithsonian on June 30, bringing to a close 32 years of distinguished accomplishments. Hasse was hailed by David J. Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian, John L. Gray, director of the National Museum of American History, and Rep. Conyers, who inserted a tribute into the Congressional Record. Video of the ceremony can be seen at

Hasse, a 1967 graduate of Vermillion High School, was hired as Curator of American Music by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 1984. In that capacity, he founded national Jazz Appreciation Month and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra; curated exhibitions on Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and jazz photography; led the museum’s successful drive to acquire the vast Duke Ellington Collection – 100,000 pages of unpublished music and another hundred thousand pages of documents, as well as objects and/or archival materials from Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Jimmie Lunceford, Artie Shaw, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, Paquito d’Rivera, Randy Weston, Steve Cropper of Booker T & and the MGs, and the 12,000-photo Duncan Schiedt Collection. A highlight was Hasse’s acquisition of John Coltrane’s Selmer tenor sax and his handwritten manuscript of A Love Supreme, his most celebrated work.
Hasse’s books include Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington; Jazz: The First Century; and Discover Jazz (with Tad Lathrop). He co-produced/co-authored Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology. He has been awarded two honorary doctorates, two Grammy Award nominations, two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards for excellence in writing, and the Nica’s Dream Achievement Award. He has contributed articles to The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and eight encyclopedias. Often at the request of the US State Department, Hasse has lectured on jazz, the arts, and leadership in 25 countries on five continents.
John Hasse is the brother of long-time Vermillion resident Paul Hasse, and the son of the late USD professors Gladys and Merten Hasse, whose ashes are interred at Bluff View Cemetery. All five of John Hasse’s siblings attended the University of South Dakota: Paul, Trudy, Ann, Ellen, and younger sister Margaret. While attending USD, the three older Hasse sisters were each elected Miss Dakota, breaking records and generating newspaper publicity from coast to coast.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

CONYERS: CBC, Ranking Members Request Meeting With FBI About "Black Identity Extremists" Assessment

CBC, Ranking Members to FBI: “As you are no doubt aware, the FBI has a troubling history of utilizing its broad investigatory powers to target black citizens.”

WASHINGTON – the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Ranking Members for three House committees requested a meeting with the FBI about its August 3, 2017 intelligence assessment titled, “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers.” In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, CBC Chairman Cedric L. Richmond and Ranking Members John Conyers, Jr. (Judiciary), Bennie G. Thompson (Homeland Security), and Elijah E. Cummings (Oversight) requested to meet about the origins of the assessment and how it will be used, and expressed concern about the assessment given the FBI’s “troubling history” of targeting black citizens, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders.
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CONYERS Condemns Trump Efforts To Sabotage Obamacare; Strip Health Care From Millions Of Americans

Washington, D.C. – President Donald Trump announced that he will be cutting off the Cost-Sharing Reduction payments required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to reduce health insurance payments for millions of Americans.  He also issued an executive order that will limit access to care for millions of Americans.

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) released the following statement in response:

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“President Trump and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly tried to dismantle the Affordable Care Act since its passage and implementation. After many failed attempts to repeal ACA at the congressional level, President Trump has turned to using the presidency to chip away at the ACA’s critical protections.

“The cost-sharing reduction payments that Trump plans to end were required by the ACA in order to help millions of Americans access quality, affordable care. Trump’s childish and cold-hearted maneuver to end these subsidies will cause premiums to rise for many hard working American families and cause insurers to leave the marketplace.

“When Democrats regain a majority it's imperative that we pass and implement a single payer, Medicare for All system that covers all Americans and cannot be tampered with by a petulant president. In the meantime, Republicans in Congress must join Democrats in their efforts to protect and build on the Affordable Care Act’s progress.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office, premiums will increase 25 percent by 2020 without cost-sharing reduction payments.

Read more about the Trump ACA executive order below.

The Trump executive order to sabotage ACA will:

Limit access to comprehensive health coverage, threatening coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

·         The ACA requires that most health insurance sold to individuals and small employers be comprehensive and include coverage for essential health benefits; the executive order could unravel these guaranteed benefits.

·         Without guaranteed coverage for needed benefits, such as maternity care, mental health treatment and substance use treatment, people may be left with skimpy and inadequate coverage that doesn’t give them access to the care they need and that does not offer adequate financial protection against serious medical conditions.

Undermine health insurance markets and increase costs for consumers.

·         Both proposals in the executive order will create an unleveled playing field by allowing certain insurance plans – “short-term” plans and association health plans – to play by different rules.

·         As healthier and lower cost consumers get cheap junk plans with skimpy benefits that may not meet their health needs, older, sicker, and higher cost consumers will be left behind with skyrocketing costs for the same coverage.

·         The individual and small group insurance markets could spiral into chaos and consumers may be left without any access to affordable insurance options.

Leave consumers in the lurch, allowing back-door discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.

·         By expanding short-term coverage, we will return to the days of charging sick people more than healthy people and leaving people with pre-existing conditions without affordable coverage options.

·         Both short-term plans and AHPs are not held to the same standards as other insurance. This means consumers may have little recourse for problems or complaints, and no guarantee that they will have the coverage they need when they need it.

·         The nonpartisan National Association of Insurance Commissioners has consistently opposed proposals to expand AHPs because they undermine states’ abilities to protect their consumers.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

CONYERS: Statement For "Forum on “Addressing the Long-Term Effects of Sports-Related Brain Injury”

I am pleased to join my colleague, Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, in sponsoring this important event.

Today’s Forum brings together some of the Nation’s leading experts from the medical research and athletic communities to review the causes, effects, and treatments of concussions and other head trauma. 

In particular, the Forum examines what is known about brain injuries, what gaps exist in the scientific literature, and what is being done to address those gaps. 

It will also feature first-hand accounts from individuals who suffered from subconcussive trauma or have witnessed its long-term effects on their loved-ones.
When I was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, we held a hearing on football head injuries in 2009, which was prompted by the mounting scientific evidence connecting head injuries in football and cognitive problems later in life.

During that hearing, the National Football League refused to acknowledge a connection between head injuries on the football field and the subsequent development of brain diseases.

The following year, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing in Detroit, Michigan followed by forums in Houston and New York City as part of our ongoing commitment to calling attention to this problem and examining ways to prevent head injuries in youth, high school, and college football.

This brings us to today’s Forum, where our medical panelists will discuss their recently published study examining the brains of 111 deceased NFL players, which found that an astounding 110 of them had chronic traumatic encephalopathy also known as “CTE”.

Although scientific evidence clearly links head injuries in football to cognitive problems later in life,   between 1.6 and 3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions occur each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The extent of injury is particularly problematic for our youth as most brains are not fully developed until age 25.  As a result, a concussion is more dangerous for a youth than for an adult.

I hope the panelists today will provide guidance on how we can better protect all athletes, especially our young athletes.
I would be remiss if I did not briefly comment concerning President Trump’s recent series of statements concerning our nation’s professional football players.  At his rally in Alabama on September 22, he mocked the National Football League’s efforts to prevent brain injuries, declaring: “Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle. Boom! 15 yards. The referee goes on television, his wife’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game.”

The President of the United States then went on to use the power of his and the Vice-President’s bully pulpits and Twitter feeds to rail against the right of private citizens to express their views and right to protest as guaranteed by the First Amendment’s free speech protection.

Ironically, Mr. Trump has not uttered a single word about the actual underlying issue -- the glaring disparities in how African-Americans are dealt with under our criminal justice system and their treatment by law enforcement officers, which have often had deadly consequences. 

These are problems, by the way, which have gotten worse, not better, under the Trump Administration and Sessions Justice Department.

Today’s forum will allow us to return to the actual facts and evidence, and consider how we can best protect football players at all levels in an incredibly violent sport.

I thank all the panelists and Members for being here today.

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CONYERS: At Judiciary Committee Markup, Conyers Calls On Committee To Address Gun Violence

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) called on the House Judiciary Committee Majority to investigate gun violence in America.

Ranking Member Conyers delivered the following remarks during the Judiciary Committee markup:

Before addressing the bill before us, I want to begin my remarks today by extending my condolences to the family and friends of the 58 individuals killed in the shooting in Las Vegas, and expressing my hopes for the recovery of the nearly 500 people injured. 

Congress has a responsibility to find a way to help prevent tragedies like this, as well as the daily incidence of gun violence in our communities.  I am disappointed that this Committee has not addressed this issue at all this Congress. 

In fact, when legislation weakening our laws on silencers and armor piercing ammunition was being prepared for floor consideration, this Committee waived jurisdiction.  We were prepared to let it go – without a hearing or markup – as if it didn’t merit our time or attention. 

Of course, I opposed those provisions because I believed they would take us in the wrong direction by making us more vulnerable to gun violence.  I am glad the Speaker has now indicated that he has no plans to bring that bill to the floor. 

In light of the Las Vegas shooting, and the daily toll of gun violence that impacts all of our communities, it is time for the Committee to take action. 

While I’m sure our staff members will benefit from the briefing on so-called “bump stocks” that the ATF will conduct for them on Friday, it is long overdue for us to conduct hearings on the issue of gun violence, and to adopt legislation intended to strengthen our gun laws. 

With respect to “bump stocks,” Speaker Ryan has said that he thinks a regulator approach by the ATF is the appropriate way to address them, but we have not even had a hearing here in this Committee for us to hear about and discuss different approaches. 

Our overall objective on these issues must be to protect our citizens from becoming victims, whether it is from a mass attack or any other, sadly more common act of gun violence. 

Indeed, we do not need mass attacks to remind us of the urgency of the issue, as each day’s news in communities across our country should tell us. 

Every day of inaction is a lost opportunity to do something about this. 

And so, as we prepare to consider the bills scheduled for this markup session today, I hope that the Committee will take up the issue of gun violence as soon as possible. 

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CONYERS: Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr. for the Markup of H.R. 2228, the “Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017”

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
I am proud to cosponsor H.R. 2228, the “Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017.”  This bill would provide support for law enforcement agencies to protect the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers. 

At the outset, we must recognize that law enforcement officers have a special role in our communities, with exceptional responsibilities to serve and protect.  In the performance of these duties, they see, encounter, and experience events that the rest of us would run from, but they do not. 

Law enforcement officers respond to horrendous situations that are both dangerous and stressful, and oftentimes life-threatening, as they find themselves in harm’s way while protecting the communities they serve.

For example, some recent tragedies which law enforcement officers have responded to include in June 2016 when 49 people were killed and 53 others wounded by a gunman at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida; one month later when a gunman killed five officers and wounded another nine officers along with two civilians in Dallas, Texas; and just this month when a gunman in Las Vegas killed 58 innocent citizens and injured nearly 500 others.

And, of course, law enforcement officers must respond to the calls related to violence of many kinds in our communities every day. 

In many cases, these traumatic situations remain with officers long after the threats are reduced and the communities they serve have gained a renewed since of safety.

However, members of law enforcement are left to face the continued trauma from their daily work, which can be difficult to process and impossible to forget.

That is why this bill is necessary. 

H.R. 2228 seeks to help create and improve mental health and wellness services for law enforcement officers.

The bill provides support for law enforcement agencies by requiring reports on mental health practices and services that can be adopted by law enforcement agencies and establishes peer mentoring mental health and wellness pilot programs within law enforcement agencies.

H.R. 2228 would also provide support for mental health programs by developing educational resources for mental health providers regarding the culture of law enforcement agencies and therapies for mental health issues common to law enforcement.

This measure would also provide support for law enforcement officers by reviewing existing crisis hotlines, recommending improvements regarding these crisis hotlines, and researching the effectiveness of annual mental health checks for law enforcement officers.

With this legislation, we in Congress can help better provide for and protect the mental health, safety, and wellness of all law enforcement officers as they unselfishly protect each of us daily.

For these reasons, I support this bill and ask that my colleagues join me in doing so today.

1st Session
H. R. 2228

To provide support for law enforcement agency efforts to protect the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.

April 28, 2017
Mrs. Brooks of Indiana (for herself, Mrs. Demings, Mr. Collins of Georgia, Mr. Pascrell, and Mr. Reichert) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

To provide support for law enforcement agency efforts to protect the mental health and well-being of law enforcement officers, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the “Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017”.

(a) Interagency Collaboration.—The Attorney General shall consult with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress a report, which shall be made publicly available, on Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs mental health practices and services that could be adopted by Federal, State, local, or tribal law enforcement agencies.

(b) Case Studies.—The Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services shall submit to Congress a report—
(1) that is similar to the report entitled “Health, Safety, and Wellness Program Case Studies in Law Enforcement” published by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services in 2015; and

(2) that focuses on case studies of programs designed primarily to address officer psychological health and well-being.

(c) Peer Mentoring Pilot Program.—Section 1701(b) of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3796dd(b)) is amended—
(1) in paragraph (21), by striking “; and” and inserting a semicolon;

(2) in paragraph (22), by striking the period at the end and inserting “; and”; and

(3) by adding at the end the following:
“(23) to establish peer mentoring mental health and wellness pilot programs within State, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies.”.
The Attorney General, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, shall develop resources to educate mental health providers about the culture of Federal, State, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies and evidence-based therapies for mental health issues common to Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement officers.
The Attorney General shall—

(1) in consultation with Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies—
(A) identify and review the effectiveness of any existing crisis hotlines for law enforcement officers;

(B) provide recommendations to Congress on whether Federal support for existing crisis hotlines or the creation of an alternative hotline would improve the effectiveness or use of the hotline; and

(C) conduct research into the efficacy of an annual mental health check for law enforcement officers;

(2) in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the head of other Federal agencies that employ law enforcement officers, examine the mental health and wellness needs of Federal law enforcement officers, including the efficacy of expanding peer mentoring programs for law enforcement officers at each Federal agency; and

(3) ensure that any recommendations, resources, or programs provided under this Act protect the privacy of participating law enforcement officers.

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