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Rep. Schrader Congratulates Tillamook High School Students on 66th Annual Charity Drive

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) congratulated the students of Tillamook High School for their record success in the 66th Annual Charity Drive.

“Congratulations to all of Tillamook High School on another successful Charity Drive, and particularly to the junior class for their second win in a row,” said Congressman Schrader. “Activities and events that encourage our students to be more involved in their local communities are so important for building up the next generation of leaders. This annual tradition of giving back in Tillamook sets a great example for all Oregonians.” 

The Charity Drive is an annual Tillamook tradition to benefit Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, scholarships for the graduating class, and local charities throughout the community. The Drive has brought in more than $3.5 million since the first drive. Each year, the high school students compete to see which class can raise the most money. This year’s junior class won, raising nearly one third of the total amount raised. The same class of students also won last year as sophomores. Over the course of ten days this year, the school raised a collective $197,151.29.

What the students have to say about the Charity Drive:

Chairmen Dana Hoodenpyl, Brodie Queen, Clare Atchison, and Delainy Lea said: “Besides growing as a person, this drive provides us with real world experience and requires us to hard work.  During the drive we create memories we can’t make anywhere else and bonds with our class that make us a family.”

Junior Chairman Mea Upton said: “To me, Charity Drive is a family tradition. I can understand and see where our money goes because of the personal connections I have to the hospital.”

Junior Chairman Devin McDaniel said: “The main reason I started getting more involved with the Charity Drive was during my sophomore year, when I realized the importance of what we were doing. I got to know the class and create a bond I hadn’t known before, and I gained a satisfaction from giving.”

Transition Specialist/Activities Director of Tillamook High School, Rachelle Metcalfe said: “Seeing the community come together during charity drive is amazing. Dinners, car washes, rummage sales and so much more, all with great attendance from our awesome community. Although this coronation is about the kids and their hard work, we must also thank the community because without them this would not be possible.  The support from the community was tremendous.  It goes without saying how grateful we are that you continue to come out in full force to support Doernbecher Children’s Hospital as well as the many local charities and Class of 2019 scholarships.”

Schrader Legislation Passes as Part of Campaign & Ethics Reform Package

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 9:00pm

Today, the House passed HR 1, the For the People Act of 2019, a broad package of campaign and ethics reform legislation that will increase transparency around money in our political system and end the Citizens United era of political spending, expand access for U.S. citizens to exercise their right to vote, and increase election security against foreign interference.

The package includes a number of Schrader reforms including his Presidential Inaugural Committee Oversight (PICO) Act, which increases transparency and accountability around the fundraising and spending of Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) money, and Congressman Blumenauer’s legislation to bring Oregon’s system of Vote-By-Mail to the entire country, of which Rep. Schrader is a cosponsor. 

“Ensuring that every entitled American is unhindered from casting his or her vote and keeping our elections immune to foreign influence are fundamentally necessary to maintain the strength our democracy,” said Rep. Schrader, a cosponsor of H.R. 1. “Power ought to be given by the individual, not by big money, and this package greatly increases the necessary transparency and accountability that ensure undue influence is kept out of our election process. I am proud of all of the hard work that my colleagues across both sides of the aisle put into this package of legislation.”

The Congressman’s Blue Dog Coalition worked with House leadership to ensure that taxpayer money would not be used in public financing for Congressional campaigns. Rep. Schrader and his bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus also successfully passed an amendment to the bill aimed at keeping foreign money out of American politics. Their amendment received consideration through a new rule adopted this Congress that was included in their “Break the Gridlock” rules packagegiving preference to any amendment with at least 20 Democrat and 20 Republican cosponsors.

As his first action of the 116th Congress, Rep. Schrader reintroduced a series of government reform bills, including the PICO Act, to increase transparency and accountability and give a voice back to the people. The PICO Act establishes basic requirements for all future Presidential Inauguration Committees including a restriction that funds raised be spent only on official activities and not on lavish salaries or bonuses.

Bipartisan Members Introduce Resolution to Claw Back Power from the Executive Branch Addresses Emergency Declarations

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 9:00pm

Today, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress introduced a resolution to claw back power from the Executive Branch. By amending the National Emergencies Act, Congress will have to approve any new emergency declaration within 60 days – similar to the War Powers Act.

The resolution aims to end the practice of governing by national emergency.

Original Co-Sponsors include:

Rep. Kurt Schrader

Rep. Salud Carbajal

Rep. John Curtis

Rep. Debbie Dingell

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick

Rep. Vincente Gonzalez

Rep. Josh Gottheimer

Rep. Josh Harder

Rep. Will Hurd

Rep. Dan Lipinski

Rep. Elaine Luria

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Rep. Alex Mooney

Rep. Stephanie Murphy

Rep. Tom O’Halleran

Rep. Bill Posey

Rep. Tom Reed

Rep. Abigail Spanberger

Rep. Tom Suozzi

Rep. Fred Upton

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) said, “The President’s job is to execute the will of Congress, not the other way around. Abusing executive orders or declaring national emergencies, and delegating the necessary funding for them, all fall under Congress’s purview. For too long, Presidents of both parties have usurped Congress’s express constitutional authority to make the law of the land and appropriate taxpayer dollars as your Representatives.”
“This resolution is not a rebuke of President Trump’s national emergency declaration – the drugs, violence and human trafficking speak for themselves in regards to the true crisis we are facing. This resolution speaks to the politicization of Congress and its failure to lead. Instead of proactively solving problems Congress has delegated our precious power away,” said Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23). “We must take this power back. Otherwise over time, Congress will be seen as an advisory body instead of the co-equal branch of government the country needs.”

"National emergencies are no way to govern, regardless of party. The Constitution is clear about our authority and responsibilities.  By amending the National Emergencies Act, this bipartisan legislation will help Congress wrest back control and prevent further abuse of executive authority,”said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).

“The founding fathers designed Congress to be a co-equal branch with the Executive, and this resolution would begin to bring more responsibility back to the Congress, as the Constitution intended,” Congressman Fred Upton (MI-06) said. “Under this resolution, Presidents would not be able to simply declare national emergencies without the concurrence of the Congress – no matter their political party and no matter the issue.”

“When any President declares a national emergency, Congress - the people’s elected representatives - should have the final say on why and how it’s used. We cannot allow this type of Presidential power to go unchecked. I am proud to join this bipartisan effort to bring the balance of power closer to the will of the people and to protect the checks and balances our Founders intended,” said Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (FL-07).

“This is about Congress, as a coequal branch of government, reasserting its Constitutional powers,” said Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23).“There’s no question we have a problem at our border that has existed over multiple presidential administrations, which is why I have supported over $220 billion for homeland security, including technology, manpower and barriers throughout my time in Congress and authored the only bipartisan border security and immigration solution.”

Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) said. “Our democracy is built on the principle that each branch of government must act as a check on the others to prevent the abuse of power. No president, regardless of party, should have the power to defy our duly elected legislature or our federal courts. This bipartisan legislation strengthens Congress’ ability to hold the Executive Branch accountable and prevent overreach, and I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce it today.”

“Legislating must remain in the Legislative Branch. Presidents should not be allowed to use a national emergency declaration as a justification to push through priorities that Congress has not funded,” Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) said. “This bill will ensure the proper checks and balances are in place and reclaim Congress’s Constitutional authority.”

“No President has the power to ignore our Constitution and rule of law,” said Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24). “That's why I joined the Problem Solvers to pass this resolution preventing current and future fake national emergencies.”

“This legislation represents an important step to rein in the excessively broad authority that has been delegated to the executive branch and will prevent future circumstances in which legislative leaders rely on the President’s executive authority to let them off the hook for failing to do their jobs,” Congressman John Curtis (UT-03) said. “Reasserting our proper role under Article 1 as intended by the Constitution should be a bipartisan priority that all of my colleagues can support.”

“Our government was set up to give power to the American people by giving power to Congress,” said Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-03). “But Congress has allowed presidents to seize more and more power; declarations of “national emergencies” are one example of this.  We need this legislation to give power back to the people by giving power back to Congress.”

“For too long, Congress has ceded its Constitutional duties to the executive branch. In order for us to protect the voice of ‘We, the People,’ we must restore that authority to the branch that is closest and most accountable to the people -- the legislative branch,” Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) said. “This legislation is not about any specific national emergency declaration but instead will make changes to the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to ensure Congress has a more central role in the national emergency declaration process as a whole. By leading on this legislation, we can begin to restore the rightful role of Congress in this process.”

“It is critical that Congress reassert its vested powers, established by Article I of the U.S. Constitution,” Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) said. “Congress must uphold its duty to check the power of the Executive and provide oversight when a sitting President attempts to circumvent the power of the purse via a national emergency declaration. As a proud member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, I stand by Congressmen Gottheimer and Reed in this effort to safeguard Constitutional Congressional authority.”

“Congress is a coequal branch of government. It has the authority to stop presidential overreach,” Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) said.“I’m proud to support bipartisan legislation that reinforces our system of checks and balances.”

“Preserving the fundamental principle of constitutional separation of powers is not a partisan issue, it’s a congressional duty. The administration’s emergency declaration was a drastic overstep of Executive authority, and Congress must affirm its constitutional role as the appropriator of taxpayer dollars and a check and balance on presidential power. I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan bill, which would require congressional approval after an emergency is declared, without hampering the administration’s ability to react quickly to true emergencies. Having sworn and oath now multiple times to uphold and defend the Constitution, I’ll keep fighting to protect congressional authority from executive overreach, no matter who is in the White House, and to reaffirm the importance of responsible, balanced governance,” said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (VA-07).

Rep. Schrader Votes to Strengthen Background Checks for Firearm Purchases

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) voted today to help pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Check Bill, of which he is a cosponsor. The bipartisan bill will require a background check on every firearm purchase.

“I know that there are common sense actions we can take in Congress to curb gun violence and prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands,” said Rep. Schrader. “After hearing testimony from and as a result of outreach by Oregonians who have endured unwarranted gun violence at the Clackamas Town Center, Umpqua Community College, and others, I was pleased to cosponsor HR 8. This bipartisan bill will require universal background checks on all firearm sales, like we have in Oregon, and I am glad to see it pass today.”

Schrader Legislation to Preserve Molalla River Heads to the President’s Desk

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 9:00pm

Today, Congress passed the bipartisan lands package, S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act, which includes Congressman Kurt Schrader’s legislation to designate a 21-mile stretch of the Molalla River as “recreational” under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

VIDEO: Rep. Schrader Speaks in Support of the Natural Resources Management Act on the House Floor

“I am proud to have introduced and worked on this Wild and Scenic designation in collaboration with so many dedicated members of the Molalla community back home,” said Rep. Schrader. “For over a decade, we have been working to pass this legislation and designate the Molalla River as a Wild and Scenic recreational river. The idea was born out of a small gathering of local river stewards and Molalla residents, who were looking to protect their river, preserve essential fish habitat, and aid their local economy by increasing tourism. I thank my colleagues for their support today and for all of the hard work that has gone into preserving the beauty, history, and ecosystem of the river for generations come.”

Receiving the recreational designation has shown to provide a positive economic, social, and cultural impact to local communities. Congressman Schrader introduced his legislation, titled the Molalla River Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, during his first term in the 111th Congress after collaborating with community leaders, law enforcement, local officials, sportsmen, recreational users and citizens of Molalla, who all came together with a shared goal to preserve and protect the river. The bill passed in the House during that Congress and Rep. Schrader has reintroduced each Congress since. Oregonian Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici and Peter DeFazio are original cosponsors of the bill in the 116thCongress.

The package passed with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this month in the Senate and today in the House. The bipartisan public lands package also includes a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Schrader Votes to Terminate the President’s Unconstitutional National Emergency Declaration

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) voted today for H.J.Res 46, a joint resolution to terminate the President’s declaration of a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexico border. The resolution, of which Rep. Schrader is a cosponsor, passed with bipartisan support.

Rep Schrader said: “The President has gone too far. I have visited the US-Mexico border and there is no national emergency. Families and children seeking asylum here from brutality in their home countries hold no threat to our country.  Our founders gave the Legislative Branch, not the President, the express power to decide how to spend taxpayer money. The President’s job is to execute the will of Congress. His declaration circumvents Congress after we just passed an overwhelmingly bipartisan agreement on how to fund security along our southern border, and is a clear infringement on the power delegated under Article 1 of the Constitution of the United States. This declaration is inaccurate, irresponsible, and unconstitutional.”

Schrader Reintroduces Bill to Preserve Molalla River

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) today reintroduced the Molalla River Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate a 21-mile stretch of the Molalla River as “recreational” under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Receiving this designation has shown to provide a positive economic, social, and cultural impact to local communities. The Senate passed Schrader’s language today to protect these segments of the Molalla River as a Wild & Scenic River as part of a bipartisan public lands package which included a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“The Molalla River is one of Oregon’s great natural treasures and ought to be preserved for the next generations to enjoy,” said Rep. Schrader. “My legislation will preserve the beauty, history, and ecosystem of the river while also providing badly needed economic benefits to our region through increased tourism and recreational opportunities. I applaud the Senate for the inclusion of my legislation in their bipartisan package, and I look forward to continuing that work here in the House.”

The Congressman introduced this bill during his first term in the 111th Congress after collaborating with community leaders, law enforcement, local officials, sportsmen, recreational users and citizens of Molalla, who all came together with a shared goal to preserve and protect the river for future generations. The bill passed in the House during the 111th Congress with bipartisan support and Rep. Schrader has reintroduced it every Congress since coming to office. Oregonian Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici and Peter DeFazio are original cosponsors of the bill in the 116th Congress.

Rep. Schrader Statement on State of the Union

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) issued the following statement on the President’s State of the Union address tonight:

“The President talks a big talk, but I have yet to see him really walk it. Over the last two years he has had numerous opportunities to tackle the biggest issues we face in a bipartisan way. From tax reform, and immigration to health care and infrastructure, many of my colleagues and I have been clear: we aren’t interested in allowing partisan politicking come before good governing. When the opportunity to reach across the aisle and get good legislation done presents itself, I have always been ready and willing to get to work. But I have not seen that yet from this President and I did not hear that desire tonight.”

Schrader, Welch Reintroduce Legislation to Close Billion Dollar Medicaid Loophole

Thu, 01/31/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) and Congressman Peter Welch (VT-At Large) reintroduced a bill this week to close a loophole in the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program that may be costing the Medicaid program as much as $1 billion. The legislatio passed in the House as part of the IMPROVE Act in the 115th Congress.

“It’s ridiculous that these blatant abuses of the system have resulted in a billion dollar loss for taxpayers,” said Rep. Schrader. “Our bill gives CMS the proper authority to deal with these inaccuracies, preventing bad actors from taking advantage of the system and honest mistakes from costing us even more money.”

VIDEO: Rep. Schrader Urges Colleagues to Close Billion Dollar Medicaid Loophole

“For too long, drug companies have been ripping off the Medicaid program by misclassifying their products to limit required price discounts,” said Rep. Welch. “This commonsense legislation puts a stop to this unethical practice and ensures that all drugs covered by Medicaid are correctly classified.”

VIDEO: Rep. Welch Calls on Congress to Close Loophole in Medicaid Drug Rebate Program

Under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, drug manufacturers who wish to have their drugs covered by Medicaid must pay a rebate to federal and state governments, and the rebate rate is different for brand drugs, at 23.1 percent of the Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) per unit, and generic drugs, at 13 percent of AMP per unit. When applying for the rebate, the manufacturer must indicate whether their drug is brand or generic. According to an HHS Inspector General Report published in December of last year, however, hundreds of drugs in the rebate program that should be considered brand were marked in their applications as generic. That same report found that this may have cost the rebate program upwards of $1 billion.

Under the Schrader-Welch legislation, if a drug company knowingly misclassifies their brand drug as a generic, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will have the power to fine the drug company double the normal rebate they would have had to pay the government. The bill strengthens CMS and congressional oversight of the program to close the loophole.

Schrader, Carter Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Keep Drug Costs Down

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 9:00pm

Following the House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on prescription drug pricing earlier this week, Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Congressman Earl L. "Buddy" Carter (R-GA) today introduced legislation aimed at keeping drug prices down by increasing competition in the generic drug market. 

Current law awards 180 days of exclusivity on the market to a drug manufacturer when they are the first to file a generic drug application with the FDA for a drug for which there is no generic. The purpose of this award is to reward manufacturers for challenging weak patents and bringing new low-cost drugs to the market. The 180 days begins once the manufacturer starts marketing the drug, but even before the manufacturer begins marketing, all other generic competitors are blocked from coming to market. This allows some manufacturers to “park” the exclusivity before receiving final approval, blocking competition for more than the 180 days intended by the law. In these cases, no other generics are able to come to the market until the first manufacturer receives final approval, begins marketing the drug, and the subsequent 180 days have passed.

The Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act would stop first generic drug “parking.” Under the BLOCKING Act, if a second generic drug application is blocked from receiving approval solely due to a first generic drug manufacturer parking their exclusivity at the tentative approval stage, the 180 days immediately begins to run, preventing limitless delays for other generics to come to the market. This legislation mirrors a proposal to “speed development of more affordable generics to spur competition” that was included in the administration’s FY19 budget proposal

“Too many patients across this country feel a severe impact from rising drug prices, often on prescriptions they’ve been filling for years,” said Rep. Schrader. “I have long said there is not one silver bullet solution to this crisis, however, we do know that increasing competition on the drug market places a check on manufacturers and keeps costs down. Our bill is one such solution that targets and eliminates unnecessary delays in allowing more drugs on the market, ensuring both that manufacturers are still incentivized to produce more drugs and that markets continue to see robust competition.” 

“As the only pharmacist in Congress, one of my top priorities is making prescription drugs more affordable and accessible,” said Rep. Carter. “I am happy to introduce this bill today with my friend Representative Schrader because it will work to bring more generic competition into the marketplace faster. More competition will help make these drugs more affordable and accessible for patients. This proposal has support from President Trump and bipartisan members of Congress. I hope it will move through Congress as soon as possible for the benefit of all patients.”

Congressman Schrader has long been committed to lowering drug costs. During the 114th Congress, he introduced a bill to prevent price hikes to lifesaving drugs after Turing Pharmaceuticals, led by hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli, jacked the price of Daraprim – an anti-parasitic drug that’s most commonly used to treat and prevent certain infections in HIV positive patients – from $13.50 to $750 overnight.  In 2017, a version of that legislation passed as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, and last summer, his law saw its first successeswhen several strengths of potassium chloride oral solution, used to treat low potassium blood levels in patients who are on diuretics, that did not have generic versions available received a Competitive Generic Therapy (CGT) designation – a classification established under the law – allowing the medication to come to market faster. Several more CGTs have since come to market.

Rep. Schrader Statement on Government Reopening

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 9:00pm

Following a visit with federal workers at Portland International Airport (PDX), Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) issued the following statement regarding the President’s decision to agree to a three-week funding deal to reopen the full government:

“There is no one issue that should hold our government hostage. Working towards bipartisan immigration reform is important. Adequately funding our border security and ensuring our country remains safe is important. Allowing the longest shut down in history to occur, spanning two Congresses, when both chambers had already come to an agreement back in December? It’s reckless and counterintuitive. If the President is so concerned with our safety and security, why did he allow our TSA agents, our FAA workers, our FDA inspectors, and hundreds of thousands of others to miss two pay periods?

“I am very happy that the government will be reopening and that hard working federal employees will be receiving paychecks again. I am also pleased that Trump took my Blue Dogs and I up on the proposal we laid out this week to end this shutdown. However, I have a lot of concerns for what three weeks from now will look like. We need to have regular order and hold hearings to determine what various resources are actually needed along the border. We owe it to our constituents to be smart about our spending, not just spend more.”

Today, Rep. Schrader met for the second time this month with federal workers at PDX including TSA agents and members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA).  Earlier this week, Rep. Schrader and his Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to leadership calling for an immediate end to the shutdown followed by long-term bipartisan negotiations on immigration and border security. The deal Trump agreed to today will reopen and fund the government for three weeks and does not fund building a new wall along the US-Mexico border.

Oregon Members Call for Unemployment Insurance for All Federal Employees

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader, along with Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, and Peter DeFazio, sent a letter today to the Department of Labor asking to make clear that federal employees deemed “essential” or “excepted” may be eligible for unemployment insurance.

The Members wrote: “The 2013 Employment and Training Administration (ETA) guidance memo […] states that ‘essential’ or ‘excepted’ federal workers may be ineligible for Unemployment Insurance ‘because states may determine that they are still fully employed.’  This creates a dynamic where furloughed federal employees may apply for unemployment insurance, but ‘excepted’ federal employees, dedicated public servants, who are being required to perform their official duties do not necessarily have that same ability.”

Roughly 9,600 federal employees in Oregon are being impacted by the current shutdown. Those without “essential” or “excepted” status are eligible to apply for unemployment insurance which can bridge the lapse in their paychecks and help them to keep up with their bills.

“[T]hose who are deemed essential to show up, are not only showing up, they are serving under the most challenging conditions,” the Members continued. “ Their commitment is admirable, and we owe a debt of gratitude for their service. […] Each day the federal government requires ‘excepted’ employees to perform work without pay is untenable and the DoL has the authority to help ease that hardship by allowing these ‘excepted’  federal employees the ability to apply for unemployment insurance.”


Read the full letter here or below.

January 23, 2019

The Honorable Alexander Acosta
Secretary
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20210

Dear Secretary Acosta:

We are writing to request the Department of Labor (DoL) explicitly and clearly provide guidance to states regarding eligibility for “excepted” federal workers who remain on the job in this unprecedented period of federal government shutdown.  The 2013 Employment and Training Administration (ETA) guidance memo, which is the most recent issuance of guidelines on this matter and re-stated on January 16, 2019 by Molly Conway, Acting Assistant Secretary at the Employment and Training Administration, states that “essential” or “excepted” federal workers may be ineligible for Unemployment Insurance “because states may determine that they are still fully employed”.  This creates a dynamic where furloughed federal employees may apply for unemployment insurance, but “excepted” federal employees, dedicated public servants, who are being required to perform their official duties do not necessarily have that same ability.  With the increasing potential for a second pay period to go by on Friday, January 25th and hundreds of thousands of federal employees again missing a paycheck, allowing those who remain on the job due to their “excepted” status the ability to apply for some financial relief is critical and just. 

In Oregon, approximately 9,600 federal civilian employees are impacted by the shutdown and those who are deemed essential to show up, are not only showing up, they are serving under the most challenging conditions.  Their commitment is admirable, and we owe a debt of gratitude for their service.  The Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) program that affords benefits to civilian federal employees provides that state law determines who is considered unemployed and other benefit eligibility standards.  If state laws define the “excepted” federal employees as unemployed, DoL should require states to pay UCFE benefits to those workers. For servicemembers covered by the Unemployment Compensation for Ex-servicemembers (UCX) program, we are also asking DoL to clarify that the current failure to pay servicemembers constitutes grounds to provide benefits to those workers.   

Each day the federal government requires “excepted” employees to perform work without pay is untenable and the DoL has the authority to help ease that hardship by allowing these “excepted” federal employees the ability to apply for unemployment insurance.  We respectfully request quick and concise clarification by the DoL to that end.    

Thank you for your consideration.

Veterinary Medicine Caucus Co-Chairs Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Stop Horse Soring

Mon, 01/21/2019 - 9:00pm

Co-Chairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus, Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05) and Congressman Ted S. Yoho (R-FL-03), today introduced the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial PAST (Prevent All Soring Tactics) Act to amend the Horse Protection Act of 1970, ending the abusive practice known as horse soring. This is the third consecutive Congress that Reps. Schrader and Yoho, veterinarians for more than 30 years and two of only three veterinarians currently in Congress, have introduced the PAST Act. 

Soring is the practice of intentionally injuring the hooves and legs of Tennessee Walking Horses to exaggerate the leg motion of these high gaited horses. Even though it’s been illegal for over 50 years, it’s still widely practiced.

“Horse soring still runs rampant even though laws have been on the books for decades banning this cruel practice,” said Rep. Schrader. “We gave them a chance to self-police but the practice continued. Our bill will strengthen and improve current regulations by improving USDA enforcement, increasing civil and criminal penalties, and banning incentives to sore horses. It’s time for Congress to act and put an end to this abusive practice.”

“I am honored to join my fellow veterinarian, Rep. Kurt Schrader and various organizations who support the end of Horse Soring. As a veterinarian and lover of animals, we must continue to keep the pressure on a select group of bad actors in the Walking Horse industry. They must comply with existing law and stop this illegal practice for good,” said Rep. Yoho.

The bill is named in honor of Senator Joseph D. Tydings of Maryland who served in the Senate from 1965-1971. Sen. Tydings sponsored the Horse Protection Act of 1970 and devoted his life working to end the practice of soring. Last Congress, the bill received the support of 290 bipartisan cosponsors. The legislation is also supported by more than 280 organizations, associations and groups, including both veterinary advocates and horse industry professionals, supporting putting an end to this unnecessary and inhumane practice.

More than 70 members of Congress reject pay during shutdown

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 9:00pm

As federal employees brace themselves for their first missed paychecks on Friday, some members of Congress have decided to join them in a show of solidarity and refuse their paychecks.

So far, 71 members of Congress say they will turn down their paychecks during the partial government shutdown, according to social media posts and statements reviewed by CNN. That comprises 13 senators and 58 representatives, with members from both parties making up a similar proportion of those going without pay. Fourteen representatives passing on pay are newly elected and were sworn in this year.
While most have asked House Chief Administrative Officer Phil Kiko to withhold their pay, others say they plan to donate it to particular charities or causes.
Among them is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who tweeted on New Year's Day -- the day after she announced she would explore a 2020 presidential run -- that she would be donating her paycheck to HIAS, a nonprofit that helps refugees.    
    Several members of Congress have also pushed legislation that would penalize members for allowing a shutdown to occur. Rep. Kurt Schrader, an Oregon Democrat, introduced a bill in 2017 that would automatically dock members' pay during government shutdowns, and Rep. Ralph Norman, a South Carolina Republican, introduced a constitutional amendment the day before the government shut down that would ban them from being paid.
    Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, one of seven House Republicans who voted to reopen the federal government, urged all members to join him in declining his paycheck.
    "Everybody ought to follow the lead that several of us have already set: Don't get paid," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Monday. "If you're in Congress, don't just delay your pay -- forfeit it, write a check back to the US Treasury. Then you'll feel the pain of these federal workers."
    [Among] the members of Congress who won't receive their paychecks during the shutdown:
    • Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon) (donating to an Oregon charity)
    Read the full article at CNN.com.

    Rep Schrader: Congress should not get paid during government shutdown

    Tue, 01/08/2019 - 9:00pm


    Oregon Democratic Congressman Kurt Schrader talks one-on-one with KATU's Brian Wood about what it will take to end the government shutdown, and how quickly he thinks it would end if members of Congress didn't get their paychecks during the shutdown.

    Watch the full interview above.

    Watch at KATU.com

    Airport workers ‘held hostage’ in government shutdown as Oregon politicians call for action

    Mon, 01/07/2019 - 9:00pm

    More than 700 air traffic controllers and security officers continue to show up to work at airports across Oregon with no assurance of their next paycheck as the federal government shutdown hit the 18-day mark on Tuesday.

    Some workers, however, are growing increasingly worried.

    Transportation Security Administration staffers at Portland International Airport are circulating among colleagues information about how to file for unemployment. Union officials are directing the 380 TSA workers at the airport to local food pantries or grief counseling services as needed.

    But if the federal government can’t pass a funding bill this week, the questions and concerns will only compound.

    The timing, union leaders said Tuesday, couldn’t be worse, as some workers expect to miss their first paycheck as soon as Friday if politicians don’t act.

    “People joke around about walking out,” said Joe Lowry, political coordinator for the TSA’s union in Portland, “but we can’t do that.” The TSA employees are classified as “essential” personnel and are blocked from striking and must show up to work despite the shutdown.

    The Port of Portland, which owns and operates the airport, said the facility continues to work smoothly. According to media reports, some other airports have seen delays as workers call in sick.

    Greg Biel, president of the American Federation of Government Employee’s TSA branch in Portland, said nerves are tightening.

    “The fear is as this continues,” Biel said at a news conference in Portland, “they may have to go seek other employment.” He said that is also the situation for 20 managers at PDX who aren’t part of the union and are at home on unpaid leave.

    U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader, both Democrats, met with airport workers before speaking to reporters Tuesday. They hoped to draw attention to the plight of hundreds of airport workers in Oregon, who are just a fraction of the 10,000 federal employees who work in forestry, agriculture and other sectors across Oregon, Schrader said.

    The news conference comes as President Trump is scheduled to address the nation Tuesday night from the Oval Office for the first time. He is expected to argue that his more than $5 billion border wall is critical to the nation’s security.

    Trump said before the Dec. 22 shutdown that he was happy to take the blame for the federal government over the wall debate. Since then, Trump has blamed Democrats for the shutdown and hinted he may consider declaring a national emergency and exerting special executive powers to pay for the wall.

    Bonamici, who sits on a congressional labor committee, described the shutdown as “unnecessary” and said it is dangerous to put at risk federal employees who help planes take off and land safely and help passengers move through terminals across the country.

    “This whole shutdown is completely unacceptable,” she said, “but it’s in the name of safety at the southern border, losing sight of what our air traffic controllers and TSA do.”

    Schrader called on the Trump administration and Senate Republicans to approve the spending bills approved by the now Democratically controlled House of Representatives. The bills separate the wall from the debate and ensure federal agencies will be funded.

    “There’s no reason these budgets should be held hostage,” he said. “These poor men and women doing our work for us, making the skies safe, aren’t getting paid. The idea you just pay them later? That doesn’t work guy.

    “If you’re an average American you need your paycheck now; you can’t wait a month or two or three and get paid and expect to get by.”

    TSA workers aren’t alone.

    Eddie DeLisle, the Pacific Northwest regional vice president of the air traffic controllers union, said his workforce totals about 125 in Oregon. The majority, 80, help passenger planes and cargo shipments take off and land safely at PDX.

    DeLisle said the job is “inherently stressful,” and now employees have the added burden of wondering if a paycheck will land in coming days.

    Members keep asking when the shutdown will end and what happens if they aren’t paid.

    “It’s unfortunate to have no answers to either question,” he said.

    DeLisle said his workers’ situations aren’t quite as grim TSA workers, whose representatives told stories of selling plasma to make ends meet. But DeLisle said there’s massive uncertainty.

    “I don’t know too many people who live better than paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

    Past government shutdowns haven’t gotten to this nerve-wracking point, DeLisle said. He said that it was “just by sheer luck” that the shutdown has happened to stretch between pay periods. He said this isn’t about the border wall at this point.

    “People just want to end the government shutdown,” he said.

    Trang Kim and Rex Miekle, two TSA officers who have been with the agency in Portland since it began in 2002, watched the news conference from the side and said they haven’t experienced anything quite like this.

    To come on the heels of the holidays, when workers bought gifts for family and friends, compounds the worry. TSA workers also lost out on an expected 1.9 percent pay increase last month, Kim said.

    She keeps checking on workers to keep morale up.

    Miekle showed up at the airport on his day off to show support for his colleagues.

    “If the ship sinks,” he said, “we’re all going down together.”

    Read the article on Oregonlive.com.

    Oregon Rep. Suzanne Bonamici calls for immediate end to government shutdown

    Mon, 01/07/2019 - 9:00pm

    Two Democratic members of Congress from Oregon met with TSA agents and air-traffic controllers at Portland International Airport on Tuesday before flying back to Washington, D.C.

    U.S. representatives Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader met with the federal workers who are considered "essential," which means they're working without pay, like others across the country.

    "My hats off to these men and women willing to come to work with no light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to the President. It should be a bipartisan exercise to fund the government," Schrader said.

    The local leader of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents TSA workers, said so far there is no "sickout," or workers calling in sick over the shutdown.

    "We have very dedicated people who are coming here, still coming to work," AFGE president Greg Biel said. "The fear is if this continues they may have to go seek unemployment."

    Bonamici said they heard from one TSA agent who is selling plasma to make ends meet, and another whose spouse is in the U.S. Coast Guard and is also not getting paid right now.

    Both stressed that the shutdown is unacceptable, and unnecessary for the border-security debate to continue.

    "The House has already passed the bills to fund the government, to keep the government open," Bonamici said. "I hope they take those up in the Senate. We need to end this immediately, families are being affected."

    Read the article on KGW.com.

    Lawmakers Meet With TSA, Air Traffic Controllers At PDX Amid Shutdown

    Mon, 01/07/2019 - 9:00pm
    Air traffic controllers and TSA agents at Portland International Airport told lawmakers they’re selling plasma and considering looking for work in the private sector as a result of the ongoing government shutdown.

    About 60 air traffic controllers and up to 400 TSA agents at PDX have been working without pay since the government shutdown first began over two weeks ago. The shutdown occurred because of a disagreement between the president and congressional Democrats over funding for a border wall.

    Oregon Democratic Reps. Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici met with employees at PDX Tuesday to hear how they’re being affected by the shutdown ahead of President Donald Trump’s planned primetime address on the southern border, where he made another plea for border wall funding.

    “We heard this morning about a gentleman here who works for TSA and his wife going out to sell plasma because they need the resources to meet their expenses,” Bonamici said Tuesday.

    The lawmakers are heading back to Washington, D.C., where they say they intend to share what they heard from PDX employees. They say they’ll use the information to make a plea to their counterparts in the Senate to pass a bill that doesn’t include funding for a border wall but would reopen the government. Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden voted in favor of one of those Democratic bills.

    “If [the president] wants to have a debate about the wall, we can do that,” Bonamici said. “But we should absolutely not shut down the government to do it and take paychecks away from people who are working hard to keep our country safe.” 

    The lawmakers said paying TSA agents and air traffic controllers at PDX is a matter of safety. Schrader said he spoke with a new employee who was scheduled to start work at PDX but is now “caught in between” as a result of the shutdown and can’t work. 

    “He just got a new home up here, he now can’t get paid,” Schrader said. “It’s a horrible situation.”

    TSA employees at PDX have not followed suit with employees at some of the nation’s largest airports, where people have called in sick in mass numbers because of the shutdown.

    Greg Biel with the American Federation of Government Employees said more employees will be forced to seek employment elsewhere if the shutdown continues. He said the effect will be short-staffing and more stress for employees who continue to work. 

    “It’s just a snowball effect,” Biel said. “And we just cannot continue with this, it has to end very soon.”

    Read the article at OPB.

    Some freshmen say no paycheck during shutdown, but most lawmakers get paid

    Sun, 01/06/2019 - 9:00pm

    For a few of the 93 freshman lawmakers sworn in last week, one of their first official acts in Congress was indefinitely delaying their paycheck.

    In keeping with previous government shutdowns, dozens of lawmakers are voluntarily refusing or donating their pay as long as any part of the federal bureaucracy remains shuttered — and new members are not being shy about joining in.

    For many, it is a gesture of solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors who will be going without their own paychecks until the partial shutdown is resolved. For others, it is a matter of good government — why should they get paid if they are failing to keep the government’s doors open?

    According to press statements and social media postings reviewed by The Washington Post, at least 48 members in the House and Senate — split about equally between both parties — have announced they plan to refuse or donate their pay for the duration of the shutdown. Thirteen of those are House freshmen serving for the first time in Congress, which currently stands at 434 members in the House and 99 in the Senate, with two vacancies.

    “While it is typically a day of celebration for my new colleagues and me, at least 800,000 federal employees and federal contractors are still in financial distress due to the current government shutdown,” Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), who represents a D.C.-area district full of those employees, wrote in a letter to House Chief Administrative Officer Philip G. Kiko.

    Another freshman, Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.), said it was not “appropriate” for lawmakers to collect pay “while hard-working border security agents and other civil servants are furloughed.” (Border agents are essential personnel who are continuing to work, but they will not be paid until the shutdown ends.)

    A spokesman for Kiko declined to share a comprehensive list of members who have made that request. But so far, the number of lawmakers opting to refuse their paychecks appears to be behind the pace set in the last extended shutdown, the 16-day partial shuttering in October 2013.

    A Post tally counted as many as 248 members who made public statements declining their pay — $174,000 annually, then and now, for members of the House and Senate — during that standoff.

    There is one difference from previous shutdowns: Lawmakers funded the congressional budget in the fall, along with the military and a few other departments, so Capitol Hill staff have not been furloughed.

    Representatives for the top House leaders — Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) — did not respond to requests for comment Monday on whether those lawmakers planned to accept their pay. Pelosi makes $223,500 annually as speaker, while the Senate leaders get $193,400 apiece.

    Speaking on the condition of anonymity, two congressional leadership aides said separately that the top leaders did not want to turn member pay into a political flash point.

    Roll Call analysis of member wealth in the last Congress pegged the median net worth of a lawmaker at $511,000 — about five times the net worth of the average American household. Lawmakers, in other words, are typically much better positioned to withstand an income disruption than their average constituent.

    Some members, one aide said, have personal financial obligations such as maintaining family homes back in their districts, paying for child care and caring for elderly relatives, and leaders did not want to be seen as pressuring them into turning down their pay. Another aide said they simply trusted members to “do what they want to do” knowing their own political dynamics.

    At least one senator said publicly that he sees no reason not to cash his checks: Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said in an interview last month with the Forum News Service — when he was a member of the House — that the no-pay pledges were “gimmicky” and that he was working hard for his money.

    “The government isn’t shut down, only about 25 percent of it,” he said in remarks published in the Grand Forks Herald. “Some federal employees are getting paid time off.”

    His predecessor, former senator Heidi Heitkamp (D), said she would donate the final days of her Senate pay, and fellow Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said the same.

    While lawmakers can request that their pay be withheld, it is not quite so simple as a matter of law. Congressional administrators interpret the 27th Amendment to the Constitution as prohibiting any changes to a member’s compensation until the next Congress. Instead, they are holding lawmakers’ pay in escrow, paying it out after the shutdown ends and leaving the members themselves to decide how to use the proceeds.

    Many are simply donating their paychecks outright. Freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), for instance, is donating her pay to the Alzheimer’s Association.

    In her letter to Kiko, she noted her past service as a Defense Department official who had to oversee furloughs during the 2013 shutdown. “I have seen up close the damage that a government shutdown has on the mission of our federal departments and the morale of our federal personnel.”

    Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) is splitting her pay between three food banks in her district, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he will donate his pay to a charity providing housing for homeless veterans. (Both are among the wealthiest members of Congress.)

    Meanwhile, at least two bills and a proposed constitutional amendment that would mandate that members lose their paychecks during future shutdowns have already been filed.

    Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) last week reintroduced his “Hold Congress Accountable Act,” a measure he first introduced during the 2013 shutdown, while Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) introduced the “No Work, No Pay Act.” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) would go further and write such a measure into the Constitution itself.

    Schrader, in a statement announcing his bill, said of the current shutdown, “I wouldn’t expect a student government to operate this way, let alone the government of the most powerful nation in the world.”

    Read the article in Washington Post.

    Wyden, Blumenauer reintroduce vote-by-mail bill

    Wed, 01/02/2019 - 9:00pm
    Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer on Thursday reintroduced their bill to expand Oregon-style vote-by-mail nationwide and knock down the mounting obstacles that voters across the country are facing, just to cast their ballots.

    The House of Representatives included a portion of the Wyden-Blumenauer bill in House Resolution 1, a package of pro-democratic reforms released Thursday.

    “The House is doing the right thing by recognizing the value of vote-by-mail and the Senate should follow its lead. Last November, once again, voters across the nation faced unacceptable barriers just to have their ballots counted,” Wyden said. “This administration and special interests want to make voting harder so they can advance an anti-democratic agenda that rewards the powerful and hurts regular Americans. Our bill sweeps away artificial roadblocks to voting and makes it easier for everyone to have their voice heard in Washington, D.C.”

    “Our first priority should be to ensure our democracy is available to everyone, which is why this is my first bill of the new Congress. Our legislation removes barriers to voting and promotes Oregon’s highly successful automatic voter registration and vote-by-mail systems,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Access to the ballot has been under threat across America for too long. I am proud that the success of the Oregon model is now being recognized federally by paving the way for all Americans to vote by mail.”

    Read the bill text here

    The Senate bill is co-sponsored by: Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., D-N.M., Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

    The House bill is co-sponsored Representatives David Cicilline (RI), Peter DeFazio (OR), Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Kurt Schrader (OR), Pramila Jayapal (WA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Terri Sewell (AL), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Theodore Deutch (FL), Jim Cooper (TN), Adam Smith (WA), Julia Brownley (CA), Salud Carbajal (CA) and Eric Swalwell (CA).

    The Vote-By-Mail Act requires every state to provide registered voters the opportunity to vote by mail. All registered voters will receive ballots in the mail weeks before Election Day, allowing them to carefully research candidates well ahead of time. By providing the opportunity to cast ballots in the mail, voters will be able to avoid long lines at polling stations and won’t have to take time off work to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. The federal government, through the United States Postal Service, will assist states with the costs of mailing ballots to registered voters.

    Building on Oregon’s automatic voter registration program, this bill also improves voter registration to reduce the burden on busy working Americans. The bill requires states to ensure that each citizen who provides identifying information to their state motor vehicle authority is automatically registered to vote.

    Wyden and Blumenauer first introduced the Vote-By-Mail Act in 2016.

    Background

    Oregon became the country’s first all-vote-by-mail state in 2000, and since then, has consistently ranked among the states with highest voter-turnout in the nation. Oregon voting rates are especially high among young votersand in midterm elections, when turnout traditionally lags. Oregon’s vote by mail law has deterred voter fraud by implementing security measures such as a signature authentication system. Oregon’s system also prevents potential fraud by centralizing ballot processing in the county clerk’s office, rather than at various polling sites.

    Vote by mail also has been shown to reduce Election Day costs by eliminating the need to transport equipment to polling stations and to hire and train poll workers.

    Read the article on KTVZ.com. 

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