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Bipartisan Group of Senators and Representatives Press Administration for Answers on Civilian Conservation Center Closures

Tue, 06/04/2019 - 9:00pm

Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, along with Congressmen Peter DeFazio (D-OR-4), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5), today led a bipartisan, bicameral group of 18 senators and 33 representatives in pushing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to reverse their decision to shut down Civilian Conservation Centers (CCC) and end the program in its current form.

CCCs provide valuable job training for young people in rural communities who thrive in alternative paths from traditional school and work tracks, and offer critical wildfire and natural disaster response support across America.

“After a difficult year of natural disasters and with hurricane and wildfire season quickly approaching, now is precisely the wrong time to be reducing capacity at CCCs,” the members of Congress wrote in a letter addressed to USDA and DOL Secretaries Perdue and Acosta. “These centers not only help support these underserved youth and young adults with invaluable job training, but they also provide essential capacity for the U.S. Forest Service to fulfill its mission and provide economic opportunities in rural areas.”

“Rural development is a core USDA mission, and CCC students provide significant services to rural America,” they continued. “Have you conducted an impact assessment with respect to the economic impact on the rural communities affected by this announcement?”

On May 24, 2019, the USDA suddenly announced the closure or alteration of all 25 CCCs – without the consultation, notification, or approval of Congress. These centers are an important part of Forest Service culture and currently employ 1,100 people, operate in 17 national forests and grasslands across 16 states, and provide training to over 3,000 youth and young adults – many of whom were seeking an alternative to traditional office environments or come from low-income communities in rural areas. CCC programs are consistently ranked among the highest performing Job Corps centers.

The members of Congress requested further explanation regarding the decision to close or alter the centers, including any new plans to ensure public lands are maintained and any additional costs and requirements these plays may entail. Civilian Conservation Centers operate within the Job Corps program, and are designed to conserve, develop, and manage public natural resources and public recreation areas. CCC students offer critical support in responding to natural disasters, including wildfires and hurricanes. 

According to the Forest Service, 1,200 CCC students provided the equivalent of 450,000 hours of wildfire support during the height of the 2017 fire season. Students also contributed 14,000 hours to improve the health of forests by treating 35,000 acres of forest with prescribed fire, and completing 10,000 hours of forest restoration work. After Hurricane Harvey hurled into the Gulf Coast, CCC students provided 5,000 hours of support to impacted communities.

Senator Merkley was joined by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tom Udall (D-NM), John Boozman (R-AR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Cory Gardner (R-CO).  

Congressmen DeFazio, Newhouse, and Schrader were joined by U.S. Representatives Rob Bishop (R-UT-1), Sanford Bishop (D-GA-2), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), André Carson (D-IN-7), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3), Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11), Brett Guthrie (R-KY-2), Greg Gianforte (R-MT-AL), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-3), Deb Haaland (D-NM-1), Rick Larsen (D-WA-2), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM-3), Doris Matsui (D-CA-6), Betty McCollum (D-MN-4), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5), Richard Neal (D-MA-1), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-1), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-6), Chris Pappas (D-NH-1), Collin Peterson (D-MN-7), Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), David Price (D-NC-4), Phil Roe (R-TN-1), Hal Rogers (R-KY-5), Bobby Scott (D-VA-3), Terri Sewell (D-AL-7), Scott Tipton (R-CO-3), Bruce Westerman (R-AR-4), Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24), and Don Young (R-AK-AL).

The full text of the letter is available here and follows below.

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Dear Secretary Perdue and Secretary Acosta, 

We write to express strong opposition to your Departments’ recent decision to permanently close over a third of Civilian Conservation Center (CCC) program facilities and end the program in its current form. We strongly urge you to reconsider this decision.

Civilian Conservation Centers have a unique mandate within the Job Corps program to help conserve, develop, and manage public natural resources and public recreation areas and respond to natural disasters, including wildfires and hurricanes. The 25 CCCs operate in 17 national forests and grasslands across 16 states and aim to train over 4,000 youth and young adults, many of whom are at-risk individuals originating from low-income, rural communities. These centers not only help support these underserved youth and young adults with invaluable job training, but they also provide essential capacity for the U.S. Forest Service to fulfill its mission and provide economic opportunities in rural areas.

The closure or alteration of all 25 CCCs—representing a fifth of all Job Corps sites—is a massive revision of the program undertaken without congressional consultation, notification or approval. This is especially troubling given that CCCs are overrepresented in the ranks of the highest performing Job Corps Centers. According to data from the Department of Labor, six of the top 15 Job Corps centers were Civilian Conservation Centers, including the highest performing center in the nation, in Program Year (PY) 2017. Four of the five centers with the highest graduate employment rates were Civilian Conservation Centers and 16 of the 25 CCCs were in the top 10 of at least one of Job Corps’ employment-related performance measures in PY 2017.

Furthermore, these students were on the frontlines in response to the natural disasters that hit the United States in 2018 and CCCs are, in fact, the only Job Corps Centers that can participate in disaster response. For example, according to the Forest Service, in 2017 1,200 students at CCCs participated in fire assessments, providing the equivalent of 450,000 hours of service during the height of the fire season. Students at CCCs also provided 5,000 hours of support in response to Hurricane Harvey. Additionally, students contributed 14,000 hours treating 35,000 acres of hazardous fuels with prescribed fire and 10,000 hours of forest restoration work.

After a difficult year of natural disasters and with hurricane and wildfire season quickly approaching, now is precisely the wrong time to be reducing capacity at CCCs. We strongly urge you maintain the CCC program.  

We ask that you further explain your decision by answering the following questions:

•         CCCs play a vital role in responding to natural disasters, including wildfires. How will you replace this lost capacity? Have you conducted an impact assessment regarding how the loss of Job Corps fire crews will impact the upcoming fire season? Have you consulted with the Forest Service throughout the decision making process?

•         It was announced that you have suspended enrollment at all CCCs. In five states–Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota–Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers are currently the only centers operating in the state. How will current enrollment opportunities be impacted for youth in these states, as well as other impacted states? When will youth in these states be able to enroll in Job Corps again?

•         Many CCCs are located on public lands, which carries unique obligations and responsibilities. How will management of centers on public land be shifted to the private sector or other non-federal entities and what additional costs and requirements will this entail? 

•         Please provide an explanation for how this complies with appropriations law and reprogramming guidance related to personnel actions and reorganizations.

•         Please provide the statutory authority the Departments are relying on to complete these transfers, closures, and the associated reduction in force.

•         Nearly 1,100 people are employed at CCCs. What will happen to employees currently in the process of relocating between facilities, some of whom have sold homes and shipped household goods? Will employees be able to apply for jobs with contractors expected to take over the facilities?

•         Rural development is a core USDA mission, and CCC students provide significant services to rural America. Have you conducted an impact assessment with respect to the economic impact on the rural communities affected by this announcement?

Given your Departments’ stated timeline for implementing these changes, we look forward to your prompt reply.

Rep. Schrader Votes to Support Dreamers

Mon, 06/03/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) voted today to give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, also known as Dreamers, a pathway to citizenship and access to higher education benefits. HR 6, American Dream and Promise Act passed in the House with bipartisan support. 

“These young folks have bright futures ahead, and it remains my mission to ensure every Dreamer in this country has the opportunity to fulfill his or her dreams here at home,” said Rep. Schrader. “Dreamers are as American as you or I and I’m very pleased that Congress took action today. I strongly encourage my colleagues in the Senate to take up this long overdue legislation. We cannot afford to lose these talented folks who have been educated in America, built businesses in America, and have contributed to the ongoing innovation and greatness of America. Ensuring a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.”

Over the past three years, the Trump Administration has held DACA recipients in legal limbo, following the announcement of tentative plans to eventually end the program.  There are over 800,000 Dreamers in the United States with 11,000 in the state of Oregon. Estimates show that over $605 million in gross state product (GSP) would be lost in Oregon if Dreamers are removed from the state’s workforce. In the 5th District, there are over 6,000 Dreamers who contribute over $22 million in state and local taxes annually. Reports estimate that they have a combined spending power of $193,230,000 in the 5th District of Oregon alone.

Throughout the last Congress, since the Trump Administration announced plans to end the DACA program, Congressman Schrader has been sharing the stories of Oregon Dreamers on the House floor. Listen to the stories of these courageous Oregonians below:

[VIDEO] Marco's Story: a Portland Dreamer, Bachelor’s Degree holder in Accounting, and accountant for an Oregon non-profit that benefits youth.

 

[VIDEO] Hugo's Story: a Salem Dreamer, company commander of high school JROTC, Salem “Youth of the Year” recipient, and University of Oregon Economics degree holder.

 

[VIDEO] Priscila's Story: a Salem Dreamer, Oregon State University Human Development & Family Sciences major, and aspiring guidance counselor for South Salem High School.

 

[VIDEO] Juan's Story: a Monmouth Dreamer, research patient with Cerebral Palsy at Shriners Hospital, Western Oregon University graduate, and current graduate student at Oregon State University. Juan was Congressman Schrader’s guest to the State of the Union speech in 2018.

 

[VIDEO] Diana's Story: a Portland Dreamer, National Honor Society member, and honors graduate of Benson Polytechnic High School.

 

[VIDEO] Aldo's Story: a Woodburn Dreamer, Portland State University student, and public health advocate.

 

[VIDEO] Leo's Story: a Salem Dreamer, full-time senior citizen and disabilities care worker, and co-founder of the Oregon DACA Coalition.

 

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Rep. Schrader Statement on the Passing of Senator Jackie Winters

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader issued the following statement on the passing of Oregon State Senator Jackie Winters (R-Salem):

“I am deeply saddened this week by the passing of my friend and former colleague Senator Jackie Winters, a pioneering lawmaker in Oregon whose significant contributions to her community will not be forgotten. Jackie was a mentor to me when I first came to the Oregon State Legislature years ago. I was especially proud to be able to work with her at a time when friendship and camaraderie regularly crossed party lines. Her family’s story is an inspiration to everyone and exemplifies the unique opportunities that Oregon affords. She will be deeply missed.”

Senator Winters was the longest serving African American legislator in Oregon state history and the first African American to serve in the legislature as a Republican. From 2017-2019, she served as the Senate Minority Leader. She was first elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1998 and to the Senate in 2002. Throughout her career, Senator Winters was an advocate for criminal justice reform and the legislation she championed over her decades of service improved the lives of countless Oregonians.

Outpouring of Concern Over “Horse Soring” Cruelty Triggers New U.S. House Rule Bringing Animal Welfare Measure to the Floor in Coming Weeks

Wed, 05/22/2019 - 9:00pm

Today, the U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings Memorial Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693, secured its 290th cosponsor, triggering a new House Rule to move the measure to the Consensus Calendar and to a debate and vote on the House floor.  The measure would amend the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970 and crack down on the practice of soring Tennessee Walking, Racking, and Spotted Saddle Horses that runs rampant throughout the Southeastern U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is listed among the 220 Democrat and 76 Republican cosponsors.  H.R. 693 is just the third measure to attract massive bipartisan support and go to the floor under a new rule promoted by the Problem Solvers Caucus.

The PAST Act was introduced in the U.S. House in January by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) – Cochairs of the Congressional Veterinary Medicine Caucus – and seeks to close loopholes that have allowed the barbaric practice of “soring.” Soring is conducted by trainers who apply caustic chemicals to the front limbs of Tennessee Walking horses or insert sharp objects into their hooves to produce an exaggerated gait. This intentional abuse of horses produces a high stepping gait known as the “big lick,” and it has been an ugly feature of the equine world since the 1950’s.

The PAST Act was first introduced six years ago, but a few influential lawmakers blocked floor votes on the measure despite overwhelming support in both chambers.  The sponsors of the bill named this year’s version after the late U.S. Senator Joseph D. Tydings (D-MD), who authored the Horse Protection Act of 1970 and worked for 48 years to close loopholes that the horse soring crowd used to complicate enforcement of the law. Tydings passed away last fall. 

“The PAST Act is an easy, bipartisan solution that every Member of Congress should be able to get behind, as is evidenced by the support from well over half of the House of Representatives,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader. “Surpassing this significant number of cosponsors means we can utilize the new Consensus Calendar rule, adopted this Congress. Horse soring still runs rampant even though laws have been on the books banning this cruel practice for decades. Our bill will strengthen and improve current regulations by allowing USDA to step in since self-policing has flat out not worked over the last 20 years. I thank all of my colleagues for their support and look forward to taking a vote in the House soon as we seek to put an end to this abusive practice once and for all.”

“I’ve seen horses’ feet that have been sored so badly they looked like pizza with the cheese pulled off, and it’s long past time to end the rampant abusive practice of soring that I’ve personally witnessed since childhood,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, and past president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association. “We are going to get a vote and take a big step toward eradicating the soring plague that’s marred the breed for more than sixty years, and I applaud the U.S. House Members for their dedication and support.”

“My grandfather would be so thrilled about this news,” said Ben Tydings Smith, grandson of the late Senator Joseph D. Tydings. “He cared so deeply for these horses and I know he is probably looking down with a big smile on his face.  On behalf of the Tydings family, thank you to all the sponsors and cosponsors for your generous support.”

The PAST Act was also introduced in the U.S. Senate in March by U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Mark Warner (D-VA), S. 1007, and is supported by the American Horse Council, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Equestrian Federation, National Sheriff’s Association, and the veterinary medical associations from all 50 states. It attracted 340 House and Senate cosponsors in the previous Congress and is well on its way toward attracting that level of support in the new Congress.

Rep. Schrader Helps Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Immunizations, Prevent Future Outbreaks

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 9:00pm

Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR),  Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08), Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) today introduced the VACCINES Act, a bipartisan bill that will increase immunization rates across the country and prevent future outbreaks of contagious, deadly diseases.

“As a medical professional for over 30 years, I find it absolutely ridiculous that we are facing a public health crisis from the comeback in illnesses that should no longer be a risk. We’d made such great progress in the medical community with eradicating deadly illnesses; work that is now being undone by the rise of misinformation around scientifically proven, evidence-based preventative care. Over the last year in Oregon, we’ve been dealing with the largest measles outbreak in 20 years, putting our most vulnerable populations at unnecessary risk. And now, we have a problem that requires a solution. I am pleased to work with my colleagues on this bipartisan, commonsense solution and I urge all of our colleagues to get behind this critical bill as well,” said Rep. Schrader.

“Vaccines were one of the greatest medical accomplishments of the 20th century and have been proven safe and effective at preventing diseases that once killed or greatly harmed people around the world,” said Rep. Schrier. “As a pediatrician, I understand that parents want to do what they think is best for their children and some do not vaccinate because of unfounded fears. We are now seeing outbreaks of diseases like measles, which was considered eliminated 19 years ago, in part because of an anti-vaccine campaigns around the country. This bill will make sure that parents have access to facts about vaccines, so they can make an informed decision.”

“Vaccines are safe and effective tools that can protect Americans from preventable suffering,” said Dr. Burgess. “This bill reinforces vaccines’ lifesaving potential. As the most senior physician serving in Congress, I am glad to work alongside Dr. Schrier, the newest doctor to join the U.S. House of Representatives, to improve the health and wellbeing of the American people.”

Immunizations protect not only the health of our own children, but the health of entire communities. Parents who have babies too young to be vaccinated or people who are too sick to be vaccinated count on high vaccination rates. While the vast majority of people have received the recommended immunizations for preventable diseases, a growing share of young children have not. The current measles epidemic has quickly spread in communities with clusters of unvaccinated people.

“The science is settled: vaccines save lives. This is a non-partisan issue and I’m pleased to join my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in supporting this legislation, which will promote access, increase utilization and foster research of vaccines. This bill will help reverse the tide of recent disease outbreaks and I urge my colleagues to quickly adopt this measure for the sake of our public health,” added Rep. Engel.

The Vaccine Awareness Campaign to Champion Immunization Nationally and Enhance Safety (VACCINES) Act will give the Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) resources it needs to understand what drives vaccines hesitancy and barriers to immunization. They will also be able to better track where there are changes in vaccine confidence or refusal rates. With this information, they will be able to predict where an outbreak might occur because of low immunization rates and target vaccine education campaigns to those areas before an outbreak occurs.

“Vaccines are vital for protecting our communities, but sadly, misinformation has led some to believe that they are not safe. With over 800 confirmed cases of measles in our country this year, we need to reverse course and help parents get the right information about vaccines. I was proud to join Dr. Schrier, Dr. Burgess, Congressman Engel, Congressman Schrader, and Congressman Bilirakis in introducing the VACCINES Act, which will promote vaccine safety and help prevent future outbreaks,” said Rep. Guthrie.

“There is no greater priority than protecting our children.  This bill will help us achieve that paramount objective because it will lead to higher immunization rates throughout the nation.  By doing so, we can save lives and avoid the spread of dangerous diseases. This is simply the right thing to do,” stated Congressman Bilirakis

“Vaccines are safe, vaccines are effective and vaccines save lives. The VACCINES Act recognizes the vital role vaccines play in keeping children and communities safe and recommends needed funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct surveillance research and public messaging. As measles outbreaks continue to spread, this bill could not be more important or timely. The American Academy of Pediatrics is proud to support the legislation and commends Reps. Schrier (D-Wa.), a pediatrician, and Rep. Burgess (R-Texas), an obstetrician/gynecologist, for their leadership,” said President of the American Academy of Pediatrics Kyle Yasuda, M.D., FAAP.

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Schrader, Bonamici Demand Answers During Hearing into Chemawa Indian School

Wed, 05/15/2019 - 9:00pm

For over a year and a half, Congressman Kurt Schrader and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici have been pressing for answers from the Department of Interior (DOI) around serious allegations raised by an Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) investigative series about fraud, mismanagement, lack of transparency, and abuse at Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon. The OPB series reported on the tragic deaths of three Chemawa students, one of whom died on campus, and two of whom died shortly after leaving the school.  A fourth student died after OPB’s series wdaas published.

Today, both Representatives continued to raise questions during the House Natural Resources Committee hearing titled “Investigating the Health and Safety Risks of Native Children at BIE Boarding Schools.” Reps. Schrader and Bonamici called for this hearing one month ago after repeated outreach to DOI’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), beginning in the fall of 2017, that has resulted in unsatisfactory and delayed responses. During this time, the members visited Chemawa twice.

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda and BIE Director Tony Dearman, who are responsible for overseeing Chemawa and the three other federally-funded off-reservation Indian boarding schools, were invited to participate in today’s hearing but did not respond.

WATCH: Rep. Schrader questions first panel, and presses Indian Affairs’ representative during second panel.

“I am dismayed by the witnesses who refused to show up today, and that much more grateful for the courage and willingness of the witnesses who did,” said Rep. Schrader. “Their voices and perspectives are important, and I thank them for being with us today. It is totally unacceptable that the voices of Chemawa’s staff and students are still being silenced by the agency’s ‘gag rule,’ preventing them from speaking to their own representatives in Congress. We all share the common goal of wanting to make Chemawa a safe and supportive environment for Native students from across the West, ensuring that they and BIE staff have the resources and support necessary to provide the best academic and cultural education possible. Schools like Chemawa are critical to the success of students in Indian Country. I am hopeful that the conversations we had today will help us move closer toward this goal, and I look forward to continuing our collaboration long after this hearing is over.”

WATCH: Rep. Bonamici questions the first panel, including parents and former teachers, and questions the second panel.

At nearly every step in this process, my colleagues and I have been frustrated by a lack of transparency, regarding Chemawa’s finances, governance, and student safety,” said Rep. Bonamici. “I am also deeply disappointed to see that BIA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary John Tahsuda and BIE Director Tony Dearman are not here today to testify, despite an invitation from Chairman Grijalva and Chairman Gallego… The federal government has a responsibility to the school’s Native students, and it is my hope that today’s hearing will help us better understand what steps need to be taken to get Chemawa back on track, so that current and future students have every opportunity to grow and thrive academically in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment.”

WITNESSES: While Mr. Tahsuda and Mr. Dearman refused to participate in today’s hearing, the parents of two Chemawa students who died, two former Chemawa teachers, and the former Chair of the School Board were all among today’s participants. See the full list of witnesses here.

WATCH: Video of the full committee hearing here.

In November of 2017, Schrader and Bonamici led Members of the Oregon delegation in sending a letter to DOI laying out roughly a dozen questions about the school. After receiving an unsatisfactory response more than five months later, the Members visited the school in May of last year. Following that visit, the Representatives outlined 14 more detailed questions for Indian Affairs ranging from processes and policies to funding and financial oversight to the physical facilities and student wellbeing to the academic curriculum at the school. The response came nearly one year later only after a second scheduled visit to the school and, again, raised more questions than it answered.

Along with their more than 20 detailed written questions to DOI’s Indian Affairs, two visits to the school, and today’s hearing, the Members also sent letters to the Department of Education inquiring about the withholding of Title I funding from BIE, and to Indian Health Service raising concerns about the health and safety of students at Chemawa and asking questions about health care practices and communication between the health care facilities and the school.

Schrader, Bilirakis, Thompson, Buchanan Introduce Bill to Protect Seniors’ Access to Health Care

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressmen Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-06), Mike Thompson (D-CA-05), and Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16) today introduced the bipartisan H.R. 2564 – Medicare Enrollment Protection Act of 2019 to protect seniors from coverage gaps in Medicare by closing the Medicare Part B-COBRA loophole.

Under current law, anyone 65 and older who does not enroll in Medicare Part B within eight months of retiring or being laid off from his or her job is penalized with a higher lifetime premium and a delayed start to Medicare coverage. This includes those who opt into COBRA coverage upon retirement which essentially extends the coverage they received under their employer for up to an additional 18 months.

“A complicated enrollment process should not prevent anyone from receiving coverage, and it certainly should not penalize them for the rest of their life,” said Congressman Schrader. “No one should be slapped with higher premiums for life simply because they opted into a program that kept them in their own network longer. Our bill will close this loophole in the enrollment process and protect our seniors from being without coverage at a time when they need it most, providing them with a system of continuous enrollment.”

"We want to ensure the transition from private health care to Medicare is easy,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “The current law does not meet that objective.  Additionally, the law does not properly reflect the need for flexibility due to the various challenges that those exiting the workforce face in today’s economy.  Our bill empowers seniors to make the health care decisions that best fit their individual needs without fear of a lifetime penalty, and I look forward to its quick passage." 

“Medicare is a critical piece of ensuring a dignified retirement for our nation’s seniors, which is why I am proud to be an original sponsor of the Medicare Enrollment Protection Act of 2019,” said Congressman Thompson. “This bill will make it easier for seniors with COBRA coverage to access Medicare and ensure they aren’t hit with unaffordable penalties or delays in coverage.” 

“Confusing enrollment policies shouldn't threaten seniors' access to Medicare or penalize them with higher lifetime premiums just because they choose to stay in their current network,” said Congressman Buchanan. “It is critical that we pass this common-sense measure to protect seniors from health coverage gaps and make sure they are not unfairly penalized.”

Congressman Schrader first introduced a version of this bill in 2010, two years after the recession hit, causing mass layoffs and forcing thousands to retire early. Many of those 65 and older, who were forced to retire early, opted to enroll in COBRA to ensure that they remained in their current provider’s network. Once their COBRA coverage expired, they were forced to wait until the next Medicare enrollment period, delaying coverage for as long as a year and triggering higher premiums for life. The Medicare Enrollment Protection Act of 2019 will establish a special enrollment period for seniors who miss their enrollment periods due to COBRA continuation coverage.

Statement on the Passing of Anne Marie Feeney

Tue, 04/23/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) issued the following statement on the passing of Anne Marie Feeney, the Congressman’s Executive Assistant from 2009 – 2014:

“It is with a very heavy heart that I share the sad news of the passing of my former executive assistant, Anne Marie Feeney. Anne Marie devoted her life to public service, beginning her more than four decades in Congress in the 1970s with Senator Robert Byrd and retiring her career in my office in 2014. Across the Capitol, Anne Marie was a force to be reckoned with, having served through eight Presidencies and more than 20 Congresses. Beginning her career at a time when few women were hired as congressional staff, she spearheaded the charge to bring full-time child care to Congress for both Members and staff. When I was first elected to Congress in 2008, it was Anne Marie who helped me set up my office and guided me through the ins-and-outs of Congress. I credit her with building the close-knit, family culture my office is fortunate to have. Over her many decades of service, Anne Marie also served as a mentor, a surrogate mother, and a dear friend to so many across all of Capitol Hill. My thoughts this week have been with her daughter Marybeth, son-in-law Jamie, and grandson Kyle, her sister Mollie and brother-in-law John, her entire extended family, and her very many friends as we mourn a great loss and remember the incredibly strong and caring woman that was Anne Marie Feeney.”

Schrader, Bonamici Call for Committee to Investigate Oregon’s Chemawa Indian School

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 9:00pm

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) today sent a letter to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva and Ranking Member Rob Bishop calling for a hearing on the four federally-operated, off-reservation Native American boarding schools, including Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon.

Schrader and Bonamici wrote: “We led several of our Oregon delegation colleagues in seeking answers from the Administration about the lack of accountability and transparency at Chemawa, running into many obstacles in doing so, not least of which is an order from Indian Affairs leadership restricting Chemawa staff from speaking with us. […] We have repeatedly followed the proper channels given us by [Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)] and submitted detailed inquiries to Congressional Affairs at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. These are serious and specific concerns, and to receive delayed and vague responses from BIE and Indian Affairs is unacceptable.”

As early as the fall of 2017, Schrader and Bonamici have sought answers from Indian Affairs around Chemawa following an investigative series by Oregon Public Broadcasting which raised serious concerns about student safety at Chemawa, including the deaths of three Chemawa students: Melissa Abell, who died of cardiac arrest in her dorm room; Flint Tall, who died in an alcohol-related car accident in South Dakota shortly after being expelled and sent home; and Marshall Friday, who died after struggling to access medication for a heart problem at school.   

Additionally, OPB’s reporting raised allegations of abuse, fraud and mismanagement at the boarding high school for Native American youth. The Members sent a series of letters to Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, and the Department of Education demanding answers to questions around the management of the school but received unsatisfactory and delayed responses. They also visited the school and met with administrators and representatives from Indian Affairs and BIE, including Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda and BIE Director Tony Dearman, twice over the last year, in June 2018 and again last month, leaving each time with even more questions.

“A hearing into BIE’s oversight of Chemawa and other such off-reservation boarding schools would help us all to share the information that we need to accomplish our common goal of ensuring that Native students have the resources and support to receive the best academic and cultural education, college readiness skills, and workforce training, in a safe and supportive environment, and that BIE school staff have the resources, training, and support to succeed in providing this education,” the Members continued. “Under the Committee’s previous leadership, BIE was not called in to testify. There has been a significant lapse in oversight of BIE and these issues need to be investigated by Congress. We believe that BIE must be held accountable for their inaction in response, specifically, to the concerns raised about Chemawa, and that the Committee should make doing so a priority.”

Read their letter in full below.

 

April 12, 2019


The Honorable Raul Grijalva

Chairman

Committee on Natural Resources

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Rob Bishop

Ranking Member

Committee on Natural Resources

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515


Dear Chairman Grijalva and Ranking Member Bishop,

 

We write to respectfully request a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee on the four off-reservation Native American boarding schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE): Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklahoma; Sherman Indian School in Riverside, California; Flandreau Indian School in Flandreau, South Dakota; and Chemawa Indian School (Chemawa) in Salem, Oregon. Following a local media report’s serious allegations of BIE neglecting the welfare of Chemawa students, we led several of our Oregon delegation colleagues in seeking answers from the Administration about the lack of accountability and transparency at Chemawa, running into many obstacles in doing so, not least of which is an order from Indian Affairs leadership restricting Chemawa staff from speaking with us. Chemawa is of particular interest to us and the communities we represent, and we continue to consult with Oregon tribal leaders about ways to hold BIE accountable.

 

Chemawa is the oldest continuously-operating Native American boarding school in America, and now represents a place where Native youth from across the West can receive a high school education in a unique, culturally-appropriate setting. As an off-reservation school, students attend Chemawa from seventeen states with more than a third coming from Arizona. Chemawa students belong to as many as 80 different tribes with the White Mountain Apache Tribe, Tohono O’Odham Nation, Gila River Indian Community, and the Navajo Nation representing the highest number of Chemawa students.[1] We are troubled by circumstances at BIE and at the school, and we fear those circumstances interfere with their mission to “provide opportunities for every Chemawa student to achieve success.”[2]

 

A 2017 five-part investigative report by Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) made serious allegations and outlined significant concerns about Chemawa. These concerns ranged from a lack of transparency and accountability in the governance structure and management of the school, to alarming reports of the deaths of three students at Chemawa: Melissa Abell, who died of cardiac arrest in her dorm room; Flint Tall, who died in an alcohol-related car accident in South Dakota shortly after being expelled and sent home; and Marshall Friday, who died after struggling to access medication for a heart problem at school.[3] In light of the OPB report, the Oregon delegation sent a letter to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs John Tahsuda on November 14, 2017, outlining a series of questions related to our concerns about Chemawa. The letter we received in response on April 26, 2018, provided unsatisfactory answers to our inquiries. This, in addition to the months-long delay in receiving the response, prompted us to convene a meeting at Chemawa.

 

On May 3, 2018, we, along with Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Jeff Merkley, met with BIE Director Tony Dearman and Chemawa administrators at the school seeking answers to our questions. We were particularly dismayed and frustrated when we were told at the meeting that Chemawa and BIE staff are prohibited from talking with us, their elected representatives, without approval from Congressional Affairs in Washington, DC. Following insufficient responses to our questions in that meeting, we sent a second letter to Mr. Tahsuda on June 8, 2018, with additional concerns about Chemawa’s staff vacancy rate and lack of Native American teachers; policies and procedures to train teachers and support staff so that they are fully equipped to meet complex student needs; and school board membership and authority. Concurrently, we sent a letter to the Department of Education requesting information about why the Department was withholding Title I funding from BIE, and a letter to the Indian Health Service (IHS) requesting information about the relationship between IHS and Chemawa to protect the health and safety of students. We received responses from the Department of Education and Indian Health Service within three months of sending our letters.

 

On August 20, 2018, Congressman Schrader spoke with Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney and Mr. Tahsuda. Mr. Tahsuda took full responsibility for the prohibition on Chemawa staff talking to Members of Congress, even after Congressman Schrader emphasized that this policy blocks his own constituents from speaking with him. Mr. Tahsuda reiterated that all queries must go through Congressional Affairs, but when pressed for an estimated timeline for the response to our letter sent to that specific department more than two months ago, he was unable to answer.

 

While our letter was going unanswered at Indian Affairs, we learned of the tragic death of Robert Tillman, who was a student at Chemawa. Less than two weeks after leaving Chemawa, Robert died in Wyoming. We don’t know any details surrounding the circumstances of his departure from the school, but are deeply concerned that this student death, along with the student deaths OPB reported on in 2017, signals that Chemawa and BIE are failing to keep students in their care safe, and to identify and meet student health and safety needs.

 

After more than nine months without a response, and with fresh concerns about student safety, we, with Senator Merkley, requested a second meeting at Chemawa. We met with Chemawa administrators, Director Dearman, and Mr. Tahsuda on March 20, 2019, and received an answer to our June 2018 letter to Indian Affairs at the meeting itself. This response was unsatisfactory; it was light on details and did not address all of our questions. Additionally, we believe that had we not visited Chemawa in person a second time, we would still be waiting for a response.

 

We have repeatedly followed the proper channels given to us by BIE and submitted detailed inquiries to Congressional Affairs at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. These are serious and specific concerns, and to receive delayed and vague responses from BIE and Indian Affairs is unacceptable. We have been repeatedly told that staff at Chemawa is prohibited from speaking with Members of Congress and have seen written communications to staff reinforcing that message. We believe that BIE’s policy restricting communication between Chemawa and the Congressional delegation is a great disservice to Chemawa’s students and staff and fosters a culture of secrecy where staff and students are afraid to speak up and discuss their concerns.

 

BIE has a responsibility to thousands of Native students, and we have a responsibility to our constituents and students in Oregon. A hearing into BIE’s oversight of Chemawa and other such off-reservation boarding schools would help us all to share the information that we need to accomplish our common goal of ensuring that Native students have the resources and support to receive the best academic and cultural education, college readiness skills, and workforce training, in a safe and supportive environment, and that BIE school staff have the resources, training, and support to succeed in providing this education. Under the Committee’s previous leadership, BIE was not called in to testify. There has been a significant lapse in oversight of BIE and these issues need to be investigated by Congress. We believe that BIE must be held accountable for their inaction in response, specifically, to the concerns raised about Chemawa, and that the Committee should make doing so a priority.

 

We urge you to hold a hearing in your committee and appreciate the opportunity to work with you to provide oversight into this issue on a broad, bipartisan scale. Please do not hesitate to contact Julia Stafford in Rep. Schrader’s office at julia.stafford@mail.house.gov, or Allison Smith in Rep. Bonamici’s office at allison.smith@mail.house.gov should you have any questions. Thank you for your consideration of our request.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

 

 

 

KURT SCHRADER                                                                         SUZANNE BONAMICI

Member of Congress                                                                      Member of Congress

 

 


[1] Chemawa enrollment facts, 2014-2015: http://chemawa.bie.edu/quickfacts.html. Accessed March 7, 2019.

[2] Chemawa Mission and Vision: http://chemawa.bie.edu/mission.html. Accessed March 11, 2019.

[3] Full Oregon Public Broadcasting series on Chemawa: https://www.opb.org/news/series/chemawa/. Accessed March 7, 2019.

Schrader, Welch Bill to Close Billion Dollar Medicaid Loophole to Become Law

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

Congressmen Kurt Schrader (OR-05) and Peter Welch (VT-At Large)’s Right Rebate Act, which will close a loophole in the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program that may be costing the Medicaid program as much as $1 billion, passed through both chambers of Congress as part of a bipartisan package of health care bills and is headed to the President’s desk to become law.

“Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will now have the proper authority to deal with these inaccuracies that have cost Oregon Health Plan and other plans over a billion dollars,” said Rep. Schrader. “Our fix will prevent bad actors from taking advantage of the system and honest mistakes from costing us even more money. I want to thank my colleagues across both chambers for their support in ushering through this legislation.”

“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.”

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 the 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 Right Rebate Act, if a drug company knowingly misclassifies their brand drug as a generic, 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.

Reps. Schrader and Welch reintroduced the bill in February before it passed by voice vote through the House at the end of March and through the Senate this week. Reps. Schrader and Welch first introduced a version of the bill during the 115th Congress, where it passed through the House as part of the IMPROVE Act.

Bipartisan Schrader, Carter Bill to Keep Drug Costs Down Passes Through Health Subcommittee

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 9:00pm

Today, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee marked up and passed a series of bills aimed at lowering prescription drug costs, including Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Congressman Earl L. "Buddy" Carter (R-GA)’s bipartisan BLOCKING Act, HR 938, that would increase competition in the generic drug market.

VIDEO: Schrader on Lower Drug Costs: “Generic Drugs Don’t Save Anyone Money if They Aren’t on the Market”

“We know that when generic versions of medication are on the market it stimulates competition and keeps the cost of drugs down for everyone,” said Rep. Schrader. “But generic drugs don’t save anyone money if they aren’t on the market. Our bill targets and eliminates unnecessary delays in allowing more drugs to get to the market by ensuring both that manufacturers are still incentivized to produce more drugs and that markets continue to see robust competition. I want to thank my colleague, Buddy Carter, for his work on this, and for all of my colleagues for their support today.” 

“I am very glad to see this legislation approved by the subcommittee today because it will work to bring more generic competition into the marketplace faster,” said Rep. Carter. “More competition is critical in order to lower the costs of prescription drugs for patients. I want to thank my friend Kurt Schrader for working with me to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible.”

Reps. Schrader and Carter introduced the Bringing Low-cost Options and Competition while Keeping Incentives for New Generics (BLOCKING) Act earlier this year to stop first generic drug “parking.” 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.

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

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.”