Sen. Marshall Praises Progress Made to Reduce Veteran Suicides

Source: United States Senator for Kansas Roger Marshall

Sen. Marshall Praises Progress Made to Reduce Veteran Suicides

(Washington, D.C., September 20, 2021) – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. today released a statement praising recent findings from the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) annual report showing a decrease in veteran suicides by 7 percent in 2019 – the lowest in 12 years – and calling for increased awareness for veteran mental health in light of America’s recent military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“Our nation’s heroes fought valiantly and risked their lives in countless battles throughout history. Unfortunately, many of those who returned home endured countless wounds – both physical and emotional – which put an immense toll on them and their families. As a veteran, then a physician, and now a Senator, I understand both the complexity and severity of veteran suicide. This is why I continue to work with the VA and local veterans groups to bring awareness and help connect veterans and their organizations with available resources,” said Senator Marshall. “While we still have a long way to go, I am proud to see that in 2019, veteran suicides reached the lowest rate in 12 years. However, we must continue to do more to help our American heroes – for they all are truly the best of America. People often ask me what they can do to help, and the truth is veterans need to be a part of a team when they exit the military. Giving veterans a job is a huge first step, as well as making sure they are plugged into the local community. If you or a veteran you know is in a crisis, please don’t hesitate to call the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.”
Background:
Senator Marshall recentlypenned an op-ed for the Manhattan Mercury highlighting the invaluable service of veterans and servicemembers who deployed to Afghanistan. He also encouraged his fellow Americans to check in on veterans and Gold Star family members following America’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Click HERE to read the op-ed in its entirety.
As a veteran, physician, and policymaker, Senator Marshall has actively worked to improve the lives of veterans in Kansas and across the nation. More recently, he supported the passage of Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) for Veterans Therapy Act. This new law will help employ veterans to train service dogs while simultaneously improving veterans’ mental health issues associated with PTSD and other service-related trauma. In addition, he joined a group of bipartisan Senators calling on the VA to quickly and proactively reach out to veterans of the Global War on Terrorism on available mental health services and resources. The Senator’s letter highlighted the brave men and women who served in Afghanistan. To learn more about Senator’s Marshall’s work helping veterans, you may click HERE.
The Department of Veterans Affairs releases the National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, the country’s largest analysis of veteran suicide rates each year. It also highlights mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders. Released this week, the latest 2021 report states that overall veteran suicide count and rate decreased in 2019 from 2018 and from 2017. Specifically, there were 6,261 veteran suicide deaths which was nearly 400 fewer than in the previous year. However, veteran suicide rates were still substantially higher than non-veteran adults.
The decrease in veteran suicides rates is attributed to exhaustive efforts in prioritizing health care delivery reforms. In 2018, the VA announced an interagency plan to implement then-President Trump’s executive order supporting veterans with mental health care and suicide-prevention resources during their transition from uniformed service to civilian life. Under the plan, the VA launched new pilot programs and campaigns to increase the health and wellness of former servicemembers. Notably, they established public-private partnerships with the American Physical Therapy Association, Independence Fund, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, and many others to increase access to available resources.
Last year, the Administration continued this work while also addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, the VA launched the COVID Coach app, a new app designed to help both veterans and civilians cope with feelings of stress and anxiety they may be experiencing. And by December, the VA announced the completion of all 2020 priorities established under the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). The roadmap aims to end suicide through seamless access to care, a connected research ecosystem, and robust community engagement aimed at changing the culture around mental health.
###

Four Months After COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act Became Law, Hirono and Meng Ask DOJ for Updates on Implementation

Source: United States Senator for Hawaii Mazie K. Hirono

September 20, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland to ask for progress on reducing hate crimes and incidents, and the implementation of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation that was introduced by Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Meng.

The letter was sent four months after the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was signed into law. It details key elements of the law that must be implemented to make progress combating hate, and highlights the need to provide guidance to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies on reporting hate crimes as well as incidents. The letter also notes that most agencies report no hate crimes, including 64 jurisdictions with populations over 100,000. 

“In addition to expediting review of hate crimes, the law requires DOJ to issue guidance to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Specifically, section 4(a)(1) calls for guidance on how to establish online reporting for hate crimes, as well as incidents. The inclusion of incidents was intentional and is a critical component for any reporting system. Many acts of discrimination do not rise to the level of a hate crime…. In order to meaningfully address the root causes of this bias and hostility, we need a clear and full picture of the scope of the problem. Data on hate crimes alone is insufficient,” Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Meng wrote.

The lawmakers continued, “As the pandemic wears on and COVID-19 variants cause states, localities, or private entities to reinstate restrictions or public safety mandates, frustration with the virus will undoubtedly resurface. We fear the impact this could have on perpetuating hate-based violence against people. Full implementation of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will help stem the tide against further violence.”

The full letter can be found here and below:

Dear Attorney General Garland:

We write regarding the implementation of P.L. 117-13, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. The enactment of this law was a historic step to fight the surge of hate-based violence during the pandemic and we appreciate your work to begin implementation of the law. As the sponsors of this legislation in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, we would like to raise specific aspects of this law that are critical to its effectiveness. We request your attention to these matters and periodic updates on your progress as you continue to implement the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and work to reduce the violence from xenophobia and hate in our country.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, hate crime incidents against Asian and Pacific Islanders surged in the United States. In the early months of 2021, there was also increased violence reported against Asian seniors. This was followed by the shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, where a shooter murdered eight people, six of whom were Asian women. These crimes against people of Asian descent helped galvanize support for the passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. Yet, the expedited review called for in this law was intentionally crafted to apply to all hate crimes occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of which protected characteristic was being targeted. In May, a wave of anti-Semitic attacks occurred in person and online following an outbreak in violence between Israel and Hamas. Additionally, in 2020, at least 44 transgender or gender non-conforming people were killed, some as the result of anti-transgender bias. For purposes of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, crimes against people from all of these groups should be included in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) review.

In addition to expediting review of hate crimes, the law requires DOJ to issue guidance to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Specifically, section 4(a)(1) calls for guidance on how to establish online reporting for hate crimes, as well as incidents. The inclusion of incidents was intentional and is a critical component for any reporting system. Many acts of discrimination do not rise to the level of a hate crime. From March 2020 through June 2021, one organization received reports of more than 9,000 incidents against Asians and Pacific Islanders. Two-thirds of the incidents were verbal harassment; and shunning made up the next largest category. While these actions are unlikely to rise to the level of a hate crime, the impetus for these actions are the same—fear and xenophobia. In order to meaningfully address the root causes of this bias and hostility, we need a clear and full picture of the scope of the problem. Data on hate crimes alone is insufficient.

Lastly, the expansion of public education campaigns aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes and reaching victims should be linguistically appropriate. In order to reach victims and empower them to come forward and report what happened to them, campaign material must be culturally sensitive and available in different languages. Ignoring these factors will only ensure that some victims will never be reached.

Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released the hate crime statistics for 2020. Hate crimes have risen to the highest level in 12 years, led by an increase in attacks against Black and Asian people. As has long been suspected and anecdotally reported, hate crimes against Asians rose by more than 70 percent to 274 incidents. Yet, this is almost guaranteed to be a fraction of actual hate crimes due to underreporting by both victims and law enforcement. Notably, most agencies report zero hate crimes, including 64 jurisdictions with populations over 100,000. 

As the pandemic wears on and COVID-19 variants cause states, localities, or private entities to reinstate restrictions or public safety mandates, frustration with the virus will undoubtedly resurface. We fear the impact this could have on perpetuating hate-based violence against people. Full implementation of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will help stem the tide against further violence.

We appreciate your leadership on combating hate crimes and applaud your efforts to counter the recent rise in hate crimes and hate incidents. We look forward to working together on this issue.

Sincerely,

###

With Application Deadline Approaching, Duckworth Seeks Additional Student Applications for U.S. Military Service Academies

Source: United States Senator for Illinois Tammy Duckworth

September 20, 2021

[SPRINGFIELD, IL] – The application period for high school students to request a nomination to a U.S. Military Service Academy for the Class of 2026 from U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) will close nearly two weeks from today, on Saturday, October 2. Duckworth’s office has been accepting applications from high school students seeking a Congressional nomination to one of the four Military Service Academies through her website since March. Each year Duckworth, with the assistance of a nomination committee, selects from the applicants a group of outstanding Illinois students to receive Congressional nominations to attend West Point, the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy or the Merchant Marine Academy.

“It takes a special kind of young person to succeed at a U.S. Military Service Academy,” said Duckworth. “The rigorous nomination process demands outstanding test scores, a high GPA and a commitment to community service. I encourage all interested Illinois students to apply for a nomination, and I applaud their desire to serve our country.”

Service academies allow young people to serve their country while receiving a full four-year scholarship. Upon acceptance of an appointment into an Academy, a student commits to five years of active duty service after graduation. U.S. citizens between the ages of 17 and 23 may receive appointment from one of the four service academies.

In order to be considered, a student must get a formal nomination from their Member of Congress, Senator or the Vice President. Students must apply directly to the Military Service Academy and elected official of their choice in order to be considered. A nomination does not guarantee an offer of appointment. Interested students should follow the instructions on Senator Duckworth’s website.

-30-



Duckworth, Durbin Announce Nearly $750,000 for Worker Safety and Health Training in Illinois

Source: United States Senator for Illinois Tammy Duckworth

September 20, 2021

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced a total of $744,580 today in federal funding to four Illinois entities to help workers and employers create a safer workplace by identifying preventive health measures for COVID-19 and other health hazards. The trainings will also include understanding worker rights and employer responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. These federal investments are awarded through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and are funded through the American Rescue Plan.

“American workers deserve every protection available to protect themselves from COVID-19,” Duckworth said. “I’m pleased that this funding is coming to Illinois, and I’ll keep working with Senator Durbin to help make sure workers have the training and resources they need to stay safe and healthy while on the job.” 

“Protecting the health and safety of American workers during the pandemic is critically important. It’s also imperative that we recognize the incredible sacrifices our essential workers have made,” Durbin said. “I’m proud to join Senator Duckworth in announcing this federal funding, which will help ensure Illinois workers know their rights and employers can improve workplace safety.”

The following entities will receive funding:

  • Chicagoland Construction Safety Council is expected to receive $145,030 to provide training for 300 employers and workers in the construction industry on health hazards associated with COVID-19, including exposure control methods. Those receiving the training will be workers in high-hazard industries and small businesses with fewer than 250 workers.
  • Latino Worker Safety Center is expected to receive $200,000 to provide training for 650 employers and workers in construction and general industries on health hazards associated with COVID-19, including chemical and respiratory safety and training for essential workers and those returning to work. Those receiving the training includes workers at small businesses, limited-English speaking, temporary and at-risk workers. Trainings will be provided in multiple languages.
  • Northern Illinois University is expected to receive $199,550 to provide training for 500 employers and workers in the high risk industries on health hazards associated with COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases. Those receiving the training will include limited-English speaking, low/non-literate, temporary, of color and at-risk workers.
  • Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois is expected to receive $200,000 to provide training for employers and workers in the agriculture and grain handling industry on the health hazards associated with infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Those receiving the training will include workers at small businesses that are at high risk of infectious disease as well as temporary, limited-English proficient, Native Americans, low-literacy and other hard-to-reach workers. Trainings will be offered in both English and Spanish.

-30-



Manchin, Capito Announce $502,444 for Vision Research at West Virginia University

Source: United States Senator for West Virginia Joe Manchin

September 20, 2021

Washington, DC  – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced $502,444 in funding through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for a vision research project at West Virginia University (WVU). This funding was made available through the National Eye Institute and will support a project titled “Photoreceptor neuron specific alternative splicing messenger RNA.”

“West Virginia University continues to excel in groundbreaking research, leading to important contributions in medicine. I am pleased HHS is investing in vision research at WVU,” Senator Manchin said. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to advocate for funding to support research done in the Mountain State that benefits our fellow West Virginians.”

“WVU continues to establish itself as a national leader in research capabilities. I’m pleased to announce this funding that will help increase our understanding of ophthalmology for students and faculty,” Senator Capito said. “HHS’ support of projects like this help create opportunities for our universities, while leading to better health outcomes for people across West Virginia.” 



Markey Joins Blumenthal, Colleagues Call For Historic FTC Rulemaking On Consumer Privacy, Civil Rights & Cyber Security Safeguards

Source: United States Senator for Massachusetts Ed Markey

 

“Consumer privacy has become a consumer crisis.”

 

Washington (September 20, 2021) – Today, U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, and group of eight other Democratic senators in calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to advance a rulemaking process to strengthen consumer privacy, bolster civil rights, and establish guardrails on the collection and use of consumers’ personal data. The senators’ letter comes amid ongoing concerns about Big Tech’s unimpeded access and abuse of consumer’s private information, anti-competitive behavior, and data breaches, as well as alarm over rising discrimination using personal data that undermine civil rights. 

 

“We believe that a national standard for data privacy and security is urgently needed to protect consumers, reinforce civil rights, and safeguard our nation’s cybersecurity,” wrote the senators to FTC Chair Lina Khan. “Accordingly, and in parallel to congressional efforts to create federal privacy laws to give power back to consumers, the Commission should take advantage of every tool in its toolkit to protect consumers’ privacy.”

 

The senators emphasized a number of urgent consumer protections that should be addressed by the rulemaking, including the banning of exploitative targeting of children and teens and other specific practices, implementing opt-in consent rules on the use of personal data, and global opt-out standards. 

 

“Consumers deserve strong and enforceable privacy safeguards in the digital economy – opening a rulemaking would be a powerful step toward addressing this long overdue need,” the lawmakers wrote.

 

The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ben Ray Luján  (D-N.M.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J). The full text of the letter can be found here and below. 

 

 

 

September 20, 2021

 

 

 

The Honorable Lina Khan

Chair

Federal Trade Commission

600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20580

 

 

Dear Chair Khan,

 

We write to encourage the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to begin a rulemaking process to protect consumer privacy, promote civil rights, and set clear safeguards on the collection and use of personal data in the digital economy. As Congress continues to develop national privacy legislation, FTC action on this front will ensure that Americans have every tool at their disposal to protect their privacy in today’s online marketplace. 

 

Consumer privacy has become a consumer crisis. Big Tech companies have used their unchecked access to private personal information to create in-depth profiles about nearly all Americans and to protect their market position against competition from startups. Consumers have been forced to accept continuous data breaches and security lapses that compromise their intimate personal records. Americans’ identities have become the currency in an unregulated, hidden economy of data brokers that buy and sell sensitive information about their families, religious beliefs, healthcare needs, and every movement to shadowy interests, often without their awareness and consent. Meanwhile, communities of color have faced setbacks in the fight to protect their civil rights as new forms of discrimination have proliferated on social media platforms. This sustained failure has fostered a market that punishes companies for protecting and respecting users, rather than rewarding pro-consumer practices.[1]

 

We believe that a national standard for data privacy and security is urgently needed to protect consumers, reinforce civil rights, and safeguard our nation’s cybersecurity. Accordingly, and in parallel to congressional efforts to create federal privacy laws to give power back to consumers, the Commission should take advantage of every tool in its toolkit to protect consumers’ privacy. Continuous high-profile and costly privacy violations and data breaches have shown the limits of the FTC’s general prohibition on unfair and deceptive practices. Big Tech companies have routinely broken their promises to consumers and neglected their legal obligations, only to receive wrist-slap punishments after long delay, providing little relief to consumers, and with minimal deterrent effect.

 

We urge the Commission to undertake a rulemaking process with the goal of protecting consumer data; the rulemaking should consider strong protections for the data of members of marginalized communities, prohibitions on certain practices (such as the exploitative targeting of children and teens), opt-in consent rules on use of personal data, and global opt-out standards[2]. Under the FTC Act, the Commission is able to promulgate rules to define and prevent business practices that violate our consumer protection law’s prohibition on unfair or deceptive acts or practices. FTC Commissioners Chopra, Slaughter, and Wilson, and former FTC Chairs have all provided compelling arguments that unfair and deceptive practices are prevalent in the digital economy and that the market has failed consumers. These arguments are bolstered by the FTC’s enforcement record, numerous staff reports, and revealing market investigations.[3]  This record provides a powerful and compelling basis for urgent action.

 

The FTC has substantial institutional knowledge and expertise to contribute to the legislative process through its track record of enforcement and its existing privacy authorities, such as those under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. An FTC rulemaking initiative would contribute to congressional efforts to develop federal privacy legislation through the research, public comment record, and dialogue required under the Commission’s rulemaking procedure under the Mag-Moss process.[4]

 

Consumers deserve strong and enforceable privacy safeguards in the digital economy – opening a rulemaking would be a powerful step toward addressing this long overdue need. 

 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

 

Sincerely,

ICYMI: Shaheen Leads Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United Ruling

Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen

September 20, 2021

**Amendment would help get big money out of politics and put power back in the hands of the American people**

(Manchester, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced on Friday an amendment that she’s introducing today with Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision. The Democracy for All Amendment would also overturn other alarming decisions around campaign finance that led to floods of corporate and dark money in politics and diminished the voice of the American people in elections. These decisions have wrongfully equated money with free speech, and unfairly determined that big, wealthy corporations have the same First Amendment rights as people.  

Text of the amendment is available here. 

“Dark money should never dilute the voices of everyday Americans in our politics – that’s a core democratic belief that transcends political affiliation. I’m proud to lead this Constitutional amendment in response to combat the influence of special interests and dark money and return the power to the people in our elections. Citizens United was a disastrous decision that paved the way for special and foreign interests to sway our elections with little accountability,” said Shaheen. “It’s time to ensure our politics are reflective of the will of the people – I look forward to building bipartisan support to deliver on this amendment.” 

The Democracy for All Amendment would put power back in the hands of the public and get big money out of politics by empowering Congress and states to set reasonable campaign finance rules and limiting corporate spending. The amendment would enshrine in the Constitution the right of the American people to regulate the raising and spending of funds in public elections, and curb the concentration of political influence held by the wealthiest Americans.    

U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) are also cosponsors of the Democracy for All Amendment.  

Shaheen has long supported Congressional action to crack down on dark money in politics.  Earlier this year, Shaheen helped reintroduce the DISCLOSE Act, legislation that would require organizations spending money in federal elections to disclose their donors and help guard against hidden foreign influence in our democracy. Additionally, Shaheen previously called out millions of dollars’ worth of dark money ads in New Hampshire and across the country that sought to derail bipartisan efforts in Congress to end surprise medical billing. A report by the New York Times revealed that the group behind this ad campaign, Doctor Patient Unity, is a front for private equity firms on Wall Street.  

### 

Shaheen Urges Federal Maritime Commission to Address Rising Costs of Overseas Shipping & Help NH Businesses Stay Afloat

Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen

September 20, 2021

(Manchester, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter to the Federal Maritime Commission last week, urging the agency to address the surge in costs to import goods that threatens the operations and economic recovery of businesses across New Hampshire. Shaheen noted the existential threat facing small businesses who cannot afford container rates whose costs, in some cases, have increased by over 1,000 percent, and requested that the Commission take action to protect businesses from these unsustainable freight rates. 

“On behalf of the small businesses in my state that depend on importing goods to serve their customers, I write with deep concern regarding the ongoing surge in container prices being charged by overseas carriers,” Shaheen wrote. “I have spoken with a number of small business owners who have cited increases of over 1,000 percent in the freight rates being charged for the overseas shipment of goods…[posing] an existential threat to the many small businesses in my state that rely on reasonable pricing from carriers and sufficient availability of containers to reliably obtain the volume of products needed to maintain their businesses.” 

“More must be done to counter the current container pricing surge and protect our businesses from this unsustainable strain on their supply chains,” she continued. “The exorbitant cost of overseas shipping poses a significant threat to the nation’s fragile economic recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. It is imperative that appropriate action be taken to address the market conditions contributing to this surge in shipping costs.” 

Full text of her letter to FMC Chairman Maffei is available here and below. 

Dear Chairman Maffei, 

On behalf of the small businesses in my state that depend on importing goods to serve their customers, I write with deep concern regarding the ongoing surge in container prices being charged by overseas carriers. As you are well aware, the significant increase in demand for imported goods has been compounded by a severe scarcity of containers and stagnant growth in capacity by ocean carrier companies, resulting in steep inflation of container prices for importers in my state and across the country. I have spoken with a number of small business owners who have cited increases of over 1,000 percent in the freight rates being charged for the overseas shipment of goods. Despite this surge in pricing, the unmitigated scarcity of containers has precluded many businesses from importing goods at adequate volumes to serve their customers. The combination of these factors poses an existential threat to the many small businesses in my state that rely on reasonable pricing from carriers and sufficient availability of containers to reliably obtain the volume of products needed to maintain their businesses. 

The Federal Maritime Commission is tasked with ensuring a competitive and reliable ocean transportation supply system, one which serves to benefit our economy and protect U.S. businesses from unfair and deceptive practices. I am deeply grateful that the Commission is working to fulfill this mission during this current crisis through the Fact Finding 29 investigation, as well as through interagency coordination with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division to address competition issues in the ocean carrier industry. I also believe the implementation of the National Shipper Advisory Committee will provide much needed insight from shippers on how best to mitigate this crisis. However, more must be done to counter the current container pricing surge and protect our businesses from this unsustainable strain on their supply chains. To that end, I am requesting answers to the following questions. 

  1. What measures are available to the Commission to help encourage growth of capacity in the ocean carrier industry? 
  2. How is the Commission working to foster greater competition among ocean carriers? 
  3. How do the Commission’s investigative initiatives serve to address the current container pricing surge? 
  4. How can the Commission streamline information sharing between carriers, shippers and the other integral links of foreign and domestic supply chains? 

The exorbitant cost of overseas shipping poses a significant threat to the nation’s fragile economic recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. It is imperative that appropriate action be taken to address the market conditions contributing to this surge in shipping costs. Thank you for your consideration. 

###

Wyden, Merkley: Four Oregon Colleges to Receive More than $400,000 for Child Care for Student Parents

Source: United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore)

September 20, 2021

Oregon State University, Lane Community College, OSU-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College to benefit

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that four Oregon colleges will receive a combined more than $400,000 from the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program to support parents as they complete their higher education.

Completing a degree program is challenging under most circumstances, but can be especially difficult when trying to navigate child care,” Wyden said. “I am gratified that Oregon State, Lane Community College, OSU-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College have earned the dollars to support Oregon student parents in their educational endeavors.”

“Every Oregonian who chooses to seek higher education deserves the support they need to succeed regardless of whether or not they are a parent,” Merkley said. “I am grateful this grant will allow colleges across Oregon to provide quality child care service to low-income families and encourage participation with entities of higher learning. The need for child care should not be a barrier to obtaining a college degree and I will support any parent who aspires to achieve that milestone.”

The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program provides grants to higher education institutions to support the participation of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based child care services. Grants may be used for before- and after-school services. The grant dollars will be distributed as follows:

  • Oregon State University: $220,000
  • Lane Community College: $114,061
  • Oregon State University-Cascades: $30,000
  • Central Oregon Community College: $60,675

“Oregon State University-Cascades is located within a childcare desert, which means the region’s parents lack sufficient quality child care options. With this U.S. Department of Education grant, we will be able to better address the critical needs of our student parents and their children with access to an on-campus child care and early learning center led by early childhood experts,” said Kelly Sparks, associate vice president for finance and strategic planning at Oregon State University-Cascades. “We are grateful for the support of Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley for this impactful Federal grant.”

“We are thrilled to once again to be a recipient and applaud Senators Wyden and Merkley for their continued support of the CCAMPIS program,” said Cheryl Henderson, Lane Community College Child and Family Education Manager. “We know that child care can be a barrier for many people who would like to go to college, so having safe, high-quality, and affordable early-childhood care and education right here on campus can help these students succeed and create brighter futures for their whole families.”

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted low-income families. We also know that there is a chronic lack of affordable, reliable childcare for these same families across Central Oregon,” said Dr. Laurie Chesley, President of Central Oregon Community College. ”Funding from the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program will help these same communities complete their education and workforce training without having to worry about the cost and quality of their children’s care. COCC thanks Senators Merkley and Wyden for this transformative investment in Central Oregonians’ access to higher education and affordable childcare. Workforce and economic development begins with supporting Oregon families, and COCC is proud to partner in this work.”  

 

Democrats’ Reckless Taxing and Spending Spree Meant to Turn Temporary Pandemic into Permanent Socialism

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Democrats’ reckless tax and spending spree:

“Over the past year and a half, senior Democratic leaders decided the upheaval and hardship of a once-in-a-century pandemic was really a chance to justify radical, left-wing change.

“This isn’t me conjecturing. It’s what they keep saying.

“Right at the start of the crisis, March 2020, the House Democratic Whip said the pandemic offered, ‘a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.’

“Just last week, President Biden said, ‘this pandemic has been godawful for so many reasons… but it does present us with an opportunity.’

“Points for honesty, at least.

“The reckless taxing and spending spree that Democrats are writing behind closed doors is designed to leave Americans with a socialist country they never voted for. A country that working families, in many ways, would barely recognize.

“Last night, one of those many efforts hit a stumbling block. Senate Democrats were reminded the rules of this institution will not permit them to shove a massive amnesty for illegal immigrants into the reckless taxing and spending spree they want to ram through on party lines.

“Our Democratic colleagues cannot pretend that massive, transformational policy changes are mere budgetary tweaks. As no less an authority than our colleague now-Chairman Bernie Sanders said just a few years ago, ‘the function of reconciliation is to adjust federal spending and revenue, not to enact major changes in social policy.’

“That’s a lesson he and his caucus need to re-learn.

“Even with the border as insecure as it’s ever been, the far left wanted sweeping amnesty — and Democratic leaders dutifully tried their best. It just goes to show how radical this legislation is going to be.

“Democrats want to tamper with Americans’ Medicare and stretch the program even thinner — while it already faces fiscal challenges.

“They want to interfere massively with the states that chose not to bow to Obamacare mandates on Medicaid.

“They want to use healthcare dollars to line the pockets of special interests with big union giveaways.

“And they want to impose socialist price controls on Americans’ medicines that would leave us with fewer new treatments and new cures in the future.

“It all adds up to a massive leap towards socialized medicine.

“But somehow this still only scratches the surface.

“Democrats are also trying to force through an unprecedented federal takeover of American families’ childcare options that may leave faith-based childcare providers high and dry.

“They want an all-out assault on affordable, reliable, homegrown American energy — so the entire country can be marched toward California utility prices, California gas prices, and California electricity blackouts. Just what families want.

“I could go on all day. The reckless taxing and spending spree that Democrats are writing behind closed doors is shaping up to be exactly what they promised:

“An effort to exploit this terrible but temporary pandemic as a Trojan horse for permanent socialism.”

###