Van Hollen Statement on President’s Newly Announced Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment

Source: United States Senator for Maryland Chris Van Hollen

June 26, 2022

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committee released the following statement regarding President Biden’s newly announced Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII):

“I commend President Biden and his team for developing this initiative to work with fellow G7 democracies to meet the vast infrastructure needs of low- and middle-income countries, particularly in the critical areas of digital technology, climate resilience, health security and gender equity. This initiative will support U.S. and allied interests and provide a values-driven and transparent alternative to counter China’s efforts to export their authoritarian model around the world. The G7 will work together to provide better economic alternatives to combat efforts by authoritarian regimes to use their economic leverage to bully developing countries into supporting malign actions and policies. This smart, coordinated plan aims to mobilize $600 billion over five years from all G7 partners through a combination of government funding and leveraging private sector investments to bolster our key strategic relationships abroad, build sustainable infrastructure, strengthen supply chains, and expand opportunities for American businesses.”



Shaheen Joins Bipartisan Group of Senators to Introduce Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2022

Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen

June 26, 2022

Legislation reauthorizes Peace Corps agency for the first time in over 20 years   

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jim Risch (R-ID), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in unveiling new legislation to reauthorize the Peace Corps for the first time in over two decades. Authorizing the appropriation of over $410,000,000 per year, the bipartisan Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2022 proposes to increase Volunteers’ health care coverage, statutorily raise Volunteers’ readjustment allowance, expedite return-to-service opportunities for those impacted by COVID-19 and future comparable emergencies, and expand the agency’s Sexual Assault Advisory Council.  

“Peace Corps volunteers are a key part of America’s diplomacy abroad, serving to support local communities and promote our nation’s values and priorities. Countless projects centered on economic development, education and health care have been made possible by volunteers over the last six decades,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m proud to support the Peace Corps program, which has garnered overwhelming bipartisan support, and I’ll continue to push for funding from Congress to help our volunteers grow and flourish abroad.” 

Among its key provisions, the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act of 2022:  

  • Authorizes $410,500,000 to be appropriated annually for the Peace Corps for fiscal years 2023 through 2027. 
  • Sets a statutory minimum of $375 per month for the Peace Corps Volunteer readjustment allowance, which the Peace Corps can exceed. 
  • Requires the Peace Corps to establish a safe return to service process for those whose service is interrupted due mandatory evacuations from catastrophic events or global emergencies like COVID-19. 
  • Suspends federal student loan interest during the duration of Volunteer service; allows for members of the Peace Corps to receive credit during their time of service under any income based repayment program or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program run by the Department of Education; ensures the Peace Corps is providing access to mental health professionals for Peace Corps Volunteers. 
  • Extends transitory health care coverage for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) from 30 days post-service to 60 days, and provides a path through which RPCVs can obtain healthcare through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; ensures Peace Corps Volunteers receive adequate health care during their service, including health examinations preparatory to their service. 
  • Enumerates procedures and policy to protect Volunteers against reprisal and retaliation. 
  • Codifies two years of noncompetitive eligibility for RPCVs. 
  • Mandates the Council consider and make recommendations to strengthen Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) efforts at the Peace Corps, including through the collection of workforce data; streamlines and diversifies the appointment and selection process for Council members. 
  • Expands Peace Corps eligibility to include United States citizens who are nationals of American Samoa. 
  • Increases Peace Corps Volunteers’ level of workers compensation from GS 7 step one to GS 7 step five. 
  • Extends the Sexual Assault Advisory Council until October 2027 and requires the Council to submit annual reports on their work to Congress.  

Find a copy of the bill text HERE

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Carper Condemns SCOTUS Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade

Source: United States Senator for Delaware – Tom Carper

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) today released the following statement after the Supreme Court issued its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning 50 years of precedent and the Constitutional right to an abortion as established under Roe v. Wade:

“Today, the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, and upended the lives of millions of American women. It is a cruel and wrong decision—very likely the worst Supreme Court decision of my lifetime. 

“For nearly 50 years, women have had the constitutional right to privacy to make their own personal decisions about their health and future without a politician or an unelected judge in their bedroom or doctor’s office—no longer. The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision takes away this bedrock constitutional right for women, and turns back the clock to a bygone era when unsafe and deadly abortions were commonplace. This radical decision also jeopardizes other constitutional rights that hinge upon Roe v. Wade—including access to contraception and marriage equality.

“The vast majority of the American public, myself included, continues to support safe and legal access to abortion, and thankfully many states, including Delaware, have laws that will continue to entrust women to make their own health decisions. However, many states have already enacted—or will enact—radical abortion bans that will force victims of rape and incest to carry their pregnancies to term. Many of these state laws do not allow for exceptions to save a woman’s life during a complicated pregnancy. This is why Roe v. Wade has been so foundational for so long—because a woman in Delaware and a woman in Oklahoma deserve equal protection under the law. And this is why millions of women—including many whom are pregnant—are terrified right now, and understandably so.

“This is a dark day for our country and our Constitution. In the face of what will surely go down in constitutional infamy for the harm it does to the Americans it ought to serve, I’m committed to doing everything I can to protect women from the pain that this decision will cause.”  

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Shaheen Statement on Bipartisan Safer Communities Act Becoming Law

Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen

June 25, 2022

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) released the following statement after President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law. This key legislation supported by Senator Shaheen and passed by the Senate last week will reduce the threat of gun violence and keep communities safe.

“Uvalde. Buffalo. Newton. Charleston. Las Vegas. These tragic mass shootings are engrained into our national consciousness, and the trauma will be felt for generations to come. Action to help impacted communities start the process of healing is long overdue, and finally Congress made an important first step by passing meaningful gun reform legislation. With the President’s signature today, we now have the most significant gun reform law on the books in nearly three decades,” said Shaheen. “This law makes important progress to keep guns out of the wrong hands – including criminals and those who pose a danger to themselves and others – as well as expand access to essential mental health services. The bipartisan consensus around this legislation is unprecedented, but let’s be clear: more action is undeniably needed to put an end to mass gun violence. Our fight for stronger gun safety protections for Americans continues, but today I’m proud to have helped push this legislation across the finish line.”

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will:

  • Strengthen support for state crisis intervention orders by helping states implement red flag laws, ensuring deadly weapons are kept out of the hands of individuals the state deems a danger to themselves or others
  • Improve protections for victims of domestic violence by closing the boyfriend loophole, which would ensure that the current prohibition on firearm possession for those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence applies to serious dating partners
  • Enhance the review process for gun purchases completed by those under 21, including by
    • Extending the background check process for buyers under 21 years of age
    • Requiring NICS to contact states for juvenile criminal history and mental health adjudication records
    • Clarify when an individual is “Engaged in the Business” of selling firearms such that they must run background checks before sales
    • Strengthen the penalty for illegal straw purchases
    • Crack down on gun trafficking by creating an explicit federal prohibition on the transport or shipment of firearms if there is reasonable cause to believe the recipient cannot have them
    • Expand Byrne Grants to allow states to use these grants to implement state crisis intervention programs, such as mental health, drug, and/or veterans courts and extreme risk protection order laws that include due process protections; and more.

A one-pager on the bill is available here. Full text of the bill is available here.

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Statement On Signing Of The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act For Commonsense Gun Safety Reforms

Source: United States Senator for Vermont Patrick Leahy

06.25.22

[The new law includes Senator Leahy’s bill to strengthen penalties for straw purchasing and gun trafficking. And as President Pro Tem of the U.S. Senate, Leahy and Speaker Pelosi signed the bill, the required step before transmitting it to the President.]

Today the President signed into law a much-needed step forward to addressing our nation’s gun violence epidemic. As we continue marking mass shootings with more and more frequency, and the nation calls on its elected officials to legislate change, the inaction in Congress has been deafening.

But today, we finally have progress. Earlier this week, the Senate convened to vote on its bipartisan agreement to address and prevent gun violence. I am pleased that key provisions of my bill, the “Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act,” were included in the agreement and now have been signed into law. This is a bill I have been working to pass for nearly ten years with Senator Collins and Senator Durbin, which strengthens penalties for straw purchasing and firearms trafficking. These are serious crimes and should be treated accordingly. I am confident these efforts will help increase safety in our communities, and I applaud the bipartisan negotiators for including these important reforms in their agreement.

However, today’s progress is also marked with a major setback this week. Prior to our Senate vote on Thursday, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court delivered an opinion that will undoubtedly open the door to unrestricted firearms access. The Court’s opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen presents a dangerous interpretation of the Second Amendment that will put more guns on our streets and make our families, our communities and our country less safe.

I, like many Vermonters, am a proud gun owner. As a United States Senator, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, including the Second Amendment. However, this decision turns the Second Amendment into an absolute, unassailable edict, and sets America back in its long pursuit of commonsense gun reform. I am glad that Congress was able to advance this critically important legislation, which has now been signed by President Biden, but I am also deeply concerned about the future of gun violence in our country.

As this Supreme Court decision has made clear, Congress will have additional work to do to enact additional commonsense gun reform. This agreement is far from perfect, but it is a first step. But it will not be the only step, and certainly, I hope, it must not, and will not, be the last step toward addressing the scourge of gun violence in America.

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Cantwell Statement on Passage of Historic Bipartisan Gun Safety Bill

Source: United States Senator for Washington Maria Cantwell

06.25.22

Cantwell Statement on Passage of Historic Bipartisan Gun Safety Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, moments after President Biden signed The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement:  

“This new law includes meaningful steps that will save lives, including creating grants to help states implement crisis intervention programs like red flag laws, enhancing background checks for individuals under 21, and closing the boyfriend loophole so any domestic violence abuser cannot possess or purchase a firearm,” said Sen. Cantwell. “These are important steps, but it is just a start. We have more work to do to keep our kids and our citizens safe from gun violence.”



Warner & Kaine Statement on Bipartisan Safer Communities Act Being Signed Into Law

Source: United States Senator for Commonwealth of Virginia Mark R Warner

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, important legislation to reduce gun violence, into law:

“Gun violence has scarred too many communities in Virginia and across the country. But today, for the first time in decades, meaningful legislation to curb gun violence has been signed into law. However, our fight to make our communities safer is not over. Success begets success, and today’s victory lays the foundation for more progress.”

The bipartisan proposal includes similar provisions to those proposed by Sens. Warner and Kaine in their Virginia Plan to Reduce Gun Violence—a bill they introduced last year based on a series of commonsense measures adopted by Virginia. These provisions include improving background checks, strengthening safeguards for victims of domestic violence, and incentivizing states to implement their own Extreme Risk Protection Orders to remove firearms from individuals who pose a high risk of harming themselves or others.

Full text of the bill is available here.  A summary of the bill is available here.

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Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural America

Source: United States Senator for South Dakota John Thune

Rural communities across the country too often fall behind when it comes to getting access to the most efficient and effective broadband technology – technology that’s so common in urban areas that it’s often taken for granted by those who live there. By no fault of their own, rural communities are often overlooked. But that shouldn’t be the case. South Dakotans and other rural Americans shouldn’t be penalized for where they live or work. They deserve the same broadband access as their urban counterparts, which is why I have long focused on expanding rural broadband access and 5G services. 
During my last broadband roundtable event in Sioux Falls, I heard firsthand from the folks who are on the ground, building out networks across the state. Among many issues, I heard about the challenges these companies face when it comes to supply chain shortages and increased construction costs. I also invited Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr to attend the roundtable so he could hear directly from South Dakota broadband providers about the need to reduce regulatory barriers. Hearing feedback directly from the source is invaluable, and I appreciated the commissioner’s willingness to attend.  
Having reliable rural fixed broadband services is key to ensuring that rural communities are able to access 5G – the next wave of mobile broadband internet. 5G offers tremendous potential for rural communities, whether it’s better access to telehealth or the opportunity to implement precision agriculture. I am committed to smoothing the path for these services, which will be critical as we build out 5G networks, not just in cities and suburbs, but in rural communities across the United States. 5G mobile broadband technology has the power to change the way we interact with the internet. 5G will be 100 times faster and support 100 times as many devices, enabling massive breakthroughs in key industries in South Dakota and around the country.
U.S. companies are already building out 5G networks, but there’s more work to be done. Washington needs to remove regulatory and permitting hurdles and ensure that companies have access to the spectrum they need to build strong networks. We’ve already seen progress after my MOBILE NOW Act became law in 2018. Despite these important steps, we must continue to pass smart and effective legislation to keep America leading the race to 5G and help rural America stay connected. 
I’ve introduced a number of other bills to help keep the United States at the forefront of the 5G revolution and ensure that 5G technology makes its way to rural communities. My STREAMLINE Act, for example, would expedite the deployment of the small cells needed for 5G installation while respecting the role of state and local governments in making deployment decisions. Importantly, it would make it more affordable to bring 5G to rural areas by addressing the costs of small-cell deployment. 
In terms of workforce, a critical component to winning the race to 5G, my Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act, which became law last year, will help increase the number of workers enrolled in 5G training programs and identify ways to grow the telecommunications workforce to meet the demands of 5G. 
I will continue to work to support every part of the 5G equation – from physical technology to spectrum to a 5G workforce – so the United States can stay at the forefront of this internet revolution. I will also continue to make fixed broadband and 5G access in rural communities a priority. We can’t afford not to.

ICYMI: Rubio Joins Hannity to Discuss the End of Roe v. Wade

Source: United States Senator for Florida Marco Rubio

Miami, FL — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Hannity to discuss the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. See below for highlights and watch the full interview here

On the real implications of Roe v. Wade being overturned:
 
“What we’ve seen over the last few hours is how, unfortunately, American political coverage has become childish and unserious…. [The liberal media makes] you think abortion has been banned. Nothing’s been banned. 
 
“The only thing the Supreme Court did today is they said that under the Constitution, the people in the states have a right to decide via and through their elected representatives in each individual state whether they want to allow abortion, prohibit it, and how they want to regulate it. That was a decision that was made today, and that’s what we’re talking about here.” 
 
On the Left’s reaction to the decision:
 
“[Here’s the reason] why they’re having this left-wing meltdown. The first is that as long as they had Roe v. Wade, they didn’t have to worry about having that debate. They didn’t have to go out there and have to argue and justify why they think, for example, that abortion should be taxpayer-funded and legal up to the moment of birth. They didn’t want to worry about having that argument. 
 
“The second reason why they’re melting down is because Roe actually imposed a standard, a law, on the entire country without anybody being able to do anything about it. They love[d] that situation. 
 
“The third [reason] is politics. I think ActBlue tonight announced they’ve raised $18 million dollars off of this. The Democrats think this is going to turn out a bunch of voters and help them forget what an incompetent presidency we’re under.
 
“Here’s the irony… [W]e are seeing massive protests [in] Los Angeles, New York, [Washington,] D.C. These are liberal cities led by liberal leaders [in] liberal states that are never going to ban abortion. They’re going to tear down [and] potentially commit acts of violence in places where abortion will always be legal as long as it’s in the hands of the states, because these are liberal places. That’s the irony of all this.”
 
On Democrats misleading the public: 
 
“Abortion is still, tragically, here. There were still abortions today. Tragically, there will be abortions tomorrow. Because abortion is not banned. The [Democrats] can’t run on that. So, they have to lie to people and say, ‘There was just a ruling that bans it, or almost bans it.’ That’s what they’re telling people when, in fact, the ruling today—and this is what they can’t run on—is to tell people the Supreme Court today ruled that you, through your elected representatives in the state that you live, will get to decide what you want the law to be about abortion. They can’t run on that, so they have to lie and tell people, ‘Go out, take to the streets.’”
 
On the legality of abortion in Florida:
 
“The legislature in Florida passed a 15-week ban [on abortion], meaning after the first 15 weeks [of a baby’s development, abortion is illegal]. And by the way, that is consistent and in line with what much of the countries of Europe have. In poll after poll—these guys love talking about polls—poll after poll after [poll shows] the overwhelming majority of Americans support a ban [on abortion] after 15 weeks…. That’s what the law is in Florida. That’s what [Dobbs] was about, the Mississippi law that was being challenged and worked its way over to the court. 
 
“But what these people don’t want you to know—and why they don’t want to have these debates—what they don’t want you to know is that in order to be accepted by these radical abortion groups, you have to be in favor of taxpayer-funded abortion without restriction up until the moment of birth. That is the position you must take if you’re going to get the support of these radical groups that are out there. They don’t want you to know that. So they don’t want the debate.”

On Bloomberg TV, Portman Discusses Need to Pass Bipartisan Retirement and China Competitiveness Bills

Source: United States Senator for Ohio Rob Portman

June 24, 2022 | Portman Difference

Senator Portman joined Bloomberg TV to discuss the need to pass bipartisan legislation to make the United States’ economy more competitive with China as well as his retirement security legislation that he authored with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD). The bipartisan Retirement Security and Savings Act, the fourth retirement security bill the Senators have authored together passed unanimously through the Senate Finance Committee this week. The legislation would allow people to save more for retirement, help small businesses offer retirement plans, expand access for low-income Americans, and provide more certainty and flexibility during Americans’ retirement years, ensuring the opportunity for all to have dignity in their retirement years. This legislation is the senators’ fourth and final retirement savings legislation introduced together.

Excerpts of the interview can be found below and you can also watch the interview here.

PORTMAN ON NEED TO PASS LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS SEMICONDUCTOR SHORTAGE

“…it’s about the future because semiconductor production is about the future economy and it’s critical to our national security to have the ability to reassure some of that infrastructure for making chips back to America. We designed these semi-conductors originally, we used to have, you know 40 years ago 37 percent of the production here in America and now we are down to 12 percent, and if this legislation does not pass I believe we will be down to single digits before long.

No, I think from what I have heard that they plan to move forward that the question is timing. They have other countries around the world that are offering them huge incentives to build fabs in their countries. And that’s because other countries, in Europe and in Asia in particular, understand that this is part of the future. It’s sort of like the countries that had the oil in the ground benefitted a lot over the last serval decades. Countries that have semi-conductor production will benefit a lot going forward. You see in places like Ohio, trucks or cars parked at large parking lots at a raceway in northern Kentucky, as an example as I saw recently as I flew into our airport in Cincinnati and they are just waiting for semiconductors. So, this is an example, if you’ve got a car on order probably you’re waiting, and probably because the supply chain is being constrained. It’s an enormous problem for us right now.

“I think so, I’ve had lots of conversations even today about it. My hope is that we will make all of the big decisions even before we go out on break here either today or tomorrow and then over the next two weeks finalize some of those decisions so we can put the bill to vote when we get back. It’s certainly is important to move forward because of the competitive issue with our Asian competitors and our European competitors. It’s also very important to my home state of Ohio. It’s not just going to create thousands of great paying jobs eventually, but immediately, thousands of construction jobs. Other companies will come in as suppliers which will create more opportunity. These are good, high paying jobs so it’s important we get this done.”

SENATOR PORTMAN ON THE NEED TO PASS BIPARTISAN RETIREMENT SECURITY REFORM

“I certainly am. I am concerned about what is happening to people’s retirement savings with the market, both the bond market and the equity market, but I am also concerned about people not setting as much aside for retirement because they need that funding just to be able to survive. With gas prices at $5 a gallon, with food and clothing prices skyrocketing, so, I am concerned and I think that is one reason this legislation is so important. It’s quite timely for us to provide additional incentives for people to save for retirement.

One example that is in the bill, as you may know, is that currently, you may have to take your retirement out and pay taxes on it at a certain age, 72, and we raised that age to 75. Now, that is very significant to a lot of your viewers who are thinking ‘I’m working into my 70s, why should I be taking my money out and having to pay taxes on it?’ But, there is also a lot for small businesses, which is where the biggest problem is right now for not having a plan. Parttime workers will get coverage under this plan, which is very important. We also are helping with regard to low income workers to get them banked, get them into plans. So, there is a lot of good stuff in this legislations. It was passed out of the committee yesterday, it is something we worked on for five years. Senator Cardin is my partner in this, has been on three previous bills and the committee vote yesterday was unanimous, that rarely happens around here. So, my hope is that we can get this significant retirement package to the Senate floor soon. You mentioned the House has comparable legislation, actually, over 30 of our provisions are in the House bill so we worked together with the House over time to make those two bills as overlaps as possible. And the president has indicated that he supports it as well.”

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