News releases, reports, statements and associated documents from all members of the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate as well as the House and Senate leadership and House and Senate committees.
R. Alexander Acosta, of Florida, to be Secretary of Labor.
Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies:
To examine preventing veteran suicide, after receiving testimony from Carolyn M. Clancy, Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Organizational Excellence, Harold S. Kudler, Chief Consultant for Mental Health Services, and Stephanie A. Davis, Suicide Prevention Coordinator and Staff Psychologist, VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, each of the Veterans Health Administration, and Michael L. Missal, Inspector General, WASHINGTON, April 28 -- The Senate conducted seven committee hearings yesterday: *Appropriations: Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: To examine preventing veteran suicide, after receiving testimony from Carolyn M. Clancy, Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Organizational Excellence, Harold S. Kudler, Chief Consultant for Mental Health Services, and Stephanie A. Davis, Suicide Prevention Coordinator and Staff Psychologist, VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, each of the Veterans Health Administration, and Michael L. Missal, Inspector General,all of the Department of Veterans Affairs; Melissa D. Jarboe, Military Veteran Project, Topeka, Kansas; and Rajeev Ramchand, Rand Corporation, Arlington, Virginia.
To examine United States Pacific Command and United States Forces Korea, after receiving testimony from Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN, Commander, United States Pacific Command, Department of Defense.
Subcommittee on Cybersecurity:
To examine cyber-enabled information operations, after receiving testimony from John C. Inglis, former Deputy Director, National Security Agency; Michael D. Lumpkin, Neptune Computer Incorporated, and former Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Rand Waltzman, RAND Corporation; and Clint Watts, Foreign Policy Research Institute.
*Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs:
To examine countering Russia, focusing on further assessing options for sanctions, including S. 94, to impose sanctions in response to cyber intrusions by the Government of the Russian Federation and other aggressive activities of the Russian Federation, and S. 341, to provide for congressional oversight of actions to waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of sanctions with respect to the Russian Federation, after receiving testimony from Chip Poncy, Financial Integrity Network, Fairfax, Virginia; and R. Nicholas Burns, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
*Energy and Natural Resources:
To examine H.R. 339, to amend Public Law 94-241 with respect to the Northern Mariana Islands, after receiving testimony from Representative Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan; Nikolao I. Pula, Acting Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Department of the Interior; David Gootnick, Director, International Affairs and Trade, Government Accountability Office; Northern Mariana Islands Governor Ralph DLG. Torres, and Jim Arenovski, Island Training Solutions, both of Saipan.
*Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions:
Favorably reported the nomination of Scott Gottlieb, of Connecticut, to be Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Department of Health and Human Services.
Closed hearings on intelligence matters, receiving testimony from officials of the intelligence community.
Committee recessed subject to the call.
*Special Committee on Aging:
To examine aging without community, focusing on the consequences of isolation and loneliness, after receiving testimony from W. Mark Clark, Pima Council on Aging, Tucson, Arizona; Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; Lenard W. Kaye, University of Maine Center on Aging, Bangor; and Rick Creech, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Mr. President, Arizona is home to more than a half million veterans. They have served in every conflict from World War II to present-day operations in the Middle East. Nothing makes me prouder than to shake the hand of one of these veterans and to call them an Arizonan.
Fortunately, WASHINGTON, April 28 -- Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., issued the following statement, which was published in the Congressional Record on April 26, on legislation (S. 946) to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire additional Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists to provide treatment court services to justice-involved veterans: Mr. President, Arizona is home to more than a half million veterans. They have served in every conflict from World War II to present-day operations in the Middle East. Nothing makes me prouder than to shake the hand of one of these veterans and to call them an Arizonan. Fortunately,many of these veterans have the support of friends and family, as well as their fellow veterans with whom they served, but far too many who have served our country lack a support system that can help them successfully make the transition back to civilian life.
For those who have post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury, this could be particularly difficult. Studies have shown that veterans often do not seek out medical health treatment due to concerns about stigma, negative career prospects, lack of awareness, or logistical challenges in accessing care. For those who go without treatment, it can lead to substance abuse and, in some cases, run-ins with the law.
While there is no justification for criminal behavior, it is important to recognize when certain actions may be symptomatic of the harrowing experiences a veteran has endured during years of service. This is something the criminal justice system often fails to deal with. By not providing treatment that actually addresses a veteran's underlying service-connected issues, our criminal justice system sometimes creates a vicious cycle. It overcriminalizes service- connected mental illness, undertreats incarcerated veterans, and increases recidivism.
To address the problem, the VA created the Veterans Justice Outreach Program in 2009. The program was established to remove veterans from the regular criminal justice process and to provide specially tailored treatments to address many of these underlying issues. These veterans treatment courts have a proven record of preventing initial incarceration and reducing recidivism.
The lifeblood of the program is the veterans justice outreach specialists, VJO specialists, who link veterans to available court services. These outreach specialists identify veterans in jails and local courts, they assess their health status, and they help them develop the rehabilitation treatment program specific to each of their needs.
I recently had the opportunity to observe the veterans docket and meet with some of these dedicated specialists while visiting the Mesa Municipal Court earlier this month. Let me tell you, there is no substitute for seeing this firsthand. Even though it is a courtroom setting, there is a comradery and collaboration that you don't see in traditional courtroom proceedings. I was amazed at how many organizations there are to help these veterans--to help them successfully transition and help them with treatment.
The collaboration I am talking about comes from having a judge and hard-working staff who have served in the military themselves. They understand the hardship of multiple deployments for servicemembers and their families. They understand the mental and physical tolls of combat. They understand that the transition back to civilian life can mark the beginning of a new battle for veterans.
The program has experienced remarkable success. The unfortunate reality is that the VA doesn't have enough outreach specialists to ensure access to already available treatment for justice-involved veterans. Demand for VJO specialists is outpacing the program's ability to serve eligible veterans. This means future veterans treatment courts can't be established, existing courts will go understaffed, and veterans will go unserved. That is not right.
That is why today I am introducing the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act to ensure our veterans receive swift and appropriate access to justice. This legislation will provide 50 additional VJO specialists for veterans treatment courts nationwide. By increasing the number of dedicated specialists at these facilities, Congress can ensure that more veterans have access to the treatments they have earned with their service. This is bipartisan legislation. I will work to inform my colleagues about the need for this program and additional VJOs in the coming weeks and months.
Mr. President, I would like to recognize my friend and colleague, Congressman Steve Stivers, and congratulate him on his promotion to brigadier general in the Ohio National Guard.
Steve has served our State and our Nation in uniform for more than three decades. When his guard unit was called up in 2005, he served our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom. His leadership earned WASHINGTON, April 28 -- Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, issued the following statement, which was published in the Congressional Record on April 26, paying tribute to Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, and Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio: Mr. President, I would like to recognize my friend and colleague, Congressman Steve Stivers, and congratulate him on his promotion to brigadier general in the Ohio National Guard. Steve has served our State and our Nation in uniform for more than three decades. When his guard unit was called up in 2005, he served our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom. His leadership earnedhim the Bronze Star, and his service and sacrifice earned him the honor of a grateful nation.
But Steve hasn't been content to only serve in uniform--he is working to support his fellow soldiers in Congress. He and I have worked together to make sure that servicemembers who suffer traumatic brain injuries have their medical records given from the DOD to the VA. We are working to designate the new Ohio veterans Museum in Columbus as the National Veterans Museum.
As persuasive as Steve is, he is nothing compared to his mother. A few years ago, Steve's mother, Carol, brought to my attention the need to preserve the Parker House--a way station on the Underground Railroad located in Ripley, OH. She wanted to incorporate it into the National Park System.
I worked with Steve, who of course couldn't say no to his mother, and others in the Ohio delegation, including Joyce Beatty, to preserve this house where a freed slave worked and helped others find their way to freedom. This January, the National Park Service award $50,000 to the Ohio History Connection to help preserve the sites throughout Ohio that played critical roles in the civil rights movement, including the Parker House.
Steve is not the only member of our delegation to carry on the proud tradition of Ohioans serving our Nation in uniform. I would also like to congratulate my friend Brad Wenstrup on his promotion to colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Brad also served a tour in Iraq as a combat surgeon. He was awarded a Bronze Star and a Combat Action Badge and earned the honor and gratitude of all Ohioans. It is not just overseas where Brad serves our troops. He fulfills his Reserve duties, treating our wounded soldiers at Walter Reed, and fights to ensure our servicemembers and veterans have the support they deserve on the House Armed Services Committee and Veterans' Affairs Committee.
Whether it is supporting our State's civil rights heritage or supporting our troops, Brad and Steve have always been dedicated public servants for Ohio. They are both so deserving of these promotions. We thank them and their entire families--Steve's wife, Karen, and children Sarah and Sam, and Brad's wife, Monica, and son Brad, Jr.--for their sacrifice for our country.
"I fully support the President's decision to review national monuments that had been recklessly expanded under the Obama Administration.
"Downsizing many of these monuments will help the Department of Interior to better manage our federal lands and allow land owners to better use their own private land. It is time to reform WASHINGTON, April 28 -- Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., issued the following statement after President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order directing the Department of Interior to review national monument designations made during the last 20 years under the Antiquities Act. "I fully support the President's decision to review national monuments that had been recklessly expanded under the Obama Administration. "Downsizing many of these monuments will help the Department of Interior to better manage our federal lands and allow land owners to better use their own private land. It is time to reformthe Antiquities Act and return the power to designate and expand national monuments back to Congress.
"I look forward to working with President Trump and Secretary Zinke to increase access to public lands and boost rural economies."
* * *
Signed into law by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, The Antiquities Act was created to allow the President to designate certain valuable public natural areas as federally protected national monuments. The Act specifically states that monuments are to be confined to the smallest possible area that allows for proper care and protection of the land. In recent years, new monument designations have ignored this instruction and grown dramatically. The last two Administrations have together added nearly 40 times more acreage than all other President's combined. President Bush added 214,800,000 acres and President Obama added 554,590,000 acres - combining for a total of 769,390,000 acres. The President's Executive Order directs DOI to review the use of the Antiquities Act in the last 20 years to determine where downsizing may be appropriate.
"Member Day". Testimony was heard from Chairman Chabot, and Representatives Walz, Carter of Texas, Loebsack, Crawford, Dunn, and Johnson of Louisiana.
Subcommittee on Military Personnel:
"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic Brain Injury". Testimony was heard from Captain Mike Colston, U.S. Navy, Director, Department of Defense, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury; Lieutenant Colonel Chris Ivany, M.D., WASHINGTON, April 28 -- The U.S. House of Representatives conducted 13 committee hearings yesterday: *Armed Services: Full Committee: "Member Day". Testimony was heard from Chairman Chabot, and Representatives Walz, Carter of Texas, Loebsack, Crawford, Dunn, and Johnson of Louisiana. Subcommittee on Military Personnel: "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/Traumatic Brain Injury". Testimony was heard from Captain Mike Colston, U.S. Navy, Director, Department of Defense, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury; Lieutenant Colonel Chris Ivany, M.D.,Chief, Behavior Health Division, Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Army; Captain Thomas Johnson, M.D., U.S. Navy, Site Director, Intrepid Spirit Concussion Recovery Center, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; and Colonel Steven Pflanz, Deputy Director of Psychological Health, U.S. Air Force.
* Education and the Workforce: Full Committee
"Strengthening Accreditation to Better Protect Students and Taxpayers". Testimony was heard from public witnesses.
*Energy and Commerce:
Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection:
"Outdoor Recreation: Vast Impact of the Great Outdoors". Testimony was heard from Representative Beyer, and public witnesses.
Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance:
"Safeguarding the Financial System from Terrorist Financing". Testimony was heard from Jamal El-Hindi, Acting Director, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Department of the Treasury.
Full Committee:"Syria After the Missile Strikes: Policy Options". Testimony was heard from public witnesses.
Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade:
"Afghanistan's Terrorist Resurgence: Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Beyond". Testimony was heard from public witnesses.
Subcommittee on Transportation and Protective Security:
"Checkpoint of the Future: Evaluating TSA's Innovation Task Force Initiative". Testimony was heard from Steve Karoly, Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Requirements and Capabilities Analysis, Transportation Security Administration, Department of Homeland Security; Roosevelt Council, Jr., General Manager Hatsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Department of Aviation, City of Atlanta, Georgia; and Jeanne M. Olivier, Assistant Director, Aviation Security and Technology, Security Operations and Programs Department, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
*Judiciary: Full Committee
- H.R. 115, the "Thin Blue Line Act";
- H.R. 510, the "Rapid DNA Act of 2017";
- H.R. 613, the "Lieutenant Osvaldo Albarati Correctional Officer Self-Protection Act of 2017".
H.R. 115, H.R. 510, and H.R. 613, were ordered reported, without amendment.
*Natural Resources: Full Committee
- H.R. 220, to authorize the expansion of an existing hydroelectric project, and for other purposes;
- H.R. 497, the "Santa Ana River Wash Plan Land Exchange Act";
- H.R. 660, the "Bureau of Reclamation Transparency Act";
- H.R. 1073, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish a structure for visitor services on the Arlington Ridge tract, in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, and for other purposes;
- H.R. 1135, to reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation program;
- H.R. 1500, the "Robert Emmet Park Act of 2017";
- H.R. 1654, the "Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act";
- H.R. 1715, the "Medgar Evers House Study Act";
- H.R. 1769, the "San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution Act";
- H.R. 1807, the "Public Water Supply Invasive Species Compliance Act of 2017";
- H.R. 1873, the "Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act";
- H.R. 1967, the "Bureau of Reclamation Pumped Storage Hydropower Development Act";
- H.R. 2085, to approve an agreement between the United States and the Republic of Palau, and for other purposes.
H.R. 660, H.R. 1073, H.R. 1135, H.R. 1500, H.R. 1715, and H.R. 2085 were ordered reported, without amendment. H.R. 220, H.R. 497, H.R. 1654, H.R. 1769, H.R. 1807, H.R. 1873, and H.R. 1967 were ordered reported, as amended.
*Oversight and Government Reform:
Subcommittee on National Security:
"The Border Wall: Strengthening our National Security". Testimony was heard from public witnesses.
*Rules: Full Committee
H.J. Res. 99, making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2017, and for other purposes. The Committee granted, by record vote of 8-2, a closed rule for H.J. Res. 99. The rule provides one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Appropriations. The rule waives all points of order against consideration of the joint resolution. The rule provides that the joint resolution shall be considered as read. The rule waives all points of order against provisions in the joint resolution. Finally, the rule provides one motion to recommit. Testimony was heard from Chairman Frelinghuysen and Representative Lowey.
Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access:
"Small Business: The Key to Economic Growth". Testimony was heard from public witnesses.
*Transportation and Infrastructure:
Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management:
"Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Mitigating Damage and Recovering Quickly from Disasters". Testimony was heard from Andrew Phelps, Director, Oregon Office of Emergency Management; and public witnesses.
Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs:
- H.R. 105, the "Protect Veterans from Financial Fraud Act of 2017";
- H.R. 1328, the "American Heroes COLA Act of 2017";
- H.R. 1329, the "Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2017";
- H.R. 1390, to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to pay costs relating to the transportation of certain deceased veterans to veterans' cemeteries owned by a State or tribal organization;
- H.R. 1564, the "VA Beneficiary Travel Act of 2017";
- H.R. 1725, the "Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act of 2017".
H.R. 1329, H.R. 1390, and H.R. 1725 were forwarded to the full committee, as amended. H.R. 105, H.R. 1328, and H.R. 1564 were forwarded to the full committee, without amendment.
Mr. Speaker, today, I introduce the Low-Wage Federal Contractor Back Pay Act of 2017, to grant back pay to federally contracted retail, food, custodial and security service workers who may be furloughed if there is a federal government shutdown this fiscal year. The bill would apply to all three branches of the federal government. The idea for the bill was brought to my attention by federally WASHINGTON, April 28 -- Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., issued the following speech, which was published in the Congressional Record on April 26, introducing the Low-Wage Federal Contractor Back Pay Act: Mr. Speaker, today, I introduce the Low-Wage Federal Contractor Back Pay Act of 2017, to grant back pay to federally contracted retail, food, custodial and security service workers who may be furloughed if there is a federal government shutdown this fiscal year. The bill would apply to all three branches of the federal government. The idea for the bill was brought to my attention by federallycontracted service workers, some of whom work here on the Capitol grounds providing Members of Congress and congressional staff with daily services, in 2013 when the federal government shut down.
Many federally contracted workers in federal agencies earn little more than the minimum wage with few, if any benefits, and while others are unionized with a little better wage, all are the lowest paid workers in the federal government and should not be punished because Congress fails to do its job and keep the government functioning. Congress has historically provided back pay to federal employees, who work in the same buildings as these low-wage service workers, furloughed during government shutdowns--but not low-wage contract workers. However, both groups of workers deserve to be made whole after these shutdowns. I recognize, of course, that contract workers are employees of contractors, but the distinction between federal workers and at least the lowest-paid service workers who serve the federal government and its employees and keep, for example, their premises clean, fails when it comes to a deliberate government shutdown. Unlike many other contractors, those who employ low-wage service workers have little latitude to help make up for lost wages. Low-wage federally contracted service workers could least afford the loss of pay during a shutdown, and should not have to go to work every day with everyone else in their federal buildings likely receiving back pay except for them.
The nation's capital is the high-profile home of the federal government's collusion with contractors that pay low wages through leases and contracts with federal agencies. At least this legislation would provide some parity to their low-wage federal contractor workers.
I strongly urge my colleagues to support the legislation.