News Digest – September 15, 2017

This week in the news, Senators Cardin and Van Hollen are reviewing Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All bill, Rep. Cummings looks into mounting costs for the Secret Service under the Trump administration, and Rep. Ruppersberger condemns GOP for blocking his amendment to provide additional funding for combating white supremacist groups.

Health care

About a quarter of Senate Democrats have signed on to Bernie Sanders’s single-payer health plan.  Senator Cardin and Senator Van Hollen are still reviewing the proposal.  

Sanctions against Russia

Senator Cardin is warning the Trump administration that Turkey’s recent purchase of an advanced Russian anti-air weapons system may have violated congressional sanctions against Russia.

Former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn

  • Rep. Elijah Cummings Rep. Eliot Engel of New York  said in a letter released Wednesday that Flynn appeared to have violated federal law by failing to report the trip when he renewed his security clearance last year. The lawmakers — R— also said documents turned over to their staff suggested that Flynn also failed to report contacts with Israeli and Egyptian government officials.

Freddie Gray

The Justice Department announced that it will not prosecute the six Baltimore City police officers who were involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died in April 2015 after suffering a neck injury while in police custody.  Members of Baltimore’s congressional delegation said they were disappointed but not surprised.

Pay for Secret Service

  • Katko, R-Camillus, and Representative Cummings (MD-7)., introduced the Secret Service Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017, which  would allow the Secret Service to raise the salary and overtime caps to cover additional overtime pay for Secret Service agents. Congress passed a similar bill last year to provide extra overtime pay for 1,400 agents during the 2016 presidential election; it passed committee on Wednesday.
  • Five lawmakers, including Rep. Cummings (MD-7), sent a letter Monday to the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security requesting a full report on the Secret Service costs to protect President Trump’s multiple properties.

Conflicts of interest

  • House Dems Want Info On Pending Sale Of Housing Complex Trump Has Stake In: In a statement issued Wednesday night, Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-7) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said that while they’ve received some documents from HUD, they haven’t gotten any information about the potential sale.  “We warned months ago that President Trump and his family could receive a multi-million dollar windfall if officials in his Administration—who ultimately report to him—approve the sale of Starrett City, so we are deeply concerned by this new report that a secret deal may be in the works.”

Environment

In a move that environmentalists charged would undermine the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to bar the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from taking action against any state in the Bay watershed that fails to meet pollution reduction goals set by the EPA six years ago.  Rep. Cummings missed the vote due to being on medical leave.

Voter Fraud Commission

  • Representative Cummings (MD-7) ripped President Trump’s voter fraud commission, accusing it of “suppressing the vote” in a series of tweets Tuesday.  “The only thing we learned today is that ‘voter fraud’ is a myth & this Commission is suppressing the vote,” he tweeted. “This commission regularly promotes unsubstantiated claims about ‘voter fraud’ that undermine our democracy.”

White Supremacist Groups

  • Representative Ruppersberger (MD-2), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, condemned the decision by House Majority leadership to block an amendment to H.R. 3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act. The amendment, offered by Representatives Ruppersberger, Serrano, Khanna, Grisham, Jeffries, and Meng, would have offered $10 million in supplemental funding to state and local governments to dismantle and fight domestic white supremacist organizations.

Budget

Representative Ruppersberger (MD-2) issues statement in response to the passage of the 2018 Minibus Bill debated on the House Floor on 9/14: “Today I was forced to vote against a partisan spending package which passed with only one Democratic vote. Not only does this bill drastically slash funding for programs that mitigate coastal flooding, it pulls the plug on the Affordable Care Act, and grossly underfunds domestic investment in infrastructure, education, and healthcare.  These cuts are all being made only to free up funds for a border wall and to create a mass deportation force – a fundamentally misguided approach to addressing our nation’s complex immigration challenges.”

Other News

 

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