Posted by on January 20, 2012
I am opposed to the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill that would have required Internet service providers to block access to websites, such as YouTube and Google, which provide links to material that infringes on lawful copyrights. The existing copyright law allows search engines and other websites with a “safe harbor,” provided that materials protect by copyright are removed after notification.
The protections of copyright are necessary in our economy – as with other types of property, the government must protect intellectual property from theft. But additional protections of intellectual property to penalize websites that are trying to follow the rules would undermine the open exchange of ideas that currently exists on the Internet. For that reason, I cannot support the Stop Online Piracy Act.
Posted by on December 16, 2011
On Wednesday, December 14, 2011, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1540, FY 2012 Defense Authorization Bill. As a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, I am well aware of the threats that face this nation from home and abroad. We must remember the very values and basic rights that set us apart from those who would seek to destroy us. H.R. 1540 contains an indefinite detention provision, which allows our military to detain suspected terrorists, foreign and domestic, indefinitely and with limited ability for redress. It has been reported that if enacted, the detention provisions would codify authority for indefinite detention without charge and mandatory military detention, authorizing their application on the basis of suspicion to virtually anyone picked up in the anti-terrorism efforts; including those arrested on U.S. soil. These provisions undermine the right of Habeas Corpus, which has been a part of our legal tradition since the Magna Carta. This bill does fulfill the promise of American democracy. I could not support this bill.
Posted by on November 18, 2011
Why I Am Going to Alabama
This law requires public schools to determine the immigration status of their students. Unfortunately, many families have already removed their children from Alabama public schools to avoid harassment by administrators.
H.B. 56 also requires police officers to determine the legal status of anyone arrested or otherwise detained, based on a "reasonable suspicion" that the person does not have citizenship. In effect, the law requires racial profiling. Anyone who seems to be "Not American" must establish his or her right to remain in the United States.
In addition, H.B. 56 authorizes the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to hire and maintain its own immigration police force.
This egregious law is another attempt by reactionary politicians to legislate that which is clearly beyond their jurisdiction... Immigration Law.
No one should believe that the problems with our nation's immigration policies are strictly limited to the reactionary, abusive, and often bigoted Alabama and Arizona laws. The effect of our obsolete federal immigration policies on families has been deplorable - with more than 5,000 children placed in foster care due to their parents having been detained or deported.
There are better, more enlightened and humane alternatives to address our broken and obsolete immigration system. For example, on Monday, the New York State Board of Regents recommended that the state legislature allow undocumented students to receive financial aid from the state's Tuition Assistance Program. Other states have enacted similar programs that will allow undocumented residents and their children to obtain an education and participate in the economy.
Only Congress has the authority to adequately and holistically address our broken immigration system. That is why it is imperative that Congress take up comprehensive immigration reform so that we can keep families and communities together; provide a feasible pathway to citizenship; fix our visa allocation system; bring workers back to our farms; and integrate our immigrants as contributing members of our civil society, strengthening our economy and creating jobs for all Americans.
We have the ability, it is our duty to reject the politics of divisiveness and bigotry. We must pass comprehensive immigration reform now. How we treat these immigrants today will ultimately define our future as a nation.
Posted by on November 04, 2011
As November opens people begin to think of the holiday season and the upcoming cold weather, but one important detail shouldn’t be overlooked for our nation’s seniors— Medicare enrollment has begun again. From October 15th to December 7th, seniors across New York State will have the opportunity to change service plans and providers. Don’t put off any necessary changes! Make sure you understand the coverage changes when looking into a new plan. As HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a recent press release, “The Affordable Care Act is helping to keep Medicare strong and affordable,” People with Medicare are seeing higher quality benefits, better health care choices, and lower costs.” The key to Secretary Sebelius’ statement is that any changes to your plan should be for the better! If you aren’t sure, you can contact Medicare at (800) 633-4227 for the most up-to-date information. Healthcare is an essential part of our lives, and I will continue to fight for comprehensive health care for ALL Americans, as my predecessors have fought for comprehensive care for our seniors- Medicare.
Posted by on October 14, 2011
Yesterday the Republican majority in the House decided that the best use of taxpayers time and resources would not be on jobs legislation, financial reform, or addressing the deficit, but rather best spent on attacking women’s healthcare. H.R. 358 is so egregious, that it will literally prevent women from spending private money on private health insurance. The passage of this bill is further proof that Republicans clearly seek to distract America from the fact that in the entire 112th session of the House of Representatives, the majority has produced no jobs bill. The fact that Republicans continue to ignore the fact that the Hyde Amendment does not allow federal dollars go to abortions, illustrates that this bill was merely for political showmanship. With a 9.1% unemployment rate, and protestors moving from Wall Street to Brooklyn, and across the country, I find it preposterous to waste time and money on grandstanding. I ask my fellow Members of Congress to concentrate on job creation and economic security, rather than political theater.
Posted by on October 07, 2011
Across the nation, people of all different backgrounds, political affiliations and social classes have join together to publically demonstrate their frustration with our economic status quo— corporate greed, economic disparity and the lack of adequate jobs. I applaud the young people, and those of all ages, including unions and my colleagues in New York State and City government who marched in solidarity on Wednesday.
It’s about time that we focus our policy on the fact that those with the least have very real, often insurmountable roadblocks to success. And it is clear that the lack of regulations on our investment banking system veered our economy in to the downturn that we experience today. People are frustrated with the tax loopholes that are setup for the wealthiest in our nation. Let’s be real— multi-millionaires don’t need tax cuts. Workers need either living wage, or a social safety net system that helps to feed and house them. Those are the only options for a just society where people can achieve a reasonable standard of living.
My Republican colleagues have the gall to suggest balancing the budget by literally taking food out of the mouths of hungry children with cuts to SNAP, TEFAP, and calls the repeal of a tax cut to the wealthy is “class warfare.” It is actions like this that frustrate the American public. I will continue to call on my Republican colleagues to join me in fighting for job creation for the people they purport to represent.
Posted by on September 30, 2011
This week, as Congress was in recess, I had the opportunity to meet with constituents and visit with organizations in the 11th Congressional District of New York.
On Tuesday, I toured a healthcare facility in my district run by Planned Parenthood of New York City. I had the chance to discuss with the staff, the needs of their diverse clientele. As a result of the services they provide, statistics show patients are close to 90 percent more likely to return for additional treatment. Without Planned Parenthood, men and women would otherwise forgo preventative care and comprehensive primary care.
While some of my Republican colleagues continue to promote abstinence only care and the fictitious dangers of vaccinations for young women against a preventable disease, I say it’s time to talk about real solutions for disease prevention, age appropriate comprehensive education and proper funding for community-based organizations.
Let’s talk about reproductive freedom as well as access to preventative and primary care, in the concrete terms of public health, not in an ideological vacuum where only those with the loudest voices and ugliest slurs get to proclaim their concerns. That is the best way to help those in our communities access the healthcare they need.
Posted by on September 22, 2011
Last week, H.R. 2587, “Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act,” passed the House. This inappropriately titled bill was rammed through committee with minimum oversight, and presented to the American people by my Republican colleagues. What this bill does is give American workers an unfair choice—rights or your job. This bill allows companies to relocate or eliminate jobs in retaliation for employees exercising their hard won rights to collective bargaining and organizing for benefits and workplace safety. Any legislation that leaves hardworking Americans without the rights labor unions fought and many died to protect is an affront to the American people. I don’t know who my colleagues in the Majority stand for, but I stand with the American public, demanding fair treatment for workers. Together we will move to a future where the status quo of poverty and the erosion of benefits and protections for the middle and lower classes are shadows of the past in a bright world of economic and social justice.
Posted by on September 09, 2011
As we remember the tragedy of September 11th, 2001 this week in New York, we honor those who lost their lives. On that day, and in the decade that followed, New Yorkers came together. We must continue to do so, not as citizens of neighborhoods, but as New Yorkers. The gun violence we have seen this weekend in NYC has been and continues to be marginalized as a racial and inner city issue. Rather than addressing the growing concerns about the practice of stop and frisk, not proven to reduce gun violence or violent crime in any way, New York City police engage in practices of racial profiling. Innocent citizens walking down the street should not be subjected to harassment and treated as criminals. New York State just recently amended the practice of retaining this information, creating a defacto class of would-be criminals in the justice system who have yet to transgress any law. While I share the concerns by some of my colleagues about the lack of consistent federal regulation, what New York City needs is more police officers who can instill a sense of fairness in all our communities, not a fear of persecution, as seen by Monday’s harassment of Council Member Williams, who was detained and handcuffed DESPITE identifying himself as an elected official. As this weekend continues, let us come together as the people of New York, and look for solutions.
Posted by on September 02, 2011
As another August Recess comes to an end, I’m thankful for the opportunity to hear from the constituents and organizations I don’t have the possibility to see while working on legislation in Washington. This recess I got to discuss Free Trade Agreements with Brooklyn for Peace, and their concerns about human rights and the environment. Girls Scouts of Greater New York came by to talk about ways we can work together to expand the reach of healthy after school activities for our young women. I found out that Knesseth Bais Yaakov in Midwood and Congregation Talmud Torah of Flatbush both received grants from the New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services for which my office provided letters of support. The synagogues received the maximum possible amount, $75,000 each, to improve security on their premises. Members of Free Press brought to my attention their opposition to the AT&T TMobile merger, and the worrying trends of large media conglomerates cornering such a continuously emerging market. I also had the opportunity to have a candid conversation about job creation with local 32 BJ, a branch of SEIU. I’m glad to end August Recess with a dual celebration of our Labor force and Caribbean culture, with the annual West Indian Day Parade through the heart of Brooklyn. While I head back to Washington with your ideas and concerns to consider further, know that out of sight isn’t out of mind. The Republican led Congress needs to put job creation on the table. Please continue to reach out to my Brooklyn and DC offices bringing your concerns to the attention of my staff, so I can continue to best serve the needs of the 11th Congressional district.