Meeks Expresses Concern With Lifeline Program
Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D- Jamaica, Laurelton, Rosedale, Cambria Heights, Saint Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway) and Congresswoman Gwen S. Moore (D-WI) yesterday were the lead writers of a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai expressing concern with recent changes to the Lifeline Program, which provides a modest monthly subsidy of $9.25 to connect low-income Americans to phone and internet service.
Fifty-six other House Democrats and supported by groups such as the NAACP, Communications Workers of America, Public Knowledge also signed on to the letter.
“In our modern, highly technological and interconnected world, internet and phone service are all but required to lead a functional life. Many Americans still don’t have phone and internet access, rendering it nearly impossible to complete everyday tasks, such as finishing assigned schoolwork or conducting a phone interview,” said Meeks said. “The digital divide—which Chairman Pai promised he would seek to minimize—persists today and the Lifeline Program is critical in helping minimize it. Yet, Chairman Pai’s proposed changes would practically decimate the Lifeline program, upon which millions of Americans rely. Indeed, this is nothing more than a poorly disguised attack on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. I thank Congresswoman Moore and the cosigners and endorsing organizations of this letter for partnering with me to stand against Chairman Pai’s efforts to widen the digital divide.”
De Blasio, Koo To Host Town Hall
Mayor Bill de Blasio will host a town hall with Council Member Peter Koo (D-Flushing, Murray Hill, Queens Borough Hill) next week for residents of the 20thCouncil District.
The event is hosted in conjunction with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, U.S. Representative Grace Meng, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky and Assembly Member Ron Kim.
Co-sponsors for the town hall include Asian Americans for Equality, Chinese-American Planning Council, Flushing Chinese Business Association, Korean American Family Service Center, Community Board 7, South Asian Council for Social Services and Union Street Merchants Association.
The Town Hall is slated for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 21 at J.H.S. 189 Daniel Carter Beard School/ Flushing International High School at 144-80 Barclay Avenue (Entrance is on 147th Street) in Flushing. Residents of the 20th Council District are asked to RSVP by November 20 at 5 p.m. via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (212) 788-4282. Space is limited.
House Expected To Pass Bill Containing Meng Provisions Assisting Military Members
In the wake of Veterans Day last Saturday, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Fresh Meadows, Glendale, Kew Gardens, Maspeth) announced this week that the House is expected to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report which contains several provisions she authored providing needed assistance to members of the military.
The NDAA Conference Report, which is the result of House and Senate negotiations for final bill text that is expected to pass this week, sets funding levels and policies for the U.S. Department of Defense for fiscal year 2018. Meng’s measures include the following:
Improving childcare services for military families by enhancing the hours of operation for Department of Defense childcare development centers and establishing childcare coordinators for military installations. The measure would give military families with children better support and more flexibility when they use child care facilities on military installations or seek child care from community providers. Meng authored the provision in the House and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) sponsored a similar version in the Senate.
A two-year extension of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, a critical suicide prevention and resilience initiative for members of the National Guard and Reserves. The program promotes the well-being of National Guard and Reserve members, their families and communities, by connecting them with resources during and after their deployment, especially during the reintegration phase that continues well beyond the service members’ return home. Meng offered a two-year extension amendment to the House-passed NDAA, and is pleased to see it included in the final text of the bill that will become law.
Requiring the Secretary of Defense to review the design, material, sizing, price, availability, quality, and utility of maternity uniforms for pregnant members of the military. Under the provision, the Defense Secretary would be required to submit a report on the review to congressional defense committees within 90 days of the enactment of the NDAA Conference Report. Meng took-up the issue after service women expressed concerns about the design of maternity uniforms in the 2016 Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services Report.
Crowley Leads In Letter Helping DACA Recipients
U. S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside & part of the Bronx), the House Democratic Caucus Chair, along with other House Democrats sent a letter yesterday to acting Secretary Elaine Duke demanding that the Department of Homeland Security reconsider the applications of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients who applied for an extension but were rejected after a delay by the U.S. Postal Service.
“DACA recipients are young Americans who study, contribute to our economy, and serve in our armed forces. They are our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. The DACA recipients who sent in their renewals well in advance do not deserve to have their applications rejected for factors outside of their control,” wrote the lawmakers. “We urge you to reverse your current stance and process those applications postmarked by October 5th.”
In September, the Trump administration announced it would end the DACA program in early 2018, giving DACA recipients whose status expires between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 just one month to renew their status. Despite calls from Congressional Democrats and advocates, the administration refused to extend this deadline to allow recipients with expiring status more time to fill out and submit renewal applications.
Dozens of applicants who abided by this deadline and mailed their applications in before the October 5 deadline were still rejected due to mistakes by USPS. While USPS has taken full responsibility for the mistake, the applications of these individuals have been rejected by DHS.
This effort follows a push by Crowley and Gutiérrez last Friday demanding that Secretary Duke protect DACA recipients impacted by the Postal Service error. House Democrats have also called for the passage of the bipartisan, bicameral DREAM Act, legislation that would put the more than 800,000 DREAMers in this country on a path to earn citizenship.