With the mad king and his court, the worst is yet to come

WASHINGTON -- The Court of Mad King Donald is not a presidency. It is an affliction, one that saps the life out of our democratic institutions, and it must be fiercely resisted if the nation as we know it is to survive.
I wish that were hyperbole. The problem is not just that President Trump is selfish, insecure, egotistical, ignorant and unserious. It is that he neither fully grasps nor minimally respects the concept of honor, without which our governing system falls apart. He believes "honorable" means "obsequious in the service of Trump." He believes everyone else's motives are as base as his.
The Trump administration is, indeed, like the court of some accidental monarch who is tragically unsuited for the duties of his throne. However long it persists, we must never allow ourselves to think of the Trump White House as anything but aberrant. We must fight for the norms of American governance lest we forget them in their absence.
It gets worse and worse. The past week has marked a succession of new lows.
Trump has started a sustained campaign to goad or humiliate Attorney General Jeff Sessions into resigning. Trump has blasted Sessions on Twitter, at a news conference, in newspaper interviews and at a campaign-style rally. He has called Sessions "beleaguered" and said repeatedly how "disappointed" he is in the attorney general.
Forget, for the moment, that Sessions was the first sitting U.S. senator to support Trump's campaign, giving him new credibility among conservatives. Forget also that Sessions is arguably having more success than any other Cabinet member in getting Trump's agenda implemented. Those things aside, what kind of leader treats a lieutenant with such passive-aggressive obnoxiousness? Trump is too namby-pamby to look Sessions in the eye and say, "You're fired."
That's what the president clearly is trying to summon the courage to do, however. The Washington Post reported that Trump has been "musing" with his courtiers about the possibility of firing Sessions and naming a replacement during the August congressional recess.
Trump has no respect for the rule of law. He is enraged that Sessions recused himself from the investigation of Russia's meddling in the election, and thus is not in a position to protect the House of Trump from special counsel Robert Mueller. According to The New York Times, "Sharing the president's frustration have been people in his family, some of whom have come under scrutiny in the Russia investigation." I'm guessing that means the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Who elected them, by the way?
Trump seeks to govern by whim and fiat. On Wednesday morning, he used Twitter to announce a ban on transgender people serving in the military, surprising his own top military leaders. Pentagon spokesmen told reporters to ask the White House for details; White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters to ask the Pentagon. Was Trump trying to reignite the culture wars? Would the thousands of transgender individuals now serving in the military be purged? Was this actual policy or just a fit of indigestion?
Inside the mad king's court, the internecine battles are becoming ever more brutal. Members of Trump's inner circle seek his favor by leaking negative information about their rivals. This administration is more hostile to the media than any in recent memory, but also more eager to whisper juicy dirt about the ambitious courtier down the hall.
Trump's new favorite, Anthony Scaramucci, struts around more like a chief of staff than a communications director, which is his nominal role. Late Wednesday night -- after dining with Trump and his head cheerleader, Sean Hannity -- Scaramucci took a metaphorical rapier to the actual chief of staff, Reince Priebus, by strongly hinting on Twitter that Priebus leaks to reporters. The next morning, Scaramucci told CNN that "if Reince wants to explain that he's not a leaker, let him do that."
Why bring in Scaramucci? Because, I fear, the mad king is girding for war. Trump is reckless enough to fire Mueller if he digs too deeply into the business dealings of the Trump Organization and the Kushner Companies.
What then? Will Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell draft and push through a new special prosecutor statute so that Mueller can quickly be reappointed? Will House Speaker Paul Ryan immediately open debate on articles of impeachment? Will we, the people, defend our democracy?
Do not become numb to the mad king's outrages. The worst is yet to come.
(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

Rep. Deutch Co-Introduced Bill to Offer Medicare Buy-In for Older Americans

House Members Lead Common Sense Effort to Build on American Healthcare that Works

 As the national dialogue heats up around healthcare and Americans are seeking real solutions that address their long-term needs, Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) joined with Congressmen Brian Higgins (NY-26), John Larson (CT-01), and Joe Courtney (CT-02) to introduce the “Medicare Buy-In and Healthcare Stabilization Act,” a bill that improves on the successes of the Medicare program and provides middle-age Americans a new option for affordable, quality healthcare.

The Medicare Buy-In Act will lower the Medicare eligibility age to 50 years and offer the option to buy-in to Medicare, thus avoiding the increase in premiums that older Americans often face. Additionally, working Americans who wish to buy into the program would have the option to do so, and their employers could continue to contribute to their premiums pre-tax, a win-win for those employers and employees. The buy-in option will hold down costs in both Medicare and the private market. Congress approved legislation authorizing Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 through the Social Security Act. In the first 6 months of 1966, 19 million people enrolled in Medicare. In 2016, approximately 57 million people received health insurance through the Medicare program.

“As Republicans play games around the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, we’re offering an alternative: a thoughtful bill that works to repair some problems in our healthcare system," said Congressman Deutch. "Between Trumpcare’s age tax, repeal of protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and unrestrained costs to consumers, older Americans are at particular risk. Our bill takes the successes of Medicare and expands it to millions more Americans. It’s time for Republicans to pull the health care debate out of the shadows, stop buying votes with backroom deals, and start meaningful discussions across the aisle to find real solutions to our problems.”

“For more than 50 years Medicare has been a reliable, efficient, and popular healthcare delivery system for older Americans and it is time to build on healthcare that works,” said Congressman Higgins. “Americans pay too much for health care and still the country ranks near the bottom, among similar sized nations, in quality for its investment. This legislation would allow us to leverage the purchasing power of the millions of people to deliver better care at lower costs.”

“In public events and town halls across the country, the American people have spoken up and demanded solutions. They have rejected ACA repeal and they have rejected partisan bickering. That is why I have joined with Reps. Higgins and Courtney to develop a simple and commonsense solution that offers one path forward to strengthen our health care system. This proposal will give Americans (ages 50-64) the ability to buy-into Medicare should they find their current options on the private market unaffordable or unsatisfactory,” said Congressman Larson. “Additionally, through targeted reforms focused on improving the quality and delivery of care, we are looking to the future to strengthen the long-term solvency of Medicare, and the health care system overall.”

Congressman Courtney said, “With the demise of “repeal” which was structured from day 1 as a hyper partisan Republican exercise, it is time Congress listens to what the American people have been saying loud and clear for several years. We need to work together to fix the weaknesses in the ACA rather than butcher it. The Medicare Buy In and Health Care Stabilization Act provides relief for the higher cost, older population in the individual and small business market, and restores the market stabilizers that Republicans have undermined and to caused insurance premiums to spike in 2017 and 2018. Lastly, the bill provides exciting new ways to reduce health care spending by cracking down on fraud and instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to employ tried and true tools to cut costs in the area of prescription drugs. This bill not only does not add to the deficit, but it will, in fact, save money for America’s taxpayers.”

Additional cosponsors of the “Medicare Buy-In and Healthcare Stabilization Act” include: Rep. Peter Welch (VT-At Large), Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-2), Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9), Rep. David Cicilline (RI-1), Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-2), Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-13), Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-1), and Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4).

“As Congress considers improvements to the Affordable Care Act, it is a no-brainer to provide Americans approaching retirement with quality affordable health care by expanding the popular and successful Medicare program,” said Congressman Welch. “I am particularly pleased that this bill includes my legislation to empower the federal government to negotiate lower Medicare drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. It simply makes no sense for the federal government to continue to buy drugs at wholesale while paying retail prices.”

"Instead of the dangerous and partisan approach Republicans in Congress are pursuing that will rip health insurance away from millions of Americans and make health care more expensive for seniors and families, we should be working together to help more Americans afford high quality health care,” said Congressman Huffman. “That’s why today we’re introducing the ‘Medicare Buy-In and Healthcare Stabilization Act’ to take one of our nation’s most successful programs -- Medicare -- and open it up to millions of Americans. The more people who can buy into Medicare, the better for everyone. Congress ought to work together to provide more affordable health care options for our constituents, instead of working to take it away."

Medicare Buy-In and Healthcare Stabilization Act

What the bill does:

Gives Americans ages 50-64 the option to purchase Medicare. Buy-in would be available through the exchanges during open enrollment, giving people the ability to comparison shop and allowing individuals eligible for premium tax credits or cost sharing reductions to apply them toward the buy-in premium. The Medicare buy-in would also be available to individuals who obtain healthcare through their employer, allowing for employer contributions.

Who is eligible? 

According to the 2010 census, approximately 58 million people in the United States are between ages 50 and 64. This group is traditionally viewed by insurance companies as higher-risk and therefore face higher costs for health coverage. The AARP recently reported that four out of 10 adults ages 50-64 – about 25 million people – have preexisting conditions. Both the Senate and House versions of repeal and replace would allow insurers to charge older people five times more than younger beneficiaries beginning in 2018.

Why Medicare? 

Currently 1 in 5 Americans are covered under Medicare and the majority of Medicare recipients are happy with their coverage.

Medicare is a cost-effective program. As CMS reports, “Administrative costs in 2015 were about 2.0 percent, 1.1 percent, and 0.4 percent of expenditures for Part A (hospital coverage), Part B (physician coverage), and Part D (drug coverage), respectively.”

How does it save consumers?

The buy-in option holds down costs by leveraging the buying power of Medicare. Participants could buy-into Medicare, including Part A, B and D, for an annual premium potentially as low as $8,212. By comparison, a 60 year-old purchasing a Gold health care plan on the exchange would pay approximately $13,308 (before subsidies).

Participants continue to pay into the Medicare Trust Fund, protecting its future and allowing those who select the Medicare buy-in to receive the full Medicare benefits available to them upon reaching the age of 65.

Includes Mechanisms to Bend the Cost Curve and Stabilize the Marketplace: 

The legislation builds on Medicare program integrity efforts to fight fraud and abuse in the system that hurts the long-term solvency of the programs and harms our beneficiaries.

It also ensures the enhancement of catastrophic reinsurance, reinstating the risk corridors that expired in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and makes the Cost Sharing Subsidies a permanent part of the baseline. 

Rep. Deutch Applauds House Passage of Russia Sanctions Bill

The House passed the sanctions bill 419-3.

 Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a sanctions bill punishing Russia for interfering in our elections. The bill would also impose sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

“We cannot allow a direct attack on our democracy to go unpunished. Months after every one of our intelligence agencies confirmed that Russia interfered in our elections, the House has finally responded by passing tough sanctions against those culpable. This vote should send a message loud and clear to Russia and the rest of the world that the American people will not tolerate meddling in our elections or attacks on our institutions. When this bill makes its way to the President’s desk, he must swiftly sign it into law. There can be no excuse for failing to show strength in the face of these attacks.”

First LGBT Unit Created to Fight ISIS in Syria

Image result for LGBT supporters are fighting back against the Islamic State

LGBT supporters are fighting back against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) on the Syrian battlefield after three years of persecution in which their community suffered stonings, executions from rooftops and a deadly shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. A group of international volunteers fighting with Kurdish forces against ISIS in northern Syria have…

House LGBT Caucus Demands Trump Administration Restore Transgender Specific Demographic Question to Older Americans Act Survey

 Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-22), Chair of the LGBT Aging Issues Task Force, and a bipartisan group of 75 members of the U.S. House of Representatives demanded the Trump Administration reinstate a demographic question relating to participants’ gender identity to the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants (NSOAAP).

“We have to ensure we are meeting the needs of the most vulnerable among us,” said Deutch. “Study after study has shown that transgender older adults face greater social isolation, food insecurity, and disparate health impacts.  It is cruel to remove a previously included transgender-specific demographic question and, in essence, send a message to transgender seniors that their needs are not important.  I am proud to stand with 75 of my colleagues in calling on the Administration on Community Living to make sure transgender seniors are counted, respected, and have access to assistance they deserve.”

The NSOAAP is used to evaluate whether the billions of dollars in funding for programs assisting older Americans are being used efficiently and effectively.  Since 2014, the NSOAAP has included a specific demographic question relating to participants’ gender identity that yielded vital data on the extreme challenges facing LGBT elders.  On March 13, 2017, the Administration on Community Living (ACL)—which oversees the NSOAAP—revealed that they intended to remove the all LGBT-specific questions from the 2017 survey.  On June 22, 2017, ACL restored the demographic question relating to sexual orientation.

Rep. Deutch, Sen. Hirono Re-introduce Bill to Protect, Strengthen Social Security

Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) re-introduced the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act, a bill that would protect and extend the solvency of Social Security and ensure that today’s seniors and future generations will continue to fully benefit from this program. 

The bill would remove the current cap on annual contributions, set at $127,200 in 2017, which allows high-income earners to stop paying into Social Security once they hit the limit. It would also tie cost-of-living adjustments to the Consumer Price Index for the elderly (CPI-E), a more accurate metric for seniors’ costs of living than the Consumer Price Index for workers (CPI-W) metric currently used. 

The Office of the Chief Actuary estimates that this bill will successfully extend the solvency of Social Security to 2059, 25 years beyond its current ability to cover full benefits. The bill would allow Social Security to pay 85 percent of benefits indefinitely, compared to 77 percent under current law.

I’m proud to once again join with my friend Senator Hirono to re-introduce this bill,” Congressman Deutch said. “Social Security is a fundamental program that protects millions of American workers’ economic security. It protects retirees, people with disabilities, and families who have lost a breadwinner. Yet, with President Trump willing to break his promise of protecting Social Security from cuts, and with ongoing threats to the program from Congressional Republicans, it’s more important than ever to fight for Social Security. We are standing with the American people who want Social Security protected and strengthened, not weakened. For many of my constituents, Social Security is the only thing keeping them from having to choose between medicine and a meal. Our bill bolsters Social Security to continue its success as the most efficient, effective, and popular promise we make to our fellow Americans.” 

Social Security is the cornerstone for retirement and a safety net for millions of families around the country, including thousands in Hawaii who rely on its benefits every day to survive,” said Senator Hirono. “However, for many seniors on fixed incomes Social Security doesn’t go as far as it should to help make ends meet. I am proud to join Congressman Deutch in our fight to strengthen and expand Social Security to ensure that seniors and others who rely on this critical program receive the hard-earned benefits they deserve.” 

"Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) deserve every single American's appreciation for sponsoring the Protecting and Preserving Social Security Act," said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works and Chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition. "By proposing a more accurate cost of living adjustment, this important legislation ensures that Social Security's vital but modest benefits do not erode over time. Moreover, the legislation restores Social Security to long-range actuarial balance by requiring that higher-paid workers contribute the same percentage of their total earnings that average- and minimum-wage workers do. This legislation is both common sense and extremely wise."

The reason this legislation is important is that the economic benefits are far-reaching,” Max Richtman, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare said. “Shifting to a CPI-E will provide a financial boost to beneficiaries who will likely increase their consumption of goods and services which helps fuel our nation’s economic engine. This is a positive step that people of all political stripes should appreciate. In addition, another 25 years are added to the long-term financial outlook for the program – a significant reassurance to current and future generations of workers, retirees, the disabled and their families who depend on Social Security. This is how we make our nation stronger. We applaud Representative Deutch and Senator Hirono for their tireless pursuit of progress on behalf of all Americans.” 

"The CPI-E is a much more accurate formula for determining COLAs. It reflects what retirees actually spend their money on, like housing and health care," said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. "Sen. Hirono and Rep. Deutch's bill would help widows, widowers, children, and people with disabilities make ends meet."

You can read the legislation here.

Wasserman Schultz Statement on Russian Sanctions Bill

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) released the following statement after it was announced that the House and Senate have reached a deal on a Russian sanctions bill:

"Russian interference in our elections and Iran's continued violations of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 warrant tough sanctions, and it is Congress' job to make sure those sanctions are implemented. I am pleased that House and Senate negotiators have finally reached an agreement that will allow us to pass this critical legislation and move forward with strong sanctions immediately, because time is of the essence. Waiting for President Trump to respond to this historic attack on our democracy is simply not a realistic option, and the ability of any Member of Congress to force a vote if the President tries to waive the sanctions is a strong and important safeguard.

Additionally, as a proud cosponsor of the Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act, I firmly believe that implementing these sanctions against Iran are a critical step in holding the regime accountable for its unacceptable violations of international law. This bill will strengthen sanctions targeting Tehran's ballistic missile activities, and punish Iran for its various violations of human rights, its illicit arms transfers, and for its de-stabilizing support for terrorists, including Hezbollah, which has killed more Americans than any terrorist group other than Al Qaeda, and borders our greatest ally in the region, Israel. Congress should act swiftly to deliver this bill to the President's desk before we recess for August."

Civil Rights’ House Bill Would Target Protections For Transgender People


While some activists say the bill has little chance of passing, others are fearful that it could impact civil rights laws on a wider scale.

A bill is moving through Congress that would prevent the interpretation of anti-sex discrimination laws to apply to transgender people unless they specifically mention gender identity or “transgender status.” House Resolution 2796 was referred to the House Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice on 12 July 2017.
Introduced by Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and three other GOP lawmakers in June 2017, the bill states:
No Federal civil rights law shall be interpreted to treat gender identity or transgender status as a protected class, unless such law expressly designates “gender identity” or “transgender status” as a protected class.
The Civil Rights Uniformity Act of 2017, as it is formally called, would require that any anti-discrimination laws that mention “sex” or “gender” not be interpreted to include protections for transgender people and that wherever the law uses the words “man” and “woman,” that those refer to one’s gender assignment at birth and not gender identity. 
Activist and blogger Victoria Darling, who has already criticized the bill on Twitter, told us that the wording could have a “devastating” effect on civil protections:
In reading the synopsis of what the bill would do, I was appalled because the wide range of implications, not only to trans people, but the way the wording could then be adopted to affect every minority in the future.
It has the potential to give congress the power to override any court ruling – all they have to do is write a new bill.
The measure is partly a response to regulations implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services in May 2016 banning discrimination and denial of care on the basis of a person’s gender identity as part of the Affordable Care Act. 
According to a statement released by Olson’s office:
This could leave healthcare providers vulnerable to extensive liability should they refuse to participate in or pay for “gender transition” treatments or “sex change” operations based on medical opinion, moral, ethical, or religious reasons.
The bill’s text also criticizes Eric Holder, who served as Attorney General under Barack Obama, for announcing in 2014 that the Department of Justice would begin interpreting laws about “sex discrimination” to include discrimination against transgender people. The bill says:
The Obama administration’s actions are an affront to the rule of law, the separation of powers, the will of the people, language, history, safety, privacy, and biological realities.
The American Civil Liberties Union signaled its opposition to the resolution on Twitter:
Should #HB2796 move forward, the ACLU will vigorously oppose this discriminatory effort to strip civil rights protections from trans people.
Another advocacy group, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), tweeted account that while it remained “vigilant” concerning the bill, they did not recommend any community action on the matter, as the bill wasn’t likely to make it past committee. NCTE executive director Mara Keisling told us in a statement:
There are always mean-spirited anti-LGBT bills out there with a handful of cosponsors that, thankfully, never move.
Keisling also noted that overall, 86 percent of bills introduced in Congress between January 2015 and December 2016 did not make it to a vote. She added that she hoped the community would focus on “other, far more imminent threats,” including Texas Senate Bill 6, which would bar trans residents from using restrooms according to their gender identity “as well as attempts by the Trump administration to weaken nondiscrimination protections in health care and other areas.” 
Darling told us that while she supported the NCTE’s efforts, just because bills similar to Olsen’s resolution have failed does not mean that his would:
I fathom the NCTE’s concern over what’s happening in Texas, but even if they are successful in keeping SB6 [Texas Senate Bill 6] from becoming law, HB2796 will nullify ALL their efforts.
Another activist, attorney Andy Izenson, said that there is already a large-scale effort underway to render render civil rights legislation “basically toothless” citing legislation like the versions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed in several states, as well as the reasoning laid out in the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling in June 2014. 
While Izenson said he was comfortable following NCTE’s advice concerning HR 2976 because of the group’s expertise regarding constitutional law, he was alarmed by the resolution as “an exertion of power and as an expression of imperviousness to accountability” regardless of whether it succeeds:
As evidence of a larger wave of increasingly clear anti-trans policy, it is alarming as part of that. But like the rest of that wave of policy, it is being met with increasingly fearless resistance.
We contacted Olson’s office seeking comment, but have yet to get a response.

Source: Snopes.com

The Deutch Dispatch

Rep. Deutch Presses Speaker to Call Vote on Bipartisan Russia Sanctions Bill

Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), Ranking Member of the House Ethics Committee, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, took to the House floor today to demand that Speaker Ryan bring up a vote on the bipartisan Russia sanctions bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate 98-2.

Congressman Deutch reminded his colleagues that the American people are watching the inaction, saying that the Speaker "and the rest of this majority in the House will carry the weight of our failure to stand up to Russia back to your districts in August, and no one will understand how it is that you show weakness when it is strength that is required in the face of Russian aggression."

Congressman Deutch's speech is transcribed below and can be viewed by clicking the image.

Mr. Speaker,

Inaction from this House leaves us open to Russian cyberattacks against our democracy, and the numbers tell the story.

Sixteen months since Russians attacked, this House stands mute.

Eleven months since all four major U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed Putin’s direct involvement, and we’ve done nothing.

Eight Russians and Trump advisers met to discuss illegal Russian government assistance to the Trump campaign.

Three hours of face to face meetings between President Trump and Putin; one of those hours with absolutely no accountability to the American people.

And 98 out of 100 United States Senators voted in favor of new Russian sanctions 34 days ago.

And finally, zero.

Zero action from this House to fight back.

Zero show of bipartisanship that mirrors our Senate counterparts.

Zero votes on the House floor to send the sanctions bill to the president.

Mr. Speaker, if you allow us to vote on this bill, it will pass with overwhelming bipartisan support.

And if you do not allow us to get Russia sanctions to the President’s desk and put the pressure on him to sign it, you and the rest of this majority in the House will carry the weight of our failure to stand up to Russia back to your districts in August, and no one will understand how it is that you show weakness when it is strength that is required in the face of Russian aggression.

That’s what America expects and deserves.

I yield back.

Wasserman Schultz on Latest Senate Trumpcare Failure

 Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) released the following statement regarding the latest Trumpcare failure in the Senate:

“The resistance and compassion won out. It is now more clear than ever that the American people do not want less health care coverage at a higher cost, all so millionaires and billionaires can get huge tax breaks.  President Trump now says he will ‘allow Obamacare to fail', rather than work with Democrats to update and improve it. I will continue to stand with the millions of caring, conscientious and responsible Americans who bravely banded together to beat back this political savagery.

We must make health care reform about improving Americans' health, not hurting millions of people with mean-spirited legislation that will leave millions without health care coverage. It is now time for Democrats and Republicans to come together to address the problems with the Affordable Care Act. The American people have made it clear that they believe access to quality, affordable health care should remain a right and not return to a time when it was a privilege only for those who could afford it."

Rep. Deutch Praises Climate Solutions Caucus Members for Pivotal Role in Defeating Anti-Climate Amendment

The anti-climate amendment failed 185-234.

Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), a Co-Chair of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, issued the below statement after the members of the Caucus helped defeat an anti-climate amendment. The amendment would have eliminated a requirement for the Defense Department to report on military base vulnerability to climate change impacts and possible resiliency plans.

“This is a victory for all those who believe Congress should be doing more to address climate change. This vote is proof that there is now a bipartisan majority in Congress of Members who understand that climate change is a real threat to our communities, our economy, and our military readiness. I hope my House colleagues were watching closely; denying climate change is no longer a winning strategy. This will only be the beginning, and I look forward to passing more climate-friendly legislation with my fellow Caucus members in the future.”

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 includes a provision introduced by Congressman Jim Langevin (RI-02) requiring the Defense Department to produce a report describing the “vulnerabilities to military installations” to climate change over the next 20 years. Today, during floor debate of the NDAA, Congressman Scott Perry (PA-04) called for a recorded vote on his amendment (#390) to strike this reporting language from the NDAA.

The House of Representatives rejected this bill 185 to 234. With 48 members of the Climate Solutions Caucus, including 24 Republicans, their vote played an integral role in defeating this climate change denial amendment.

VIDEO: Rep. Deutch on CNN New Day Discussed Trump Jr. Emails, Need for House to Pass Russia Sanctions

 On Thursday morning, July 13, Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, joined CNN's New Day to discuss with John Berman the inappropriateness of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a lawyer connected to the Russian government and the urgent need for Speaker Ryan to allow the House to vote on the Senate-passed Russia sanctions legislation.

You can watch the full interview here, or you can watch clips by clicking on each image.

Here’s what Congress can do, John. Congress can send and the Speaker can take action this week to send the Russia sanctions bill that the Senate passed to the President and see if the President will sign it. That's a policy matter that will put the President to the test of whether or not he's willing, as he says, to be tough with Russia or whether he's really the President that we saw during the campaign as the candidate who kept talking about wanting to be friends with Russia. This is a serious matter. Russia interfered with our election. Congress is trying to toughen sanctions. That’s what the American people want and expect. That’s what the Speaker ought to allow us to vote on so the President has a chance to sign it.

Deutch: We ought to start holding hearings in the Judiciary Committee, where we bring in all the relevant parties to have a discussion about and have hearings about these revelations, to start talking about, for example, what constitutes obstruction of justice, whether the firing of the FBI Director because of an investigation like this might constitute obstruction of justice.

Deutch: We heard about the President’s meeting with Putin where the President sat down and, instead of looking Putin in the eye and saying, look, the American Intelligence Community has told me that you've interfered with our election and America will not stand for it, instead, he looked at Putin and asked him, as the President told Reuters yesterday, asked him once, did you do it? Then he asked him again, did you do it? And then, when Putin denied it, he decided that it was appropriate to enter into some sort of cybersecurity compact with Russia. It’s outrageous. It’s a sign of weakness. That’s why it's so important for us to ratchet up the sanctions on Russia, and the President is the person that's going to need to sign that to make that happen.

House LGBT Caucus Denounces Rep. Hartzler’s Anti-Transgender Amendment to Defense Bill


Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus denounced Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 banning transgender service members from receiving medically necessary medical care relating to their transition.  Earlier tonight, the House Rules Committee voted to allow a floor vote on Rep. Hartzler’s amendment.

“Rep. Hartzler’s misguided amendment effectively bans patriotic transgender Americans from serving their country in uniform,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02).  “The defense bill is supposed to be about how to best keep our country safe.  Decisions about medical care should be made by doctors based on contemporary medical standards of care—not Congress.  If any service member isn’t able to access the health care doctors determine is needed, that harms readiness.  I trust our colleagues will reject this hateful attack on the transgender community.”

On June 30, 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter lifted the ban on transgender persons serving openly in the military.  The policy change was implemented in stages, with the final stage—removing the ban on transgender people acceding into the services—scheduled to be implemented on January 1, 2018.  Transgender people already serving are currently able to serve openly.

“Bigotry is the last thing this country should offer any brave man or woman who volunteers to defend us,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy III (MA-04), Chair of the Transgender Equality Task Force.  “By inserting Congress into the personal medical decisions of certain service members, this amendment tells thousands of Americans willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice that they are not entitled to the same rights as the soldier they stand next to. Transgender Americans, in uniform or not, deserve better than this hateful amendment from those elected to represent them.”

In 2015, the Department of Defense commissioned the RAND Corporation to conduct a study on the impact of lifting the ban on transgender service.  RAND’s year-long, wide-ranging and comprehensive study found that open service has “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”  RAND’s study also found that the cost of transition-related health care would only be a 0.04% increase in active-component health care expenditures for coverage of transgender service members.

“Transgender service members are not asking for any ‘special’ rights, they simply want to serve their country,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Executive Director Roddy Flynn.  “Rep. Hartzler’s amendment specifically targets transgender people for exclusion from certain kinds of medical care available to cisgender service members.  For example, under the Hartzler amendment, hormone treatment is banned only if the patient is transgender.  Cisgender service members could take hormones for birth control, to treat a gynecological condition, or other conditions requiring hormone replacement therapy; but it is uniquely banned for transgender people.”

Current estimates from the Palm Center indicate there are over 15,000 transgender servicemembers currently serving in the U.S. armed forces, including 8,800 in the active component and 6,650 in the National Guard and reserve components.