July 28, 2010 - Volume VII Edition XIII
Protecting consumers is #1-- that's why Elizabeth Warren should be named to head the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau
Protecting consumers has been a focus of my work on the House Financial Services Committee, from the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights to the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill. It's also why I support naming Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau created by the Dodd-Frank reforms which the President signed into law last Wednesday.
Last week, I circulated among my House colleagues a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to appoint her. We were able to attract 62 other House members, including the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee (and the bill's namesake) Barney Frank. Sen. Tom Harkin circulated a similar letter in the Senate.
Many others have come out in support of Mrs. Warren, including Charles Fried, her colleague at Harvard Law School and former Solicitor General of the United States under President Reagan. In supporting her nomination, Professor Fried said "I like capitalism, and I dislike thieves..."
Mrs. Warren is simply the perfect choice for the job. A consumer financial protection body was her idea, first expressed in a journal article in 2007. In the letter, we said, "we can think of no better person to be its first Director. As a professor at Harvard Law School since 1982, she has risen to national prominence in the area of economics of the middle class.”
You can read the complete letter here.
U.S. News published a story last week listing the most productive members of Congress. I'm proud to have tied for first place in the House (with Rep. Ros-Lehtinen of Florida) for the most bills introduced in the current Congress, with 70 pieces of legislation!
These bills have included...
--The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights (which passed as the Credit CARD Act), which was signed into law by President Obama last May, and whose third and final stage will be implemented August 22. (The Pew Charitable Trusts issued a report last week that shows the new law mostly meets its objectives.)
--The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act (H.R. 847), which provides mandatory funding for the monitoring and health care needs of WTC responders and survivors who were exposed to toxins released at ground zero, and also reopens the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to provide fair compensation for economic losses and harm.
--The Justice for Survivors of Sexual Assault Act (H.R. 4114) which creates incentives for jurisdictions to eliminate their rape kit backlogs, process their incoming rape kits in a timely manner, and publicly report their backlog numbers. (This bill is a followup to my Debbie Smith Act, which has been described as "the most successful anti-rape legislation in history." That law is currently allocating $151 million in each fiscal year between 2009-2014 to assist localities in processing DNA evidence, and in training for sexual assault forensic exams.)
Stay tuned, because I think I'll be able to break the tie with Rep. Ros-Lehtinen later this week!
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division issued new information on unpaid break time for nursing mothers who are hourly workers-- which was included in the health care reform law. This information should help make it clear how the break time provision for nursing mothers works. For individuals and businesses alike, this fact sheet offers clarity about how an hourly employee can access their rights under the law.
There's almost universal agreement in the medical community that breast milk is best for children; the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for six months and continue partially for at least the first year of a child’s life. But the real world sometimes conspires against working moms who want to provide their children with the best, since a majority of new mothers must go back to work before that first year ends. This new law helps mothers who are hourly workers find the time, and a place, during the workday to express milk for their babies.
I'm the prime sponsor of the Breastfeeding Promotion Act in the House (H.R. 2819) and Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) sponsors the Senate companion (S. 1244), both of which include the unpaid break time provision for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. That provision was applied to hourly workers and included in the Health Care Reforms signed into law by President Obama in March, and took effect immediately.
The fact sheet, issued by the Wage and Hour Division for companies with more than 50 hourly workers covered under the new law is here; (PDF) my Breastfeeding Promotion Act information page is accessible here.
Last week was the 36th anniversary of the tragic, illegal 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. All these years later, Turkey continues to forcibly occupy more than one-third of Cyprus with 43,000 troops-- almost one Turkish soldier for every two Turkish Cypriots. It is past time for Turkey to withdraw its troops from Cyprus so that the island can move forward as one nation.
To date, Turkey has repeatedly ignored all U.N. Resolutions pertaining to Cyprus and continues to occupy the island in complete violation of international law. Turkey has continued to do so despite the fact that it has been a member of the U.N. Security Council since January 2009. Turkey has also refused to abide by the Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in numerous cases, thereby continuing to violate the basic human rights of the Cypriot people. This is an outrage.
The current negotiations aim at reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined in the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, with a single sovereignty, single citizenship and single international personality. The solution must reunite the island, its people, its institutions and its economy while safeguarding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cypriots during the withdrawal of Turkish occupation forces from Cyprus.
The United States and the international community must continue to provide support for this process. The people of Cyprus deserve a unified and democratic country, and I remain hopeful that a peaceful settlement will be found so that the division of Cyprus will come to an end.
I submitted this statement to the Congressional Record on the occasion of the Cyprus invasion anniversary last week.
As I mentioned above, the House is scheduled to act on the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources Act of 2009; aka the CLEAR Act (H.R. 3534). This bill will cut the cozy ties between the Department of the Interior and the oil and gas industry-- something I've fought for for years. I'm only sorry that it took a massive oil spill to get action on this issue.
In a similar vein, I recently wrote the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding the agency’s efforts to protect the health of cleanup workers at BP oil spill sites. I want to make sure that cleanup workers are using respirators and other protective gear, particularly in the hot and humid Gulf weather-- and know whether OSHA’s team of 25 safety inspectors is sufficient to cover the entire oil spill area, and also whether the agency has set up a “1-800” number or other mechanism for workers to report safety concerns.
The oil-spill disaster has some eerie echoes of the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Thousands lost their health in the 9/11 cleanup, and we must make sure history doesn’t repeat itself in the Gulf. I appreciate the work that OSHA and its partners are doing to address this unprecedented challenge. The health and safety of the people helping to clean and rebuild the Gulf must not be compromised during the recovery from this disaster. The safety needs of cleanup crews at Ground Zero were neglected, with terrible consequences. We cannot overlook the importance of safety precautions again.
The full text of the letter to OSHA is here.
Please feel free to share this email with anyone who may be interested in these issues. As always, I appreciate your comments and invite you to write to me through my website
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress
P.S. Please do not respond to this unattended email account, but instead click here if you would like to send me a message. I look forward to hearing from you!
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