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SOURCE:  Office of Senator Mitch McConnell


Senator McConnell Introduces Measure to Overturn EPA’s Regulation on New Coal-Fired Plants

‘Senators in both parties are saying enough is enough…It’s the beginning of a new front to defend hardworking Middle Class Americans from massive regulations that target them’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) designed to stop the Obama Administration from imposing its anti-coal regulation on new coal-fired plants. Senator McConnell also joined Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in filing a separate CRA that relates to the regulation affecting existing coal-fired plants.

The Obama Administration’s costly power plan regulations were published in the Federal Register on Friday. A CRA provides Congress the ability to eliminate onerous regulations imposed by the executive branch through an expedited procedure for consideration in the Senate.

Senator McConnell plans to schedule votes on the CRAs later this year. If both CRAs are enacted into law, they would nullify both pillars of the costly power rule even if portions of the plan have already gone into effect. 

“The Obama Administration recently published massive energy regulations that won’t do a thing to meaningfully affect global carbon levels.

“It won’t make any noticeable difference to the global environment.

“But it will ship more Middle-Class jobs overseas. It will punish the poor. It will make it even harder for coal families in states like Kentucky to put food on the table.

“In other words, it’s facts-optional extremism wrapped in callous indifference.

“Senators in both parties are saying enough is enough.

“We’ve filed bipartisan measures that would allow Congress to overturn these two-pronged regressive regulations.

“I joined Senator Heitkamp, a Democrat, and Senator Capito, a Republican, on a measure that would address the prong that pertains to existing energy sources.

“Democratic Senator Manchin joined me as I introduced a measure that would address the prong that pertains to new energy sources.

“Together, these measures represent a comprehensive solution. Colleagues will join me to speak about these resolutions later today. I’m sure they’ll say more about the measures we’ve filed and the process associated with them.

“What everyone should know is this.

“The publication of these regulations does not represent an end, but a beginning. It’s the beginning of a new front to defend hardworking Middle Class Americans from massive regulations that target them.

“That front is opening here in Congress, and it’s opening across the country as states file lawsuits and Governors stand up for their own Middle Class constituents.

“The battle may not be short or easy. But Kentuckians and hardworking Americans should know that I’m going to keep standing up for them throughout.”

SOURCE:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

SOURCE:  Melanie Zanona, CQ Roll Call

Drug Addicted Infants Tug at Congress’ Heartstrings

Congress has struggled to combat the nation’s deadly prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemic, but lawmakers may unite around an effort to help the most vulnerable population: babies born addicted to opioids.

A measure (S 799) is moving quickly in Congress to require the Health and Human Services Department to develop recommendations for treating neonatal abstinence syndrome, a condition in which newborns experience drug withdrawal shortly after birth due to drug exposure in the womb.

The legislation, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was passed by unanimous consent on Oct. 22.

A day earlier, President Barack Obama announced new federal steps in West Virginia to stem the growing tide of opioid abuse. Lawmakers have shown bipartisan interest in the issue, but they have yet to coalesce around major solutions, despite having stacks of bills to choose from and statistics that show overdose deaths are climbing.

Proposals range from making anti-overdose medications more widely available to enhancing existing prescription drug-monitoring programs.

The measure to help infants appears to have the strongest chance for passage. After all, it would be difficult to oppose legislation designed to help babies suffering painful withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, shaking and sleep problems.

“Researchers estimate that more than one baby every hour is now born dependent on drugs and suffering from withdrawal,” McConnell has said. “This statistic is just heartbreaking.”

The syndrome can be caused by pregnant women who illegally abuse opioids, take prescribed drugs or are on medication-assisted treatment to wean them off an opioid addiction. Advocates say there is no single protocol for treatment and that it can be difficult to diagnose in babies.

The bill is intended to improve understanding of the condition by allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help states improve data collection and requiring HHS to review its planning and coordination in treating prenatal opioid abuse and develop a strategy to address any gaps.

A similar measure (HR 1462) has passed the House by voice vote and the chamber is likely to clear the Senate’s version since technical changes were made earlier this month by the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Advocates are optimistic the bill will make it to the president’s desk by the end of this year.

“In an ideal world, we would want to do more,” says Cynthia Pellegrini, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs for the infant advocacy group March of Dimes. “But this is certainly a good start.”

SOURCE:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

McConnell Bill to Address Prenatal Addiction & Infant Opioid Withdrawal

Published on Oct 22, 2015

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced today that his legislation to address the rise of prenatal opioid abuse and infants suffering from opioid withdrawal passed the U.S. Senate. Senator McConnell introduced the Protecting Our Infants Act earlier this year with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.


Scott Kelly Prepares For a Spacewalk

Scott Kelly prepares for space walk.  Photo Courtesy:  NASA

Scott Kelly prepares for space walk. Photo Courtesy: NASA

Expedition 45 Commander Scott Kelly tries on his spacesuit inside the U.S. Quest airlock of the International Space Station. Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren will venture outside the station for a pair of spacewalks, the first of their careers, on Wednesday, Oct. 28 and Friday, Nov. 6.

The Oct. 28 spacewalk is set to last six hours and 30 minutes after Kelly and Lindgren set their spacesuits to battery power. It will be the 32nd U.S. spacewalk, and will focus on station upgrades and maintenance tasks, including installing a thermal cover on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector that has been attached to the station since 2011. NASA TV coverage will begin at 6:30 a.m. EDT.

Sharing this photograph of the spacesuit fit check with his social media followers, Kelly wrote, “Day 212 Getting my game face on for #spacewalk Thanks for sticking w me #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace”

FVAP LogosmSOURCE:  Federal Voting Assistance Program

RAND Releases Report On Federal Voting Assistance Program Improvements

The Federally Funded Research and Development Center, RAND, recently released its report “FVAP and the Road Ahead.”  In 2013, the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) commissioned this research effort to align its strategy and operations to better reflect its core mission.  RAND’s report details the project findings and recommended organization alignments for FVAP, some of which have already been instituted.

Key findings from the RAND report include: 

  • FVAP relies heavily on intermediaries, such as Voting Assistance Officers, to reach Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters.
  • To play this role more effectively, FVAP needs to take several steps: (1) Create a clearer, shared understanding of its mission; (2) build trust and strengthen its relationships with its stakeholders, and (3) embrace a culture and principles of effectiveness.
  • FVAP has taken substantial steps to become one FVAP, improve its relationships with stakeholders, and embrace effectiveness.  For example, FVAP reoriented its mission, reorganized its operations, and began providing more hands-on voting assistance.

RAND Recommendations:

  • Through training, especially in-person training, FVAP can engage its intermediaries more directly, get closer to UOCAVA voters and reap other ancillary benefits.
  • To lock in and build on recent gains, FVAP will need to continue working on unifying the organization, improving its relationships with stakeholders and embracing effectiveness.

FVAP has already begun implementing initiatives that align with RAND’s recommendations.  “Through their collaboration and expertise, RAND provided guidance through the identification and implementation of necessary changes.  Additionally, they have armed us with the knowledge and tools to continue making improvements,” said FVAP Director Mr. Matt Boehmer.  “For example, we are currently utilizing adult learning methodologies and incorporating evaluations to revamp training modules for voters, election officials and Voting Assistance Officers.  It is also reassuring that FVAP’s restructuring, which occurred during the time of the research, is aligned with RAND’s overall recommendation for FVAP — focus on our core mission of assisting military voters, their families, and overseas citizens and perform that mission well.”

SOURCE:  Truthout / Nick Turse, TomDispatch | Op-Ed

The United States’ Elite Forces Deploy to a Record-Shattering 147 Countries in 2015

They’re some of the best soldiers in the world: highly trained, well equipped, and experts in weapons, intelligence gathering, and battlefield medicine. They study foreign cultures and learn local languages. They’re smart, skillful, wear some very iconic headgear, and their 12-member teams are “capable of conducting the full spectrum of special operations, from building indigenous security forces to identifying and targeting threats to US national interests.”

They’re also quite successful. At least they think so.

“In the last decade, Green Berets have deployed into 135 of the 195 recognized countries in the world. Successes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Trans-Sahel Africa, the Philippines, the Andean Ridge, the Caribbean, and Central America have resulted in an increasing demand for [Special Forces] around the globe,” reads a statement on the website of US Army Special Forces Command.

A US Army soldier keeps watch on the mountains in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, May 12, 2013. (Photo: US Army / Sgt. Jessi Ann McCormick)

A US Army soldier keeps watch on the mountains in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, May 12, 2013. (Photo: US Army / Sgt. Jessi Ann McCormick)

The Army’s Green Berets are among the best known of America’s elite forces, but they’re hardly alone. Navy SEALs, Air Force Air Commandos, Army Rangers, Marine Corps Raiders, as well as civil affairs personnel, logisticians, administrators, analysts, and planners, among others, make up US Special Operations forces (SOF). They are the men and women who carry out America’s most difficult and secret military missions. Since 9/11, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has grown in every conceivable way from funding and personnel to global reach and deployments. In 2015, according to Special Operations Command spokesman Ken McGraw, US Special Operations forces deployed to a record-shattering 147 countries – 75% of the nations on the planet, which represents a jump of 145% since the waning days of the Bush administration. On any day of the year, in fact, America’s most elite troops can be found in 70 to 90 nations.

There is, of course, a certain logic to imagining that the increasing global sweep of these deployments is a sign of success. After all, why would you expand your operations into ever-more nations if they weren’t successful? So I decided to pursue that record of “success” with a few experts on the subject.  READ MORE.

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