Campaign

American dreams on summer break

As children across the country prepare to go back to the classroom, our nation’s leaders are on recess until September.  While Congress is on summer break, the future of 5.5 million children is in limbo. One million unauthorized immigrants under the age of 18, and 4.5 million U.S. born children of undocumented parents, are anxiously awaiting immigration reform.

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Sen. Durbin’s vendetta against supplements

Are you responsible enough to make your own decisions regarding whether to consume energy drinks or dietary supplements? Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) doesn’t seem to think so. On Aug. 1, Durbin reintroduced legislation -- the Dietary Supplemental Labeling Act -- which he advanced in the last Congress before it failed to make it out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

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Government should respect Native American sovereignty

I commend The Hill for spotlighting the effort to ensure voting rights for Native Americans in Montana (The Hill, Jordy Yager, 07/16/13).  As a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, I've been fighting my entire career to protect Native American sovereignty and help ensure that local, state and federal governments respect tribal law.  Every Native
American in Montana who is eligible to vote must be allowed to exercise his or her ability to vote.  Unfortunately, it seems that a government that would infringe on one's sacred right to vote is unlikely to stop there.

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Building a wall around the welfare state, instead of the country

Supporters of immigration reform continue to hold their breath as they wait to see what, if any, action the U.S. House will take. If the political pundits are right, the prospects are dim. One reason for that is concern that an influx of immigrants will overburden the welfare state.

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The president’s opportunity

On July 24, President Obama delivered a speech in Galesburg, IL, to lay out his vision for an economy that works for everyone and what he hopes to do to get us there. During his speech, he acknowledged that gridlock in Washington will likely prevent Congress from providing sensible solutions, but he said, “Whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it." I hope the President keeps his word because he has the power to lift two million working Americans out of poverty.  He just has to choose to use it.

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Regulations conflict

An important question before Congress this week: Should the regulatory process for projects that have major impacts on the environment be speeded up or slowed down?

Yes, according to House Republicans.

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Limbo Is a town in Palestine

Seventy years ago, during World War II, victory gardens were a necessity for the average American family. But we have prospered now and often favor Whole Foods over weeding a plot to raise tomatoes or radishes. 

Gazan families do not have that luxury.  In large numbers, they urgently seek the assistance of agronomists from American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) to construct greenhouses implementing drip irrigation and composting. Eight out of ten families in Gaza find it difficult to feed themselves, let alone with fresh foods. Our household gardens program trains them and mentors them for up to a year. The results in terms of child nutrition, family finances and self-reliance are readily visible.

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Politicians' outdated strategies crush civic engagement

When it comes to civic engagement, Americans are becoming apathetic. They’re avoiding the voting booth and skipping efforts to organize, saying their “vote doesn’t matter” and “all politicians are the same and corrupt.” But it may not be Americans who are at fault for the lack of enthusiasm -- it could be that politicians’ outdated strategies for connecting with citizens are crushing political idealism.

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Inventors deserve equal protection, not double standards

Patent reform was in the air once more this month when the president and Randall Rader, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, added their voices to the chorus of legislators calling for new measures to address abuses of the patent system.  Many of their proposals are well taken, for the consensus is growing that something must be done to protect American businesses from meritless lawsuits designed to extract nuisance-value settlements from them.  What all current proposals have missed, however, is that abuse runs both ways in the patent system: just as a company may find itself the target of a frivolous patent lawsuit in court, so an inventor may find his valid patents embroiled in baseless litigation at the Patent & Trademark Office (“PTO”).  Yet Congress, by devising protections for some actors in the system but leaving others defenseless, is subjecting inventors to a double standard and inviting more wrongdoing thereby.

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Take a thorough look at human rights abuses in Egypt

Tomorrow, the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa should ask questions to clarify what exactly the Obama Administration strategy on Egypt should be as President Morsi cracks down on civil society and the U.S. continues to transfer $1.2 billion in aid.

The hearing, titled American NGOs Under Attack in Morsi's Egypt, will examine last week’s shocking Egyptian court verdicts convicting 43 representatives of foreign non-governmental organizations, all of whom were charged with “operating local offices of international organizations without the requisite license and illegally receiving foreign funds.”

The sentences handed down last week range from between one and five years in prison, with some sentences suspended. Nineteen of the 43 convicted in the case are Americans from the U.S.-based NGOs Freedom House, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute. Each of these groups will provide testimony during tomorrow’s hearing. As they do, subcommittee members should explore Egypt’s crackdown beyond this outrageous case.

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