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The Serrano Report, Vol. VII, #20
On Capitol Hill
At the end of last week, the House of Representatives passed a long delayed extension of unemployment insurance. Congressman Serrano applauded the action, saying, “After months of Republican delay, we are finally doing right by the people who are suffering in this troubled economy through no fault of their own. Republicans, by engaging in weeks of reckless obstruction, have put an estimated 2.5 million families in severe economic distress. Apparently they put their political ambitions and ideological beliefs ahead of families. That is unconscionable.
“I was particularly disturbed by Republicans’ claims that this unemployment extension would increase the deficit. Such concerns have not stopped them from calling for extensions of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which would greatly increase the deficit, nor have these concerns stopped them from voting for previous extensions of unemployment benefits. Republicans are playing politics- pure and simple- at the expense of American families.
“We have extended a helping hand to people in our nation as they continue to look for work. I hope that we do not go through this sort of a stand off again, with people in need stuck in the middle.”
The payments are retroactive to June 2nd, when the last unemployment extension expired. The legislation is expected to help approximately 2.5 million people. For more information about how this extension affects people in New York, please visit the New York State Department of Labor's Unemployment Assistance site.
Congressman Serrano expressed his relief this week that U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton issued a decision to grant a temporary injunction against the most controversial parts of Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law. The ruling blocks parts of the law that required immigrants to prove they were in the country legally or face state penalties. The ruling also blocks those provisions which permitted arrest without warrant of suspected undocumented immigrants, as well as those which required police officers to check citizenship status when stopping someone while enforcing other laws.
“From the beginning, I have said that Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070 was unjust and unfair,” said Serrano. “Today a federal judge has prevented the most objectionable sections of the law from going into effect until their constitutionality is decided.
“We all know that requiring local law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship based on appearance or behavior will make it harder for law enforcement to do their job. This anti-immigrant law has been denounced by law enforcement itself. They also understand that there is no constitutional way to carry out the law.
“We have won a temporary victory in the fight against this anti-immigrant law today, but we have a long battle ahead of us. We must continue to protest this law, and do everything we can do to ensure that our friends in Arizona, whether they have documents or not, are not subject to unfair or unconstitutional behavior.”
On Tuesday, Congressman José E. Serrano voted to end the Afghanistan war, and to remove U.S. forces from Pakistan unless Congress gives specific authority for them to be there. The measure funding the war in Afghanistan, H.R. 4899, passed 308-114, while the resolution to remove troops from Pakistan, H. Con. Res. 301, introduced by Congressman Kucinich of Ohio, failed 38-372 with four members voting present.
“I have deep misgivings about our ongoing involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said Serrano after the votes. “I believe that sending forces to Afghanistan after 9/11 to root out the terrorists, their supporters and their training camps was the correct move. Nine years later, I believe that it is past time to end our involvement in that nation, because it is clear we are stuck in a quagmire and not on the road to peace or victory. We have to admit that our partners in the Afghanistan government are fatally flawed and we must begin to withdraw our troops.
“As for any involvement in Pakistan, it is important that Congress affirmatively approves the use of force by our armed forces and in this situation we have not. Under the Constitution, Congress has the sole power to declare war, and I am very wary of ‘mission creep’. I understand that much of the mischief happening in Afghanistan has roots across the border in Pakistan’s tribal regions, but becoming involved in combat in Pakistan is an enormous commitment and we should not allow it to happen without congressional authorization. That said, I must be clear: if there was a vote on congressional authorization for combat in Pakistan, I would vote against that too.
“In short, I do not want to see our troops continue to fight valiantly in this region when it is clear that our goals will not be met. President Obama has tried to make the best of a war that was bungled and neglected for 7 years prior to his presidency, but at this point it is time to begin to withdraw and cut our losses.”
Serrano Meets with Bronx Students
Last week, Congressman Serrano met with World Vision Youth Empowerment Summit students and Junior Statesmen participants, members of both groups hailing from the Bronx. "It is always a pleasure to meet with young people," said Serrano after the meetings. "I am pleased to see students from the Bronx getting these wonderful opportunities and am happy to be able to talk to them about what we do here in Washington."
Serrano with World Vision Youth Empowerment students in his DC office
Serrano with Ashley Lora (l) and Dayanara Veliz (r) two Bronx students participating in the Junior Statesmen Foundation's Summer School Program at Georgetown University
Serrano Recognizes CHCI Interns
On Tuesday, Congressman Serrano attended and spoke at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s (CHCI) Graduation Ceremony for this summer’s interns. These young men and women come from a diverse ethnic and geographic background, spanning across the fifty states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. They were each assigned to congressional offices in Washington, D.C., tackling various duties. Serrano commended their hard work during the summer and asked them to continue their public service in their respective districts, since they are now role models within their communities.
Serrano speaking at the CHCI intern graduation
On Thursday, Congressman Serrano, as Chairman of the House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee, successfully completed Subcommittee markup of the 2011 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill.
During this markup, Congressman Serrano described the bill, saying, “The Financial Services and General Government bill funds programs that touch the lives of nearly every American, as consumers, as investors, and as taxpayers. This bill funds the agencies that ensure that Americans can go about their daily lives with the peace of mind and confidence that the products they use are safe and their investments are sound. This is a key government function that Americans expect. In addition to funding critical parts of the Executive branch, this bill also allocates spending for the entire Judicial branch of government.”
Included in this bill is increased funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which plays an important role in product safety decisions, and for the Federal Trade Commission, which protects consumers from deceptive practices. An additional provision encourages both of these agencies to improve their websites for Spanish speaking consumers.
A new initiative was also included to allow the District of Columbia, starting in fiscal year 2012, to implement its budget for the use of locally collected funds without waiting for Congressional approval.
After a series of amendments were offered by Republican Members of the Subcommittee during the markup, this bill was reported out of the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill is now sent to the full committee.
In the Bronx
Serranos March in Bronx Dominican Day Parade
On Sunday, Congressman José E. Serrano and State Senator José M. Serrano marched in the Bronx Dominican Day Parade. "Every year this is such a wonderful event," said Congressman Serrano after the event. "I am so proud to be part of such a great celebration recognizing the integral role our Dominican brothers and sisters play in our community."
Senator Serrano and Congressman Serrano at the Dominican Day Parade with (from l to r) Nelson Valdes, Vice President New York Nursing Home Division, 1199SEIU, the parade's “padrino, Ana Isabel García Reyes, Director of International Programs & Special Assistant for Community Relations at Hostos Community College, the parade's “madrina” and Ydanis Rodriguez, District 10 Council Member representing Washington Heights
Today, July 30th, is the last day for individuals who feel they may have been overlooked by the Census to call the toll-free assistance line and make sure they are counted by completing a questionnaire over the phone.
“This is the very last opportunity to get counted in the 2010 Census if you feel that you were missed by previous Census efforts,” said Serrano. “If you think you have been overlooked, I urge you to call 1-866-872-6868 to ensure that our Bronx communities are counted as accurately as possible. It’s not too late to be counted and help ensure the Bronx receives its fair share of federal funding!”
The toll-free telephone assistance line is open until 9:00 pm tonight, and callers can receive assistance in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian. More than 130,000 interviews have already been completed via telephone.
More information about the telephone assistance line is available at the following link: http://2010.census.gov/news/releases/operations/cb10cn69.html
Cultural Preservation Grant
Application Deadline: November 16, 2010
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently announced the availability of funding to help cultural institutions preserve humanities material for future generations of Americans. The Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Program supports historical organizations across the country that are responsible for books, manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings, art, and artifacts, with the goal of implementing sustainable strategies for long-term preservation. State and local governments, institutions of higher education, and 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations are encouraged to apply.
For more information about this opportunity, please visit the NEH website.
For information on other government grants, please go to: www.grants.gov.