Monday, December 30, 2013

Thank You CPS For So Much To Work With In 2013 - Baby LK Report For December 29th 2013

Baby LK recaps the week in news for the child protection industry. Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Monday, December 23, 2013

The CPS Agent Who Stole A Kid Just Before Christmas - LK Report For December 22nd 2013

Baby LK recaps the week in news for the child protection industry. Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Massachusetts Review of 40,000 DCF cases ordered

Review of 40,000 DCF cases ordered

The state’s child welfare boss shifted into crisis mode yesterday, ordering a review of the agency’s 40,000 cases as 
her department continued to reel from the disappearance of 
a Fitchburg boy — and she 
abruptly ended a Herald interview, announcing a reporter’s time was up.
Olga Roche, head of the 
Department of Children and Families, continued to distance herself yesterday from two fired state workers, who, state 
officials say, sought to close the case of 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver’s family in September — the very month he vanished from his Fitchburg home — because they thought they “didn’t require (the agency’s) services anymore.”
State workers still had intentions to cut the family from their rolls by November, just weeks before police learned his relatives hadn’t seen him since 
Sept. 14. His mother, Elsa Oliver, and her boyfriend, Alberto Sierra, are now facing criminal charges in connection with what police are calling a possible 
“It’s about the social worker failing,” said Roche, who was whisked away from the interview after exactly the allotted 10 minutes, leaving it to a spokesman to answer everything else.
Her agency also has come 
under fire this week in the wake of a civil lawsuit claiming it didn’t protect a foster child 
from sexual abuse in Framingham by an accused child pred­ator, which the DCF spokesman, Alec Loftus, refused to com­ment on.
Before leaving, Roche blasted the now-fired worker and supervisor for missing “red flags” in Fitchburg, and state officials said that upon reviewing the worker’s 18 cases, they found in eight of them she wasn’t making the 
required visits. Roche dismissed union complaints that the pair’s failure could be tied to an overload of cases.
“This particular case is not an issue of caseload,” she said, saying an investigation is ongoing. “This is a particular case of a worker, despite knowing and receiving information that there were high-risk situations happening with the children and the family, failing to follow up, failing to verify.”
Roche said no state worker had seen little Jeremiah since May 20. Loftus called the department’s contact with the family afterward “sporadic,” noting one official spoke to his older siblings on Nov. 5 at their school and left a business card at the family’s home.
The case drew a heated response on Beacon Hill, where Gov. Deval Patrick, fresh from an Asia trade mission, told the Herald that Roche’s explanation up to yesterday was 
“not a good — or good enough” response.
He later added to reporters that when DCF workers mess up, “then the hammer’s going to have to come down.”
“My job is to get the facts, to control my outrage and direct it to where the responsibility lies,” Patrick said.
House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading), in calling for a hearing to investigate DCF’s failings, blasted the Patrick administration for moving at a “glacial pace.”
“I just feel if you have this threat of re-election looming, the sense of urgency would be different,” he said of the lame-duck Patrick. “It seems to be 
every other week that someone is falling through the cracks.”
DCF is currently the focus of an audit being conducted by state Auditor Suzanne Bump 
to see if the agency is “achieving their mission,” said 
her spokesman, Christopher Thompson, though he declined to say what it’s specifically 
focused on.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Private foster care system, intended to save children, endangers some

Those living in private agencies’ homes are a third more likely to endure physical, emotional or sexual abuse, a Times analysis found.

They were found barefoot in January, huddled under a blanket against the biting High Desert winter cold, two kids on the run from a former foster mother, who had bound their hands with zip-ties and beat them.
Investigators substantiated in October that a Lancaster foster father sexually abused two young sisters in his care.  Such cases of abuse are scattered through the files of California’s privatized foster care system — children whipped with belts, burned with a car cigarette lighter and traumatized by beatings and threats.
California began a modest experiment 27 years ago, privatizing a portion of foster care in the belief that it would better serve children and be less expensive. Lawmakers decided to enlist local charities to help recruit and supervise foster parents.
Today, the state’s private foster family system — the largest in the nation — has become more expensive and more dangerous than the government-run homes it has largely replaced.
Those living in homes run by private agencies were about a third more likely to be the victims of serious physical, emotional or sexual abuse than children in state-supervised foster family homes, according to a Times analysis of more than 1 million hotline investigations over a recent three-year period.
In Los Angeles County, at least four children died as a result of abuse or neglect over the last five years in homes overseen by private agencies, according to county officials. No children died in government-run homes during that period.
The flow of money to private foster care — now about $400 million a year — introduced a powerful incentive for some to spend as little as possible and pack homes with as many children as they could.
Those agencies are so short of homes that they accept convicted criminals as foster parents. The state has granted waivers to at least 5,300 people convicted of crimes. In the most egregious cases, people with waivers later maimed or killed children.
The system is so poorly monitored that foster care agencies with a history of abuse can continue caring for children for years. Substantiated cases of wrongdoing can bring little punishment from regulators.
Private agencies now care for 15,000 children statewide. The care comes at greater cost — an additional $327 million between 2001 and 2010, the state auditor found.
Los Angeles County has come to heavily rely on this system; five out of six foster children who are not placed with relatives go to private homes.
It is “as bottom of the barrel as you can imagine,” said Jill Duerr Berrick, co-director of the Center for Child and Youth Policy at UC Berkeley. “They are clearly not keeping track of quality issues. It's really quite surprising we don’t have more tragedies.”
Into this system came 2-year-old Aiden, who in 2010 was removed from his family’s San Bernardino County home because of neglect.
Social workers placed Aiden, his 3-year-old brother and 4-year-old sister with an unemployed Apple Valley couple who were recruited and supervised by the Joshua Foster Family Agency.
Their allegations are contained in an ongoing lawsuit filed by Aiden and his siblings against the agency.
Aiden's foster mother, Thursday Young, was approved even though county social workers had received complaints that she was abusing children. Social workers certified her partner, Devon Kirk, despite his illegal drug use and, according to police, acknowledged gang connections.
Young and Kirk converted their garage into an indoor marijuana farm, police later discovered. “A shame I smoke 2 quarter pounds a month,” Kirk wrote on his Facebook page.
A 13-year-old foster child living in the home complained that the couple were using drugs and hitting Aiden and his siblings, according to police. Social workers from the county and the private agency dismissed the girl’s concerns, according to the lawsuit.
In June 2010, Aiden was taken to the hospital in a coma. He suffered severe abdominal damage, a skull fracture and brain injuries.
Young and Kirk pleaded guilty to child abuse. Young was placed on probation; Kirk is serving an eight-year sentence at La Palma Correctional Center in Arizona.
Aiden's father, Brian Fassett, regained custody of the children and moved the family to West Virginia. Aiden, he said, is blind in one eye and was left mentally disabled.
“My daughter is just old enough so that she'll never forget, but she walks around with it locked inside,” Fassett said.
The former board president of Joshua Foster Family Agency and county officials declined to comment.
Viola Vanclief died while under the foster care of Kiana Barker.
Viola Vanclief died while under the foster care of Kiana Barker. More photos
More than 59,000 children end up in California’s foster care system because of abuse, neglect or abandonment.
Most are placed with relatives. The rest are sent to group homes or individual foster homes, which are either privately operated or run by the state and county.
Demand for these homes far outstrips availability, and it’s not uncommon for social workers to make more than 100 calls before a vacant bed is secured, according to Los Angeles County officials.
The money that foster parents receive — about $748 a month in California, or $25 a day — is for the children’s living expenses. The homes are not meant to be profit-making enterprises, but it is the sole income for some parents.
In the 1980s, California relied heavily on group homes, some of which cost taxpayers up to $25,800 a year per child.
Legislators reasoned that charities, churches and community groups would be more efficient and nimble than the government bureaucracy. They gave them the power to recruit foster parents and hire their own social workers.
The law provides about $1,870 a month to care for each child and to cover administrative costs. The foster family receives about 40% of that amount, and the rest goes to the agency to pay for social workers, office rent and other expenses.
The legislation, in some ways, worked as planned, attracting community groups to join the foster system.
Gays and lesbians helped form the highly regarded Southern California Foster Family and Adoption Agency. Casey Family Programs, a respected philanthropy for disadvantaged children, created another.
It didn’t take long, however, for some entrepreneurs to figure out the money-making potential of foster care.
Craig Woods, a former carpet and hair products salesman, started United Care in 1989 in a storefront on Crenshaw Boulevard.
Business was good. Nationwide, the crack epidemic had left tens of thousands of children without safe homes.
Woods filled United Care’s board of directors with friends and relatives. Mitchell Preston, the board president, was caught selling stolen televisions at swap meets and was sent to prison for the crime.
United Care grew into one of the largest agencies in Los Angeles County, recently caring for nearly 800 children each year. It received $5.5 million in taxpayer money in 2009, according to the agency’s tax return. Woods, who declined to comment for this article, received a salary that year of $175,000.
The currency of the system is children; the key to getting more children — and earning more money — is finding willing foster parents.
Woods pursued the goal with entrepreneurial zeal. He held contests for foster parents who were offered the chance to win a cruise to Ensenada if they recommended new applicants, according to the agency’s newsletter.
Amid criticism that his selection process was too lax, Woods told county officials in 2010 that as many as half the foster parents he recruited had committed crimes. He told them other agencies had similar problems.
Foster parents are barred from having convictions for felonies or certain misdemeanors. But state regulators can waive that rule — and often do.
One of the people recruited by Woods' agency was Kiana Barker, a convicted thief. Her live-in boyfriend was a convicted robber. They shared a run-down bungalow on Gage Avenue in South Los Angeles.
Kiana Barker, who was convicted of one count each of second-degree murder, assault on a child causing death and child abuse involving the March 4, 2010, death of her 2 1/2-year-old foster daughter Viola Vanclief. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Viola Vanclief died while under the foster care of Kiana Barker. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Olivia Vanclief weeps as she talks about her daughter Viola, who died while under the foster care of friend Kiana Barker. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Barker, who had lived in the neighborhood all her life, had at least three complaints lodged against her on the county’s child abuse hotline, including a case of severe neglect.
Among the children sent into her care was an almond-eyed girl named Viola Vanclief, whose mother was a crack addict and prostitute living in a board and care facility for the mentally ill.
One day in 2010, after hours of heavy drinking, Barker burst into Viola's room and beat her, according to a witness’ court testimony. When Barker was pulled away, the little girl was on the floor, struggling to breathe, the witness said.
Viola died a day later at the age of 2, her body covered in red and purple bruises.
State officials slapped Woods’ agency with what they said was the maximum penalty — a $150 fine. Barker was convicted of second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing.
“Who does this to a child?” asked Viola's mother, Olivia.
Olivia Vanclief prays during a church service at the Faith Miracle Holiness Church. Olivia's daughter, Viola, died while under the foster care of Kiana Barker. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The case provides an example of how poorly monitored and passive California’s private foster care system has become. The system generates reams of documents and data, but often fails to capture the true condition of children. Action or punishment is rare.
Each week, a social worker from United Care, Elizabeth Valencia, was scheduled to visit Barker's house.
State rules prohibit social workers from monitoring more than 15 foster children at a time. Valencia oversaw more than that number, having three jobs at different foster family agencies, according to state records and interviews with co-workers. Valencia did not respond to requests for comment.
Half of the social workers at United Care, who made about $40,000 a year, also worked at another agency, according to state records.
The Times collected all available work records and found that at least 14 foster agencies in Los Angeles County had workers with multiple full-time jobs. The accounting is incomplete because many of the approximately 45 private agencies in the county failed to file the required staffing reports.
Viola’s file contains hundreds of pages. Included are numerous reports from Valencia, who notes that she went to Barker’s home every week. Her reports repeatedly state that Viola appeared “to be in overall good health and happy.”
Even as Valencia was praising Barker, complaints to the child abuse hotline mounted.
County social workers substantiated one complaint out of six logged against Barker and her boyfriend. The details have not been released because of confidentiality laws.
County social workers were also scheduled to visit the home once a month. They too recommended that Barker adopt Viola, according to the file.
Kiana Barker faces murder charges for the death of 2-year-old Viola Vanclief. Despite Barker's record of violence, Vanclief was placed with Barker by United Care, a private foster care agency. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Completing the adoption would have resulted in a $10,000 payment to United Care and extra money each month for Barker.
In the push to find homes for children, county social workers say problems are often overlooked.
Pamela Payton said her 14 years as a case worker with the county Department of Children and Family Services taught her that “workers would just skim the surface while assessing the home. If they came to know something of concern, they wouldn't make the report or act on it. ”
"It was clear that DCFS didn't want to lose the inventory of foster and group homes," Payton said.
By two key measures used by national child welfare groups, California's privatized system is worse than its government-run counterpart, according to a Times analysis of three years of data ending in 2011. Youths in privately operated homes remained in the foster system 11% longer than those in other types of homes — 378 days compared to 341 days.
Those children were 15% more likely to move from one home to another. The most egregious cases — youths who shuttled through five homes or more — occurred three times more often under the care of the private agencies.
Every call to a child abuse hotline, and the subsequent investigative report, is logged into a $1-billion computer system — one of the largest in the state. The federal government requires complete information on abuse complaints for the state to receive billions of dollars in funding.
Each year, California must show that 99.68% of its foster children are free of abuse — and it always meets that benchmark.
But to hit their end-of-the-year deadline, state officials report investigative results for only three-quarters of the year. State and federal officials acknowledge that the results are incomplete, but have not acted to correct the problem.
Data for a full year is eventually published on a website run by UC Berkeley. That tally shows the state has failed since 2007 to meet the federal benchmark for abuse.
To simplify report writing, the state does not require that all the questions be answered — including one asking whether a foster parent was responsible for the abuse or neglect. Without that detail, state regulators have no way to identify agencies with patterns of abuse.
From 1998 to 2000, there were widely publicized cases of foster children who were killed or severely injured, but the Berkeley website shows no reports of children being harmed anywhere in the state.
In the terabytes of information on foster care abuses is the investigative report on Viola Vanclief.
Olivia learned of her daughter’s death in a phone call from a county social worker.
"I promised [Viola] that it was going to be me and her against the world," Olivia said. "The world won."
Viola was buried beneath the low hum of high-voltage lines skirting a cemetery along Central Avenue in Carson where Jazz pianist Hampton Hawes is buried.
Viola’s grave, located near a drainage ditch, remains unmarked.
Grass grows over Viola Vanclief's unmarked grave in Lincoln Memorial Park. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times),0,5583241.htmlstory#ixzz2nyfkwtYd

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Conyers & Scott Praise President Obama’s Sentence Reductions, Call for Further Sentencing Reform

(DETROIT) – Today, President Obama commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates serving lengthy time behind bars for nonviolent offenses related to crack cocaine under an older sentencing regime. This decision follows the implementation in 2011 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, landmark criminal justice legislation that reduced mandatory minimum sentences for crack offenses and minimized the arbitrary disparity between crack and powder cocaine. Ranking Member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), were both the primary sponsors of this legislation in the House of Representatives. In addition, they wrote to President Obama in May of 2012 about the mishandling of Clarence Aaron’s application for clemency by the U.S. Pardon Attorney’s office and pointed out the injustice of his situation. Clarence Aaron is one of the eight individuals whose sentence was commuted today. Reps. Conyers and Scott issued the following statement in response to the news:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.): “After decades of criminal and racial injustice in our drug sentencing policies, Congress took action in 2010 to counter these regressive trends by passing the Fair Sentencing Act. This legislation reduced the arbitrary disparity between harsh sentences for crack cocaine offenders versus those sentenced for powder cocaine offenses. However, many individuals sentenced prior to the Fair Sentencing Act being signed into law remain unfairly behind bars today. Today, President Obama commuted the sentences of eight such individuals serving excessive sentences. As we work in Congress to bring fairness and justice back into our criminal justice laws, I welcome this step by the President. ”

Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.): “Today, President Obama commuted the prison terms of eight men and women who were sentenced under unfair sentencing laws. Commuting these sentences was the right thing to do.  But eight commutations does not fix a broken system. Congress must enact sentencing reform measures such as H.R. 3382, the Smarter Sentencing Act, which would allow courts to make individualized assessments in nonviolent drug cases by allowing courts to resentence defendants consistent with the bipartisan Fair Sentencing Act, and H.R. 1695, the Justice Safety Valve Act, which would give judges authority to sentence offenders below the mandatory minimums if those mandatory sentences would be unjust.  Congress should pass these bills next year so we can begin to fix the failed sentencing system.”

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Conyers & Progressive Caucus Laud NSA Review, Urges President Obama to Swiftly Undertake Necessary Reforms

(DETROIT) – Today, Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) joined Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), CPC member and Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, to urge the president to take swift action on 46 recommendations made by a presidential taskforce to reform the surveillance program at the National Security Agency (NSA) to protect Americans’ civil liberties:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich): “The panel’s lengthy report is a good first step towards meaningful reform. Perhaps most importantly, the panel explicitly rejects the false choice between security and liberty that has dominated the public debate for far too long. I welcome this report as a starting point in our work towards comprehensive surveillance reform.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.): “As I’ve said before, Senator Obama would not have supported this program under President Bush. A secretive intelligence agency gathering millions of communications records and using them as it sees fit is the kind of excess many of us warned about after the Patriot Act became law. Continuing this program indefinitely gives the impression of being under constant siege and needing to know everything at all times to keep us safe. I find that a very troubling view of American security policy. We’re being assured that this is limited, supervised and no big deal. When we heard the same under President Bush, we weren’t comfortable taking his word for it and moving on. I feel the same today.”

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.): “The report released yesterday demonstrates that the White House and the National Security Agency must make meaningful changes to safeguard the privacy of Americans. I hope the President takes the recommendations in the report seriously and requires the intelligence community to respect Americans’ right to privacy.  Our national security should not compromise the freedom guaranteed to each citizen in our constitution.”

Protecting Civil Liberties is a key component of the CPC’s mission. This report, as well as constitutional questions raised by a recent federal court ruling, highlights the need for more robust oversight of any and all domestic spying programs that infringe on American’s civil liberties.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

After Federal Ruling, Conyers Renews Calls for Legislative Hearings on Surveillance Reform

(DETROIT) – Today, U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) responded to U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s ruling yesterday that the National Surveillance Agency’s (NSA) bulk metadata collection program, which collects information on virtually all telephone calls in the United States, is likely unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures. Specifically, Judge Leon, who is an appointee of President George W. Bush, wrote that the plaintiffs “have a very significant expectation of privacy in an aggregated collection of their telephone metadata covering the last five years, and the NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Program significantly intrudes on that explanation.” Following this ruling, Rep. Conyers issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“United States District Court Judge Leon’s ruling yesterday that this program is ‘likely unconstitutional’ marks a turning point in our efforts to restore the civil liberties that have eroded since the early days of the Bush Administration. Judge Leon has laid bare the questionable constitutional underpinnings of bulk collection and warrantless mass surveillance. Congress must now intensify its examination of the NSA’s telephone metadata program and other surveillance programs like it, and hold legislative hearings aimed at curing their constitutional defects,” said Conyers.

“Together, former Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) and I introduced the USA FREEDOM Act to end bulk collection, increase transparency, and provide an advocate to argue on behalf of the public in the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  As the Judiciary Committee continues its work on surveillance reform, I call on Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to hold legislative hearings on this bill at the beginning of the 2014 session, with the goal of moving legislation thereafter.

“This past summer, Congressman Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and I offered an amendment to a Defense Department funding bill that would have ended the NSA’s metadata collection program. The amendment fell just 12 votes shy of passing—by far, the closest we have come to rolling back these programs since their enactment—and the bipartisan coalition we led last July has only grown in number and determination.  The more comprehensive USA FREEDOM Act has 115 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, among them more than half of members of the House Judiciary Committee.”

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Monday, December 16, 2013

Illinois Senator Mattie Hunter Calls Out Out-Dated Child Welfare Administration To Resign

Alas, do my eyes deceive me?

An elected official calls out incompetence in a decades old system that has yet to demonstrate any benchmarks or overall benefits for its young citizens besides keeping their paycheck and saving their pensions?

Thank you, Senator Mattie Hunter...for becoming a national leader.
Let us only hope there are other state elected officials who are willing to speak out on the betterment of the future of children.

IL lawmaker calls on child welfare agency admins to resign

An Illinois State Senator is calling on top administrators running the state’s child welfare agency to  resign.  That’s after they revealed the agency had mis-reported how many Illinois children died from abuse or neglect for the past several years.  

 Officials from the state’s Department of Children and Family Services say they’ve counted the number of kids who died from abuse or neglect wrong for the past five years.  Sometimes - one child was counted more than once.  The new numbers still show more kids are dying from abuse or neglect in recent years.  Two state senators attended a hearing into the matter Tuesday.
 State Senator Mattie Hunter - a Chicago Democrat - says she doesn’t trust anything department officials say about their own numbers.
 HUNTER: Every single one of you need to resign. Every single one of you need to resign. Because we are not getting the outcomes that we need to protect our children.
 Denise Gonzales is the acting director of the department. She says she won’t resign.  And she’s trying to build better communication between law enforcement and agency investigators to prevent more deaths.  

Summaries of death investigations, with a full investigative report submitted to the Director, are included in the Investigations Section of this Report on page 7. Summary of all child deaths reviewed by the Office of the Inspector General in FY 12 can be found on page 52 of this report. 

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Don't Let The CPS Agent In Your House - Baby LK Report For December 15th 2013

Baby LK recaps the week in the news for the child protection industry. Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

How More Money Solves All Of CPS's Problems - Baby LK Report For December 8th 2013

Baby LK recaps the week in news for the child protection industry. Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Conyers Votes Against Budget Deal, Calls for Congress to Immediately Pass Extension of Jobless Aid

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 332 to 94 to pass H.J. Res. 59, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.” This two year budget agreement is the result of negotiations between Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). Following his vote against the budget deal, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Unfortunately, I was unable to support this legislation as the ‘Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013’ does not address the sequester for fiscal years 2016-2018, and the deal reduces the cost of living adjustment for new service members in our armed forces. Worst of all, this legislation does not include an extension of Emergency Unemployment Compensation, that will expire for 1.3 million Americans this December 28th, and for 1.9 million more individuals in the first half of 2014. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation is a lifeline for millions of hardworking Americans seeking work, and it is unthinkable that Congress would leave millions out in the cold in the middle of the holiday season. Congress should not leave until an extension is considered,” said Conyers.

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©

Conyers Calls for Congress to Immediately Pass Extension of Jobless Aid

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 332 to 94 to pass H.J. Res. 59, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.” This two year budget agreement is the result of weeks of negotiations between Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) following the fallout of the government shutdown and near-default in October. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 sets overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion; about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion.Following his vote in support of the budget deal, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
"For the past three years, Congress has coasted from one artificial budget crisis to another, ultimately resulting in the government shutdown - and near-default - that brought Washington to a standstill this past October. While the ‘Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013’ is imperfect, I applaud the bipartisan spirit that produced this deal, returning our budget process to regular order, providing stability to working families, and ending the nonsensical sequester that imperiled public priorities. It is for these reasons that I believe the good outweighs the bad budgetary items, and I cast a vote in favor of the comprehensive measure,” said Conyers.

“Specifically, this bipartisan budget agreement will replace the indiscriminate budgetary sequester, by providing $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, which will replace nearly two-thirds of the cuts to vital domestic programs. This is achieved through multiple progressive revenue pieces that increase fees on banks and increase revenue from oil and gas development in the Caribbean. Further, the ‘Bipartisan Budget Act’ does not make any cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security, preserving these essential safety nets. In addition, the agreement patches the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate – the so-called ‘doc fix’ – that reimburses doctors for treating patients on Medicare. This 3 month patch will allow the House and Senate to negotiate a permanent fix to the reimbursement problem.

“Unfortunately, this bill does not address the sequester for fiscal years 2016-2018, and the deal reduces the cost of living adjustment for new service members in our armed forces. Worst of all, this legislation does not include an extension of Emergency Unemployment Compensation, that will expire for 1.3 million Americans this December 28th, and for 1.9 million more individuals in the first half of 2014. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation is a lifeline for millions of hardworking Americans seeking work, and it is unthinkable that Congress would leave millions out in the cold in the middle of the holiday season. Congress should not leave until an extension is considered.

“With these budgetary distractions behind us, it is my hope that Congress can get back to the people’s work - on unemployment, immigration, voting rights, and much more - that has languished due to Congress’s fiscal stalemate.”

Voting is beautiful, be beautiful ~ vote.©