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Charles E. Schumer

November 8, 2019 - 12:57pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his years-long support and advocacy, his legislation, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, has unanimously passed the Senate and will now head to the president’s desk for signature.

The bipartisan PACT Act, introduced in the Senate by senators Pat Toomey [R-PA], Richard Blumenthal [D-CT], Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] and Dick Durbin [D-IL], and cosponsored by Schumer, closes a loophole created by the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act.

The law criminalized the creation and distribution of videos depicting the torture of animals, but prevented federal law enforcement from prosecuting abusers.

Once the PACT Ace is signed into law, Schumer explained, criminals that are caught torturing or otherwise harming animals can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and even sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

“For far too long, animal abusers have used a loophole to avoid penalties or repercussions for their heinous acts," Schumer said. "The maiming and torturing of innocent animals is abhorrent and will now finally be a federal felony, punishable to the fullest extent of the law.

"After years of supporting the PACT Act, I’m delighted that it’s finally headed to the president to be signed and become law."

“Time and again, we’ve seen the linkage between animal cruelty and cruelty and crimes against people," said Libby Post, executive director, New York State Animal Protection Federation. "It is essential to take pro-active steps to curtail animal crimes and give law enforcement the tools they need to stop these crimes.

"Shelters across New York are partners with law enforcement and district attorneys that tackle animal cruelty. Many shelters across the state give safe harbor to the animals who survive this abuse. The New York State Animal Protection Federation stands with Senator Schumer in fighting animal crimes and thanks him for standing up for animals. The PACT Act is a crucial step forward and we have Senator Schumer to thank for it."

Though Schumer supported the PACT Act during the last two Congresses as well, it ultimately failed to pass in the House of Representatives. The PACT Act was reintroduced this year by Senators Blumenthal, Toomey, Feinstein and Durbin, and garnered a bipartisan group of 41 cosponsors, including Schumer.

Despite the federal animal crush video law enacted in 2010, banning the creation, sale, and distribution of videos that show live animals being intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or subjected to other heinous abuse, Congress failed to make the act of crushing a federal crime.

Therefore, even when there was overwhelming and substantiated evidence that torture is taking place, current federal law only prohibits and criminalizes animal cruelty if the offenders create and sell videos depicting the abuse, leaving federal law enforcement unable to arrest known abusers or protect the animals. The PACT Act ensures that those found guilty of torturing animals face fines, felony charges, and up to seven years in prison.

The PACT Act is supported by the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Wellness Action, National Sheriffs' Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and more than 200 law enforcement agencies across the country.

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the companion bill on Oct. 23 with 301 cosponsors.

August 18, 2019 - 1:09pm

From Senator Charles Schumer:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced Saturday that the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has awarded a $23,337,281 contract to a company in Victor to begin construction on Phase 1A of the Western New York National Veterans Cemetery in Pembroke.

The nation's newest veterans cemetery will be located at 1232 Indian Falls Road in the Town of Pembroke. The cemetery site was originally 132 acres, then they purchased adjoining 60-acre and 77-acre parcels, closing on those early last year. Phase 1A construction encompasses 65 acres of the cemetery's total 269 acres.

“The awarding of this $23 million contract to Ontario County-based Global Urban Enterprise clears the way for the construction of the long-sought and sorely needed Western New York National Veterans Cemetery to, at long last, get underway," Senator Schumer said.

"Making this cemetery come to reality has been and remains one of my top priorities, and I won’t stop fighting until it comes to fruition."

Phase 1A of construction will create 4,000 gravesites, including roughly 2,500 gravesites for casket interments, and 1,500 in-ground sites for cremated remains.

When it is time to complete the project, Global Urban Enterprise in Victor will partner with Syracuse-based Hueber-Breuer Construction, along with other subcontractors to do the work.

Schumer said the establishment of the Genesee County cemetery is a well-deserved opportunity to honor the more than 96,000 veterans and family members in this region who will have a proper military burial at a site close to their homes, families, and communities they served and defended.

It will be the first and only of its kind in the Buffalo-Rochester area and will save thousands of military families from having to travel more than 100 miles in some cases to visit their loved ones at what is now the closest veterans' cemetery in Bath.

“This contract and the cemetery’s construction soon getting underway helps guarantee Western New York’s military veterans will have a proper burial, at a site close to the homes, families, and the very communities they dedicated their lives to defend and serve,” Schumer said.

According to guidance provided by the VA, the first burials are expected to occur at the cemetery by November/December 2020.

Veterans with a qualifying discharge, their spouses, and eligible dependent children may be buried in a VA national cemetery. Also eligible are military personnel who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents.

Burial benefits available for all eligible veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and a government headstone or marker.

May 14, 2018 - 1:21pm

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced the U.S. Senate passed critical legislation that would, for the first time ever, establish a specialized national cancer registry to be managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Schumer said the registry would improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters, both career, and volunteer. Now that U.S. Senate passed this critical legislation, Schumer is now urging the House of Representatives to pass the bill immediately.

“We owe it to our brave firefighters who are on the front lines, risking their lives to protect our communities the peace of mind of knowing that if they get sick they will be taken care of,” Senator Schumer said. “This critical legislation does just that by establishing a national firefighter cancer registry, so researchers can better track, treat – and one day – prevent the potential connections between firefighting and cancer.

"I’m glad the Senate finally passed this legislation and I strongly urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass this life-saving bill immediately.”  

According to a five-year study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, there are twice as many firefighters in the U.S. with malignant mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, when compared to the general population. The same study also found that firefighters also have an increased risk of death from lung cancer and leukemia as compared to the general population. 

Schumer explained that firefighters are exposed to a range of harmful toxins when responding to emergency situations, often as a result of the noxious flame retardants and other chemicals that are used in everyday items, from furniture to clothing, and to even children’s toys.

Experts and scientists have repeatedly sounded the alarm on the danger of these toxic chemicals because they have been found to cause developmental delays in children from long-term exposure in addition to rare cancers in firefighters when these products burn and the toxins become airborne.

Schumer said research has indicated that there is a strong connection between firefighting and an increased risk for several major cancers, including testicular, stomach, multiple myeloma and brain cancers. However, there has never been a long-term registry put in place that could be used to track the potential connections between firefighting and incidences of cancer.

Schumer, therefore, said a national firefighter cancer registry is needed, so experts and researchers can more effectively monitor nationwide trends and incidences of cancer among firefighters – both career and volunteer. Schumer said such a registry would help medical professionals more effectively identify and treat cancer in firefighters over the long term.

Specifically, this national firefighter cancer registry would do the following:

First, this registry would compile in one place the epidemiological information submitted by healthcare professionals related to cancer incidence among firefighters.

Second, it would make anonymous data available to public health researchers so that they would have access to the comprehensive datasets that will allow them to expand this groundbreaking research.

Third, this registry would improve our understanding of cancer incidence as the registry grows, which could potentially lead to the development of advanced safety protocols and safeguards for the firefighters on the front lines each day.

Finally, this bill would allow for increased collaboration between the CDC and epidemiologists, public health experts, clinicians and firefighters through regular and consistent consultations to improve the effectiveness and accuracy of the registry.

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