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Charles Schumer

April 7, 2020 - 1:44pm

Press release:

Washington, D.C. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Senate Committee on Aging Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA), Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Vice Chairman Tom Udall (D-NM), and Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-MI) today unveiled the COVID-19 “Heroes Fund.”

It is the Senate Democrats’ proposal for the provision of pandemic premium pay to reward, retain, and recruit essential workers.

Senate Democrats’ proposed “Heroes Fund” consists of two major components: a $25,000 premium pay increase for essential workers, equivalent to a raise of $13 per hour from the start of the public health emergency until Dec. 31 and a $15,000 essential worker recruitment incentive to attract and secure the workforce needed to fight the public health crisis.

Grueling Months Ahead

Essential frontline workers are the true heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic response in America.

Senate Democrats believe in providing premium pay to frontline workers during this pandemic not only to reward essential workers’ for their great personal sacrifices, but also to ensure the retention of essential workers who are working grueling hours on the frontlines of this crisis as well as the recruitment of additional workers who will be needed in the months ahead.

A Summary of Senate Democrats’ COVID-19 “Heroes Fund” proposal can be found here and below:

“Thousands of workers report to the frontlines of our nation’s pandemic response each and every day, placing themselves squarely in harm’s way to serve the needs of others,” Schumer said. “Senate Democrats’ proposed ‘Heroes Fund’ would provide premium pay to these essential workers — the doctors and nurses, grocery store workers, transit workers, and more who are central to fighting this crisis — and would establish an incentive system to retain and recruit the workforce needed for the long months to come.

"Essential frontline workers sacrifice daily for our collective health and well-being, and Senate Democrats are fully committed to supplying these heroes the financial support they deserve.”

The COVID-19 “Heroes Fund” Summary

Senate Democrats’ Proposal for Pandemic Premium Pay to Reward, Retain, & Recruit Essential Workers

Essential frontline workers are the true heroes of America’s COVID-19 pandemic response. Senate Democrats believe in providing premium pay to frontline workers during this pandemic to reward essential frontline workers, ensure the retention of essential workers who are working grueling hours on the frontlines of this crisis, and promote the recruitment of additional workers who will be needed in the months ahead.

As the Congress looks at a potential fourth COVID-19 bill, the following proposal is meant for consideration by Members of Congress, key stakeholders, and the American people. Our proposal consists of two major components:

  1. A $25,000 pandemic premium pay increase for essential frontline workers, equivalent to a raise of an additional $13 per hour from the start of the public health emergency until Dec. 31.
  2. A $15,000 recruitment incentive for health and home care workers and first responders to attract and secure the workforce needed to fight the public health crisis.

Structure of the Pandemic Premium Pay

To meet the goals of reward, retention, and recruitment, we propose a set dollar amount per hour with a maximum amount for the year, for a definite duration, and with an additional bonus for workers who sign up to do such essential work during this crisis.

Amount of Pay Premium -- Our proposal:

  • Uses a flat-dollar amount per hour premium model in order to ensure it is clear, simple, and lifts up particularly those workers making lower wages;
  • Would give each essential frontline worker $13/hour premium pay on top of regular wages for all hours worked in essential industries through the end of 2020;
  • Would cap the total maximum premium pay at $25,000 for each essential frontline worker earning less than $200,000 per year and $5,000 for each essential worker earning $200,000 or more per year.

Duration of Premium -- The premium pay period:

  • Must be for a specified and clear duration of time to ensure workers can rely on it for their economic security and plan for needs like additional child care.
  • Should cover all hours worked by each essential frontline worker through December 31, 2020, or until the worker’s salary-based maximum premium pay is reached.

Premium Pay as a Recruitment and Retention Incentive.In order to recruit the additional health care workers, home care workers, and first responders needed over the coming months, our proposal

  • Would provide a one-time $15,000 premium for signing on to do essential work.
  • Would limit eligibility for this incentive premium to essential health and home care workers and first responders that are experiencing severe staffing shortages impeding the ability to provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premium Pay and Worker Incentives Delivery Mechanism

Our proposal would fully federally-fund the premium pay and recruitment and retention incentive. We will continue to seek input on the specific mechanism for delivering the pay to workers, as well as the universe of “essential workers” to be covered. The new federal fund would partner with entities designated as an “eligible employer” – states, localities, tribes, and certain private sector employers – to issue the funds premium payments to eligible workers. Frontline federal employees would also be granted the new benefit of up to $25,000.

COVID-19 Heroes Fund. The new COVID-19 Heroes Fund would provide funds directly to eligible employer-partners so that they could distribute the premium payments.

  • Employers in industries engaged in “essential work” would apply to the Heroes Fund for funds to be used to add line-item premium pay to employees’ or independent contractors’ paychecks. The eligible employer would track these payments, provide payroll records demonstrating premium payments, and return any unspent funds to the agency.
  • No employer would be required to participate, but all would be strongly encouraged to and the program would be widely advertised.
  • An entity that contracts directly with the state, locality, Tribe, or the federal government (e.g., to provide care to people with Medicare and Medicaid coverage) would be considered a private sector employer, and employees of this entity who are designated as “essential” would be eligible for premium pay. Similarly, an eligible employer is also an individual who hires someone designated as “essential” through programs established through the State (e.g., self-directed care arrangements). This would help ensure coverage of the 2.2 million home health aides, direct service providers, and personal care workers who provide services to more than 12 million Americans.
  • Eligible employers would submit applications for the recruitment and retention incentive premium on a rolling basis.

Federal Workforce -- Our proposal would ensure all federal government essential frontline employees receive the same $25,000 premium pay benefit provided to other essential workers.

  • Coverage should be expansive to capture all federal employees with public-facing positions. This includes Title 5 employees and employees of all other federal personnel systems (e.g., employees of the Postal Service, TSA, VA, FAA, District of Columbia, and federally-funded Indian programs.
  • The benefit would be limited to frontline and public-facing positions – employees who are not teleworking from their homes.

Additional Background and Commentary

Precedents -- Disasters require exceptional flexibility in standard work schedules and assignments and often put first responders and other essential workers in dangerous situations. To ensure this critical workforce is compensated appropriately, there are precedents for funding hazard premium pay and worker incentives through a federal program.

FEMA, through the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Response and Emergency Assistance Act and the Disaster Relief Fund, is currently authorized to reimburse state, local, and tribal governments for straight-time and premium pay associated with disaster response. Extraordinary costs (such as call-back pay, night-time or weekend differential pay, and hazardous duty pay) for essential employees who are called back to duty during administrative leave to perform eligible Emergency Work are eligible for reimbursement in certain circumstances.

This authority has been used many times over the last few years to pay for personnel costs associated with enforcing curfews, facilitating evacuation routes, and restoring critical infrastructure. Past usage illustrates precedent for federal funding of critical state, local, and tribal employees performing essential response functions that keep our communities safe in times of disaster.

Essential Frontline Worker definitions -- As mentioned above, the definition of essential frontline workers for purposes of both the premium pay increase and the recruitment-retention incentive will be the subject of debate. This proposal is not meant to exclude any worker from this conversation. Rather, we hope this proposal will encourage a discussion about how large and diverse this universe of workers truly is. Our goal is to make federal, state, tribal, local and private sector essential workers that are at risk eligible for this benefit.

Retroactive Pay -- Workers who have been on the frontlines since the initial declaration of the Public Health Emergency on January 27, 2020, could receive a lump sum of backpay of $13 per hour for work before enactment. These workers would continue to receive the $13 per hour premium pay on top of regular wages moving forward, but these workers would still be subject to the maximum premium pay cap outlined above.

Additional Benefits for Essential Health and Home Care Workers and First Responders -- The employers of frontline health and home care workers and first responders should be eligible to apply for a second round of premium pay funds of up to $10,000 as those workers continue to combat the virus.

Death Benefits -- It is a deeply disturbing but unfortunate reality that some of our frontline workers are making the ultimate sacrifice to the nation through their work fighting COVID-19.  Their families rightfully deserve to receive the full amount of the premium pay as a lump sum in addition to all other forms of death benefits.

Protections from Corporate Expense Shifting -- Certain large corporations engaged in the provision of essential services and goods employ essential frontline workers who are deserving of premium pay. However, massive corporations should make investments in providing premium pay of their own accord before trying to participate in this program.

Protecting Workers and PPE -- Senate Democrats have been fighting to give essential workers the protections and equipment they need to stay safe. The CARES Act provided billions of dollars for PPE, and Democrats have pushed the Administration to appoint a czar to handle all manufacturing and distribution of critical PPE. We must do more to ensure all frontline workers have the protective gear they need to perform their jobs safely, and we need a strong emergency temporary standard to protect all workers.

April 4, 2020 - 12:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in IRS, social security, covid-19, CARES Act, news, Charles Schumer.

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced Friday (April 3) that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has heeded his call and will reverse the guidance issued earlier this week requiring Social Security recipients file a tax return in order to receive the direct cash assistance.

Schumer explained that the reversal is essential to the wellbeing of seniors and disabled New Yorkers because the original IRS requirement of filing a tax return in order to receive the direct assistance would have placed an undue burden on vulnerable individuals, especially seniors, who are already facing tremendous stress as the most at-risk population during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

“After successfully pushing for streamlined payments to New York seniors and most vulnerable in last week’s emergency relief package, the IRS turned around and issued bureaucratic and unreasonable guidance, complicating the process and making it harder for thousands of New Yorkers to quickly get the money they deserve,” Senator Schumer said.

“I’m glad the IRS heeded my call and reversed course, because asking vulnerable individuals living in the epicenter of this global pandemic to jump through unnecessary hoops to get their much-needed cash assistance is irresponsible. The new IRS guidance puts the well-being of these New Yorkers first and achieves the intended goal I so fiercely fought for: get New Yorkers the money they deserve and need to help get through this difficult time as quickly as possible.”

The IRS guidance released on March 30th outlined that Social Security beneficiaries would need to file tax returns in order to receive direct cash assistance, even though the CARES Act explicitly provided the Treasury Department the authority to release cash to those beneficiaries directly.

Schumer opposed the original guidance, saying that the contradicting information only added to the confusion individuals are already facing. The new guidance from the IRS follows the provisions in the Schumer-negotiated CARES Act, providing an avenue for direct cash assistance for the most vulnerable populations.

According to the Social Security Administration, New York has more than 3 million retired and disabled workers receiving Social Security benefits. Below is a breakdown of impacted New Yorkers in each county:

County

Retired Workers on SS

Disabled Workers on SS

Albany

44,140

8,610

Allegany

7,755

1,770

Bronx

126,160

39,975

Broome

32,520

7,395

Cattaraugus

13,290

3,330

Cayuga

12,520

2,590

Chautauqua

23,110

5,245

Chemung

14,500

3,780

Chenango

8,945

2,120

Clinton

12,845

4,025

Columbia

11,595

2,010

Cortland

7,140

1,475

Delaware

8,670

1,615

Dutchess

42,825

8,480

Erie

141,520

30,830

Essex

7,090

1,375

Franklin

7,830

2,065

Fulton

9,405

2,585

Genesee

9,915

2,080

Greene

8,690

2,015

Hamilton

1,360

140

Herkimer

11,305

2,375

Jefferson

14,765

3,530

Kings

238,735

47,025

Lewis

4,080

890

Livingston

10,330

2,090

Madison

10,780

2,100

Monroe

114,385

23,940

Montgomery

9,015

2,145

Nassau

193,170

24,700

New York

194,710

27,880

Niagara

35,840

8,990

Oneida

37,425

8,825

Onondaga

69,845

14,310

Ontario

19,910

3,315

Orange

45,415

10,070

Orleans

6,465

1,630

Oswego

18,035

4,910

Otsego

10,725

1,870

Putnam

13,965

2,225

Queens

251,800

36,485

Rensselaer

24,115

5,190

Richmond

60,895

13,755

Rockland

41,320

5,230

St. Lawrence

16,650

4,610

Saratoga

37,175

5,840

Schenectady

22,935

5,120

Schoharie

5,515

1,125

Schuyler

3,535

740

Seneca

5,765

1,305

Steuben

16,310

3,785

Suffolk

210,475

37,530

Sullivan

11,995

2,890

Tioga

8,655

1,770

Tompkins

12,340

1,925

Ulster

29,810

5,945

Warren

13,170

2,720

Washington

9,990

2,570

Wayne

15,850

3,525

Westchester

128,465

15,680

Wyoming

6,640

1,375

Yates

4,650

820

NYS Total

2,548,783

486,264

February 28, 2020 - 4:00pm

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has granted Upstate New York counties devastated by the Halloween storm last year, $9,200,000 in federal funding through the Emergency Relief (ER) program.

The $9.2 million will go toward repairing roads and highways in Upstate New York, both of which were seriously damaged during the flooding, including those in the NY-27 Congressional District.

“This grant is good news for everyone in Upstate New York," Schumer said. "Last Halloween, our state, from one corner to the other, saw severe damaged after being ravaged by heavy rain, flooding, and tempestuous winds.

"This federal aid will finally begin the process of healing and recovery for these Upstate communities and ease the burden of natural disasters on New York taxpayers."

Senator Gillibrand said: “I’m grateful we could deliver federal aid to communities across Upstate New York that are still suffering from the extensive damage caused by the Halloween storms. This grant is an important first step in ensuring these communities get the resources they need to rebuild.”

During the Halloween storm, 12 counties received at least 3 inches of rain, which is nearly a month’s worth in most Upstate areas, and 27 counties received flood warnings and flash flood warnings.

Furthermore, winds blew between 60 and 70 miles per hour, knocking down countless trees, destroying private property and leaving hundreds of thousands of Upstate New Yorkers without power.

In the Mohawk Valley, hundreds of residents were evacuated and many properties remain uninhabitable. The storm even tragically took the life of a priest, Father Tom Connery, in Herkimer County, who was trapped in his vehicle during one of the flash floods.

In Western New York, floodwaters and wind caused millions in damage across the Lakes Erie and Ontario shorelines.

Schumer and Gillibrand have long advocated for federal recognition of the disaster and called repeatedly for funding to begin repairs. The DOT funding will go toward the 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, and 27 Congressional districts.

February 26, 2020 - 1:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in Charles Schumer, coronavirus, news.

Press release:

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer today released a detailed proposal for $8.5 billion in emergency funding to fight the spread of coronavirus in the United States.

“Congress must act swiftly to confront the threat of this global health crisis,” Schumer said. “This proposal brings desperately needed resources to the global fight against coronavirus.

"Americans need to know that their government is prepared to handle the situation before coronavirus spreads to our communities. I urge the Congress to move quickly on this proposal. Time is of the essence.”

With no plan to deal with the potential public and global health crisis related to the novel coronavirus, the Trump Administration made an emergency supplemental appropriations request on Monday.

It was too little and too late — only $1.25 billion in new funding. For context, Congress appropriated more than $6B for the Pandemic Flu in 2006 and more than $7B for H1N1 (Swine) flu in 2009.

The administration’s request also asked Congress to reprogram funding dedicated to fighting Ebola — still considered an epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the second-biggest Ebola epidemic ever recorded, behind the West Africa outbreak of 2014-2016) — to deal with the coronavirus, which would make American people and the world less safe.

America must prepare for — and aggressively combat — all infectious diseases with urgency and vigor. In order to do so, we need a comprehensive plan and robust resources to execute a mission.

Thus far, the Trump Administration has failed to develop a plan and request the appropriate resources from Congress. Many of our states and cities have been left to foot the bill. The Schumer Supplemental request will address these problems.

1. $1.5B for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention—Including for the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund (IDRRRF​)and Global Health Security

a. CDC is at the front lines of America’s domestic and international response to the coronavirus. This funding is needed to strengthen critical support to state and local health departments, bolster laboratory work, and more.

Other activities, like the evacuation of American citizens from China, deployment of CDC staff to states and ports of entry, and the purchase of protective and laboratory equipment and supplies, have been supported by the IDRRRF, depleting this fund.

2. $3 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund

a. The Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund helps drive our nation’s medical and public health preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters and public health emergencies. These funds would ensure our Department of Health and Human Services has the resources need to do the job and help contain the spread of this new virus.

3. $2 billion set-aside for State and Local Reimbursement

a. State and local health departments are on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. Many cities, like New York, have already spent millions on personnel, lab equipment, and supplies. Additional expenditures are expected to include supplies for hospital triage and isolation spaces, as well as lab testing. Additionally, there’s significant need for staff and other resources to support the public health and healthcare response, including implementing the federal quarantine order. These activities require around-the-clock staffing, temporary housing, transportation, cleaning contracts, and wrap-around services.

4. $1B for the USAID Emerging Health Threats—Emergency Reserve Fund

a. The global health community is actively fighting the dual threats of Ebola and coronavirus in the midst of a potentially severe influenza season. This global response is a resource intensive effort. The international effort, led by the United States, is severely underfunded. The Emergency Reserve Fund allows USAID to respond to emerging health threats that pose severe risks to human health.

5. $1B for the National Institutes of Health—Vaccine Development

a. For the preclinical and clinical development and testing of vaccines and other medical countermeasures for the coronavirus.

January 26, 2020 - 2:20pm

Press release:

Amid the unpredictable spread of the potentially fatal coronavirus, which has already been confirmed in three cases domestically, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed today (Jan. 26) that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot access a special federal funding account known as the "Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund" until the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), led by Secretary Alex Azar, officially declares a “public health emergency” related to the coronavirus.

Schumer made the case to affirm this emergency declaration and further revealed that in the recent budget deal he just negotiated, he was able to increase the very account relevant to combatting the coronavirus from $50 million to $85 million.

“If we have learned anything from the risks that new viruses pose to public health it is that a ‘stitch in time saves nine,’ and the more we can do to be proactive, the better off the public will be,” Schumer said.

“The CDC has been doing a tremendous job so far at being proactive and working around the clock to protect public health, but if we are going to make sure they can sustain this pace and remain at-the-ready should the outbreak get worse, they will need immediate access to critical federal funds that at the present time they remain unable to access.

"That is why, today, I am urging HHS to follow the CDC’s proactive lead: declare a formal public health emergency for the coronavirus. In doing so, HHS will unlock tens of millions for the CDC to access.”

Schumer explained that in the recent budget deal he just negotiated, he and Representative Nita Lowey, the chairwoman of House Appropriations Committee, were able to increase the account needed to combat the coronavirus from $50 million to $85 million.

Schumer explained exactly what the Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund dollars will help the CDC achieve.

“The critical thing about these specific dollars is that the CDC has full discretion," Schumer said. "The agency can use them for whatever activities it deems appropriate, so long as they inform Congress. This kind of flexible funding needs to be unlocked now should this outbreak worsen."

Schumer said the dollars could also be used by the CDC for, amongst other things:

  • Epidemiological activities, such as contact tracing and monitoring of cases;
  • Additional or enhanced screenings, like at airports;
  • Support for state, local, and tribal health departments;
  • Public awareness campaigns
  • Increased staffing.

Schumer explained that the sole purpose of his push today is to ensure the feds have the dollars necessary to wage a proactive and ongoing war against this developing outbreak. Even though the current risk to the American public remains low, Schumer said the federal funds must be unlocked now so that the CDC has them at-the-ready.

He added that, thus far, the CDC’s work has been critically important and that the agency will need immediate access to more funds if coronavirus continues to infect more Americans. He made the case for the emergency declaration as he detailed what happens next at the federal level amid this developing outbreak.

Schumer also confirmed today that a SUNY Stony Brook professor, who was visiting family in Wuhan, China, has been unable to return to the United States as a result of China’s lockdown. Schumer said today that he has worked with the State Department and Embassy officials to ensure the SBU professor is in constant contact with U.S. officials. Schumer said the United States is working on arranging a flight home for the SBU professor.

The novel coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV” by CDC) can cause a wide range of symptoms, from those similar to the common cold to more severe respiratory illness that can be fatal. There is currently no direct cure-all, but a vaccine is currently under development at the National Institutes of Health.

According to the Washington Post, Chinese officials first detected this new strain of the virus on Dec. 31 in Wuhan, China. They initially linked it to an unsanitary food market where seafood and mammals were sold for human consumption. Scientist said people who were sickened were likely to have eaten something infected with the virus.

To date, there are nearly 2,000 confirmed cases in China, more than 50 reported deaths, and confirmed cases across 10 countries. The first case in the United States, discovered in Washington State, was confirmed on Jan. 21st, and there have been reports of a second case in Illinois and a third in California.

In response to this outbreak, travelers from Wuhan, China are being screened for symptoms associated with the virus at five U.S. airports, including JFK. Additionally, China has placed travel restrictions on several cities and banned large public gatherings in an attempt to contain the virus.

To protect against infection, the CDC recommends basic hygiene techniques such as frequent hand washing, staying hydrated, and coughing into one’s arm or a tissue. If there’s a fear of animal transmission, CDC officials urge people to wash hands after contact with animals and thoroughly cook any meat before consumption.

January 14, 2020 - 11:27am

On Monday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finally prioritize the health and well-being of Upstate New York veterans and finally end the years-long delay of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) effort to add additional diseases to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list.

In Western New York, there are approximately more than 32,000 Vietnam-era veterans. Statewide, there are more than 240,000 of them.

2016 National Academies report found suggestive evidence that bladder cancer and hypothyroidism were associated with veterans’ service, as well as clarified that veterans with “Parkinson-like symptoms” (Parkinsonism) should be considered eligible under the presumption that Parkinson's disease and the veterans' service are connected.

Following this report, former VA Secretary David Shulkin announced that he would add these conditions to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list in the near future, which would allow Vietnam War-era veterans stricken by these illnesses to receive additional health care benefits, disability compensation, and care benefits to surviving spouses and dependent children and parents.

But that announcement never came after OMB blocked the move.

In addition to the failure to include bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism on the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list, the VA has also yet to act on a 2018 National Academies report that found sufficient evidence of association between exposure to herbicides and hypertension.

Even though Schumer secured a provision in the recently passed budget deal requiring the VA to issue a report to Congress in consultation with OMB on the delay in adding these conditions to the presumptive conditions list, he said this is not nearly enough. He urged the agencies to take the necessary steps to ensure that the over 240,000 New York veterans, who risked their lives to defend their country, receive the health care and benefits they need and deserve.

Just last week, Schumer called recently confirmed OIRA Administrator Paul Ray directly and implored him, as the chief overlooking all federal government regulations, to immediately prioritize our veterans’ healthcare, take a personal interest in expanding their health benefits and add these conditions to the Agent Orange Presumptive Conditions List.

“It’s unfathomable that the administration is refusing to do right by our nation’s veterans, including the more than 240,000 New York veterans that bravely served during the Vietnam era, and has unilaterally blocked the VA from expanding healthcare benefits to those exposed to Agent Orange,” Senator Schumer said.

The Right Thing to Do

“After years and years of kicking the can down the road, it is high time for the federal government to accept the substantial proof linking bladder cancer, hypertension, hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism to Agent Orange exposure, and add these conditions to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list.

"It is absolutely incumbent on the administration to do everything within its power to clear a path for the VA, add these conditions to the list of Agent Orange illnesses, and finally allow veterans who are currently suffering access to the healthcare and benefits they rightly deserve; it’s not just the right thing to do, but it’s the very least we owe the brave New Yorkers who served and defended our country.”

In March of last year, Dr. Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee that the recommended new presumptive conditions would be added within 90 days, which also never happened.

Furthermore, this past October, email communications between the VA and the White House revealed that the delays were at the behest of the OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and White House advisors, who were reportedly concerned about the potential cost of adding diseases to the Agent Orange presumptive conditions list.

Emails explaining the decision to hold off on adding the conditions to the presumptive conditions list can be found here.

Exposure to Herbicide 'Agent Orange' Inflicts 'Presumed Diseases'

Schumer explained that per the Agent Orange Act of 1991, the VA automatically accepts that if a Vietnam Veteran physically served in Vietnam between January 1962 and May 1975, it is probable that the veteran was exposed to an herbicide agent like Agent Orange.

Furthermore, the Act established a list of “presumed” diseases that the VA stipulates are caused by Agent Orange exposure. Therefore, if a veteran served in Vietnam at any time between 1962-1975 and is diagnosed with one or more of the diseases VA recognizes as service connected, the VA will compensate the veteran and his or her family.

However, even though there is scientific evidence linking Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, hypertension and hypothyroidism to Agent Orange exposure, they are not currently on the VA’s list of recognized conditions.

Schumer said that is absolutely crucial that the roughly 240,000 Vietnam-era veterans in New York State receive the healthcare benefits they need and deserve.

“Adding these diseases to the Agent Orange Presumption List would only benefit the brave service members who were exposed to this chemical during the Vietnam War and are suffering from its harmful effects,” Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director and Army veteran Laura Stradley said. “Veterans Outreach Center stands with our veterans, and we support the laws that allow our brothers and sisters to access much-needed healthcare, services and support.”

January 10, 2020 - 1:02pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged leading technology companies that produce GPS applications to add data on all 5,358 New York State at-grade rail crossings into their programs without further delay. 

Writing to the chief  executive officers of the 10 most common GPS manufacturers that still have yet to implement the changes, Schumer explained that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), in 2016, recommended that these corporations, which include Google, INRIX, HERE Technologies, MapQuest, Omnitracs, OpenStreetMap US, Sensys Networks, Streetlight Data, Teletrac Navman, and United Parcel Service of America, include this information on at-grade rail crossings in their navigation systems.

The push for the added data follows a tragic accident in California that took the life of an engineer and injured 32 others. Since then, in New York State alone, between 2017 and 2019, there were 12 deaths and 44 injuries from at-grade rail crossing crashes.

Schumer explained that without this critical information, everyone who travels New York State, via train or automobile, is put squarely in harm’s way, and argued that given the near-universal commuter dependence on navigation applications, the GPS companies must incorporate this critical geographic data into their apps with all due haste.

“In today’s world, the use of portable GPS is a daily necessity for Upstate New York drivers to travel to and from work, to see families, to recreate, to shop and to drive almost anywhere," Senator Schumer said. "However, without data on perilous at-grade rail crossings included in these GPS applications and maps, countless drivers are left to venture blind into perilous—and potentially fatal—situations.

"That’s why today I’m urging the leading providers of portable navigation systems, from MapQuest to Google, to immediately add all 5,358 New York at-grade rail crossings—both public and private—to their systems. Even one preventable death from such an accident is one too many, and with 12 in New York alone since the NTSB first issued this vital recommendation, there is no more time to waste.”

Schumer explained that in 2015, the NTSB investigated a fatal crash in Oxnard, Calif., in which a train collided with a truck that had become lodged on the train track. The NTSB concluded that the driver, who was relying on a GPS application, misinterpreted the available audio and visual cues, causing him to turn onto the railroad tracks.

Schumer said that at the time of the crash, lights and gates at the crossing were not active because no train was approaching at the time.

Given those facts and details, NTSB recommended that navigation applications include grade crossing-related geographic data “to provide road users with additional safety cues and to reduce the likelihood of crashes at or near public or private grade crossings.”

Since the NTSB recommendation was issued, Schumer highlighted, there were 273 at-grade railroad crashes across the United States in 2017, the last year that data is available. Furthermore, in just New York State between 2017 and 2019, there were 12 deaths and 44 injuries from at-grade rail crossings.

Schumer argued that as New York State and the entire country make every effort to move towards zero traffic fatalities, even one preventable death is unacceptable, let alone 12. Schumer said without these vital safety improvements, commuters, train operators and pedestrians will continue to be at risk as they travel on roads that intersect public and private grade crossings.

In conclusion, Schumer urged the GPS companies to add all 5,358 at-grade crossings into maps and programs at once, to improve safety on New York State roads and highways and, inevitably, save precious lives.

January 6, 2020 - 1:49pm

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today released the following statement, following his meeting with Commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB) Rob Manfred:

“Last month, Commissioner Manfred and I had a productive meeting to discuss Minor League Baseball’s presence in New York. Throughout the state, from Binghamton to Auburn, to Batavia, Staten Island and beyond baseball is woven into the very fabric of our communities, with fan bases that glean a sense of pride and joy from their success.

"That is why I will continue to fight to ensure that these teams remain in those communities. It is critical going forward that all of the parties — from team owners, to local leaders, to MLB and MiLB representatives—step up to the plate and negotiate in good faith,” Senator Schumer said.In fact, I have urged MLB officials to come to these communities and hear directly from local leaders, and I expect that will occur early this year.” 

 “We appreciate Senator Schumer’s efforts to bring the parties together to discuss the issues that currently exist in Minor League Baseball,” said Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred Jr. “We are at the very early stage of negotiations and are hopeful that Minor League Baseball will come to the negotiating room and engage in good faith negotiations in an effort to make a deal.”

In November, news reports revealed that MLB proposed plans to take 42 teams that are currently affiliated with Major League teams and reassign them to compete in a newly-formed league, called the Dream League. Reports indicate that MLB’s proposal would mean the reassignment of four teams across New York State: the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Batavia Muckdogs, Auburn Doubledays and Staten Island Yankees — and an alteration of the business plans of the Tri-City Valleycats, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones.

In November, after learning of the proposal, Schumer wrote to MLB to express his serious concerns, request the league sit down with local stakeholders to discuss the plan and search for constructive solutions that would maintain minor league baseball’s strong presence in Upstate New York.

In the time since, MLB met with representatives of MiLB and team owners to work through and negotiate potential plans in further detail. Schumer is now urging those conversations to continue and for all of the parties to negotiate in good faith to figure out a way to preserve baseball throughout Upstate New York.

January 3, 2020 - 2:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Chris Jacobs, Rob Ortt, news, Charles Schumer.

Statement from State Sen. Rob Ortt, candidate for NY-27:

“Soleimani and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force has long been a terrorist organization. They are directly responsible for hundreds of U.S. servicemember deaths in Iraq. Iran’s goal has always been to destabilize Iraq and exert its influence in the Middle East. This strike eliminates one of the masterminds of those efforts.”

Statement from State Sen. Chris Jacobs, candidate for NY-27:

“I applaud President Trump for taking decisive action yesterday to neutralize a long-standing terrorist threat - Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force. Soleimani was responsible for killing hundreds of American Soldiers and injuring countless more. The organization which he headed up (Quds Force) has been designated as a terror group since 2007 and this past spring Sec. Pompeo designated him a terrorist. The airstrike which killed him is another example of President Trump’s strong leadership in confronting Iran’s continued perpetration of state-sponsored terrorism and President Trump continues to stand for freedom and justice on the global stage.”

Statement from Sen. Chuck Schumer:

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the airstrike in Iraq against Major General Qasem Soleimani. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:

Last night, the United States conducted a military operation designed to kill Major General Qasem Soleimani, a notorious terrorist. No one should shed a tear over his death.

The operation against Soleimani in Iraq was conducted, however, without specific authorization and any advance notification or consultation with Congress. I am a member of the Gang of Eight, which is typically briefed in advance of operations of this level of significance. We were not.

The lack of advanced consultation and transparency with Congress was put in the Constitution, or rather the need for advanced consultation and transparency with Congress, was put in the Constitution for a reason: because the lack of advanced consultation and transparency with Congress can lead to hasty and ill-considered decisions. When the security of the nation is at stake, decisions must not be made in a vacuum. The framers of the Constitution gave war powers to the legislature and made the executive the commander-in-chief for the precise reason of forcing the two branches of government to consult with one another when it came to matters of war and of peace.

It is paramount for administrations to get an outside view to prevent groupthink and rash action—to be asked probing questions, not from your inner and often insulated circle but from others, particularly Congress, which forces an administration, before it acts, to answer very serious questions.

The administration did not consult in this case, and I fear that those very serious questions have not been answered and may not be fully considered.

Among those questions:

  • What was the legal basis for conducting this operation? And how far does that legal basis extend?
  • Iran has many dangerous surrogates in the region and a whole range of possible responses. Which response do we expect? Which are most likely?
  • Do we have plans to counter all of the possible responses? How effective will our counters be?
  • What does this action mean for the long-term stability of Iraq and the trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives sacrificed there?
  • How does the administration plan to manage an escalation of hostilities? And how does the administration plan to avoid a larger and potentially endless conflagration in the Middle East?

These are questions that must be answered.

It is my view that the president does not have the authority for a war with Iran. If he plans a large increase in troops and potential hostility over a longer time, the administration will require Congressional approval and the approval of the American people.

The president’s decision may add to an already dangerous and difficult situation in the Middle East.

The risk of a much longer military engagement in the Middle East is acute and immediate. This action may well have brought our nation closer to another endless war, exactly the kind of endless war the president promised he would not drag us into.

As our citizens and those of our allies evacuate Iraq and troops prepare for retaliatory action, Congress needs answers, to these questions and others, from the administration immediately. 

And the American people need answers as well.

December 21, 2019 - 1:38pm

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Thursday, following their tireless advocacy, $14 million in federal funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases and the Kay Hagan Tick Act were included in the final, soon-to-pass bipartisan spending package for Fiscal Year 2020.

The $14 million in funding amounts to a $2 million increase over last year’s level. Last year, a Schumer-backed amendment in the must-pass Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations bill secured the first increase in CDC Lyme disease funding in five years.

The bipartisan Kay Hagan Tick Act, named in honor of the late Senator Kay Hagan who recently passed away due to complications from Powassan virus, a rare tick-borne disease, is cosponsored by both Schumer and Gillibrand and complements the CDC funding.

The senators explained that since New York remains the #1 target for tick-related disease in the United States, they went back to the mat to secure additional funding for the critical CDC program this year and fight for adoption of the Kay Hagan Tick Act.

“Upstate New York has been feeling the brutal bite of Lyme disease and tick-borne diseases for years now, and thankfully this sorely needed increase in CDC funding and the Kay Hagan Tick Act, combined, will give us the resources we need to strike back,” said Senator Schumer. “New Yorkers and their children shouldn’t have to worry that spending time outside in their backyards will leave them with a debilitating ailment like Lyme disease, and this funding will help prevent that.

"I was proud to lead the charge in securing the crucial funding and imperative legislation to combat the spread of tick-borne diseases throughout New York and will keep fighting until we can stamp out these persistent diseases.”

“I am very pleased that Congress has included in the year-end budget package funding for Lyme disease and tick-borne illness research, surveillance, prevention, and outbreak response,” said Senator Gillibrand. “New Yorkers have felt the impact of tick-borne illness for years, we need to step up our efforts to protect our communities.

"It is particularly meaningful this year, as we lost my dear friend and colleague, former-Senator Kay Hagan to tick-borne illness just a couple of months ago. I am hopeful that with this funding we will be able to prevent other Americans from suffering from the often-devastating and life-altering impacts of tick-borne illness.”

Schumer and Gillibrand said that the increase in funding for the CDC will specifically be used to target vector-borne pathogens which cause diseases in humans.

The funding will contribute to a better understanding of when, where, and how people become exposed to vector-borne pathogens, as well as boost prevention efforts related to vector-borne pathogens and mitigate potential consequences of infection.

Additionally, the funding will be used to help implement vector-borne disease diagnostics, surveillance, control, and prevention programs.

The Kay Hagan Tick Act requires HHS to develop a national strategy for vector-borne diseases, including tick-borne diseases, in an effort to coordinate efforts among various government agencies.

The bill also reauthorizes the Regional Centers of Excellence in Vector-Borne Disease for five years at $10 million per year.

Schumer and Gillibrand noted that this is especially important for New York State, as Cornell University is home to the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases.

Lastly, the Kay Hagan Tick Act will allow the CDC to make grants to state, local, and tribal health departments in order to improve the ability to identify, report, prevent, and respond to vector-borne diseases and related outbreaks. 

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection carried by deer ticks, which can be transmitted through a bite to a human or animal. If left untreated, the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi travels through the bloodstream, manifests itself in body tissues, and causes mild or severe symptoms, depending on the case.

Lyme disease begins as a rash at the location of the tick bite and then spreads to the nervous system and joints. Early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment are crucial to recovery, and appropriate antibiotic use in the early stages of Lyme disease typically results in a swift recovery. Untreated and undiagnosed Lyme disease can lead to debilitating effects on a person’s health.

Senator Schumer and Gillibrand have long fought for federal funding for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, which have contributed to a major spike in cases across New York State.

Last year, Schumer fought to secure more than a 12-percent increase in CDC Lyme disease funding, for a total of $12 million, which was the first increase of its kind in five years.

In 2018, during an in-person meeting with CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, Schumer received a firm commitment from the director that he would be working to address Lyme disease in New York State.

Schumer and Gillibrand also helped secure a $2 billion increase in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding last year, which can be used to expand and build upon existing NIH-funded Lyme disease research that is already occurring at New York institutions, such as Stony Brook, Columbia University, in the SUNY system, and at Hunter College.

Schumer has traveled throughout New York State advocating for increased funding to fight tick-borne diseases and will continue to advocate for these funds for New Yorkers.

December 19, 2019 - 12:51pm

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that they secured $2.5 million for the National Firefighter Cancer Registry as part of the bipartisan spending agreement, which is expected to pass Congress shortly.

In June 2018, Congress passed Schumer-backed legislation that established a specialized National Firefighter Cancer Registry, which is now managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Schumer has long fought on behalf of this critical registry that aims to improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters, both career and volunteer.

Additionally, Schumer and Gillibrand fought to secure critical, $5 million increases for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. 

“Firefighters risk their lives every day, charging into extreme danger, and exposing themselves to harmful toxins and pollutants. We owe it to these courageous men and women to ensure that if they fall ill, they receive first-rate medical care and treatment,” Senator Schumer said.

“That’s why I was so proud to lead the effort in securing a boosted $2.5 million for the absolutely paramount national firefighter cancer registry, which not only helps researchers track the incidence of cancer among firefighters, but also informs efforts to treat and eventually prevent firefighters being stricken by cancer, and major increases in federal funding for two of the grant program our first responders depend on most: AFG and SAFER. I’ll always have the backs of our local heroes—our fighters—who throw themselves in front of harm’s way to protect their communities.” 

“Firefighters put their lives on the line to protect all of us and that risk extends far beyond their firefighting. It is imperative that we give these brave responders access to the medical care they need to combat cancer and other ailments brought on by their exposure to smoke and other harmful toxins,” Senator Gillibrand said.

“I am proud that Congress has dedicated funding for the National Firefighter Cancer Register to better understand the connection between firefighting and cancer and give our firefighters access to the resources they need, and that funding for two critical firefighting grant programs has increased. This is great news for our first responders, and I will continue to advocate for them in Congress.”

According to a five-year study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, there are twice as many firefighters in the United States 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 have an increased risk of death from lung cancer and leukemia as compared to the general population.

The senators 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, such as furniture, clothing, and 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 and Gillibrand 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.

Prior to 2018, there had never been a long-term registry established to track the potential connections between firefighting and incidences of cancer. Schumer and Gillibrand, therefore, said this national firefighter cancer registry is of the utmost importance, so experts and researchers can more effectively monitor nationwide trends and incidences of various cancers among firefighters – both career and volunteer.

The senators said this registry could also help medical professionals more effectively identify and treat cancer in firefighters over the long-term.

Specifically, this national firefighter cancer registry does the following:

  • Compiles epidemiological information submitted by healthcare professionals related to cancer incidence among firefighters in one comprehensive database;
  • Makes anonymous data available to public health researchers so that they have access to comprehensive datasets that will allow them to expand groundbreaking research related to firefighting and cancer;
  • Improves understanding of cancer incidence, which could potentially lead to the development of advanced safety protocols and safeguards for firefighters on the front lines each day;
  • Allows 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. 

Schumer supported the creation of the national firefighter registry from its earliest stages, traveling from one corner of the state to the other to push the legislation that eventually established it as one of its original cosponsors.

The AFG Program is administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the Department’s United States Fire Administration. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis to the applicants that most closely address the program’s priorities and demonstrate financial need.

The SAFER grant program was established by FEMA within the Department of Homeland Security to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities.

The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response, and operational standards established by the National Fire Protection Association and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

December 17, 2019 - 1:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture, Charles Schumer, industrial hemp, CBD.

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his major effort, the successful inclusion of $2 million in the soon-to-pass bipartisan omnibus spending package for Fiscal Year 2020 for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to continue research, market surveillance, and appropriate regulatory activities for products containing the increasingly popular cannabidiol (CBD).

Even though CBD products have gained popularity since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the farming, manufacturing, and selling of industrial hemp, Schumer explained that the FDA has yet to set regulations or safety requirements for CBD derived from hemp.

According to Schumer, the lack of federal guidance and clarity is sowing chaos for both consumers and in the rapidly emerging Upstate New York industrial hemp industry, which saw sales of CBD products surpass $200 million nationally in 2018.

Therefore, in the upcoming, bipartisan appropriations package, Schumer fought for a provision setting aside $2 million for regulatory activities, research, and policy evaluation of CBD products.

The legislation also includes a requirement that the FDA issue a report to Congress within 60 days on its progress determining a regulatory framework for CBD products. Additionally, the provision requires the FDA to study a sample of CBD products currently on the market, to better understand which products are mislabeled or otherwise misrepresented.

“CBD is brimming with potential to be a billion-dollar industry across New York State, bringing along countless jobs and truly meaningful economic development with it. But before that can happen, we need to be 100-percent sure we understand the ABCs of CBD—its impact on human health, and how best to regulate it at the federal level,” Senator Schumer said.

“That’s why during the negotiations for the bipartisan spending package, which is set to pass in the next few days, I fought tooth and nail to secure a provision setting aside $2 million for the FDA to, at long last, begin developing a regulatory framework for CBD—and demanding the agency update Congress on its progress.

Once these necessary rules and restrictions are set, the industry will seed and grow from one corner of the state to the other, many good-paying jobs will be created in the industrial hemp space, farmers will be able to safely cash in on this cash crop, and consumers will be protected.”

CBD is one of the two main chemical compounds that can be found in the cannabis plant. However, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it cannot get a person high—unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other chemical compound found in many types of cannabis plants, primarily marijuana.

CBD products have become exceptionally popular in the marketplace, with estimated sales of CBD-containing products, such as oils, gummies, balms, lotions, and capsules, surpassing $200 million in 2018.

According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, there are currently just under 500 people, businesses, and organizations spread across New York State licensed to grow and process industrial hemp.

According to news reports, roughly three-quarters of those licenses were approved for the purposes of cultivating and extracting CBD. Currently, there are 18,000 acres of land licensed for industrial hemp growing in New York State, with 14,000 designated for CBD cultivation and extraction.

Furthermore, of New York’s 62 counties, 56 are home to industrial hemp farms and related growing operations. Schumer explained that these figures show just how much potential CBD products have to boost the economy across New York State, should clear guidance on CBD be issued by the FDA.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be utilized for food, oil, and cosmetic products. Hemp contains a very small amount of THC, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, the two plants have varied widely in use.

However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary regulator for hemp production.

Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential. With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York will be unleashed.

December 13, 2019 - 3:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in fentanyl, opioid crisis, Charles Schumer.

Press release:

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that following his push, the bipartisan Fentanyl Sanctions Act has been included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020, expected to pass the Senate early next week.

The bill, written and introduced by Schumer in April, will hold China and other countries accountable for their commitments to crack down on producers and traffickers of fentanyl and other deadly synthetic opioids, pushing China’s government to honor their commitment to enforce new laws declaring all fentanyl derivatives illegal.

Additionally, the legislation will provide the U.S. government with more tools and resources to sanction illicit traffickers from China, Mexico, and other countries—a critical effort, in light of the steep rise in devastating fentanyl overdose deaths.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we must hold China, currently the world’s largest producer of illicit fentanyl, accountable for its role in the trade of this deadly drug. Our bipartisan sanctions bill will do just that,” Senator Schumer said.

“For years, Chinese laboratories have been cooking-up formulas of death and freely exporting lethal fentanyl across Upstate New York, and to many other places across America, where it is killing tens-of-thousands of people—and it has to stop. This bill gives our government the tools to enforce sanctions on nations, like China, that are illegally trafficking, and also provides new tools for law enforcement to go after opioid traffickers.” 

“When it comes to taking genuine action to address this crisis, China continues to kick the can down the road while American lives are kicked to the curb, enveloped by addiction or cut all too short by tragedy. The opioid crisis has claimed tens of thousands of lives and devastated families and communities across the country.

"In New York State, from November 2017 to 2018, approximately 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose. About 1,500 of those deaths were from synthetic opioids like fentanyl. My legislation is critical in this fight to save American lives, and I’m proud to announce that it was included in the NDAA for FY2020 and is expected to pass early next week,” Schumer added.

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Require imposition of sanctions on drug manufacturers in China who knowingly provide synthetic opioids to traffickers, transnational criminal organizations like those in Mexico who mix fentanyl with other drugs and traffic them into the U.S. and financial institutions that assist such entities. Waivers would be provided for countries that take sufficient action to implement and enforce regulations on synthetic opioid production.
  • Authorize new funding to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the Departments of Treasury, Department of Defense and Department of State, to combat the foreign trafficking of synthetic opioids.
  • Urge the President to commence diplomatic efforts with U.S. partners to establish multilateral sanctions against foreign synthetic opioid traffickers.
  • Establish a Commission on Synthetic Opioid Trafficking to monitor U.S. efforts and report on how to more effectively combat the flow of synthetic opioids from China, Mexico and elsewhere.

Schumer explained that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), between November 2017 and 2018 roughly 2,000 people died from an opioid overdose in New York State. Additionally, Schumer said that about 1,500 of those opioid overdose deaths were from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Following a commitment to the United States at the G-20 in December 2018, Chinese regulators announced on April 1 that a wider range of fentanyl derivatives would be declared controlled substances in China on May 1. China has struggled to enforce its current drug laws and continues to deny that its illicit fentanyl producers are a major source of the illicit opioids contributing to the U.S. opioid crisis.

To ensure accountability, the sanctions legislation would pressure the Chinese government to move forward with an aggressive plan to enforce its announced new laws and provide the U.S. executive branch with flexible new sanction tools to go after actors, from manufacturers to traffickers, in China and other countries.

Read more about the bill here.

December 8, 2019 - 12:38pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today (Dec. 8) announced that, following his intense advocacy, Congressional lawmakers are nearing an agreement that would offer 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all federal employees to care for a newborn or adopted child, including the 114,386 workers* throughout New York State, in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Under current federal law, federal civilian workers are only eligible for three months of unpaid leave, often leaving them in financially precarious or unsustainable positions.

When passed, the bill would secure paid parental leave for all federal employees for the first time, bringing the federal government’s parental leave laws into the 21st century and on par with the vast majority of developed nations around the world, allowing new parents to give the appropriate support, love and care to their newborn children.

“The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not have paid parental leave," Senator Schumer said. "It’s high time that we caught up. And as the nation’s largest employer, the federal government offering 12 weeks to its millions of employees across our nation and here in New York, is a step in the right direction.

"From one end of the state to the other, no matter if you are a TSA or customs agent at JFK Airport, working on Fort Drum Army Base, or at Buffalo (or Batavia) VA Medical Center, you deserve time to take care of and support your new loved one and family, without worrying how it might impact your ability to put food on the table.

“That’s why during negotiations for this year’s NDAA, I made securing paid parental leave my very top priority, and fought with everything I had to secure it. I’m proud that my efforts, and the efforts of thousands of others, have helped make paid leave for federal employees a reality. I will not stop fighting until this benefit is provided to all workers nationwide.”

*Below is the breakdown of New York federal employees by region, according to New York Department of Labor:

  • NYC: 48,193
  • Long Island: 15,679
  • Hudson Valley: 11,177
  • Western New York: 10,002
  • Capital Region: 7,182
  • Central New York: 5,239
  • Finger Lakes: 5,161
  • North Country: 4,978
  • Mohawk Valley: 2,828
December 6, 2019 - 12:19pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer recently sat down with President of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) Pat O’Conner, and owner of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, John Hughes, to hear out their concerns about Major League Baseball’s (MLB) reported proposal to restructure the minor leagues and dramatically reduce or significantly restructure a number of Upstate franchises that share an affiliation with an MLB club.

The group also discussed ways to alter the plan to reduce its potentially harmful impacts in New York. Additionally, last week, Schumer spoke with Brian Paris, president of the Genesee County Baseball Club — the community ownership group of the Batavia Muckdogs — to hear out his concerns, as well.

“I was so pleased to have MiLB President Pat O’Conner and John Hughes, owner of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, down to my office in Washington to talk through the MLB’s troubling plan to restructure the minor leagues and strike teams across Upstate New York out of their major league affiliations," Schumer said.

"The conversation was positive and we all agreed that we must work in lock-step to keep minor league baseball sewn into the very fabric of our state, as it has been since World War II. Before finalizing its plans, MLB must continue its discussions with local leaders, stakeholders and MiLB with the goal of reworking this plan and preventing New York from being left in the dust. MLB threw Upstate New York a biting curveball here, but we are looking to foul it off and get a better pitch to hit.”

Last month, news reports revealed that MLB is planning to take 42 teams that are currently affiliated with Major League teams and strip those organizations of their affiliations and reassign them to compete in a newly formed, lower-caliber league, called the Dream League.

Reports indicate that MLB’s current proposal would eliminate the Major League affiliations of four teams across New York State: the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Batavia Muckdogs, Auburn Doubledays and Staten Island Yankees — and drastically alter the business plans of the Tri-City Valleycats, Hudson Valley Renegades and Brooklyn Cyclones.

During the meeting, Schumer heard out MiLB’s and the Rumble Ponies’ serious concerns with the plan, and vowed to do whatever he could to maintain minor league baseball’s strong presence in Upstate New York.

This November, after learning of the proposal, Schumer immediately wrote to MLB to express his serious concerns, push the league to stop playing hardball and sit down with local stakeholders to discuss the plan and search for constructive solutions that would maintain minor league baseball’s strong presence in Upstate New York.

In the time since, MLB met with representatives of MiLB and team owners to talk about the plan in further detail. Schumer is now urging those conversations to continue and for the parties to figure out a way to prevent the Upstate minor league teams from losing their major league affiliations.

December 3, 2019 - 4:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in Charles Schumer, agriculture, business, industrial hemp.

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today that following his major push, the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), in tandem with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, have confirmed the legality of banks and other financial institutions extending services and products to industrial hemp-oriented businesses and farms.

Schumer explained that without access to traditional financial services, local farmers and the industrial hemp industry across Upstate New York had been unfairly restricted on capital investment, preventing further economic growth and the creation of good-paying jobs, and choking off valuable income for farmers.

Lack of Awareness By Lending Institutions

Schumer said the lack of awareness by lending institutions about the legality of industrial hemp had created an unwarranted murkiness around the legality of financing hemp-oriented businesses — and that new guidance was urgently needed.

With that now cleared up, the industrial hemp industry can continue to seed and grow across Upstate New York.

“This is a strong step in the right direction to boost the growth of the industrial hemp industry, and I am glad federal regulators, including the Fed, heeded my call to provide clarity to banks that industrial hemp is fully legal and their member banks are free to lend to farmers and producers," Schumer said.

"Now that the feds have issued to lenders updated guidance clarifying hemp’s legality as a crop, the industry will really start to take root and grow. I fought so hard to strip the burdensome and outdated federal regulations from industrial hemp because of all the good it can do for our farmers, our economy and our consumers. Today’s updated financial guidance related to industrial hemp means that we’re one big step closer to the complete emergence of a job-creating, economy-boosting industry across New York State.”

No More 'Suspicious Activity Reports' for Industrial Hemp-oriented Businesses

Specifically, the Fed, FDIC, FinCEN and OCC announced that under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks will no longer have to file Suspicious Activity Reports for industrial hemp-oriented businesses seeking to attain loans or other services. Schumer explained that this will significantly increase the likelihood that these businesses receive financial services, and help the industry continue growing and creating good-paying jobs for New Yorkers.

Schumer explained that since the 2018 Farm Bill removed the federal regulatory shackles from industrial hemp production, manufacturing, and selling, New York’s industrial hemp industry has started to grow significantly, with new farms and businesses emerging and existing ones expanding operations. This has brought considerably more good-paying jobs and revenue to Upstate New York, making industrial hemp a critical new part of the state’s agricultural future.

That being said, as industrial hemp farmers and businesses are exploring the full benefits of the 2018 Farm Bill, they have experienced serious difficulty accessing financial products with regulatory uncertainty at financial institutions. While some companies have agreed to offer financial services to the growing hemp industry, many have not due to confusion over the crop’s legal status.

The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). It passed and was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.

This legislation:

  • Removes industrial hemp from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Empowers states to be the principal regulators of hemp;
  • Allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); 
  • And makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be used for food, oil, and cosmetic products.

The Roadblock of a Spec of THC Lifted

Hemp contains a very small amount, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, it has varied widely in use. However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary regulator for hemp production.

Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential.

With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York will be unleashed.

November 15, 2019 - 12:25pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today (Nov. 15) released a report detailing how the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Facilitation Program (MFP) has treated Upstate farmers unfairly—and launched a new effort to restore parity to the system.

The MFP is designed to reimburse the farms that have been damaged by the turbulent trade climate across the globe, and has distributed $25 billion in mitigation payments to help farmers recover in recent months.

However, Schumer explained, this funding was distributed unevenly, sending 95 percent of the top payment rates to Southern farmers, who have been harmed less than other regions, and helping farms owned by billionaires and foreign-owned companies.

To address this disparity that is negatively impacting Upstate farmers, who are in dire need of assistance, Schumer urged USDA to improve the MFP to better support small New York farmers.

“This report shows that as Upstate farmers are grappling with extreme uncertainty caused by the chaotic global trade climate, USDA is using a flawed formula that helps big, wealthy farms and billion-dollar foreign-owned companies, while our small and family farms in New York have been left in the dust,” Senator Schumer said.

“The USDA must stop picking winners and losers in such an unbalanced way, and instead ensure all of America’s and Upstate New York’s farmers get the help they need and deserve—not just a lucky few.”

Farmers across New York State are being treated unfairly in many ways, including:

  • Farmers in New York are receiving $41.10 less per acre than farmers in Georgia and other Southern states;
  • Even within New York the difference in payments from county to county can be significant and cause similar farms to get vastly different payments. For example, Orleans County has a payment rate of $48 per acre, yet Warren County has a rate of $15 per acre. For an average-sized farm this is a difference in payments of $9,936 and $3,105 for Upstate farms that likely have very similar growing conditions;
  • At a county level, the average payment rate in New York was $28 per acres. However, many counties in Southern states received the maximum payment rate of $150 per acre. With more than 33,400 farms across New York, averaging about 207 acres each, NY farmers would receive a payment of about $5,796, while the same sized farm in one of these other Southern counties would receive $31,050(delta: $25,254).
  • USDA currently ignores any trade damage not related to its own chaotic trade actions and largely shuts out Upstate New York’s specialty crops from direct assistance.
  • Instead of taking steps to support small and beginning operations, USDA doubled the payment limit for row crop payments from $125,000 to $250,000. This change will concentrate payments even more in the large complicated farming conglomerates.
  • Rather than using current production numbers, USDA based payments to dairy farmers on data that are 6 to 8 years old.

In the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, Congress provided balanced support to help farmers manage market instability across the country and provided permanent support for USDA export market development programs.

Schumer raised concerns that the administration’s policy upends this careful compromise, replaces income from markets with government payments, creates vast inequities, and does not address the actual trade damage to farmers who have been hit the hardest.

NY County

USDA MFP Payment rate

Warren

$15

Allegany

$17

Delaware

$18

Washington

$18

Essex

$19

Lewis

$19

Sullivan

$19

Wyoming

$19

Herkimer

$20

Steuben

$20

Westchester

$20

Chenango

$21

Cortland

$21

Franklin

$21

Madison

$21

Schuyler

$21

Tioga

$21

Clinton

$22

Jefferson

$22

Schenectady

$22

Albany

$23

Ulster

$23

Albany

$23

Saratoga

$24

Otsego

$25

Broome

$26

Cattaraugus

$26

Schoharie

$26

St. Lawrence

$26

Tompkins

$26

Broome

$26

Cattaraugus

$26

Chemung

$27

Erie

$27

Chautauqua

$28

Dutchess

$28

Onondaga

$28

Rensselaer

$28

Fulton

$30

Montgomery

$31

Genesee

$32

Oneida

$32

Yates

$35

Columbia

$36

Cayuga

$38

Livingston

$38

Ontario

$38

Cayuga

$38

Niagara

$39

Oswego

$39

Orange-Rockland

$43

Monroe

$45

Greene

$47

Orleans

$48

Seneca

$48

Wayne

$52

    November 8, 2019 - 12:57pm
    posted by Billie Owens in animal cruelty, animal abuse, Charles Schumer, news, PACT Act.

    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.

    October 23, 2019 - 2:55pm
    posted by Billie Owens in hemp, CBD, agriculture, business, Charles Schumer.

    Press release:

    On a conference call with reporters and in the midst of an industrial hemp explosion across Upstate New York — triggered by a Schumer-championed provision in the recently passed Farm Bill — U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue guidance and allow producers to fully take advantage of the popular cannabidiol (CBD) market and also protect consumers.

    Even though CBD products have gained popularity since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the farming, manufacturing, and selling of industrial hemp, Schumer explained that the FDA has yet to set regulations or safety requirements for CBD derived from hemp.

    According to Schumer, the lack of federal guidance and clarity is sowing chaos for both consumers and in the rapidly-emerging Upstate New York industrial hemp industry, which saw sales of CBD products surpass $200 million nationally in 2018.

    To address this lack of clarity, to protect consumers, and to allow the industrial hemp industry to maximize job creation from this cash crop, Schumer urged the FDA to expediently issue guidance on the classification, labeling, quality, marketing, and sale of CBD products.

    “CBD is brimming with potential to be a billion dollar industry across New York State, bringing along countless jobs and truly meaningful economic development with it. But before that can happen, farmers, growers, producers, consumers and vendors need to know exactly what the rules of the road are and right now they’ve got no idea,” Senator Schumer said.

    “That’s why I’m calling on the FDA to do its job in a timely manner and issue guidance related to CBD classification, labeling, quality, marketing, and sales. And once the feds spell out these ABC’s of CBD, the industry will seed and grow from one corner of the state to the other, many jobs will be created in the industrial hemp space, and farmers will be able to safely cash in on this cash crop.”

    CBD is one of the two main chemical compounds that can be found in the cannabis plant. However, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning that it cannot get a person high—like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other chemical compound found in many types of cannabis plants, primarily marijuana. CBD products have become exceptionally popular in the marketplace, with estimated sales of CBD-containing products, such as oils, gummies, balms, lotions, and capsules, surpassing $200 million in 2018.

    According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, there are currently just under 500 people, businesses, and organizations spread across New York State licensed to grow and process industrial hemp.

    According to news reports, roughly three-quarters of those licenses were approved for the purposes of cultivating and extracting CBD. Currently, there are 18,000 acres of land licensed for industrial hemp growing in New York State, with 14,000 designated for CBD cultivation and extraction.

    Furthermore, of New York’s 62 counties, 56 are home to industrial hemp farms and related growing operations. Schumer says these figures show just how much potential CBD products have to boost the economy across New York State, should clear guidance on CBD be issued by the FDA.

    Schumer pointed out that the FDA is responsible for protecting public health, and guidance related to CBD is desperately needed to ensure that products on the market are safe. He also said that consumers rely on the FDA to conduct timely and appropriate oversight of new and emerging ingredients, like CBD, and that guidance from the agency would provide crucial direction for manufacturers seeking a pathway to develop safe and credible products for consumers.

    Schumer argued that the market for CBD products is rapidly growing and that the agency must expedite its efforts to promote accuracy and transparency within the CBD industry. Specifically, Schumer called on the FDA to provide an outline of its plans for a regulatory framework related to CBD, as well as a timeline for when comprehensive enforcement policies for CBD products will be finalized and implemented.

    The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). It passed and was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. This legislation:

    • Removes industrial hemp from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act;
    • Empowers states to be the principal regulators of hemp;
    • Allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); and
    • Makes hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance.

    Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be used for food, oil, and cosmetic products. Hemp contains a very small amount of THC, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis, and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, the two plants have varied widely in use.

    However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the primary regulator for hemp production.

    Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential. With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York’s will be unleashed.

    Below is the full text of the letter Schumer sent to Acting Commissioner Norman Sharpless.

    ***************

    Dear Acting Commissioner Sharpless:

    We write today to ask that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urgently clarify and implement regulations for cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp. Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill (P.L. 115-334), which paved the way for industrial hemp cultivation and marketing, farmers, processors and retailers across the country are eager to enter this new market and leverage its potential. With new products containing CBD becoming available nearly every day, your agency’s lack of an official stance on this ingredient remains confusing to manufacturers and potentially dangerous to consumers. It is now imperative that the FDA finalize and implement a comprehensive regulatory framework for CBD, including guidance on the classification, labeling, quality, marketing, and sale of CBD-containing products, to ensure each manufacturer is producing safe and effective products for consumers. In accordance with your agency’s July statement regarding CBD oversight, we expect an update on your activities no later than 90 days from today’s date.

    The CBD industry has exploded in recent years. Estimated annual sales of CBD-containing products were over $200 million in 2018, and CBD oils, gummies, balms, lotions, capsules, and other products are broadly available and widely advertised in stores and online. However, as the CBD industry expands, the lack of clarity and regulation around CBD use has created significant confusion and uncertainty among stakeholders in every segment of the supply chain. It is crucial that the FDA remain proactive in its duty to safeguard public health, protect consumers from potentially unsafe products, and provide a predictable pathway to market for producers and manufacturers.

    Purveyors of CBD-containing products attribute a wide range of health benefits to this ingredient, including relieving pain and anxiety, preventing seizures, treating post-traumatic stress disorder, and easing inflammation. But consumers still lack answers to questions about the potential risks, including adverse side effects and drug interactions, associated with CBD.

    Consumers rely on the FDA to conduct timely and appropriate oversight of new and emerging ingredients, and guidance from the FDA would also help manufacturers to develop safer, more effective, and more credible products for consumer use. The market for CBD products is rapidly outpacing the FDA’s current regulatory efforts, and your agency clearly must expedite its efforts to promote accuracy and transparency within the CBD industry. It is imperative that any comprehensive regulatory framework for products containing CBD provide straightforward guidance to manufacturers and retailers who wish to incorporate CBD into new products.

    Consumers and manufacturers of this fledgling industry are counting on regulatory oversight and certainty that only the FDA can provide. Your efforts to date have been woefully inadequate. Within 90 days please provide our offices with an outline of your agency’s current plans for a specific regulatory framework related to CBD along with a timeline for when comprehensive enforcement policies for CBD products will be finalized and implemented.

    Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to your response.

    U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer

    October 22, 2019 - 2:16pm

    Press release:

    The IRS issued new rules that would undermine a critical tax deduction on which New York homeowners rely. This prompted U.S. Senator Charles Schemer to move forward with an effort to restore New York State’s ability to work-around the part of the federal tax law that takes an unfair aim at the state by eliminating a homeowners’ SALT tax deduction.

    (SALT stands for State And Local Taxes.)

    Loss of the SALT tax deduction will cost New York homeowners tens-of-thousands of dollars.

    For example, in Genesee County in 2016, the average SALT deduction amounted to $9,800 and about 6,700 local homeowners took advantage of it, according to statistics compiled by the National Association of Counties.

    Schumer says that just as New York State was tying the bow on its work-around plan by passing a law that circumvented the feds, the IRS swooped in and used regulations to squash everything, adding insult to injury for local homeowners.

    Therefore, Schumer today (Oct. 22) announced that he will use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) tool to force a vote on the Senate floor this week, on a resolution to nullify recent IRS rules blocking critical state workarounds to harmful state and local tax (SALT) deduction caps, and that restores New York’s ability to work around the harmful caps, allowing homeowners to again fully retain their SALT deduction.

    While the IRS blocked New York’s work-around for families, the Treasury Department in September 2018 issued guidance that allowed businesses to continue to benefit from these same work-arounds. Reversing the IRS’s harmful rule will also preserve the ability of states to maintain their own local charitable deductions for education, childcare and nonprofits serving children, rural hospitals, environmental conservation, and more.

    “As if the Trump-Republican tax bill — which has spiked tax payments for countless New York homeowners by eliminating the SALT deduction—wasn’t already bad enough, these new IRS rules add insult to injury. They are rubbing salt in the New York homeowners’ SALT-inflicted wounds,” Schumer said.

    “Taking away the SALT deduction was brutally unfair to Upstate homeowners and hit ‘em right between the eyes and that’s why later this week, I plan to take control of the Senate floor and force a vote to nullify the IRS’s horrible rule and put power back in the hands of Upstate New York homeowners to soften the blow of the elimination of SALT deductions.

    "New York’s hard-working homeowners shouldn’t be forced to bear the burden of the political games that target and punish specific regions of the nation.”

    Schumer explained that he can use the special legislative power, provided for under the Congressional Review Act, in an attempt to nullify the recent IRS decision that blocks New York State from working around the provision in the federal tax law that strips New York homeowners from claiming their full SALT tax deduction.

    The disapproval resolution under the CRA gives Congress the power to expeditiously review any new federal regulation, like the recent IRS decision that hurts Upstate New York, so long as the CRA disapproval resolution is filed within 60 legislative days of the regulation being finalized. Schumer said the use of the CRA power is comparable to declaring a policy emergency, and when it comes to the SALT deduction in New York State, the issue is serious.

    The CRA legislative review is not held to the 60-vote requirement to pass the Senate, Schumer added, making it an attractive plan in this anti-New York era. Schumer reiterated just how serious the SALT issue is across Upstate New York, pointing out county-by-county the average SALT deduction taken by homeowners.

    Under the pre-Trump tax code, taxpayers who itemized deductions on their federal income tax returns could deduct state and local real estate and personal property taxes, as well as either income taxes or general sales taxes.

    State and local income and real estate taxes had made up approximately sixty percent of local and state tax deductions while sales tax and personal property taxes made up the remainder. According to the Tax Policy Center, approximately one-third of tax filers had itemized deductions on their federal income tax returns.

    Schumer has traveled from one corner of the state to the other to push back against the capping of SALT deductions. In 2018, Schumer urged the IRS to grant New Yorkers who paid their 2018 taxes early the ability to apply those taxes to their 2017 SALT deduction, even if their property taxes were not assessed.

    As the administration was seeking to pass its tax plan, which capped New Yorkers' SALT deductions, Schumer campaigned against the destructive legislation...calling on the New York Congressional Delegation to reject the misguided plan.

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