Westerly Sun: Guest commentary: Collaboration key to strengthening cybersecurity

Westerly Sun: Guest commentary: Collaboration key to strengthening cybersecurity

As co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, and a leader in the effort to strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses, I am pleased the House of Representatives recently passed two bills I introduced with my colleague, Congressman John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), to strengthen collaborative cybersecurity research and development efforts between the United States and Israel.

We introduced these bills in July, upon our return from a congressional delegation trip to Israel that focused on key cybersecurity issues facing both countries.

The United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2016 (H.R. 5843) and the United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016 (H.R. 5877) both passed unanimously out of the House and now await action in the Senate.

From this section:
Guest commentary: First responders have to be able to find you to provide help
My trip to Israel with Congressman Ratcliffe was an illuminating experience and reinforced my belief that our countries have much to learn from one another when it comes to cybersecurity. This belief has only been reinforced in the intervening months as we saw cyber-attacks that targeted the very foundation of our nation, our electoral system.

Nations share many cybersecurity problems with the private sector, but they do have distinct national security challenges in cyberspace that they must address. Our legislation will further strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and drive innovative, collaborative thinking about homeland security priorities. I am so pleased that my colleagues in the House recognize that cybersecurity is the security challenge of our time, and I urge the Senate to act without delay.

The United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act will create a cybersecurity grant program for joint research and development ventures between Israeli and American entities. The Secretary of Homeland Security will determine research requirements with help from an advisory board made up of members from successful U.S.-Israeli partnerships, such as the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation and the United States-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation.

The United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act expands a successful binational research and development program at the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency to include cybersecurity technologies. This collaboration between DHS and the Israeli Ministry of Public Security helps new products through the “valley of death” between basic and early-phase applied research and successful commercialization, and will help both countries develop solutions to the unique security problems found in the cyber domain.

Times of Israel: US, Israel set to boost teamwork on cybersecurity

Times of Israel: US, Israel set to boost teamwork on cybersecurity

House of Representatives unanimously passes 2 bills to strengthen collaboration against attacks on computer systems
By Shoshanna Solomon November 30, 2016, 4:36 pm

Israel and the United States are poised to collaborate more closely on cybersecurity research and development as lawmakers passed two bills that aim to strengthen the collaboration between the nations.

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation introduced by Reps. John Ratcliffe of Texas and Jim Langevin of Rhode Island.
The bills, the United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act of 2016 and the United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2016, now await action in the Senate.

The two bills were introduced in July, after the lawmakers returned from a congressional delegation trip to Israel that focused on key cybersecurity issues facing both countries.

“Israel is a vital strategic partner, and I’m pleased to be working closely with Rep. Langevin to preserve and strengthen this important bond through joint cybersecurity efforts. Cybersecurity is national security, and enhancing joint research and development efforts between the United States and Israel will improve our countries’ ability to deter malicious cyber actors,” said Ratcliffe, who chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies.

Greater threats require more collaboration
Collaboration between nations is believed by industry experts to be one of the best ways to prevent the growing threat of cyber-attacks, and there is a critical need for countries across the world to share research and development and innovations.

Increasing mobile and web usage and social media are among the key factors contributing to the “explosive increase” in cyber threats, MarketsandMarkets, a Dallas, Texas-based market research firm said in a report. The global cybersecurity market will be worth more than $170 billion by 2020, according to an estimate by MarketsandMarkets, with companies globally focusing on security solutions but also services.

“I’m glad the House passed these bills to amplify the work already being done to tackle the growing cyber threats we both face, and I’m hopeful this legislation will serve as a solid foundation for a sustained cybersecurity partnership as we look to address new and evolving cyber issues moving forward,” Ratcliff said.

“My trip to Israel with Congressman Ratcliffe was an illuminating experience, and reinforced my belief that our countries have much to learn from one another when it comes to cybersecurity,” said Langevin, co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.

“This belief has only been reinforced in the intervening months as we saw cyber-attacks that targeted the very foundation of our nation, our electoral system,” he said. “Nations share many cybersecurity problems with the private sector, but they do have distinct national security challenges in cyberspace that they must address. Our legislation will further strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship and drive innovative, collaborative thinking about homeland security priorities. I am so pleased that my colleagues in the House recognize that cybersecurity is the security challenge of our time, and I urge the Senate to act without delay.”

The United States-Israel Advanced Research Partnership Act expands a binational research and development program at the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency to include cybersecurity technologies. This collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and the Israeli Ministry of Public Security helps new products pass through the so-called “valley of death” — the period between basic and early-phase applied research through to successful commercialization. It will help both countries develop solutions to the unique security problems found in the cyber domain, according to a statement issued by Ratcliffe.
The United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act will create a cybersecurity grant program for joint research and development ventures between Israeli and US entities. The Secretary of Homeland Security will determine research requirements with help from an advisory board made up of members from US-Israeli partnerships, such as the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation and the United States-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation.

Providence Journal: US House approves sweeping biomedical measure

Providence Journal: US House approves sweeping biomedical measure

The compromise, which envisions spending $6.3 billion over the next decade, was condemned by consumer groups and some Democrats as a present to drug makers that promised only paltry spending increases for underfunded federal programs.

By Alan FramThe Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The House easily approved a sweeping biomedical bill Wednesday that would help drug and medical device companies win swifter government approval of their products, boost disease research and drug-abuse spending and revamp federal mental health programs.

The compromise, which envisions spending $6.3 billion over the next decade, was condemned by consumer groups and some Democrats as a present to drug makers that promised only paltry spending increases for underfunded federal programs.

But their objections were overwhelmed by an alliance among Republicans, many Democrats and the White House for a 996-page measure that bore wins for both parties. The Senate’s expected final approval next week would mark an uncommon episode of cooperation between the GOP-run 114th Congress — which plans to adjourn next week — and President Barack Obama in their dwindling days in office.

The vote was 392-26.

Rhode Island Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, both Democrats, voted to approve the measure.

“The 21st Century Cures Act makes crucial investments in innovation and medical research, including the Cancer Moonshot and BRAIN Initiatives, and it supports important health care policies such as increasing access to mental health services and combating opioid addiction,” Langevin said.

“I am especially pleased that the bill includes language from legislation I introduced with Congressman Gregg Harper to improve medical rehabilitation research and coordination at the National Institutes of Health. After becoming paralyzed at the age of 16, I required intensive rehabilitation in order to navigate my new lifestyle, an experience that is shared by so many Americans with disabilities, traumatic injuries, and chronic conditions.”

But he added: “… the 21st Century Cures Act is by no means a perfect bill. It strips away funding from the Public Health Prevention Fund, undermining our efforts to fight the very diseases we are attempting to cure. And although this legislation streamlines the FDA drug and device approval process, we must ensure that these reforms do not compromise patient safety.

“Finally, this bill does nothing to reign in the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, an issue that has seriously impacted Rhode Island families. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that these issues receive the attention they deserve and are properly addressed going forward.”

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and an author of the legislation, said: “We are on the cusp of something special, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform how we treat disease,” said

Not everyone agreed.

Rep. Rose DeLauro, D-Conn., said that while the bill contained “noble goals that I share,” its relaxation of some standards for federal drug approvals was dangerous and “neglects the very people clinical trials are meant to help, that is the patients.”

No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin, of Illinois, said he was “totally underwhelmed” by the bill’s extra money, and said its cuts in a disease prevention fund created under Obama’s health care law to finance new medical research displayed “a warped sense of justice.”

Democratic hopes — and leverage — for winning more money and consumer protections faded with Republican Donald Trump’s presidential election triumph. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., flatly said his chamber will send the measure to Obama, and Durbin said he expected Senate passage.

In a written statement, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the bill “is not perfect” but contains “advances in health that far outweigh these concerns.” He said the Senate should approve it quickly.

The bill includes an additional $4.8 billion over the next 10 years for the National Institutes of Health. The medical research agency spends around $32 billion annually, and supporters complain that spending cuts imposed by Congress and rising research costs mean its budget has eroded in value since the early 2000s.

“A couple billion dollars doesn’t go very far in cancer research” over 10 years, said Lisa Plymate, a director of the liberal-leaning National Physicians Alliance.

Much of the NIH money would be for Obama’s precision medicine initiative, aimed at tailoring drugs for people’s genes and lifestyles, and research on cancer, a focus of Vice President Joe Biden, whose son Beau died of the disease in 2015.

The Food and Drug Administration would get $500 million to streamline approval processes for drugs and medical devices.

States would get $1 billion over the next two years for preventing and treating abuse of addictive drugs like opioids, a problem that is surging in GOP and Democratic represented communities around the country.

Providence Journal: R.I. to receive $6 million in federal money for preschool programs

Providence Journal: R.I. to receive $6 million in federal money for preschool programs

By Staff and Wire Reporters

Rhode Island preschool programs will receive $6 million from the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services through the Preschool Development Grant Program.
Rhode Island is one of 18 states awarded funds to expand access to preschool for children from low-to moderate-income families.

The announcement was made in a joint news release from U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline.

Four New England states are among 18 states getting more than $247 million in federal grants to continue expanding access to high-quality preschool for children from low- to moderate-income families.

The share of the funds announced Wednesday also included $15 million for Massachusetts, $11.7 million for Connecticut and $7.3 million for Vermont.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says Rhode Island’s congressional delegation stood firm and staved off the elimination of funding for the preschool development grants.

Rhode Island is one of six states and the only one in New England that federal education officials say met or exceeded enrollment targets.

North Kingstown Patch: Troop 147 North Kingstown awards Eagle Scout honors to 4

North Kingstown Patch: Troop 147 North Kingstown awards Eagle Scout honors to 4

4 North Kingstown residents awarded Boy Scouting’s highest rank
By Pamela Reinsel Cotter (Open Post) – November 27, 2016 3:16 pm ET

NORTH KINGSTOWN — Boy Scout Troop 147 North Kingstown awarded Eagle Scout honors, the highest rank in Scouting, to four young men from North Kingstown Saturday at an Eagle Court of Honor held at St. Francis de Sales Church.

Nicolas Berg, Jacob Cotter, Jeffrey Dowling and Christopher Santos were recognized by the Troop, their family and friends, and local dignitaries including Congressman Jim Langevin, state Representative-elect Julie Casimiro and Town Council member Kevin Maloney.

Langevin noted the leadership skills the four young men learned in their years in Scouting, and entreated them to use what they’ve learned to make the world a better place. “We need you,” he told them. The Congressman also acknowledged Jacob Cotter’s maternal grandfather, Martin Reinsel, who became an Eagle Scout in 1947.
Scoutmaster Philip Gambrel lead the ceremony, which featured citations from all the living U.S. presidents and other leaders. Former Scoutmaster Doug Smith created a video presentation of the boys’ seven years in Scouts.

Nicolas Berg is a senior at Bishop Hendricken High School who is seeking acceptance at Harvard University. Jacob Cotter, a 2016 graduate of North Kingstown High School, is a freshman at Rhode Island College. Jeffrey Dowling is a 2016 graduate of North Kingstown High School. Christopher Santos is a 2016 graduate of North Kingstown High School and a cashier at Dave’s Marketplace Quonset.

Eagle Scout is the highest achievement rank in Boy Scouting. Since 1912 more than 2 million Boy Scouts have earned the Eagle Scout rank.

In the words of the Eagle Scout Promise, Eagles to their best each day to make their training an example, their rank and their influence count strongly for better citizenship in the their troop, in their community, and in their contacts with other people. To this they pledge their sacred honor.

Thankful For You!

Thankful For You!

Thankful for You!

Tomorrow, families all over the country will come together to enjoy a meal and each other’s company. We will put our differences aside and focus on what really matters. We will celebrate what is good in the world, and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. It is a day to remember how fortunate we are to live in this country, and it is a day when I reflect on just how fortunate I am to have friends like you.

I’ve said it before, but I think it bears repeating that you are the reason I am returning to Congress. Your support and friendship has meant the world to me, and this Thanksgiving, I am feeling especially thankful for you. I cannot thank you enough.

I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow with your loved ones, and that it is just the beginning of a joyous holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jim

WPRI.com: Cicilline, Democrats react to Trump’s latest staff appointment

WPRI.com: Cicilline, Democrats react to Trump’s latest staff appointment

By Liliana Rutler Published: November 16, 2016, 6:31 am Updated: November 16, 2016, 1:44 pm

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline and other Democrats are increasing calls for President-elect Donald Trump to drop former Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon, whom Trump named as White House Chief Strategist.

Bannon has come under fire for Breitbart’s ties to the “Alt-Right” movement and it’s purported links to white nationalism.

n a letter to Trump that Cicilline is circulating on Capitol Hill, he writes,

“Millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump administration and your appointment of Mr. Bannon only exacerbates and validates their concerns.”
Cicilline’s office says more than 100 of his colleagues have signed the letter. Among them was Congressman Jim Langevin, who released a statement on Wednesday.

“My office has been absolutely flooded with phone calls, emails, and social media comments from constituents who are rightfully afraid of the influence that Bannon could potentially have on public policy in this administration. While the President-elect has the right to surround himself with the advisers of his choice, I believe this appointment sends a dangerous message to the American people,” said Langevin. “I have always tried to work in a bipartisan way, and I am ready to work with the incoming administration, as well, but I am not willing to do so at the expense of common decency.

“As I said earlier this week, we cannot let Bannon’s divisive behavior and rhetoric be normalized,” he continued. “This isn’t about political affiliations; this is about cultivating an environment in this country where people of every race, religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation feel safe, valued, and empowered.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Democrats said in a news conference that elevating Bannon to a top White House post undermines Trump’s claims that he wants to unite the country.

“Actions speak louder than words. It’s easy to look at a TV camera and tell people to stop the hate. But when you say that and look at the TV camera, and the next moment the action you take is to appoint Steve Bannon? You’re sending a very different and stronger message in the opposition direction.” – Sen. Chris Van Hollen Jr., D-Maryland
Members of Trump’s staff have defended Bannon, denying claims that he is prejudiced.

Unlike cabinet positions, Trump’s picks for his White House Staff do not require congressional approval.

Warwick Beacon: Vets thanked, homelessness still an issue

Warwick Beacon: Vets thanked, homelessness still an issue

Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2016 11:34 am
By Tessa Roy
“There is no better way to say thank you to a veteran than actually giving them a hand that they need,” said Dee DeQuattro, Director of Communications for Operation Stand Down Rhode Island. On Friday, the organization did just that by hosting a resource fair at Warwick Mall.

Governor Gina Raimondo, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed and Representative Jim Langevin were among the leaders who visited the fair where veterans and their families could learn about their options for housing, employment, training and supportive services.

“It’s wonderful to be here because it’s Veterans Day and the best way to show our gratitude for veterans is to take care of them here in the state of Rhode Island,” said Raimondo. “I wanted to come out and be supportive of the volunteers here.”

OSDRI is a nonprofit handling the issues of veteran homelessness, housing, employment, benefit coordination and has four food pantries across the state.

The first issue is one that is particularly prevalent. According to OSDRI despite the “Zero 2016” campaign that aimed to end veteran homelessness by 2016 and the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless’s announcement that veteran homelessness in the state was nearly over, the issue is still “rampant.” In fact, OSDRI said it has witnessed an increasing number of homeless veterans seeking services.

Since the announcement was made last November, OSDRI  has housed more than 300 veterans through its various programs, and the list of chronically homeless veterans maintained by the State Continuum of Care and RI Homeless Coalition has almost doubled, the organization said in a release. Since October 2015, OSDRI has helped 191 homeless veterans get into their own permanent housing and assisted another 102 veterans who were on the verge of eviction keep their housing. Additionally, the organization houses 88 veterans and their families in its own supportive housing located across the state, 20 of which were placed just this year.

“While it might have been a great photo op to declare victory last year, those of us who work in veterans services know that the fight is far from over. This year alone the number of homeless veterans continues to rise,” said OSDRI Executive Director Erik Wallin.

“When we raised this issue a year ago, we mentioned our concerns that such statements may drive away needed resources from veterans and today we want to remind the public that the issue is far from over. Veteran homelessness needs to remain at the forefront of public discussion as there is no reason for the men and women who served our country to end up homeless and forgotten in the very country they swore to defend.”

Dee DeQuattro said Friday’s event aimed to reach out to a broad spectrum of veterans. She said OSDRI coordinated with the likes of the VA and the state to put on the fair. The event they hope to host annually was a huge success, bringing in “tons” of veterans all day, she said.

“A lot of people have a celebration on Veterans Day, and that’s great. It’s really important to honor our veterans, but it’s also important to do something,” DeQuattro said. “That’s why we’re here doing this and having this event. We want to make a difference and actually help these veterans.”

Langevin said he was glad OSDRI was making resources accessible to veterans.

“I’m grateful for the work Operation Stand Down is doing. It’s a nice way to honor our veterans by making sure we’re honoring our promises to them,” Langevin said.

Also in attendance was Director of Veterans Affairs Kasim Yarn, who heads the Office of Veterans Affairs that opened in September.

DeQuattro said OSDRI advocated for the new office and that the two refer people back and forth between them often. Yarn said the new Jefferson Boulevard office is doing “awesome” and sees approximately 10 veterans a day.

“At the end of the day, no veteran has to walk by themselves,” Yarn said. “We will guide them through the process…We are not taking our foot off the gas when it comes to helping our veterans, and events like these showcase that importance.”

Yarn and Raimondo also discussed their hopes and anticipations for Rhode Island veterans under the upcoming presidency.

“President-elect Trump has expressed in the campaign admiration for veterans, and I hope that he will demonstrate that admiration through providing us funding and support for the work we’re doing for our veterans here in Rhode Island,” she said.

Yarn said it would be important to partner with the federal VA to work in a collaborative way and ensure sure “no veteran falls through the cracks.”

Respectability Report: Disability Champion Jim Langevin Wins Rhode Island Re-Election

Respectability Report: Disability Champion Jim Langevin Wins Rhode Island Re-Election

Published by Dionne Joseph on November 11, 2016
Washington, Nov 11 – Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin, a Democratic member of congress for more than 20 years, won the re-election for Rhode Island’s 2nd congressional district, holding off Republican Rhue Reis.

Langevin completed the #PwDsVote Disability Questionnaire for the presidential, senate and gubernatorial candidates, that was written by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Reis did not respond to the questionnaire.

“I have made it a hallmark of my work in public service to break down social barriers and educate people about the value that people with disabilities bring to our society,” Langevin responded in the questionnaire. “People with disabilities are our greatest untapped resource, and I will continue fighting for them through efforts that include U.S. ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure that everyone, not just Americans, is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Langevin, who acquired a disability prior to the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has spoken often about the importance of inclusion of people with disabilities.

“To so many of us, I have to say the ADA has probably altered the paradigm, providing new opportunities and fundamentally changing the way society views and treats us,” he said at an event on the sidelines of the DNC in July. “But as we all know, there is still so much work that lies ahead, because we haven’t even fully realized the vision and the promise of the Act.”

Langevin is a founder and a co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus, an organization where a group of individuals come together and discuss the issues in the people with disability community.

In 2015, he contributed to the FAST Act, a transportation bill that would promote the transit system to make trains more accessible for individuals with disabilities. The bill would allow people with disabilities to gain more opportunities because of the accessible transit system.

Other priorities include having access to community services and supports; removing obstacles to health and wealth; encouraging employment opportunities for people with disabilities; and having a full implementation of the American with Disabilities Act.

“I know there are millions of people with disabilities across the nation who are stuck in their homes when they could be sitting in a classroom, a boardroom, or with me in Congress,” he previously said. “That’s why it is so important that we all take the time to recognize the needs of individuals with disabilities, and the simple ways employers can meet those needs and allow these talented people to achieve the dream of living independently and succeeding in the workplace.”

There are 56 million people with disabilities (one in five Americans), more than 35 million of whom are eligible voters (one-sixth of the electorate). A new poll showed that half of voters either have a disability or a loved one with a disability. The poll also showed that voters were more likely to support candidates who prioritize ensuring that children with disabilities get the education and training they need to succeed as well expanding job and career opportunities for people with disabilities.

RespectAbility reached out to candidates for president, governor and U.S. Senate – requesting them to complete the #PwDsVote disability questionnaire on multiple disability topics ranging from employment, education, violence and abuse, criminal justice, healthcare and more.

Forty down ballot candidates, including 26 for Senate and 11 for governor, from both sides of the aisle (25 Democrats, 14 Republicans, 1 Green Party) responded, showing that disability rights is a nonpartisan issue. The responses also were geographically diverse, coming from states all around the country as politicians are paying more and more attention to the disability community.

View Langevin’s response to the questionnaire below:

QUESTION 1: Do you have designated advisors and clear processes for making decisions on disability issues? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes. As the first quadriplegic elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and the uncle of a nephew with autism, I consider these issues a top priority.  I am the co-founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus in Congress, which serves as a forum for members and staff to discuss policies and issues of importance to the disability community.  I also engage with Federal and state agencies and work regularly with disability advocates on a wide array of disability policies.  This work is coordinated through my legislative director and disability policy advisor with the input of my legislative, casework and outreach staff.
QUESTION 2: Is your campaign accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes, my campaign office is fully accessible, and my website contains key accessibility features.  I am also pleased to have volunteers of all races, religions, backgrounds, orientations, and abilities participating in my campaign.
QUESTION 3: Do you have a proven record on improving or a plan to improve the lives of people with disabilities? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes.  Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have worked on numerous policies and proposals to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families.

In 2006, I authored and championed passage of the Lifespan Respite Care Act to provide respite services to the families of loved ones caring for people with disabilities, and I am continuing to lead the fight for stronger respite care funding 10 years later.

In 2008, I joined my colleagues in the fight to strengthen the Americans with Disabilities Act through passage of the ADA Amendments Act.  I also fought for passage of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act of 2009 to enhance research into paralysis and to improve rehabilitation services and quality of life for people living with disabilities.

In 2010, I was proud to support passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which banned annual and lifetime coverage limits, prohibited pre-existing condition exclusions, and expanded Medicaid assistance to empower more people with disabling conditions to obtain insurance coverage and access to care.

In 2014, I was proud to support efforts to pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, to empower people with disabilities to save for legitimate expenses without losing access to critical federal supports, like SSI and Medicaid.

In 2015, I authored an amendment to the FAST Act surface transportation bill that would encourage transit systems across the country to make public transit more accessible and user-friendly for people with disabilities.

Finally, I am proud to support efforts like the Transition to Independence Act and other measures that will assist people with disabilities achieve integrated employment and greater independence and inclusion in their communities, and I will continue the fight to move these priorities forward.
QUESTION 4: Do you have a plan/commitment to reduce the stigmas about people with disabilities that are barriers to employment, independence and equality? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes. I have made it a hallmark of my work in public service to break down social barriers and educate people about the value that people with disabilities bring to our society.  In fact, I believe people with disabilities are our greatest untapped resource, and I will continue fighting for them through efforts that include U.S. ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure that everyone, not just Americans, is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.
QUESTION 5: Do you have a proven record on enabling, or a plan to enable, people with disabilities to have jobs, careers and to start their own businesses? Do you have specific strategies for youth employment for people with disabilities and/or sector strategies such as jobs and careers in STEM, hospitality, healthcare and elder care? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes.  As co-chair of both the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus and the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, I have a unique perspective on the intersection of policies that will provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities across a variety of sectors.  I supported passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, which took some important first steps toward encouraging integrated employment opportunities, and I am currently working to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, with a goal of being even more inclusive of students with disabilities so they can participate in the experiential learning process that is so important in today’s economy.  I am also a sponsor of a resolution supporting the inclusion of Art into STEM education, transforming STEM to STEAM for students of all abilities.
QUESTION 6: Do you have a plan to enable students with disabilities, including those from historically marginalized communities and backgrounds, to receive the diagnosis, Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and accommodations/services they need to succeed in school and be prepared for competitive employment? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes.  I support stronger funding of IDEA Part B grants to states to realize more fully the potential of students with disabilities in schools.  I also support early childhood education programs and stronger resources for school counselors and other education and health professionals.
QUESTION 7: Do you have a plan to reform the benefits system (Medicaid, Medicaid buyin) to enable people with disabilities to work to the best of their capacities without losing supports they need to work? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes.  I am a cosponsor of the Transition to Independence Act, which would incentivize more integrated employment opportunities, including a Medicaid Buy-In program that would allow people who require Long-Term Care Services to work without fear of losing these critical supports that make them more self-sufficient.I also supported passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014 to empower people with disabilities to save for legitimate expenses without losing access to critical federal supports, like SSI and Medicaid.  And I am a cosponsor of a package of bills that would strengthen the ABLE Act even further, including the ABLE to Work Act, the ABLE Financial Planning Act and the ABLE Age Adjustment Act.
QUESTION 8: Do you have a plan to ensure people with disabilities are eligible for affordable health insurance regardless of preexisting conditions? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes.  I proudly supported passage of the Affordable Care Act, which expanded affordable coverage to 20 million previously uninsured people in the United States.  Although this was an important first step, more must be done to ensure that people don’t fall through the cracks as they work to determine the best coverage options for them, including critical long-term care coverage that is still sorely lacking in the private market.  Although I was disappointed that the CLASS provision in health reform couldn’t be implemented, I believe we must continue working towards a robust LTC insurance option for all.
QUESTION 9: Do you have a plan to provide home and community-based services to people with disabilities who would rather live in their own homes instead of institutions, and have the community attendant supports they need to work? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes.  I am an original cosponsor of the Disability Community Act, which would provide a temporary increase in Medicaid reimbursements for the community providers of services and supports as they come into compliance with federal overtime and minimum wage standards for PCAs.  I am also the primary sponsor of a bill to reauthorize the Lifespan Respite Care Act, which would continue building coordinated respite care service networks for family caregivers who provided $470 billion in uncompensated care in 2013, more than state and federal Medicaid payments combined.
QUESTION 10: Do you have a plan to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive services that would prevent them from being swept up into the criminal justice system, divert individuals with disabilities who are arrested to treatment options in lieu of jail where appropriate, receive needed accommodations in the criminal justice process and while incarcerated, and offer appropriate reentry support to help individuals with disabilities leaving jails and prisons reintegrate into their communities and secure jobs? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: People with disabilities – and juveniles in particular — experience disproportionately higher incarceration rates. We must take meaningful actions in any criminal justice reform measure to keep non-violent, disabled juveniles out of the juvenile justice system in the first place, reducing their exposure to additional violence and decreasing recidivism rates later in life.  This involves providing the proper community-based, educational, behavioral and mental health resources to address underlying issues before they become a problem.  It also requires engaging law enforcement and other community partners in education campaigns that include sensitivity training, de-escalation strategies, crisis management, and other tools that will result in more positive outcomes.
QUESTION 11: People with disabilities are twice as likely to be victims of crime as those without disabilities. People with disabilities also are far more likely to suffer from police violence, partially because manifestations of disability can be misunderstood as defiant behavior. Do you have a plan to address these issues? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Congress must provide more resources to train teachers, case workers, police officers and others to utilize positive methods of interaction that include de-escalation strategies, crisis management, positive behavioral interventions, and additional strategies that will decrease the incidence of negative and disruptive social interactions.
QUESTION 12: Both children and adults with disabilities are more likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault. Do you have a plan to address this issue? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: The horrifying reality is that sexual abuse against people with disabilities is all too prevalent and must be stopped.  I have been a strong advocate of strengthening laws such as the Violence Against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act to address instances of domestic violence and sexual assault in all forms.  And while these programs do assist victims with disabilities, much more can and must be done to ensure no barriers exist to receiving the services and supports that victims need, regardless of their abilities or disabilities.
QUESTION 13: Do you have a plan for veterans with disabilities facing barriers transitioning from active duty to civilian employment? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: I strongly support the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which makes tax credits available to employers for hiring individuals who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment, including veterans. I am also proud to be the lead cosponsor of the Military and Veterans Caregiver Services Improvement Act, which would improve military caregiver services by making veterans of all eras eligible for caregiver support services; extending eligibility to include a wider array of needs that may require caregiving; and expanding services available to caregivers, such as child care, financial advice and legal counseling. It would also allow veterans in the VA caregiver program to transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their dependents in recognition of the fact that a spouse, who may have been unemployed or underemployed previously, may now be required to become the primary source of income for the family.
QUESTION 14: Do you have a plan for accessible, affordable, integrated housing to allow people with disabilities to live in the communities where they work or are seeking work? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes.  I introduced the Veterans Homebuyer Accessibility Act, which would provide an $8,000 tax credit for veterans to purchase their first home, and an additional $8,000 tax credit for adaptive housing modifications.  This legislation will make it easier for our disabled veterans, who have served with distinction, to purchase a new home and make necessary adaptive modifications.  I also strongly support funding for Section 8 housing, as well as Section 202 and 811 supportive housing for the elderly and disabled.
QUESTION 15: Do you have a plan to address the lack of accessible transportation options that is a barrier to work for people with disabilities? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes. I was pleased to incorporate an amendment, adapted from my Transit Accessibility Innovation Act, into the surface transportation law encouraging transit systems to make public transportation more accessible and user-friendly for individuals with disabilities. This amendment increased the threshold of FTA funding that can go to paratransit services from 10 to 20 percent if the transit system is able to address accessibility deficiencies and improve service in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including qualifying for eligibility, telephone hold times, on-time performance, no-show policies, and origin-to-destination services.
QUESTION 16: Do you have a plan to advance innovations (i.e., assistive technologies, devices) that can help people with disabilities become more successfully employed, productive and independent? If yes, please describe.

ANSWER: Yes, I have advocated for strong Assistive Technology Act Program (ATAP) funding over the years, and I have hosted briefings as co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus on assistive technologies that can provide people with disabilities more inclusion and independence at home and in the workplace.
The RespectAbility Report is a nonpartisan political commentary on the 2016 U.S. elections with a focus on disability issues. The RespectAbility Report has covered all of the Democratic and Republican candidates for president, senate and governor. Coverage can be found at http://therespectabilityreport.org/. The RespectAbility Report is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates.