This is a statement from Concerned Citizens of NY-03 which has been fighting since January to have George Santos held accountable for defrauding voters and apparently, donors. He has already escaped two votes to expel, and now the House Ethics Committee has issued its report finding “unprecedented” corruption. Further, the Committee found that “the nature of the violations are fundamental ethical failings that go to the core of the legitimacy of the electoral process. And, most significantly, Rep. Santos’ fraud on the electorate is ongoing – he continues to propound falsehoods and misrepresentations.” There is now a third resolution to expel Santos.
In early January, as the litany of Santos’s lies emerged and the scale of his fraud on the electorate became clear, voters came together in a nonpartisan effort to seek his ouster. But even with the firehose of scandals that soon became fodder for late night TV and international media, Santos made it clear that he had no shame and would not resign. Unfortunately, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was unwilling to force Santos out, promising that the Santos mess would be addressed once the House Ethics Committee report was issued, despite the tarnish that Santos’s scandals brought to the GOP.
Outraged NY-03 constituents, the victims of Santos’s fraud, with no voice in Washington, have been holding protest rallies and press conferences, conducting national letter-writing and postcarding campaigns, issuing press statements, signing petitions, andmore. For ten months, we have been calling on the House of Representatives to expel Santos.
We understand that the Constitution permits the House to expel a Member of Congress, and there is no limit on that authority, except that it requires a two-thirds majority. But we also understand that expelling a Member of Congress is momentous, with only five expulsions from the House of Representatives in the history of our country – and that the recent expulsions followed criminal convictions. (Santos’s criminal trial will not begin until September at the earliest, so he is unlikely to be convicted before the next election.)
Yesterday, the House Ethics Committee issued their long-awaited report on Santos, which found overwhelming evidence of unethical conduct and illegal activity. But the Ethics Committee chose not to opine on whether Santos should be expelled, instead leaving it up to the House of Representatives to decide if George Santos should become the sixth Member of Congress ever to be expelled from the House. Importantly, the House Ethics Committee found that the Santos case is “unprecedented in many respects.” Further, the Committee found that “the nature of the violations are fundamental ethical failings that go to the core of the legitimacy of the electoral process. And, most significantly, Rep. Santos’ fraud on the electorate is ongoing – he continues to propound falsehoods and misrepresentations.”
Rep. Michael Guest, GOP Chair of the House Ethics Committee, is expected to introduce a privileged Resolution to Expel Santos this morning, which will force a floor vote on November 28th or 29th. We are relying on the GOP leadership to whip votes so that the expulsion resolution passes this time. We are also looking to the NYGOP Five — Reps. Nick LaLota, Anthony D’Esposito, Brandon Williams, Mike Lawler, and Marc Molinaro — to fight to achieve Santos’s ouster. Together they have had the power all along to force the GOP leadership to remove Santos from his seat, but so far, they have chosen not to exercise it. They need to notify Republican leadership that they can no longer count on the NYGOP Five to vote in lockstep with the Republican agenda, until Santos is ousted from Congress.
The Ethics Report makes it clear that Santos’s egregious conduct “warrants public condemnation” and the unprecedented nature and scope of his deceits supports the case for expulsion. Indeed, it would set a dangerous precedent to leave George Santos in Congress for his two-year term after his unrelenting lies, theft, and fraud. Allowing Santos to stay would send the wrong message to future fraudsters: If you lie your way into elected office, there will be no consequences, and you can collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and benefits on the public dime. You can also continue to grift as long as you can take the heat from the press and your constituents.
The residents of NY-03 should not have to spend one more day with Santos as our Congressman. Are Republicans up to the task of bringing some integrity back to the House of Representatives?
About 40 cars participated in a “Drive Out Santos” caravan event on Saturday, February 25, organized by Courage for America, Concerned Citizens of NY 03, and Moveon.org. The event was aimed at “driving” home and keeping top-of-mind the many lies, frauds, and failures of George Santos, who remains in Congress months after his frauds came to light, despite investigations by federal, state, local, and even international (Brazil) authorities.
The caravan route was a veritable tour through the labyrinth of Santos’ lies, passing key landmarks that represent the main categories: an animal hospital, exemplifying the bogus charities he set up to bilk people out of money; Citibank, emblematic of his fabricated resume; Lake Success Jewish Center, a reminder of the pain he caused by claiming a Jewish heritage and grandparents who escaped the Holocaust, then saying he didn’t mean he was “Jewish,” but rather he was “Jew-ish:; Il Bacco, where he spent $26,000, encapsulating the campaign finance violations and financial dealings, which are actual crimes, now being investigated by federal, state and local authorities; ending at Santos office (still with former Congressman Tom Suozzi’s name) at 242-09 Northern Blvd, Queens, where he ghosts his own constituents.
(To be refreshed about the dozens and dozens of Santos’ lies, text Santos to 50409 and you can see one by one 40 to 50 of Santos lies, and generate a letter to your Congressmember to vote to expel Santos, a campaign set up by Concerned Citizens of NY 03.)
The route, and the website are aimed at highlighting Santos’ lies and frauds “he wants us to forget” but which have strong emotional impact on the constituents he defrauded, said Casey Sabella. “He lied his way to Congress. And while he is a lackluster legislature [not able to serve on committees] he is pushing legislation that doesn’t comport with the needs, wants and values of NY-03.”
For example, Santos is co-sponsoring legislation to make the AR-15 the “national gun,” – which should also be a reminder that he lied about having four employees massacred at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida. But, it must be said, brings him closer under the protection of the most radical extremists, the Sedition Caucus.
“That encourages violence and makes it harder for teachers and people in public service to do their jobs,” Sabella said, who must be fearful about the next mass shooting, which now happen with more frequency than the days of the month,
Governor Kathy Hochul reacted to Santos co-sponsoring the bill, stating, “It’s outrageous and appalling that New York Congressman Santos would attach his name to legislation that would designate the AR-15 as the ‘national gun of the United States.’ This weapon of war has been used in mass shootings across the United States – from my hometown of Buffalo, where the shooter used a modified AR-15 to murder ten people in a despicable act of white supremacist terrorism, to Parkland, Florida, where the shooter killed seventeen innocent people with an AR-15-style weapon. The families and friends of those killed in Parkland have become heroic advocates for gun safety – including the Beigel-Schulman family of Dix Hills, who fight for change in memory of their son, Scott. This bill, which attempts to glorify the weapons that have been part of such horrific tragedies, adds unforgivable insult to injury for those families. It should never become law, and Congressman Santos should immediately remove his name from it, if he has any respect for New Yorkers.”
The route went past Lake Success Jewish Center, to highlight Santos’ lies about having Jewish heritage, which really rankled Charlie Robbins, a Moveon volunteer and NY03 constituent with his children and grandchildren. “At a time when antisemitism is growing, somebody lying about being Jewish, about being a descendant of Holocaust survivors, is offensive, disqualifying. A man of his character shouldn’t be in Congress. Expel him.” Instead, Santos (who boasted about being at the January 6 rally and contributing money to bail out Capitol rioters) has allied himself with the White Christo Fascists in Congress – including Marjorie Taylor Greene,.
(Indeed, while these constituents were rallying, White Christo Fascists have become so emboldened by Trumpism, as to declare February 25 “National Hate Day,” prompting Governor Hochul, at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah’s Shabbat of PeacN not Hate, to state, “There are 20 million New Yorkers who are with you today and every day as we stand up and call out antisemitism and racism and homophobia and all the other isms, because there’s still far more of us than there are of them, and I want them to know that. There is strength in numbers, but there’s also strength and a legacy of courage of standing up to evil. In the last century, what we saw, the lessons, what happened with the Holocaust.”)
“There is no question in my mind that Mr. Santos is not fit to represent the people of Congressional District 3. We have no idea what he stands for except himself and his power and greed,” Robbins said.
Marie Marsina, who lives within walking distance of two of the sites along the caravan route, Il Bacco restaurant in Little Neck, and Santos’ district office in Douglaston, said, “Santos may think he got away with lying about campaign finance, funding, spending, but these are serious violations of federal law. They are illegal.” Santos patronized Il Bacco frequently – listing expenses of $199.99, exactly one cent short of the $200 threshold for requiring documentation, seven times; he listed items at $199.99 at least 37 times, totaling $7000, on everything from airlines, to purchases at BJ’s to Target. “Where did the money really go?”
“In TV interviews, Santos can play the victim and normalize candidate fraud, he can blame his treasurer [Nancy Marks, who has since resigned] or errors, but he is a grafter under investigation by federal, state, local authorities. Where did the money really go?” she declared. “NY03 deserves a representative, not a fraud. We are being held hostage by Santos, while he is earning $174,000 salary. We are not going away. New York Republican representatives need to step up and call on Congress to vote to expel Santos now.”
“George Santos is a career grifter who seeks out people’s vulnerabilities, including repeatedly preying on their good qualities of compassion and love for vulnerable animals. These actions, among so many other things he has done, make him manifestly unqualified to serve in Congress,”said Emily Raphael from Plainview, a member of the Steering Committee of Concerned Citizens of NY-03.
The route also highlighted Santos’ animal charity fraud, and is even accused of stealing money intended to save the life of a veteran’s dog (many participating in the caravan brought their dogs), prompting a cheer that is unlikely to ever have been used in any rally, “Woof woof. Bow wow. We want Santos gone now.”
The drive passed Citibank in New Hyde Park, represented how Santos fabricated his entire work history, including having worked for Citibank. “If anyone lied about those things, they would be fired. But Santos is still in power,” Sabella said. “And that makes it harder to do our jobs.”
The caravan ended in front of Santos’ office – still with Tom Suozzi’s name on the window and awning – to highlight the fact that though Santos has been back in the district during the Congressional recess, intended for Congressmembers to meet with constituents, he has had no town halls and no engagement.
“He can’t serve as our representative. Every day Congress fails to do something, is an insult to the community,” Sabella said. Santos, she said, betrays the district’s “wants, needs and values.”
“George Santos told real and significant lies that impacted all of us. It’s unacceptable that he is still in Congress actively legislating against us, and he needs to be expelled,” Sabella said.
Follow on social media: @Courage4America, @MoveOn, @CCNY03
About two dozen NY-03 constituents walked up to George Santos’ Douglaston, Queens office – still bearing the former Congressman Tom Suozzi’s name – hoping to be able to see him personally and hand him their petition that he resign for deceiving voters about his background, experience, finances. It is the recess, after all, when Congressmembers are in their home districts to meet with constituents.
But none of the constituents were allowed into the office to meet with him in person even though Santos was inside, according to Vish Burra, who described himself as Santos’ operations director but is more of a bouncer. Nor did Santos come out to meet his constituents.
Instead, Burra called the peaceful gathering a “mob” and said they were impeding access to the office, though no one other than these district residents were anywhere around.
“The Congressman is very busy. I can’t bring him out in front of a mob,” Burra said, and dismissed the thousands of signatures on multiple petitions as “fake constituents.”
About 10 New York City police were on hand, repeatedly pushing the group from one side of the sidewalk to another, finally corralling them behind a barrier.
This reporter was also refused entry to the office or the opportunity to ask Santos to comment on his constituents’ complaints.
The episode only served to validate the constituents’ complaints – they have no representation, no voice in Congress. Not only is their Congressman refusing to speak to them, but the rest of his colleagues in Congress are refusing to have anything to do with him. One might argue the situation violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause.
Jody Kass Finkel of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, a nonpartisan group that was formed to force Santos from office, instead read the statement she would have delivered directly to Santos to Burra:
“You are a pariah in Long Island. Nobody wants to work with you. We are weakened in our ability to get resources.”
The gathering at Rep. Santos’s District Office in Queens followed last week’s visit to Washington, D.C. by more than 50 NY-03 constituents, many of whom traveled by bus for nearly 10 hours roundtrip to the Capitol, where they were joined by Democratic Congressmembers Dan Goldman and Ritchie Torres, but were thwarted in their attempt to see Speaker McCarthy. Two days after the visit, where Santos’s constituents called on Speaker McCarthy to oust Santos, several Democratic Congressmembers introduced a Resolution to expel George Santos from the House of Representatives. That Resolution has been referred to the House Ethics Committee.
They called on Speaker McCarthy to immediately move the Resolution to expel Rep. George Santos to the House Floor for a straight up or down vote.
“The residents of NY-03 will not sit back while that Resolution languishes in the Ethics Committee, which is just being constituted and has yet to hold its first meeting. Meanwhile, the residents of NY-03 are without meaningful representation and the country reels from Santos’s ongoing scandals,” declared Jody Kass Finkel, of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, which organized the action.
“We question the motives of the national GOP in allowing Santos to run, in seating him, and in not moving rapidly to oust him. The timeline shows that Speaker McCarthy and Rep. Stefanik knew a year before the election that Santos was a fraud, and had at least five months to replace him with a credible candidate. And they are still supporting him.”
She charged that McCarthy and Republicans with being content to allow the corruption of government and asked, “How deep does the corruption go?”
“In addition to his serious legal and ethical irregularities, Santos brings a firehose of scandal wherever he goes – from the constant drip of new revelations of old scams – such as his theft of charity funds intended for a veteran’s sick dog, to cheating an Amish dog owner, to new bombshell stories about a staffer Santos hired who accuses him of sexual misconduct. All of this is on top of his insensitive and manipulative claims of being a descendant of Holocaust survivors, having employees that died at the Pulse nightclub and that his mom died as a result of 9/11. Jews, the LGBTQ community, and families of 9/11 victims are outraged that he used their pain for political gain. He is an embarrassment to the entire country and the world is aghast at this spectacle, as well.”
“Republicans now hold all four Congressional seats on Long Island. So it’s reasonable to be skeptical about their ability to get anything done for Long Island, while the Santos scandal is front and center. We are in need of federal resources for roads, bridges, parks, toxic waste cleanups, etc. At the moment, the Long Island delegation is associated with the Santos disaster. When they appear in public, all they are asked about is George Santos. They will be hamstrung in delivering for Long Island until he is gone.
“Let Santos know we will not allow fraud, corruption to be normalized…We are looking to the three Long Island Congressmen – who had a hand in giving McCarthy the speaker’s gavel – to help end this national nightmare.”
Jane Russell of Manhasset, said, “I came to see if the fraudster would have the guts to come out. He does not represent me. More than 78 prcent of constituents said he should resign… This wicked degenerate is now my representative. I’m horrified. He’s a pariah with no credibility… If Santos doesn’t resign, we call on McCarthy to hold a vote to expel.”
Kim Keiserman of Port Washington said, “McCarthy seems to think our district will accept two years of Santos… Like all Americans, we depend on our representative to fight for our interests, values, be a serious participant, dedicated to understanding our problems, and legislating solutions. Not one whose entire time is taken by embarrassing revelations and investigations… We deserve to be represented by someone of personal integrity, who we can trust to tell the truth about his background, experience, campaign finances, and decisions in Congress – not someone who entire life is a lie, a conman with zero credibility with colleagues, a national security threat, who probably will be convicted of several serious crimes. We are not willing to accept having no representative at all. McCarthy, it is time to listen to us, do your job, hold a vote to expel Santos.”
Casey Sabella, an organizer with Courage for America said that Santos is hoping to just sit tight “and we’ll shut up. But we know his lies, the crimes he committed – thank you local press. He can’t represent us. Hold a vote to expel.” Sabella has been organizing constituent petitions and rallies(go to www.whoisgeorgesantos.com).
She pointed to a new national drive launched by Concerned Citizens of NY-03 to have constituents across the country lobby their own Congressmember to get McCarthy to hold a vote to expel Santos (you also (in a humorous way) can see Santos’ lies, one by one.
In the last several weeks, at least 25 separate petitions, with hundreds of thousands of signatures, were initiated calling for his ouster. MoveOn delivered a petition to Santos’s District Office on February 1 which had over 100,000 signatures; the petition delivered last week in Washington had over 1,000 signatures from NY-03 residents; a Change.org petition had over 35,000 signatures. Today’s petition delivered to Rep. Santos is the second tranche of 1,000 signatures from NY-03 residents.
“People in NY-03 and across America are disgusted by Santos’s deceit,” Kass Finkel declared. “Each day that George Santos holds the honorable title of Congressman is an affront to the residents of NY-03, democracy and decency.”
Concerned Citizens of NY-03 is an ad hoc, nonpartisan group of constituents who have come together in their anger at George Santos’s deception with the sole purpose of having Santos removed from the U.S. House of Representatives.
During his first State of the Union address, President Biden announced a four-part Unity Agenda focused on areas where members of both parties can come together and make additional progress for the American people: ending cancer as we know it; delivering on the sacred obligation to veterans; tackling the mental health crisis; and beating the opioid and overdose epidemic.
Over the last year, the President was proud to work with Democrats and Republicans to enact major legislation that delivers on all aspects of this four-part agenda. In his State of the Union today, the President will announce a new set of policies to continue to make progress advancing his Unity Agenda and deliver results for families across the country.
Accelerating Progress to End Cancer as We Know It Today Cancer has touched nearly every American family, and it remains the second leading cause of death in America. To accelerate progress in the fight against cancer, last year, the President and First Lady reignited the Cancer Moonshot with the goal of cutting U.S. cancer death rates by at least half in 25 years and improving the experience of individuals, caregivers, and families living with and surviving cancer. Over the past year, the Cancer Moonshot has announced nearly 30 new federal programs, policies and resources to close the screening gap, tackle environmental exposure, decrease preventable cancers, advance cutting-edge research, support patients and caregivers, and more. More than 60 private companies, non-profits, academic institutions, and patient groups have also answered the President’s call and stepped up with new actions and collaborations. The President will call on Congress to act to end cancer as we know it, and the Cancer Moonshot will drive additional progress this year by:
Bringing America’s cancer research system into the 21st century. As we work to continue the progress we’ve made over the last year, the Administration is urging Congress to reauthorize the National Cancer Act, which 52 years ago set up the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in its current form. The reauthorization will update the nation’s cancer research and care systems to put modern American innovation fully to work to end cancer as we know it. This includes standing up clinical trial networks, creating new data systems that break down silos, and ensuring that knowledge gained through research is available to as many experts as possible, so we can find answers faster and make a difference for patients. Working with Congress, we can also lock in the strong investment in cancer research that passed in 2016 as part of the broadly bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, which otherwise expires this year.
Providing patient navigation support to every American facing cancer. The Biden-Harris Administration will take steps to ensure that patient navigation services – services that help guide individuals, caregivers, and families through cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship – are covered benefits going forward for as many people facing cancer as possible. These patient navigation services not only improve the experience for those patients and their families, they improve patient outcomes and provide value back to the health care system.
Tackling the biggest single driver of cancer deaths in this country – smoking. The Administration is preparing further action to help people avoid smoking in the first place and support Americans who want to quit. These steps could prevent as much as 30 percent of cancer deaths in this country, saving up to 130,000 American lives, annually. While we have made progress, tobacco products still hook too many young people at an early age and take control away from individual Americans to make the decision not to smoke. The Administration is working to put that control back in the hands of Americans.
During his first State of the Union address, President Biden cited the recent announcement of his plan to supercharge the Cancer Moonshot and called on Congress to fund ARPA-H, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, to drive breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other diseases. Since that time, the President and Congress have stepped up together to provide ARPA-H $2.5 billion in initial investment. The President also signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which will lower prescription drug costs for tens of thousands of cancer patients with Medicare coverage. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will also help cut cancer deaths by accelerating clean-up at Superfund sites and helping states and communities replace lead pipes and service lines.
Supporting America’s Veterans and Their Families, Caregivers, and Survivors The President believes there is no more sacred obligation than taking care of our nation’s military service members, veterans, and their families, caregivers, and survivors. On health care, education, and housing, the Administration and Congress have worked together to make progress to connect veterans and their families to needed resources. Over the past year, the Administration expanded benefits for veterans as well as their caregivers and survivors, and delivered more benefits and health care more quickly to more veterans than ever before. In 2022, VA processed an all-time record 1.7 million veteran claims, and delivered $128 billion in earned benefits to 6.1 million veterans and survivors. In the State of the Union, the President will announce his Administration plans to continue that work by:
Reducing veteran suicide. Suicide among veterans is a public health and national security crisis. Since 2010, more than 71,000 veterans have died by suicide – more than the total number of deaths from combat during the Vietnam War and operations in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Since releasing a comprehensive strategy for reducing military and veteran suicide, both DOD and VA reported declines in suicide deaths, but much more remains to be done. This will include actions to:
Support states and territories. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working with the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Defense (DOD) to partner with 49 states and 5 territories through the Governor’s Challenge. To help facilitate this work, VA will launch a new $10 million program to provide federal resources to states, territories, Tribes and Tribal organizations to develop and implement proposals under the program.
Increase lethal means safety: In the coming year, VA will deploy new resources to improve suicide risk identification and increase lethal means safety counseling and safe storage. VA will offer additional training for the 1.3 million community providers and expand KeepItSecure, the landmark lethal means safety campaign, with new resources and materials for providers, caregivers, family members of veterans, and gun shop owners to encourage safe storage of firearms and lethal medications.
Expand outreach to justice involved veterans. Veterans who become involved in the criminal justice system may be at high risk of suicide. Through Veteran Treatment Courts and other justice outreach engagements, VA is able to provide veterans access to benefits and services that can be life-changing, and VA will accelerate hiring of veteran justice outreach professionals to expand these programs.
Expand Access to Legal Support Services. VA will build upon and expand its current 28 Medical-Legal Partnerships. Family caregivers participating in VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance will also be able to receive Financial and Legal Assistance later this year. VA will also award up to 75 grants under its new Legal Services for Homeless Veterans and Veterans at Risk for Homeless (LSV-H) program to provide legal services to veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Expanding access to peer support, including mental health services. Military service increases the risk of mental health problems and other adjustment challenges for veterans. Veteran Peer Specialists are a critical asset within VA’s workforce, working across various programs to connect their fellow veterans to services, participate as members of health care teams, and provide individual and group-based peer support. Last year, VA pledged to hire an additional 280 peer specialists and is on track to meet this goal by the end of 2023. VA will increase the number of peer specialists working across VA medical centers by 350 over the next 7 years.
Ensuring access to affordable, stable housing for low-income veterans. Every veteran should have a roof over their head. The President’s upcoming budget will triple the number of extremely low-income veterans who can access the assistance they need to afford rent over the years ahead, paving the path to an entitlement for those who have served our country. The number of veterans experiencing homelessness declined by 11% between 2020 and 2022 and the United States permanently housed more than 40,000 veterans in 2022 alone.
In last year’s State of the Union, the President called for Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to address military toxic exposures. In August 2022, President Biden signed the bipartisan PACT Act into law, the most significant expansion of benefits and services for toxic exposed veterans in more than 30 years. Over the last year, the Administration also took critical action to help reduce veteran suicide, including transitioning the Veterans Crisis Line to “988, press 1.” The Administration also expanded access to reproductive health services for women veterans, supported more than 2.3 million children living with wounded, ill, or injured service members through the First Lady’s Joining Forces Initiative, and implemented key measures to protect veterans from predatory for-profit colleges.
Tackling the Mental Health Crisis Forty percent of American adults report symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the percent of children and adolescents with anxiety and depression has risen nearly thirty percent. Last year, President Biden called for additional actions to advance his Mental Health Strategy across its three objectives: support Americans by creating healthy environments; strengthening system capacity, and connecting more Americans to care. Over the last year, the Administration invested critical resources to provide mental health and substance use supports to Americans, including by expanding Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, investing unprecedented resources in the 988 suicide prevention hotline, and taking steps to help address the harms of social media on youth. In the State of the Union, the President will say that we will continue that work by:
Creating healthy environments. Decades of research show that coordinating prevention and recovery support across settings can pay long-term dividends. The Biden-Harris Administration will:
Protect kids online. There is compelling and growing evidence that social media and other tech platforms can be harmful to mental health, wellbeing and development. Children, adolescents, and teens are especially vulnerable to such harm. More than one-third of American teens say they use a major social media platform “almost constantly” and that they spend “too much time on social media.” Far too often, the platforms do not enforce their own terms of service with respect to minors who use their products and services. Children are also subject to the platforms’ excessive data collection vacuum, which they use to deliver sensational and harmful content and troves of paid advertising. Children also suffer from bullying, harassment, abuse, and even sexual exploitation by other users online. And platforms use manipulative design techniques embedded in their products to promote addictive and compulsive use by young people in the name of “user engagement” – all to generate more revenue. The Administration will build on the Surgeon-General’s Youth Mental Health Advisory, the Department of Health and Human Services’ new Center of Excellence on Social Media and Mental Wellness, and the recent passage of the Children and Media Research Advancement Act. Platforms and other interactive digital service providers should be required to prioritize the privacy and wellbeing of young people above profit and revenue in their product design, including safety by design standards and practices for online platforms, products, and services. The President is calling for bipartisan support to ban targeted advertising online for children and young people and enact strong protections for their privacy, health and safety online.
Strengthen data privacy and platform transparency for all Americans: Big Tech companies collect huge amounts of data on the things we buy, the websites we visit, and the places we go. There should be clear and strict limits on the ability to collect, use, transfer, and maintain our personal data, especially for sensitive data such as geolocation and health information, and the burden must fall on companies – not consumers – to minimize how much information they collect. We must also demand transparency about the algorithms companies use that far too often discriminate against Americans and sow division. The President has called for imposing much stronger transparency requirements on Big Tech platforms and is calling for bipartisan support to impose strong limits on targeted advertising and the personal data that companies collect on all Americans.
Support the mental health of the health workforce. Even before the pandemic, health workers were experiencing high levels of burnout, anxiety, and depression. Studies have shown that burnout have reached crisis levels, affecting up to 54 percent of nurses and physicians. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will launch a new campaign to provide a hub of mental health and resiliency resources to health care organizations in better supporting their workforce
Promote youth resilience. While rates of anxiety, depression, and self-harm among youth have been on the rise over the past several years, there are also remarkable stories of hope and resilience. To help foster innovation in promoting resilience, HHS will launch a new Children and Youth Resilience Prize Challenge, awarding a total of $750,000 in a new pilot program.
Connecting more Americans to care. On average, it takes 11 years after the onset of mental health symptoms for someone to seek treatment. We can do better. To mitigate these challenges, the Administration is working to make care more affordable and accessible across all types of health insurance, integrating mental health services into settings that are more familiar, such as schools, and expanding access to telehealth. To continue this progress, the Biden Administration will:
Improve school-based mental health. The Department of Education (ED) will announce more than $280 million in grants to increase the number of mental health care professionals in high-need districts and strengthen the school-based mental health profession pipeline. HHS and ED intend to issue guidance and propose a rule, respectively, to remove red tape for schools, making it easier for them to provide health care to students and more easily bill Medicaid funding for these critical services.
Strengthen parity. This spring, the Administration will propose new rules to ensure that insurance plans are not imposing inequitable barriers to care and mental health providers are being paid by health plans on par with other health care professionals.
Enhance crisis services. The Administration launched 988, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, in 2022, making it easier for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis to receive timely care. In the coming year, HHS will improve the capacity of the 988 Lifeline by investing in an expansion of the crisis care workforce; scaling mobile crisis intervention services; and developing additional guidance on best practices in crisis response.
Expand access to telehealth. HHS will triple resources dedicated to promoting interstate license reciprocity for delivery of mental health services across state lines. VA will launch a new nationwide network of behavioral health clinicians to ensure timely access to evidence-based mental health services to veterans enrolled in VA health care. And, DoD will continue to expand the BRAVE program, a virtual behavioral health center providing services 24/7 to service members and their families located on federal installations across the globe.
Strengthening system capacity. Severe shortages in the behavioral health workforce are at the center of the mental health crisis. In addition to implementing legislation passed by Congress that creates 350 new slots to help train the next generation of mental health professionals, the Administration will:
Recruit diverse candidates to the mental health profession: HHS will increase funding to recruit future mental health professionals from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and to expand the Minority Fellowship Program.
Prioritize research: The Office of Science and Technology Policy and Domestic Policy Council released the White House Report on Mental Health Research Priorities, which identifies key areas where additional scientific research is needed to address our national mental health crisis. These priorities will ensure coordination across the federal agencies and private sector partners that support or perform mental health research.
Last year, after the President called for addressing the nation’s mental health crisis in the State of the Union, the Administration made important progress on expanding access to mental health services and treatment for substance use. President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which makes unprecedented investment in youth mental health and supports school-based health services. The Administration also oversaw the successful transition to 988, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, investing over $500 million to strengthen 988 infrastructure and grow local crisis-center capacity – a twenty-fold increase over the prior administration. The Biden Administration also developed new resources to support the mental health and resilience of frontline workers, expanded Medicare coverage to include additional mental health and substance use disorder services, and encouraged states to better address youth mental health for those with Medicaid coverage.
Beating the Opioid and Overdose Epidemic by Accelerating the Crackdown on Fentanyl Trafficking and Public Health Efforts to Save Lives Last year, President Biden announced his plan to beat the opioid epidemic as part of his Unity Agenda, because opioid use and trafficking affect families in red communities and blue communities and every community in between. Under President Biden’s leadership, overdose deaths and poisonings have decreased for five months in a row – but these deaths remain unacceptably high and are primarily caused by fentanyl. In the State of the Union, the President will announce key actions the Administration to tackle this issue head on, including by:
Disrupting the trafficking, distribution, and sale of fentanyl. In just the last year Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has seized a historic 260,000 pounds of illicit drugs primarily at ports of entry on our border, including nearly 15,000 pounds of fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program were involved in the seizure of more than 26,000 pounds of fentanyl in FY22—including 50.6 million fentanyl-laced counterfeit prescription pills—along with over 6,500 pounds of heroin, 335,000 pounds of methamphetamine, and 370,000 pounds of cocaine. The HIDTA seizures denied $9 billion to drug traffickers, cutting into their profits. Further, through President Biden’s Executive Order on Imposing Sanctions on Foreign Persons Involved in the Global Illicit Drug Trade, the Department of the Treasury has imposed sanctions against dozens of individuals and entities involved in the illicit drug trade. To aggressively expand on this historic effort, the President will announce in the State of Union that his administration will:
Stop more fentanyl from getting into the U.S. at the Southwest Border Ports of Entry. By providing 123 new large-scale scanners at Land Points of Entry along the Southwest Border by Fiscal Year 2026, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will increase its inspection capacity from what has historically been around two percent of passenger vehicles and about 17 percent of cargo vehicles to 40 percent of passenger vehicles and 70 percent of cargo vehicles. These investments will crack down on a major avenue of fentanyl trafficking, securing our border and keeping dangerous drugs from reaching our country.
Stop more packages from being shipped into the United States with fentanyl and the materials used to make it. Drug traffickers use small, hard-to-track packages to ship opioids and other illicit materials into and within the United States, hidden among the millions of packages sent daily via commercial package delivery companies. That’s why CBP is working with these companies to have them voluntarily provide data that help law enforcement identify, inspect and intercept suspicious packages. Through these combined public-private efforts, CBP has increased seizures in commercial package delivery services’ warehouses from 42,000 pounds of illicit substances to more than 63,000 pounds in just the past two years. This year, CBP will expand these voluntary data sharing partnerships to capture more information – and, in turn, seize more packages.
Lead a sustained diplomatic push that will address fentanyl and its supply chain abroad. The Administration will work with international partners to disrupt the global fentanyl production and supply chain, and call on others to join our efforts. We will focus on seizing chemical ingredients and fentanyl before it can reach our communities, and hold accountable the producers, traffickers, and facilitators of these deadly drugs. Many of these ingredients and materials originate outside our borders, and we will call on global partners to work with us and do more to disrupt the criminal elements within their countries who sell chemicals and tools for the production of counterfeit pills around the world.
Work with Congress to make permanent tough penalties on suppliers of fentanyl. The federal government regulates illicitly produced fentanyl analogues and related substances as Schedule I drugs, meaning they are subject to strict regulations and criminal penalties. But traffickers have found a loophole: they can easily alter the chemical structure of fentanyl—creating “fentanyl related substances” (FRS)—to evade regulation and enhance the drug’s impact. The DEA and Congress temporarily closed this loophole by making all FRS Schedule I. The Administration looks forward to working with Congress on its comprehensive proposal to permanently schedule all illicitly produced FRS into Schedule I. Traffickers of these deadly substances must face the penalties they deserve, no matter how they adjust their drugs.
Expanding access to evidence-based prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery. Over the last year, the Biden-Harris Administration took unprecedented steps to expand access to naloxone and other harm reduction interventions, such as permitting the use of $50 million for local public health departments to purchase naloxone, releasing guidance to make it easier for programs to obtain and distribute naloxone to at-risk populations, and prioritizing the review of over-the-counter naloxone applications. The Administration has also fundamentally changed addiction treatment across the country by working with Congress to remove barriers that prevented medical professionals from prescribing treatment for opioid use disorder and pursuing rulemaking to make permanent the COVID-19 era flexibilities that allowed for telehealth prescribing of buprenorphine and take-home methadone doses. To further connect people to life-saving help, the Biden-Harris Administration will:
Deliver more life-saving naloxone to communities hit hard by fentanyl. In late spring, HHS will take new steps to encourage and aide states in their efforts to use existing funding to purchase naloxone and distribute it in their communities. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will provide enhanced technical assistance to states who have existing State Opioid Response funds, and will host peer learning forums, national policy academies, and convenings with organizations distributing naloxone beginning this spring.
Ensure every jail and prison across the nation can provide treatment for substance use disorder. Providing treatment while individuals are in jails and prisons, and continuing their treatment in their communities, has been proven to decrease overdose deaths, reduce crime, and increase employment during reentry. By this summer, the Federal Bureau of Prisons will ensure that each of their 122 facilities are equipped and trained to provide in-house medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Further, since more than 90 percent of individuals who are incarcerated are in state and local jails and prisons, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will provide guidance this spring allowing states to use Medicaid funds to provide health care services—including treatment for people with substance use disorder—to individuals in those facilities prior to their release.
Build on historic progress to drastically expand access to medications for opioid use disorder. The Biden-Harris Administration will further expand access to treatment by working with medical professionals to make prescribing proven treatments, including buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, part of routine health care delivery and ensure that manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacies are making medications available to everyone with a prescription.
Launch a national campaign to educate young people on the dangers of fentanyl, and how naloxone saves lives. The Ad Council’s Real Deal on Fentanyl campaign has raised awareness about the dangers of fentanyl among youth. ONDCP and the Ad Council will build on this work by launching a naloxone education component of the campaign, which will reach the young people who are the fastest-growing age group to experience opioid overdose and poisoning by engaging popular social media platforms, college athletes and campus-based organizations. The campaign will also develop media to be shared on college campuses, in bars, public transportation stations, and retail locations to educate young people about the dangers of fentanyl and highlight naloxone resources.
During his first State of the Union address, President Biden called on Congress to get rid of outdated rules that stop doctors from prescribing treatments and provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to stop the flow of illicit drugs like fentanyl. In his State of the Union today, President Biden will highlight a bipartisan effort that delivered on his promise by passing the MAT Act, which removed the X-waiver as a barrier for health care providers prescribing life-saving medications for opioid use disorder at a time when fewer than 1 out of Americans can access the treatment they need. President Biden also signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act that included a two-year extension to classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act, ensuring law enforcement has the tools they need to respond to the manufacture and trafficking of illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids driving the overdose epidemic.
Think about why Republicans would have as their singular policy to destroy the United States economy – threaten, even actually refuse to raise the debt ceiling which will destroy the nation’s “full faith and credit”, unleash higher interest rates (cost), inflict untold pain and suffering on working people and derail the American Dream for countless millions, while coddling the richest 1% by going after the IRS and law enforcement. It’s not just to secure campaign funding and show their obeisance to their masters: they think that if they destroy the economy, unleash suffering, and, if more than two decades of history are the example, that the masses will blame Joe Biden and the Democrats (after all, they control the White house and Senate), so they will win the 2024 elections.
Republicans used fraud to win the midterms and take over the House, pretending they cared about inflation and crime, when in just these first days of their rule, their first acts have been to further erode civil rights, especially women’s reproductive rights, raise costs, worsen the national debt, harm public safety. After all, you don’t hear any Republican crow about how gas prices have fallen to pre-Putin levels and inflation rates have fallen to lowest level since March 2020, meanwhile, Speaker McCarthy put insurrectionists including Marjorie Taylor Greene on the Homeland Security Committee and fraudster George Santos on the Small Business Committee and Space, Science, and Technology, and kicked Adam Schiff off Intelligence And so much worse is to come. Just how destructive is the Republican economic agenda? If the debt ceiling is not raised and the nation’s credit rating falls, interest rates will rise, the cost of everything will go up, people will lose jobs, houses, and there will be less tax revenue flowing into the government, more money flowing out, and the national debt will only get worse. The White House issued this memo:–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
House Republican MAGA Economic Plan: Raise Taxes and Increase Costs for the Middle Class, Protect Rich Tax Cheats, and Cut Social Security & Medicare
House Republicans had a busy first week in the majority. Under President Biden’s leadership and economic plan, we just finished the best two years of job growth on record, inflation has been coming down for six straight months, gas prices are down around $1.70 from their summer peak, and President Biden’s plan to lower prescription drug costs and energy costs is going into effect.
House Republicans have a very different economic plan: make inflation worse, protect rich tax cheats, increase the deficit, raise taxes on middle-class families, and cut Social Security and Medicare. In their first week, they wasted no time in moving forward on these priorities:
Increasing Gas Prices: The new House Republican majority has proposed and will soon consider a bill that would raise gas prices and deprive Americans of relief at the pump when supply is most needed by restricting the ability to release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. After global oil prices skyrocketed because of Putin’s invasion, the President successfully used the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in 2022 to expand supply that helped lower gas prices for families here at home – while laying the groundwork to refill at a profit to taxpayers in the future. But House Republicans want to tie Presidents’ hands and hamstring one of the best supply tools we have to protect Americans from disruptions that spike gas prices.
Protecting Rich Tax Cheats:: Working people pay 99% of the taxes they owe, while the top 1 percent hides about 20% of their income from tax, including by funneling it through offshore accounts in tax havens that don’t report earnings. The President and Congressional Democrats passed legislation to make the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share, including by preventing them from cheating on the taxes they already owe.
For their very first bill, House Republicans voted last week to repeal that provision and let some super-wealthy people pay less in taxes than many hard-working Americans – including through outright tax fraud.
In addition to protecting rich tax cheats, the bill adds to the deficit. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, it increases the deficit by nearly $115 billion by enabling wealthy tax cheats to engage in additional tax fraud and avoidance. And for ordinary middle-class people who follow the law, it would mean longer waits for tax refunds. Lose-lose for working families.
Raising Taxes on the Middle-Class and Cutting Taxes on the Richest Americans with a New National Sales Tax: According to public reporting, Speaker McCarthy has agreed to bring to the floor a bill that would repeal most existing taxes and impose a new 23% national sales tax on American families. The bill would cover almost all goods and services purchases – from groceries and gas to food and medicine.
Non-partisanexperts across the ideologicalspectrum agree this proposal would raise taxes for middle-class Americans and slash them for the wealthy, while President George W. Bush’s Treasury Department analyzed a similar proposal and found it would raise taxes by thousands of dollars each year for typical middle-class families; the burden would likely be especially great for seniors and families with children. Meanwhile, people earning millions of dollars a year would see tax cuts of $100,000 or more.
Cutting Social Security and Medicare: President Biden has made clear that Congress must deal with the debt limit and they must do so without conditions. But Congressional Republicans continue to threaten to hold the nation’s full faith and credit hostage to their demands for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid cuts, and cuts to the part of the budget that funds scientific and medical research, education, consumer protection, and other basic services – even as business leaders, economists, and other experts continue to warn about the costs of their brinksmanship for the U.S. economy.
Meanwhile, militant Republicans like Rep. Andy Biggs are calling for the U.S. to default on its debt obligations (spending that has already been approved by Congress and spent), by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. But rather than cut spending, it would mean chaos, collapse, and catastrophe for the U.S. and a windfall for China, and at the same time RAISE costs and the national debt because interest rates would skyrocket, 6 million would lose their jobs, requiring more unemployment and social services.
Rep. Andy Biggs says outright, “We cannot raise the debt ceiling. Democrats have carelessly spent our taxpayer money and devalued our currency. They’ve made their bed, so they must lie in it.”
This is a stunning and unacceptable position that would lead to economic chaos, collapse, and catastrophe. And in so doing it would give our competitors, like China, an historic leg up in overtaking the American economy.
In line with every major outlet, CNN warned yesterday that failing to lift the debt ceiling would “tank the financial markets, suspend Social Security payments to senior citizens, hurt the economy and cause other chaos.”
Leading congressional Republicans have themselves admitted in the past that default would trigger an economic collapse, killing millions of jobs and decimating 401k plans. That’s why they voted to raise the debt ceiling without brinkmanship 3 times during the Trump Administration – with strong bipartisan support from their Democratic colleagues.
But hardline MAGA Republicans are now advocating for this outcome. This is despite President Biden having achieved unprecedented deficit reduction and despite House Republicans’ supports for tax giveaways to the rich that put trillions on the nation’s credit card.
Other congressional Republicans intend to use the debt limit to force an economic meltdown unless they can cut Medicare and Social Security, directly against the will of a bipartisan majority of the country.
“Rep. Biggs is dead wrong to actively support the ruin of millions of American livelihoods, 401k plans, and small businesses, all in the name of scorched earth partisanship,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates. “Default would needlessly plunge the country into economic chaos, collapse, and catastrophe while giving our competitors like China an historic boost against us. That’s why congressional Republicans – with strong bipartisan support from Democrats – avoided default 3 times under Donald Trump, without conditions or playing chicken with our credit rating. This president and the American people will not stand for unprecedented economic vandalism. Full stop.”
Be reminded: Trump added $7.4 TRILLION to the national debt in just 4 years – that 25% (one-fourth) of the total debt of nearly 250 years. Much of that was before pandemic, largely caused by the $2 trillion giveaway to the wealthiest and to the biggest corporations. 50 corporations, with a combined $50 billion in profit paid zero tax. It’s estimated that the wealthiest hide 20 percent of their taxable wealth.
Against a drip, drip, drip of new sensational scandals involving George Santos, and the continuing campaign to pressure on George Santos to resign or Speaker Kevin McCarthy to hold a vote to expel, Congressman Ritchie Torres (NY-15) joined Concerned Citizens of NY-03 in Great Neck to demand the Federal Election Commission launch an investigation into potential illegal activity and irregularities surrounding his campaign finances.
Torres, the Bronx Democrat who introduced the SANTOS Act which would punish candidates who knowingly lie to voters about their background, outlined a web of incestuous relationships between Santos’ campaign, the Devolder Organization, Redstone Strategies and NY Rising.
“Given what we know through public reporting, it is outrageous to me that Mr. Santos was even allowed to be sworn in officially as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Rep. Torres. “But now, there are serious questions that need to be answered surrounding the way in which he supposedly financed his illegitimate campaign for elected office that was built on a web of deception encompassing nearly every facet of his professional and personal life. The American people – and the people of New York’s third congressional district – deserve to be represented by someone who will serve them with honesty, transparency, and integrity. Rep. Santos has proven himself to be not only a habitual liar who’s supremely unqualified to be serving in Congress, but someone who desperately needs to be held accountable for breaking the public’s trust and potentially breaking the law.”
In a letter sent to the chair of the FEC, Rep. Torres requests an investigation into the questionable relationship between Rep. Santos’s campaign and RedStone Strategies, an unregistered fundraising entity whose apparent practices on behalf of the Santos campaign might have contributed to multiple violations of the Federal Election Campaigns Act (FECA) as reported recently by the New York Times.
Rep. Torres was joined in his calls for an FEC investigation by members of Concerned Citizens of NY-03, a new nonpartisan group of residents organized around the sole mission of upholding congressional integrity and having Rep. Santos removed from office.
“We are delighted that Rep. Ritchie Torres accepted our invitation to visit NY-03 so we can thank him for his leadership and encourage the FEC to take action to hold Rep. Santos accountable,” said Jody Kass Finkel, founder of Concerned Citizens of NY-03.
“It’s a shame that Speaker Kevin McCarthy thinks it is okay for the more than 700,000 people who live in this district to have no legitimate representation. Rep. Torres understands how insulting it is for us to be told to ‘Live with it. Get over it. Your voice does not matter.’ We will not be silent and deserve to have a representative who tells us the truth. We look forward to our ongoing collaboration with Rep. Torres to deliver accountability for the people of this district and to finally get Santos the squatter evicted from office once and for all.”
The call for an FEC investigation is just the latest action Rep. Torres has taken to hold Rep. Santos accountable for his growing web of deception that is currently the subject of multiple law enforcement investigations. He previously filed an official complaint against him with the House Ethics Committee and is continuing to demand that Republican House leadership publicly explain what they knew and when about Santos’s seemingly never-ending trail of lies.
Rep. Torres is also sponsoring new legislation that would punish candidates for federal office who knowingly lie to voters about their background.
Meanwhile, Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who was one of the first to demand the U.S. Attorney investigate Santos’ fraudulent campaign finances and disclosures, is now calling for the Department of Homeland Security to revoke Santos’ passport, deeming Santos a high-profile “flight risk”.
“While local, state, and federal prosecutors approach potential indictments against George Santos, international authorities in Brazil have also reopened his criminal case. Given Mr. Santos potentially faces years in prison, there is significant concern that he may eventually seek safe harbor within a country lacking an extradition treaty with the U.S.,” Lazafan stated.
Kevin McCarthy who needed Santos’ vote to fulfill his dream of becoming Speaker and is too fearful to see his margin be whittled down to four, said it would be up to NY3rd constituents to remove Santos (that is, in 2024), while 3rd District constituents continue to rally, protest, petition, calling for Congress to expel Santos.
McCarthy made clear that he values politics and power, not ethics or care to serve the interests of the people, as his Golden Rule. It is almost as if McCarthy has nothing but disdain for actual representation. The whole is more than the sum of its parts, in this case, the Republican caucus, and the ends justify the means. Which makes his Republican caucus’ obsession with investigating Hunter Biden, everything Biden, the January 6 investigators, the FBI all the more shameless and hypocritical.
McCarthy has been careful to bolster Santos, especially because Santos provided the key vote to fulfill his ambition to become Speaker, and has dismissed every allegation, even that a Santos fundraiser impersonated McCarthy’s own aide to stir up donations, with the claim that the investigations have to play out, that everyone deserves due process – expecting the process to last through a two-year Congressional term (just look at the January 6 prosecutions).
And in a big middle finger to the district, the nation, and the institution, McCarthy decided to appoint Santos to two committees: the Small Business committee (because he’s such a genius at “investing in himself” to go from $55,000 to millions of dollars overnight) and the Committee on Space, Science and Technology (where he can do Trump’s bidding and stick it to social media giants, vote to rescind funding for research and development, for renewable energy).
That prompted some to suggest another path for removing Santos: Get every chamber of commerce to start letter writing campaign to have him removed. He can’t represent their interest because of his deceit in everything including his own business.
McCarthy chose to give Santos two important committee assignments despite the precedent of a member under a cloud of investigation being removed from a committee while it plays out, and despite the level of intensity against Santos, who has been referred to the house Ethics committee and the outside, independent committee on Ethics, even as he is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney, New York Attorney General, Nassau County and Queens County district attorneys and the Federal Election Commission.
“This is an extraordinary vote of confidence by McCarthy in Santos,” noted NBC’s senior Capitol Hill correspondent Garrett Haake.
Think about it: this fraudster whose real resume includes working for a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of $17 million, is in a position to affect small business funding (think PPP). And as a member of the Space, Science & Technology committee, he is in a position to extort “campaign” funding from Big Tech in exchange for favorable or unfavorable policies on the social media giants, Elon Musk’s Tesla and Space X, and every institution wanting to get funding for research and development.
Meanwhile, local Republicans have tried to insulate themselves from Santos’ stain on their election prospects by calling for him to resign (knowing that won’t happen), and saying they will refuse to work with him, which will cost the district millions of dollars in federal aid that an effective Congressmember with integrity can bring home.
Besides the $174,000 salary plus per diems for being a Congressman – the most this deadbeat has ever seen – campaign donations present an irresistible bottomless piggybank. He is a vulnerable target for bribery, blackmail and extortion, and a national security risk.
“This country never had imposter seated in Congress before, and with ties to Russian oligarch and questionable finances,” Jody Kass Finkel said at the press conference with Torres. “Santos deceived voters. A liar, cheater, probably criminal. We deserve real representative, not a charlatan. McCarthy insults the 700,000 district residents by [ignoring Santos scandal], instead, says, “Live with it, get over it.
“Well, we aren’t… We understand McCarthy has a narrow majority, but the Speaker does damage to our representative form of government, to our democracy. He says he cares about voter fraud. How about the fraud perpetrated on 700,000 people of district.”
What is McCarthy afraid of, she wondered. “Recent elections show NY3 is competitive, if a free and fair election. But if Santos doesn’t pull out, we lose. How hard will it be for Republican to win a seat after two years of drip, drip revelations, or any Republican for any seat?”
“There are 535 in Congress. Of the 535, no one poses greater threat to integrity of Congress as institution than Santos,” Torres declared.
“My message to Santos: this will not end well for you. Resign to end this nightmare for the nation and the 3rd district, denied representation they deserve.”
Santos, he said, either resigns under the weight of scrutiny or a plea bargain with the U.S. Attorney. “He knows he is facing local, state, federal and international investigations. The one that will be the quickest is the US Attorney.
“Stop perpetuating suffering and humiliation of constituents. Allow someone capable of serving in government to step in.”
Offering a kind of mea culpa and looking contrite, Nassau County Republicans stood united in calling for now-Congressman George Santos to resign, condemning Santos for his dishonesty foisted upon voters of the 3rd Congressional District to win election.
The action was viewed as reputational damage control to bolster Republican candidates in upcoming elections.
But aside from declaring that none of them – at the village, town, city, county or state level – would work with Santos and declaring him a person non grata at Republican events (fundraisers), Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman Joseph G. Cairo Jr., said there was little they could do. to force Santos out Cairo said he had attempted to call now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (whose election was secured by Santos’ vote), but had yet to receive a reply.
“George Santos has disgraced the House of Representatives and the Republican Party with a veritable profusion of lies, dishonesty, misstatements and hurtful false claims,” Cairo declared. “The people of the 3rd Congressional District deserve a Congressional Representative who is honest and forthright. George Santos is not such a person. It’s time for George Santos to resign his seat in the House of Representatives. He has no place in the Nassau County Republican Committee, he’s not welcome here.”
But Santos remained defiant, tweeting as the press conference was still underway, “I was elected to serve the people of #NY03 not the party & politicians, I remain committed to doing that and regret to hear that local officials refuse to work with my office to deliver results to keep our community safe and lower the cost of living. I will NOT resign!”
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said she was duped into giving Santos her endorsement., “He betrayed the public trust. He is incapable and unwilling to take responsibility for his lies. There’s no way he can be an effective member of Congress.”
Congressman Anthony D’Esposito, who represents the neighboring district, stated, “Santos violated the trust of voters and people across America.” He offered to help 3rd District constituents on the matters that, according to House rules, have to be handled by a Congressman.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who just a few weeks ago, had Santos stand alongside as he gave a proclamation to Ukraine’s General Consul, spoke up for the people of the district who are “legitimately Jews” and those who are Holocaust survivors or their descendents. “For him to make up a story that his grandparents survived the Holocaust is beyond the pale.”
“George Santos is clearly not capable of providing the integrity to which his residents are entitled,” declared Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Phillips. “George Santos is clearly not capable of providing the integrity to which his residents are entitled. He will never be my congressman, and his resignation should be forthcoming.
Others who denounced Santos included Nassau Legislature’s Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello speaking on behalf of the 12-member majority; Nassau County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, State Assemblyman Ed Ra, Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joe Saladino, and City of Glen Cove Mayor Pam Panzenbeck. They said that none of them would work with Santos.
State Senator Jack Martins, whose pivotal role on New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission led to the redrawing of the 3rd Congressional District from being a “safe” Democratic district that few Republicans came forward to challenge the incumbent to a competitive district, called on Santos to resign. “People of Nassau County deserve better. It’s probably impossible to shame the shameless, to get him to do what is right. But we are united that until he resigns, we will perform our responsibility to represent Nassau County but not work with Santos.”
Asked whether the Santos debacle reflected flaws in the Nassau County Republican Committee’s vetting process, Cairo said that in the 2020 election, when Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi was running for reelection in what was regarded as a safe district that Democrats had led for some decades, Santos was one of the few Republicans who came forward.
“He was recommended by the Queens Republicans. And he submitted a written resume,” Cairo said.
In 2020, Cairo said, “the district was strongly Democrat, and Santos was the designated candidate. When Santos lost in 2020 to Tom Suozzi, “he was angry” and, like Trump, claimed that he had in fact won but blamed his loss on the committee.
Then, in 2022, the Court of Appeals changed the district so it became winnable.
Cairo insisted he did not have an inkling about the falsities into Santos’ background until “it came to light” with the New York Times investigation and other media reports.
“Santos was not someone we knew from Nassau politics. We trusted him. Shame on us.” He said he spoke to Santos once since the deception came to light and Santos has yet to make good on his promise to explain.
“Shame on me for believing him,” Cairo said, promising to revamp the vetting process in the future.
As for the donors who were essentially defrauded, he said “some have connections overseas. Some believed in Republican philosophy, especially when they saw the odds changed, and this became a competitive district we could win.”
Asked why the Republicans are coming forward now to demand Santos resign and not before he was sworn in to Congress, Blakeman said he believed in due process and giving Santos the opportunity to clear his name. “But the situation has become untenable. How do you deal with someone who is an out-and-out liar. I came to the conclusion recently that we don’t need the process to unfold. He needs help. A person who builds lies one on top of another needs help. This is a forgiving country. If he gets help, shows remorse, he will have a future.”
Santos is currently under investigation by the US Attorney’s office, the Federal Election Commission looking into suspected campaign funding violations, the New York State Attorney General, Nassau County District Attorney and Queens County District Attorney, in addition to being wanted by Brazilian authorities. And most recently, two Congressmen called for an Ethics Committee investigation, though McCarthy took care to effectively shut it down. While lying is not a basis for removal (though theoretically, only person of good character are supposed to be sworn into office and putting down a false address on the petition to be put on a ballot is a crime), Santos is also accused of federal crimes stemming from where his funding came from that enabled him to loan his campaign $700,000, when only two years ago, he reported income of $55,000 a year and was evicted for nonpayment of rent twice.
Santos also donated $126,000 to the Republican Committee, which Cairo said was returned to the committee that donated the funds, but other donations that Santos made to the county committee were spent on lawn signs and such.
Just hours after George Santos was sworn in as a member of the house of Representatives, over 100 people gathered outside what he claims to be his office – actually former Congressman Tom Suozzi’s office – on Northern Boulevard in Queens, to demand he resign from Congress, an investigation by the house Ethics committee (the very one that the new speaker, Kevin McCarthy, said he would defund as a concession to the Sedition Caucus). They are calling on Santos to resign and for a special election to be held.
They spoke of having been betrayed, cheated, and more than that, that because Santos is effectively being frozen out of committees, even his own caucus, his constituents have effectively lost representation in Congress, access to federal funding and support. He runs from reporters, won’t answer questions or deal with representatives.
They raised concern that because of his shady finances (how the heck did a man who faced two evictions, reported a salary of $55,000 just two years ago, come to become a millionaire with a multi-million dollar business, and the ability to “loan” his own campaign $700,000, and pay out hundreds of thousands to other campaigns), Santos is a national security threat who cannot serve on any committee involving intelligence. They questioned who Santos is beholden to (at least one of his major donors is related to a sanctioned Russian oligarch), and whether he would be prime to sell secrets.
They raised concerns about undermining trust in government, altogether.
A photo of George Santos using a White Supremacy hand gesture as he raised his other hand to vote for McCarthy, was featured on the sign carried by Susan Naftol of Plainview, that was received as a middle finger to constituents of one of the most diverse districts in the country, and a sign that like Trump, Santos, who at one point said he was descended from refugees of the Holocaust and was “Jew-ish” as well as biracial, would embrace anyone who supported him, White Supremacists, Insurrectionists, included.
Ed Braunstein, State Assemblyman (District 26), and 3rd District resident, declared that when Santos was elected, it was his intention to work with him “for common good. That was before found out Santos was a pathological liar, a national laughingstock. There is no way to work with him, or refer constituents for help, or sign a letter with him, or work with nonprofits to seek funding from him. He is useless. Not effective locally or nationally. He is toxic in Congress – colleagues won’t sit with him. Nobody can work with him. He is compromising us being there. He should do the right thing and resign. Unfortunately, all indications are that is not his interest.
“A few days ago, while voting for Speaker, he flashed a White Power hand gesture. Queens County is the most diverse in the country – we celebrate ethnic, racial, religious diversity, and then, to look and see this clown flash the white power gesture – he is thumbing his nose at us, at his colleagues. It tarnishes the House as an institution. Every other House member should be horrified. Congress has power to open Ethics Investigation [except one of the concessions McCarthy made to get enough votes to become Speaker was to defund the committee].
“We demand Speaker McCarthy open an investigation, now. If Santos, allies think he can just bide his time and this will blow over, he is mistaken. We will protest, hound him until he gives us our seat back, Braunstein declared.
Robert Zimmerman, the Democratic candidate for Congress who Santos defeated, declared, “We are here as one to express our anger, frustration. We stand together united to demand Santos resign. We are sending a message to those members of Congress who don’t call on him to resign that they are accomplices. He is threat to national security.”
Veronica Lurvey, a Town of North Hempstead councilmember and the child of political refugees who escaped Soviet tyranny in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, declared that The Soviet regime was a regime built on lies. Lies the government told the people, and lies that the people told each other. This lead to a weakening of the social fabric…a weakening of civil society….and the rise of massive corruption that is difficult to eradicate.
“Luckily my parents were able to flee the Soviet regime and got their start in Astoria, Queens. As a first generation American, born in the US – actually I was born in NYC, I have internalized the core American values of hard work, decency and honesty.
“Mr. Santos’ lies make a mockery of every one of us whose families came to this country to achieve the American dream. What’s more, Mr. Santos’ lies erode the trust that we have in our elected officials. To get anything done in government, you need to be able to negotiate, to speak with honesty. When deals fall apart because of lies, who would be stupid enough to try to enter a deal again? Honesty is the basis of any relationship and without honesty relationships fail. Mr. Santos, your relationship with the people of the 3rd Congressional district in NY has failed. You have been caught cheating. Cheating cannot be tolerated.
“I am here to say that for the sake of the soul of the American dream, for all the immigrants who came to the United States and worked around the clock like my parents did…I call for a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee into Mr. Santos and his background. We cannot let Santos’ lies and dishonesty erode the America that we love, the America that our families looked to as a beacon of hope. Cheaters must not be rewarded,” Lurvey declared.
The constituents are not just protesting and holding rallies, they are taking action.
A nonpartisan group, Concerned Citizens of NY Congressional District 3, has been formed, circulating petitions calling for Santos’ ouster and a free and fair special election to replace him. They are demanding the US Justice Department prosecute Santos for fraud, the House Ethics Committee to investigate, and local and national Republican leders to repudiate Santos and refuse to seat him.
“This is not partisan,” said the founder, Jody Kass Finkel. “both Democrat and Republican residents feel deceived by Santos’ lies. Recognizing that no one in Washington D.C. will believe anything Santos says, constituents of NY-03 are concerned that they will not have a voice in Congress and will be shut out of critical federal support and services.”
She supplied statements from numerous constituents registering their outrage, sense of betrayal.
“People didn’t have the truth about who this guy was. In my 30-plus years in the nonprofit world lobbying for environmental, health and affordable housing issues in Washington and Albany, I’ve never seen anyone with such an arrogant contempt for the truth or his constituents. While the whole country is aghast at Santos’ lies and utter disregard for decency, the residents of NY-03 have the most to lose,” Finkel declared.
“The Constitution provides for Americans to elect their representative. The representative we got lied, is unqualified, a fugitive conman, a grifter.”
She said that the group is researching the law even citing the Adam Clayton Powell case in the Supreme Court that kept Powell in office. ”That decision hung on what was the will of the people. Santos is not the will of the people.”
She presented statements from numerous district constituents:
“George Santos is sending the exact wrong message to young people across the country,” stated 18-year old activist and college student Aidan Davis. “If he isn’t held accountable, he demonstrates that our system deems it acceptable to lie about accomplishments, fabricate entire backgrounds and work histories, and generally be dishonest in order to get ahead. He must resign.”
Shari Markovich of Little Neck stated, “George Santos duped his constituents and was elected under false pretenses, fabricating his resume and blatantly lying about his background and credentials. This is criminal and we cannot allow this person to represent our district. There needs to be a new election.”
Casey Sabella, who organized the protest in coordination with up with Courage for America, offered a call to action for those inside and beyond the district to demand an investigation. She produced buttons with a QR code that leads to a letter online at www.whoisgeorgesantos.com. Wear button everywhere, talk to everyone, sign the letter. Continue to talk on social media, talk to everyone, write a letter to the editor. Make clear constituents won’t allow him to hide.”
Asked if he feels cheated out of being elected to US Congress, the Democrat Robert Zimmerman who was defeated by Republican George Santos now being exposed as a fraudster who falsified his career and finances, was emphatic that it was the constituents, the political process and democracy itself Santos cheated.
“It’s not about me,” Zimmerman declared. “It’s about restoring integrity to our political process. The fact Santos thought he could get away with it – this is the antidote. The fact we’re here.”
And they came out in sizable numbers for a press conference at rally in front of the Nassau County Courthouse, calling for Santos to resign and for the Republican leadership to refuse to seat him, and carrying signs including “Make lying wrong again,” “Santos lies. Democracy dies.” “Follow the money.”
Prosecutors at the federal, state and local level have already announced investigations into how Santos, who only two years ago reported earning $55,000 a year, managed to loan his campaign $700,000 and declare income and assets in the multi-millions of dollars.
State Assemblyman Charles Lavine reflected that everyone gathered has the same trauma as any victim of a crime, a fraud, a Ponzi scheme. “the difference is the first few get some of their money back, but we, the citizens of the 3rd District are left holding the bag, the laughingstock of the United States and international community.”
Greg Leung, a youth activist from Great Neck and freshman at Boston University where he is studying political science and is thinking about entering government or politics, reflected the feelings of many young people, new voters, who have a right to be disillusioned, jaded, cynical about the political process.
“As a first generation American, in the extraordinary position of a Congressman elect, you are living the American Dream, a set of ideals that those who came before fought so vehemently to defend. The American Dream is an ideal nurtured over centuries – Government for, by the people with integrity. Lately, people like you resorted to deception to take power, eroding the American Dream you vowed to defend in the campaign. You lied for your own gain. Most vile, you lied about the Holocaust and mass shooting…. What do you say to those around here who depend on government to protect their version of the American Dream? Resigning is the way to preserve the American Dream,” Leung said.
Linda Beigel Schulman, who is a daughter of an actual Holocaust survivor as well as the victim of her son’s murder by the Parkland shooter, “1800 days ago,” spoke of the pain and trauma of being re-victimized by Santos’ false claims of his grandparents having fled the Holocaust and having had four employees killed in the Pulse Nightclub massacre.
My father lived in Ukraine, in Kiev. He slept in the forest, in bomb craters evading Nazis for years. He went to Canada and then the US. Others in his family were not so lucky. He would not speak of it, except in an interview by Spielberg’s organization.
“It is insulting and demeaning to every child of a Holocaust survivor. “How dare you lie about being a child of Holocaust survivors, or being Jew-ish? You lied about having four employees at Pulse. How dare he try to gain sympathy. I know all too well the sense of loss, the grief from gun violence.
“Lying has become commonplace and worse, accepted. Outright lying shouldn’t be accepted by anyone. Integrity matters,” she declared. “Lies are analogous to a virus, afflicting pain, fever, sometimes killing the host. We the people have become an infected host. If we accept lying from political leaders, it will surely destroy our fiber. The antidote is we the people, here today. We are the antidote. This country was founded on We the people, not lies.’
Schulman thanked Republicans Nassau County Executive Blakeman, DA Donnelly, incoming Congressmen Anthony D’Esposito and Nick Lalota for speaking out, calling for a full investigation.
“This is not a matter of politics or party. It is about right versus wrong, lying versus trust, deception versus honesty. NY 3rd needs a Congressman who is honest, who we can trust.”
Rabbi Deborah Bravo of the MakomNY Worship Center in Bethpage, said Santos’ lies about his Jewish ancestry were particularly offensive. “To lie about being descendants of Holocaust survivors for the purpose of political gain is beyond unacceptable..No one has the right to presume this ancestry for the purpose of political gain and empathy from constituents.”
State Senator Anna Kaplan cast blame on the Republicans at the local and federal level who propped Santos up and who are complicit in Santos’ fraud.
“George Santos has perpetrated a complete and total fraud on our community, but we cannot forget that for the last three years, he was enabled and supported by the entire Nassau County Republican machine and his Republican running mates, many of whom sit in elected office today and others who will soon take office. The questions about exactly who George Santos are not new, but they were brushed aside and minimized by local Republicans desperate to flip this congressional seat at any cost.
“Our entire community has been victimized, and we demand accountability. George Santos must be investigated by all appropriate authorities, particularly surrounding his shady business dealings and mystery millions that seem to have appeared overnight despite having no legitimate career to speak of. The outstanding criminal charges against George Santos in Brazil must be answered for. And we all deserve an apology for his reprehensible lies about his nonexistent Jewish faith and his completely fake connection to the Holocaust.
“To allow George Santos to be seated as a member of Congress would be a further knife in the heart of this community, and I’m urging Congressional Republican leadership to stop that from happening while investigations are ongoing.”
Kaplan added, “I’m also calling on every Republican in Nassau County who stood with this man over the course of the last three years to apologize to the voters, and renounce their support, along with every organization who endorsed his candidacy.”
Lavine noted, “Each of us is a victim of fraud – whoever represents the 3rd district acts not just for 3rd but the United States. But top of the list of victims of Santos’ fraud is Robert Zimmerman.”
“I am angry and frustrated too,” Zimmerman declared. “But the answer is all of us. Standing here today, demanding a House ethics investigation, investigations at federal, state and local levels, making sure Santos does not stay in Congress. That’s not Democratic or Republican politics. It’s about protecting democracy, standing up for justice against corruption and Santos’ fraud. At stake: democracy, faith in the integrity of our political system, the American Dream.”
At least one in the crowd of hundreds was a Republican who not only voted for George Santos, but helped elect him.
Teodora Choolfaian said she left the Democratic party, registered Republican and backed Santos over the issue of COVID-mitigation in public schools. Santos came to the rallies she held, and seemed to embrace her call to end mask mandates in school.
But at the rally calling for Santos to resign, she said she believed she had been deceived by Santos. One of her concerns is the source of Santos’ funding – as recently as 2020, he reported a salary of $55,000. In this cycle, his financial disclosures reported a salary of $750,000 plus assets of millions of dollars, without accounting for the source.
She now is calling upon him to resign “Santos is worse than you think,” she told reporters.
She will tell Santos as much when she sees him at the swearing in, at the Capitol on January 3, to which she has been invited.
Indeed, Santos’ campaign finance disclosures are now being investigated by the US Attorney, the New York State Attorney General and the Nassau County District Attorney.
A search of the FEC.gov database shows that Santos raised $2.933,614 for his 2022 campaign, including $1,001,151 in itemized individual contributions, $464,406 in unitemized individual contributions, $12,950 in party committee contributions, $247,551 in other committee contributions, $487,258 in transfers from other authorized committees, $705,000 in loans the candidate made to himself.
While a sitting congressman cannot be removed for lying about his background – though the House Ethics committee might see fit to censure him – actual federal crimes are another matter. But investigation and prosecution would take months, possibly years. So New York’s 3rd Congressional district may have to be resigned to waiting to 2024.
[Breaking news: Just one day after the March for Our Lives events, the bipartisan Senate committee working on some compromise gun violence prevention legislation announced they had come up with a framework. The proposal calls for making juvenile records of gun buyers under age 21 available when they undergo background checks; provides money to states to implement “red flag” laws and to bolster school safety and mental health programs; require more people who sell guns obtain federal dealers’ licenses, which means they would have to conduct background checks of purchasers. President Biden immediately put out a statement that the framework “does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.” He urged rapid passage. But as you see in what the gun violence prevention activists are saying, there is much, much more to do.]
Amid the palpable outrage, frustration and fear, there is this kernel of hope that what didn’t happen after Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkville and now Uvalde, the 40,000 lives lost to gun violence last year, and the more than 200 mass shootings that have already happened this year, or the report that more children and teens are killed by guns than by disease or car accidents, may finally happen: that Congress would finally pass sensible gun safety regulations to end the public health epidemic of gun violence. And the difference is this: the election season for the midterms is already underway and Congressmen have already had their primary challenges so shouldn’t “fear” being primaried by an even more fascist candidate to appeal to the bloodlust of their base.
Over a thousand protesters – representing a huge array of groups including March for Our Lives, Youth Against Violence, teachers from the UFT and AFT, Moms Demand Action, Everytown, NYACLU, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and many more – who marched from Brooklyn to Manhattan to rally – screamed and cheered when urged to vote out any politician who refuses to put children’s lives over the gun industry’s profits.
“End gun worship,” Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft of Middle Church, intoned. “Vote out every politician who supports the NRA, gun lobby.”
They called for universal background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and other instruments and weapons of war never meant for the streets; raise the minimum age to buy a gun to 21; mandate safe storage so that a two-year old who finds a gun doesn’t kill his sibling (or what just happened when a mother handed her two year old her gun, killed his father), and Red Flag laws.
And mindful that it is Republican Senators (Democrats passed gun reform in the House) who have blocked every gun safety measure for the past 30 years, they called for an end to the filibuster, since there do not seem to be 10 Republican Senators of conscience.
Dr. Nancy Dodson, a pediatrician and gun safety activist, said gun violence is a public health crisis and one that is propagated by the propaganda of the gun industry, no different in its campaign to deflect and distract (mental health, not guns), than the lead paint industry who blamed neglectful mothers and even put out a children’s book to say that lead paint is good for you, and the tobacco industry.
“Why aren’t there cigarette ads in magazines, commercials on TVs, toy giveaways? Because they were sued. But the gun industry, despite 40,000 killed last year including 4000 children has near-total immunity, under the Protection of Legal Commerce in Arms Act. This is an unjust law that must be repealed so that victims and survivors can sue,” she declared, to cheers.
“It would lead to economic justice for victims and radical changes in design, advertising and sales of guns. “What is the life of a child worth? Gun manufacturers should find out in court.”
“Laws can change social norms,” she said. Drunk driving became socially unacceptable, it became a loving gesture to take your friend’s keys away. It should be the same for guns.”
That means more use of Red Flag Laws, so that it becomes culturally acceptable to say, “You’re struggling now, so don’t do something you’ll regret.”
“We have saved lives of children before and cited examples and a public health scourge through changing culture – drunk driving… And many examples of government taking action – after one guy got on a plane with explosives in his shoe and another with explosive underpants, everyone for the past 20 years has had to take off their shoes at the airport, been patted down and x-rayed.
Ali and Aj of AJ Band described the terror of being in the midst of multiple mass shootings – outside their concert venue, someone sprayed 100 rounds , leaving six dead on the pavement just outside their tour bus where they had hit the ground, then again in Portland, then again in Atlanta they heard shots. “This should not be normal.”
Instead, the Republicans are trying to deflect, putting the onus on mental health and school security, when school districts are cutting funding for actual education, for the arts, theater and music programs that might help that alienated youth to find a better outlet.
“Young people must turn their passion and pain to purpose and vote,” said Attorney General Letitia James, who was with the protest from the beginning of the march through the end of the rally. “Congress won’t act until they feel the power of the people. Vote in record numbers to end the violence.
“Enough prayers, empty thoughts. This is a defining moment young people, for the country. Women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, trans rights, disabled rights, environmental protection did not start with politicians. It was all of you young people who lead and politicians who followed. Break the collective yoke around the neck of this country…Turn out and vote, vote, vote the reckless cowards out of office, the spineless, gutless who believe in power over people.”
Janella Hines, representing the UFT which helped organize the march, spoke for the teachers who carried signs saying, “I’m scared.” “Books not bullets.” And how when they decided to make teaching their career, they never expected that protecting children from gunmen with military-style weapons, and comforting the traumatized children after they have lost classmates, was part of the job description.
She focused not on the mass shootings that have so terrorized – in schools, churches, grocery stores, concerts, movie theaters, malls – but violence in homes. One of her student’s, named Chloe, was murdered with her sister and mother by her step father on her sister’s birthday. “The entire school community suffered the loss. The trauma is experienced day after day. This is not what teachers went to school for, but we have to do it. It’s time for policy and change.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney declared, “If guns made us safe, we would be the safest on earth. But the only place more dangerous is Ukraine, and they are at war.
“We are killing people because of the easy access to guns.” She said that gun manufacturers need to be held accountable for profiting from murdering children. and called for an end to the immunity gun manufacturers, unlike every other industry, from liability lawsuits.
Congressman Mondaire Jones, the youngest member of the House Judiciary Committee (whose remarks inspired rebuke from Republicans and Tucker Carlson), noted that the House has passed a package of gun safety bills, but that they will likely languish, as have all gun regulations for the past 30 years, in the Senate. “Make sure the Senate hears you.”
He is a sponsor of the Protecting Our Kids Act which changes federal firearms laws, including to establish new criminal offenses and to expand the types of weapons and devices that are subject to regulation. The bill:
generally prohibits the sale or transfer of certain semiautomatic firearms to individuals who are under 21 years of age;
establishes new federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking and related conduct;
establishes a federal statutory framework to regulate ghost guns (i.e., guns without serial numbers);
establishes a framework to regulate the storage of firearms on residential premises at the federal, state, and tribal levels;
subjects bump stocks to regulation under federal firearms laws;
generally prohibits the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, and possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices; and
requires the Department of Justice to report on the demographic data of persons who are determined to be ineligible to purchase a firearm based on a background check performed by the national instant criminal background check system.
“If we can’t find 10 Senate Republicans of good conscience, we need to abolish the filibuster.”
He also introduced the Judiciary Act, which would expand the Supreme Court by four, to undo the damage of Trump putting three hard-right ideological partisans on the bench, orchestrated by then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who refused to allow Obama to appoint a justice after Antonin Scalia died 10 months before the 2016 election, then rushed through Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment even though voting in the 2020 presidential election had already begun.
Governor Kathy Hochul vowed to bring back the Legislature for an emergency session to address whatever the Supreme Court throws. (My idea is to require all gun owners to be enlisted in a “well-regulated militia” where they would train, drill, and be available to protect the state against foreign and domestic enemies, as the Founding Fathers intended in the Second Amendment (See: Guns Again Again).
New York’s was one of some 450 events throughout the United States and the world, including a re-do of the March For Our Lives rally in Washington DC that followed the 2018 massacre.
They are hoping it isn’t déjà vu all over again, with Congress doing nothing.
The message from Jessalise Rivera: “I’m 9. Please don’t shoot me while I’m learning.”
Here are more photo highlights from the march and rally: