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  • Democratic Reps. stage sit in- inside Congress - demand action on gun legislation

    Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who began the Sit In with Congressman John Lewis and a dozen of her colleagues, remaind there until dawn trying to get Republicans to agree to vote on guns. Courtesy photo

    Republicans hold quick series of votes at 3:00 am and adjourn Congress until after July 4

    Congresswoman Chellie Pingree remained on the floor of the US House of Representatives throughout the night, as Democrats occupied the chamber to demand action on common sense gun legislation.

    The Sit-In by congressional leaders marks a new chapter in US history. Democratic Reps. fustrated by rules that have held their hands tied couldn't sit by and do nothing after the last massacure of innocent people by an assult weapon. The political party with the most Reps. controls what bills are discussed and voted on. Republicans, in the majority, had refused to bring common sense gun legislation to the floor of the chambor to be voted on.

    Pingree, who began the sit in with Congressman John Lewis and a dozen of her colleagues, had been in the chamber constantly since 9:00 am yesterday morning. When Speaker Paul Ryan suddenly adjourned the House and declared an early start to the July 4th recess a little after 3:00 this morning.

    "The Republicans left town in the middle of the night without taking action on common sense gun legislation supported by the vast majority of Americans," Pingree said.  "The public is demanding action and what House Democrats have been doing is merely an expression of the will of the people.  It's democracy in action.  What the Republicans have done is just the opposite of that."

    Pingree spoke forcefully yesterday morning on the need to close a loophole that allows people on the Terrorist Watch List or the No Fly List to buy guns (video is here) and was followed by a few of her colleagues.  When Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis spoke just after 11:00 am, Pingree and about a dozen other Democrats joined him at the front of the House chamber and sat on the floor in protest, demanding a vote on the terrorist loophole bill and another proposal to expand background checks.

    Early this morning, Speaker Paul Ryan rushed through bills not related to gun violence.  Amidst chants of "no bill, no break," Ryan refused to allow debate on the bills before holding a quick series of vote and then adjourning the House until after the 4th of July holiday. 

    Pingree was still on the House floor at sunrise this morning, as Democrat leaders vowed to continue the fight when Congress returns next month.

  • Tax breaks to make it easier for farmers, businesses to donate to food pantries passes House

    By Ramona du Houx

    A tax break that Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said will help reduce food waste passed the House on December 17, 2015 as part of a larger package of tax provisions. The provision, which is part of Pingree's Food Recovery Act, creates a permanent "enhanced" tax deduction for businesses and farmers who donate excess food to organizations like food pantries and soup kitchens.

    "This tax break makes it easier and more worthwhile for businesses and farmers to donate excess food to a food pantry," said Pingree. "It will mean less food going to landfills and more food going to feed people struggling with hunger."

    An estimated 40 percent of food produced every year in the United States is wasted, meanwhile nearly 50 million people struggle with hunger.  If food waste is reduced by just 15 percent and good quality, wholesome food is redirected to people in need, the number of hungry Americans could be cut in half.

     An enhanced tax deduction means the taxpayer gets credit for the full value of the food, plus an additional deduction to compensate for the expense and labor of donating the product.  The provision also increases the maximum tax deduction from 10 percent to 15 percent of taxable income.

    The provision in Pingree's Food Recovery Act, was originally introduced in a bill written by Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY). Pingree introduced her Food Recovery Act, a comprehensive package of legislative proposals aimed at reducing wasted food, earlier this month. Please read more HERE.

     

  • Pingree continues support for Iran nuclear deal

    Photo of Congresswoman Chellie Pingree by Ramona du Houx, 2012

     Congresswoman Chellie Pingree voted against a partisan resolution today that seeks to delay the Iran nuclear deal.  The last-minute measure introduced by Republicans this week claims that the Iran nuclear accord isn't valid because of separate agreements negotiated by Iran with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  

    "This is a cynical and misleading resolution that has very little to do with what we were supposed to be voting on.  The support for the international agreement to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon has been steadily gaining support, and I guess the Republicans figured out they didn't have the votes to block it so now they are trying to muddy the waters with misleading and false claims," said Pingree.

    The resolution that Pingree opposed today claimed that the President was supposed to send Congress the details of an agreement betweenIran and the IAEA, arguing that the agreement is somehow part of the Iran nuclear deal.  In fact, the IAEA has similar, confidential arrangements with 180 countries and they are not part of the historic agreement negotiated between Iran and the international community.

    "The negotiations have produced the best opportunity we've had in a long time to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Iranians, and I continue to support it and will continue to oppose these disingenuousattempts to block its implementation," said Pingree.