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National Adoption Month PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 21 November 2011 16:25

Senator Chuck Grassley made remarks on the Senate floor yesterday about National Adoption Month. Click here for video of remarks. Senator Grassley is the co-founder and co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth.

Prepared Remarks of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In honor of National Adoption Month, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss my support for Senate Resolution 302 and for policies that promote and encourage adoption.  For years, I have championed efforts to increase awareness of adoption and help streamline the process for families who open their hearts and homes to children who have no other family.  Senate Resolution 302 helps promote national awareness of adoption and the children awaiting families, celebrates children and families involved in adoption, and encourages the people of the United States to secure safety, permanency, and well-being for all children.

As co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth, I have taken a keen interest in helping children who find themselves in the foster care system.

In the United States today, more than 400,000 children live in the foster care system.  Many of these children have been welcomed into adoptive homes.  However, over 105,000 of those in foster care are still waiting to be adopted.

According to the Administration of Children and Families, in my home state of Iowa, more than 4,700 kids entered the foster care system last year.  A total of 6,500 kids were in my state’s foster care system in 2010.

Foster youth simply desire to have what so many of us were blessed to have —that is, a home with caring, loving parents and siblings.  They want permanency.  Too many older children in foster care, especially those with special needs, are often the ones who wait the longest to leave foster care.  These kids are less likely than younger children to find “forever homes.”

While research shows that 40 percent of Americans have considered adopting, many are reluctant because they are unsure of the adoption process.  They have inaccurate perceptions about the children who are eligible to be adopted.  Some believe that children in foster care are there because of delinquency and other behavior problems.

The unfortunate fact is that most children who are in foster care are there because they were abused, neglected, or abandoned.  These vulnerable children desperately need a family structure.  They need parents who serve as positive role models to help them become bright and successful members of their communities.

While progress is being made to increase adoption, there is always more work to be done.  Helping in this process are numerous agencies and nonprofit organizations who work tirelessly to find worthy American families who want to be adopting parents.

In Iowa, one such agency is Four Oaks Family and Children Services of Cedar Rapids.  Four Oaks has had a recruiter working with Wendy’s Wonderful Kids since 2005.

Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is an innovative program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, named after the late American business icon who founded Wendy’s Restaurants. The foundation’s mission is to promote adoption.  It recently released a report about the success of the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program.  Specifically, the program is more focused on the harder-to-place children.  Recruiters work with children to find them the most appropriate placement.  This program is a success story.

Congress has also acted.  In 2008, I was part of a bipartisan effort to pass the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008.  This new law represented the most significant and far-reaching improvements to child welfare in over a decade.

It provided additional federal incentives for states to move children from foster care to adoptive homes.  It included legislation I had introduced to make it easier for foster children to be permanently cared for by their own relatives, including grandparents and aunts and uncles, and to stay in their own home communities.

Provisions in the law also made all children with special needs eligible for federal adoption assistance.  Previously, that assistance had been limited to children who were removed from very low-income families.  The law broke new ground by establishing opportunities to help kids who age out of the foster care system at age 18 by giving states the option to extend their care and by helping them pursue education or vocational training.

In late 2009, Senator Mary Landrieu and I formed the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth to give older youths in and out of care and their families a place where their voices could be heard.  We wanted foster youth to be a part of the legislative process.  By hearing from young people and their families who have experienced the foster care system firsthand, congressional leaders will become more aware of the issues facing young people and their families.

The caucus has and will continue to generate new ideas to prevent negative outcomes and create new opportunities for success.  We wanted to focus on helping young people when they age out of the foster care system, typically at 18 years.  As many as 29,000 children age out every year without ever having found an adoptive placement, and without the security of a family, they often end up homeless, incarcerated, or addicted to drugs.

Children who age out of the system enter adulthood without knowing what it was like to be raised having their own family.  They missed out on having a mom and a dad, and maybe brothers and sisters, to grow with and learn from, and whom they would have relationships with the rest of their life.  They missed out on a very important part of childhood that they will never know, one that too many of us take for granted.  They are thrown into the world by themselves and forced to take care of themselves.  They struggle to pay bills, to find and hold a job, and to simply make ends meet.

This is why adoption awareness is so important.

Since the first National Adoption Day in 2000, more than 35,000 children have joined forever families during National Adoption Day.  In 2010 alone, adoptions for almost 5,000 children were finalized through 400 National Adoption Day events in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

These are impressive numbers -- numbers that make us proud of the work being done to help children in foster care.  But there is always more work to be done, and it is through awareness like this that we can help that work continue.

In passing Senate Resolution 302, this body will make an important statement about our collective support for the needs of foster children.  It recognizes the families who took the giant leap to open their homes to other children.

National Adoption Month is about kids who need a home.  It’s about kids who just want a mom and a dad.  It’s about helping children who are victims of neglect and abuse.  It’s about giving children living in foster care the ability to live their dreams.

We need to keep working together to break down the barriers to adoption so every child feels the relief of a solid family.   I’m proud to support the many kids who wait for permanency and salute the many organizations that make those dreams come true.

 
Whistleblower Delays at the FBI, Cameras in the Supreme Court PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 21 November 2011 16:22

Prepared Statement of Ranking Member Chuck Grassley

Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business Meeting

Thursday, November 17, 2011

 

With regard to the judicial nominations, there are three nominations on the agenda today.  They are all on the agenda for the first time.  There is a request on our side to hold them over for another week.

Next, on the legislation, we are prepared to debate a number of bills on the agenda, but there is a request on our side to hold over S.1792, Strengthening Investigations of Sex Offenders and Missing Children Act, and S.671, Finding Fugitive Sex Offenders Act.  Both of these bills are the agenda for the first time.  I’d note that I am a cosponsor of S.671, and I think it is an important bill, but it is also important to hold over these bills for another week so we can give them our full consideration.

We are prepared to debate, and I believe report out, the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act, and the Death in Custody Reporting Act.  There is a request on our side for a roll call vote on the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act, and H.R. 2189, the Death in Custody Reporting Act.

I have an amendment with Senator Blumenthal to make a necessary technical correction to the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act.  This legislation would close a loop hole that exists in current law.  It is only a misdemeanor, under the District of Colombia code, to violate the security perimeter at the White House and the Vice President’s residence.  This bill makes it a federal offense to breach security at the White House and the Naval Observatory.  Federal agents are charged with protecting them, yet they lack the legislative tools to enforce that protection.  This is a federal building and we should protect it with federal laws.

I’m opposed to the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act in its current form and I’ve filed an amendment that would improve it.  My amendment allows federal agencies, at the request of state and local law enforcement, to provide assistance in the event of a violent crisis.  My amendment reinforces that no additional authority is being given to any federal law enforcement agency.  It does allow them to assist their state and local partners, but only when requested.  If a state Sheriff or Chief of Police needs help with their investigation, then we should extend a helping hand.

I understand that there is opposition to my amendment, which I believe stems from a misunderstanding of what the bill does and how my amendment would improve it.  We don’t need a protracted debate on the bill or the amendment, but until the problems with the bill are corrected, I intend to oppose it and will hold it on the floor.

Finally, we can vote on the Death in Custody Reporting Act which will help provide the federal government statistics on how many individuals die in custody every year.

I’d also like to say a few words about some important issues.

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would hear arguments on the constitutionality of the health care reform law next spring.  This committee held a hearing on this topic earlier this year and it drew substantial interest from the public.  The arguments before the court will undoubtedly draw even more interest from the public.  However, given the practice of the court to not allow real time broadcast of oral arguments, these arguments will only be witnessed by a small number of individuals lucky enough to get a seat in the room.

Given the historic nature of this case, I wrote to Chief Justice Roberts Tuesday asking him to provide audio and video coverage of the oral arguments on the health care reform law.  The arguments will address significant constitutional questions relating to the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the severability of the individual mandate, and the authority of Congress to impose mandatory Medicaid coverage on states.

These questions are vitally important and every American should have the opportunity to see and hear the oral arguments as they occur live, not on a recording, later.  Letting Americans, and the world, watch our Supreme Court discuss these constitutional questions would shed light on the least known branch of the federal government.  It would also help bolster public confidence in our judicial system and the final outcome of the case.  I urge the Chief Justice to strongly consider my request and to bring some sunshine to the oral arguments on the health care reform litigation.

I also want to discuss an important matter related to the Department of Justice.  Earlier this week I wrote to Attorney General Holder regarding unnecessarily long delays in processing FBI whistleblower cases.  Specifically, my letter highlights the recent decision by Deputy Attorney General James Cole to remand the case of former FBI Special Agent Jane Turner for further administrative proceedings, despite the fact that it has languished at the department for over 9 years.

Agent Turner was a career FBI Agent from Minneapolis who excelled in missing and exploited children cases.  She filed a whistleblower complaint in 2002 after she discovered FBI agents removing items from Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks.  The agents were keeping items from the crime scene as personal memorabilia.

After considerable delays, her complaint was substantiated in May 2010 and the FBI was ordered to provide her back pay, attorney’s fees, and other relief.  The FBI then appealed this decision to Deputy Attorney General Cole who remanded it for further discussion of the issue of back pay—despite the fact the FBI never raised the issue during the adjudication stage.

The decision to remand the case is mind-boggling and is contrary to assurances Deputy Attorney General Cole provided to me as part of his nomination.

Specifically, as part of his nomination hearing Cole replied to a question of mine, stating:  “I will not tolerate unlawful retaliation against any Department of Justice employee, including FBI employees.”  Yet, in the first FBI whistleblower case appealed to him since he was confirmed, the Deputy Attorney General took the easy way out and prolonged Agent Turner’s quest for justice.

My letter also outlined the case of Robert Kobus, a 30 year non-agent employee of the FBI who disclosed time and attendance fraud by FBI agents in the New York City field office.  Mr. Kobus filed his case four years ago, and the Inspector General issued a report finding he was retaliated for his whistleblowing.  This retaliation included his supervisors placing him on a vacant floor in the FBI building in New York.  However, four years later and an Inspector General finding of retaliation later, the Justice Department hasn’t even had a hearing.

This process is administrative, and strong leadership at the Justice Department could fix it.  Both Attorney General Holder and Deputy Attorney General Cole have told this committee they will not tolerate retaliation against whistleblowers.  Yet, their lack of action to help FBI whistleblowers speaks louder than their words and true patriotic whistleblowers are paying the price.

 

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Hearing for Assistant Attorney General for Tax Nominee, Judicial Nominee PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 21 November 2011 16:19
Statement of Ranking Member Chuck Grassley

Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Nominations Hearing for Kathryn Keneally, to be an Assistant Attorney General, and Brian C. Wimes, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For video of the hearing, please click here.

I join you in welcoming the nominees before us today.   Today we will first hear from Kathryn Keneally, nominated to be Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice.  I am pleased that Chairman Leahy and I were able to reach agreement on the timing and format for her hearing today.  I express my appreciation to the Chairman for the way we are proceeding on this nomination.

If confirmed, Ms. Keneally will head the Tax Division of the department. The Tax Division’s mission is to enforce the nation’s tax laws fully, fairly, and consistently, through both criminal and civil litigation.  It has a duty to ensure compliance with the tax laws, maintain public confidence in the integrity of the tax system, and promote the sound development of the law.

The Assistant Attorney General for Tax is an important and unique position.  In order to be effective, this person must have a strong command of the tax laws and maintain a strong working relationship with the Internal Revenue Service.  Given the severe debt and deficit situation facing our country, it is imperative that the IRS collect every dollar of tax that is owed to the government. I have always said that taxpayers should pay what they owe – not a penny more, not a penny less.  The Assistant Attorney General for Tax plays an important role in helping the IRS collect these taxes.

It is disappointing that we have not been able to get a qualified candidate into this position for three years.  The first nominee for this position, while qualified for any number of other legal positions, had no tax experience and was wholly unqualified for this position.  After her nomination was withdrawn in August of 2010, it took over a year for the President to submit Ms. Keneally’s nomination.  In contrast to the first nominee, Ms. Keneally has significant tax experience and will hopefully be a valuable addition to the Department of Justice. I was pleased to meet with Ms. Keneally yesterday.  We had a good visit and I look forward to her testimony today.

In addition, we will be considering the nomination of Brian C. Wimes, nominated to be United States District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri.

I would note that we are making real progress with regard to the nominations of President Obama to the federal judiciary.   Today marks the 18th nominations hearing held in this committee this year, and we will have heard from 70 judicial nominees.  All in all, nearly 89 percent of President Obama’s judicial nominees have received a hearing.

The Senate has confirmed twenty Article III judicial nominees during the past month and a half.  We have now confirmed 58 judicial nominees in this Congress alone.  With the confirmation of two judges yesterday, over 70 percent of President Obama’s nominees have been confirmed.

Kathryn Keneally is nominated to be Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice.  After obtaining her J.D. from Fordham University in 1982, Ms. Keneally served as a law clerk for Judge Edward R. Neaher of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  She then worked as an associate attorney at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom from 1983 – 1985.  Her practice there consisted of complex commercial litigation and pro bono criminal defense matter. In 1985, she became an associate at Kostelanetz & Ritholz and was made a partner in 1990.  At this firm her practice included criminal tax defense, other white collar criminal defense, and tax controversy, as well as complex commercial litigation matters involving fraud, civil RICO, securities, and similar issues.

In 2000, she became a member in the firm of Owen & Davis where she primarily handled commercial litigation, as well as tax controversy and criminal tax defense.  In 2002, she joined Fulbright & Jaworski, LLC., where she is a partner.  She initially practiced commercial, tax controversy and criminal tax defense, but since 2004 has primarily handled only tax controversy and criminal tax defense.

Brian C. Wimes is nominated to be United States District Judge for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri.  Upon graduation from law school in 1994, Judge Wimes became an Attorney Advisor in the Litigation Branch of Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C.  Judge Wimes represented the bureau in civil actions by inmates throughout the country.

In 1995, Judge Wimes left the bureau and became an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office in Kansas City, Missouri until 2001.  During his time there, Judge Wimes specialized in drug prosecutions.  Additionally, as Coordinator for the Drug Abatement Response Team, he supervised a staff that was focused on closing drug houses in the Jackson County area.  In 1999, Judge Wimes became the Senior Trial Attorney for the Drug Unit, prosecuting cases involving major crimes with an emphasis on drug-related homicides.

In 2001, Judge Wimes became the Drug Court Commissioner for the Court for Jackson County, Missouri.  He was appointed for two, four year terms.  Judge Wimes presided over 400 assigned cases to Drug Court, with a caseload of 120 to 150 docketed cases per week.

After serving as the Drug Court Commissioner for Jackson, Judge Wimes was appointed by then-Governor Matt Blunt to serve as the Circuit Court Judge for the 16th Judicial District, Jackson County, Missouri.  He was appointed in 2007, and was retained in the 2008 election cycle.

As a Circuit Court Judge, Judge Wimes has presided over approximately twenty-nine criminal trials that have gone to judgment and twenty-five civil trials that have done the same. From 2008 to 2009, Judge Wimes was assigned to the Family Court Division and heard over 500 domestic cases to judgment as well.

Again, I welcome the nominees, their family members and guests.  I look forward to the testimony.

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Herbert Hoover NHS Invites You to Celebrate “A Christmas Past” Weekend in West Branch, Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Adam Prato   
Monday, 21 November 2011 16:00
WEST BRANCH, IOWA— West Branch, Iowa, the birthplace of Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States, will host “A Christmas Past” events from Friday, December 2 until Sunday, December 4. The festivities officially begin with the lighting of the tree in the Village Green at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 2.  The University of Iowa’s Collegium Tubum will be playing holiday carols on their tubas during this ceremony. Main Street West Branch will feature brick fireplaces for roasting marshmallows, fresh-cooked doughnuts, and photos with Santa. Downtown shops will be open for business Friday and Saturday evenings, and the local churches will have a cookie walk, Christmas candy sale, and a soup supper. For more information call Main Street West Branch at (319) 643-7100 or visit www.mainstreetwestbranch.org for a complete schedule of events.

Horse-drawn wagon rides on Friday and Saturday evenings start at 5:30 p.m. from the Visitor Center of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. The rides take visitors through the historic site and historic downtown West Branch. The last wagon rides begin at 8:00 p.m. The Visitor Center, Herbert Hoover Birthplace Cottage, and Blacksmith Shop will be open to visitors on Friday and Saturday nights until 9:00 p.m. From 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. items in the Visitor Center bookstore will on sale for 15 percent off. Park rangers and volunteers will lead craft activities at the Visitor Center from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Activities include card-making for soldiers overseas as part of “Operation Gratitude” in partnership with the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.  A park ranger will demonstrate the art and craft of blacksmithing in the Blacksmith Shop on Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

A traditional Quaker open worship will be held at the Friends Meetinghouse at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 3, 2011. The historic meetinghouse where the Hoover family worshipped was built in 1857 and is one of several buildings preserved by the National Park Service as part of the park commemorating Herbert Hoover. Visitors are welcome to attend the worship meeting, which is similar to meetings young Herbert Hoover attended with his family. All activities at the historic site are free. For more information call Herbert Hoover National Historic Site at (319) 643-2541 or visit www.nps.gov/heho.

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum displays Christmas trees in its annual holiday exhibit. This year’s holiday exhibit is “A Fairy Tale Christmas” featuring twenty trees each decorated to represent a different fairy tale. Special museum hours for “A Christmas Past” weekend are Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Free admission begins Friday at 5:00 p.m. and continues throughout the weekend. Free weekend performances at the Presidential Library and Museum
include stage presentations by The Young Footliters, Christmas carols by the Uncalled Four quartet and the West Branch Community Chorus, and a readers’ theater performance of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. The annual Holiday Open House is Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. with Santa Claus and free holiday refreshments served. For more information call the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum at (319) 643-5301 or visit www.hoover.archives.gov.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch, Iowa at exit 254 off I-80. Both are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. Parking is limited so please allow extra time to find a parking space.

 
Herbert Hoover NHS Now Accepting Applications for 2012 Artist-in-Residence Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Adam Prato   
Monday, 21 November 2011 15:58
WEST BRANCH, IOWA— Herbert Hoover National Historic Site seeks writers, composers, and visual and performing artists for the park’s 2012 Artist-in-Residence Program. The Artist-in-Residence Program is open to all professional American artists whose work can be inspired by the history and beauty of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. The park offers two residencies of two to eight weeks each from April through September. For more information about the Artist-in-Residence Program and how to apply, contact Kristin Gibbs at (319) 643-7866 or visit the park’s website: http://www.nps.gov/heho/supportyourpark/artist-in-residence-program.htm.  The application period closes on Friday, February 24, 2012.

The Artist-in-Residence Program at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site promotes creative means of communicating the park's national significance and its relevance to park visitors. Artists have been part of national parks since the 1870s when famed painters played a vital role in documenting the majestic landscapes of the West. It was through their works of art that many first saw these special places in America. Today artists are working in more than 40 units of the National Park Service through Artist-in-Residence Programs. Works from past Artists-in-Residence at Herbert Hoover NHS are on display in the park’s visitor center.

The 2011 Artist-in-Residence Program at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site featured two writers, Dr. Gaynell Gavin and M.S. Coe. Each contributed a piece of writing inspired by their residencies this summer. Dr. Gavin’s essay “Reflections of a Neophyte Prairie Topophiliac” and Ms. Coe’s short story “Summer Yardscape” are posted on the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/heho/supportyourpark/artist-in-residence-program.htm.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch, Iowa at exit 254 off I-80. Both are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. For more information go online to www.nps.gov/heho or call (319) 643-2541.

 
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