Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand Says GOP Paid Family Leave Plan Hurts Social Security

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday panned a Republican-backed proposal for paid family leave, saying the program should not be approved the expense of Social Security.

“Our country desperately needs a paid family medical leave plan, but robbing Peter to pay Paul is shortsighted and wrong,” Gillibrand said.

“No worker should have to borrow against their own Social Security benefits, which are already too low, to get paid family leave when they need it to take care of a new baby, a sick family member, or themselves. We need to pass a paid leave program that is comprehensive, affordable, gender-neutral, and covers all of life’s unexpected medical events. This bill fails that test. Congress should act now to pass the FAMILY Act, which is an earned benefit that would help all American workers take paid time off through shared responsibility of the employer and employee.”

The proposal backed by Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, would allow parents to draw benefits from their Social Security to fund parental leave. They would then be required to delay the collection of retirement benefits over a period of time.

“Congress should be working to strengthen Social Security, but this Senate Republican plan weakens it,” Gillibrand said. “Any plan that robs the Social Security trust fund will hurt low-income workers, seniors, and women the most. Women already receive less Social Security benefits than men, and this plan only exacerbates that problem.”

President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address last week backed a paid family leave program, which has been a key issue for his daughter and advisor, Ivanka. It was not clear which plan Trump, however, was embracing in the speech.

In New York, lawmakers last year approved a paid family leave program that deducts a small amount of money from an employee’s pay in order to fund it.

Gillibrand Discusses SOTU Priorities

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will bring the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico as her guest to the State of the Union address tonight. The Senator from New York held a press conference by satellite Tuesday to talk about that decision and what she hopes to hear from President Donald Trump.

Those issues include how he plans to make healthcare more affordable for Americans and create more good-paying jobs. Gillibrand would also like to hear details on Trump’s infrastructure plan, ways to make higher education more affordable, and if he’s going to provide permanent residence to the young immigrants known as Dreamers.
But the focus of the night for Gillibrand will be on how Puerto Rico is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. She said they were not just natural disasters but humanitarian and economic ones.
Gillbrand she chose to bring the San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz because so many New Yorkers both have family members on the island and have dealt with disasters like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene.
“We know what it’s like to rebuild and I think it’s outrageous that this president has turned a blind eye to the suffering in Puerto Rico because it’s something that a lot of New Yorkers are very concerned about because their families live there and their loved ones,” she said
Gillibrand said the first steps are to approve a new Marshall Plan for Puerto Rich and grant the governor’s full request for funding.

Gillibrand: Firing Mueller Risks A Constitutional Crisis

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday told reporters that firing White House special counsel Robert Mueller would risk a “constitutional crisis” and his investigation into Russian collusion should proceed without White House intervention.

Gillibrand, at an unrelated event in Syracuse, was responding the news that Trump last year had sought to fire Mueller, but relented after the president’s top counsel threatened to quit.

“I believe that is a line he should not cross,” she said. “I think it risks a constitutional crisis. It should not have interference from the White House.”

Meanwhile, Gillibrand also said congressional Democrats should push back strongly in favor of legal protections for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, known as dreamers.

Another funding showdown is approaching next month after a brief federal government shutdown in part over the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals was resolved this week.

“From the outside it certainly looks like Washington’s broken and cannot come together to meet the needs of people,” she said. “If we cannot protect the DACA kids, I hope we fight as hard as we possibly can. These are hundreds of thousands of people here who are doing good things for our country.”

She added the Trump-backed proposal for DACA of what she has seen “looks inadequate to me.”

Gillibrand Compliments Oprah’s Golden Globe Speech

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand knows all about being the subject of 2020 speculation. She’s considered among the Democratic front-runners to take on Donald Trump, but this weekend serious speculation about another candidate emerged.

Following Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes, several reports said she’s considering a campaign. Monday in Buffalo, Gillibrand sounded supportive of the idea.

“I’m really grateful to what she said and I think she’s a real leader and I think her voice is powerful and important and whatever she wants to do, she should do,” she said.

Winfrey’s speech focused on issues with sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and other American arenas. It’s a topic Gillibrand has regularly spoken out about during her ascension among the Democratic considerations.

“I love the fact that she ended it with this statement that we want to make sure that little girls out there listening to her never have to have a Me Too moment,” Gillibrand said. “They never have to be on Youtube because things will have changed by then.”

Gillibrand said she appreciated that Winfrey’s speech didn’t make the issue about one person or on industry but instead called for women and men to continue to speak out.

Gillibrand Donates Trump Contributions, Coy On 2020

When reporters asked U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, earlier this year about running for president, she said she was “ruling it out.” Her answer was less definitive Friday, when in Western New York she was faced with a question about whether she was reconsidering.

Instead, Gillibrand employed a tactic often used by the governor, also considered a possible 2020 contender, pivoting to next year’s election instead of the one three years away.

“I’m really focused on running for Senate in 2018 and so my hope and dream is to be elected here and so that’s what I’m hoping for,” she said.

The senator has been thrust back into the national spotlight, taking a leading role as an advocate for victims of sexual harassment and assault, as well as a critic of President Donald Trump. In return, the president tweeted earlier this week that Gillibrand used to beg him for campaign contributions and “would do anything for them.”

“I think it was intended to be a sexist smear, intended to silence me on something I care very deeply about and the truth is, the president’s not going to silence me or the women who have stood up against him or the millions of women who have been marching since inauguration and showing up at town halls and running for office to be heard on the things that they care most deeply about,” she said.

According to the Federal Elections Commission, Trump did donate to Gillibrand in 2010 and 2007. The senator said the campaign gave all of his donations this week to a not-for-profit that deals with sexual violence.

She was also part of a bipartisan group that yesterday unveiled new rules for reporting sexual harassment in Congress. Despite the recent publicity, Gillibrand said the movement is not about her.

“What my job is then is to provide accountability. We have to create the structure around this pervasiveness and begin to show accountability, transparency and offer justice,” she said.

Gillibrand Proposes New Rules For Sexual Harassment Reporting In Congress

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was among the group of Republicans and Democrats on Thursday to unveil a package changes to sexual harassment reporting in Congress.

The changes, which include an end to secret settlements involving members of Congress unless a victim requests they be kept private, comes amid a firestorm of allegations of sexual harassment leveled against powerful men across a variety of industries.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken announced this month he will leave office in the coming weeks after he was accused of groping and forcibly kissing multiple women. Democratic Rep. John Conyers resigned after it was revealed he settled a sexual harassment claim, while Republican Reps. Trent Franks has resigned and Blake Farenthold has said he will not seek re-election.

“Congress should never be above the law or play by their own set of rules,” Gillibrand said.

“We should treat every person who works here with respect and dignity, and that means creating a climate where there is accountability, fairness, respect, and access to justice if sexual harassment takes place. There are real costs to sexual harassment in the workplace. We now know that many people quit their jobs because of it, or miss out on promotions or raises, all of which can throw off the entire trajectory in their careers. We must ensure that Congress handles complaints to create an environment where staffers can come forward if something happens to them without having to fear that it will ruin their careers. This bipartisan legislation would bring us much closer to that goal.”

The legislation also extends protections to congressional interns and fellows. Members of Congress found personally liable for harassment or discrimination will be responsible for paying the cost of a settlement and it must be approved by the Senate or House Ethics Committee.

Everyone who works on Capitol Hill will also be required to take harassment and discrimination training, including lawmakers.

The changes come as Gillibrand called on Franken to resign from office and, days later, called on President Trump to do the same amid allegations he has harassed and assaulted women.

In New York, where sexual harassment cases involving state lawmakers have occurred over the years, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef has called for a revised, uniform policy for sexual harassment cases.

Gillibrand: Trump’s Response A ‘Sexist Smear’

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand pushed back against a tweet by President Donald Trump on Tuesday in which he suggested she would “do anything” for the political support of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The tweet from Trump was in response to Gillibrand’s call for the president to resign after women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment re-told their allegations on Monday.

“I think the president was using a sexist smear to try to silence my voice and silence the voice of the many survivors who came forward yesterday,” Gillibrand told reporters. “He’s not going to silence me and he’s not going to silence them.”

Gillibrand has pointedly distanced herself from former President Bill Clinton in recent weeks, saying that in this era of understanding sexual harassment, he would have had to resign.

Gillibrand denied her comments on the former president were spurred by political opportunism.

“This is not about any one president or any one person,” she said. “Sexual violence is a scourge, it’s across all industries.”

Gillibrand Says Franken Should Resign

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday called on fellow Democratic lawmaker Al Franken to resign, hours after another woman accused him of unwanted sexual advances.

“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” Gillibrand wrote in a Facebook post.

“In the wake of the election of President Trump, in just the last few months, our society is changing, and I encourage women and men to keep speaking up to continue this progress. At this moment, we need to speak hard truths or lose our chance to make lasting change.”

Gillibrand last week declined to call for Franken’s resignation, saying in a WCNY interview that the ethics investigation into the allegations should be played out and that whether he stays in office is up to him.

On Tuesday, Democratic Rep. John Conyers resigned from office amid accusations of sexual harassment among women who worked for Congress.

The latest woman to accuse Franken of misbehavior worked for Congress.

Gillibrand has repeatedly call the wave of accusations against powerful men in the media, politics and entertainment an important moment of reckoning.

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge FEMA To Quickly Add Monroe County To Disaster Declaration

When the White House officially declared a major federal disaster last month for communities affected by the flooding along the Lake Ontario shore this spring and summer, Monroe County was conspicuously left off the list. The county is appealing to the Federal Emergency Management Agency but Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, said it could take up to 90 days for FEMA to act.

Schumer and Gillibrand urged the agency Monday not to take that long. They said it’s vital because Monroe County suffered significant damages and costs continue to mount.

“Every day that passes, the burden on families and businesses in Monroe County trying to recover from the substantial flooding they suffered this year continues to grow,” Gillibrand said. “Now that the damage assessments have been revised to show that the damage meets FEMA’s threshold for assistance, there is no reason to hold back from providing the federal aid necessary to rebuild.”

Schumer said federal, state and local officials have been on the ground over the past couple of days tabulating damages. In the case of Monroe, he said it’s nearly $2.7 million.

“Simply put, the feds should not leave Monroe County out to dry. For months Monroe County residents and business owners were ravaged by high waters, the continued flooding caused them to close businesses, caused damage to homes and eroded shoreline protections,” Schumer said.

 In general, FEMA aid is on a cost-sharing basis with the federal government covering 75 percent of the eligible expenses. State and local governments and stakeholders are responsible for the remaining 25 percent.

Gillibrand Says It’s Up To Franken On Whether He Should Resign

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a radio interview Thursday said it’s up to Sen. Al Franken as to whether he should resign as he faces allegations of groping and unwanted sexual contact from a half-dozen women.

“It’s his decision,” Gillibrand said. “I was the first Democrat to call for the investigation. I think having that process is important.”

Her comments on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter came the same day as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders called on Democratic Rep. John Conyers to step down amid revelations he sexually harassed women who had worked in Congress.

Gillibrand in the interview touted her push to reform how sexual harassment allegations are handled in Congress, which she called a “horrible, opaque process” that protects the accused and is at the detriment of the victims.

She said Franken, as well as President Donald Trump, should go through the process of an investigation.

“I think his behavior is unacceptable on any level and is infuriating and disappointing for all of us to have to read about, to have to hear about,” she said.

“Minnesota voters will make their own choice and Al Franken will make his own choice. But I’m going to make sure that we have a process that he has to go through, that members of Congress have to go through and frankly there should be a process the president has to go through. It’s outrageous that there are a dozen allegations against President Trump and no process for him to have to go through.”

Gillibrand raised eyebrows earlier this month when she suggested former President Bill Clinton should have resigned after his affair with a White House intern. Clinton was ultimately impeached and acquitted.

The re-examination of Clinton’s scandal comes amid a flood of sexual harassment and abuse accusations that have ended the careers of powerful men in Hollywood and the media. So far, those in elected office have not face similar ramifications.

“Today people are willing to hold people accountable,” Gillibrand said. “Things have changed and my responsibility now is to create enough processes where there is accountability and responsibility.”