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'They Make It Hard On Purpose': Pressley Vs. Credit Score Agencies

The world is watching the Senate to see if witnesses will be allowed in the impeachment trial. Meanwhile, I was watching (and chasing down lawmakers in) the House. Also, here's a question for you to ponder.

House Passes Pressley Bill To Reform Credit Reporting Practices

Last night the House passed Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s sweeping bill to reform practices by credit reporting agencies.

Pressley's Comprehensive CREDIT Act would mandate that credit reporting agencies remove negative information about certain student loan and medical debts once paid, and require reforms to the credit scoring and dispute process.

The aim, Pressley says, is to keep debts incurred for treatment of life-threatening illnesses or predatory private student loans from haunting people for years.

“If somebody needs a life-saving operation, why is that they're then going to be scored on their credit report, and hamper their ability to be gainfully employed?” she said.

The bill also makes it easier for consumers to rehabilitate their credit profile, prohibits the use of credit data for most employment decisions and requires agencies to be more transparent about how they handle consumers' credit information.

“You know, most people don’t even know what their credit score is,” Pressley told me. “And they make it hard on purpose. And then there is a predatory element even in your obtaining that score, so they can peddle more products to you.”

The measure passed in the House largely along party lines, 221 to 189. Its prospects of passing the GOP-controlled Senate are unclear.

Lynch Blasts Trump Administration Refusal To Testify On Afghanistan

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington on Monday French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington on Monday French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Rep. Stephen Lynch said the refusal of State and Defense Department officials to testify before a House hearing Tuesday on Afghanistan strategy leaves lawmakers and the public in the dark at a crucial time. Reconciliation negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban are ongoing.

Lynch, who chairs the House Oversight’s Subcommittee on National Security, said its bipartisan request for the testimony of Defense Secretary Mark Esper (in the photo above), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or their designees came after the Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers report. The report found “senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign.”

While Lynch and some other lawmakers have received a classified report on the status of troops and the ongoing talks, he told me unanswered questions remain.

“That report indicated that the goals that have been agreed to do not include the status of women, which is a major concern for all of us,” Lynch told me. “No. 2, rather than seeking a secession of hostilities and ceasefire, we are now basically asking them not to shoot at [U.S. troops] as we are leaving the areas where we are currently deployed.”

Lynch said the amount of information coming from the Trump administration to Congress on Afghanistan is far less than under either the Obama or Bush administrations.

READ: There's more from Lynch in my piece on the (non-impeachment) ongoing investigations and legal battles between House committees and Trump.

Warren Files Comprehensive Gun Control Bill

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., center, walks with aides to the Senate chamber after a break in the impeachment trial of President Trump on Wednesday. (Steve Helber/AP)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., center, walks with aides to the Senate chamber after a break in the impeachment trial of President Trump on Wednesday. (Steve Helber/AP)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren filed a sweeping gun control bill today — one that tracks closely with the plan she unveiled last year as part of her 2020 campaign platform.

Among other provisions, the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, whose co-sponsors include Sen. Ed Markey, would:

  • Create a federal gun licensing system
  • Mandate universal background checks
  • Close “gun show” loopholes
  • Include a red flag provision that bars individuals deemed dangerous from obtaining firearms
  • Ban military-style assault weapons
  • Prohibit bulk gun purchases to thwart gun trafficking

The measure also has the backing of a number of gun advocacy groups including Giffords, March For Our Lives and the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

“With approximately 100 Americans killed every day from gun violence, it's long past time for Congress to stand up to the gun lobby and confront this deadly crisis head-on,” Warren said in a statement announcing the measure ahead of National Gun Violence Survivors Week.

4 More Things:

Rep. Ayanna Pressley and other lawmakers announce the "People's Housing Platform." (Kimberly Atkins/WBUR)
Rep. Ayanna Pressley and other lawmakers announce the "People's Housing Platform." (Kimberly Atkins/WBUR)

— Pressley and other progressives launch housing platform: Pressley joined several of her House colleagues yesterday, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal and Rashida Tlaib and housing advocates to announce a platform of reforms she says affirm housing as a human right. The People’s Housing Platform is a broad collection of bills filed by Pressley and other lawmakers to address issues from affordable housing availability to voting protections for people without a fixed address. Pressley cited statistics on the impact of housing and income inequality on life expectancy, pointing out that life expectancy in Boston's Back Bay is 92, while in Roxbury, it’s 62.

— Sanders backs Pressley, as she backs Warren: Pressley broke from other members of the Squad in her endorsement of Warren for president. But that didn’t stop Sen. Bernie Sanders from endorsing Pressley’s reelection — along with the reelection of other progressive lawmakers, including fellow Squad members Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez and Omar. In a statement, Sanders calls Pressley and the other lawmakers “strong advocates for real change, and together we will build a movement to transform this nation so that it works for all our people.”

— Healey and other AGs back plaintiffs in child detention case: State Attorney General Maura Healey is among 20 state attorneys general urging a federal court to stop a proposed Trump administration policy to allow indefinite detention of children in immigration custody. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the California-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Healey asked the court to uphold an order barring the administration from changing a rule that requires detained children be released within 20 days. The case is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Moulton seeks to boost FARA enforcement after Harvard, BU arrestsMoulton filed a bill to increase enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act after the arrests of researchers at Harvard and Boston Universities for concealing ties with Chinese government. They were charged with making false statements about receiving funding from the Chinese government, visa fraud, acting as an agent of a foreign government and other crimes.

Moulton’s bill would, among other things, close FARA’s academic exemption loophole for countries, like China, with a record of human rights violations. “Our adversaries would rather exploit those freedoms to steal our work than create it themselves,” Moulton said in a statement. “We need to update our laws to keep pace with China’s aggressive campaign to steal our ideas and technology.”


WHAT I'M READING

  • The Iowans Who Reject Their State’s Special Privilege (The Atlantic)
  • There Is A Deal Republicans And Democrats Can Make On Impeachment (The Bulwark)

WHERE'S WARREN?

She's still stuck in D.C. So, Bailey is on the trail.

The impeachment trial has already caused Warren to reshuffle her plans in Iowa in the days leading up to Monday’s caucuses. And more uncertainty looms.

She had to nix plans to attend get-out-the-caucus rallies with her husband, Bruce Mann, and their golden retriever, Bailey Warren, in Council Bluffs and Le Mars today. (Mann and the pooch will drop by field offices instead).

She has rallies scheduled in Ames and Des Moines tomorrow, but her appearance will depend on how late the Senate trial session lasts.

On Saturday, Warren is set to attend events with campaign co-chair Pressley in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, and on Sunday, she’ll rally with former HUD Secretary Julián Castro.


TWEET OF THE WEEK

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s spokeswoman shared a sketch by Art Lien of the former Massachusetts governor on the Senate floor with "contraband": a bottle of chocolate milk.

The Republican later returned with the milk in a glass instead of a bottle, but it's unclear whether that too violated strict Senate impeachment trial procedural rules governing beverages.

Kimberly Atkins Twitter Senior News Correspondent
Kimberly Atkins is a senior news correspondent for WBUR, covering national political news from Washington, D.C., with a New England focus.

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