U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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  • Senator Coons honors Delaware Air Force Major, WWII veteran with medals for outstanding service

    Senator Coons shakes hands with WWII veteran Francis

    WILMINGTON, Del. – WWII Army Technician Fifth Grade Francis “Franny” Weaver thought he was coming as a spectator to a ceremony hosted by Senator Coons on Thursday honoring his nephew, Air Force Major David Strawbridge.

    But Senator Coons and Maj. Strawbridge had a special surprise in store for the WWII veteran. After presenting Maj. Strawbridge with the Bronze Star – one of the military’s highest honors – for his distinguished service in Afghanistan, Senator Coons surprised Weaver with five long-overdue medals for his service during the Second World War.

    Maj. Strawbridge, who earned the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, came to Senator Coons with the idea to surprise his uncle after first attempting, unsuccessfully, to recover Weaver’s medals from the U.S. Army. Although Weaver’s military records were destroyed in the National Archives fire of 1973, Senator Coons’ staff were able to research enough evidence to issue the medals.

    Senator Coons presented Weaver with the Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Philippine Liberation Medal for his exemplary service as a member of the Army 23rd Infantry Division between 1944 and 1946.

    “One of the things that is the hallmark of the Greatest Generation is their humility,” Chris said. “That they returned home from service to our country around the world and simply got about the business of living.” 

    “One of the most satisfying parts of this job is being able to help America’s veterans receive the honors that they have earned and that they so richly deserve,” he continued.

    Senator Coons first met Maj. Strawbridge during his visit to Kabul, Afghanistan in late January 2013. The two struck up a conversation and have kept in touch ever since.

    “I am deeply grateful for your service to our nation and I appreciate everything that you’ve done for our freedom, for our world, and for the United States in your service in Afghanistan,” Senator Coons told Maj. Strawbridge during the ceremony.

    World War II
  • Senator Coons applauds launch of new company employing former foster care youth

    Sen. Coons and Danielle of PopDot tour PopDot's facilities

    WILMINGTON, Del. – Senator Coons joined Governor Markell, Congressman Carney, and local community leaders Thursday for the grand opening of popdot, a new sign production and installation company in Wilmington’s West End neighborhood that has committed to hiring disadvantaged youth.

    The business was launched as a partnership between Sir Speedy Wilmington and West End Neighborhood House – with help from a $160,000 Community Economic Development Projects (CED) grant from the Department of Health and Human Services – and is dedicated to providing career opportunities for former foster care youth in Wilmington.

    Danielle Cunningham is one such youth, who shared the story of her journey after aging out of the foster care system and finding herself homeless at age 18. Danielle took advantage of housing through West End Neighborhood House and job training opportunities at Wilmington's Bright Spot Ventures and is now beginning her career as a popdot employee.

     “What was most striking to hear from you, Danielle, was that this is a place where you can work together, and not just have great skills, not just have an opportunity at employment, but have a family, have a place where at work you are sharing with each other your values and your journey,” Chris said.

    popdot is one of just 20 ventures across the country to submit a successful competitive CED grant application this year. The objective of the CED program is to support businesses that develop new products and services and create jobs for low-income individuals. To meet these goals, popdot has pledged to employ 75 percent low-income staff, provide full-time jobs with benefits that pay livable wages, and reinvest 51 percent of its profits into the community.

    “Many of us recognize that it is small business owners, its entrepreneurs, its people who work hard day in and day out who create most of the jobs in our country and who are the real engines of vitality in our communities,” Chris said. 

    Small Business
  • Senator Coons talks financial responsibilty with Shortlidge Elementary School students

    Senator Coons reads about financial literacy to students at Shortlidge Elementary School on April 11, 2014. Photo Credit: Evan Krape, University of Delaware.

    Photo credit: Evan Krape, University of Delaware

    Senator Coons, along with members of the Delaware Bankers Association, visited with 4th grade students from Shortlidge Elementary School as part of the 16th annual Teach Children to Save Day. Chris joined Mrs. Mahotiere’s class and read from the book The Great Investo and The Secret Saver.

    The Teach Children to Save program is a state-wide outreach program sponsored by a partnership of the Center for Economic Education & Entrepreneurship and the Delaware Bankers Association. The goal of the program is to draw attention to the importance of teaching children about saving at an early age. The program is held in April as part of Financial Literacy Month. More than 285 volunteer bankers are visiting 92 schools this week to teach a lesson on saving using the Great Investo book.

    This year’s Teach Children to Save Day lesson is based off Greg Koseluk’s new book The Great Investo and the Secret Saver. The book was written and illustrated by Koseluk, a member of the Delaware Bankers Association. Koseluk created the book specifically for the 2014 Teach Children to Save Day event with the assistance of a grant from Capital One.

    Financial Literacy
  • Senator Coons touts new report on economic impact of Northeast Corridor rail service

    Amtrak photo

    Senator Coons, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a daily Amtrak rider, touted a new report released this week on the economic impacts of rail service in the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The report, produced by the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission, describes the NEC as “an engine of economic activity” for the region and details the immense costs associated with service disruptions along the corridor.

    “The Northeast Corridor rail network is a vital economic artery for Delaware and the entire region,” Chris said. “While ridership has steadily increased, critical infrastructure investments needed to sustain Amtrak’s growth have been repeatedly deferred. This report demonstrates just what we stand to lose if we fail to invest in repairing and modernizing our infrastructure. Our economy, our communities, and millions of jobs depend on safe and efficient rail service along the Northeast Corridor. We’ve got to make strong, sustained investments now to ensure this vital service will be there for generations to come.”

    The 457-mile NEC is one of the busiest and most complex rail corridors in the world, carrying 750,000 daily commuter rail and intercity passengers and 350,000 car-loads of freight each year. Workers traveling the NEC contribute $50 billion annually to the American economy. According to the report, the unexpected loss of the NEC, even for a single day, would cost up to $100 million per day as a result of higher congestion on roadways and lost productivity.

    Other key findings from the report:

    • Seven million jobs are located within five miles of a NEC rail station, almost a third of all jobs in the NEC Region.
    • More than half of flight delays nationwide originate at New York and Philadelphia area airports.  Amtrak relieves this pressure by carrying more intercity passengers for trips within the NEC Region than all airlines combined.
    • The NEC connects the national freight rail network to east coast ports, linking manufacturing plants in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, and North Dakota to international customers.
    • Automobile manufacturers, including Ford, Toyota, and Mitsubishi, use the NEC to bring their products to market. For one major automobile manufacturer, approximately 60 percent of its total exports use the NEC to reach ports in Maryland and New Jersey.
    • Within one mile of NEC stations, 59 percent of all jobs are in knowledge industries – a far higher rate than the national average of 42 percent.
    • 263 colleges and universities are located within five miles of NEC stations, totaling 435,000 students. The region is also home to a concentration of some of the nation's top hospitals, medical research institutions, and cultural attractions. 

    The complete report is available here: The Northeast Corridor and the American Economy.

    Senator Coons spoke on the Senate floor on April 10 urging his colleagues to support critical investments in Amtrak. Click here to watch and read his remarks.

    Appropriations Committee
  • Senator Coons convenes bipartisan roundtable on innovation

    Senator Coons, along with Senators Thune, and Wyden met with TechNet CEOs and Senior Executives to discuss digital trade, IP protection, and corporate tax reform on April 1, 2014.

    Senator Coons, along with Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), met with chief executive officers and senior executives from the nation’s leading technology, venture capital, and e-commerce, companies Tuesday to discuss key issues affecting American innovation. Executives from Bloom Energy, CISCO, Oracle, and other leading technology firms shared their perspectives on proposed trade agreements, corporate tax reform, intellectual property protection, and other policy priorities.

    “America is the world’s leading source of cutting-edge technology,” Senator Coons said. “The technology companies represented today employ nearly a million Americans and are key drivers of our innovation economy. Congress can and should support American innovators by working together to open up markets abroad, protect intellectual property, and build a competitive tax code that incentivizes innovation. I am grateful to all the industry leaders who participated in today’s conversation and look forward to continuing to work with them to promote our global competitiveness.”

    Senator Coons has established himself as a leader on innovation policy by introducing a series of bills that support research and development, and help innovative small businesses grow to create jobs. He introduced the Innovators Job Creation Act with Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) earlier this year and the Startup Innovation Credit Act with Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) last January to help startups and other small companies take advantage of valuable R&D tax credits.

    He also teamed up with Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) this year to introduce legislation that would modernize the United States’ national lab system to make the innovation pipeline more efficient and give labs new flexibility to partner with the private sector.

    Senator Coons was recognized as a 2014 TechVoice Champion earlier this year by CompTIA and TECNA, two technology policy groups representing thousands of U.S. technology firms, for his work in support of innovation and America’s small and medium-sized technology firms.

  • Senator Coons' office accepting summer 2014 internship applications

    Senator Coons meets with students in Delaware

    Interested in working for Senator Coons in Washington or Delaware? The Office of Senator Chris Coons is seeking interns for offices in Washington, DC, Wilmington, DE, and Dover, DE for the summer of 2014. Responsibilities include answering phones, greeting visitors, sorting mail, handling requests for flags and tours, and assisting front office as well as legislative staff. Summer internship positions are full time. Please note that all positions are unpaid, but may qualify for academic credit if eligible. 

    This position requires outstanding organizational abilities, strong communication skills, attention to detail, poise, flexibility, and an ability to prioritize in an extremely fast-paced office. Motivated, hard-working, and professional applicants looking to get a taste of Capitol Hill or state congressional offices are encouraged to apply.

    Interested candidates should e-mail Eric Wall at Eric_Wall@coons.senate.gov with the subject line reading “Intern” and include a cover letter, resume, and one brief (2-3 pages) writing sample. Applicants should also specify which offices they are interested in applying to. Applications received by May 15 will be given priority. Delaware ties a plus, but not required. Absolutely no walk-ins or phone calls.

    Capitol Hill
  • What We’re Reading: In Africa, all conservation is local

    Flag for What We're Reading

    The New York Times published an op-ed by Kenyan journalist Murithi Mutiga on Wednesday about the importance of engaging local communities in efforts to combat poaching. Community stakeholders, Murithi argues, could be conservationists’ greatest allies in the fight against wildlife-trafficking syndicates.

    Wild animals may hold a special place in our global heritage, but all too often they threaten the livelihood of the farmers and herders who live near nature reserves and game parks. Elephants routinely trample precious crops, and carnivores sometimes ravage whole herds of livestock.

    Poachers have astutely tapped into this reserve of local grievances — made worse by high rates of poverty and unemployment — and struck up partnerships with people in communities around game parks.


    Most Kenyans support conservation efforts. But in a country where arable land is exceedingly scarce and about a tenth of the land area is reserved for national parks and reserves, the authorities should take a more sophisticated approach in winning local support for conservation initiatives.

    African countries, the author notes, could learn from Nepal, which gives special rights to communities living around major national parks – including royalties of 30 - 50 percent of the proceeds from park entry fees. The result is a local community invested in protecting the park and a massive decline in poaching.

    Namibia has also had success with the community-based conservation model. The country's world-renowned conservancy program has empowered communities to create their own conservancies to manage and sustainably benefit from wildlife on communal land, including through tourism. 

    Senator Coons, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations African Affairs Subcommittee, has been a leading voice in the Senate for wildlife conservation and efforts to combat poaching in Africa. His third annual Opportunity: Africa conference, held earlier this month in Wilmington, featured a workshop on ending poaching and protecting Africa’s wildlife led by conservation experts from the State Department and World Wildlife Fund, as well as John Kasaona, a Namibian pioneer of community-based conservation. John was also a featured speaker at a Senate briefing on wildlife trafficking hosted by Senator Coons earlier this month.

    Click here to read the full article on the New York Times’ website.

  • Chairman Coons, Africa Subcommittee will examine President’s Power Africa initiative

    Energy poverty is one of the most significant challenges facing Africa today. Seventy percent of Sub-Saharan Africans ­ – and 85 percent of those living rural areas – ­ are currently living without access to electricity.

    Pervasive energy poverty undermines economic growth and development goals in health, education, and institution-building across the continent. Businesses have repeatedly cited the lack of reliable energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa as a more significant impediment to doing business than corruption, access to capital, and other challenges. More than 90 million schoolchildren across the continent lack access to this basic educational resource and 30 percent of health facilities are without electricity. Toxic fumes from kerosene ­– the chemical used to light homes – lead to more than 3 million deaths per year, more than HIV/AIDs and malaria combined.

    The Power Africa initiative, launched by President Obama in June 2013, seeks to double the number of individuals with access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa by producing at least 10,000 megawatts of more efficient, cost effective, and sustainable electricity generation capacity on the continent.  By 2020, it aims to increase electricity access for at least 20 million new households and commercial entities, enhance the energy resource management capabilities of partner countries, and increase regional cross-border energy trade.

    To achieve these goals, the U.S. government and private sector have made approximately $20 billion in commitments to expanding energy access and generation across Sub-Saharan Africa in the next five years, especially in the six Power Africa focus countries – Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.

    Senator Coons, chair of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, will chair a hearing on Thursday to examine questions surrounding Power Africa’s scope, implementation and sustainability. The hearing will feature testimony from witnesses leading Power Africa’s implementation, including USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa Earl Gast, OPIC Executive Vice President Mimi Alemayehou, and Ex-Im Africa Director Rick Angiuoni. Additional witnesses include Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation; Paul Hinks, CEO of Symbion Power; Del Renigar, Senior Council for Global Government Affairs Policy for General Electric; and Tom Hart, U.S. Executive Director of the ONE Campaign. Their testimony will help to inform the Foreign Relations Committee’s future consideration of legislation to provide congressional authorization for Power Africa.

    The hearing will be held Thursday, March 27 at 10:30 a.m. in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing Room, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building. Click here to view a live webcast of the hearing.

    Senator Coons questioned Secretary of State John Kerry about funding for the Power Africa initiative at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations earlier this month. Click here to watch their exchange.

  • Senator Coons praises launch of Climate Data Initiative

    Senator Coons praised the President’s launch this week of a new Climate Data Initiative, part of the administration’s national strategy to combat climate change first announced by President Obama last June.

    The initiative is an effort to make climate-relevant information and resources collected by the federal government more accessible to the public. New datasets, web services, and tools related to coastal flooding and sea level rise will now be available on the new Climate.data.gov to help city planners, resource managers, farmers, hospitals, and businesses better understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change. An innovation challenge also launched this week will encourage entrepreneurs, technologists, and developers to create new tools that increase public awareness of coastal flood risks and other vulnerabilities.

     “In Delaware, we’ve already begun to see the impacts of climate change on our businesses, our infrastructure, and our local environment,” Senator Coons said. “We can’t fight climate change by denying it, but we can make our communities safer and our economy more secure by sharing valuable tools and information that will help us prepare for the changes to come. The new Climate Data Initiative will leverage the tremendous data-gathering capacity of the federal government to fuel private sector innovation and address our most pressing climate challenges. This is an important step that will help our communities take smarter, more coordinated action on climate change.”

    Read more about the White House’s Climate Data Initiative here: http://1.usa.gov/1gPGWd5

    Last week, Senator Coons and 27 of his colleagues held an all night session on the Senate floor to urge action on climate change. You can watch and read Senator Coons’ remarks here: http://1.usa.gov/N46Hyd

  • What We're Reading: Making the AIDS crisis worse

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    The Washington Post published an article Thursday on the public health consequences of recently enacted anti-homosexuality laws in Nigeria, Uganda, and elsewhere – specifically citing their negative impact on the fight against HIV/AIDS.

    It is the job of public health officials to account for the reality of human behavior in pursuit of the public good. Anti-gay laws complicate that task in practical ways. MSM who are afraid of prosecution and violence are less likely to attend meetings where they are given education, condoms and lubricants. Less likely to be honest with their physicians about their sexual histories. Less likely to be tested for AIDS and receive treatment and care. And more likely to inadvertently infect others.

    When Western governments lecture African countries about their retrograde views, it can feed a populist, anti-colonial backlash. When donors threaten to cut off aid, it can cause lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists to cringe — fearing they will be scapegoated for the punishment of their whole country.

    What might be more effective is a forceful health-related message. This is an area in which civil rights — starting out with a simple zone of personal privacy — is a requirement of public health. Nations such as Nigeria and Uganda are committed to ambitious objectives in fighting AIDS. Those goals are unachievable while any group is targeted for discrimination and excluded from effective outreach. 

    Senator Coons, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations African Affairs Subcommittee, spoke out against the enactment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill in February calling the law “a setback for human rights around the world” and appeared on MSNBC earlier this month to discuss steps the U.S. can take to combat the law and stand up for Uganda’s LGBT community.

    Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post’s website.

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