U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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  • 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.

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

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    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.

  • Video: Senator Coons questions Secretary Kerry on Africa priorities

    Senator Coons, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, questioned Secretary of State John Kerry about funding for the President’s Power Africa initiative, the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, humanitarian challenges in Sudan and South Sudan, wildlife trafficking, and other Africa priorities in the State Department budget at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations on Thursday. Watch the full exchange below. Secretary Kerry's remarks begin at 4:13.

  • Video: Senator Coons talks foreign policy in Ukraine, Uganda on MSNBC

    Senator Coons, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Africa Subcommittee, joined MSNBC's Steve Kornacki Sunday morning to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine and actions the U.S. can take to combat Uganda's unacceptable anti-LGBT law, including scaling back assistance related to police training, opening up avenues for asylum for those fleeing oppression, and considering sanctions and/or visa denials for those who incite violence against the LGBT community. “We need to make sure that our rhetoric is matched by our actions,” Chris said. Watch the full interview below.

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  • New initiative will promote safety improvements for oil by rail

    While rail transportation has proven an efficient means of transporting North America’s growing supply of crude oil, increased oil by rail traffic has also raised serious environmental and safety concerns in recent years.

    Following several recent, high-profile accidents by trains transporting crude oil – including a December derailment in North Dakota in which 400,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled – the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Association of American Railroads (AAR) have come together to announce the roll out of new safety measures for crude by rail operations.

    The agreement institutes an array of new safety measures to prevent train derailments, including implementation of new, more effective breaking technology and traffic routing technology that determines the safest and most secure routes, increased track inspections, and reduced speed requirements through designated urban areas.

    “Our rail safety procedures must keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape of North American oil production,” Senator Coons said. “In January, a derailment in Philadelphia nearly ended in disaster, and over the last year, devastating crashes in communities from North Dakota to Alabama have underscored the need to update and strengthen freight safety measures. The improved safety procedures announced by DOT and AAR are an important step in what must be a sustained effort to protect our communities and environment from future disasters.” 

    North American oil production has expanded rapidly in recent years thanks to growing production in the Canadian oil sands and increased shale oil production in North Dakota, Montana, and Texas. Nearly 70 percent of the United States’ crude oil demand is now supplied from production in North America, displacing imports from overseas. This crude oil boom has created new transportation challenges as producers have increasingly turned to rail to transport oil to refineries in market hubs across the U.S., including PBF’s refinery in Delaware City.

    According to rail industry estimates, U.S. freight railroads carried more than 400,000 carloads of crude oil in 2013, compared to 9,500 carloads in 2008. In just the last three years, crude imports by rail from Canada have increased more than 20-fold. PBF’s Delaware City Refinery, which directly supports 500 jobs in Delaware, receives 1-2 unit trains of Bakken crude oil shipments per day.

  • ZOUP’s! On! Senator Coons welcomes new business to New Castle County

    Senator Coons speaks with Eric Ames, owner of Zoup!

    Senator Coons, joined by students from William Penn’s Communities in Schools program, members of the Small Business Administration, and Delaware State Chamber of Commerce congratulated new business owners Eric and Zia Ames at the grand opening of their new ZOUP! Franchise in Wilmington. Customers and friends filled the seats and lined the walls of the new soup and sandwich store to celebrate the new business, which was launched with the investment of the Small Business Adiministration and Applied Bank .

    “Small business is the lifeblood of the community, not just here in Delaware, but across America,” said Chris. “Our small businesses do more than sell us goods and services — they support and strengthen our communities. I congratulate Eric and Zia on their passion, pride and boldness, to take that leap to start this venture.”

    Eric and Zia spoke to the more than 30 students gathered at the event about the sacrifices, as well as the rewards that come with being an entrepreneur in the community.

    Two out of three new jobs created in this country are created by small businesses, and here in Delaware, there are 70,000 small businesses that create jobs and give many families a chance to attain the American dream.

    “It takes a community to build a business, and thanks to the support of the SBA, Applied Bank, and a strong business community, my family's dream to own our own business has become a reality,” said owner Eric Ames. “As a first generation business owner, I am excited by what this opportunity means for my children, knowing that when they graduate from college, they can begin their career or pursue a passion as an entrepreneur because they saw their dad do it.”

    Zoup is located 4715 Kirkwood Highway, Wilmington, DE 19808

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