U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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  • The Week Ahead for Senator Chris Coons - February 2 to February 8

    Monday, February 2 at 5:30 p.m. — The Senate will vote on the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. Senator Coons is a cosponsor of the bill, which would improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for American service members. Senate Chamber, U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. — Open to credentialed press. Contact: Ian Koski at 202-224-4216. 

    Tuesday, February 3 at 9 a.m. — The Senator will attend the weekly leadership meeting of the Senate Democratic Caucus.  U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. – Closed to press.

    Wednesday, February 4 at 9:00 a.m. — The Senator will attend a Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee meeting on reducing the cost of college and student loan debt. U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. — Closed to press, but the Senator can be available to discuss the meeting. Contact: Ian Koski at 202-224-4216.

    Wednesday, February 4 at 9:30 a.m. — The Senator will attend a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on human trafficking and ending modern slaveryDirksen Senate Office Building Room 419, Washington, D.C., – Open to press. Foreign Relations Committee’s Tara DiJulio at 202-224-6797.

    Wednesday, February 4 at 3:30 p.m. — The Senator will host a Senate Law Enforcement Caucus briefing on Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. This program provides grants to states to support the establishment and expansion of voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs to assist at-risk families with young children. On-the-ground perspectives will be provided by a number of officials, including Chief Scott Collins of the Selbyville Police Department. Russell Senate Office Building Room 385,Washington, D.C. – Open to press. Contact: Ian Koski at 202-224-4216.

    Thursday, February 5 at 7:30 a.m. – The Senator will attend the National Prayer Breakfast celebration. The National Prayer Breakfast is actually a series of luncheons, meetings, and dinners, hosted by members of prayer groups in the House and Senate. The event is typically attended by more than 3,000 people of wide variety of races, cultures and faith traditions. Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. — Open to credentialed press.

    Thursday, February 5 at 10:30 a.m. — The Senator will participate in a Judiciary Committee executive business meetingDirksen Senate Office Building Room 226, Washington, D.C. — Open to press. Contact: Judiciary Committee’s Beth Levine at 202-224-5225.

    Friday, February 6 at 10:30 a.m. – The Senator will participate in “Give Kids a Smile” event, a national program that provides free dental care to children from low-income families. Sponsored by the Delaware State Dental Society, “Give Kids a Smile” is the American Dental Association’s major oral health outreach program. This is the 12th year that the event has been held at Delaware Tech. 333 Shipley Street, Wilmington, DE — Open to press. Contact: Brian P. Cunningham at 302-650-7858.

    Note: Schedule is subject to change.

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  • Senator Coons urges Congressional support for emergency funding to fight Ebola

    In this photo taken Wednesday Nov. 5, 2014, on the outskirts of the city of Monrovia, Liberia, health workers walk around medical tents that form part of a new American clinic to be used for the treatment of people suffering from the Ebola virus. As the Ebola epidemic flares in new hot spots and dims in others, the response to its shifts must catch up, experts say, and that’s a challenge because it is a slow process for governments to authorize aid, to gather it together and then deliver it. And to build treatment units, even rudimentary ones, takes even more time. By the time it’s built, the outbreak may have moved elsewhere. (AP Photo/Abbas Dulleh)

    Senator Coons, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urged his colleagues on Wednesday to support the President’s emergency funding request for the fight against Ebola, and warned about the danger in cutting funds from efforts to stop the virus in West Africa. The comments came during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on President Obama's $6.2 billion emergency request to fight the Ebola outbreak.

    “The single best way for us to protect American lives is to engage vigorously in the work and the fight against Ebola on the ground in West Africa,” Senator Coons said at the hearing. “This emergency funding request provides support for every facet of what’s needed to keep Americans safe, first by strengthening and bolstering our readiness here in the United States, but principally by ensuring that we contain Ebola in Liberia, in Sierra Leone, in Guinea, and prevent its spread to neighboring countries.”

    Senator Coons also recounted a conversation he had last week with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, “who wanted me to make a point of thanking the American people for our generosity and our engagement, but urged us not to let off now. Just because there is some hopeful news doesn’t mean that we’ve turned the corner on this, and in the region, it still remains a dangerous and difficult time.”

    The Senator expressed his gratitude for the “remarkable sacrifice” of the volunteers, missionaries, aid workers, and military personnel who have deployed to West Africa to fight the virus, and reiterated his opposition to a “travel ban” that would prevent them from returning to the United States. “Americans who go abroad should not be stigmatized when they return; should be honored and supported in their commitment and service; and should have confidence that they can return from their service, and be supported when they do so.”

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  • VIDEO: Senator Coons recaps U.S.-Africa Summit on MSNBC

    The historic Africa Summit in Washington last week aimed to cast Africa in a new light and give Americans a real understanding about the opportunities in a diverse set of countries with burgeoning middle classes. Senator Coons joined MSNBC's Jonathan Capehart on Sunday to discuss key takeaways from the three-day conference involving more than 40 African heads of state.

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  • VIDEO: Senator Coons discusses U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on MSNBC

    Senator Coons talks to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell about his goals for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and the challenges and opportunties surrounding the three-day event. 

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  • Video: Senator Coons discusses next steps to recover kidnapped schoolgirls on MSNBC

    Senator Coons, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, appeared on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown on Tuesday to discuss the steps the Nigerian government should take to recover 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in April, including accepting and fully utilizing U.S. assistance. Senator Coons will chair a hearing of the African Affairs Subcomittee on Thursday to examine the situation and determine additional actions the U.S. can take to assist in the recovery of kidnap victims and combat the threat of Boko Haram. "We need to provide every possible assistance to Nigeria so that we waste not one more day before these girls are safely returned to their families," Chris said. 

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  • Senator Coons calls delay in rescuing kidnapped girls "shameful"

    Senator Coons, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, was interviewed on the BBC World Service's NewsHour program Tuesday about the status of nearly 300 girls kidnapped by terrorists in northern Nigeria. He described the Nigerian government's slow and inadequate response to the abductions as "shameful" and expressed his relief that Nigeria's president had finally accepted American offers of assistance. Listen below:

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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.

  • 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.

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