Demanding Answers from GSA, Women's Museum, & Cracking Down on Anonymous Shell Companies
It was a busy week in Washington, DC as we returned for our first week of votes in the House of Representatives following the 2020 Election.
I’m proud to announce that my Corporate Transparency Act, a bill I have been working on for 12 years, is on the verge of being passed into law before the end of the Congress; the Senate held a hearing to advance historic legislation to create a women’s history museum, which I have championed for many years; and the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance held a hearing on my H.R. 7011, the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act.
As Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I continue to work with my colleagues to hold the Trump Administration accountable for its actions – including GSA Administrator Emily Murphy for her refusal to grant the Biden-Harris Transition Team access to critical resources and Census Director Dr. Steven Dillingham for his actions that are threatening the accuracy of the 2020 Census.
More on these and other updates below.
COVID Data Update
New York State
New York City
Health Insurance Open Enrollment
New York State’s open enrollment period began on Sunday, November 1 and will run through Sunday, January 31.
You can compare plans, calculate your costs, see if you are eligible for financial assistance, get enrollment help, and sign up for the plan that is right for you and your family at nystateofhealth.ny.gov.
Corporate Transparency Act
My Corporate Transparency Act, a bill I have been working on for 12 years, has gained bipartisan, bicameral support to be passed into law this year. This bill will crack down on anonymous shell companies, which have long been the vehicle of choice for money launderers, terrorists, and criminals. It will finally allow law enforcement to follow the money in their investigations and will prevent terrorists, kleptocrats, and other bad actors from using the U.S. financial system to hide their dirty money. Read more here.
Demanding Answers from GSA Administrator Emily Murphy
On Thursday, I wrote to GSA Administrator Emily Murphy demanding that she personally brief Congress by November 23 regarding her ongoing refusal to grant the Biden-Harris Transition Team access to critical services and facilities specified in the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 and millions of dollars in funding that Congress appropriated on October 1, 2020, for transition activities under the Act.
You can read the full letter to Administrator Murphy from me, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rep. Nita M. Lowey, Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations Chairman Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, and Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Chairman Rep. Mike Quigley here.
Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA)
Thursday’s Financial Services Committee hearing examining pandemic insurance was an important step in moving forward with a plan to create a federal program to support a market for pandemic risk insurance policies as outlined in my Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA).
After yesterday’s hearing, it’s clear that there is broad consensus that pandemic risk is insurable and that the best solution combines the strengths of the insurance industry with the scale and protection offered by the Federal government — truthfully, we’re now simply debating how – not whether - to structure such a program and that is a huge step forward from where we were in the summer when some insurers didn’t want to talk about this at all.
You can read more here.
Oversight Hearing on K2 Veterans Health
On Wednesday, the Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, held a hearing to examine how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) are working to address the health concerns of veterans and service members who deployed to Karshi-Khanabad (K2) Air Base in Uzbekistan between 2001 and 2005. The Committee’s work to ensure healthcare for these service members is reminiscent of my fight to secure healthcare and compensation for our 9/11 heroes.
Following the 9/11 attacks, the EPA said the air at and around Ground Zero was safe; however, the air was contaminated with deadly toxins that would end up making survivors, residents, and responders sick. We had to fight to get the needed recognition of the health impacts on survivors and responders.
Similarly, it appears that the VA and DOD have been dragging their feet, with the VA continuing to deny that illnesses suffered by K2 veterans are service-connected. We need the VA and DOD to recognize these health effects so that these service members and veterans, who risked everything and were among the first to deploy following the 9/11 attacks, can get the benefits they need and deserve.
You can watch my question line from Wednesday’s hearing here.
Senate Hearing on the Smithsonian Women's History Museum Act
On Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee took a momentous step to advance historic legislation to create a women’s history museum. There was broad bipartisan agreement on the Committee that the museum is a critical investment in the future and that the time to begin this effort is now. I couldn’t agree more. I hope the Senate will take action quickly to bring the bill to the floor and pass it into law.
Read more about my bill, H.R. 1980, the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act, here.
Urging the State Dept. to Defend the Sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, Hold Turkey Accountable for Illegal Actions in Varosha
On Monday, I, along with my co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), led 21 of our colleagues in a bipartisan letter to Secretary Pompeo urging the State Department to hold Turkey accountable for its illegal reopening of the beach in Varosha and to condemn President Erdogan’s recent rhetoric in support of a two-state solution for Cyprus.
Without tangible repercussions from the United States, President Erdogan will continue to act with impunity. Cyprus is a critical ally in the region, and the United States is obligated to be engaged on the Varosha issue and actively oppose President Erdogan’s desire to permanently divide the nation.
You can read the full letter to Secretary Pompeo here.
On Thursday, I wrote to Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham seeking the urgent production of documents relating to multiple press reports that career officials at the Census Bureau have determined that they are unable to produce an accurate 2020 Census count prior to January 26, 2021, and possibly well into February 2021.
Unfortunately, the Committee was not informed about these anomalies before they became public. To the contrary, the Census Bureau canceled several weekly staff briefings on the status of the 2020 Census over the past month. The Committee must have reliable and accurate information in order to fulfill our responsibilities under the Constitution to conduct oversight of the 2020 Census. To date, however, we have been forced to obtain information from whistleblowers who have produced internal documents that have been withheld for no valid reason.
Read more here.
GAO Agrees to Request to Evaluate Federal Health Care Costs Associated with Firearm Injuries
Following my joint request with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced it would examine the medical costs associated with gun violence in the United States.
We have a moral responsibility to do everything we can to put an end to the gun violence epidemic that is tearing our communities apart. The GAO's agreement to examine health care costs associated with gun violence is a good step towards confronting and addressing this crisis.
When I served as Joint Economic Committee Vice Chair, I released a report that shows the gun violence crisis imposes more than $200 billion in total annual costs on the country, which is about 1.4 percent of GDP. You can read more about that report here.
Seeking Answers on DOJ’s Role in Favorable Plea Deal for Sexual Predator Jeffrey Epstein
On Wednesday, I joined with Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chairman Jamie Raskin; Committee Members Jackie Speier and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Rep. Lois Frankel in sending a letter to Attorney General William Barr following up on multiple requests for a briefing from the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) regarding the role of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in approving a favorable plea deal for convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein and concealing the deal from the survivors of Mr. Epstein’s crimes.
Over the past two years, DOJ told Committee staff that it could not provide a briefing or documents relating to this case because there was an ongoing investigation. However, last week, OPR completed its investigation and publicly released an executive summary of its findings, which appear to absolve former United States Attorney Alex Acosta and other DOJ attorneys from any wrongdoing and reducing their failure to prosecute Mr. Epstein to merely “poor judgment”.
Survivors of Epstein’s abuse and the American people deserve answers. You can read our full letter here.
Preventing Misuse of Taxpayer Funds for a Propaganda Campaign
Following an Oversight Committee investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decided to cancel a $15 million communications contract with Atlas Research LLC designed to “defeat despair” and “inspire hope” during the pandemic.
Our investigation revealed that, rather than taking the steps needed to control the coronavirus crisis, the Trump Administration attempted to spend precious taxpayer dollars and recruit celebrities in a thinly-veiled propaganda campaign to try to help President Trump politically. We are pleased that following our investigation, HHS finally pulled the plug on this corrupt scheme and committed to moving forward with a “new approach” for educating the American people about the pandemic based on rigorous science and public health principles.
Read more here.
Trump Admin Must Refrain from “Midnight Rulemaking”
On Monday, I joined with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler in urging the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to instruct executive branch agencies not to engage in "midnight rulemaking," which may be rushed through without providing Congress adequate time to review new rules, as required by law. We also requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) ensure all executive branch rulemaking during this transition period complies with the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which requires Federal agencies to submit reports of new rules to each house of Congress before any rule may take effect.
Read our full letters here.
Document Release: Trump Admin Withheld WHO Funds to Combat the Coronavirus Pandemic with Same Tactic Used in Illegal Ukraine Impoundment
Today I joined with House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey in publishing funding documents obtained from the Trump Administration’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that show the White House withheld expiring funds via an apportionment footnote – the same tactic used by President Trump to illegally withhold Ukraine security assistance. This year, OMB used an apportionment footnote to freeze accounts that fund the United States’ contributions to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Read more here.
National Apprenticeship Act of 2020
Today, I voted to pass the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020, a bill that reauthorizes the National Apprenticeship Act for the first time since its 1937 enactment. This bill invests more than $3.5 billion to create nearly 1 million more apprenticeship opportunities over the next 5 years. With tens of millions of workers currently relying on unemployment benefits, we need to make bold investments to provide jobs. You can find current apprenticeship opportunities offered by New York State here.
NIH Agrees to Strengthen Licensing Process and Increase Transparency on Drug and Vaccine Patents
Today, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report reviewing the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) management of their intellectual property. I requested this report with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in order to learn more about how taxpayer-funded research is being used to develop drugs and vaccines.
Read more here.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.
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