Derek Chauvin Sentencing, Jan 6 Select Committee, Paid Leave Hearing
Today, Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years for killing George Floyd. Our fight for justice is not over – because justice would mean not one more Black life taken by the police. Nothing will ever bring George Floyd back to his family. We must work tirelessly not only to hold police officers accountable for their conduct, but also to pass crucial structural reforms so that injustices like this one never happen again.
Yesterday, I held an Oversight Committee hearing on the importance of comprehensive paid family leave. During the hearing, I was livid to hear my Republican colleagues make light of this much needed policy and call it “a perk.” Working families need permanent, comprehensive paid leave.
Earlier this week, I wrote to the New York Board of Elections to make sure that the lack of translation services at the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement poll site during Tuesday’s election would not be repeated during the November general election. Also this week, in partnership with Whip Clyburn, I expanded our investigation into manufacturing problems that plagued the Bayview facility of Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. (Emergent), which manufactured both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines.
As you may have heard, Speaker Pelosi announced yesterday that she will appoint a Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol. This is a crucial step to ensuring we fully understand the root causes of the January 6 insurrection and pass reforms so that nothing like this ever happens again.
More on these and other updates below.
In case you missed it, you can read this week’s NY-12 COVID-19 Vaccination & Recovery Update here.
My Statement on the Sentencing of Derek Chauvin
Last year, the American public witnessed a brutal murder as we watched Derek Chauvin kneel on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Today, we bore witness as his family expressed to the court and the American people the incredible impact George had on their lives. George Floyd did not ask to be a symbol or martyr and his family did not just ask to hold Derek Chauvin accountable – they asked for justice.
We know our fight for justice is not over – because justice would mean not one more Black life taken by the police. The Senate needs to immediately send the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to President Biden’s desk so that we can finally implement bold and comprehensive criminal justice and policing reform.
This legislation is just the first of many steps to address structural racism in policing. We must invest in programs that keep communities safe without overpolicing, that dispatch mental health professionals when someone is in a mental health crisis rather than criminalizing this behavior, and that pursue the people-to-people work that addresses systemic racism and bias head on.
Nothing will ever bring George Floyd back to his family. We must work tirelessly not only to hold police officers accountable for their conduct, but also to pass crucial structural reforms so that injustices like this one never happen again.
Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act
Yesterday, I held a hearing on H.R. 564, the Comprehensive Paid Leave for Federal Employees Act, legislation I introduced earlier this year that aligns with the goal of President Biden’s American Families Plan to create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program and builds on my legislation, the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, which guarantees paid parental leave to the 2.1 million employees of the federal government. That bill was signed into law in 2019, and implemented on October 1, 2020. New York State is home to more than 60,000 federal employees.
If we have learned one thing from yesterday’s hearing, it is that paid leave is not — as my Republican colleagues claimed —"a perk.” Workers need paid leave to recover from serious illnesses, to take care of sick children, and to deal with the sudden military deployment of a family member. Having a seriously ill child is not a perk. Taking time to deal with active duty deployment is not a perk. As our nation seeks to recover from the pandemic, permanent, comprehensive paid leave is essential to support workers and the families who depend on them.
Ensuring Translation Services for the November Election
Following the lack of Spanish and Chinese translation services at the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement poll site on Tuesday, I wrote to New York Board of Elections (NYBOE) Executive Director Michael Ryan to ensure that this problem is rectified before the November general election.
The right to cast a ballot safely and fairly is the highest privilege of living in a democratic country and should be accessible to every voter. The lack of translation services at this site disadvantages those voters who rely on these services and may have resulted in voters not being able to cast their vote. In addition, a lack of language assistance creates unnecessary barriers to participation in our democracy.
Read my full letter to NYBOE Executive Director Ryan here.
Establishing a January 6 Select Committee
I applaud Speaker Pelosi’s decision to establish a Select Committee to investigate the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
The Select Committee will be crucial to ensuring we fully understand the root causes of the January 6 insurrection and pass reforms so that nothing like this ever happens again.
Speaker Pelosi’s original preference, and mine, was to establish an independent, bipartisan commission. Sadly, many Republicans in Congress chose to obstruct an independent commission, ignore the deadly realities of January 6, and embrace the lies of the man who incited the insurrection. It is because of this Republican intransigence that the House must move forward with its own Select Committee, which will follow the facts wherever they lead and perform an exhaustive review of the events of January 6 in order to make recommendations to strengthen the security of the Capitol — and our democracy.
Since the insurrection, the Oversight Committee and other House Committees have been investigating why our nation’s law enforcement agencies failed to anticipate a domestic terrorist threat that was planned out in the open, why critical assistance took so long to arrive during the attack, and President Trump’s central role in fomenting the insurrection.
The Oversight Committee’s work continues, and I look forward to working closely with the Select Committee. We must fully investigate the January 6 attack, secure our democracy, and prevent future acts of domestic terrorism.
Expanding the Emergent BioSolutions Investigation
On Wednesday, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and I sent letters to the top executives of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, expanding our investigation into manufacturing problems that plagued the Bayview facility of Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. (Emergent), which manufactured both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines. Emergent’s coronavirus vaccine manufacturing deals with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — which combined with federal contracts are reportedly worth up to $1.5 billion — went forward despite multiple audits and inspections citing deficient controls at Emergent’s Bayview facility that could lead to contamination.
Emergent’s mistakes have reduced the number of vaccines available for global vaccination efforts and we are troubled by the impact Emergent’s manufacturing errors have had on the availability of coronavirus vaccine doses, as well as the potential effect on public perceptions regarding the safety and efficacy of these vaccines.
Read our letters and more about the investigation here.
Addressing the Youth Vaping Epidemic
On Wednesday, I spoke at the Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy hearing on the role of
e-cigarette companies in creating the youth vaping epidemic in America. During my opening statement, I emphasized that this growing public health crisis facing our children has threatened years of progress in reducing youth tobacco use. In New York alone, 42.7% of high schoolers reported ever using electronic vapor products, and 22.4% were currently using electronic products as of 2019. Additionally, an estimated 16.3% of high schoolers revealed that they “usually got their own electronic vapor products by buying them in a store,” which is more than double the 8.1% that reported doing so nationwide. New York has taken proactive measures to curb this - like passing a ban of flavored nicotine vapor products, including menthol, in May of last year.
Funding for Head Start Programs in NY-12
I’m proud to announce that $11 million in federal funding is headed to New York City Head Start programs located in NY-12 as part of the American Rescue Plan. This investment will help New York Head Start programs continue preparing kids for success, and help parents get back to work and grow our economy knowing their kids are safe and cared for.
NY-12 and overlapping congressional district Head Start programs receiving funding include:
The LGBTQ Business Equal Credit Enforcement and Investment Act
This week, I voted with my colleagues to pass Congressman Ritchie Torres’s H.R. 1443, the LGBTQ Business Equal Credit Enforcement and Investment Act, which improves equal access to credit for LGBTQ+-owned small businesses by taking steps to improve data collection by financial institutions.
As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that we ensure all of our New York City small businesses have the resources they need to not just survive – but thrive. Until we understand the extent of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in lending, we cannot guarantee that every small business owner has fair access to credit. No one should be subjected to discrimination simply because of who they are or who they love. I am proud to support this important legislation, which will help ensure these NYC business owners are treated fairly, help our LGBTQ+ community build wealth, and advance the promise of equality for all.
You can read more about the bill here.
Warning the Fed Against Raising Interest Rates Prematurely
At Tuesday’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing entitled “Lessons Learned: The Federal Reserve’s Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic,” I warned Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell against raising interest rates too soon, which could seriously harm economic recovery.
You can read more and watch my exchange with Chairman Powell here.
2021 Congressional App Challenge
Yesterday, I launched my annual Congressional App Challenge. All middle and high school students in New York’s 12th Congressional District are eligible to apply.
The Challenge’s submission portal is now open. The deadline for student submissions is November 1, 2021. The competition is open to all students who meet the eligibility requirements, regardless of coding experience.
Winners will be selected by panels of judges drawn from the local community and honored by their Member of Congress. Their apps are eligible to be featured on display in the U.S. Capitol building, on house.gov, and on the Congressional App Challenge website.
Snapshot from NY-12
On Saturday evening, I joined St. Nick’s Alliance in Brooklyn to celebrate Juneteenth. The program was filled with performances, spirituals, and speeches all commemorating this meaningful holiday. Thank you to Cooper Park Houses Residents’ Association President Debra Benders, Karen Leader, and Elisha Fye for including me.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.