Fwd: Weekly Update: Combatting Gun Violence, Passing the American Rescue Plan, and Helicopter Safety
It was another busy week in Washington, DC as the House sent the American Rescue Plan to President Biden for his signature and passed two gun safety bills and a pro-worker bill to protect organizing rights. I also reintroduced the Improving Helicopter Safety Act, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, the Measuring Real Income Growth Act, and my resolution calling for the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
As Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, I released new documents obtained during the Committee’s investigation into Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family and launched an inquiry into the Postal Service’s recent contract award to purchase up to 165,000 new postal vehicles from Oshkosh Corporation.
More on all these and other updates below.
If you missed this week’s NY-12 COVID Update, you can read it here.
The American Rescue Plan
Yesterday, I was honored to join President Biden as we marked his signing of the American Rescue Plan Act into law.
This bill delivers on Democrats’ promise to provide the real, immediate help that New Yorkers and Americans across the country need and puts us on a path to recovery instead of recession. I’m particularly proud of the work of the Oversight Committee to provide much needed funding for states, localities, Tribal governments, and territories – something that had been blocked by Republicans in previous relief packages.
You can read more about the bill here.
Combatting Gun Violence
This week, on behalf of the more than 40,000 Americans who died from gun violence in 2020, the more than 7,900 victims this year, their families and their communities, I was proud to vote for H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021.
While we cannot replace what has been senselessly taken from these families and communities, we have a duty to listen to the more than 90% of Americans who support universal background checks. H.R. 8 and HR. 1446 will keep guns out of the hands of those who aren’t allowed to have them in the first place.
For years, I’ve introduced a bill to prevent people from skirting the background check process by purchasing guns at gun shows, and I’m very glad that H.R. 8 includes this, among other key provisions, to shore up a truly universal background check process. Individuals who can’t buy a gun from a licensed dealer shouldn’t be able to buy one at a gun show.
H.R. 1446 fixes another dangerous loophole in our background check system known as the ‘Charleston Loophole.’ Under current law, individuals can complete their gun purchase before their background check is complete if the wait time is longer than 72 hours. That means, if someone would normally be barred from buying a gun but their background check is taking more than 3 business days, they get the gun anyway! Ensuring community safety shouldn’t have a 72-hour clock.
With gun deaths and gun sales surging in 2020, we must act now to close these loopholes and meaningfully combat gun violence.
The Improving Helicopter Safety Act
This week, I reintroduced the Improving Helicopter Safety Act, legislation that would drastically reduce helicopter traffic, improve safety, and cut down on noise pollution by prohibiting non-essential helicopters flight in New York City airspace.
If you’ve spent any time in New York City, you don’t need me to tell you that helicopter traffic is a serious safety and noise pollution concern. Nowhere else in the country is the noise pollution from helicopters so bad, or the safety risk to bystanders so high. I have been hearing from constituents all over NY-12 about the deafening noises produced by helicopters. We have been urging the FAA to enact stricter rules for helicopter flights over New York City for years, and they have refused. And so instead of taking no for an answer, I joined with cosponsors Representatives Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velázquez to reintroduce the Improving Helicopter Safety Act.
We Must Proactively Addressing Systemic Racism & Inequities in the Housing & Financial Services System
At Wednesday’s House Financial Services Committee hearing titled “Justice for All: Achieving Racial Equity Through Fair Access to Housing and Financial Services,” I spoke on the need to proactively address systemic racism and inequities in our housing and financial services system.
The health and economic crises wrought by the coronavirus pandemic have only exacerbated underlying inequities in our society. With Congress’s COVID response, we’ve tried to create equitable distribution of relief to fight the disproportionate effects felt by BIPOC and other underserved communities, but we still have work to do. Witnesses Nikitra Bailey, Executive Vice President of the Center for Responsible Lending and Paulina Gonzalez-Brito, Executive Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition shared some insight into the path forward. Watch our exchange here here.
The Protection the Right to Organize (PRO) Act
America’s workers are our greatest asset. They are the frontline heroes who stepped up during this pandemic to keep our country safe, fed, and healthy. The least we can do to support them as they have supported us is to protect unions and ensure all workers have access to this bargaining power.
Nearly half of all nonunion workers say they want a union in their workplace – and for good reason. Unionized positions provide good pay, healthcare benefits, pensions, workplace standards, and a quality of life that all Americans deserve. Attacks on unions in recent years, including a series of significant actions by the former administration, have weakened worker protections and in turn, destroyed the middle class.
If we are to fully recover from this deadly pandemic and build back better, we must invest in and protect the rights of our workers to unionize. I was proud to vote to pass the PRO Act this week and by doing so, send a strong, clear message to workers that America stands with you.
Oversight of USPS’s Contract with Oshkosh Corp. for New Vehicles
On Friday, I sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy requesting documents related to the U.S. Postal Service’s recent contract award to purchase up to 165,000 new postal vehicles from Oshkosh Corporation in a deal valued at up to $6 billion. Recent reports indicating that an unknown party purchased Oshkosh Corp. shares worth $54 million the night before the award process raise concerns about the Postal Service’s selection process and contract award for the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle program. We need a thorough review to ensure the award process is free from undue influence and potential interference.
Read my full letter to Postmaster General DeJoy here.
Combatting Climate Change with the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act
On Wednesday, I introduced the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), legislation that would designate approximately 23 million acres of wild lands in the continental northwest as wilderness. It would also designate approximately 1,800 miles of rivers and streams as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
As our country experiences increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, as well as warming temperatures and rising sea levels, the climate crisis has never been more dire. NREPA is the kind of sweeping, systemic solution our nation needs to preserve pristine lands and benefit our environment. This legislation would bring us significantly closer to the 30 x 30 Resolution by protecting our nation’s wild lands, animals, and ecosystems. It will also help us meet the goals of the Paris Agreement by preserving large swaths of forest that help cancel out our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. And it will allow us to ensure that our children, and their children, can enjoy these irreplaceable wild places.
Read more about the legislation here.
New Documents from Purdue Investigation
On Thursday, the Oversight Committee made public additional documents obtained in our investigation into Purdue Pharma L.P. and members of the Sackler Family.
As I said in my joint statement with Committee Member Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, this document release is another step towards justice for the thousands of families who have lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic. The public deserves to know what was going on behind the scenes as members of the Sackler Family pushed Purdue executives to flood the market with OxyContin. Making these documents public will get us closer to much-needed transparency, and promote accountability for the staggering toll the opioid epidemic has taken on our communities.
You can read more about these documents and the Oversight Committee’s investigation into Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family here.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
On Monday, International Women’s Day, I joined with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky to once again reintroduce our resolution calling for the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Adopted by the United Nations in 1979, CEDAW is a landmark international agreement which mandates that governments take positive steps for women’s advancement and eradicate laws, customs, and practices that discriminate against women.
With women’s rights continuing to be abused around the world, and women disproportionately feeling the effects of the COVID pandemic, Congress must take a stand by ratifying the most comprehensive international agreement on women's rights. We need to ratify CEDAW and affirm our standing as a global leader for the rights of women and girls.
Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum
After more than two decades of working to pass legislation establishing a museum dedicated to American women’s history, I am so thrilled that it was finally signed into law in December. It is incredible to now see the museum begin to come to fruition with the appointment of Lisa Sasaki as Interim Director of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum (SAWHM). Strong leadership will be essential to its success. I congratulate Lisa Sasaki on her appointment and look forward to working with her to ensure that the Museum has the support from Congress that it needs.
The Measuring Real Income Growth Act
Earlier this week, I joined with Congressman Don Beyer to introduce the Measuring Real Income Growth Act to require the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to publish distributional analyses of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to show how economic growth is distributed among Americans of all income levels. As families continue to suffer from both the public health and economic crises created by the coronavirus pandemic, we must focus on an equitable recovery for individuals and families at every income level. Having more precise and descriptive GDP data will allow us to better understand the progress of our economic recovery and ensure that increases in GDP are helping all families more equitably. You can read more about the bill here.
Lockheed Martin Agrees to Pay $70.6M for Failures in F-35 Program
This week I joined with Congressman Stephen Lynch, Chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, to applaud the Department of Defense for its efforts to hold Lockheed Martin accountable for failing to meet contract requirements for F-35 spare parts. While we believe Lockheed should have reimbursed American taxpayers for a greater share of the inefficiencies uncovered by our Committee’s investigation, this is a step in the right direction. Moving forward, Lockheed must take responsibility for ensuring that the F-35 program meets contract requirements and the needs of our military personnel. Read more about the agreement here.
Snapshot from NY-12
Last Saturday, I joined with Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause; Laura Wood, Senior Advisor & General Counsel of DemocracyNYC; Jonathan Smith, President of the New York Metro Area Postal Union (APWU); and Yvette Johnson, Vice President of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, Local 300 to applaud the House's passage of H.R. 1, the For the People Act. This legislation is a sweeping anti-corruption package to protect and expand voting rights and accessibility, restore integrity to government, and puts the needs and priorities of the American people ahead of special interests.
Included in H.R. 1 is my Vote by Mail Tracking Act to make it easier for election officials and voters to track the status of their ballots and for the Postal Service to identify, process, and deliver ballots more effectively.
Read more about H.R. 1 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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