Looking back on 2014
As 2014 draws to a close, I wanted to report back to you on the work I’ve been doing on your behalf during the 113th Congress (2013-2014). Despite facing one of the most gridlocked Congresses in history, I have succeeded in advancing many of our progressive priorities to move New York City and our country forward.
I was able to secure billions of dollars for major infrastructure investments that will help New York City rebuild from Superstorm Sandy, improve our transit system, repave roads and bridges, and create jobs. I was also able to pass multiple bills into law that will help advance women’s rights and improve New York’s economy. I successfully worked to convince the Obama Administration to take action on issues ranging from LGBT equality to justice for Holocaust victims. And here at home, I have been working with local community groups to improve quality of life, preserve affordable housing, expand parks, restore ferry service and protect the environment.
Please read on to get details on these and other important accomplishments.
I wish you all the best for 2015 and look forward to staying in touch.
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney
Billions in Superstorm Sandy recovery funds secured for New York
After months of hard work, my colleagues and I representing Sandy-affected regions were able to secure $60 billion in federal funding that was desperately needed to help New York recover from the superstorm. Billions of dollars have been allocated to repair subway and commuter rail lines, fix bridges and tunnels, and undertake initiatives that will mitigate the effects of future natural disasters. For example, more than $1 billion was provided to NYU’s Langone Medical Center, and more than $1.5 billion in Sandy Recovery grants were awarded to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Department of Transportation, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Last month, FEMA announced that it was providing four public hospitals, including Bellevue, Coler and Metropolitan Hospital with $1.6 billion as reimbursement for Sandy damage and to improve infrastructure to lessen the impact of future storms.
Major infrastructure investments for Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn
I have fought to secure billions of dollars in federal funding for major infrastructure projects in New York City. I led the effort to steer more than $1.3 billion in federal funds to construct the Second Avenue Subway, and helped secure another $2.6 billion in federal funds to construct the East Side Access project to bring the Long Island Railroad into Grand Central Terminal. I worked to secure another $300 million in high speed rail funds to provide dedicated tracks for the LIRR, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak so that the three systems will no longer need to share the same tracks. The Kosciuszko Bridge is also getting badly needed repairs, thanks to $670 million in federal funding.
As Co-Chair of a Task Force on the East River Esplanade, I am working to repair and improve the Esplanade between 60th Street and 125th Street. A recent Parks Department study determined that the Esplanade needs $110 million of repair work and that if the work is not done soon, the Esplanade will need complete replacement at a cost of $430 million. The City Council and the Mayor have allocated $35 million to this project so far. At a Task Force meeting on December 18, 2014, we met with the project manager and the newly appointed landscape architect. They will be putting together plans for the repair work and beautification of the park. We are also exploring options for ferry service and opening up the 90th Street pier.
And, thanks to a Task Force I formed, along with the Queens Borough President and funding from the city and state, residents of Western Queens are able to enjoy access to a portion of the East River waterfront that was off-limits for years. The finished park is absolutely extraordinary, with a fishing pier, benches, new plantings and the most beautiful views in New York.
National Women’s History Museum Commission bill signed into law
After 16 years of work, my bill to form a commission on the creation of a National Women’s History Museum (H.R. 863/S. 398) is now law. The law will establish a privately-funded commission to prepare a report containing recommendations for establishing and maintaining a National Women’s History Museum in Washington. The 8-member commission would have 18 months to produce the report and submit it to Congress for approval. Women gained the right to vote in 1920. I hope that a century later, in 2020, the efforts and accomplishments of women throughout our history will be chronicled in a museum that both our daughters and sons can learn from and enjoy.
Debbie Smith legislation to cut rape kit analysis backlog extended
On September 29, the President signed into law an extension of the Debbie Smith Act – a law I authored to fund DNA analysis of untested rape kits. The Debbie Smith Act has been called the most important anti-rape legislation ever signed into law. I first introduced the bill in 2001, and it passed as part of the Justice for All Act in 2004. I am also proud to announce that in December Congress provided an additional $41 million in federal funding to reduce the rape kit backlog in 2015.
Same Sex Couples get Family and Medical Leave Act rights
In June the Department of Labor announced that Family and Medical Leave Act protections will now apply to married same-sex couples. The move achieves most of the goals contained within the Family and Medical Leave Inclusion Act (H.R 1751), which I have been working to pass since 2003. The FMLA allows qualified workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for newborns, seek emergency medical care for themselves, parents, children under 18, or a legal spouse.
Bill to stop Social Security payments to Nazis signed into law
Legislation to terminate Social Security benefits for individuals involved in the Holocaust has been signed into law. I led the fight to pass the legislation and have called on the Department of Justice and Social Security Administration to release more details on Social Security payments to those who participated in some of the worst atrocities in modern history.
Survivors of SNCF Holocaust deportations to get compensation
During World War II, French government-owned rail company SNCF was paid per head, per kilometer to provide the trains, cars, and manpower necessary to deport approximately 76,000 Jews and thousands of other “undesirables” from France toward Nazi death camps. On December 5, a historic agreement was reached between U.S. and French diplomats to provide $60 million in compensation to the survivors and their families. I worked aggressively to bring the French to the bargaining table by working to block government contracts with SNCF subsidiaries in the United States and by pursuing legislation that would have exposed SNCF to lawsuits from victims living in the United States.
Tanning beds get warning labels
In 2007, I passed the TAN Act with the goal of placing warning labels on dangerous tanning beds. Those labels, which indicate that the beds should not be used by those under 18 years old, will soon be required thanks to a reclassification of these devices by the FDA. Each year, two to three million teens under 18 use tanning beds, and skin cancers are now the second most common form of cancer for young women age 15 to 29. Watch this important report from Pix 11 to learn more about my work and the risks of indoor tanning.
Condominium law updated to eliminate needless red tape
An outdated and burdensome federal regulation that was needlessly holding up condominium sales in New York City and around the country, as well as slowing our housing market, has been eliminated thanks to a bill I authored that was signed into law. The Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act clarifies that certain registration requirements in the 1968 Interstate Land Sales Disclosure Act (ILSA), which were written to stop fraudulent sales of raw land, do not apply to condominium sales. It’s obvious that the registration requirements in the 1968 law were never intended for condo sales, and I’m glad Congress passed my bill to fix this outdated regulation.
9/11 Museum gets artifacts from Bin Laden Raid
After meeting the Navy SEAL who fired the fatal shot at Osama Bin Laden, I asked him to donate items from the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The items were unveiled earlier this year.
Protecting the Environment
In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency designated Newtown Creek a Superfund site. Newtown Creek is one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States. Oil has been leaking into it for decades, and it was once one of the most industrialized areas in the country. The Environmental Protection Agency has been engaged in a two phase remedial investigation of the extent of the pollution. Phase 1 was completed in March 2013 and Phase 2 began in the Spring of 2014. In addition, Sandy funding from the federal government will go toward building storm surge barriers to prevent Newtown Creek from flooding. This project will be funded through the federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program and will be subject to approval by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
In addition, I have been working with the community to mitigate impacts of the marine transfer station that the Department of Sanitation is building at 91st Street and the East River. In the heart of a residential community in a flood zone adjacent to two public housing developments, this is the wrong place for a garbage dump. Of great concern, the ramp for garbage trucks intersects Asphalt Green’s facility, and children will have to cross the ramp to reach Asphalt Green’s soccer field. It is an accident waiting to happen. I have been working with community leaders and local elected officials to try to persuade the Department of Sanitation to move the ramp.
Post office renamed after local labor hero Vincent Sombrotto
Grand Central Station Post Office, located at 450 Lexington Avenue in New York City, is now known as the Vincent R. Sombrotto Post Office. I introduced and passed a bill to honor this local labor hero and former President of the National Association of Letter Carriers. Sombrotto initiated the life-saving Carrier Alert program and the NALC food drive, which is held on the second Saturday of May.