Maloney Mail: 2020 in Review
2020 has certainly been a challenging year for our country, our city, and our families and my thoughts are with all those who lost loved ones to COVID-19.
As we close out the year, and look forward to the start of the 117th Congress and Biden presidency, I am also taking a look back at all that we accomplished together in 2020. Even in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic and economic hardship, we accomplished important wins for the American people – some of which are highlighted below.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve our city and represent you in Congress this year and I look forward to our continued work together in 2021. Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy and Healthy New Year.
Protecting the United States Postal Service (USPS)
In 2020, as Americans across the country became more reliant on the USPS for essential mail delivery, the Oversight Committee worked to ensure that the Postal Service received the support and funding it needed and continues to need to serve the American people and our democracy.
I believe that the Postal Service should not become an instrument of partisan politics, but instead must be protected as a neutral, independent entity that focuses on one thing and one thing only — delivering the mail. Millions of people rely on the Postal Service every day to communicate, access critical medications, and vote. A once-in-a-century pandemic is no time to enact changes that threaten service reliability and transparency.
In August, following unprecedented changes proposed by the new Postmaster General to the operations and organizational structure of the Postal Service, I introduced the Delivering for America Act. It passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 257-150.
Following this vote, I chaired an Oversight Committee hearing during which Postmaster General DeJoy testified, for the first time, that massive delays in mail and delivery of medication and other critical supplies caused by his sweeping changes are far worse than he anticipated or previously disclosed to Congress and the American people. Protecting the Postal Service remains a priority for the Oversight Committee in the new year.
Ensuring a Fair & Accurate 2020 Census Count
Throughout 2020, the Trump Administration announced last minute changes to the 2020 Census that census professionals and experts warned could threaten the accuracy of the data. As Chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, I held emergency hearings and released documents to counter the risk of serious errors in the data if the Census Bureau is forced to complete its count without proper funding and the time needed to ensure a fair and accurate count.
To make sure that all New Yorkers were counted, and that our city and state will receive the federal funding and representation we need and are owed, I teamed up with community organizations and government officials to get out the count and make sure that every single New Yorker was counted in the 2020 Census. A report authored by the Oversight Committee showed that just a 1% undercount could cost our city $7.3 million per year in federal funding for public education and $3.7 million per year for critical jobs programs. We simply cannot afford an undercount.
Holding Big Pharma Accountable
The ongoing fight to hold Big Pharma accountable for their role in unsustainable drug prices is far from over. This fall, I held two days of hearings with top executives of major drug companies to examine their pricing practices for some of the costliest drugs in the United States. These companies sell medications that are critical to our health and well-being, but their skyrocketing prices are simply unsustainable. For nearly two years, the Oversight Committee has aggressively investigated why drug companies continuously increase prices, how they use their massive profits, and what steps can be taken to make prescriptions more affordable for the American people.
And on December 17, I chaired an Oversight Committee hearing to examine the role of Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family in fueling the nationwide opioid epidemic for decades by pushing Purdue executives to flood the market with the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin.
As I said at the end of the hearing, the Sacklers have played a critical, active role in sparking and fueling the opioid epidemic. They approved and monitored dangerous marketing plans, directed sales representatives to focus on the highest-volume prescribers and the strongest versions of OxyContin, and targeted vulnerable populations with misleading messages.
Now, they have the ability to mitigate at least some of the damage they caused. They must stop hiding and offshoring their assets, stop nickel and diming the negotiators, make a massive financial contribution that leaves no doubt about their commitment, and finally acknowledge their wrongdoing. The families whose lives they and this drug have ruined deserve at least that much.
Cracking Down on Anonymous Shell Companies
Just this month, my bipartisan Corporate Transparency Act passed the House and Senate after more than a decade of coalition building. This bill will make our country safer and will also lower housing costs for New Yorkers.
This legislation would require companies to disclose their true, beneficial owners at the time the company is formed, and will prevent bad actors from using anonymous shell companies to thwart law enforcement and hide their illicit activities. The U.S. is one of the easiest places in the world to set up anonymous shell companies, because no state in the U.S. currently requires companies to disclose their true, beneficial owners. Anonymous shell companies have become the vehicle of choice for terrorist financing, money laundering, and organized crime. When a terrorist cell wants to move their money, or a criminal syndicate wants to launder money, they usually do it right here in the U.S., with a shell company.
Beyond cracking down on criminal activity, this bill will directly affect us here at home by lowering housing costs in New York City. Kleptocrats and criminals routinely park their ill-gotten funds in luxury real estate in New York City, limiting the availability of housing and driving up housing costs for ordinary New Yorkers. There are too many buildings with no lights on at night, because no one actually lives in these apartments; they were purchased purely to hide money, and to act as a bank account. But this law will put an end to this practice, once and for all.
Fashion for the Frontlines and Preparing for Future Pandemics
In the midst of a global pandemic, having strong domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE) is absolutely essential to keeping Americans safe. I’m so proud that New York City’s fashion industry answered the call of duty by working quickly to get PPE to our frontline healthcare workers. Fashion for the Frontlines grew out of a coalition I formed of New York City designers, manufacturers, and industry leaders to support the city’s garment industry and understand the nexus between technology and fashion. In March and April, when New York City needed PPE, this group quickly transformed their manufacturing capabilities to aid our city at that critical moment. Fashion for the Frontlines mobilized Garment District factories - that would have otherwise been forced to close - to manufacture and distribute masks and gowns to frontline medical professionals throughout New York City.
This coalition is a testament to the strength, resiliency, and compassion of New York City’s fashion industry, whose members have shown our entire nation what it means to be New York Strong. I admire the grassroots effort to produce and distribute vital PPE during the COVID-19 crisis, but in preparation for future pandemics we must ensure that the United States has a sufficient national stockpile and a strong operation to produce our own PPE. That is why I introduced the Made in America: Preparation for a Pandemic Act.
This bill will secure our nation’s critical stock of PPE and promote a stronger manufacturing base for medical equipment. Having strong domestic production of PPE is absolutely essential to keeping Americans safe in the midst of a global pandemic. Too many lives have been lost unnecessarily because broken global supply chains left our essential workers without the equipment they needed.
The Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Healthcare Workers Act
In May, I introduced the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Healthcare Workers Act to alleviate the burden of student loan debt for frontline healthcare workers and help attract medical professionals in various specialties to lend their expertise to the response to COVID-19. Frontline healthcare workers are delivering care to the sickest patients and putting their own safety at great risk in order to keep doing their jobs. In return, I believe that we have an obligation to ensure that they are relieved of the debt they incurred to train for this critical work – in graduate degree programs or other professional certification. Healthcare workers are worrying about their own health and how it will affect their families – they should not have to worry about their financial security after the crisis has passed. That is a burden that we can lift right now. I am continuing to work to build support for this bill in Congress and will be reintroducing it in the 117th Congress.
Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act
In May, I introduced the bipartisan Pandemic Heroes Compensation Act. Modeled after the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), this new fund would provide compensation for injuries to any individual deemed an essential worker and required to leave their home to perform their duties and who have become ill or died as a result of COVID-19. Family members of essential workers would also be eligible for compensation.
On September 11th, it was the firefighters and officers who ran into the burning buildings to save lives. Today, it is hospital workers – nurses, doctors, EMS, janitorial staff, pharmacists, technicians – and all essential workers. In this fight against the coronavirus, it is the first responders, retail workers, transit workers, grocery store clerks, delivery workers, janitorial staff, sanitation workers, mail carriers, hospitality workers, and federal, state, and local employees who are on the frontlines, walking into the fire every day as they risk their health to make sure we are safe, fed, and healthy. They need to know that if they or their loved ones get sick because of this work, we will be there for them.
Protecting Small Businesses: The Pandemic Risk Insurance Act
As our city and nation contend with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve been fighting in DC for federal support for New York City’s small businesses. I was a proud supporter of the CARES Act and Heroes Act and have called for extensions and expansions of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Following conversations with NY-12 constituents, small business owners, and leaders in our city, I recognized the vital need for business interruption insurance that covers pandemics and introduced the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA). The legislation is based on my successful post-9/11 Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. PRIA provides a Federal backstop for the pandemic insurance market and creates a framework in which the public and private sectors split the losses in the event of a pandemic or other public health emergency.
My view has always been that we need a two-pronged approach to this crisis for small businesses. First, we need additional short-term relief to help keep our great small businesses alive — which Congress has now done by approving an additional $284 billion in forgivable PPP loans to small businesses. Second, we need a framework to provide relief in the future when a pandemic like COVID-19 hits. My Pandemic Risk Insurance Act provides that long-term framework by ensuring that small businesses can quickly get the relief they need, without having to wait for Congress to pass another emergency bill. Our city and nation depend on it.
Standing up for NYC’s Arts & Cultural Nonprofit Community
In September, I introduced the Culture, Arts, Libraries, and Museums Emergency Relief (CALMER) Act, to provide emergency relief funding to the arts and culture nonprofit community, encourage charitable giving, and expand CARES programs to include nonprofit organizations.
New York’s vibrant arts and culture community cannot get back on its feet without immediate and comprehensive assistance from Congress. Our nation’s museums, libraries, concert halls, and arts and cultural nonprofit organizations were among the first businesses to close because of COVID-19, and they will be the last to reopen. While arts and cultural nonprofits across the country have worked tirelessly to create digital content and support their communities through online programming, there is no way they can account for the loss in revenue resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, which is upwards of $6 billion and continues to grow. This bill will give libraries, museums, and arts groups the assistance they need to pull through and continue enriching our communities nationwide.
Protecting Immigrants’ Health
In September, I requested that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari launch an emergency investigation into troubling allegations of medical neglect, unsanitary conditions, and abuse raised by a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) and by ICDC detainees in a whistleblower complaint.
Among other allegations, the ICDC nurse alleged that women who were detained at the ICDC were sent to an outside medical provider to undergo gynecological procedures—including but not limited to hysterectomies—without providing informed consent. She has also alleged that there was repeated disregard for the safety of employees and detainees in violation of protocols recommended by federal authorities to control the spread of coronavirus.
The Oversight Committee launched our own investigation in partnership with the Homeland Security Committee.
In October, the House passed H. Res 1153 – Condemning unwanted, unnecessary medical procedures on individuals without their full, informed consent. This resolution, sponsored by Congresswoman Jayapal, lays out the terrible history of unwanted, forced medical procedures amid recent allegations of such horrendous actions in ICE detention.
Also in September, the Oversight Committee released a staff report with the findings of a 14-month investigation into the Administration’s for-profit contractor-run ICE detention facilities. This report—based on the review of thousands of pages of internal documents from the Department of Homeland Security and contractors GEO Group and CoreCivic—found that multiple ICE detainees died in recent years after receiving inadequate medical care. The report also found that, for years, there have been numerous documented instances of poor sanitation and mismanagement of infectious diseases in immigration detention facilities, potentially contributing to the spread of coronavirus cases in ICE detention.
Investigation into Customs and Border Patrol Secret Facebook Groups
In October, I issued a subpoena to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for documents it is withholding about dozens of CBP employees who engaged in misconduct in secret Facebook groups that I believe were racist, sexually violent, dehumanizing, and abhorrent.
The Oversight Committee first requested these documents in July 2019, under the leadership of then-Chairman Cummings.
The Trump Administration has not set forth any valid legal basis to withhold this information. One of the most recent reasons the Administration has given for its overt obstruction is a fear that the identities and abuses of these employees could become public. In communications with the Committee, the Trump Administration has expressed more concern about protecting the reputations of employees who made these posts than the wellbeing of the children and families they interact with on a daily basis.
On February 11, 2020, I presided over Oversight Committee passage of the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. This was the first time that a Congressional committee voted to pass a D.C. statehood bill since 1993.
The bill was then passed by the full House on June 26, 2020 – the first time that the House or Senate has passed such a bill. This was an extraordinary, once-in-a-generation step towards granting basic democratic rights to more than 700,000 Americans who live in Washington, D.C.
The bill would create a new state known as the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth represented by two Senators and one House Member. The federal district would continue to include the White House, U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, National Mall, and other federal properties adjacent to the National Mall.
Fighting Antisemitism Through Education
This May, the Never Again Education Act (H.R.943), my legislation to support Holocaust education across the country, was signed into law. This bill bolsters the already expansive educational resources at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) to make sure that all educators have the tools they need to teach their students about the Holocaust and the dangers of antisemitism and hate.
I’m proud that Congress came together to make clear that antisemitism cannot and will not be tolerated. Our children are not born with hate in their hearts, and by providing educators with the tools they need to teach about the Holocaust, we can ensure they never learn it. Teaching our children about the dangers of antisemitism and hate is a proactive way to stop antisemitism before it even starts. This bill passed in the House of Representatives by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 393-5 on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It passed the Senate by unanimous consent on May 13.
Securing Paid Parental Leave for All Federal Workers
This year, the House and Senate voted for a provision I authored to provide paid leave for the birth, fostering, or adoption of a child for FAA and TSA employees, medical professionals working in VA facilities, and DC courts and public defender employees. This correction honors the original intent of Congress when we passed paid parental leave for federal employees in 2019.
No one should be made to choose between being home with a new child and a paycheck. Paid family leave improves productivity, reduces turnover, boosts morale, and attracts and retains more talent, which is exactly what our federal workforce deserves right now.
I first introduced paid leave legislation for federal employees in the 106th Congress, then titled H.R. 4567, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2000, and continued to garner support for this transformative law over the years. I introduced H.R. 1534, The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA), on March 5, 2019. The paid parental leave program created by this bill went into effect on October 1, 2020.
Getting NYCHA Communities the Repairs They Need
During my time on the City Council, NYCHA repairs were handled by on-site teams at each community. This system was then replaced by the current centralized system which has resulted in an immense backlog of work orders and residents living without the repairs their homes need.
For several years, I have advocated for returning to that original model and decentralizing the work order process. After making a formal request of NYCHA Chairman Russ this summer, that project came to fruition as a pilot program at Queensbridge, Astoria Houses, and Ravenswood.
This program has assigned dedicated skilled trade workers to each of these three communities with the goal of making repairs more timely and efficient. Each of these developments now have dedicated, full-time carpenters, painters, and plasterers Monday through Friday, with plumbers and electricians assigned to work specific days at each development. The pilot runs through January 2021, at which point NYCHA plans to roll out a version of the skilled trades decentralization plan throughout the five boroughs. This plan will result in skilled trade workers spending more time completing much needed repairs by eliminating the need for them to constantly travel between distant NYCHA campuses.
We have heard some good feedback from residents, and also some areas where there is still room for improvement. I am in contact with Chairman Russ to convey these concerns and working to make this program more effective and efficient.
Turning the Gas Back on At Astoria Houses
While we had hoped Astoria Houses residents would have their gas restored before Thanksgiving, I’m glad that it was restored in early December, in the midst of the holiday season. In the middle of a pandemic, this gas outage was an undue burden especially on working families and seniors. Thanks to the residents’ advocacy, resiliency, and patience, we were able to get NYCHA and Con Edison to complete this project before the end of the year and I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to restore this critical service and provide food and resources, like slow cookers, to these residents during the repairs.
Securing a Stable Presidential Transition Process
A recent NPR report noted that the President’s actions may have jeopardized the preservation of official documents and records. A similar story from Politico in 2018 reported that career records officers were using scotch tape to put important documents back together. Given this track record, I’m deeply concerned that President Trump and his aides may attempt to conceal or destroy important White House materials during their last remaining days in office and so I led other House Committee Chairs in directing the White House and more than 50 federal agencies within their jurisdictions to comply with federal record-keeping laws and preserve information responsive to congressional subpoenas and investigations.
I am also concerned that the Administration may implement last-minute rules and regulations, circumventing the review process. To prevent this, I joined with my colleagues to introduce the Midnight Regulations Review Act. This bill would require the Government Accountability Office to create a list of the regulations that the outgoing administration promulgates during the lame duck session, which will allow Congress and the incoming Biden Administration to review whether they are based on evidence and research or whether they should be considered for amending or elimination.
The Fair Access to Co-Ops for Veterans Act
In February, I introduced the Fair Access to Co-Ops for Veterans Act to permanently expand the Veterans Affairs' Home Loan Guaranty Program to include cooperative housing (co-ops). In New York City, co-ops are ubiquitous, and our veterans shouldn’t be priced out of these housing options because they’re excluded from the VA’s loan program. Wherever veterans want to buy a home – whether in rural or urban areas – they should have equal loan support from the VA. This legislation also directs the VA to advertise the program to eligible veterans, participating lenders, and interested realtors.
Serving Mothers: PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act
In January, I introduced PUMP (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections) for Nursing Mothers Act. This bill will close unintentional gaps in the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Act to ensure that millions of working mothers have the access and protections they need to breastfeed should they choose to do so.
As the first woman to give birth while serving on the New York City Council, I know firsthand the difficulties new mothers face in the workplace. Those difficulties should not include breastfeeding and yet, millions of nursing mothers are still without a clear right to pump at work. Without these protections, nursing mothers face serious health consequences, including the risk of painful illness and infection, diminished milk supply, or inability to continue breastfeeding. This bill would strengthen the 2010 Break Time law by making sure more working moms are guaranteed the right to pump at work. I am working to make this a reality in the next Congress.
Creating a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum
A Smithsonian Women’s History Museum is finally going to be a reality. My bill, H.R. 1980, to create this museum was included in the year-end omnibus spending package, a must-pass bill. Building a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum, a testament to the women who helped build and shape this nation, has been years in the making and I am thrilled that we are finally set to enact this historic legislation. For too long, women’s stories have been left out of the telling of our nation’s history, and we can now begin to rectify that. Americans of all ages deserve to see and be inspired by the remarkable women who helped shape this nation – seeing role models doing the thing to which we aspire can change the course of someone’s life. How fitting that we passed this bill as we mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment and in the year in which we elected our first woman vice president.
Renaming Manhattan VA
This month, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed my bill to rename the Manhattan VA the "Margaret Cochran Corbin Campus of the New York Harbor Health Care System.” Once signed into law, this would make the Manhattan VA the first in the country to be named after a woman veteran. This will ensure that American Revolutionary War hero Margaret Corbin’s legacy of service endures in the tradition of empowering all veterans, regardless of gender. Although women have fought for our nation since its founding, women service members rarely receive the same recognition as their male counterparts. New Yorkers will be able to take great pride in leading the nation by having the first VA hospital named for a woman veteran right here in Manhattan.
As always, your concerns still and always will remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.
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This year has been challenging in many ways, but there is still so much to celebrate. It is because of you that I have had a meaningful and fulfilling 2020. I wish you, your family, and friends a safe and Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year.