Update: Demanding NYCHA Changes, Phase 4 Starting Monday in NYC, & More
This week, I joined NYCHA residents to demand respect and better, more efficient repairs for all public housing residents, convened a hearing on the need for a National Cyber Director, and introduced a House Resolution calling on Turkey to recognize the religious rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy held a briefing on the safety of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the HHS Inspector General released a report related to a House investigation into the CMS Administrator’s possible abuse of taxpayer funds. More on all this and other updates below.
Joining the Justice for All Coalition to Demand Changes at NYCHA
We all have a right to safe and healthy housing, and it is unacceptable that NYCHA residents have had to live in uninhabitable conditions or file multiple work orders without ever receiving a response from NYCHA. That is why, on Thursday, I joined with NYCHA residents, the Justice for All Coalition, and community leaders who are fighting for better living conditions for all those living in public housing.
I remain committed to securing the funding that NYCHA needs to improve public housing, but the authority must act in good faith for its residents and provide critical repairs in a timely manner. For decades, NYCHA has utilized a centralized system to manage maintenance requests across all of its buildings but, this system has failed to efficiently and effectively deliver the repairs and living standards that NYCHA residents need and deserve. I am calling on NYCHA to decentralize this work order system so that repairs can be better prioritized and therefore resolved quickly.
NYCHA receives roughly $2.3 billion a year from the federal government — $2 billion in operating funding and $300 million for its capital program. I have requested a detailed breakdown from NYCHA Chairman Gregory Russ of how NYCHA uses this federal funding to resolve outstanding maintenance requests. You can read that letter here.
Oversight Subcommittee Briefing on COVID-19 Vaccine Safety
On Tuesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy held a virtual briefing entitled “Guardrails to Ensure a Safe and Effective COVID-19 Vaccine” to examine the process used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review and license or authorize any vaccine candidates for the novel coronavirus.
The Administration’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ has promised that a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine will be approved and that 300 million doses will be available by January 2021. While we are all eager for a vaccine to be developed and deployed, I am troubled by reports that the President is pressuring FDA to cut corners. There was bipartisan agreement among the experts that in developing a COVID-19 vaccine, even at record speed, we must not cut any corners. Transparency and rigorous scientific review are essential to building strong public trust, which we will need to widely deploy a vaccine and finally end this pandemic.
You read more about this briefing here.
Oversight Hearing on the Need for a National Cyber Director
On Wednesday, I chaired an Oversight Committee hearing to examine U.S. cybersecurity preparedness and the bipartisan H.R. 7331, the National Cyber Director Act, which would create the position of a National Cyber Director to lead national-level coordination of cyber strategy and policy.
Only hours after the hearing, the Twitter accounts of many high-profile public figures were hacked to spread a cryptocurrency scam, exemplifying the urgent threat of cyberattacks and the need for a National Cyber Director. A challenge as complex and pervasive as cybersecurity requires that our government be strategic, organized, and ready. We need a streamlined approach with a dedicated director in charge.
You can read more about the hearing here.
Fighting for Religious Freedom & Rights in Turkey for the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Turkey’s recent decision to designate Hagia Sophia as a mosque is another troubling sign of President Erdogan’s strategy to play into the hands of nationalists in violation of its international obligations – a strategy he has similarly employed in discriminating against the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Religious freedom is vital to creating a global community committed to peace and understanding. Religious persecution in any form is morally inexcusable and also presents a security crisis.
As co-founder and co-chair of the Hellenic Caucus, I have long called on the Turkish government to respect the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and reopen the Halki Seminary. This effort must be part of a larger U.S. effort to promote and defend religious freedom worldwide, and to hold Turkey accountable. And so, on Thursday, I joined with Caucus co-chair Congressman Gus Bilirakis to reintroduce our resolution which calls on Turkey to cease any and all actions that violate the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Investigating the CMS Administrator’s Use of Private Consultants
Over the past year, the Oversight Committee has been working with other Committees to investigate Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma’s use of millions of taxpayer dollars to retain high-end communications consultants to burnish her public profile. During the course of our ongoing investigation, we reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents provided to our offices by HHS and the consultants.
On Wednesday, the Inspector General (IG) released a report confirming that Administrator Verma and her top officials used contracts in violation of federal regulations and spent taxpayer funds inappropriately to retain these private consultants. Administrator Verma’s blatant refusal to acknowledge the IG’s findings, or take steps to fix the problem, raises concerns about her ability to continue to run the agency during the current health crisis.
We are now completing our investigation and will soon release our findings, which will build upon the IG’s report and provide additional details on Administrator Verma’s inappropriate use of private consultants for her personal benefit. You can read the IG’s report here.
Protecting the 2020 Census
On Monday, I was joined by colleagues in calling on Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to immediately withdraw two recent political appointments to the Census Bureau, Nathaniel Cogley and Adam Korzeniewski. The importance of a full, fair, and accurate Census cannot be overstated. This data will determine political representation and the disbursement of federal funding for the next decade.
While Congress continues to hold the Trump Administration, specifically the Commerce Department, accountable for its running of the Census Bureau, I encourage EVERYONE to fill our your census TODAY at my2020census.gov if you have not already done so.
You can read our full letter to Sec. Ross here.
Passport Backlog Elimination Act
On Thursday, I joined with Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) to introduced the bipartisan Passport Backlog Elimination Act. This bill would require the State Department to submit a plan to Congress to eliminate the passport processing backlog created by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as require an audit by the Inspector General on steps taken to eliminate the backlog. Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and Kweisi Mfume (D-MD) joined us as original cosponsors.
While the COVID crisis has affected workflow for countless employees across the country, the passport backlog is particularly troubling and damaging to more than one million Americans, many of whom are stuck abroad or unable to travel for work. The State Department needs to be transparent about its plans to process outstanding passport applications to assure those who are waiting that they will get their documents soon and that it is doing everything possible to eliminate this backlog.
Economic Recovery from COVID-19
On Friday, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis held a hearing with former Federal Reserve Chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen to discuss our country’s economic recovery. I asked the former Chairs for their opinion on the efficacy and necessity of extending the additional $600 a week provided for those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Both Mr. Bernanke and Dr. Yellen testified that pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) is needed on both a humanitarian and economic basis. This assistance, as Dr. Yellen explained, prevents further harm to our economy that would come from a loss in consumer spending, which would lead to a loss of profits, and ultimately loss of jobs. Not only is extending the PUA the right thing to do for all these hardworking Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, but it is also the smart economic choice.
Justice in Policing Act – Become a Citizen Cosponsor
I am proud to stand with all those across this country declaring that Black Lives Matter and demanding action to address the crisis of systemic racism and police brutality. I’m also proud that House Democrats heard those calls, and wrote and passed the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act. This common sense and much needed legislative package will hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities.
I was proud to vote for and speak on the House floor in favor of this bill and now, I am urging the Senate to do the same.
You can visit JusticeInPolicing.us to learn more about the bill, share your thoughts on the legislation, and become a citizen cosponsor. Your comments will be shared with Members of Congress and may also be read on the House Floor to share them with the public. As I work with my colleagues to put pressure on the Senate and the Administration to take action, your voice in this effort is indispensable.
COVID-19 in NYC
Phase 4 Starting on July 20
New York City has been approved to enter Phase 4 of recovery on Monday, July 20 without indoor activity at malls, restaurants, and cultural institutions.
Four states have been added to the travel advisory list, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin, and one, Delaware, has been removed.
If you or a loved one are a NYS resident returning from any of the states on the advisory list and do not have access to accommodations for quarantine, call your local health department for assistance.
Anyone traveling to New York from the below list of states must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival and complete a Traveler Health Form.
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Those who do not follow this guidance can be fined for non-compliance of quarantine rules.
COVID Rental Assistance Program
Earlier this week, the State announced the COVID Rental Assistance Program to provide direct aid for renters facing financial hardship and loss of income due to the pandemic.
I’m proud that New York State is once again leading the way and the Senate must follow suit by passing the House’s Heroes Act, which includes a $100 billion fund for rent relief, and H.R. 7301, the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act. Nobody should lose sleep worried about how they will keep a roof over their heads, especially during a pandemic. We must continue to take steps to help our nation weather this storm and deliver meaningful relief to the American people when they need it most.
You can apply for the program here.
Health Insurance Special Enrollment
New York State has extended the special enrollment deadline for health insurance by another month, to August 15, 2020. New Yorkers who are currently without health insurance can find a plan and enroll at New York State of Health.
School and Childcare in the Fall
The City is making available childcare options for children in 3K through 8th grade, with approximately 50,000 seats available per day. This should allow the the City to serve at least 100,000 students based on the blended remote/in-person school plans for the upcoming school year.
The Mayor’s office is still evaluating and identifying possible locations. New Yorkers with space available that could potentially be used for this program should visit www.nycsca.org/realestate/sites. The City is working to maximize available seats for the first day of school, with capacity increasing over time.
The Department of Education is currently planning for blended learning in the fall, with students attending class both in-person and remotely. Families can opt to stay fully remote by filling out this form. Should you choose full-time remote learning for September and then change your mind, you can enroll your student in in-person learning up until Friday, August 7 by filling out the form again. After August 7, there will be various designated timeframes to opt in to in-person instruction throughout the school year.
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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Carolyn B. Maloney
Member of Congress