Update: Happy Thanksgiving!
I write today to wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving. While this year’s gatherings will look different than usual as we rely on computer screens to see our friends and families, I hope you still have a wonderful day. I also send my condolences to all those who have empty seats around the table this holiday season.
COVID-19 cases are spiking across the country and rising here at home in NYC. Last weekend, I stood with small businesses to call on Mitch McConnell to act to give them the help they and our city need. More on that and my continued oversight of the outgoing Trump Administration below.
By the Numbers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “no vaccine is yet authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19.”
The CDC has published these resources to help all of us better understand the different vaccines that are currently undergoing trials and what we need to know about possible COVID-19 vaccines.
I am keeping an eye on the progress of vaccines and will update you with relevant information as it becomes available.
New York City Updates
To find the testing site closest to you, click here, text “COVID TEST” to 855-48, or call 212-COVID19 (212-268-4319).
NYC public school buildings closed on November 19, 2020 and remain closed until further notice. All NYC public school students will be switched to remote-only learning.
3-K and Pre-K classrooms and Department of Education (DOE) Pre-K Centers are also closed.
The Learning Bridges Program remains open.
More information on NYC’s COVID-19 policies are available here.
New York State Updates
COVID Alert NY App
New York State has released the COVID Alert NY app, available for download here. The app will send you COVID-19 exposure alerts and help you protect your community while also maintaining your privacy.
Effective as of November 4, New York State has instituted testing and quarantine guidelines for those traveling to and returning to New York State.
You can review the guidelines here.
Standing with Small Businesses
On Sunday, I joined with Lower Manhattan small businesses and NYC Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Jonnel Doris to demand that Mitch McConnell and the Senate pass crucially needed COVID-19 relief.
If our small businesses and their employees do not get relief, we will sink into a depression. We need a two-pronged approach to this crisis; first, we need additional short-term relief to help keep our great small businesses alive, and second, we need a framework to provide relief in the long-term when a pandemic like COVID-19 hits.
The Heroes Act, which has been sitting on McConnell’s desk since May 2020, would provide critical short-term relief to small businesses and their hardworking employees by replenishing the Paycheck Protection Program, delivering rent relief, and funding the MTA. All of these provisions are essential for small businesses’ survival.
My Pandemic Risk Insurance Act (PRIA) is forward looking and will provide a framework for small businesses to get the relief they need, without having to wait for Congress to pass another emergency bill, in the event of future pandemics and public health emergencies.
GSA Allows Biden-Harris Transition to Begin
On Monday evening, after my colleagues and I called her in for a briefing on the GSA’s refusal to grant the Biden-Harris team access to transition resources, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy finally allowed the transition process to proceed. You can read our Thursday letter to GSA Administrator Murphy here and our follow up from Monday here.
I am glad that President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will now finally be allowed to fully engage in preparing for some of the biggest crises our nation has faced in decades. While I am thankful for this news, it would be a mistake not to recognize the damage that was done to our democracy and to the health and safety of the American people due to the Trump Administration’s refusal to follow the law for weeks as coronavirus cases spiked nationwide.
Department of Education Suspends Tool to Help Defrauded Student Borrowers
The Department of Education removed a new web tool from its website that was designed to help students who have been defrauded. This tool was meant to simplify the Borrower Defense application process for individuals who were ripped off by their schools.
Last month, I joined with Congressman Bobby Scott, Chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor, to release evidence that Department officials froze this same web tool despite their vehement and public denials to the contrary. Once again, the Department’s public explanations do not hold water, and it now appears that the White House may be interfering in this process. The Department should immediately put the tool back online and stop its continued and repeated efforts to undermine the Borrower Defense program. You can read more here.
Demanding Briefings on Schedule F Executive Order Implementation
This week, I joined with my colleagues in requesting regular briefings from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to inform Congress about the implementation status of President Trump’s Schedule F Executive Order.
On October 21, the President issued an executive order that would undermine the foundation of the federal workforce: the civil service, which consists of non-partisan professionals who serve all Americans without regard to political party. It could lead to a mass exodus from the federal government at the end of every presidential administration, leaving federal agencies without deep institutional knowledge, expertise, experience, and the ability to develop and implement long-term policy strategies – a critical loss for the American people.
In response, I joined with Oversight and Reform Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Gerry Connolly to introduce the Saving the Civil Service Act to prohibit the use of funds to implement the order.
Read the letter from me, Subcommittee Chairman Connolly, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ranking Member Senator Gary Peters, and Senator Tom Carper to the GAO here.
Remembering Mayor David Dinkins
This week, New York City lost an icon. Mayor David Dinkins was a kind and empathetic man who led New York City during difficult times. I am proud to have known him and worked with him on important initiatives for our “gorgeous mosaic” of a city. The countless programs he helped start and the lives he shaped will undoubtedly be felt throughout New York City for generations to come.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.