Update: New Legislation to Address Childhood Trauma and Stop Taxpayer Funded Propaganda
Today, Friday, October 9, is New York State’s voter registration deadline. Please make sure you are registered to vote!
This week, I introduced legislation to address the growing crisis of childhood trauma and to stop the Trump Administration from using taxpayer money to fund political propaganda campaigns around COVID-19. I also joined with my colleagues to fight against voter suppression in Texas and to ensure that the federal government is implementing expanding paid family and medical leave as outlined in the Families Fist Coronavirus Response Act. Additionally, my colleagues and I have requested that the InspectorsGeneral of the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice look into reports that FBI surveillance aircraft and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) personnel, including sniper teams, were deployed to Pearland, Texas to surveil the funeral service of George Floyd.
More on all of this, and other updates, below.
Addressing the Childhood Trauma Crisis
Yesterday, I joined with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) to announce a pair of bills that take a holistic and community-based approach to addressing the growing crisis of childhood trauma.
Childhood trauma and insecurity is a public health crisis in this country. The Children’s Protection Act and the STRONG Support for Children Act will ensure that the federal government prioritizes the health and wellbeing of our children and is a partner in breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma fueled by race and class discrimination. Every child deserves to grow up feeling safe and supported with the tools they need to create their best future, and federal actions should never undermine this bedrock value.
After years of regulatory assaults by the Trump Administration on the health and wellbeing of America’s children, the coronavirus pandemic has increased and exacerbated childhood trauma across the nation. This moment demands critical resources to support our children, families and communities. Read more about our bills here.
The Need to Fund and Support the IRS
On Wednesday, the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations held a hearing to examine the role of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) during the coronavirus pandemic, the financial condition of the IRS, and the state of the agency’s information technology (IT).
As I stated at the hearing, we need to be asking what the IRS could have done to help our country if it had been properly funded and adequately staffed, instead of being subjected to years of bitter Republican abuses.
Witnesses testified that, even in normal times, decreases in IRS funding and resources have had severe and real implications on the agency’s ability to deliver critical services to taxpayers. These struggles are exacerbated in times of national crisis, as evidenced in the coronavirus pandemic.
Oversight of the Trump Admin’s Deployment of Border Patrol Snipers at George Floyd’s Funeral
In response to reports that FBI surveillance aircraft and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) personnel, including sniper teams, were deployed to Pearland, Texas to surveil the funeral service of George Floyd, I have requested that the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security’s Inspectors General include these allegations in their ongoing investigation into the Trump Administration's use of force against peaceful protestors in Washington D.C., Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere around the country.
You can read the letter that I, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) sent to the Inspectors General here.
The Defeat Pandemic Propaganda Act of 2020
This week I joined with Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; and Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC), Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, to introduce the Defeat Pandemic Propaganda Act of 2020. This bill will prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from using federal funds to create campaign-style, political advertisements regarding COVID-19 in the run-up to the presidential election.
Taxpayer money should never be used for political propaganda or to manipulate and deceive the American people. This legislation would enact guardrails – ones that this Administration has proven we need - to protect our democracy and prevent the hijacking of public health communications for political purposes.
We have introduced this bill after launching an investigation last month into the the Administration’s apparent use of taxpayer money to produce political propaganda around the COVID-19 crisis.
Fighting Against Voter Suppression in in Texas
On Tuesday, I joined with Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Chairperson of the Committee on House Administration, in urging Texas Governor Greg Abbott to rescind a proclamation he issued last week requiring counties to close all but one mail-in ballot drop-off location.
At this late hour, just weeks ahead of Election Day, these restrictions are fundamentally unfair to voters, simultaneously restricting their ability to cast ballots and increasing the risk of voters and poll workers becoming infected with the coronavirus. This action appears to be a last-ditch effort to suppress Texans’ ability to vote and cannot be tolerated.
Read the full letter we sent to Gov. Abbott here.
Oversight of Paid Leave Policies for Federal Employees During COVID
On Monday, I requested information from Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia on the Department of Labor’s implementation of paid leave provisions in the Family First Coronavirus Response Act.
In March, Congress passed the bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which expanded access to paid sick leave and paid family leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. In August, the Department of Labor’s Inspector General issued a report highlighting key flaws in the Administration’s implementation of the program, and a federal judge in New York ruled that the Administration defied Congress’s intent in implementing the law. Access to paid leave is particularly crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. It undermines both our economic recovery and our efforts to combat coronavirus when workers must choose between working and staying home when they or their family members are sick or quarantining in order to protect others.
You can read the full letter I sent with Congressman Jimmy Gomez, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education here.
Snapshots from NY-12
On Saturday morning, we celebrated Rev. Al Sharpton’s birthday at the House of Justice with the National Action Network the best way we know how: calling for justice & equality for ALL (while socially distanced and masked).
Last weekend, I joined CoDA, community leader Andrea Gordillo, local elected officials, and community members to mourn those we lost from the Lower East Side to COVID-19. I’m so grateful for our community and how we come together in a crisis.
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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