Weekly Update: Biden's First 100 Days, Help for Restaurants, Holding Pharma Accountable
I was honored to be able to join my colleagues in the House Chamber on Wednesday night for President Biden’s Joint Address. As we mark his 100th day in office, more than 27% of the American public is fully vaccinated with more than 200 million vaccine doses delivered, double the Administration’s goal. Businesses and schools are reopening, unemployment is down, and we’ve taken steps to cut child poverty in half. Hope and help are here.
During his address, the President highlighted the need to make prescription drugs affordable and reaffirmed that healthcare is a human right. On Thursday, I testified before the Judiciary Committee on the Oversight Committee’s sweeping investigation into the pricing practices of drug companies and joined a bipartisan group of members and senators to introduce a legislative package that will enhance efforts to lower prescription drug costs by taking on anticompetitive practices employed by large pharmaceutical companies.
And today, I was excited to be able to bring a pop-up vaccination site to Cooper Park Houses in North Brooklyn. More on these and other updates below.
In case you missed it, you can read this week’s NY-12 COVID Update here.
President Biden’s Joint Address
I was proud to invite Mikey Cole as my virtual guest to President Biden’s Joint Address this week. Mikey is the owner of Mikey Likes it Ice Cream on Avenue A, and he has served the community day in and day out during the COVID-19 crisis by leading food drives and checking up on residents.
President Biden’s address made clear his vision for our future – a nation of hope, resiliency, equality, and equity. A nation that keeps our people safe and healthy. A nation that believes Black Lives Matter, immigrants are welcome, and that healthcare and housing are human rights.
Looking ahead, I’m eager to continue working with President Biden as we build back better. I have long said that infrastructure is one of the smartest investments our government can make, and the American Jobs Plan is the bold, innovative package we need to modernize New York City and the country while also creating good-paying, clean-energy jobs as we work to combat climate change. The American Families Plan is a once-in-a-generation holistic approach to create an economy in which everyone can succeed and no family is left behind. By investing in education and childcare and by providing tax relief to American families, we can lift children out of poverty and provide economic security to families in New York and across the nation.
It is long past due that we pass common-sense gun control legislation to combat the gun violence epidemic, that we take meaningful steps to combat systemic racism, that we enact real, bold, and sweeping police reform, and that we create a humane and just immigration system.
I look forward to working with President Biden to make this vision a reality.
New Apportionment Count from 2020 Census
Monday’s release of the 2020 Census apportionment count marks a key step in the Census process mandated by the Constitution and our laws. The Census faced unprecedented obstacles, including pernicious efforts by former President Trump to hijack the Census for political gain — such as illegal attempts to add a citizenship question, exclude immigrants from the count, and rush data analysis despite the risk of errors — as well as delays and operational changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A fair and accurate Census is a cornerstone of our democracy, and the Constitution grants Congress the responsibility to oversee this process. That is why I have introduced bipartisan legislation to reestablish Congress’s authority, provide adequate time for career experts to process and release the data in light of the pandemic, and ensure the 2020 Census is accurate and complete. I am urging all my colleagues to support this common-sense bill.
$15 Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors
On Tuesday, President Biden issued an executive order requiring that federal contractors are paid a $15 minimum wage.
In one of the wealthiest countries on earth, it is unconscionable that the minimum wage falls far short of a living wage. Americans believe people should be paid fairly for a hard day’s work, and that families relying on minimum wage salaries should be able to afford a roof over their heads and food on their tables.
By signing this executive order requiring federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour and phase out the use of a tipped minimum wage, President Biden affirmed his commitment to this fundamental value. The executive order ensures taxpayer dollars will uphold the dignity of work and will provide a living wage to essential workers like cleaning, maintenance, nursing, and food service staff whose efforts are critical to serving the American people.
Today’s executive order marks an important milestone in the Fight for Fifteen to set a $15 minimum wage for all. Policies like this are essential in promoting pay equity and economic justice, building a more prosperous America for all.
Lowering Prescription Drug Costs
On Thursday, I testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law on the findings of the Oversight Committee’s sweeping investigation into the pricing practices of drug companies and joined a bipartisan group of members and senators to introduce a legislative package that will enhance efforts to lower prescription drug costs by taking on anticompetitive practices employed by large pharmaceutical companies.
These critical bills directly address the findings of the Oversight Committee’s investigation which found that brand name drug companies have engaged in blatantly anticompetitive strategies — like product hopping and pay for delay agreements — to extend their monopoly pricing in the United States. These bills will significantly reform the system and help alleviate the financial burden of life-saving prescription drugs for the American people.
Document Release: Purdue Pharma & the Sackler Family
Today, I was joined by senior Oversight Committee Member Rep. Mark DeSaulnier in making public additional documents obtained as part of the committee’s investigation into the role Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family played in fueling the opioid epidemic.
These documents mark another important step towards accountability for an epidemic that has claimed the lives of more than half a million people in the United States. The public deserves transparency into how Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family flooded our communities with OxyContin while misleading patients and families about the dangers it posed. Congress must pass our SACKLER Act to finally prevent members of the Sackler family from evading responsibility and to provide some degree of justice to the countless individuals harmed by their actions.
Read more here.
Coming Up: Oversight Hearings
May 3: Hearing on Legislation to Improve Government Accountability and Transparency
On Monday, May 3, 2021, at 11am, I will hold a hybrid hearing on legislative reforms to enhance accountability and transparency, improve efficiency, combat waste and fraud, and build public trust in the federal government. During the hearing, we will examine legislation to strengthen the independence of Inspectors General, improve government transparency regarding senior government officials, enhance the accountability of federal advisory committees, and protect whistleblowers. More here.
May 6: Hearing Examining America’s Black Maternal Health Crisis
On Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 11am, I will be joined by Oversight Committee Member Rep. Robin Kelly in co-chairing a hybrid hearing to examine the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis experienced by Black birthing people in America. More here.
May 18: Hearing with AbbVie CEO
During my testimony before the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law on anticompetitive conduct in the pharmaceutical industry, I announced that the Oversight Committee will hold a hearing with the CEO of AbbVie. AbbVie sells Humira, the highest grossing drug in the United States and the world. The Committee has obtained internal documents showing the tactics AbbVie uses to suppress competition for Humira and other drugs and maintain monopoly pricing in the U.S. More here.
Restaurant Revitalization Fund
The $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund, established by the American Rescue Plan, will open this coming Monday, May 3 at 12pm EST. The fund will provide direct relief to restaurants and other hard-hit food and drink establishments that have been suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a challenging year for restaurants, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will provide much needed aid to help New York City’s food and service industry. These businesses are vital to our City’s culture and economy and I encourage all those who are eligible to register today. Our City wouldn’t be the same without you.
Applicants can register for an account with the Small Business Administration (SBA) today at restaurants.sba.gov ahead of Monday’s application opening.
Learn more here.
Snapshots from NY-12
It was great to see so many New Yorkers getting vaccinated today at Cooper Park Houses.
I would like to thank Cooper Park Resident Association President Debra Benders for partnering with me to bring this pop up site to North Brooklyn and the staff at Northwell Health for their work today and every day.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.
If you have friends who you think should be receiving my newsletters, tell them they can sign up here.