Weekly Update: Chauvin Verdict, DC Statehood, & Affordable Housing
This week, we finally saw accountability in action as Derek Chauvin was convicted on all three counts for murdering George Floyd. But if we are to get justice, we must create a country in which George Floyd would still be alive – we need systemic, bold, and comprehensive reform. To achieve this, I am working with my colleagues to get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed in the Senate and on other reforms to make all of us safer.
Tomorrow, we mark 106 years since the Ottoman Empire began its systematic and reprehensible genocide of 1.5 million Armenians. To honor all those murdered, and all who survived, the United States and the world must formally recognize this genocide. As a member of the Armenian Caucus, I was proud to vote in favor of the 2019 House resolution to do just that. I have also joined with my colleagues to urge President Biden to do the same in his upcoming statement. I am encouraged by reports that the President has heard the calls of the Armenian people, the generations of Armenian-Americans in NY-12, and the American public and will be making that formal declaration.
This week, I voted with my colleagues to pass H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act and H.R. 1333, the NO BAN Act to prevent any future president from enacting policies like the Muslim Ban ever again. I also introduced the Public Housing Solar Equity Act, the Affordable Housing Preservation Act, The 2020 Census Deadlines Extension Act, and the IG Independence and Empowerment Act.
More on these and other updates below.
In case you missed it, you can read this week’s NY-12 COVID Update here.
The Derek Chauvin Verdict
As I watched the video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes, it was clear to me that the American public was witnessing a murder. This week’s verdict affirms that.
We cannot sit idly by and allow Black Americans to be killed by the police due to the color of their skin.
We need systemic, bold, and comprehensive reform of our criminal justice and policing systems. The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in March, and now the Senate must do the same. And even after this bill becomes law, we still have more work to do. We need to invest in communities that have been over-policed and in programs that aim to cut the school to prison pipeline. We need to look towards programs that dispatch mental health professionals when someone is in a mental health crisis rather than criminalizing this behavior. And we need to pursue the people-to-people work that can help our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias head on.
Nothing will ever bring George Floyd back to his family. However, the tireless work of millions of Americans marching for justice along with this week’s verdict is a step in the right direction.
On Thursday, for the second time in two years, the House passed H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act. As Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I was proud to lead Democrats in the floor debate on this bill. This vote honors the most fundamental principle of this nation — that all people have a right to full and equal representation in their government.
You can read more about the bill and read my full statement here.
I hope you can join me this Tuesday, April 27 at 6pm for a virtual town hall on non-essential helicopter flights. Attendance is on a first come, first serve basis – register here.
The NO BAN Act
On Wednesday, I joined with my colleagues in voting to pass H.R. 1333, the NO BAN Act. This important bill strengthens the Immigration and Nationality Act by barring discrimination on the basis of religion and blocks future presidents from abusing their authority by preventing executive overreach to enact similar travel bans in the future. Passing this bill is the first step towards a more just, human immigration system.
You can read more about the bill and watch my floor speech urging all my colleagues to support the bill here.
Public Housing Solar Equity Act
On Earth Day, I reintroduced my Public Housing Solar Equity Act. This legislation will ensure that when a public housing authority (PHA), such as NYCHA, sells or leases assets to private companies for the installation of solar panels, residents’ needs come first. It will also ensure that when a PHA considers selling or leasing any of its assets for solar energy projects, such sale or lease must financially benefit its residents and the relevant authority.
As we see the use of solar energy increasing, it’s clear that public housing authority roofs are going to become a hot commodity. This legislation will make sure that when these spaces are leased or sold, that the benefit of these deals is first given to public housing residents. Any use of public housing authority land or buildings should benefit the residents these properties were established for, not private companies.
You can read more here.
Affordable Housing Preservation Act
Today, I joined with Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to introduce the Affordable Housing Preservation Act. This bill will fund the creation of community-owned cooperatives (co-ops) for low-income people, helping to alleviate the affordable housing crisis while allowing people to communally own their homes.
Affordable housing is one of the most serious challenges facing New York City and our nation. In the wake of the economic crisis caused by the COVID pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we make clear that housing is a human right and leave no community behind. You can read more about the bill here.
Extending Census Deadlines
On Tuesday, I introduced The 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act, legislation to extend the Census Bureau’s statutory deadlines for the delivery of apportionment and redistricting data and ensure the American people of the data’s quality and thoroughness.
Ensuring a complete and accurate Census count has long been a top priority for the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and passing this bill is a crucial step to make that happen. An inaccurate Census count would jeopardize Americans’ access to more than $1.5 trillion for healthcare, roads, job training, and education. I am urging all my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation so that all our constituents receive the resources they deserve.
You can read more about the bill here.
Investigation into Emergent BioSolutions
On Monday, together with Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, I launched an investigation into whether Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. leveraged its relationship with a key Trump Administration official to profit from federal contracts despite a track record of raising prices and failing to meet contract requirements, and whether these actions impeded our nation’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
You can read our letter and learn more about the investigation here.
IG Independence and Empowerment Act
This week, I introduced the IG Independence and Empowerment Act to increase the independence of inspectors general (IGs) and protect them from any political retaliation.
As Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I know first-hand the role IGs play in independently and objectively working to expose waste, fraud, and abuse in government. This comprehensive bill would ensure that IGs can perform their jobs free from political retaliation and that they have the tools needed to perform thorough investigations. Inspectors General are needed now more than ever to provide accountability for the over $5 trillion spent by the government in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Read more about the bill here.
Diversity on Corporate Boards
This week, the House Financial Services Committee passed H.R. 1277, the Improving Corporate Governance Through Diversity Act of 2021. This bill includes provisions from my Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act and would help increase diversity on corporate boards by requiring public companies to annually publish diversity data including the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of their board of directors, nominees for the board of directors, and executive officers.
You can watch my remarks and read more about the bill here.
The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act
This week, my colleagues reintroduced H.R.3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This thoughtful legislation is just what Americans need. Far too many households have to decide between paying for groceries, utilities, or prescriptions. With H.R. 3, people will be able to better afford their prescriptions – a top issue of concern for our former Chairman, Elijah Cummings. I proudly voted in favor of H.R. 3 last Congress, and I look forward to doing so again this Congress. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to do the right thing and pass this bill so that we can finally address the high costs of prescription drugs.
Document Release: Sackler Family Wealth Totals $11B
This week, as Oversight Chair, I released selected documents showing that members of the Sackler family, who have owned a controlling share of Purdue Pharma since 1952, are collectively worth a total of $11 billion. The documents show that the Sackler family has built an enormous fortune in large part through sales of OxyContin. Members of the Sackler family pushed Purdue to use deceptive marketing practices to flood communities with this dangerous painkiller, and now the Sackler family is attempting to use Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings to evade individual responsibility for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic.
The SACKLER Act, which I introduced with Congressman DeSaulnier, would specify that the Sacklers cannot obtain legal releases from government claims through these proceedings, and help to ensure that the family is held accountable for the irreparable harm they have inflicted on our communities.
Snapshots from NY-12
On Monday, I joined with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and community leaders to announce the $4,320,500 secured for the Floating Hospital in the American Rescue Plan. These resources are part of the American Rescue Plan’s investments to expand health services and access to COVID-19 vaccines in underserved communities. Even in the face of staff and revenue shortages, the Floating Hospital has continued to provide life-saving care to underserved communities and played a pivotal and indelible role in our response to the COVID-19 crisis. They have insured that everyone – especially those in typically underserved communities – got the help they needed and deserved.
Read more here.
Today, I joined with NYCHA residents and climate activists outside of the Astoria Houses Community Center to announce the reintroduction of my Public Housing Solar Equity Act and highlight the need for the Green New Deal for Public Housing. Climate change is one of the most pressing threats facing New Yorkers, this country, and the global community. And our most vulnerable communities are bearing the brunt of the consequences. As we look to the future, and to building back better, we must do so with a focus on climate justice. In our city, that means investing in a green future for New York’s public housing.
Read more here.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.