Weekly Update: Mobile Casework Hours @ Union Square, Oversight Hearing on Fisher-Price, Holding the Sacklers' Accountable
Before we get to this week’s update, I wanted to let you know that tomorrow, Saturday June 12 from 4-5pm, my staff and I will be in Union Square for mobile casework hours. Stop by to say hi or if you need any assistance with federal agencies or public programs. I hope to see you there, but if you can’t join us tomorrow, you can always call my office at 212-860-0606 or email me.
This week, I held two Oversight Committee hearings, the first on the Committee’s investigation into dozens of infant deaths associated with Fisher-Price’s Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and the second on the Sackler family’s role in fueling America’s opioid epidemic and policies to promote accountability.
I also joined with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley to introduce two pieces of legislation that take a holistic and community-based approach to addressing the growing crisis of childhood trauma.
More on these and other updates below.
If you missed it, you can read this week’s NY-12 COVID-19 Vaccine & Recovery Update here.
Oversight Hearing: Sleeping Danger -The Rock ‘n Play and Failures in Infant Product Safety
On Monday, I held a hearing on the Oversight Committee’s investigation into dozens of infant deaths associated with the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper sold by Fisher-Price, a subsidiary of Mattel, and grave flaws in the U.S. consumer product safety system.
The Committee’s investigation shows how corporate greed and weak federal oversight led to the deaths of dozens of babies in an unsafe product. Fisher-Price ignored multiple warnings that the Rock ‘n Play was not safe for infant sleep, including reports of infant injuries and deaths. Despite this clear evidence, the company continued to market the Rock ‘n Play for overnight sleep, reaping hundreds of millions in revenue during the ten years the product was on the market. It is shameful that Fisher-Price endangered lives simply to help its bottom line. The findings of the Committee’s investigation make clear that we must strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Act to put American consumers over corporate profits. I am committed to doing just that.
You can read more about the hearing and the committee’s findings here.
Holding the Sacklers Accountable for their Role in the Opioid Crisis
On Tuesday, I held a hearing to examine the Sackler family’s role in fueling America’s opioid epidemic and policies to promote accountability, like the SACKLER Act. I introduced the SACKLER Act on March 19, 2021 to close a loophole in bankruptcy law and prevent individuals who have not filed for bankruptcy from obtaining releases from lawsuits brought by states, Tribes, municipalities, or the U.S. government in bankruptcy.
At the hearing, Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts Maura Healey, Republican Attorney General of Idaho Lawrence Wasden, author Patrick Radden Keefe, and Executive Director of Truth Pharm, Alexis Pleus, all testified in favor of the SACKLER Act.
You can read more about the hearing and the bill here.
Oversight Committee Ransomware Investigation
Today, I expanded the Oversight Committee’s ransomware investigation to include JBS Foods USA’s recent decision to pay an $11 million ransom to a cybercrime group following a ransomware attack against the company on May 30, 2021. I am deeply troubled by this and similar ransomware attacks. Any ransom payment to cybercriminal actors like REvil sets a dangerous precedent that increases the risk of future ransomware attacks. Congress needs detailed information about the attack to legislate effectively on ransomware and cybersecurity in the United States.
Addressing the Childhood Trauma Crisis
On Thursday, I joined with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) to reintroduce a pair of bills, the Children’s Protection Act and the STRONG Support for Children Act, that take a holistic and community-based approach to addressing the growing crisis of childhood trauma. These bills would provide critical resources for children, families, and communities to promote healing and resilience from the unprecedented trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, white supremacy-fueled violence, and regulatory assaults on children by the Trump administration.
Centering the health and wellbeing of children at each level of government – from our local communities to the regulatory actions of our federal agencies – is the best thing we can do for the future of this country. After a year defined by a deadly pandemic, a violent insurrection, and a surge in violent white supremacy, these bills are critical to breaking the cycle of trauma that contributes to America’s mental health crisis and exacerbates inequality. Congress must pass the Children’s Protection Act and the STRONG Support for Children Act to ensure that the federal government prioritizes the health and wellbeing of our children and combats the cycle of intergenerational trauma fueled by race and class discrimination.
Read more about the legislation here.
Funding the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum
This week, I urged the Appropriations Committee to provide adequate funding for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. A version of my bill to create this museum, H.R. 1980, the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act, was included in last year’s Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260).
As I stated in my written testimony submitted to the Committee, this museum is overdue, has broad support, and is an important step toward making the Smithsonian Institute even more inclusive of the nation’s history and diversity, and recognizing women who have made remarkable impacts on the country during every major moment in our history. Congress must continue its strong support for this effort, beginning with significant funding for operational expenses and an investment in the future construction of what will surely be a world-class museum.
You can read my full testimony here.
Coming Up: Oversight Hearing on January 6
This coming Tuesday, June 15, 2021, at 2:00 p.m., I will hold an Oversight Committee hearing to examine the events of January 6, 2021, in which insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol to disrupt a joint session of Congress convened to count the Electoral College votes of the 2020 presidential election. This hearing will address unanswered questions about the January 6 insurrection, including the Trump Administration’s failure to anticipate, prepare for, and respond adequately to the attack. This is the Committee’s second hearing examining the January 6 insurrection.
You can watch live here.
Snapshots from NY-12
On Sunday, I joined with City Council Member Keith Powers, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Brad Hoylman, and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein at Stuyvesant Town to stand against the proposed Combined Heating Plan or CHP. This project is falsely being marketed as environmentally friendly and a benefit to residents. It’s really an investment in the polluting fossil fuel technology that we need to abandon.
On Thursday, I joined with Councilmember Ben Kallos, my co-chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce, and other community leaders to celebrate the City’s plans to begin an $80+ million improvement of John Finley Walk between E. 81st Street and E. 90th Street.
The past 15 months of COVID-19 have only made clearer just how essential open, outdoor spaces are to New Yorkers. John Finley Walk is a wonderful space beloved by the children who play here, the athletes who bike and run on it, and all the New Yorkers who find respite here from being stuck indoors. Even before the pandemic, East Siders felt the strain of living with some of the least park space per capita in the city, we must upkeep the areas that we do have.
Yesterday, I visited with the Alliance for Positive Change, an incredible community organization that is doing critical work for HIV positive New Yorkers. To support their efforts, Alliance for Positive Change was one of the 10 projects I submitted as a NY-12 funding priority to the Appropriations Committee.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.