Weekly Update: Modernizing FMLA, DC Statehood, and Equal Pay for Equal Work
Before we get to this week’s updates, I want to wish all those observing the holy month of Ramadan a Ramadan Mubarak.
This week, I introduced the Family Medical Leave Modernization Act to expand who and what is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); chaired the Oversight Committee’s historic vote to pass H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act; and voted with my colleagues to pass H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act. I’m also glad to report that the FDA heard my call to lift the medically unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone — a prescription medication that has been used to safely end early pregnancies in the United States for more than two decades.
More on these and other updates below. If you missed it, you can read this week’s NY-12 COVID-19 Update here.
The Family Medical Leave Modernization Act
This week, I joined with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) to introduce our bill, the Family Medical Leave Modernization Act, to expand who and what is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Our country's family and medical leave policies need to reflect what American families actually look like in 2021 and expand to match the needs of 21st Century families. Parents needs to be able to be there for children – for things like doctors appointments and parent-teacher conferences – without fear of losing their jobs.
You can read more about the bill here.
On Wednesday, I chaired the Oversight Committee’s historic vote to pass H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, the legislation introduced by Congresswoman Norton to grant statehood to the people of the District of Columbia.
Statehood for D.C. is about equality, fairness, and ensuring that the dreams of our Founders are realized despite over 200 years of delayed justice. Our nation is founded upon the idea that all people should have a voice in their government. But without voting representation in Congress, the people of D.C. are denied that most basic right.
You can read more about the markup of the bill here.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
On Thursday, I voted with my colleagues to pass H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act. I’ve long fought for equal pay for equal work. In 2016, as Ranking Member of the Joint Economic Committee, I releasedthe Gender Pay Inequality: Consequences for Women, Families and the Economy report and on March 24, 2021, I chaired a Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing, Honoring ‘Equal Pay Day’: Examining the Long-Term Economic Impacts of Gender Inequality.
Longstanding workplace discrimination sets women back in pay and benefits, hiring, and promotions. Closing the pay gap will provide more financial stability for women — especially those who are hardest hit by the pandemic. Combatting pay discrimination requires deliberate action — and that is what the Paycheck Fairness Act does.
You can read and watch my full floor speech on the bill here.
Protecting Abortion Care
On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its decision to temporarily lift the medically unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Mifepristone is a prescription medication that has been used to safely end early pregnancies in the United States for more than two decades.
In February, I joined with Oversight Committee Member Ayanna Pressley in leading all of the Democratic Committee congresswomen in sending a letter asking the FDA to lift this medically unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement. You can read more about the announcement here.
Asking the Health Experts: What are the next steps to end the COVID-19 pandemic?
At Thursday’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing examining a science-driven approach to swiftly and safely end the COVID-19 pandemic, I asked Dr. Fauci, "what are the key steps we have to take to make that happen faster, hopefully, besides vaccinations?"
He responded, "Well there are a couple of things we can do. One is, until you get people fully vaccinated, and get it under control, where it is no longer a threat, it’s the public health measures that we talk about almost every single day. The wearing of masks, the physical distancing, the avoiding congregate settings, the washing of hands. When the vaccine protection takes over, then you could have a gradual diminution of those types of guideline restrictions."
You can watch our full exchange here.
American Rescue Plan Programs Updates
NY Veterans Begin to Receive $1,400 Payments
New Yorkers who receive veterans’ benefits and are expecting their Economic Impact Payments of up to $1,400 have started to see these payments hit their bank accounts via electronic payments beginning this past Wednesday. I encourage all New York veterans to follow the necessary steps to ensure they receive this much needed assistance. If you or a loved one is a veteran who qualifies for this payment and is having difficulty receiving it, please reach out to my office for help. You can learn more here.
FEMA began accepting applications for funeral assistance for New Yorkers who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 yesterday, Thursday, April 15. No amount of money can replace the loss of a loved one, but I hope that this program will help ease the financial strain on New Yorkers who have lost loved ones to the pandemic. These families are suffering, and I hope that by easing financial strain we allow these families to properly grieve. Learn more about the program and how to apply here.
The American Jobs Plan and New York
For far too long, New York’s critical infrastructure needs have not been met. The American Jobs Plan is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fix this by creating millions of good-paying union jobs while modernizing our city and state’s infrastructure.
According to a new fact sheet from the White House, we have 1,702 bridges in need of repair, have 7,292 miles of roads in poor condition, and need $22.8 billion to ensure safe drinking water. Additionally, 11% of the trains and other transit vehicles in New York State are past their useful life. These pressing needs underscore the importance of the American Jobs Plan, which will make historic investments in improving the nation’s infrastructure and put millions of people to work. You can read more here.
President Biden Nominates a New Census Director
This week, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Robert Santos for Director of the U.S. Census Bureau. This nomination upholds the principle that experts, not political operatives, should drive our nation’s statistical system.
Mr. Santos has been a fierce advocate for a full, fair, and accurate Census, including when he testified before the Oversight Committee last December in support of giving the Census Bureau’s career officials the time they need to conduct an accurate and complete count. His comprehensive knowledge of the Census Bureau and his unwavering commitment to objective data science are the perfect combination of qualities to ensure delivery of accurate Census data to the American people, and set a strong foundation for our national statistical system as we begin the new decade.
This choice is a home run, and I am urging my colleagues in the Senate to give Mr. Santos the swift confirmation he deserves.
Requesting the Administration’s Plan for the Technology Modernization Fund
On Tuesday, I sent a letter to Shalanda Young, Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Katy Kale, Acting Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), requesting that the Administration develop a plan for prioritizing projects to fund with the $1 billion Congress appropriated for the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) in the American Rescue Plan.
You can read the letter from me, Rep. Gerry Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Committee Members Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jamie Raskin, and Katie Porter here.
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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