Weekly Update: Passing H.R. 1 and the Justice in Policing Act, Introducing the ERA
This week, I joined with colleagues to pass two critical pieces of legislation – H.R. 1, the For the People Act, and H.R.1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. H.R. 1 is a sweeping reform package that will strengthen our democracy. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is long-overdue legislation to reform policing and address systemic racism and bias within law enforcement.
I also joined with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez in asking the Mayor to open additional vaccination sites at HANAC senior communities so that we can make getting vaccinated easier for some of our city’s most vulnerable individuals.
In addition to the COVID pandemic, our country is still fighting the opioid epidemic, and I launched an inquiry this week into four companies seeking information about their plans to use tax deductions to defray settlement costs.
And, as we kicked off Women’s History Month, I introduced the bipartisan H.J. Res. 28, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
You can read more about these and other updates below.
In case you missed it, you can read this week’s NY-12 COVID Update here.
H.R. 1 – For the People Act
On Wednesday night, I joined with House Democrats to pass H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a sweeping anti-corruption and pro-democracy legislative package. The bill, which includes my Vote by Mail Tracking Act, will protect and expand voting rights, restore integrity to government, and put the needs and priorities of the American people ahead of those of special interests.
As I cast my vote, my friend, the late John Lewis, was on my mind, who 56 years ago walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and nearly gave his life for the right to vote. We honor his legacy as we continue his fight to strengthen the very bedrock of our democracy and protect, preserve, and expand the right to vote.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
On Wednesday, I spoke on the House floor urging all of my colleagues to join me in supporting H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a bold and comprehensive legislative package that will hold police accountable, improve police training and practices, empower our communities, and build trust between law enforcement and our communities by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. H.R. 1280 is identical to the bill of the same name that the House passed in 2020 with a bipartisan vote of 236-181.
Now, the Senate must act. This bill will save lives by reforming qualified immunity, banning no-knock warrants like the one that contributed to the death of Breonna Taylor, and ending the use of chokeholds that killed Eric Garner and George Floyd.
You can read and watch my full floor statement here.
Fighting for Rental Relief
On Wednesday, I went to the House floor to highlight the need for rental relief for New Yorkers and to urge the Senate to pass the American Rescue Plan Act immediately so that we can deliver the help Americans need now.
New York’s renters and far too many families are struggling as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic through no fault of their own, and are now are struggling, too, to pay their rent. The American Rescue Plan would provide more than $20 billion in emergency rental and utility assistance, building on the $25 billion provided in the December relief package.
Watch and read my full floor speech here.
The Need for COVID-19 Vaccine Sites at HANAC Facilities
On Monday, I wrote to Mayor de Blasio with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) asking him to consider adding COVID-19 vaccination sites to Hellenic-American Neighborhood Association (HANAC) senior facilities. HANAC is a citywide social service organization that, in addition to offering services and programs for more than 30,000 seniors in the city, owns and operates 650 senior affordable housing units in five separate residential buildings across Queens.
Vaccine distribution should be easy, accessible, and free for all, which is why we asked the Mayor to give full and fair consideration to adding on-site vaccination sites at each of the HANAC senior affordable housing residences. Enabling vaccine access for these senior living communities is vital to an equitable roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine.
You can read our letter to the Mayor here.
Looking unto Companies Taking Tax Deductions for Opioid Settlements
On Thursday, I was joined by Oversight and Reform Vice Chair Jimmy Gomez and Committee Member Mark DeSaulnier in sending letters to four companies seeking information about their plans to use a CARES Act tax provision — meant to help companies struggling during the coronavirus pandemic — to increase tax deductions for litigation costs related to the companies’ roles in the U.S. opioid crisis.
Any attempt by these companies to reduce their settlement costs by taking advantage of a tax provision intended for businesses suffering coronavirus-related losses is an insult to every community suffering from the opioid crisis and the pandemic.
You can read our letters to Cardinal Health Incorporated, McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Corporation, and Johnson & Johnson here.
The Equal Rights Amendment
Late last week, just ahead of Women’s History Month, Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY) and I introduced our bipartisan resolution H.J. Res. 28, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The resolution number celebrates that the ERA would be the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
It is long past time we cement gender equality in our nation’s foundational document, the Constitution, once and for all. With the ERA, we will finally secure equality under the law for women and all marginalized genders. While the last four years have shown us that we may not be able to control who is on the Supreme Court, in the White House, or in charge of Congress and local government, we can control the document they interpret and the legal parameters under which they operate.
Read more about the ERA here.
Examining the 2021 GAO High-Risk Report
On Tuesday, I held a bipartisan Oversight and Reform Committee hearing to examine the Government Accountability Office (GAO) 2021 High-Risk List, a new report of the 36 areas of federal operations most in need of improvement or transformation to meet the nation’s challenges.
The Government Accountability Office’s High-Risk List is a blueprint of opportunities to make America safer, stronger, more fair, and more prosperous. Over the past four years, the objective metrics of the High-Risk List show that the federal government improved less, and regressed more, than before the former President took office. With the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the nation, the need for an effective, efficient, functional, and responsive federal government has never been greater. Congress and the executive branch must work together strategically on high-risk areas so federal agencies are in the best position possible to serve the American people through this time of crisis.
You can read more about the hearing here.
DOT Inspector General’s Ethics Report on Former Secretary Elaine Chao
On Wednesday, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and I released the report from the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (IG) ethics investigation into former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.
This report, in addition to documents the Oversight and Reform Committee obtained, demonstrate that Secretary Chao used her official position and taxpayer resources for the benefit of herself and her family. This flagrant abuse of her office provides further evidence that additional ethics and transparency reforms are needed.
You can read more about the IG’s report here.
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.