Weekly Update: Section 8 Housing Lottery, Fighting Anti-AAPI Hate, Holding Pharma Accountable
Before we get to this week’s updates from Washington, DC I want to make sure you aware that the Section 8 Voucher Waitlist is live and open for applications. More information below.
In the Oversight Committee this week, I held a hearing examining the abusive pricing practices by AbbVie Inc., which sells the anti-inflammatory drug Humira and the cancer drug Imbruvica. I also joined with Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chair Clyburn to release a staff memo identifying initial findings and releasing new documents obtained in our Committees’ ongoing investigation into Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. ahead of our hearing with the company’s CEO and Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Also this week, my colleagues and I passed two pieces of legislation to fight anti-AAPI hate and a bill to establish a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to examine the events on and leading up to January 6, 2021.
More on these and other updates below.
If you missed it, you can read this week’s NY-12 COVID-19 Update here.
The Section 8 Voucher Waitlist is Live!
The Section 8 Voucher Waitlist is live and open for applications. Housing is a human right, and Section 8 Vouchers are critical in helping low-income renters afford safe, decent housing. To get on the waitlist, you must apply by Friday, May 28th.
You can find information on eligibility, application, and other details on a Section 8 voucher, along with answers to FAQs here. You can also call their hotline at 833-990-4001.
Click here for the online application in different languages.
NYC High School Admissions Update
Today, the NYC Department of Education is sharing notifications with families, with 77,627 8th graders receiving a high school offer. Seventy-three percent of students who submitted an application received an offer to one of their top three choices, with 46 percent receiving an offer to their first-choice school.
Fighting Anti-AAPI Hate
This week, I voted with my colleagues in the House to pass S.937, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and H.Res. 275, Condemning the horrific shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16, 2021, and reaffirming the House of Representative's commitment to combating hate, bigotry, and violence against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community. As Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I managed floor debate for House Democrats on H.Res. 275.
Hate has no place in our city or nation. The spike in anti-AAPI violence around our city and country over this past year is disturbing and unacceptable. The heinous shootings in Georgia, Indianapolis, and the acts of violence in our very own backyard – Hell’s Kitchen, Central Park, on the subway, and across New York City – must be a wake-up call for all of us to the reality Asian Americans have been facing over the past year. Incidents like these are why we must always call out bigotry and hate – wherever and whenever we see it. Our AAPI neighbors have been attacked and harassed because of misinformation and xenophobia that wrongly blamed them for the COVID-19 virus. I stand in solidarity with the AAPI community today and every day and thank Senator Hirono, Congresswoman Meng, and Congresswoman Chu for their leadership.
Oversight Hearing: Unsustainable Drug Prices (Part III): Testimony from AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez
On Tuesday, I held a full committee hybrid hearing examining the pricing and business practices of AbbVie Inc.
Just before the hearing, I released a staff report with new documents and details about AbbVie Inc., which sells the anti-inflammatory drug Humira and the cancer drug Imbruvica. AbbVie has repeatedly raised the prices of these two blockbuster drugs.
The Committee’s investigation uncovered evidence that AbbVie has exploited the U.S. patent system and engaged in anticompetitive practices to extend its monopoly pricing. Based on these findings, Judiciary Committee Chair Nadler, Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman Cicilline, and I sent a letter to the FTC asking for a formal inquiry into whether AbbVie’s anticompetitive practices violated the law. We want drug companies to be successful, but abusive drug pricing and anticompetitive practices mean these medications are out of reach for far too many Americans.
Read more about the hearing here.
Holding Emergent BioSolutions’ Accountable
Ahead of Wednesday’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing examining Emergent Biosolutions’s multi-million-dollar contracts to produce vaccines, I joined with the Select Subcommittee's Chairman, Congressman Clyburn, in releasing a staff memo identifying initial findings and releasing new documents obtained in our Committees’ ongoing investigation into Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. The documents we released shed new light on contracts awarded by the Trump Administration in 2020 and provide additional details on the extent of manufacturing failures that led to the destruction of millions of coronavirus vaccines since October 2020.
During my questioning of Emergent’s CEO Robert Kramer, he admitted that the United States has been unable to use any coronavirus vaccines that the company has produced due to contamination issues — despite the fact that the federal government has already paid Emergent more than $271 million. Mr. Kramer also admitted that corporate executives sold stock to make huge profits before news of the problems became public.
You can watch our full exchange here.
Commission on the January 6 Insurrection
On Wednesday, the House took an historic step in voting to establish an independent, bipartisan January 6 Commission to investigate the root causes of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — one of the darkest days in our nation’s history. The need for a commission has only grown clearer in recent days as some have tried to whitewash the violent attack of January 6 before Americans can learn the full set of facts about what happened, and before Congress can examine what reforms are needed to prevent future attacks on the Capitol and our democracy.
Nearly two decades ago, as our country was reeling in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Members of Congress of all political stripes came together and put country over politics to establish an independent commission to investigate that unprecedented tragedy. The 9/11 Commission was a model of bipartisanship and serious fact-finding. Following an extensive investigation, the 9/11 Commission provided crucial, overwhelmingly bipartisan recommendations that strengthened our nation’s security and helped to prevent future acts of terrorism.
The Committee on Oversight and Reform, in coordination with other House Committees, will continue to conduct our investigations of the January 6 insurrection. This ongoing work has confirmed the need for a Commission by revealing deeper, unanswered questions about how a violent mob could strike at the heart of our republic, why security collapsed in the face of the mob, and why reinforcements took so long to mount a rescue.
I am now asking my colleagues in the Senate to join the House in supporting this essential Commission, which passed the House with bipartisan support.
Protecting the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)
Early this week Michael Hsu, Acting Comptroller of the Currency, announced that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) would reconsider a rule that would significantly weaken the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and leave our most vulnerable communities behind. During his appearance before the Financial Services Committee this week, I commended the Acting Comptroller for this decision.
As part of landmark civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s and 1970s, the CRA was created in response to redlining, a practice by which banks discriminated against prospective customers based primarily on where they lived, or their racial or ethnic background, rather than creditworthiness. The OCC rule which is now under review would weaken the agency’s implementation of the law, which could lead to disinvestment in many low- and moderate-income communities.
You can watch our full exchange here.
Moving Forward with Postal Reform
I’m proud to report that my bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act, which unanimously passed out of the Oversight Committee last week, has strong bipartisan support in the Senate. This week, Chairman Peters and Ranking Member Portman introduced the Senate companion to this bill.
This bipartisan legislation is crucial to help the Postal Service get on a sustainable financial path for the future and ensure that the Postal Service is transparent with Congress and the American people. I look forward to working with Senators Peters and Portman to get this bill signed into law as soon as possible.
Protecting Immigrants & Holding ICE Accountable
Last year, disturbing allegations of detainee mistreatment stemming from a whistleblower complaint – including forced medical procedures and COVID-19 protocol violations – were made regarding the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia, an ICE facility run by LaSalle Corrections. Following these reports, the Committees on Homeland Security and Oversight and Reform launched a joint investigation into these allegations in September 2020. We were stonewalled by LaSalle and ICE, which resulted in the company being subpoenaed by Congress. This week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to sever its ties with the facility.
Homeland Security Chairman Thompson and I are pleased that Secretary Mayorkas took this action. It is yet another sign that he continues to take steps to improve our immigration system, ensuring it is humane and in line with our values. Thankfully, we now have an Administration that is taking allegations of abuse seriously after the previous Administration made it very clear migrant health and safety were not a top priority. It is imperative that we treat those in our care humanely and make sure we have proper safeguards in place to protect them. Our investigation into this facility will remain ongoing.
Addressing the Backlog of Veteran’s Records
On Thursday, I was joined by my colleagues in sending a letter to Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III asking him to prioritize a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) request for assistance with addressing the backlog of veterans’ records requests at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC).
As we wrote in our letter, “Veterans and their families depend on timely access to personnel records in order to receive life-saving medical care, emergency housing assistance, proper military burials, and other vital benefits earned through service to our country. We urge DOD to support the NPRC’s work and to ensure that we uphold our solemn pledge to care for our nation’s veterans.”
Read the full letter from me, Oversight Committee Ranking Member Comer; Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Connolly and Ranking Member Hice; National Security Subcommittee Chairman Lynch and Ranking Member Grothman; House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Takano and Ranking Member Bost; Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Chairman Levin; and Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee Chairwoman Luria here.
NO CORRUPTION Act
On Thursday, I joined with Congressman Ralph Norman to introduce H.R.3327, the No Congressionally Obligated Recurring Revenue Used as Pensions To Incarcerated Officials Now (NO CORRUPTION) Act. This is a bipartisan, simple, and common-sense measure that prevents the payment of pension benefits to former Members of Congress who have been convicted of crimes and are awaiting criminal sentencing. This legislation closes a door on potential abuse of taxpayer funds, and I am proud to support it.
Under current law, if a pension-eligible Member of Congress is convicted of certain crimes, they are still eligible to receive that pension while their conviction is being appealed, which could drag on for years. The No CORRUPTION Act would mandate that Members found guilty of these crimes immediately become ineligible to collect any pension payments earned while serving as a Member of Congress. This would apply upon initial conviction, not years down the road after the appeals process is exhausted.
Snapshot from NY-12
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.