Wrapping Up the Legislative Year
This week was a busy one, starting with an incredibly moving ceremony in New York during which our 9/11 heroes – first responders, survivors, and families – were honored for their tireless work in ensuring the permanent reauthorization and funding of the World Trade Center Health Program and 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.
As the House wrapped our business for 2019 this week, we impeached President Trump, passed a spending bill with important wins for NY and gun safety, and voted to reinstate the State and Local Tax (SALT) tax deduction for hardworking families. The Senate passed my bill to reauthorize the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, and I introduced a bill to bring family and medical leave that is guaranteed under the FMLA into the 21st century.
More on all this below.
Honoring Our 9/11 Heroes
On Monday, I had the privilege of joining with the Mayor and elected officials to recognize the incredible men and women who embody what it means when we say we will “Never Forget” September 11th. Over the last 18 years, I have worked with these inspiring first responders, survivors, and families to make permanent the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. It has been the honor of my life to work with them and to have been recognized alongside them by the City with the Bronze Medallion.
Impeaching President Trump
Watch Chairwoman Maloney’s floor statement during the impeachment debate.
President Trump abused the power of his office for his own personal and political gain at the expense of our national security. His wholesale obstruction of Congress is unprecedented, indisputable — and impeachable. He left us no other choice but to impeach him.
President Trump is the first President in history to openly and completely defy all aspects of the Constitutional impeachment process.
In an attempt to cover up his abuse of power, he ordered the entire Executive Branch not to participate in the inquiry and directed it to defy lawful subpoenas from Congress.
As Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I find this obstruction particularly offensive. Our founding fathers established a system of checks and balances. They spread out power between the branches of government. They decided that no one would be a king. That no one is above the law — including the President.
And they gave the responsibility of impeachment solely to the People’s House. When President Trump defies our subpoenas and obstructs our impeachment inquiry, he seeks to place himself above the Constitution and above the law. We cannot let that stand.
It was our solemn duty under the Constitution to impeach President Trump for his blatant abuse of power and his obstruction of Congress and I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will look at the facts – which are overwhelming and undisputed – and vote accordingly.
Important Wins in the Domestic Spending Bill
Included in the domestic spending bill that the House and Senate passed this week, was the reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program and $25 million for gun violence research.
The magnitude and importance of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act cannot be overstated – which is why it garners bipartisan and bicameral support. Cities like New York City need TRIA to keep our economies thriving. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the market for terrorism insurance completely shut down. Without terrorism insurance, construction stopped and thousands of jobs were lost. But, with TRIA, the government provides a backstop for terrorism insurance to make it both available and affordable at no cost whatsoever to taxpayers. This program is working and reauthorizing it now, well ahead of its expiration in 2020, is the right thing to do.
For years, I have been working with Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts to fund federal gun violence research. And this week, for the first time since an appropriations rider called the Dickey Amendment was put on the books in 1996, Congress approved federal funding for the study of gun violence. Gun violence is a public health epidemic, and it should be studied just like any other health crisis – by our government’s top researchers. While my bill with Sen. Markey would have authorized $50 million for this research, the $25 million we got is an important first step. Studying gun violence is key in helping us to address an epidemic that takes 100 lives a day. We need to do everything we can to address preventable gun violence.
Bringing Back the SALT Deduction
Watch Congresswoman Maloney’s floor statement on H.R. 5377 here.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, also known as the GOP Tax Scam, that the Republicans passed last Congress is hurting people - plain and simple. It is punishing cities and states like New York because we take care of our own.
I was proud to vote with my colleagues to pass the bipartisan H.R. 5377, the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act, yesterday to restore the State And Local Tax (SALT) deduction for middle class families.
Reducing the DNA Testing Backlog
This week, the Senate unanimously passed my bill, H.R. 777, to reauthorize the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Program which provides much-needed resources to law enforcement agencies to process untested DNA evidence – including rape kits. I first wrote and passed the Debbie Smith Act in 2004 after hearing testimony from the bill’s namesake, Debbie Smith, that it took 6 years for her rape kit to be tested. That was unacceptable. This successful program keeps rapists and other criminals off the streets. And equally important, the program is instrumental in delivering some measure of justice to survivors of violence. I urge the President to sign this reauthorization bill immediately.
Bringing FMLA into the 21st Century
It is unacceptable that some American workers are still forced to choose between caring for their loved ones or losing their jobs. Even under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 40% of the work force is still ineligible for FMLA leave – it’s time to bring leave into the 21st century.
That is why on Tuesday, I reintroduced the FMLA Modernization Act with U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin. This bill reflects that families – and caregiving – come in all shapes and sizes. Our bill would update the FMLA’s definition of family to include a domestic partner, parent-in-law, aunt, uncle, sibling, adult child, grandparent, grandchild, son- or daughter-in-law, and other significant relationships; and guarantee that parents and other family caregivers have the ability to take time off to attend a medical appointment or school function, such as a parent-teacher conference, without the risk of losing their job.
These changes are long overdue.
As always, your concerns still and always will remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.
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Carolyn B. Maloney
Member of Congress