Weekly Update: 3-K Info Session on 3/10, Examining the Black Maternal Health Crisis, New Vax Sites in Queens & N. Bklyn
This week, I chaired an Oversight Committee hearing which examined the Black maternal mortality and morbidity crisis. Black Americans experience higher rates of life-threatening complications at every stage of childbirth, from pregnancy to postpartum, and that needs to change.
I’m proud to report that the City heard the people of Astoria Houses, Astoria Houses Residents’ Association President Claudia Coger, and North Brooklyn advocates and we were finally able to bring vaccination sites to the Astoria Houses Senior Center and to St. Nick’s Alliance.
I also introduced the Turkey and Ecumenical Patriarchate Religious Freedom Act, The Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act, and the Financial Transparency Act.
If you missed it, you can read this week’s NY-12 COVID-19 Update here.
Before we take a deeper dive into this week’s updates, I want to invite you to an information session on 3-K in NY-12 with Councilman Ben Kallos and the Department of Education’s Senior Director of Pre-K and 3-K Admissions Juliet Kaye, and Student Enrollment Outreach Specialist Millie Franco. You can RSVP here.
Oversight Hearing - Birthing While Black: Examining America’s Black Maternal Health Crisis
On Thursday, I held a hearing examining the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis experienced by Black birthing people in America. Black Americans experience higher rates of life-threatening complications at every stage of childbirth, from pregnancy to postpartum. Thankfully, Black women leaders in the halls of Congress and across the country have developed policies to systemically shift the way we approach health care for birthing people of color, and promote programs and resources that are proven to reduce the rates of maternal mortality in these communities.
During the hearing, I announced that I am joining with my Committee colleagues and leaders of the Black Maternal Health Caucus to request that the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct three new studies on the state of this public health crisis. Addressing our Black maternal mortality crisis will require a systemic shift in our approach to maternal health care — and targeted, data-driven policies. But right now, we simply don’t have the tools to collect the data we need to inform good policy. You can read more about our request here.
You can read more about the hearing here.
Bringing Vaccine Sites to North Brooklyn and Western Queens
I’m proud to announce a new pop-up vaccination site at the Astoria Houses Senior Center which will be open from Thursday, May 6 until Saturday, May 8 and a new permanent vaccination site at St. Nick’s Alliance which opened today, Friday, May 7.
I have been working with the Mayor’s office to establish COVID-19 vaccination sites at Astoria Houses and in North Brooklyn over the last few months. These communities are home to thousands of New Yorkers, including a significant number of elderly, disabled, and BIPOC residents who, as data have shown, are at higher risk of experiencing severe impacts should they contract COVID-19.
I am thrilled that the City listened to the people of Astoria Houses, Astoria Houses Residents’ Association President Claudia Coger, and North Brooklyn advocates and have now opened these new sites. Vaccine distribution should be easy, accessible, and free for all. Neglecting to place vaccination sites at Astoria Houses and in North Brooklyn was a roadblock to this goal. I’m hopeful that these sites will help drive up vaccination rates in these communities and help to keep these New Yorkers safe and healthy.
$82 Million for New York’s Seniors
The suffering that older New Yorkers have experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has been heartbreaking. The $82 million provided through the American Rescue Plan will help us make sure that we meet the critical health and economic needs of older New Yorkers, including access to vaccines, caregiver support, and mental health resources.
The $81,983,765 in funding provided through the American Rescue Plan for New York’s seniors includes:
Climate Action and Public Housing
At Wednesday’s Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance hearing titled “Built to Last: Examining Housing Resilience in the Face of Climate Change,” I spoke to Chief Climate Strategist at the Natural Resources Defense Council Shelley Poticha about the need to invest in a green future for New York’s public housing.
During our exchange, Ms. Poticha made it clear, “the more that we can connect climate resilience and affordable housing as one issue – that really I think is the place that we should be.”
You can watch our full exchange here.
The Turkey and Ecumenical Patriarchate Religious Freedom Act of 2021
On Friday, I joined with Congressman Gus Bilirakis, my co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, to introduce the bipartisan Turkey and Ecumenical Patriarchate Religious Freedom Act of 2021.
The United States must uphold our commitment to defending religious freedom abroad by holding Turkey accountable for violating the religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Greek Orthodox Christians, and other religious minorities. Without tangible repercussions from the United States, President Erdoğan will continue to operate with impunity and Turkey will maintain its campaign of religious discrimination against Greek Orthodox Christians, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and other religious minorities. As co-founder and co-chair of the Hellenic Caucus, I have long called on the Turkish government to respect the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and reopen the Halki Seminary and this legislation is the action we must take to finally make that happen.
Oversight Hearing: Improving Government Accountability and Transparency
On Monday, I held an Oversight Committee hearing to evaluate legislative reforms to enhance accountability and transparency, improve efficiency, combat waste and fraud, and build public trust in the federal government.
During the hearing, I announced the reintroduction of The Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act of 2021 to strengthen protections for federal employees who expose wrongdoing and we examined The Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act, the Periodically Listing Updates to Management Act (PLUM Act), the Accountability for Acting Officials Act, and the IG Subpoena Authority Act.
You can read more about the hearing here.
Implementing the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act
On Thursday, I was joined by Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations Chair Gerry Connolly in leading all Democratic Members of the subcommittee in sending a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director Shalanda Young requesting immediate implementation guidance to all executive agencies to ensure compliance with the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA).
As we wrote in the letter, "It has been more than two years since Congress enacted the legislation. Because the Trump Administration failed to issue statutorily required guidance to assist agency implementation of the law, federal agency implementation has been inconsistent, creating uneven access to the federal government’s essential information and services. The intent of the 21st Century IDEA was to accelerate digital modernization at agencies to improve how individuals access federal services, and to increase trust in government while driving down the cost of government operations."
Read more here.
Financial Services Committee Hearing with SEC Chair Gensler
On Thursday, during his first appearance before the Financial Services Committee, I asked SEC Chair Gary Gensler for his thoughts on forced arbitration and the need for transparency in our capital markets. During our exchange on forced arbitration, Chair Gensler expressed his agreement that the American people deserve access to the courts. While discussing the need for transparency for investors, Chair Gensler agreed that access to markets for all investors – individuals and big institutions – is critical to fairness and transparency.
Read more here.
The Financial Transparency Act
Earlier this week, I was joined by Congressman Patrick McHenry, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, to introduce our bipartisan Financial Transparency Act. This legislation will finally bring financial reporting and transparency into the 21st Century – making information more easily accessible to both regulators and the public. This bill is a true win-win because it helps investors, businesses, and the government. Read more here.
Snapshot from NY-12
On Saturday, I joined with Senator Schumer, New York State Attorney General Letitia James, the New York Immigration Coalition, and The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) to demand fair immigration reform.
Our immigration system needs to be humane and just. One that reunites immigrant families and creates a commonsense pathway to citizenship for all immigrants – not one that rips families apart, forces people into the shadows, and employs those who disparage individuals who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their children.
As always, your concerns still and always remain my top priority. Please do not hesitate to email me through my website.