Week of March 30 – House Passes Bad Budget and Transportation Bill / Trayvon Martin Shooting
This week I joined Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornell West on their radio program to talk about the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the legacy of Dr. King, the Affordable Care Act, and guns in America. I also attended a forum on racial profiling and hate crimes, where I met the parents of Trayvon Martin, to whom I offered my condolences on the unnecessary and apparently unjustified death of their son.
Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West
Trayvon Martin Shooting
Federal Budget for Fiscal Year 2013
Real Men Wear Purple
Herb Kosten Pancreatic Cancer Run at Shelby Farms
James Cameron’s Historic Deep Sea Dive
Federal Procurement Center Grand Opening
“Together for Tomorrow” Town Hall
Infant Mortality Forum
FEMA National Youth Preparedness Council
Free Photo Identification
On Tuesday I spoke with Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West on their radio program, Smiley and West. We spoke for a half hour about a host of issues, including the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the Affordable Care Act, and guns in America. The show will be broadcast in Memphis at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon on WYPL 89.3 FM.
Last Friday I was a guest on Politics Nation with Rev. Al Sharpton to speak about the killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. I am deeply disturbed by the incident, not only because of the loss of life, but because the justice system still treats African-American males, whether victim or suspect, very differently. We may never know exactly what happened that day because the Sanford Police missed the opportunity to collect forensic evidence, but based on the 911 tapes and what has been reported in the media, I believe Trayvon’s killing may constitute a hate crime under federal law. You can watch my conversation with Rev. Sharpton by clicking here.
I have joined my friend Representative John Conyers and several of my other colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee in asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the shooting of Trayvon Martin and determine if the shooter committed a hate crime. On one of the 911 tapes he can be heard using a racial epithet, and his neighbors describe him as being “focused on young, black males.” You can read our letter to Attorney General Holder here (PDF).
On Tuesday, I joined John Conyers and several of my Democratic colleagues at a forum on racial profiling and hate crimes, where I met Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, the parents of Trayvon Martin. I told them that I grieved with them and offered my condolences on the loss of their son. I was very impressed with the graciousness of the Martin family who, even as they grieve for their son’s death, must struggle to get justice for Trayvon. Trayvon Martin’s death is a human tragedy and it appears to be a case of racial profiling. As the news has been slowly coming out about the detective who wanted to prosecute the shooter, as well as the video of the shooter being transported to and then arriving at the police station with no visible signs of injury, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that a timely arrest was warranted.
This week the House debated and voted on the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, the ninth extension of the expired surface transportation authorization. I voted against the extension because it ‘kicks the can down the road’ for another 90 days, leaving state transportation officials uncertain about whether or not they can move forward with federally-funded road and highway projects.
Historically, both Chambers and both sides of the aisle have always been able to work together to develop solutions that address our transportation needs. In that vein, the Senate has developed a reauthorization package that passed with significant bipartisan support. While not perfect, I support the Senate bill and encourage my counterparts in the House to let us vote on this bill. Our country cannot afford more short extensions or another government shutdown that would put nearly 130,000 highway projects at risk.
This week the House passed the Republican Fiscal Year 2013 Budget resolution, which will end the Medicare guarantee, stall the economic recovery, and reduce federal revenues without doing anything to reduce the long-term deficit.
I opposed this budget resolution because it would pay for tax breaks to people who don’t need them by cutting services for people who can’t afford to lose them: seniors, students, and working people who are struggling to remain part of the middle class. The nation’s budget is a reflection of our values and aspirations. I supported alternative budget proposals offered by my Democratic colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, the Progressive Caucus, and in the larger Democratic Caucus which are fair, responsible, and better embody the spirit of this great nation.
Last Saturday I spoke at the Walking Into a New Life “Real Men Wear Purple” event at the Greater Faith Tabernacle about the role men have in reducing domestic violence against women. Young men and boys who witness domestic violence at home are twice as likely to abuse their partners and children when they become adults. I am grateful to Joyce Parkinson for inviting me to speak about this critically important issue. You can learn more about the Real Men Wear Purple program by clicking here.
Last Sunday I spoke at the Herb Kosten Pancreatic Cancer Run Benefit at Shelby Farms. The Kosten Foundation works to raise awareness and provide a support network for people afflicted with pancreatic cancer and their families, and it also funds clinical research and training for future pancreatic surgeons. I lost at least four friends to pancreatic cancer, which is sometimes called a “silent killer” because it does not produce symptoms in the early stages, is usually diagnosed in the late stages, and therefore has a very low survival rate. You can click here to learn more about the Foundation.
James Cameron, the filmmaker who created films like Avatar, the Aliens trilogy, and The Abyss, recently became only the third person in history to descend to the Mariana Trench, the lowest point on earth, collecting a wealth of information that will advance scientific understanding. I congratulated Mr. Cameron on his historic achievement on the House floor on Tuesday, which you can watch here. You can read more about his historic journey under the sea by clicking here.
On Tuesday I spoke at the grand opening of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Federal Procurement Center in Washington, D.C. MBDA Procurement Centers help minority-owned businesses find and access contract opportunities with the federal government and help connect small businesses with federal agencies and other companies for partnership opportunities. MBDA Procurement Centers are valuable resources to the communities they serve and I’ve been working hard since I came to Congress to get an MBDA Business Center located in Memphis.
On Thursday, April 12, I will be hosting and speaking at a town hall on education at Westside High School that is also hosted by the Department of Education, the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The town hall is part of the Together for Tomorrow initiative, a national effort to focus attention on ways we can improve relationships between schools, communities, and service organizations and help improve some of our most troubled schools. You can register for the town hall by clicking here.
Next Saturday, April 14, I will be hosting a forum on infant mortality from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the Hollywood Community Center, located at 1560 North Hollywood Street in Memphis. Joining me will be Acting Director of HHS Office of Minority Health Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, best-selling author Tonya Lewis Lee, the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood and Youth Administrator Keisha Walker, Dr. Ramasubbareddy Dhanireddy Leader of the MED’s Newborn Center, and a local peer educator from the “Health Baby Begins With You” Campaign. Space is limited, so I urge you to reserve a seat early. You can RSVP by calling my District Office at (901) 544-4131.
FEMA is looking for young people aged 12-17 to join the National Youth Preparedness Council, where they will learn how to prepare themselves and their families for a natural or man-made disaster. Studies have shown that families with children who bring disaster preparedness materials home with them from school are the most likely to prepare for emergencies. This program gives young people a chance to take on leadership roles early in their lives, and it also gives them the confidence they need to handle a crisis. If you know someone who might be interested, you can learn about the requirements and the nominating process by clicking here.
Shelby County driver service centers are no longer open on Saturday, but if you or someone you know still needs a photo ID for voting purposes you don’t have to wait in line. If you only need to get an ID for voting purposes, you can still visit any driver’s license renewal station in Shelby County during regular business hours and there is a special line to serve your needs. To learn more about the new voter ID laws, visit my website here. Also, Veterans who need ID can get free government-issued photo IDs at the Veterans Administration.
Each week I release a list of grant announcements from federal agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, and others. These federal funding opportunities are available to faith-based and neighborhood associations, nonprofits and other community organizations in the 9th district. The announcements are updated weekly on my website.
Wishing you a happy and safe weekend,
As always, I remain,
Member of Congress