Legislative Accomplishments

116th Congress (2019/2020)  

Secured language transferring the operation and maintenance of the Memphis flood control system to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Water Resources Development Act. The bill passed the House on 7/29/20.

Offered two amendments to the FY21 House Agriculture and Interior bills, which were made in order and passed the House on July 24, 2020. One amendment provided $750,000 in funding for the USDA’s Office of Inspector General to complete an audit report of the USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service’s Administration of the Horse Protection Program, Enforcement of the Horse Protection Act, and the Slaughter Horse Transport Program no later than July 31st, 2021. The other amendment required the Bureau of Land Management to utilize $11,000,000 of its Wild Horse and Burro Program budget to implement PZP humane, reversible fertility control to manage wild horse populations.

Sponsored the Police Training and Independent Review Act, where parts of the bill were included in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and passed the House on June 25, 2020.  The bill requires independent investigations and prosecutions of law enforcement officers in cases where one or more of the alleged offenses involves an officer's use of deadly force in the course of carrying out his or her official duties.

Sponsored the National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act, where parts of the bill were included in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and passed the House on June 25, 2020.  The bill would require collection of pertinent information, including statistics on the use of excessive force.

Sponsored the Police CAMERA Act, where parts of the bill were included in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and passed the House on June 25, 2020.  The bill would help state, local and tribal law enforcement purchase body-worn cameras, implement body-worn camera programs, and report to Congress on the impact and effectiveness of the use of body-worn cameras

Sponsored the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Careers Act, which was included in the National Defense Authorization Act and passed the House on July 21, 2020.   The bill would direct the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), in coordination with relevant stakeholders, to develop classifications to categorize and describe AI-related work, identify gaps in the artificial intelligence workforce, and create a metric for measuring criteria and credentials for careers in artificial intelligence.

Sponsored the Horse Transportation Safety Act, which was included in the transportation reauthorization bill, the Moving Forward Act, and passed the House on July 1, 2020. The bill prohibits the transportation of horses in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another.

Sponsored the Complete Streets Act, where parts of the bill were included in the transportation reauthorization bill, the Moving Forward Act, and passed the House on July 1, 2020.  The bill would help states to create a Complete Streets program to provide technical assistance and capital funding for eligible entities within a state to build safe streets projects, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, and bus stops.

Sponsored the School Bus Safety Act, where parts of the bill were included in the transportation reauthorization bill, the Moving Forward Act, and passed the House on July 1, 2020.  The bill would require seat belts on all school buses and promote technologies to help prevent crashes.

Sponsored the Stop Underrides Act, where parts of the bill were included in the transportation reauthorization bill, the Moving Forward Act, and passed the House on July 1, 2020.  The bill aims to prevent deadly truck underride crashes.

Offered 3 amendments to the Moving Forward Act, which passed the House on July 1, 2020The amendments that would authorize the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the inconsistent reporting of alcohol-impaired driving arrest and citation results, direct the Amtrak Working Group to study the reinstatement of dining car service on long-distance routes and sets a date for the establishment of the Committee on Underride Protection.

Sponsored the Fair Access to Credit Scores Act, which was included in the Consumers First Act as an amendment and passed the House on May 5, 2019. This bill would include a free reliable credit score with the free annual credit reports made available to consumers through the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Language from this bill was also included in the Comprehensive CREDIT Act of 2020, which passed the House on January 29, 2020.

Sponsored the Equal Employment for All Act, which was included in the Comprehensive CREDIT Act of 2020 as an amendment and passed the House on January 29, 2020. This bill would prohibit employers from using credit checks to hire or fire employees. Congressman Cohen has been one of the leaders on this issue since 2010 and has introduced the Equal Employment for All Act every Congress.

Offered an amendment to the Comprehensive CREDIT Act of 2020, which passed the House on January 29,2020.  The amendment created a specific time period-- “immediately or within 5 business days”-- for credit reporting agencies to change a consumer’s credit report after consecutive payments have been made on certain private education loans.

Sponsored the National Guard and Reservist Debt Relief Extension Act, which was signed into law on August 23, 2019. This bill ensures that certain members of the National Guard and Reserves who fall on hard economic times after their military service will continue to obtain bankruptcy relief without having to fill out the substantial paperwork required by the so-called "means test" under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. 

Sponsored the Fair Access to Credit Scores Act, which was included in the Consumers First Act as an amendment and passed the House on May 5, 2019. This bill would include a free reliable credit score with the free annual credit reports made available to consumers through the Fair Credit Reporting Act. 

Offered amendments to the appropriations bills to prohibit the use of federal funds at businesses owned by the President. These amendments were included in the Financial Services and General Government; Crime, Justice and Science; and State and Foreign Operations appropriations bills that passed the House. The Emoluments clauses of the Constitution prevents the President from taking payments from foreign sources without the approval of Congress and from receiving federal funds beyond his salary.    

Offered two amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, which were adopted and passed the House on July 12, 2019. The first of these amendments directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to pursue compensation from contactors for the cost of spare parts that were not delivered. The second directs the DoD to conduct a study analyzing the cost growth of major defense acquisition programs over the last fifteen years. 

Sponsored the Protecting Our Students and Taxpayers (POST) Act. This bill would prevent for profit colleges from abusing federal funds,. including the Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill and Department of Defense Tuition Assistance benefits. Language from my bill was included in this Congress’s Higher Education Act reauthorization, the College Affordability Act. 

Guided the Voting Rights Amendments Act through the House of Representatives.  I chaired seven hearings, including a field hearing in Memphis; worked with Chairman Nadler on the final version of the bill and the advocated for its passage on the House Floor.  This bill would reinvigorate the pre-clearance process to ensure that jurisdictions to do not change election rules to suppress voting.  

Chaired the first hearing in decades on H.R. 40, a bill that would create a commission to study reparations for slavery in the United States. 

Chaired the first hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment in 36 years and guided the legislation to revive the amendment through the House Judiciary Committee.  

Hearings in the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: 

The National Emergencies Act of 2019 
History and Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 
Examining the Constitutional Role of the Pardon Power 
Equal Rights Amendment 
Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in the State of Texas [Field Hearing] 
Threats to Reproductive Rights in America 
The Need to Reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund 
H.R. 40 and the Path to Restorative Justice 
Continuing Challenges to the Voting Rights Act Since Shelby County v. Holder 
Discriminatory Barriers to Voting (field hearing in Memphis) 
Evidence of Current and Ongoing Voting Discrimination 
Congressional Authority to Protect Voting Rights After Shelby County v. Holder 
Legislative Proposals to Strengthen the Voting Rights Act  

Hearings in the House Judiciary Committee on matters within the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: 

H.R. 1, the “For the People Act of 2019” 
H.R. 5, the “Equality Act” 
Executive Privilege and Congressional Oversight 
Lessons from the Mueller Report, Part III: “Constitutional Processes for Addressing Presidential Misconduct” 
Presidential Obstruction of Justice and Abuse of Power 
Protecting America from Assault Weapons 

115th Congress (2017/2018)

Pushing Back Against President Trump

Cosponsored the Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act to require the President and Vice President to abide by the same ethics rules as other federal office holders.  It requires the President and Vice President to place their assets in a blind trust or disclose to the Office of Government Ethics and the public when they make a decision impacting their personal assets.

Cosponsored the Presidential Tax Transparency Act to require major political party nominees to publicly disclose their last 3 years of federal tax returns.

Cosponsored the Protecting Our Democracy Act to create a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate foreign interference with the 2016 election.

Cosponsored the Statue of Liberty Values (SOLVE) Act to prohibit the use of federal funds from being used to implement President Trump’s executive order on immigration issued on January 27, 2017.  The order suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, prohibits Syrian refugees indefinitely and bans citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen) from entering the U.S. on any visa category.  The order prioritizes refugee claims by members of a religion that is the minority in the nation from which they are seeking to leave.

Cosponsored the Protecting the National Security Council from Political Interference Act. This bill prohibits staff whose positions are primarily political from being members of the National Security Council, and expresses a sense of Congress that there should be no limit on access to such meetings by the Director of National Intelligence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Opposed cabinet nominees that, in his opinion, are controversial including:  Senator Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General, Rep. Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, and Scott Pruitt for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Opposed the President’s nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court, following the Senate majority’s decision to not conduct a hearing or a vote on President Obama’s March 16, 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.


114th Congress (2015/2016)

Crime & Justice

Congressman Cohen offered an amendment, ultimately enacted into law, to increase funding by $4 million for programs to reduce the rape kit backlog at law enforcement agencies. This amendment built upon a $5 million increase Congressman Cohen secured in 2014, boosting total, nationwide funding to $45 million – a 25% increase.  As a result of the availability of nationwide funding, Memphis received a nearly $2 million federal grant to help reduce its local rape kit backlog.

Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015.  This bipartisan bill reduces mandatory minimums for drug offenses, applies them retroactively to offenders who do not have prior violent felonies, gives judges more flexibility when dealing with offenders with prior misdemeanors, and retroactively applies the disparity reduction between crack and powder cocaine enacted in the Fair Sentencing Act.

Congressman Cohen has cosponsored numerous bills to combat gun violence including: the Background Check Completion Act to close the loophole that allowed the shooter at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC to obtain a gun; the Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2015 to require gun show  operators to undergo a background check, ensure that operators have not lied or concealed information from the national registry, and have verified the identity of every participating gun show vender; and the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 to prohibit the sale of firearms and explosives to those on the terrorist watch list.

Protecting Civil Rights

Congressman Cohen introduced the Police Training and Independent Review Act to create an incentive for states to require independent investigation and prosecution of incidents in which police use of deadly force results in a death or injury.  The bill has been endorsed by the N.A.A.C.P. and the Chicago Tribune.

Congressman Cohen repeatedly asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to open a federal investigation into the shooting death of Darrius Stewart by a Memphis Police officer to determine if any civil rights laws were violated.  A Justice Department investigation is now ongoing.

Congressman Cohen introduced the National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act to press states to collect data in all instances in which police use deadly force and report it to the Department of Justice.

Congressman Cohen introduced the SIMPLE Voting Act of 2015 to ensure polling locations are accessible, appropriately equipped and staffed, and wait times are not excessive. Congressman Cohen has also cosponsored numerous bills to protect voting rights including the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court and make improvements to the underlying law, and the America Votes Act of 2015 to allow voters to provide a sworn, written statement attesting to their identification as a means by which to meet voter identification requirements.

Keeping Memphians Moving

Congressman Cohen served as a member of a House-Senate conference committee to finalize the first multi-year highway bill in a decade. In addition to providing funding for local highway projects like Lamar Ave., the bill, now law, included Congressman Cohen’s amendment to help improve paratransit services like Memphis Area Transit Authority’s MATAplus Service for seniors, veterans and individuals with disabilities.

Economic Empowerment

Congressman Cohen helped secure a $30 million Choice Neighborhood Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to redevelop Foote Homes and revitalize Memphis, invest in schools, public transportation, and job creation. Memphis’ selection as a Choice Neighborhood results from years of Congressman Cohen working closely with the City of Memphis and HUD Secretary Julian Castro.

Congressman Cohen is a cosponsor of the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act to increase the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour by 2020.

Congressman Cohen voted for legislation, now law, to permanently extend the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a federal tax credit for low- and moderate-income working people.  It encourages and rewards work as well allows families with children to keep more of their money.


Congressman Cohen wrote Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julian Castro to request a federal investigation of Goodwill Village, Tulane, and Warren Apartments, following reports of deplorable conditions.  HUD completed a 100% inspection in July and August 2015. Further investigation is ongoing.

Building a Healthier Memphis

Congressman Cohen led the bipartisan efforts of the Tennessee delegation to the U.S. House to get a guarantee $530 million over the next 10 years in disproportionate share hospital (DSH) allotments to help Tennessee’s hospitals and community health centers recoup expenses incurred while caring for those who cannot afford to pay. He also helped enact a $2 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health to boost research for cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

Congressman Cohen introduced the CARERS Act.  This bipartisan bill allows states to set their own medical marijuana policies and allows for greater access to Charlotte’s Web cannabidiol (CBD) to help children with seizures like 3-year-old Memphian Chloe Grauer who was denied this treatment and ultimately passed away.

Congressman Cohen has voted more than 60 times against efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. While the Tennessee legislature’s failure to expand Medicaid coverage has denied full benefits of the law to Memphians, the law has already reduced the number of uninsured in Tennessee and across the country. He also helped block efforts in Congress to eliminate federal funding for women’s health services at Planned Parenthood.

Retirement Security

Congressman Cohen has cosponsored several bills to help protect and enhance Social Security benefits including the Seniors Deserve a Raise Act, the Guaranteed 3% COLA for Seniors Act, and the CPI for Seniors Act to ensure that seniors receive appropriate cost-of-living adjustments. 

Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Keep Our Pensions Promises Act. This bill prohibits trustees of multiemployer pension plans from reducing retirees’ monthly benefits. It would also safeguard promised benefits by creating a new legacy fund that would insure participants from companies that leave multiemployer plans, and subsequently stop paying into them, will continue to receive benefits.


Congressman Cohen successfully offered an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act to allow funds to be used for restorative justice programs to reduce the school-to-prison pipeline.  He also cosponsored the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act to allow students to refinance loans at lower interest rates, and introduced the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Act to ensure that students with private student loans are treated fairly in bankruptcy.


113th Congress (2013/2014)

H.AMDT.717 to H.R. 4660, Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015. Provision included in H.R. 83, Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015.

Signed into law on 12/16/14

This deficit-neutral amendment transfered $5 million in federal funds to a new grant program focused specifically on helping law enforcement agencies and cut through their sexual assault kit backlogs. The additional funding would increase the grant program’s budget by nearly 15%, from $36 million to $41 million, and increase Memphis’ chances of receiving the funding necessary to significantly reduce its rape kit backlog.

H.R.3658, Monuments Men Recognition Act of 2014

Signed into law on 6/9/14

Ensures that the World War II unit known as the "Monuments Men" receives a Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest recognition for distinguished achievements and contributions. Congressman Cohen was one of the lead Democratic cosponsors of this legislation. The Congressman single-handedly secured nearly half the signatures required for its passage in the House and was credited by Representative Kay Granger of Texas, the bill's original sponsor, as the person responsible for the bill’s passage.

Legislation Passed by the House of Representatives:

H.AMDT.853 to H.R.4800, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015

Passed the House on 6/11/14

This amendment adds $3 million in funding to the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children program, which is a pilot program focused on helping provide meals to low income children during summer months when school lunch programs are not in effect.

H.AMDT.1120 to H.R.4984, Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

Passed the House on 7/24/14

This amendment would ensure that student loan borrowers are informed of and adequately understand the risks associated with their loans, including those issued by private lenders with excessively high interest rates and fees. Because of an unjustifiable change to the bankruptcy code made in 2005, student loans from private lenders are no longer treated the same as other types of private debt in bankruptcy proceedings, meaning students can be saddled for life with mountains of fees and loan debt that they have no hope of ever paying off. 

H.R.3086, Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act

Passed the House on 7/15/14

This bipartisan legislation amends the Internet Tax Freedom Act to make permanent the ban on state and local taxation of Internet access and on multiple or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce. Congressman Cohen was one of the lead Democratic cosponsors of this legislation.

H.R.2919, Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act

Passed the House on 5/6/14

This bipartisan legislation would improve government transparency by reinstating the tracking and reporting requirements of certain payments awarded by the federal government to help ensure the American people have access to this important information. Congressman Cohen was a lead Democratic sponsor. 

H.R.4292, Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act

Passed the House on 5/6/14

This bipartisan legislation would remove certain legal barriers and make foreign artwork and artifacts more accessible to the public to view, study and appreciate in American schools and museums while preserving important protections in current law for Holocaust-related claims.

H.AMDT.74 to H.R.3, Northern Route Approval Act

Passed the House on 5/22/13

This amendment requires TransCanada to submit its oil spill response plan and any updates to the plan, to the Governors of each State in which the Keystone XL pipeline operates.

H.AMDT.372 to H.R.2397, Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014

Passed the House on 7/23/13

This amendment reduces funding for the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund by $139 million and applies the savings to the Spending Reduction account.

112th Congress (2011/2012)

H.R. 1067, Surface Transportation Earmark Recession, Savings, and Accountability Act of 2011, provisions included in HR 1473, FY 2011 Continuing Resolution

Signed into law on 4/15/11.

Rescinds funding for outdated earmarks that date back to 1978 from prior surface transportation authorizations.  Many of these projects have been completed or are no longer viable.

H.R. 2192, National Guard and Reservist Debt Relief Extension Act

Signed into law on 12/13/11.

Helps members of the National Guard and Reserve obtain bankruptcy relief if they need it by extending a bankruptcy provision that that enables Guardsmen and Reservists to bypass the ‘means test.’

H.R. 1046, Honor the WISH Act included in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act

Signed into law on 12/31/11.

Removes limitations of who members of the Armed Forces can designate to oversee disposition of remains.

Legislation Passed by the House of Representatives:

H.AMDT. 1401 to H.R. 5856, FY13 Defense Appropriations Bill

Passed the House 7/18/2012.

Reduced the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund by $175 million and applied the savings to the spending reduction account.  

H.R. 1046, Honor the WISH Act included as amendment to HR 1540, the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act

Passed the House 5/26/2011.

Provision requires the Pentagon to initiate a study to examine the effects of expanding the current statute to allow other people, including foster parents, friends or fellow soldiers to be designated.

Legislation passed in Committee:

Amendment to HR3534, Security in Bonding Act of 2011

Passed the Judiciary Committee on 3/20/12.

Added a GAO study to access to the effects of the bill on the ability of disadvantaged business entities to obtain federal contracts.

111th Congress (2009/2010)

H.R. 2765, the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage (SPEECH) Act.

The measure was signed into law by President Obama in August 2010.  The law protects American authors, journalists and publishers from foreign defamation judgments that undermine the First Amendment and American due process standards.

H. Res 18, Honoring the life, achievements, and contributions of Paul Newman, Passed the House on 2/24/2009.

H.R. 2247, the Congressional Review Act Improvement Act.

Eliminates a requirement that federal agencies must submit specified information about a rule to both Houses of Congress before such rule can take effect (thus requiring that the information be submitted to only the Comptroller General).

H. Res 476, Celebrating the 30th anniversary of June as "Black Music Month"
A resolution honoring the contributions of African-American artists to America’s history and culture.

H. Res 260, Supporting efforts to reduce infant mortality in the United StatesExpresses support for efforts to: (1) lower the rate of infant mortality in the United States; and (2) correct the racial disparities in prenatal care to lower that rate.

H.R. 3470, the NEWBORN Act. Included in H.R. 3249, Healthcare Reform bill which passed the House on 11/7/09. Also passed the House on 9/22/10. Addresses the United States’ high rate of infant mortality through the creation of pilot programs across the nation.  These programs would be established in the cities and localities with the highest rates of infant mortality and would be financed through grants given by the Department of Health and Human Services.  Each program will focus on providing at-risk mothers pre-natal care, community outreach, and education about pregnancy and infant mortality.   

110th Congress (2007/2008)

H.Res. 194 , An Apology for the Enslavement and Racial Segregation of African Americans.

On July 29, 2008, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.Res.194, apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans. Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) introduced the resolution on February 22, 2007.  This is the first time that the federal government has ever formally apologized for slavery or racial segregation in United States history.  Congressman Cohen's statement on the passage of H.Res. 194:

I am very proud that my colleagues in the House of Representatives passed our resolution apologizing for slavery and Jim Crow in the United States.  This is a historic moment in the ongoing struggle for civil rights in this country, and I hope that this legislation can serve to open the dialogue on race and equality for all.  Apologies are not empty gestures, but are a necessary first step towards any sort of reconciliation between people. I thank Congressman John Conyers (MI-10), whose assistance in moving this resolution forward was indispensible, for his strong support for this bill.

Congressman Steve Cohen


Watch Congressman Cohen's speech in support of this historic legislation by clicking on the picture above.

H.R. 6146 , Libel Tourism Bill

Congressman Cohen wrote and introduced this legislation to amend U.S. code to prohibit recognition and enforcement of foreign defamation judgments.  On September 26, 2008, the House passed the bill unanimously.  The New York Times wrote an editorial in support of the bill which can be found HERE.

TIH Amendment

In March 2007, Congressman Cohen ammended the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007. The amendment would establish a program to coordinate with state and local governments to minimize the need for toxic inhalation hazardous materials to be routed through our communities. The amendment passed the House by a comfortable margin.

Local officials who were concerned about the transportation of hazardous materials through District 9 approached Congressman Cohen earlier that year.  He heard their concerns and worked to find a bill which would appropriately carry the language needed to guard against potential toxic spill incidents.

H.R. 6986 , the Individual Depositor and Community Bank Protection Act
On Sept. 22, Congressman Cohen introduced this influential legislation which would raise the maximum federal deposit insurance coverage from the FDIC from $100,000 to $200,000.  Leaders in both parties negotiated a similar provision into H.R. 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which was enacted into law Oct. 3, 2008. 

H.RES. 162 , Negro Baseball Leagues Resolution

This resolution introduced by Congressman Cohen recognizes the contributions of the Negro Baseball Leagues and their players.  It passed the House of Representatives unanimously.

H.R. 3385 , Homelessness Task Force Bill

Congressman Cohen introduced this legislation which calls on Congress to establish a bipartisan task force to examine homelessness in the United States and make recommendations to alleviate its causes and effects.  With 27 cosponsors, it has been referred to committee and will be taken up in the 111th Congress.

H.R. 4158 , the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System Act

Congressman Cohen introduced this legislation which would consolidate the authorization of the National Urban Search and Rescue program and place its authority in one section of the Stafford Act. This will help ensure that the Urban Search and Rescue can competently and proficiently respond to a wide range of natural disasters.

Further, the bill would ensure Urban Search and Rescue Task Force members are given secure uniform workers compensation and tort liability protection under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, which currently provides such protections to activated National Guard and reserve members.  The bill was referred to committee and will be taken up in the 111th Congress.

H.R. 2 , the Fair Minimum Wage Act

This landmark legislation raised the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour as one of the first acts of the 110th Congress.  It had been 10 years since the previous increase in the minimum wage, and this was one of the first acts of the 110th Congress.  Congressman Cohen was an original cosponsor of this bill. 

H.R. 6 , the Energy Independence and Security Act

Among its provisions, this legislation increases research, development, and deployment of clean renewable energy and efficiency technologies. This legislation also included a landmark increase in corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards.  Congressman Cohen was a lead cosponsor of this legislation, and it became law on December 19, 2007.

H.R. 2578 , the Empowerment Zone and Renewal Community Enhancement Act

Congressman Cohen was a lead cosponsor on this legislation introduced by Congressman Artur Davis (AL-07). It extends and expands the benefits for businesses operating in empowerment zones, enterprise communities and renewal communities, and promotes housing choice for low-income families through the HOPE VI grant program which revitalizes severely distressed public housing.

H.R. 2881 , the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act

Congressman Cohen was an original cosponsor of this legislation, which authorizes appropriations for the Federal Aviation Administration for fiscal years 2008 through 2011, to improve aviation safety and capacity, provide stable funding for the national aviation system. The bill also includes provisions for consumer rights, noise abatement, safety issues, flight attendant, air traffic controller and pilot work conditions (passed the House Nov. 20, 2007).

H.R. 5524 , the Reconnecting Homeless Youth Act of 2008

Congressman Cohen was an original cosponsor on this bill which revises requirements for services provided under grants from the Secretary of Health and Human Services for centers for runaway and homeless youth and their families.  The President signed this into law on October 8, 2008.

H.R. 6658 , the Disaster Response, Recovery, and Mitigation Enhancement Act of 2008

This billl requires the president to award financial assistance under the pre-disaster hazard mitigation program on a competitive basis and authorize continuing appropriations for this program through Fiscal Year 2011.  Congressman Cohen was one of the lead cosponsors of this legislation.

H.R. 753 , a bill which redesignates the federal building at 167 North Main Street in Memphis as the "Clifford Davis/Odell Horton Federal Building."

Congressman Cohen wrote this legislation and introduced it in the House of Representatives on January 31, 2007.  It passed unanimously and was signed by the President on May 2, 2007. 

Odell Horton was appointed to the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee by President Jimmy Carter on May 12, 1980, the first black federal judge appointed since Reconstruction. Judge Horton served as chief judge of the district from January 1, 1987 until December 31, 1993.

H.R. 2587 , a bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 555 South 3rd Street Lobby in Memphis, Tennessee, as the "Kenneth T. Whalum, Sr. Post Office Building."

Congressman Cohen wrote this legislation and introduced it in the House of Representatives on June 6, 2007.  It passed unanimously and was signed by the President on October 24, 2007.

Kenneth Whalum died on October 22, 2007, two days before this legislation passed.  He worked for years in the U.S. Postal Service as director of personnel and served two terms on the City Council.  He was best known, however, as the founder and long time pastor of the Olivet Baptist Church, one of the largest congregations in Memphis.

Other Accomplishments

HIDTA, Congressman Cohen helped secure designation for Shelby County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).  This federal designation -- which was made in August 2010 -- will further the development of joint drug control efforts by federal, state, and local law enforcement officers in the region and allow them to benefit from ongoing initiatives.  Congressman Cohen issued a letter to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in April 2010.

U.S. Attorney, Congressman Cohen recommended lifelong Memphian Ed Stanton to President Obama, who then nominated Stanton as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.  Ed Stanton was confirmed by the Senate in August 2010.

Federal Judge, Congressman Cohen recomended Sheryl Lipman to President Obama to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee after convening a diverse and bipartisan screening committee to conduct interviews of nine potential candidates for the position. The President then nominated Lipman and she was confirmed as U.S. District Court Judge in April 2014.

The MED, Congressman Cohen advocated for a provision that addresses Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments to Tennessee that will ensure the state receives federal funding for hospitals like The MED that provide uncompensated care – a battle which dates back to inception of the TennCare program in 1993.

It was a long, difficult road to secure these critical funds in the Affordable Care Act but Congressman Cohen paved the way for their inclusion when he stood up at a Democratic Party meeting and gained the support of President Obama, who now shares Tennesseans' concerns about the funding shortfall.

FDIC, Congressman Cohen authored legislation in 2008 to raise the maximum federal deposit insurance coverage from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from $100,000 to $200,000.  His idea was used and increased to $250,000, and included in the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which became law.

CHIP, Congressman Cohen voted in favor of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 2009, a bill that not only provided health insurance to many of our nation’s needy children, but also included provisions that help The MED.

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board, Congressman Cohen recommended Memphian V. Lynn Evans, CPA, to President Obama, who then nominated Evans to the Board of Directors of the TVA. V. Lynn Evans was confirmed by the Senate in January 2013. In August 2014, President Obama also nominated Ron Walter for the TVA Board after Congressman Cohen recommended the Memphian.

Youth PROMISE Act, Congressman Cohen authored this bill to bring together various stakeholders in the community to address the problem of gang violence.  Everyone from law enforcement and the legal system to schools, faith-based organizations, and mental health organizations would develop a comprehensive strategy for diverting young people who are at risk of joining a gang.

High Speed Rail, Congressman Cohen proposed building a high-speed rail corridor from Little Rock to Memphis that would be a major economic catalyst that has the potential to create jobs, reduce congestion on our roads and bridges, curb our reliance on fossil fuels, and improve our environment.  He worked to amend the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act to include a feasibility study on the South Central High-Speed Rail Corridor expansion.

$15 Million Main Street to Main Street TIGER Grant, After working for nearly 3 years to secure funding for the Main Street to Main Street Multi-Modal Connector Project, Congressman Cohen announced a nearly $15 million grant for the region’s most ambitious and impressive bicycle/pedestrian project in June 2012.

NIH, Congressman Cohen authored an amendment in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to give the National Institutes of Health (NIH) an additional $10 billion to help fund hospitals like Memphis' St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  The measure was incorporated into the Recovery Package through an amendment put forth by Senator Tom Harkin.  NIH is the primary source of funding for treatments to diseases like cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.


Most Significant State Legislative Accomplishments

2006: Lottery-funded after-school programs, Lottery scholarship awards increased, Felon voting rights reform, Coretta Scott King Memorial Highway, Teen DUI death initiative
2005: Lottery Scholarship expansion & refinement, One of the Principal Ethics Bills of 2005 which included the Prohibition of Lifetime Health Benefits for Interim Legislators, and Cell phone restrictions/learner and graduated drivers
2004: "General Patton Act"/animal cruelty felony, Lottery Education Reform, Wrongful Imprisonment Compensation Act
2003: Tennessee Education Lottery Implementation Law and Scholarship/Education Law
2002: State Lottery Referendum passed with 58%, President Tennessee Student Scholarship Lottery Coalition, Aggravated animal cruelty act, Cultural license plates reform act
2001: State Lottery Referendum, Non-livestock Humane Death Act, Post Conviction DNA Analysis Act, Uniform Athlete Agents Act, & The 2000 Presidential Election Debacle Reform Bill
2000: Graduated Drivers License, T-BO Act (non-economic damages for death of pets), & Emeritus Pay Reform
1999: Naming of the "Albert Gore, Sr. Memorial Interstate Highway System," The Good Samaritan Protection Act, & Elderly Abuse Law
1998: Most Aggravated Drunk Driver Act, 70 MPH Speed Limit, & Cultural/Special License Plate Reform
1997: Music Highway Act, Anti-SLAPP Act, Memphis Sports Authority Funding Act, & Professional Baseball Sales Tax Rebate Act (AutoZone Park)
1995: Toll Free Legislative Line Service, Campaign Finance Reform (co-prime sponsor), Lobbyist Reform Act (co-prime sponsor), State Carjacking Law, Handicapped Parking Citation Law, & Imported Keg Beer Law
1994: Handgun Permit Reform Bill & Women's Restroom Equity Act
1993: Sexual Harassment Act, Used Oil Collection Act, & Bicentennial Beautification Act (interstate wildflowers)
1992: Open Appointments Act & Stalking Law
1991: Reduction of Waste in Government Act, Anti-Skullduggery Act (election reform), & Consumer Telemarketing Protection Act
1990: Civil Rights Act & Finance Registry Act (Ethics)
1989: Volunteer State Investment Fund Act (tax free open-ended bond funds)
1988: Sports Agent Legislation & Hate Crimes Bill
1987: Racing Control Act (Parimutuel referendum), College and Cultural License Plates (Arts funding), Dual Divorce Act, & Private Protective Services Licensing & Regulatory Act
1986: Felon voting rights (1986-96 "Cohen Period")
1984: Created the Tennessee Commission on the Commemoration of the Holocaust

Primary budget proponent for state funding for: The Pyramid, the Memphis Zoo, the Brooks Museum of Art, the Memphis Food Bank, the Orange Mound Senior Care Home, Orange Mound Concerned Citizens Headquarters, Aloyious House, Friends for Life, the Memphis College of Art's Burton Callicott Auditorium, Overton Park/Ted Rust lawn sculpture, the Brannon-McCulloch Primary Health Center, The Blues Foundation, the Center for Southern Folklore, the Blues City Cultural Center and the state student ticket subsidy program for the arts, sponsored legislation which created the environmental license plates and suggested the iris design. Charter form of county government, Hall Income Tax exemptions for elderly and low income, and citations in lieu of arrest for misdemeanants and a plethora of laws facilitating the enjoyment of wine while dining.

Other Political Positions

1980,1992, 2004 & 2008: Delegate to Democratic National Convention; Platform Committee 2000
1984: Shelby County Charter Commission
1988-90: Chair, Shelby County Legislative Delegation
1986: Delegate to American Council of Young Political Leaders, USA/Japan Study Mission
1999: Delegate NCSL/China 1999
2000: Delegation Leader NCSL/Germany
2002: Council of State Governments Executive Committee, 2002
1998-2005: National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Executive Committee Member