Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Delta's String of Broken Promises Continues

June 7, 2013
Enewsletters

Dear Friend, 

This week Delta Air Lines announced that it will be cutting more flights at Memphis International Airport.  This decision by Delta puts the flying public at a disadvantage and continues Delta’s string of broken promises to our city.

Delta Air Lines Cutting More Flights
Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests
Win a Ticket to Frederick Douglass Statue Unveiling
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act

Homeland Security Appropriations Act
Remembering Senator Frank Lautenberg
South Memphis Alliance
Affordable Care Act Highlight: Patient Bill of Rights
Grant Announcements


Delta Air Lines Cutting More Flights

Delta Air Lines’ string of broken promises is continuing with yet another announcement by the airline to cut more flights at Memphis International Airport, taking effect in September.  Delta plans to reduce its daily departures from 94 to 60. Last year, Delta announced it would no longer continue summer service of the Memphis to Amsterdam flight.  I am extremely disappointed and disheartened by Delta’s decision to cut more flights.

In 2008, Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in a Congressional hearing that the Delta/Northwest merger would not impact flights in and out of Memphis and even hinted at the addition of a possible Paris flight.  He said that the merger was about addition, not subtraction. Now we are no longer a hub, have zero regular international flights, and have only 60 domestic flights on Delta.  This decision by Delta puts the flying public at a disadvantage.  I am also concerned for the employees who will lose their jobs and the concessioners who will suffer from decreased sales and possible closure.

Racial Disparities in Marijuana Arrests

A new national report conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on racial disparities in marijuana arrests across the country -- and specifically in Shelby County which had one of the highest percentage of black arrests -- is proof positive current policies toward marijuana must be reformed.  In Shelby County, 83.2 percent of people arrested for marijuana possession were black, which far exceeds the number of white arrests.  Tennessee ranked 15th in the number of total arrests for marijuana possession, with 18,031 people taken into custody for the offense in 2010, costing the state nearly $43 million.  African-Americans in Tennessee are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people despite relatively similar rates of use, according to the nationwide study. 

The racial disparity in Tennessee’s marijuana arrests was higher than the national figure, which showed black people in America are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for having pot than white people.  Despite making up only 16.8 percent of the population, black people accounted for 45.8 percent of those arrests.  The ACLU findings are alarming and must be addressed.  Regardless of your views on marijuana, it’s important that we understand the impact of current federal marijuana policy and address racial disparities in marijuana arrests.  We must also examine the conflict with those state laws that allow for medicinal or personal use of marijuana.  A national commission that I am working to establish would provide us with the information we need to create sensible policy going forward.

Win a Ticket to Frederick Douglass Statue Unveiling

On June 19, a Congressional Ceremony commemorating the dedication of the statue of Frederick Douglass will take place in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.  I recently learned that I may take a guest to the dedication.  While it is short notice to make travel plans, I wanted to give a constituent of the 9th Congressional District the opportunity to attend the ceremony. 

If you are a District 9 resident and will already be in Washington, D.C. on June 19, please email your name (as it appears on a government photo ID), address and phone number to Patrick Cassidy at Patrick.Cassidy@mail.house.gov with “Frederick Douglass Dedication” in the email subject line.

Those who do not have email access should call Patrick at 202.225.3265 to provide the necessary information.  Please send the information to our office no later than 11 a.m. CT on Friday, June 14.  A drawing will be conducted on the afternoon of June 14, at which point the ticket recipient will be notified via phone and/or email.  I look forward to sharing the unveiling of Frederick Douglass’s statue with one of my constituents.

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act
This week I voted in support of the 2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act which would continue our commitment to caring for the men and women who served in uniform and provide resources necessary for maintenance and construction of military facilities.  This legislation mandates tangible steps from the Department of Veterans Affairs to finally eliminate the shameful disability claims backlog and develop an integrated health records system with the Department of Defense.

Homeland Security Appropriations Act
This week I voted against the Fiscal Year 2014 Homeland Security Appropriations Act.  The discretionary funding level in this bill, which was reported by committee with bipartisan support, is close to the President’s request.  However, the overall Republican budget framework is drastically inadequate – leaving in place sequestration cuts and slashing investments for FY 2014 by $91 billion below the agreed-upon caps in the Budget Control Act of 2011. Also, a terrible amendment by Congressman Steve King prevented me from supporting this bill. 

While this damaging amendment has been offered in the past, the amendment would restrict the use of funds to finalize, implement, enforce or administer the Memo authorizing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DREAM Act-eligible youth. These young children are Americans in every way but a piece of paper. They are students, brought here as minors through no fault of their own, who simply desire to educate themselves and contribute to the country that is their home.

In cities across the country, hundreds of thousands have come forward to submit themselves to a full review and background check by the Department of Homeland Security in order to receive a work permit and two year protection from deportation. They are not eligible for any public benefits or means tested programs, nor are they provided any permanent legal status.  The King Amendment would also restrict funds to carry out the Morton Memo, which directs immigration enforcement officers to prioritize dangerous criminals for removal instead of spending scarce resources prosecuting and removing low-priority immigrants who are working and raising families.

United States service members, who risk their lives to defend our country and our freedoms, have spouses who are undocumented. Four million U.S. citizen children have an undocumented parent who is at risk of deportation. In a time of tightening budgets, the federal government should not be spending money hunting down and deporting these types of low-priority individuals. Our enforcement officers should rightly focus their time and resources pursuing criminals who present a threat to our communities and our nation.

Remembering Senator Frank Lautenberg
This week the Senate lost a giant.  Senator Frank Lautenberg dedicated his life to helping working families reach for the American Dream.  He was the longest-serving Senator in New Jersey history and was the last remaining World War II veteran in the Senate.  A proud son of hard-working immigrants, Senator Lautenberg rose from humble beginnings to meet success in the private and public sectors. 

He was instrumental in banning smoking on airplanes, increasing the drinking age to 21, and modernizing the G.I. Bill to ensure today’s veterans can benefit from the same opportunities he received as a World War II veteran.  Senator Lautenberg was kind to me from the very first time we met in 2007 during my freshman term in the House.  He was an engaging, kind-hearted man who said what he meant and fought for what he believed in. I will miss his friendship and America will miss his service. Please join me in keeping Senator Frank Lautenberg and his family in our thoughts and prayers.

South Memphis Alliance
In January 2000, after working for nearly 10 years within his neighborhood association, Reginald Milton decided to dedicate his life to community organizing.  He founded South Memphis Alliance (SMA) to work with other urban communities and help them start their own civic organizations.  Providing hope for a future in South Memphis, SMA works to improve the health, knowledge and stability of young people, families and communities through social services, advocacy and mentoring.  Click here to learn more about this important organization.

Affordable Care Act Highlight: Patient Bill of Rights
The Affordable Care Act puts consumers back in charge of their health care. Under the law, a new “Patient’s Bill of Rights” gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed choices about their health. The Patient’s Bill of Rights provides coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions; protects your choice of doctors; and keeps young adults covered, among other things. Click here to learn more.

Grant Announcements
I regularly 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 regularly on my website.

Wishing you a happy and safe weekend,

As always, I remain,

Most sincerely,

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress