Economy and Jobs

Generating jobs and strengthening the economy is one of Congressman Cohen’s top priorities in Congress. Some of the efforts that Congressman Cohen has made to bring much needed economic revitalization to Memphis include:

Economic Development

  • Congressman Cohen helped to secure the $71.2 million Department of Transportation grant for the Lamar Avenue redevelopment project, an effort that has been a top priority for Congressman Cohen since he was elected to federal office. The project includes major roadway repairs and capacity upgrades to Lamar Avenue, a regionally and nationally important intermodal freight corridor and will facilitate truck traffic in and out of the BNSF intermodal freight facility, creating efficiencies in the movement of goods and bring jobs and economic growth to Memphis.
     
  • Congressman Cohen helped Memphis secure a $30 million federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhood program to redevelop Foote Homes and bring much needed revitalization to Memphis.
     
  • Congressman Cohen helped Memphis acquire a $15 million TIGER grant for the Main to Main pedestrian and bike path project across the Harahan Bridge and other improvements to downtown Memphis infrastructure.
     
  • Congressman Cohen helped Memphis-Shelby County Airport to be selected as one of ten federal test sites for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (drones), a program overseen by the Department of Transportation that will increase the stature of Memphis as a center for this cutting-edge technology and burgeoning industry, ultimately bringing jobs and positive economic growth to the region.  
     

Economic Empowerment

  • Congressman Cohen fought for years to secure funding for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center in Memphis that led to a three year $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) in 2012. The MBDA is the only federal agency created specifically to foster the establishment and growth of minority-owned businesses in America.
     
  • Congressman Cohen introduced the Supermarket Tax Credit for Underserved Areas to provide tax incentives for the establishment of supermarkets in food deserts. The bill increases the work employment tax credit to hire disadvantaged youth, community residents and veterans and also provides a credit of sales for fresh fruit and vegetables from local community gardens.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act to strengthen the Equal Pay Act by providing effective remedies to women who are not being paid equal wages for doing equal work and protecting employees from retaliation for sharing salary information with their coworkers.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Credit Access and Inclusion Act to allow the use of non-financial service providers to provide customers’ on-time payments to credit reporting agencies, including gas, electric, and telecommunications firms and landlords. The bill enables more predictive information of often-credit-invisible consumers to be utilized to establish credit.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Original Living Wage Act. The bill links the federal minimum wage to 15% over the federal poverty threshold for a family of four ($24,600) and increases the minimum wage automatically every four years to ensure that inflation does not diminish purchasing power.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Keep Our Pensions Promises Act to prohibit multiemployer pension plans from reducing retirees’ monthly benefits and safeguard guaranteed benefits to ensure participants from companies that leave multiemployer plans, and subsequently stop paying into them, will continue to receive benefits.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Restoring Overtime Pay Act to support overtime protections and robust wages for working people by pegging the salary threshold to the 40th percentile of wages in the lowest wage census region and requires automatic updates every three years to ensure the threshold remains in-line with overall increases in workers’ wages.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Schedules that Work Act to provide relief to workers facing irregular and unpredictable schedules. It would require that retail, food service, and cleaning employees receive work schedules at least two weeks in advance. Though schedules may later be changed, one hour’s worth of extra pay is required for schedules changed with less than 24 hours’ notice.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to require employers to make reasonable, low-cost, non-disruptive accommodations to employees who have limitations stemming from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
     

Consumer Protection

  • Congressman Cohen introduced the Fair Access to Credit Scores Act to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide all consumers with a free credit score each year. In January 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ordered credit reporting agencies TransUnion and Equifax to pay more than $23.2 million in fines for deceiving consumers about the usefulness and cost of credit scores they bought from credit reporting agencies.
     
  • Congressman Cohen introduced the Equal Employment for All Act along with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to amend the Fair Credit and Reporting Act to prohibit the use of consumer credit checks against prospective and current employees for the purposes of making adverse employment decisions.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored a Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rollback of net neutrality protections.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Comprehensive Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act to make sweeping reforms to safeguard consumers’ personally identifiable information from future attacks similar to the Equifax breach, provide affordable access to credit freezing services, and shorten the time period that adverse credit remains on the record.  
     
  • Congressman Cohen introduced the Tax Return Preparer Accountability Act to give the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) explicit authority to ensure that paid tax preparers are adequately trained and maintain high standards of integrity protect consumers from fraudulent tax preparation businesses.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Protecting Consumers from Unreasonable Credit Rates to establish a maximum Annual Percentage Rate of 36 percent and applies this cap to all open-end and closed-end consumer credit transactions, including mortgages, car loans, credit cards, overdraft loans, car title loans, refund anticipation loans, and payday loans.
     
  • Congressman Cohen cosponsored the Return to Prudent Banking Act to reinstate the Glass Steagall Act to revive the separation between commercial banking and investment banking by increasing federal oversight over large investment banks but maintaining the flexibility of smaller, local community banks.

More on Economy and Jobs

November 20, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today wrote for a third time to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking for clarification of the Treasury Department’s plan to forgive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans despite clear evidence that some were obtained by fraud. In today’s letter, Congressman Cohen urged the Secretary to ensure necessary controls are in place to deliver maximum relief to PPP borrowers while maintaining the government’s ability to prosecute PPP fraud.  

The letter reads in part: 

October 29, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today clarified misleading claims by the Trump White House about the high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate in the third quarter, explaining that the deceptive figure being touted days before the election follows the second quarter GDP’s historic low. Expert opinion predicts real GDP for all of 2020 will be down 4 percent, the worst showing since 1946. 

Congressman Cohen made the following statement: 

October 26, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today wrote to House Democratic leaders asking that they incorporate an increase in coronavirus economic relief funding for cinemas like one recently introduced in the Senate. That measure, the Heroes Small Business Lifeline Act, establishes targeted relief for movie theaters that will save both jobs and the movie industry.

October 6, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today applauded the decision by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to extend by five weeks the deadline for the estimated 9 million people eligible for Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) but who do not file federal income tax returns. Congressman Cohen wrote to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig on September 23 asking the agency to extend the deadline and increase its efforts to reach those eligible for the $1,200 payments  authorized by the CARES Act since March. The deadline has now been extended from October 15 to November 21.

October 1, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) tonight voted for the updated Heroes Act, which contains many of the provisions he has fought hard to have included in the measure addressing our ongoing health and economic catastrophe to protect lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy. The $2.2 trillion measure is a scaled down version of the Heroes Act the House passed on May 15 but which the Senate has so far failed to consider.

Tonight’s vote on passage was 214 to 207.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

October 1, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) went to the House floor this afternoon during the debate on the updated Heroes Act to denounce a provision slipped into the CARES Act passed in March that allowed a tax break to millionaires and billionaires for so-called “pass through” transactions.

October 1, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that Foxmar Inc., doing business as Education and Training Resources, has received a contract to operate the Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center from the U.S. Department of Labor. The Center provides skills training, education and career transition services for 287 students. The contract is valued at $57,486,557 over five years.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

September 28, 2020 Press Release

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) this evening enthusiastically endorsed an updated Heroes Act to address the ongoing health and economic catastrophe with much-needed assistance to protect lives, livelihoods and the life of our democracy. The $2.2 trillion measure is a scaled down version of the Heroes Act the House passed four months ago but which the Senate has failed to consider.

Congressman Cohen made the following statement:

September 28, 2020 Press Release

 

MEMPHIS – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for the second time, asking for clarification of his plan to forgive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans despite clear evidence that some were obtained by fraud. In today’s letter, Congressman Cohen also asked Mnuchin to review coronavirus-related loans to businesses associated with President Trump in light of recent revelations that several businesses with ties to the president received millions of dollars in loans.

His letter reads in part:

September 25, 2020 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today wrote to House Democratic Leaders asking that they include elements of three bills he has cosponsored supporting the entertainment, hospitality and restaurant industries in any new coronavirus relief package.

The letter reads in part: