Addressing my constitents' needs during the coronavirus pandemic

May 22, 2020
Enewsletters

Dear Friend,

This week, I continued to address my constituents’ needs during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and sent updates on important elements of the federal response. I also introduced legislation to ensure that passengers whose flights are cancelled by the airlines because of the ongoing crisis, or who cancel their flights because of it, will receive full cash refunds, not vouchers for future travel. I also announced three grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, totaling more than $5.2 million, including one for high priority research on viruses; condemned a Trump Administration plan to end National Guard deployments one day short of service members’ eligibility for federal benefits; held press availabilities and interviews to communicate the latest developments; again demanded the reinstatement of aircraft carrier Captain Brett Crozier; participated in a House Judiciary Committee roundtable discussion about Covid-19 in federal prisons; offered a health tip related to our present crisis; prepared to pass another milestone with my birthday Sunday that I share with the legendary Bob Dylan' and wished everyone a safe Memorial Day Weekend. Keep reading and watch my activities on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages as they happen.

Addressing Constituent Needs During Ongoing Pandemic
Introducing the Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act
Announcing $5.2 Million in Grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Condemning Trump Administration Plan to End National Guard Deployments
Holding Press Availabilities and Interviews to Communicate the Latest
Demanding Reinstatement of U.S.S. Roosevelt Captain Crozier
Participating in House Judiciary Committee Roundtable on Covid-19 in Prisons
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week


Addressing Constituent Needs During Ongoing Pandemic

All week, my staff and I have been monitoring the implementation of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic that I have been returning to Washington to vote for and support. My Congressional web page, Cohen.House.Gov, is regularly updated with information about testing, economic impact payment checks, unemployment benefits, the availability of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments and other useful and important information to get us through this crisis. My Washington and District offices are working remotely to provide you the help you need. Reach out to the Memphis office at (901) 544-4131 or the Washington office at (202) 225-3265, and someone from my staff, or I, will be quickly in touch. My House floor speech last Friday, on the need to repeal a section of the first CARES Act slipped in by Senate Republicans that gives a huge tax break to millionaires and billionaires unrelated to the crisis, has gone viral, generating more than 35.000 “likes” on Twitter, thanks in part to re-Tweets by Representatives Ilhan Omar, Roland Martin and others. See a “Now This” report on my speech here

Introducing the Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act

Earlier today, I introduced the Cash Refunds for Coronavirus Cancellations Act, a bill to ensure that people whose flights are cancelled because of the pandemic, or who cancel reservations because of the threat of Covid-19, receive full cash refunds, not just vouchers for future travel. This is the right policy but not one most airlines are following. See my release about the bill here. Also earlier today, as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s Aviation Subcommittee, I participated in a roundtable discussion with airline industry representatives about the industry’s response to the ongoing crisis. I was among the first to urge airlines to require facemasks on all passengers and crews and persuaded Frontier Airlines to reverse a misguided social distancing policy of charging a fee to permit customers to avoid sitting next to middle-seat passengers.

Announcing $5.2 Million in Grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services made substantial research grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, including a high priority grant Thursday involving viruses. See my releases on these grants here, here and here.

Condemning Trump Administration Plan to End National Guard Deployments

On Tuesday, the press reported that the Trump Administration planned to end the coronavirus-related deployment of 40,000 National Guard service members one day short of the period in which they would be eligible for federal benefits. This decision is characteristic of the Trump Administration’s cruel and petty policies. These dedicated service members are putting their lives at risk by decontaminating nursing homes, setting up emergency field hospitals and testing for infection in states overwhelmed by this pandemic. The Trump Administration’s heartless and uncaring action demonstrates how unappreciative it is of their tremendous sacrifice. Cold and calculating in the most mean-spirited way, this decision must be reversed, especially since it’s unlikely that the need for these National Guard service members’ activities will have ended by June 24. That’s why I wrote to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper Wednesday urging the department to extend the Title 32 deployments for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

Holding Press Availabilities and Interviews to Communicate the Latest

On Sunday, I went on Alex Witt’s program on MSNBC to talk about the Trump Administration’s inadequate response to the pandemic and to endorse President Obama's commencement addresses on the subject. See that interview here. On Tuesday, I held my regular video press availability and had interviews all week with reporters based in Memphis and around the country. I consider it part of my duties to keep my constituents and all Americans aware of fast-evolving developments to help protect our health -- and our democracy.

Demanding Reinstatement of U.S.S. Roosevelt Captain Crozier

I continue to monitor the Navy and White House response to the unjust and cavalier firing of U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier Captain Brett E. Crozier for trying to make his chain of command aware of a serious coronavirus outbreak on his ship. I believe Captain Crozier made the right choice and has suffered the consequences. I object to the way this case has been handled, not just because I have constituents on that ship, but because it’s the right thing to do. Captain Crozier should be reinstated. 

Participating in House Judiciary Committee Roundtable on Covid-19 in Prisons

Earlier today, I joined my House Judiciary Committee colleagues to discuss the humane treatment of our vulnerable prison populations in the era of Covid-19.  Prisons have become a hotbed for the spread of coronavirus.  The Department of Justice should ensure the health and safety of those in federal custody by transferring vulnerable prisoners who can safely be held at home to home confinement. See my questions to the expert witnesses here.

Weekly Health Tip

As I have over the past several weeks, I want to urge my friends to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols for staying safe in this ongoing pandemic: Wash your hands frequently for at least 25 seconds; keep a minimum social distance of six feet from others; wear a face mask when out in public; and avoid being in crowds of more than 10. We will get through this together.

Quote of the Week

I share a birthday on Sunday with the legendary Nobel Prize-winning singer-songwriter-world-changer Bob Dylan. Happy Birthday, Bob.

“Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.”

– Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1963).


I want to wish everyone a healthy and inspiring Memorial Day. Last year, I had the privilege of visiting the Normandy American Cemetery where more than 9,000 of the fallen of the 1944 D-Day invasion were buried 75 years before, and the Luxembourg American Cemetery, where Third Army Commanding General George S. Patton is buried with his troops. Through the years, I have wandered the tombstones of Arlington National Cemetery, where President Kennedy is buried among tens of thousands, and of the Memphis National Cemetery, where Union soldier victims of the Sultana disaster rest, and the West Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery. I ask you to consider them all, and their solemn sacrifices, this weekend.

As always, I remain
Most sincerely,

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Steve Cohen
Member of Congress