Advancing Critical Elements of the Build Back Better Infrastructure Bill
This week, the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held mark-ups, both over 15 hours, on critical elements of the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill that we expect the House to pass later this month. Also, today is Constitution Day, the 234th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, setting our country on a path to a more perfect union. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to speak remotely to seniors in Mr. Scott Stephens’ Honors Government class at the Compass Midtown Charter High School, and we discussed the Constitution and my role as their Congressman. I also re-introduced the Reducing Obesity in Youth Act; wrote Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin about the status of Afghan aircraft flown out of that country when the Taliban took over; announced a $22.2 million de-icing grant for Memphis International Airport; announced a significant childcare grant to Southwest Tennessee Community College; announced a sizable grant to combat youth homelessness; expressed concern about the right-wing demonstrators descending on Washington, D.C., on Saturday; and offered a health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
As a senior member of both the Judiciary Committee and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I participated in each Committee’s mark up of critical sections of the proposed $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill and voted to advance the bill to the House floor, where it is expected to pass later this month. The bill is a once-in-a-generation, 10-year investment in the social safety net. Both committee sessions went past midnight and involved debate on amendments proposed by Republicans. I spoke against one amendment that would have allowed certain U.S. Justice Department grantees to ignore President Biden’s coronavirus vaccination requirement and shared my experience of not getting the polio vaccine in 1954, then contracting the ailment that has affected me to this day. See my speech urging all to get vaccinated here.
Independence Hall, Philadelphia
Today is Constitution Day, the 234th anniversary of the signing of our country’s founding document in Philadelphia. As Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, it is my honor to protect and propose improvements to our national charter. See my statement on the anniversary here.
Congressman Cohen with Compass Midtown students
On Wednesday, I spoke by video feed to the 51 seniors in teacher Scott Stephens’ Honors Government classes at Compass Midtown Charter High School. It was a lively discussion in which students asked about my career serving on the Shelby County Commission, creating the Tennessee State Lottery and the Hope Scholarship as a state senator and what my current duties are in Congress. We also talked about my experience being in the House Gallery during the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. “It was amazing,” Stephens said afterwards. “There was a real connection. They didn’t want him to go. If he’d have been here in person, he might still be here.”
On Tuesday, I re-introduced the Reducing Obesity in Youth Act. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced companion legislation in the Senate. I have long been concerned with Memphis’ and Tennessee’s childhood obesity rate. The measure would create incentives to encourage good eating habits and physical exercise. See my release here.
After reading reports that some Afghan pilots flew their aircraft out of the country as the Taliban took over their country, I led a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin inquiring about the status of the planes and helicopters supplied by the United States. I think they should be returned to U.S. ownership. See our letter here.
On Thursday, I announced a $22.2 million grant from the Department of Transportation for the ongoing construction of de-icing pads at Memphis International Airport. See that release here.
On Monday, I announced a Department of Education grant for campus-based childcare services at Southwest Tennessee Community College. Access to childcare is often the difference between a student being able to complete his or her course of study, and not. See my release here. Also this week, I announced an HIV prevention grant to the Tri-State Community Health Center from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and National Institutes of Health grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
On Thursday, I also announced a $3.4 million grant to the Community Alliance for the Homeless to address youth homelessness from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. See that release here.
The fencing has gone up again around the U.S. Capitol and surrounding structures in anticipation of another potentially violent mob Saturday in our nation’s capital – this time to protest the arrests of the Trump-crazed January 6 insurrectionists. It is my hope that this protest will be peaceful.
The coronavirus spreading in our region is still at a dangerously high rate, as is the fearful death count. Please avail yourself of the many opportunities in Shelby County to get a vaccine as soon as possible.
Vaccines are currently available for everyone 12 and older. If you need a ride to a vaccination site, you can call 901-RIDE901 (901-743-3901) to coordinate the best transportation option for you. The City of Memphis is also now coordinating with organizations, congregations, community groups, and businesses to host coronavirus vaccinations. The Pipkin Building at the old Mid-South Fairgrounds is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. No appointments needed. To find the latest information about vaccination sites, to request a vaccination appointment for a homebound individual, or to set up a community coronavirus vaccination event, visit https://covid19.memphistn.gov/.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence , promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” – Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, signed on this date in 1787 at Philadelphia.
As always, I remain.