Applauding Assembly of Biden Administration Team
This week, I applauded President-elect Biden’s choices for important Biden Administration jobs as the transition to a new administration in January advances. I also expressed frustration at the current President’s obstruction during what should be a smooth transition, endangering our national security and slowing critical preparations for coronavirus vaccinations that may become available in the new year. I also voted to send the National Defense Authorization Act, containing several priorities I sought when the measure passed the House in July, to a joint House-Senate conference committee. I congratulated James Wiseman, Precious Achiuwa, Desmond Bane and Xavier Tillman Sr. on their bright futures with the NBA after Wednesday’s draft. I provided some guidance for those hoping to come to Washington for the Biden inauguration and a link to watch the virtual National Christmas tree lighting this year. I also announced a significant grant to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center for enzyme research. I was saddened to learn of the passing of Memphis Medical District Cooperative’s President Tommy Pacello this week. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
I was pleased to see President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris begin to assemble a respected and experienced team for their Administration as they prepare to take office in January. I’ve worked with many of these dedicated public officials and can see that the new Biden team will be prepared to meet our crucial public health, economic and foreign policy challenges on Day One. I am eager to continue working with them in the important work that confronts us.
President Trump appears to be attempting to wait out the clock with meritless challenges to his electoral defeat. In doing so, he is delaying critical preparations for a vaccination program, compromising national security and impeding a smooth transition to a Biden Administration economic recovery plan. He is apparently using all his remaining time in office on an attack on democracy itself and our votes, which keeps him from working on compromise relief for health care workers, front-line workers, small businesses, restaurants, movie theatres and others devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. I am hopeful those around him can persuade this selfish man to consider the nation’s best interests, step aside when his term ends and let our country move forward.
On Wednesday, I voted for the House to proceed to a House-Senate conference committee on the Mac Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act. The House measure passed in July contains several of my priorities, including language that authorizes a $2 million multi-drone/multi-sensor intelligence program that will be housed at the University of Memphis. My amendments would require a report to clarify which countries have consented to Russian military forces within their borders; a report seeking a General Accountability Office (GAO) study of the school-to-prison pipeline; and an audit requirement detailing Department of Defense financial management. It would also provide relief to private student loan borrowers. While I have not always supported these massive defense measures, it is important to meet real national needs while also making clear we will address the issue of military bases named for those who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and put forth efforts that ensure the military looks more like the United States of America. I will be closely monitoring the negotiations and will vote on the eventual compromise bill with the interests of my constituents in mind.
On Wednesday night, former Memphis Tiger standout James Wiseman went second in the NBA draft to the Golden State Warriors, and Tigers’ power forward Precious Achiuwa was chosen by the Miami Heat. The Grizzlies will be strengthened by their choices of TCU point guard Desmond Bane and Michigan State power forward Xavier Tillman Sr. Both Memphis programs and the NBA have reason to be proud.
My office is beginning to hear from constituents who want to take part in President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugural events in D.C. in January. Right now, inauguration plans are in flux and are likely to be much less elaborate than in prior years because of the ongoing pandemic. Though nothing has been decided, it appears there will be no major activities on the National Mall as there normally would be, or any big inaugural balls for celebrating as in normal years. My best advice is to check in with my inauguration page on my official Congressional website to see updates and guidance as they become available.
This year’s lighting of the National Christmas Tree on the National Ellipse will be virtual because of the ongoing pandemic. To see the livestream, go to TheNationalTree.org on or after December 3. The broadcast will include the 56 trees from all the states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories.
On Tuesday, I announced a significant National Institutes of Health research grant to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. See that release here.
I was saddened this week to learn of the passing of Tommy Pacello, President of the Memphis Medical District Cooperative, who was always dedicated to making Memphis a better place. See my statement to the press here and my statement for The Congressional Record here. He led a fine life and will be missed.
This week, in addition to calling attention to alarming rates of coronavirus spread in Tennessee and the region, I regret to have to make a serious recommendation about the Thanksgiving holiday next week. We all want to continue our traditions during such a difficult year, but public health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warn that family gatherings with those outside of your household could become super-spreader events. Please use every precaution. Thanksgiving will come around again. In the meanwhile, keep yourselves and your loved ones safe.
“I just want to make sure we’re able to be together next Thanksgiving, next Christmas…I would strongly urge -- not just for your sake, but for the sake of your children, your mother, your father, your sisters, your brothers, whoever you get together with for Thanksgiving -- to think about this.” – President-elect Joe Biden on Monday, urging Americans to follow public health protocols at Thanksgiving.
I wish everyone a delightful, and safe Thanksgiving.
As always, I remain.