Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Applauding Decision to Dispense Surplus TANF Funds

November 22, 2019
Enewsletters

Dear Friend,  
This week, following a letter I wrote to Governor Bill Lee demanding to know why Tennessee has withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance for low-income families, the Tennessee Department of Human Services announced plans to begin utilizing some of the money. I also pointed to significant legislative accomplishments made by the House that are stalled in the Senate; voted to send a bill decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level to the House floor; introduced a bill addressing exorbitant aviation fees; called attention to the deadline for signing up for Affordable Care Act health insurance; announced grants to Memphis International Airport and to two Memphis financial institutions; shared information about federal resources available for childcare assistance; offered U.S. Capitol Historical calendars for 2020; and offered a health tip about avoiding catching a cold. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to see more updates as they happen.

Applauding Decision to Dispense Surplus TANF Funds 
Highlighting Accomplishments of the “For the People” Agenda 
Advancing Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana 
Introducing FAIR Fees Act 
Calling Attention to Open Enrollment for Affordable Care Act Health Coverage  
Announcing $6 Million Grant to Memphis International Airport 
Announcing Grants to Memphis Community Development Financial Institutions 
Offering 2020 U.S. Capitol Historical Society Calendars  
Weekly Health Tip 
Quote of the Week  


Applauding State Decision to Dispense Surplus TANF Funds 

 On Tuesday, I learned that the Tennessee Department of Human Services plans to use $390 million of $732 million in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funding withheld for a “rainy day.” Earlier this month I wrote a letter to Governor Bill Lee demanding answers as to why this money had not been used. I had been seeking explanations from Governor Bill Lee, with whom I met last week, about the situation and believe Tuesday’s decision was a small step in the right direction. I remain disappointed that the state will continue to hold a significant amount of this money in reserve, and reminded Governor Lee that every day is a rainy day for those struggling to make ends meet. See my release and my letter to Governor Lee here

Highlighting Accomplishments of the “For the People” Agenda 

Recently, I have heard conservative politicians and pundits falsely claim that the impeachment inquiry has prevented the House from passing legislation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The House has passed nearly 400 bills this year. Over 300 of those -- including 275 bipartisan bills -- are stuck in the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to call them up for a vote. This includes the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and bills to protect people with pre-existing conditions and to lower prescription drug costs. As we are so often reminded these days: the truth matters.  

Advancing Bill Decriminalizing Marijuana 

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On Wednesday, as a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, I voted to advance the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to the House floor. The bill would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, permit those with non-violent marijuana convictions to have their records expunged and fund restorative justice programs in communities of color disproportionately affected by the misguided “War on Drugs.” See my release here. Reforming our marijuana laws has been one of my policy priorities for decades and I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the MORE Act. 

Introducing FAIR Fees Act 

Many of my constituents tell me they are regularly frustrated to learn of exorbitant baggage, cancellation and changing reservation fees tacked on to their airfare for basic aviation services. That’s why I joined my colleagues, Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Illinois and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, in introducing the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act, which would  assure that the fees charged are proportional to the cost of the services provided and protect consumers from abusive pricing practices. See my release here

Calling Attention to Open Enrollment for Affordable Care Act Health Coverage  

Open Enrollment for 2020 Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance coverage began on November 1 and ends December 15, which is closer than you might think. The Trump Administration reduced the open enrollment period by six weeks after taking office and is keeping that limited window of opportunity again this year. I have scheduled a “Congress On Your Corner” today between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 3030 Poplar Avenue, so that my District Office staff and an ACA navigator can help with the process, as well as with questions about other federal agencies and programs. I have also sent letters, emails and newsletter notifications to my constituents to remind you of the deadline. 

Meeting with Federal Aviation Administration Officials 

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On Thursday, I had what I hope was a productive meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration Administration’s Deputy Administrator, Daniel Elwell, and Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation Chairman Rick Larsen of Washington state, to talk about the lethargic pace at which my Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act is being implemented. I serve on the Aviation Subcommittee and made clear to Elwell that the flying public wants to know about how the SEAT Act provisions that became law a year ago are being used to assess the safety of seat sizes and the distances between seats on commercial airliners. I reminded Elwell that his agency regulates the airline industry, not the other way around.  

Announcing $6 Million Grant to Memphis International Airport 

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Earlier today, I announced a $6 million grant to Memphis International Airport for a consolidated de-icing facility. The first phase of construction is currently under way, and the next phase of the project, consisting of 12 de-icing pads and related facilities, is expected to begin early next year and to be completed in 2022. This is a significant investment in the airport and will not only make travel through Memphis more efficient but will also provide good jobs. See my release here

Announcing Grants to Memphis Community Development Financial Institutions 

On Wednesday, I announced that two Memphis community development financial institutions will be receiving grants from the U.S. Treasury Department totaling $500,000. Tri-State Bank of Memphis will receive $275,000 and River City Capital Investment Corporation will receive $225,000. See my release here

Federal Resources Available for Childcare Assistance 

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As your Congressman, one of my top priorities is to ensure that Memphians who work tirelessly to provide a strong foundation for their children have the support they need to be successful. Regardless of whether you are a working parent or a student yourself, it is important to know that the state of Tennessee has resources available for child care assistance.  Eligible parents and guardians may receive support for child care services through Tennessee’s Smart Steps Child Care Payment Assistance Program.  Visit here to see if you are eligible. 

Offering 2020 U.S. Historical Society Calendars  

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My office will have a limited number of 2020 U.S. Capitol Historical Society calendars available. If you would like to receive a calendar, please complete this form on my website. Due to the rules of the House, I am only able to mail calendars to residents of Tennessee’s Ninth District. Please feel free to share this email with other residents of the Ninth District who may be interested in receiving one but who do not receive my e-Newsletter.    

Sign Up for “Congress on Your Corner” and this e-Newsletter     

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I enjoy meeting regularly with constituents in the district and helping get answers for them to questions about dealing with federal agencies. If you are interested in attending one of my “Congress on Your Corner” events, you can sign up here to receive a notification as soon as the next event is scheduled.  

For those who haven’t participated in a telephone town hall, it’s easy to sign up for them by using this form.    

If you would like to receive this weekly e-Newsletter, or share it with others, you can do that with this form.   

Weekly Health Tip 

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Many people sometimes catch a cold, especially as autumn temperatures drop. Here is some good guidance from the centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on avoiding getting and passing on a cold.  

Quotes of the Week  

“I know that members of this committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes.” – Ambassador Gordon D. Sondland at Wednesday’s impeachment inquiry. Frances 

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Photograph taken by Congressman Cohen at Cooper and Union in 1960 

“So, let us not be blind to our differences -- but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” – The June 10, 1963 American University Commencement Address by President John F. Kennedy, assassinated 56 years ago today. 

As always, I remain
Most sincerely,

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Steve Cohen
Member of Congress