Being Sworn in to the New Congress
This week, I was sworn in to start my seventh term representing Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District, this time as part of a new Majority. I also voted to end the Trump shutdown. On the first day of the new session, I also introduced two Constitutional amendments and eight other bills addressing criminal justice, voter protection, high infant mortality rates and medical marijuana. On television, I talked with MSNBC about the continuing government shutdown and the President’s ongoing ethical lapses, offered 2019 Capitol Historical Society calendars and provided health tips about quitting smoking and getting children vaccinated against the flu. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on Twitter and Facebook to see more updates as they happen.
Being Sworn in to the New Congress
Voting to end the Trump shutdown
Introducing Two Constitutional Amendments
Introducing Criminal Justice Reform and Voting Protection Bills
Introducing Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill
Introducing the NEWBORN Act
Talking about the Government Shutdown on MSNBC
Offering U.S. Capitol Historical Society Calendars
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week
Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Cohen before a ceremonial swearing in Thursday.
On Thursday, I was sworn in to start my seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives and joined the 116th Congress as part of the new Majority. I proudly voted for Nancy Pelosi, one of the finest Speakers the nation has ever known, saying on the House floor, “I vote for the lady who will truly make America great again, Nancy Pelosi.” She is the right person to lead the House and to represent the People’s House in negotiations with the White House and the Senate.
Our new Majority’s first order of business is ending the Trump shutdown. We voted to reopen all government agencies for the rest of the fiscal year except for the Department of Homeland Security – with the bipartisan funding levels and language that have advanced in the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. We also voted to fund the Department of Homeland Security’s through February 8th – the same length of time set out in the bill that unanimously passed the Senate two weeks ago – to reopen that department’s agencies while Congress negotiates with the President. The President should stop holding federal workers and taxpayers hostage over a border wall that won’t meet our border security needs.
Also Thursday, as a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, I introduced two Constitutional Amendments. The first would eliminate the Electoral College and provide for the direct election of the President and Vice President of the United States. The second would limit the presidential pardon power by prohibiting presidents from pardoning themselves, members of their families, members of their administrations and their campaign staff.
In 2016, for the fifth time in American history, the winner of the popular vote did not win the presidential election because of the distorting effect of the outdated Electoral College. Hillary Clinton received 2.8 million more votes that Donald Trump, yet Donald Trump is in the White House. Americans expect and deserve the winner of the popular vote to win office.
Once in office, presidents should not pardon themselves, their families, their administration or campaign staff. My constitutional amendment would expressly prohibit this and any future president, from abusing the pardon power. See my release here.
I proudly introduced a package of criminal justice and voter protection bills on the first day of the new Congress:
The Police Training and Independent Review Act
The National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act
The Police Creating Accountability by Making Effective Recording Available (CAMERA) Act
The Fresh Start Act
The John Tanner Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act
The Streamlining and Improving Methods at Polling Locations and Early (SIMPLE) Voting Act
Also on our first day of the new Congress, I joined Congressman Don Young (Alaska-At Large) in introducing the bipartisan Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act. The bill would amend federal law to allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies and permit Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to veterans to treat serious and chronic conditions. See my release on the bill here.
This week, I also introduced the Nationally Enhancing the Wellbeing of Babies through Outreach and Research Now (NEWBORN) Act to help address America’s unacceptably high infant mortality rate with concrete measures. If enacted, the bill would create infant-mortality focused pilot programs in the highest-risk areas of the country to help those areas most in need address this problem. See my release on the measure here.
As I write this, despite our action in the House to reopen the government, the partial government shutdown, caused by President Trump’s insistence on massive spending on a border wall he told taxpayers that Mexico would pay for, has gone on for more than 14 days with no clear end in sight. On Sunday, I talked with MSNBC’s Frances Rivera about the partial shutdown and about the most ethically challenged administration in memory. See that interview here.
My office has a limited number of 2019 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 can mail calendars only to residents of Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District. Please feel free to share this email with other residents of the 9th District who may be interested in receiving one but who do not receive my e-Newsletter.
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In this week when many make New Year’s resolutions to kick bad habits or cultivate good ones, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds us that it is never too late to quit smoking. Leading a healthier lifestyle will result in more energy and other benefits, the CDC says. See its advice on quitting smoking here.
Another tip relates to something I read recently about 13 childhood deaths from influenza this flu season. See the CDC's detailed report on it here. And see the CDC's advice on vaccinating children from the flu here.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York put Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi’s name up for nomination as House Speaker on Thursday, saying, “Nancy Pelosi is a woman of faith, a loving wife, a mother of five, a grandmother of nine, a sophisticated strategist, a legendary legislator, a voice for the voiceless, a defender of the disenfranchised, a powerful, profound, prophetic public servant. And that’s why we stand squarely behind her today.” See his entire nominating speech here.
“Let us declare that we will call upon the bold thinking to address the disparity of income in America – which is at the root of the crisis of confidence felt by so many Americans. As Justice Brandeis said, ‘We may have a democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.’” -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Remarks on Accepting the Gavel as Speaker on Thursday.
As always, I remain
Member of Congress