Calling for Review of Police Investigations of Recent Killings
This week, I called on Congress to address the use of deadly force against African Americans and joined my House Judiciary Committee colleagues in asking the Trump Justice Department to review police investigations of recent killings. I also voted to make vital improvements to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program, extending the forgiveness period in which small businesses may use the loans and increasing flexibility on how the loans can be spent. This will clarify the eligibility criteria for loans made under the SBA program. I also kept you up to date on developments in Washington during the ongoing pandemic; cosponsored a bill ensuring National Guard troops working during this crisis receive the benefits they have earned; expressed my concern that parts of the country are opening too soon based on the best medical guidance; prepared to chair my Subcommittee’s virtual hearing on protecting the right to vote; announced substantial grants to two Memphis community health centers; cosponsored a bill to encourage keeping jobs in the United States; voted to protect the Uyghur minority in Western China; celebrated my birthday in quarantine; and offered a coronavirus-related health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
Calling for Review of Police Investigations of Recent Killings
Voting to Improve Paycheck Protection Program
Keeping Constituents Informed of Developments During Ongoing Pandemic
Cosponsoring National Guard Benefits Bill
Expressing Concern About Reopening Too Soon
Chairing Hearing on Protecting the Right to Vote During Pandemic
Announcing $2.7 Million in Community Health Center Grants
Cosponsoring the Bring Jobs Home Act
Voting for the Uyghur Rights Policy Act
Celebrating My Birthday
Weekly Health Tip
Appearing on "Sorry Not Sorry" with Alyssa Milano
Quote of the Week
On Thursday night, in response to the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, I joined House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and colleagues from the Committee in sending a letter to Attorney General William Barr and the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division demanding an investigation into the handling of these cases. The House Judiciary Committee will also be pursuing additional oversight and legislative action in June to address the series of events involving racially motivated violence and unjust policing practices that have resulted in the deaths of African Americans across the country. I also called on my colleagues to urgently take up two of my bills – H.R. 119, the National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act, and H.R. 125, the Police Training and Independent Review Act – as an important first step in addressing this violence. See our letter to the DOJ here. I also released written and video statements on the situation and advocated legislative solutions. See my statements here and here.
On Thursday, I voted for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act, which makes improvements to the program created in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act enacted in late March. Through this program, the Small Business Administration (SBA) can issue loans to small businesses that will be forgiven if recipient businesses maintain their payrolls. The measure, which passed Thursday on a 417 to 1 vote, gives small businesses more time to use the loans by extending period in which the money must be spent from eight weeks to 24 weeks. It also increases the flexibility of how businesses may use the loans by allowing up to 40 percent of the money to be spent on costs other than payroll. I also voted for the TRUTH Act, which requires the SBA to report to Congress on loan recipients.
I urge my constituents to be aware of nearly daily developments in the federal response to the pandemic by visiting my website, Cohen.House.Gov, for updates. There you will find applications for assistance programs and information about how to contact relevant government agencies, among other useful resources.
Last week, hours after learning that the Trump Administration was considering cutting off most National Guard COVID-19 activations one day short of the threshold for eligibility for certain retirement and educational benefits, I wrote to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper demanding the plan be abandoned. This week, I cosponsored the National Guard COVID-19 Earned Benefits Guarantee Act, introduced by Congressman Jimmy Panetta of California, which will direct the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs to treat a full-time National Guard COVID-19 activation as not shorter than 90 days, thus qualifying these service members for their benefits. We need to show our dedicated service members that we support and appreciate their work, not nickel and dime them.
As I review COVID-19 infection rates each day, and mourn the growing list of more than 100,000 deaths from the disease in less than four months, I remain convinced that the smartest course we can take as a community is to follow expert medical advice and open the country slowly, based on scientific evidence of a declining threat. There is no evidence of a decline in Memphis right now and the percentage of positive tests is increasing. In my weekly conversations with Governor Bill Lee, that has been my consistent message. I’m pleased that Mayors Jim Strickland and Lee Harris endorse this go-slow approach and encourage all who can to stay at home as much as possible.
Next Wednesday, June 3, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, I will preside over a hearing on “Protecting the Right to Vote during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” This will be the Judiciary Committee’s first virtual hearing, with members and witnesses joining online from a variety of locations. The hearing, which will address mail-in ballots, among other issues, is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Central time and will be livestreamed on the Judiciary Committee website: Judiciary.House.Gov.
On Thursday, I announced that Memphis Health Center will be receiving a grant of $1,252,973 and Christ Community Health Service will be receiving a grant of $1,4480,859 from the Department of Health and Human Services. Read my press release here.
On Monday, I joined several of my Congressional colleagues in reintroducing the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would close certain tax incentive loopholes that reward companies for shipping jobs overseas.
On Wednesday, I voted for the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which calls for sanctioning Chinese officials responsible for censoring or detaining Uyghurs in Western China. It passed the House 413 to 1 and passed unanimously in the Senate.
On Sunday, my cat and I celebrated my 71st birthday at home in Memphis. I was very pleased to hear – by phone, email, cards, Facebook messages and Twitter posts – best wishes from many of my loyal friends and supporters.
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.
Earlier this month, I did an interview with my friend the actress Alyssa Milano for her podcast “Sorry Not Sorry.” Ms. Milano was a witness when I chaired the first hearing in decades on the Equal Rights Amendment before the House Justice Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Right and Civil Liberties last year. Listen to the podcast Monday here -- https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/alyssa-milano-sorry-not-sorry/id1460720864 -- or you can find "Alyssa Milano: Sorry Not Sorry" wherever you find podcasts.
"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." – President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.
“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.” – President John F. Kennedy, “Strategy of Peace” Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963.
Today would be President Kennedy’s 103rd birthday.
As always, I remain
Member of Congress