Chairing a Hearing on the Right to Vote during the Pandemic

June 5, 2020
Enewsletters

Dear Friend,

This week, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, I presided at a hearing on ensuring the right to vote during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Both the subcommittee members and the witnesses were linked by video from remote locations (me from Memphis), and it was livestreamed. The hearing established that voting by mail in November can be done both safely and securely. I also planned to return to Washington next week to work on police accountability issues; applauded the inclusion of several of my highway safety bills in the INVEST in America Act, an ambitious five-year infrastructure bill; announced a significant grant to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for coronavirus research; announced three major grants to the University of Memphis; cautioned my constituents that their economic impact payment from the IRS may be coming in the mail in the form of a debit card rather than a paper check; congratulated the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on a prestigious grant award; announced the winner of this year’s Congressional Art Competition; introduced a bill to create incentives for the construction of affordable housing near mass transit; 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.

Chairing a Hearing on the Right to Vote during the Pandemic
Returning to Washington to Work on Police Accountability
Applauding Inclusion of Priorities in the INVEST in America Act Infrastructure Bill
Announcing $3.6 Million Grant to St. Jude for Coronavirus Research
Cautioning Constituents IRS Economic Impact Payment May Come in the Form of a Debit Card
Announcing Three Research Grants to the University of Memphis
Congratulating the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on an Impressive Award
Revealing the Winner of the 9th District’s Congressional Art Competition
Cosponsoring the Promoting Equitable Transit-Oriented Development and Mobility Corridors Act
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week



Chairing a Hearing on the Right to Vote during the Pandemic

On Wednesday, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, I presided at a hearing on the right to vote during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It was the first-ever remote hearing in the Committee’s history, authorized under House rules enacted last month that permit committee members and witnesses to conduct official business online. In my opening statement, I noted that the hearing was being held not only during an unprecedented health crisis but also as thousands have taken to the streets across the country to protest police violence against the Black community and for increased accountability for police. Witnesses made clear we can hold fair elections by mail, reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission. See my release, including my opening remarks and questioning of witnesses here. On Thursday, Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ruled Tennessee must make absentee voting available to all eligible voters for the August 6 primary and November 3 general elections, a ruling likely to be appealed. The deadline for applying for an absentee ballot for the primary election is July 30.

Returning to Washington to Work on Police Accountability

Throughout the week, I vigorously advocated for two of my bills, the National Statistics on Deadly Force Transparency Act (H.R. 119) and the Police Training and the Independent Review Act (H.R. 125), to be brought to the House floor for consideration.  Americans expect us to directly confront issues of policing, and passing these bills would be a meaningful start. Next week, I plan to return to Washington for a Judiciary Committee hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability. Speaker Pelosi will also unveil the new legislation that would make policing more equitable and departments and officers accountable. 

Applauding Inclusion of Priorities in the INVEST in America Act Infrastructure Bill

Also Wednesday, I applauded the inclusion of several of my highway safety priorities in the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act, an ambitious five-year infrastructure bill. I applaud in particular the inclusion of my School Bus Safety, Complete Streets, Stop Underrides and Horse Transportation bills. As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I look forward to working with Chairman DeFazio and my colleagues in getting this critically important legislation signed into law. See my release on it here.

Announcing $3.6 Million Grant to St. Jude for Coronavirus Research

On Thursday, I announced that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will receive a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant of $3,686,681 for research on coronavirus transmission and immunity. See my release here.

Cautioning Constituents IRS Economic Impact Payment May Come in the Form of a Debit Card

On Saturday, I notified my constituents and the press that that some Internal Revenue Service Economic Impact Payments are being delivered in the mail in the form of debit cards rather than paper checks. Many Americans are unaware of this and have discarded them as junk mail. These debit cards are arriving in plain envelopes from “Money Network Cardholder Services,” and the back of the cards have a logo for MetaBank. See my release here.

Announcing Three Research Grants Totaling $2.7 Million to the University of Memphis

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I announced U of M researchers would be receiving several grants from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture totaling $2,758,545. See my releases here, here and here.

Congratulating the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on an Impressive Award

On Thursday, I congratulated the Stax Museum of American Soul Music for receiving a grant to improve its technical infrastructure and the museum visitors’ experience. See that release here.

Revealing the Winner of the 9th District’s Congressional Art Competition

On Thursday, I announced that a painting by 11th grader Amiracle Laney of Cordova has won the Congressional Art Competition for the 9th District and will hang in our nation’s Capitol with other winners from Congressional districts across the country. I congratulate Amiracle and look forward to viewing her art on display in our nation’s Capitol. See my release here.

Cosponsoring the Promoting Equitable Transit-Oriented Development and Mobility Corridors Act

On Monday, I joined some of my Congressional colleagues in introducing the Promoting Equitable Transit-Oriented Development and Mobility Corridors Act. The legislation establishes an Office of Equitable Transit-Oriented Development in the Department of Transportation (DOT), promotes the construction of affordable housing near transit and reduces vehicle miles traveled and carbon emissions. It will also allow rural, suburban and urban governments to develop more equitable planning practices through technical assistance grants.

Weekly Health Tip

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. 

Quote of the Week

“It is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air…In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard…As long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “The Other America,” speech delivered at Stanford University, April 14, 1967. 

As always, I remain
Most sincerely,

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Steve Cohen
Member of Congress