Cheering Advance of 10 Major Community Projects in Annual Spending Bills
Congressman Cohen with students at the Higher Learning Enrichment Academy Thursday
This week, all ten of my high-priority community projects – totaling more than $11.7 million – were included in the annual spending bills, a significant victory and huge investment in our community’s needs. I also hosted a press conference at the Higher Learning Enrichment Academy to call attention the newly expanded Child Tax Credit created by the American Rescue Plan that will benefit more than 164,000 children in the Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District. This morning, I spoke at the dedication and unveiling of a statue of Ida B. Wells, the crusading journalist run out of Memphis by bigots offended by her commentary on racial injustice and lynching. Also this afternoon, I presided at a hearing of my Judiciary subcommittee reviewing a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that further erodes the Voting Rights Act. I reintroduced my bill to increase diversity in advanced placement (AP) and Gifted and Talented (G&T) elementary classes. I also led several of my Congressional colleagues in a letter to House and Senate leaders asking that they incorporate “Complete Streets” principles in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework currently being negotiated, and offered a health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
This week, all of my local community project requests – totaling more than $11.7 million – were included in this year’s spending bills. They focus on local health care, homelessness, minority opportunities and provide substantial funding for improvements to Tom Lee Park on the Mississippi River waterfront to enhance our city’s tourism and recreation industries. See my release on these wins for Memphis here.
On Thursday, I hosted a press conference at the Higher Learning Enrichment Academy in the Fox Meadows neighborhood to call attention to the newly expanded Child Tax Credit made available through the American Rescue Plan signed into law this Spring by President Biden. This is an effort to raise children out of poverty and also includes a middle-class tax cut that will put money into the hands of those who really need it.
This morning, I presented a proclamation and spoke at the dedication of the first statue honoring Ida B. Wells, located at Beale and Fourth Street near the First Baptist Beale Street Church where Wells wrote much of her fiery Memphis journalism. In my remarks, I recalled the work of Dr. Miriam DeCosta Sugarmon Willis in promoting the idea of a physical memorial to Wells and commended Dr. LaSimba Gray for organizing today’s event. I said that Wells was a combination of Maxine Smith, Cornelia Crenshaw, James Meredith and Lois DeBerry. She fought against lynching and segregation and civil rights for women as well as African Americans. Like Rosa Parks, she refused to leave her first class cabin on a train and was arrested, but she refused to give up her rightful seat. She truly deserves this honor and will forever be remembered in Memphis. Such an honor for this highly acclaimed fighter for justice is long overdue.
This afternoon, as Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, I presided at a hearing on a recent Supreme Court ruling that further eroded protections of the Voting Rights Act. See my release, including my questioning of expert witnesses, here.
On Monday, Memphis’ new Police Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis conferred with President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland and municipal law enforcement leaders at the White House about the best ways to use American Rescue Plan funding to combat increasing gun violence. I strongly support the Biden Administration strategy and commend our new chief for working with federal officials on these critical issues. See my statement about her meeting here.
Congressman Cohen at the Levitt Shell Thursday evening
On Thursday night, I was honored to be asked by band members Ben Nichols and John Stubblefield to introduce Lucero at the Levitt Shell. I was delighted when they played a tribute to my late friend Warren Zevon with their “Went Looking for Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles” and when they played a portion of his “Send Lawyers, Guns and Money.” The shirt I am wearing in this picture is from an earlier Lucero concert at Minglewood Hall on Madison.
This week I reintroduced the Diversity Advancements in Accelerated Academic Programs Act, a measure authorizing the use of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) funding to create equity offices in state departments of education or local education agencies that would develop programs to improve diversity in Advanced Placement (AP) and Gifted and Talented (GT) programs. See my release here.
On Wednesday, I led a letter with several of my Congressional colleagues asking House and Senate leaders to incorporate “Complete Streets” principles into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework currently being negotiated. As a longtime advocate of street designs that accommodate all users – including pedestrians and bicyclists – Complete Streets will save lives at a time of increasing pedestrian fatalities both in Memphis and nationwide. See my release and the letter here.
The Tennessee Department of Health was in the national news this week for all the wrong reasons. Republican state legislators have so politicized vaccination as a public health issue that the State Medical Director of Vaccine-Preventable and Infectious Diseases at the Department, an advocate of immunizing children 12 and older, was fired from her job. We simply must do better and rely on science to dictate our response to the coronavirus, especially as transmission rates locally are hitting levels last seen in April 2020, well before any COVID vaccines were available. Those who are not vaccinated face a serious and often fatal disease. Let’s put politics aside and save lives.
Vaccines are currently available for everyone 12 and older. If you need a ride to a vaccination site, you can call 901-RIDE901 (901-743-3901) to coordinate the best transportation option for you. The City of Memphis is also now coordinating with organizations, congregations, community groups, and businesses to host COVID-19 vaccinations. To find the latest information about vaccination sites, to request a vaccination appointment for a homebound individual, or to set up a community COVID vaccination event, visit https://covid19.memphistn.gov/.
“It’s no longer just about who gets to vote or making it easier for eligible voters to vote. It’s about who gets to count the vote — who gets to count whether or not your vote counted at all. It’s about moving from independent election administrators who work for the people to polarized state legislatures and partisan actors who work for political parties. To me, this is simple: This is election subversion. It’s the most dangerous threat to voting and the integrity of free and fair elections in our history.” – President Joe Biden in his speech on Voting Rights from Philadelphia on Tuesday.
As always, I remain.
Member of Congress