Expressing Concern as Coronavirus Cases Increase
This week, I expressed concern that the Trump administration’s continuing ineptitude, and its inadequate and chaotic response to the coronavirus pandemic, has resulted in an increase in COVID-19 cases in Tennessee and the Mid-South, and urged vigilance in complying with public health guidance to mitigate the crisis. I also looked forward to returning to Washington to vote for a compromise response to the pandemic until talks were summarily terminated by this erratic President; applauded the decision by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to heed my call to extend the deadline for those eligible for economic impact payments (EIPs) who do not file annual federal income tax returns; joined a bipartisan effort to make Russia pay the consequences for its attacks on dissidents and opposition figures, such as the poisoning of Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny; cosponsored a commission on presidential incapacity; monitored ongoing Republican efforts to suppress the vote; 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.
Expressing Concern as Coronavirus Cases Increase
Awaiting Opportunity to Advance a Compromise Pandemic Response
Welcoming IRS Decision to Extend EIP Deadline for Non-Filers
Calling for Real Consequences for Russia’s Assault on Political Opponents
Cosponsoring Commission on Presidential Incapacity
Monitoring Ongoing Republican Efforts to Suppress the Vote
Urging Constituents to Fill Out U.S. Census Forms
Providing Guidance on Voting Procedures
Offering 2021 Congressional Calendars
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week
As Tennessee’s and the nation’s numbers of coronavirus cases again surged this week, I expressed concern about the ongoing failure of the Trump administration to address the situation in a consistent and coherent manner. The President’s own COVID-19 illness, and his irresponsible response to it, has been a textbook example of what not to do if you have been diagnosed with this virus that has already killed more than 212,000 Americans. I continue to urge my constituents and friends to follow public health guidance and to be particularly sensitive to their own health and the health as others as cold weather drives us indoors where the virus can be more easily spread.
I expected to return to Washington again this week to vote on a compromise worked out by Speaker Pelosi and Trump administration officials to address the ongoing twin health and economic crises caused by the pandemic. Last week, I joined House Democrats in passing the updated Heroes Act that would include another $1,200 economic impact payment for individuals, a $600 weekly federal supplement to state unemployment benefits, extended Paycheck Protection Program resources, and aid to states, schools, small businesses (particularly restaurants and entertainment venues) and airlines. The measure was meant to be a negotiating position in anticipation of a compromise solution as so many suffer in the fallout of this pandemic. But the President called off talks on Tuesday until after the November 3 election, further exacerbating the devastating consequences of his administration’s mismanagement. I will keep you informed if the process is resumed and will vote to advance the needed response as soon as one is made available.
On September 23, 2020, I led a letter urging the IRS to give non-tax filers more time to register for and receive their $1,200 Economic Impact Payment (EIP). I was pleased to find out this week that the IRS decided to extend its non-filer EIP registration deadline from October 15, 2020 to November 21, 2020. Nearly nine million low-income Americans have not yet cashed their stimulus checks, and these additional five weeks will provide a crucial opportunity for the IRS to make these individuals aware of this economic support program. See my release here.
I am very concerned that the IRS has no plans to send non-filers notification letters alerting them to this extended deadline. This is unacceptable — extending the deadline will not help non-filers if they are not made aware of this update. Throughout the pandemic, the IRS has repeatedly failed to reach out to low-income Americans concerning their EIPs. I am sending another letter to the IRS expressing these concerns.
Last Friday, October 2, I introduced the Holding Russia Accountable for Malign Activities Act with my Republican colleague, Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina. The bill is aimed at assuring there are serious consequences when Vladimir Putin unleashes his agents to harm his political opponents, such as in the recent poisoning of one of his chief critics, Alexei Navalny. See my release on the measure here.
Today, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, I joined my colleagues in cosponsoring a bill to create a Commission to evaluate a President’s capacity to carry out his duties. President Trump’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis raises considerable concerns about the President’s health. It is important that we have procedures in place to ensure sound decision making and continuity of power.
As the Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which has jurisdiction over voting rights, I continue to monitor efforts, like those in Pennsylvania, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin and elsewhere to suppress the votes of Black and Hispanic voters. Everyone eligible to vote should have access to the polls and efforts to deny or limit access are un-democratic and un-American.
It is important to fill out the every-ten-year head count mandated by the Constitution, which provides an accurate measure of the population for federal benefits and political representation. I urge you to fill out the U.S. Census form as soon as possible. Your community is counting on you. If you need help filling out your Census questionnaire, call the help line at (844) 330-2020.
The deadline to register to vote in Tennessee was October 5. Here is some guidance on voting procedures this year.
Voting in person: Early Voting begins on Wednesday, October 14 and ends Thursday, October 29. See the Shelby County Election Commission’s page on upcoming elections for election dates, offices to be elected, Early Voting schedules (locations, dates, hours), Election Day polling locations, sample ballots and an absentee application.
Voting by mail: Currently, Tennessee is not allowing all residents to request absentee ballots due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, those with underlying conditions, as well as their caretakers, may request absentee ballots. See the Shelby County Election Commission’s page on voting absentee for a full list of circumstances that qualify you to vote absentee by mail.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, October 27. Due to mail delivery delays at the Postal Service, it is strongly recommended that you request an absentee ballot as soon as possible. Request your ballot here. Once you’ve received it and cast your votes, immediately complete and send it back to the Election Commission.
Mail-in ballots must be received at your county election commission by Election Day to count. Mail-in ballots CANNOT be hand delivered to election offices. The only acceptable way to submit an absentee mail-in ballot in Tennessee is by mail (USPS, FedEx, UPS, et cetera). If you do not receive your ballot in the mail, please contact the Shelby County Board of Elections Absentee Department at (901) 222-6800 or email@example.com.
If you request an absentee ballot but do not receive or return your ballot in time, you may still be able to cast a provisional ballot, either during early voting or on election day. However, provisional ballots require additional verification. To make sure your ballot is counted, it is best to apply for your absentee ballot as early as possible and return it by mail as early as possible.
My office will have a limited number of 2021 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.
Again this week, I want to call attention to the high number of coronavirus cases, in Tennessee and across the country, that are likely the result of reopening prematurely without implementing basic precautionary measures such as wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines. Please follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols and those adopted by Memphis and Shelby County for staying safe in this ongoing pandemic: Wash your hands with soap 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. When you’re indoors, six feet might not be far enough, according to recent studies; 14 feet might be better. It is best to wear a mask, particularly when indoors in close quarters. We must work together to get through this.
In his new best-selling portrait of President Trump, Rage, author Bob Woodward quotes Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner as saying that to best understand the president, people should “absorb” Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
" 'I don’t think they play at all fairly,’ Alice began, in rather a complaining tone, ‘and they all quarrel so dreadfully one can’t hear oneself speak – and they don’t seem to have any rules in particular: at least, if there are, nobody attends to them – and you’ve no idea how confusing it is…’ ” -- “The Queen’s Croquet-Ground,” Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865).
As always, I remain.
Member of Congress