Expressing Sadness at Loss of Life in Kabul Airport Bombing
This week, we saw the deaths and injuries to our service men and women attempting the extremely hazardous mission of withdrawing from 20 years of war in Afghanistan, and my heart goes out to all those affected. Earlier this week, I returned to Washington to speak from the House floor and then vote for the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, named for my late friend and colleague from Georgia. I also voted to advance President Biden’s historic Build Back Better agenda and a major infrastructure bill that will transform not just our roads, bridges and pipelines but also shore up important elements of our social safety net. During my speech from the House floor, I urged everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated after the Pfizer vaccine received final Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval on Monday. I also co-sponsored the Nursing Home Workforce Support and Expansion Act; introduced the Medicare Medically Necessary Dental Care Act; offered guidance to tenants facing eviction; provided information on nominations to national service academies; announced a significant grant to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and offered a health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
On Thursday, Americans watched in horror as suicide bombers in Kabul killed at least 13 soldiers and Marines and wounded others serving in the dangerous mission of withdrawing American citizens and our Afghan partners from a 20-year war. President Biden’s resolve to hunt down those responsible is commendable. The U.S. must remain vigilant. I offer my condolences to all of those affected and a sincere appreciation for all the sacrifices being made.
Congressman Cohen during Tuesday's debate on the voting rights bill
As Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, I have held 13 hearings over two years about the ongoing erosion of voting rights, including one field hearing at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphries School of Law. Those hearings established ongoing voter discrimination efforts across the United States and the need for Congress to restore critical provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. On Tuesday, I voted for and the House passed the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act with those provisions. Named after my friend, the late Congressman from Georgia, it is a fitting tribute to the champion of civil rights and will ensure the right to vote to all who are eligible. You can watch my floor speech here. See Speaker Pelosi commend my efforts in this clip:
On Tuesday, I voted for a measure that advances a major infrastructure bill and a budget that establishes annual spending targets through 2031. Con. Res. 14, the budget resolution passed by the Senate on August 11th and now approved by the House, paves the way for the House to proceed with assembling the Build Back Better Act. The infrastructure bill will do more than improve the nation’s roads and bridges. It’s still a work in progress amid ongoing negotiations, but it is expected to contain a permanent extension of the child tax credit, improvements to Medicare, lower prescription drug prices, and expansion of rural and urban broadband capabilities, among many other provisions. These are investments in America that will demonstrate our priorities to American workers and their families. See my release, including my floor speech on the Biden-Harris “Build Back Better” plan here.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave final approval to the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Those who have hesitated to get a vaccine under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization now have the assurance that this vaccine is certified safe and effective. I spoke on the House floor shortly after the announcement and urged everyone eligible to get the vaccine, noting that unvaccinated Memphis football star Danton Barto died of Covid-19 after saying he wished he had gotten the shot. See that speech here.
As the population ages, it is important that our long-term care infrastructure, and the staff to operate it, keeps pace. I joined Representatives Steven Horsford of Nevada, Barbara Lee of California and Jamaal Bowman of New York in introducing the Nursing Home Workforce and Expansion Act so that this critical element of our health care safety net can recruit and retain qualified personnel.
This morning, I introduced the Medicare Medically Necessary Dental Care Act, legislation I first introduced in 2009 that would give Medicare patients facing certain ailments or preparing for certain surgical procedures the dental coverage they need. I am pleased the bill will be incorporated in the Build Back Better bill now being negotiated. See my release on the measure here.
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the Biden Administration’s extension of an eviction moratorium, putting hundreds of thousands at risk of losing their homes. A federal judge in Memphis had previously ruled that the prior eviction moratorium was unconstitutional and unenforceable in in the Western District of Tennessee. To support renters harmed by the pandemic, Congress created two rental assistance programs: ERA1 providing up to $25 billion under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was enacted on December 27, 2020, and ERA2 providing up to $21.55 billion under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was enacted on March 11, 2021. Landlords and tenants can get more information about the programs and access an online application at the Memphis and Shelby County website for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program: home901.org.
High school students who are interested in attending a military service academy can apply for a nomination through my office. The honor of attending a service academy comes with the obligation and commitment to serve in the military for a minimum of five years upon graduation. For more information, visit my website here: https://cohen.house.gov/services/military-academy-nominations
On Thursday, I announced a significant grant to support cancer research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. See my release on it here.
Doctors are telling us that having immunity from a previous bout with the coronavirus probably isn’t protection enough as the Delta variant rages across our region. It is time to get vaccinated. And, for those already fully vaccinated, it looks like a booster shot may be approved by the FDA in the coming weeks. I will continue to monitor the best health guidance and make it available in this newsletter and on my official web page, Cohen.House.gov.
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. The Pipkin Building at the old Mid-South Fairgrounds is open Monday through Friday, 9am – 6pm and Saturday 9am – 1pm. No appointments needed. 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/.
“Their cause must be our cause too. Because it’s not just Negroes, but really it’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.” – March 15, 1965 speech to a Joint Session of Congress by President Lyndon Johnson, born on this date in 1908.
As always, I remain.
Member of Congress