Holding a "Congress On Your Corner"

February 21, 2020
Enewsletters

Dear Friend,  

       During this non-voting week for Congress, I hope this newsletter will provide some useful information to my constituents as well as update you on my service to the 9th District. First, I want to remind you that my first “Congress on Your Corner” of 2020 is coming up next Friday, February 28, where my District office staff can help you with issues involving federal agencies, benefits and programs. Second, for those of you who use your driver license for identification when flying for business or for vacations, you should be aware that you will need to apply for a Real ID at a Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before October 1. See details about the required documents you will need to present and DMV locations below. Also, 2020 is a U.S. Census year and the Census Bureau is hiring Census takers, supervisors, clerks and other good-paying, temporary jobs. See information for applying below. Additionally, I regularly offer ways to stay in close contact with my office through “Congress On Your Corner,” telephone town halls and this newsletter. Also this week, I traveled with a bipartisan delegation from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to learn about the devastation from hurricanes and earthquakes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and I traveled with a bipartisan group of my Helsinki Commission colleagues to discuss issues with European parliamentarians in Vienna. I felt a duty to speak out about the President’s misuse of the pardon power to help the rich and powerful while overlooking thousands who deserve clemency. I also offered a dental health tip. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to see more updates as they happen.  
   
Holding a “Congress On Your Corner” Friday, February 28 
Attending Meetings in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Europe 
Getting Prepared for New Real ID Tennessee Driver Licenses 
Information on U.S. Census Jobs 
Expressing Concern about Trump’s Use of the Pardon Power 
Announcing Significant Grants to Southwest Tennessee Community College and UTHSC 
Staying in Touch with My Office 
Weekly Health Tip 
Quote of the Week 
  


Holding a “Congress On Your Corner” Friday, February 28 
  
Next Friday, February 28, my District office staff will hold a “Congress On Your Corner” event at the Gaisman Community Center, 4221 Macon Road, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They can address any questions or concerns you have about any federal agency or benefits, including Social Security, Medicare, veterans benefits or military service issues, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and services, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) home loans, federal grant applications, railroad retirement benefits, visas and passports, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) problems and more. 
  
Attending Meetings in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Europe 

As a senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I traveled this week with Chairman Peter DeFazio and a bipartisan delegation to learn first-hand about the damage done by hurricanes and earthquakes in Puerto Rico and two hurricanes that have blasted the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our committee has jurisdiction over the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is tasked with addressing the islands’ damaged infrastructure, and we held productive working meetings with local officials about their ongoing needs and toured schools, homes, hospitals and churches that have been destroyed. There is still much work to be done. Later in the week, as a senior member appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, I traveled with a bipartisan delegation that included Chairman Alcee Hastings, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and others to attend meetings in Vienna. We visited the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and got a briefing from its director on Iran’s conduct both before and after we withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). We also received information on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the disposal of nuclear waste. This was the Winter meeting of the Commission and we met with other parliamentarians concerning the 2015 assassination of Russian reformer Boris Nemtsov, the most serious political assassination in recent Russian history. Russia’s investigation of the killing never identified the true people behind it, which would lead to Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya. We received the report of the Special Rapporteur on the assassination and I plan to join Helsinki Commission member Senator Roger Wicker in holding hearings in Washington, where we helped dedicate Boris Nemtsov Plaza outside the Russian Embassy in 2018. Nemtsov’s protégé Vladimir Kara-Murza called us out for our help in the investigation. Commissioners also discussed issues concerning press freedom and the threat of right-wing movements and anti-Semitism.  Meeting with foreign parliamentarians to get their views is a part of the Commission’s oversight duty, and I was proud to represent our country. 
  
Getting Prepared for New Real ID Tennessee Driver Licenses 

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On October 1, those who want to take a commercial flight or enter military bases and certain other secure federal facilities but don’t have a valid passport will need a Real ID from the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles. The Real ID requires proof of residential address and of a valid Social Security Number. See the full list of documents you will need to get one here. See a list of Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles locations here. I am already hearing about lines at local DMV offices so I suggest a visit sooner rather than later.  
  
Applying for Good, Temporary U.S. Census Jobs 

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Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau counts the number of people living in the United States for the purpose of reapportioning the U.S. House of Representatives’ 435 seats among the 50 states. That requires a huge temporary workforce. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are now available for Census field supervisors, Census takers, clerks and other positions. In Shelby County, the pay ranges between $20 and $22 per hour with reimbursement for mileage and expenses. To qualify, you must be at least 18, have a valid Social Security number, a valid email address and pass a criminal background check. To apply, go here

Expressing Concern about Trump’s Use of the Pardon Power 

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After President Trump again announced pardons and commutations to some well-connected, corrupt politicians and celebrities convicted of serious crimes, I released a statement about how the pardon power should be used. See that statement here

Announcing Significant Grants to UTHSC and Southwest Tennessee Community College  
  
On Tuesday, I announced a major grant for research on fungal infections to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC). On Thursday UTHSC received another major grant to research glaucoma therapy. See releases here and here. On Wednesday, I announced a large Department of Labor grant to Southwest Tennessee Community College for its ongoing apprenticeship programs. See that release here.  

Staying in Touch with My Office 

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I enjoy meeting regularly with constituents in the district and helping get answers for them to questions about dealing with federal agencies. If you are interested in attending one of my “Congress on Your Corner” events, you can sign up here to receive a notification as soon as the next event is scheduled. My next “Congress on Your Corner” is Friday, February 28, at the Gaisman Community Center, 4221 Macon Road, Memphis 38122, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

For those who haven’t participated in a telephone town hall, it’s easy to sign up for them by using this form.  
  
If you would like to receive this weekly e-Newsletter, or share it with others, you can do that with this form
  
Weekly Health Tip 

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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, an opportunity to appreciate the benefits of good oral health and promote it from an early age. This year is also the 75th anniversary of the Community Water Fluoridation Program, credited with a major reduction in tooth decay among children. See some useful guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, including how to teach children to brush their teeth, here
  
Quote of the Week 
  
“Overall, Trump’s exercise of the pardon power has been at best whimsical and at worst self-serving and blatantly political. The president would be a committing an even worse corruption of the pardon power if he used it to annul the convictions of figures such as Manafort and Stone. Given Trump’s contempt for law enforcement and the judicial system, that is a real concern.” – February 19 Los Angeles Times editorial headlined: “Once again, Trump showers his mercy on corrupt officials and white-collar criminals. Who’s next?” 
  
As always, I remain
Most sincerely, 

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Steve Cohen
Member of Congress