Hoping to Pass a Major Infrastructure Bill that is Good for Memphis
October 1, 2021
This week, negotiations over important legislation focusing on infrastructure, budget reconciliation, raising the debt ceiling and continuing to fund the government continued to occupy much of my time, and I was asked for my impressions of where things are heading by local reporters and on national television. As I write, several things remain in flux. Also this week, I spoke at the Judiciary Committee markup of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act and voted to advance it to the House floor; voted to suspend the nation’s debt limit until December 2022; voted to avert a government shutdown; introduced the PAST Act to prevent intentional injury to horses; notified constituents of Medicare Open Enrollment beginning October 15; voted in the Judiciary Committee to advance the CROWN Act to the House floor; voted to pass the EQUAL Act to reform sentencing in cocaine cases; applauded the National Institutes of Health’s change in guidance about monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 patients; announced major grants to Memphis-area community health centers; and offered a health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
As I write this Friday afternoon, it’s unclear when we will be voting on major infrastructure, budget reconciliation and debt ceiling legislation under negotiation on Capitol Hill. President Biden came to the Capitol this afternoon to help spur action. I have been saying that the $1.2 trillion bill underwriting our physical infrastructure would be good for the country and good for Memphis, America’s distribution center. I also want to vote for the Build Back Better bill that would expand and strengthen our social safety net. Right now, these matters are unresolved but I will keep you apprised of progress. See my interviews on these matters with CNN’s Erica Hill here and with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd here.
Congressman Cohen at the MORE Act markup Thursday.
On Thursday, the Judiciary Committee on which I serve as a senior member, debated, marked up and voted to advance the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act to the House floor for a vote. The reform measure takes cannabis off the federal schedule of controlled substances, invests in communities harmed by the war on drugs and allows federal court records of marijuana convictions to be expunged. I am a proud cosponsor of this legislation. See my release here.
On Wednesday, I joined my House colleagues in extending the federal government’s borrowing authority beyond the next election cycle to prevent what should never have become a partisan issue from creating a catastrophic financial issue. As I write, Senate Republicans are still playing games with the country’s duty to meet its financial obligations. See my release here.
On Thursday afternoon, I did the responsible thing and voted to keep the federal government open beyond the looming Thursday night fiscal year deadline.
Earlier today, I was joined by Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Vern Buchanan of Florida, and 209 other House members, bringing total sponsorship to 213, in introducing the Preventing All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, prohibiting the inhumane and intentional injury of horses for enhanced performance. See our release here.
Medicare Open Enrollment begins on October 15 and ends on December 7. During this time, people eligible for Medicare can compare 2022 coverage options between Original Medicare, and Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans. CMS updated the Medicare Plan Finder with the 2022 Medicare health and prescription drug plan information today, October 1. Medicare beneficiaries can visit Medicare.gov, call 1-800-MEDICARE, or contact the Tennessee State Health Insurance Assistance Program at 1-877-801-0044 for information and assistance. Anyone who wants to keep their current Medicare coverage does not need to re-enroll.
On Thursday, the Judiciary Committee on which I serve as senior member marked up and sent to the House floor the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural (CROWN) Hair Act, prohibiting discrimination against people with natural hair styles and textures. I have been a leader on this legislation and am proud to again cosponsor this important civil rights bill. See my release here.
On Tuesday, the House passed legislation I have spent decades advocating to end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine convictions. See that release here.
Last week, I wrote to President Biden and the National Institutes of Health asking that they consider adjusting the protocol for administering monoclonal antibody therapy to those with COVID-19. I was pleased to see the NIH swiftly make that change in its guidance. See more about my intervention in this rather complicated issue here.
I was pleased this week to announce major infrastructure support grants for Christ Community, Memphis Health and Tri-South Health community centers. See my release here.
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 coronavirus vaccinations. The Pipkin Building at the old Mid-South Fairgrounds is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., and will remain a vaccination site through December 31. 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 coronavirus vaccination event, visit https://covid19.memphistn.gov/
“I have one life and one chance to make it count for something... My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference.”
As always, I remain.