Introducing Protecting Our Democracy Act
This week, I joined several of my Congressional colleagues in introducing the Protecting Our Democracy Act to strengthen America’s democratic institutions against future presidents, regardless of political party, who seek to abuse the power of their office for corrupt purposes. I was saddened at Thursday’s mass shooting in Collierville and express my condolences to all involved. I also voted for a continuing resolution to raise the debt ceiling and keep the federal government operating beyond the end of the fiscal year next Thursday; wrote to President Biden about making monoclonal antibody treatment more readily available; questioned experts on the increasing prevalence of unruly passengers on airplanes; presided at a Helsinki Commission hearing to promote democracy and justice in Belarus and introduced a bipartisan resolution; applauded inclusion of my amendments to a massive Defense authorization bill that I could not support; condemned the appointment of known criminals to positions of leadership in Iran; spoke out about the need to protect our oceans; announced a significant grant to Southwest Tennessee Community College; 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 Tuesday, I joined several of my Congressional colleagues in introducing the Protecting Our Democracy Act, a sweeping package of reforms that will strengthen America’s democratic institutions against future presidents, regardless of political party, who seek to abuse the power of their office for corrupt purposes. The Protecting Our Democracy Act contains critical reforms on many of the issues I have examined as the Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. The bill limits a president’s pardon power, requires meaningful enforcement of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses and reins in executive abuses. It also prevents foreign interference in our elections and strengthens whistleblower protections. This bill will strengthen our democracy and provide necessary safeguards to ensure it endures for generations to come.
I know our whole community is saddened and upset at the horrific mass shooting in Collierville Thursday afternoon. My thoughts are with those affected and their loved ones. As a member of Congress, I can say that many of us have tried to improve our gun laws with mandatory background checks and other reforms that get no traction in the Senate. I will continue to work on commonsense reforms that will save lives and make incidents like Thursday’s less likely.
On Tuesday, I voted for and the House passed a Continuing Resolution that would extend federal government funding through December 3 to prevent a government shutdown on September 30 and that includes emergency supplemental funding to address recent natural disasters and the resettlement of Afghan evacuees. By continuing government funding, we are providing an appropriate amount of time for Democrats and Republicans to come together to address our appropriations priorities through the regular order process. This funding bill includes a suspension of the debt limit through December 2022. Republicans in the Senate have so far refused to consider suspending the debt ceiling and have politicized the issue. Since 2011, each of the seven times that the debt limit has been addressed, Congress has done so on a bipartisan basis. Republicans supported suspending the debt limit all three times that it needed to be addressed under Trump, when the debt rose by $7.8 trillion. Yet, now, Leader McConnell and Republicans are trying to force the first-ever default of the United States, no matter who gets hurt. Democrats are working hard to prevent a default and keep the government running despite Republican obstruction.
On Thursday, I wrote to President Biden urging the administration and the National Institutes of Health to make monoclonal antibodies more readily available to patients with COVID-19. See my release and the letter here.
On Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation on which I serve held a hearing on the increased incidents of air rage. In my questioning of the expert witnesses, I said the abuse of flight attendants by unruly, often drunken passengers, is inexcusable. See my release including my line of questions here.
On Tuesday, as Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, better known as the Helsinki Commission, I presided at a hearing on the need to promote justice and freedom in Belarus. It is clear the 2020 presidential election that kept Alexander Lukashenko in power was fraudulent. See my opening statement and line of questioning to witnesses here. Today , Helsinki Commission House Ranking Member Joe Wilson and I introduced a bipartisan resolution recognizing the ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression and violations of human rights in Belarus. Specifically, the resolution calls for an end to Lukashenko’s continued campaign of repression against thousands of peaceful protesters, journalists, cultural workers, human rights defenders, trade union activists, political activists, and government critics, and expresses solidarity with the Belarusian people. See my release on the resolution here.
Applauding House Passage of Amendments to Stem Foreign Corruption and Recover Afghan Aircraft
Two amendments I proposed for the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) were made in order by the Rules Committee this week, and I discussed them in a House floor speech on Wednesday. They were included in the larger bill which passed on Thursday night. One puts anti-corruption and countering foreign kleptocrats at the heart of our foreign policy, reflecting the Biden Administration’s view that corruption is a national security threat. The other instructs the Secretary of Defense to attempt to recover the U.S.-supplied aircraft that Afghan pilots flew out of their country as the Taliban took over last month. See my release on their passage here. I could not support the larger bill that increased defense spending by $25 billion more than even the Pentagon had requested. See my release on that vote here. The NDAA now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
I was disturbed to read that the new Iranian government appointed two known criminals to senior leadership positions despite their implication in the 1994 truck bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. See my release condemning the appointments here.
On Tuesday, I spoke at the Oceans Caucus Foundation’s Ministerial Luncheon as a proud member of the Natural Resources Committee committed to improving the health of the world’s oceans threatened by plastic pollution, warming and overfishing. I told the crowd about a letter I signed earlier this year supporting President Biden’s Executive Order establishing a goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands, freshwaters, and ocean areas by 2030 (“30 by 30”) to reverse the effects of climate change.
Also Tuesday, I announced a $600,000 grant to Southwest Tennessee Community College from the U.S. Department of Education’s Predominantly Black Institutions Program to improve educational outcomes for male African American students. See that release here.
It is disappointing to have to say so, but some people continue to spread misinformation about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, including recommending unproven or ineffective “treatments,” like using the horse de-wormer ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Using either of these in an attempt to cure a COVID-19 infection can be harmful or deadly. Protect yourself and your family with proven approaches to this disease, primarily by preventing the onset of symptoms with the vaccine. If you experience severe symptoms of COVID-19, such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or bluish lips or face, seek professional medical help immediately.
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/.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” – Three-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
As always, I remain.
Member of Congress