Presiding at Hearing on Abuses of the Presidential Pardon Power
February 12, 2021
This week, I presided as Chairman at a hearing of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, looking at Constitutional ways to prevent abuse of the presidential pardon power just hours before the Senate impeachment trial of the former president got under way. I also participated in a bill markup in the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that will ultimately deliver significant coronavirus pandemic relief funding to our transportation sector including the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) and the Memphis International Airport. Throughout the week, I kept an eye on the Senate impeachment trial. The House Managers presented a strong, compelling case and confirmed my belief that members of the Senate must convict Trump for inciting the insurrection at our Capitol. I also introduced the Horse Transportation Safety Act with more than one hundred other members. I am closely monitoring the situation with the Byhalia Connection pipeline project and continue to express my concern that it offers no benefit to the residents of Southwest Memphis while creating potential for great harm to our Memphis Sands Aquifer. I also announced significant medical research grants to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In addition to my weekly health tip, I’d like to point out the renewed open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (Healthcare.gov) beginning Monday, February 15. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
On Tuesday, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, I presided at a hearing on “Constitutional Means of Preventing Abuse of the Clemency Power.” I have introduced Constitutional amendments in this and two previous Congresses to limit the potential for abuse of this broad presidential power, and I expressed my concern about its clear misuse under Trump. I hope President Biden will be a leading example of how the pardon power could be more effectively used, especially for those who are more deserving but whose pleas have not been heard. See my release and questioning of hearing witnesses here.
On Wednesday, as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I participated in a nine-hour markup of a bill to provide coronavirus pandemic-related relief to transportation workers and their communities. The bill will ultimately send significant funding to both the Memphis International Airport and the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) which have been affected by sharp declines in use during this public health crisis . See my release on the measure here.
Like many of you, I was overwhelmed while viewing the mayhem that Trump incited in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 replayed at the Senate impeachment trial . It is clear to me, as it must be to every open-minded U.S. Senator acting as a juror in these proceedings, that Trump must be convicted and prevented from ever again holding public office.
On Monday, I re-introduced the Horse Transportation Safety Act with my colleagues Dina Titus of Nevada and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and 105 bipartisan cosponsors. The measure, which would ban the transportation of horses across state lines in “double decker” trucks or trailers, was included in the House-passed Moving Forward Act last year. See my release here.
I was disappointed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the nationwide permit for the Byhalia Connection oil pipeline without regard for its impact on the residents of Southwest Memphis and its potentially disastrous effect on the Memphis Sands Aquifer that provides our drinking water. I have been outspoken in my view that the pipeline provides no benefit to my constituents, and I will continue to stay involved until this matter is resolved.
On Monday, I announced major medical research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. See that release here.
The Biden Administration made the right decision in re-opening enrollment for Affordable Care Act health insurance coverage through Healthcare.gov for those who missed the December deadline or have become newly eligible because of pandemic-related unemployment or other issues. See enrollment options here. Although the open enrollment will last three months, it is best to act now.
There seems to be some good news regarding the coronavirus as President Biden is on track to meet his goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in his first 100 days as President. However, there is still serious concern about the emergence of variant strains of the virus, and it’s important to remain vigilant about public health protocols like washing hands, wearing face masks and keeping one’s distance from others. I know we’re all eager to get the vaccine, so click here to see when you will be eligible, and call 901-222-7468 to be notified when appointments are available through the Shelby County Health Department.
In the final closing argument by House managers Thursday, Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland invoked the words of Thomas Paine, the Revolutionary War polemicist and patriot after whom he and his wife Sarah named the son they buried last month. Raskin said:
“Paine wrote this pamphlet called ‘The Crisis’ and in it, he said these beautiful words, and with your permission I’m going to update the language a little bit pursuant to the suggestion of Speaker Pelosi so as not to offend modern sensibilities. He said: ‘these are the times that try men and women’s souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will shrink at this moment from the service of their cause and their country but everyone who stands with us now will win the love and favor and affection of every man and every woman for all time. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered but we have this consolation: the more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end will be our victory.’
“Thank you. Good luck in your deliberations.”
Today would be Abraham Lincoln’s 212th birthday. I want to wish everyone a pleasant Presidents’ Day holiday on Monday.
As always, I remain.