Reacting to Chaotic Trump White House
This week, I reacted to the chaos created by President Trump in reaction to public critiques of his so-called “crazy town” White House. I also called attention to a successful demonstration connected to the Federal Aviation Administration aerial drone integration pilot program now operating in Memphis, wrote to the airlines about increased tack-on fees, listened to the authors of a new book about America’s small and medium-sized towns and their optimism for the country, went to the House floor for a final tribute to Senator John McCain, celebrated Labor Day at the AFL-CIO cook-off, thanked Cedric Richmond for his shout-out, called attention to the baby-diaper shortage in Memphis, planned to host a military academy day, scheduled my next “Congress on Your Corner,” and offered some health advice about prostate cancer. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on Twitter and Facebook to see more updates as they happen.
Reacting to Chaotic Trump White House
This week, it was hard to avoid the cacophony and chaos emanating from President Trump’s White House. It appears that leaked excerpts of Fear: Trump in the White House by The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, focusing on the President’s pettiness, ignorance, incompetence and lack of curiosity, as described by insiders, has the President unhinged. And the publication of an anonymous opinion piece in The New York Times from a senior administration official, calling attention to the President’s “amorality” and vowing to “thwart his worst impulses,” has piqued his paranoia. I’ve always respected Bob Woodward as an investigative journalist and told him so earlier this year when he interviewed me in my office about my Articles of Impeachment. I have never seen a presidency in such utter disarray and I continue to call for the Judiciary Committee on which I serve and Congress generally to conduct oversight hearings on this administration’s – as the anonymous columnist wrote – “worst inclinations.” I’m concerned about a possibleConstitutional crisis as Special Counsel Robert Mueller probes Trump’s inner circle and I continue to call for hearings and a vote on The Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act (H.R. 5476) to protect Mueller’s ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
At a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on “Airspace Integration of New Aircraft” Thursday, I praised the selection of Memphis as one of 10 sites around the country chosen by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for a pilot program integrating aerial drone aircraft into the national airspace.Drones have boundless real-world applications and Memphis is now at the center of this rapidly growing industry. I was pleased to learn about a recent successful demonstration of perimeter geofencing safety measures, witnessed by industry and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials, to keep drones from flying into designated zones and the redundancies that keep the public safe and airport operations unaffected. See my remarks at the hearing on the Memphis drone programhere. According to the DOT, the potential economic benefit of drone integration into the national airspace will be upwards of $82 billion and create 100,000 new, high-tech jobs.
Also Thursday, in response to the announcement that United and JetBlue airlines would raise baggage and flight cancellation fees, I joined Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) in writing letters to 11 major airlines inquiring about their airline fees. In our letter, we note that while airline fees are on the rise, there appears to be no appreciable increase in the costs of the services that could justify these higher fees. In fact, a 2017 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that few airlines consider a service’s costs when they set the price of ancillary fees for that service. In the letter, we ask the airlines to break down the costs for the airlines of checked bags, and if they intend to increase their checked-bag, ticket change and cancellation fees in the next three months, as well as how customers will be notified of any increases. “As airline fees rise, passengers’ frustration with the modern flying experience continues to grow,” we told the airline company CEOs. “After being enticed by artificially low airfares, passengers are bombarded with a rash of airline fees that can drastically increase the overall cost of flying — fees that the GAO found confusing and poorly communicated to consumers. Passengers deserve relief from this fee gouging.” See the letters here.
On Wednesday night, I attended a book talk with the authors of the new national bestseller, Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America by The Atlantic national correspondent James Fallows and his wife, linguist Deborah Fallows. They spent four years traveling the country in a single-engine plane, visiting small and medium-sized towns, often finding in community colleges and local libraries the heartbeat of a town. They found successful older people mentoring millennials and other reasons to be optimistic about our country. They noted, however, that their travel ended before Trump’s inauguration and they didn’t observe the deep resentments and anger now evident in many Trump supporters.
Senator John McCain of Arizona was buried Sunday at his beloved U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, which I plan to visit on Saturday. I joined my colleagues in a series of brief floor speeches Thursday night praising his heroism, his willingness to stand on principle, his ability to learn from his mistakes and to show empathy for others. See those remarks here.
On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration awarded a $2.3 million Voluntary Low Emission (VALE) grant to Memphis International Airport.This funding will be used to keep the airport’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut operating costs by reducing fuel consumption, and will provide healthier air quality for Memphis residents. I’m pleased this funding will extend the objectives of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan by addressing climate change and clean energy innovations.
Congressman Cohen with State Representative-elect London Lamar and Representative Raumesh Akbari
I've always celebrated Labor Day and attended the AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic at AFSCME headquarters on Beale on Monday with hundreds of friends, including state Representatives Raumesh Akbari, Dwayne Thompson, G.A. Hardaway and Representative-elect London Lamar (a former intern) and Judges Betty Moore and Valerie Smith. In my remarks, I talked about how important organized labor was in creating an American middle class. Most working people are not benefiting from the massive tax scam for millionaires and corporations passed by the majority and signed into law by President Trump, and they know it.
At the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Friday, witness and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana) paid me a nice compliment and I want to thank him for it. Cedric said that I was doing "an amazing job" representing my district. Here his shout-out here.
Earlier this summer, I held a symposium on infant and maternal health with a variety of medical and other advocates and experts. During our discussion, the unaffordability of basic necessities, including clean diapers, was raised, and so was a proposed solution. In Memphis, 44 percent of children under 3 live in poverty and one in three mothers report running out of diapers each month. As a result, seldom discussed diaper rash is a serious problem in our community. The University of Memphis’ Institute for Interdisciplinary Memphis Partnerships to Advance Community Transformation (iIMPACT), the Coordinated Effort to Enhance Development (CEED), the Urban Child Institute (UCI) and other partners are working to create a Shelby County Diaper Bank, “Bundles for Babies,” in response to this critical need. UCI will host a Diaper Drive from September 22 to 30, with a kickoff event on Saturday, September 22nd, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Neighborhood Christian Center, 785 Jackson Avenue.
On Saturday, September 29, I will host the annual Military Service Academy-Senior Reserve Officer Training Day at Crosstown High School, 1365 Tower Avenue, from 9 a.m. to noon. Appointments to one of the five military service academies – for the Navy, Air Force, Army, Merchant Marines or Coast Guard -- are life-changing events and lead to preparation of future military officers while chosen students get an excellent education and a ticket to a bright future. I look forward to seeing some aspiring applicants at the Crosstown Concourse. The high school is on the fourth floor. For more information, contact Jeremy Jordan in my Memphis office at (901) 544-4131 or Jeremy.Jordan@mail.house.gov
As your representative in Congress, part of my job is making sure your concerns and issues with federal agencies and federal benefits are dealt with fairly and efficiently. My office is here to help you navigate what can be a complex and confusing process. My next “Congress On Your Corner” will be on Friday, September 28, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Cordova Branch Library, 8457 Trinity Road. My staff will be on hand to help you.
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 notification as soon as the next event is scheduled.
For those who haven’t participated in a telephone town hall, it’s easy to sign up for them by usingthis form.
Each week, I share a health tip in the hope of promoting a healthy lifestyle for residents of the 9thCongressional District. As always, it is best to check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet, exercise routine or lifestyle.
This week, I read in The Commercial Appeala column by Bradley G. Somer noting that September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and the need for men over 40 to talk to their doctors about their risks of developing prostate cancer, symptoms, and early testing procedures. Prostate cancer affects one in nine American men and has a higher incidence among African Americans. Learn more about this serious illness and get some useful guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.
“We have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country, we’ll get through these challenging times.” – John McCain’s Final Statement released August 27.