Remembering September 11
This week, we will pause to remember where we were or what was lost on September 11, 2001. We will remember all those we lost that day 20 years ago Saturday. I wrote to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this week urging the agency not to re-approve Trump’s ill-advised waiver for TennCare that would inevitably shortchange those who rely on Medicaid in Tennessee. I also announced a major Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to hire Memphis firefighters; spoke on national television about my concerns about efforts to obstruct the work of the Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection; applauded the Department of Justice’s decision to challenge a restrictive Texas abortion law; introduced a bill to rein in kleptocrats; sought Presidential Medals of Freedom for Julius Rosenwald and Julian Bond; congratulated WREG general manager Ron Walter on his retirement; announced National Institutes of Health grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC); 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 Saturday, we will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on our country and remember all those we lost. We will remember especially the first responders – police paramedics, firefighters – who rushed into the Twin Towers and heroically gave their lives. On this 9/11 we will thank all the FDNY firefighters and firefighters around the country who risk their lives every day for us. I was asked by The Commercial Appeal for my thoughts about how the country has changed in ways both profound and subtle because of the attacks. See that article here.
On Wednesday, I wrote to Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services urging the agency not to re-approve a misguided and unhealthy block grant-style waiver for TennCare that the Trump administration granted in its final days without public comment. I put out a news release with my formal comments listing all the reasons the waiver is a bad idea. See those here.
Also Wednesday, I announced that the Memphis Fire Department will be receiving a $10,795,984 grant from the Department of Homeland Security’s SAFER Program to hire more firefighters and create more good-paying jobs. See my release here.
On Sunday, I appeared on MSNBC to discuss Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s efforts to prevent the Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection from getting the records it is requesting. His tactic is consistent with the Republican approach to denying responsibility for the Trump-incited attack on at the U.S. Capitol. See that interview here.
On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Department of Justice will challenge Texas’ SB 8, a clearly unconstitutional restriction on women’s reproductive rights. As Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, I released a statement applauding the Attorney General’s decision. See that statement here.
On Friday, as Co-Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, I joined Ranking Member Joe Wilson of South Carolina in introducing the Counter-Kleptocracy Act. The legislation consolidates seven bipartisan counter-kleptocracy bills led by members of the Helsinki Commission and the Caucus against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy during the 117th Congress. Kleptocracy threatens national security and human rights. It underpins every global challenge we face today. From climate change and COVID to organized crime and human trafficking, corruption either causes or exacerbates the problem.
On Thursday, my Congressional colleague Danny K. Davis of Illinois and I led a letter urging President Biden to award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Julius Rosenwald, a Chicago philanthropist responsible for building 5,300 Rosenwald schools for African Americans, mainly in the South, and for supporting Jewish and progressive causes in the early 20th Century. The philanthropy fund he founded supported many African American artists, including the opera singer Marian Anderson. Rosenwald’s philosophy of philanthropy was based on the Jewish concept of tzedakah, combining social justice and charity. See our letter here.
This morning, I led a letter with Georgia Congressmen Sanford D. Bishop Jr., Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr., and David Scott requesting that President Biden bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Julian Bond for his tireless work and significant contributions to our nation as a prominent voice for equality and civil rights. Julian Bond dedicated his life to making America a more just place for minorities, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. As a founder of the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and president of both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP, Mr. Bond was a pioneer and important leader of the civil rights movement. See our letter here.
Last Thursday, September 2, I attended Channel 3 General Manager Ron Walter’s retirement reception on the WREG campus overlooking the Mississippi River. Watch my congratulatory video on his 34 years of service at WREG and his service on the Tennessee Valley Authority board.
On Wednesday, I announced that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will provide a grant over $525,000 to underwrite continuing research on juvenile leukemia at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. See that release here.
On Tuesday, I announced that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will provide more than $3.2 million to modernize the biocontainment laboratory at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. See that release here.
This week, Shelby County recorded a record number of new COVID cases in a single day – 1,295. With the continued rise of cases, I continue to urge my constituents to get the vaccine and take all other sensible precautions, including hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing, as recommended by public health officials. Any hope earlier this year that the pandemic was winding down now seems misplaced, but it is clear that we have the tools to mitigate it. President Biden’s plan to mandate shots for broad categories of workers, announced Thursday, is the right and necessary approach, as the United States lags behind many other first-world countries in our vaccination rates and currently leads all countries in new cases reported. I encourage all employers to heed the guidance.
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. 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/.
“Are you ready? Let’s roll!” – Passenger Todd Beamer of New Jersey aboard United Airlines Flight 93 above western Pennsylvania, September 11, 2001.
Go Tigers! Beat the ASU Red Wolves Saturday!
As always, I remain.
Member of Congress