Voting for the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act

February 28, 2020
Enewsletters

Dear Friend,

This week, I voted for, and the House passed, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, making lynching a federal crime for the first time. I also provided an update on the coronavirus; introduced a bill to protect civil rights monuments from vandalism; questioned experts at a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing on how to help formerly incarcerated people successfully re-enter society; announced three grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; encouraged Tennesseans to get their new Real ID before the October 1, 2020 deadline; made information about temporary jobs with the U.S. Census Bureau available; and offered a health tip on the importance of vaccinations. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to see more updates as they happen. 
 
Voting for the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act 
Providing Information on the Coronavirus 
Introducing a Bill to Protect Civil Rights Monuments from Vandalism 
Questioning Experts on How to Reduce Recidivism 
Announcing Significant Federal Health Care Grants for Memphis 
Getting Prepared for New Real ID Tennessee Driver Licenses 
Applying for Good, Temporary U.S. Census Jobs 
Weekly Health Tip 
Quote of the Week 
 


Voting for the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act
 
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On Wednesday, I voted for the Emmett Till Ant-Lynching Act, making lynching a federal crime for the first time. It’s named for the 14-year-old Chicago youth killed in Money, Mississippi, in 1955. The vote was 410 to 4. See my release about the bill, including video of my remarks at two recent hearings touching on the Till case, here. See the House Judiciary Committee’s release on the vote here, and my statement for the Congressional Record here
 
Providing Information on the Coronavirus

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus that has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness in China. The original outbreak was linked to animal exposure in the city of Wuhan; however, new cases indicate that person-to-person spread is now occurring. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed fifteen COVID-19 cases in the U.S. All but one of these individuals travelled abroad or came into close contact with a returned traveler. According to the CDC, the virus is NOT currently spreading in the United States. However, it is always wise to take everyday preventive actions: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

Find more information on the Coronavirus here.

Introducing a Bill to Protect Civil Rights Monuments from Vandalism

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On Friday, I introduced the Civil Rights Legacy Protection Act, which would help protect civil rights memorials and monuments across the United States from vandalism and destruction. The Emmett Till Memorial Commission has placed commemorative markers recognizing events in the 1955 murder of Emmett Till. These signs have been stolen, shot, thrown in the river, defaced with acid and spray painted. The Commission has been forced to replace the signs four times, but, even when they can identify the perpetrators, they have no real legal recourse. This bill would establish federal penalties for vandalizing these sites. Read my release on the bill here
 
Questioning Experts on How to Reduce Recidivism

On Thursday, I questioned expert witnesses at a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security hearing about the challenges former prisoners’ face as they reenter society. We need to ensure that when people get out of prison, they have a chance to become productive, law-abiding citizens. Once someone has paid their debt to society, they need access to decent employment and housing. But too often, they face significant barriers and struggle to meet their basic needs. That is why I introduced the MEAL Act which would enable those who have been convicted of drug related felonies to access SNAP and TANF benefits. This assistance can be a critical bridge, providing recently released with support as they reestablish their lives. See my release on the hearing and my exchange with the witnesses here and here
 
Announcing Significant Federal Health Care Grants for Memphis

Also on Wednesday, I announced three U.S. Health and Human Services grants totaling $1,413,985 have been awarded to Shelby County, Memphis Health Center and Christ Community Health Center. See those releases here and here.
 
Getting Prepared for New Real ID Tennessee Driver Licenses  

On October 1, those who want to take a commercial flight or enter military bases and certain other secure federal facilities will need a Real ID from the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles, or a valid, unexpired passport. The Real ID requires proof of residential address and a valid Social Security Number. See the types of documents you will need here. See a list of Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles locations here. I am already hearing about lines at local DMV offices so I suggest a visit sooner rather than later. 
  
Applying for Good, Temporary U.S. Census Jobs 

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Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau counts the number of people living in the United States for the purpose of reapportioning the U.S. House of Representatives’ 435 seats among the 50 states. That requires a huge temporary workforce. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are now available for Census field supervisors, Census takers, clerks and other positions. In Shelby County, the pay ranges between $20 and $22 per hour with reimbursement for mileage and expenses. To qualify, you must be at least 18, have a valid Social Security number, a valid email address and pass a criminal background check. Find more information or apply for a job here.
  
Staying in Touch with My Office 

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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 a 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 using this form
  
If you would like to receive this weekly e-Newsletter, or share it with others, you can do that with this form
 
Weekly Health Tip 

This flu season is proving serious and it’s important for everyone able – including pregnant women – to get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that a flu shot during pregnancy provides antibodies to both the mother and developing baby and can reduce the likelihood of fever which can have adverse consequences. See its guidance on the subject here.  
 
Quote of the Week 

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"I thought of Emmett Till, and when the bus driver ordered me to move to the back, I just couldn’t move." — Rosa Parks

As always, I remain.
Most sincerely,

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress