Voting to Protect Voting Rights
This week, I asked the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, on which I serve, to hold a hearing on the threats to drinking water as result of contamination from coal ash. My request followed reports that coal ash landfills at power plants are contaminating ground water and that the Memphis Allen Fossil Plant is among the nation’s worst offenders. I also testified before the House Budget Committee about strengthening our health care and safety net programs; voted to protect voting rights and reduce the influence of big money in politics; supported my Judiciary Committee’s document request to conduct meaningful oversight of the Trump administration; introduced the Stop Underrides and the Air Carriers Access Amendments bills; questioned expert witnesses about reducing the rape kit backlog at a hearing concerning the Violence Against Women Act; met with advocates of juvenile diabetes research; announced two research grants for the University of Tennessee’s medical school; and offered a health tip for National Women’s History Month. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see more updates as they happen.
Requesting Hearing on Coal Ash Impact on Groundwater Contamination
Recommending Budget Priorities Focused on Health and Safety
Voting to Protect Voting Rights and End Culture of Corruption
Gathering Evidence Regarding Allegations of Abuse of Power, Corruption and Obstruction of Justice
Introducing Stop Underrides Act
Introducing Air Carriers Access Amendments Act
Reducing the Rape Kit Backlog
Meeting with Ambassadors for Juvenile Diabetes Research
Announcing UTHSC Grants
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week
On Monday, in response to a report from the Environmental Integrity Project that placed the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Memphis Allen Fossil Plant’s coal ash landfill among the top ten offenders in polluted nearby groundwater, I asked the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, on which I serve, to hold a hearing on the threat posed by this and other similarly situated plants. As I said in my letter, if the allegations about the Memphis plant are true, they are alarming and must be addressed. See my letter and release here.
On Wednesday, I testified before the House Budget Committee, stating that I believe that it is finally time for our budget to align with our values. We need to invest more in our real Departments of Defense – the public health missions of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – not give the Department of Defense more than half of our discretionary spending. See my remarks here.
On Friday, I voted for, and the House passed, H.R. 1, the For the People Act to help restore our democracy and reduce the influence of big money in politics which I was proud to cosponsor. The comprehensive measure addresses important priorities by: providing for automatic voter registration, preventing inappropriate voter roll purges; restoring voting rights to those who have served out their felony sentences; reforming the campaign finance system, ensuring disclosures about online political ads; and prohibiting Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards or using taxpayer funds to settle employment discrimination complaints. The bill also requires candidates for president and vice president to release 10 years of tax returns, closes loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents and institutes a code of ethics for the Supreme Court. It passed by a vote of 234 to 193.
On Monday, the Judiciary Committee on which I serve as Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties sent document requests to 81 individuals and entities as a preliminary step in exercising oversight of the Trump administration. Our investigation into alleged obstructions of justice, public corruption and abuses of power is long overdue and comes after two years of inaction. See the Committee’s release and the list of those receiving document requests here. And see my interview about the document request with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer here.
On Tuesday, I joined Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-California) and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida) in introducing the Stop Underrides Act to help prevent deadly crashes in which automobiles underride tractor trailers. See a release on the measures here.
On Wednesday, I joined Representatives Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island) and Dina Titus (D-Nevada) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) in introducing the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act to protect the rights of disabled airplane passengers. As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, I am proud to support legislation that makes travel more accessible to those with disabilities. See my release here.
Reducing the Rape Kit Backlog
On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on reauthorizing the landmark Violence Against Women Act that lapsed in February. I asked witnesses about the importance of federal funding to help cities like Memphis reduce their backlog of untested rape kits. I am proud that my efforts to increase the amount of federal funding that is made available annually to help local law enforcement process DNA evidence have been so successful, but more needs to be done. See our exchanges here.
WHBQ-Fox13 newscaster Darrell Greene, a leader in advocacy for research into Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes in West Tennessee, came to my Washington office Wednesday to discuss the Special Diabetes Program that does essential research into Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. St. Jude and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center both receive funding through this program, and I am proud to support it.
On Tuesday, I announced that the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) would be receiving a $418,000 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to conduct research on neurological disorders. See my release here. UTHSC also received a National Eye Institute grant for $278,421 for vision research on Thursday.
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I’m focusing on women’s health concerns during Women’s History Month. The Centers for Disease Control reminds women that breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, after skin cancer, and reminds women about the need for regular exams. Those exams are now free through the preventive care coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act. See the CDC's Breast Cancer Awareness guidance here.
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
– Journalist and Civil Rights pioneer Ida B. Wells, from a Washington Bee newspaper advertisement announcing her October 31, 1892, lecture at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington.
Remember to set your clocks ahead Saturday night for the beginning of Daylight Saving Time Sunday.
I’m scheduled to be on MSNBC’s “Live with Alex Witt” on Sunday at noon Central/1 p.m. Eastern time.
As always, I remain,
Member of Congress