Voting for the Updated Heroes Act
October 2, 2020
This week, I voted to address the ongoing health and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic with the updated Heroes Act, which contains several provisions I pushed for that will benefit my Memphis constituents. I also expressed the hope that President Trump and the First Lady will recover from exposure to the coronavirus; condemned vote-suppression efforts in Texas and Pennsylvania; voted to advance a bill that will improve the accountability of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the safety certification of aircraft like the Boeing 737 MAX; wrote again to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about my concerns about fraudulent manipulation of the Paycheck Protection Program, possibly involving companies linked to the President; introduced a bill to permit a fairer distribution of funds to cities like Memphis from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program; joined my Congressional colleagues in a letter to President Trump asking him to take a leadership role in curbing plastics pollution; remembered Father Nicholas Vieron of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church for his ecumenical leadership during the 1968 Sanitation Workers Strike and long service to our community; announced a major job training initiative; and offered another coronavirus-related health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
Voting for the Updated Heroes Act to Address Health and Economic Consequences of the Pandemic
This week, Democratic Congressional leaders continued to try to negotiate with Trump Administration officials over the scope of a new coronavirus response bill to address the ongoing pandemic and its economic and social consequences. On Thursday, I voted for an updated Heroes Act, a slimmed down version of the bill the House passed on May 15 that the Senate has so far failed to consider. The new measure is our set of priorities in ongoing negotiations, and includes another $1,200 economic impact payment for individuals and $500 per dependent; a continuation of the $600 federal weekly supplement to state unemployment benefits; and help for restaurants, airlines, public schools, hospitals and community health centers, and transit systems. It also helps protect our upcoming election. I look forward to successful negotiations resulting in an acceptable compromise because our country is suffering.
This morning, President Trump announced that he and the First Lady have tested positive for the coronavirus. I wish them both a speedy recovery and a return to their family after the required quarantine period.
Earlier today, I condemned new voter-suppression efforts in Texas and Pennsylvania just a month before the November 3 election. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed an executive order limiting Texas counties – some larger than two states – to one drop-box for mail-in ballots. Pennsylvania’s Republican-dominated legislature is considering an “election integrity” committee, with subpoena power and the authority to impound uncounted ballots in a transparent effort to weed out disfavored ballots and delay certification of the election results. See my release here.
On Wednesday, as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its Subcommittee on Aviation, I voted to advance the Aircraft Certification Reform and Accountability Act to the House floor. The measure will improve regulatory oversight of the airline safety certification process and is based on the findings of an 18-month Committee investigation into the crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX airliners, now understood to have been caused in part by lax federal oversight. See my remarks on the measure and my release on the bill here.
After Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to answer my letter in a timely manner regarding my concerns about his department’s plan to forgive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans despite reports of widespread fraud in the program, I sent him a letter to follow up. In my second letter, I also asked him to review whether companies associated with President Trump have received PPP loans. See my release and letters here.
On Tuesday, I introduced a measure to provide a fairer funding formula for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program grants to cities like Memphis. I appreciate the input from Mayor Strickland in shaping this legislative proposal. See my release on the measure here.
On Thursday, I led a letter with my Senate and House colleagues urging President Trump to ensure our future trade agreement with Kenya does not undermine plastic waste mitigation efforts. It is important the U.S. champion equitable trade agreements that promote sustainable jobs and protect our global environment. See that letter here.
Father Nicholas Vieron of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church on Highland, who was the ecumenical chairman of the Memphis Ministerial Association at the time of the Sanitation Workers Strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., passed on Tuesday. He was a fine man, always quick with a kind word or a joke. See my remembrance of him in The Congressional Record here.
Voter registration: Voters must be registered by October 5. New voters have three options to register to vote in Tennessee. You can apply online here; print and hand-deliver your completed application to the Shelby County Election Commission office (located at 980 Nixon Drive, Memphis, TN 38134); or register in person at any of the following agencies: County Clerk’s Office, County Election Commission Office, Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Mental Health, Department of Safety (DMV), Department of Veterans Affairs, a public library or the Register of Deeds Office.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, October 27. Due to mail delivery delays at the Postal Service, it is strongly recommended that you request an absentee ballot as soon as possible. Request your ballot here. Once you’ve received it and cast your votes, immediately send it back to the Election Commission.
Mail-in ballots must be received at your county election commission by Election Day to count. Mail-in ballots CANNOT be hand delivered to election offices. The only acceptable way to submit an absentee mail-in ballot in Tennessee is by mail (USPS, FedEx, UPS, et cetera). If you do not receive your ballot in the mail, please contact the Shelby County Board of Elections Absentee Department at (901) 222-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is important to fill out the every-ten-year head count mandated by the Constitution, which provides an accurate measure of the population for federal benefits and political representation. I urge you to fill out the U.S. Census form as soon as possible. Your community is counting on you. If you need help filling out your Census questionnaire, call the help line at (844) 330-2020.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new contractor to operate the Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center on McAlister in Whitehaven. See my release on the announcement here.
My office will have a limited number of 2021 U.S. Capitol Historical Society calendars available. If you would like to receive a calendar, please complete this form on my website. Due to the rules of the House, I am only able to mail calendars to residents of Tennessee’s Ninth District. Please feel free to share this email with other residents of the Ninth District who may be interested in receiving one but who do not receive my e-Newsletter.
Again this week, I want to call attention to the high number of coronavirus cases, in Tennessee and across the country, that are likely the result of reopening prematurely without implementing basic precautionary measures such as wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines. Please follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols and those adopted by Memphis and Shelby County for staying safe in this ongoing pandemic: Wash your hands with soap frequently for at least 25 seconds; keep a minimum social distance of six feet from others; wear a face mask when out in public; and avoid being in crowds of more than 10. When you’re indoors, six feet might not be far enough, according to recent studies; 14 feet might be better. It is best to wear a mask, particularly when indoors in close quarters. We must work together to get through this.
“Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist
As always, I remain.