Welcoming an Extension of the Eviction Moratorium
This week, I joined my Democratic colleagues in calling for an extension of the national eviction moratorium that expired July 31 and welcomed the Biden Administration’s announcement of a new eviction ban through October 3 in counties with “substantial and high levels” of coronavirus transmission. I also called attention to rental and utilities assistance available for renters and landlords. All week, I monitored the progress on a slowly evolving infrastructure bill in the Senate which is expected to contain several of my legislative priorities. I also welcomed the introduction in the U.S. Senate of companion legislation to my MEAL Act, which would end restrictions on certain safety net programs for people with drug felony convictions re-entering society. I reintroduced the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Act to allow privately issued student loans to be discharged like other consumer debt. Lastly, I announced a significant National Science Foundation grant to the University of Memphis and offered a health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
Last Saturday, the national eviction moratorium expired and the House, Senate, and Biden Administration labored to find a solution that was fair to both tenants and landlords. I joined my Democratic colleagues in insisting we find a temporary solution that will prevent up to 11.4 million people from being made homeless. I also joined my colleagues in urging state and local governments to quickly distribute rental assistance, which would solve the problem by providing landlords with the rent they are owed and tenants with the funds they need to stay in their homes. Congress provided $46.5 billion in rental assistance funds through the American Rescue Plan, but only about one-tenth has yet been distributed. If you are a tenant or landlord seeking rental assistance, please see the information in the following section.
I want to encourage renters and landlords with past due rent and utility bills to take advantage of the COVID-19 Emergency Rental and Utilities Assistance Program if you are eligible. This relief program was created through the American Rescue Plan that I was proud to vote for in March. If you are a Shelby County renter seeking financial assistance, you should follow this link to apply. Shelby County landlords seeking financial assistance must fill out this registration form. For help through the application process, call 211 or email email@example.com. You may also schedule an in-person appointment at one of the Help Centers by calling 211. More information about the COVID-19 Emergency Rental and Utilities Assistance Program for Shelby County can be found at this link. You can find additional resources and locate rental assistance programs in other parts of the country using the national Rental Assistance Finder.
The bipartisan infrastructure framework, or the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is working its way through the U.S. Senate. I am monitoring progress on that bill and the larger $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill expected to be passed though budget reconciliation. Both measures will stimulate the economy, create jobs and make our transportation infrastructure of roads, bridges, tunnels and pipelines – and the human infrastructure of the social safety net of education and child care – more modern, climate-sensitive and fair.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey this morning introduced the Making Essentials Affordable and Lawful (MEAL) Act that I introduced in the House in April. The measure, once passed, would lift restrictions on SNAP and TANF benefits for those re-entering society. See my April release on the bill here.
I reintroduced the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act along with Reps. Danny K. Davis and Eric Swalwell. Congress changed the bankruptcy law in 2005, which made private student loans very difficult to discharge in bankruptcy. As many news reports have shown, private student loans have much in common with credit cards and subprime mortgages. Private student loans also lack the critical consumer protections that come with federal student loans. My bill will ensure that privately issued student loans will once again be treated like other consumer debt and be dischargeable in bankruptcy. See the release here.
On Tuesday, I announced that the National Science Foundation would be underwriting research into efforts to assure the success of engineering undergraduates at the University of Memphis. See that release here.
The situation with the Delta variant of the coronavirus has me concerned for my constituents who have not yet been vaccinated, especially children who are too young to receive the vaccine. We are seeing much higher transmissibility rates and hospitalizations in Memphis. I was pleased to see that the Pipkin Building vaccination center at the old Mid-South Fairgrounds that was scheduled to close last week will remain open through the end of August. Please avail yourself of the free shots as soon as possible.
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 COVID-19 vaccinations. To find the latest information about vaccination sites, to request a vaccination appointment for a homebound individual, or to set up a community COVID vaccination event, visit https://covid19.memphistn.gov/.
“The right to vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democracy. I risked my life defending that right. Some died in the struggle. If we are ever to actualize the true meaning of equality, effective measures such as the Voting Rights Act are still a necessary requirement of democracy.” – U.S. Representative John Lewis, who led the march to Selma and was largely responsible for President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act on this day 56 years ago.
As always, I remain
As always, I remain.
Member of Congress