Welcoming Secretary Buttigieg to Assess the Hernando DeSoto Bridge Closure
May 28, 2021
As we enter Memorial Day weekend, we will take time to remember those who lost their lives serving our country. We honor their sacrifice and hold them in our hearts.
Earlier today, I learned that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has accepted my invitation and will visit Memphis next Thursday to assess the damage to the Hernando DeSoto Bridge and the disruption to traffic in the Mid-South. I welcome his commitment to a hands-on response to this situation.
This week, I spoke at a European Union – U.S. Parliamentary Consultation session about the threats to human rights posed by the rise of authoritarianism. I also went on CNN to condemn dog whistles by some members of Congress who demonstrate their ignorance and misunderstanding of history by likening mask mandates and sensible health-related guidance to the Holocaust. I continue to follow the progress of the repair of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge, and I am consulting with stakeholders and experts on ways to expedite the work. I also submitted written testimony to the Veterans Affairs Committee on my priorities for veterans in Memphis; wrote to Attorney General Garland about releasing a Barr Justice Department memo explaining its decision not to charge the former president with obstructing the Mueller investigation; announced significant grants to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and the University of Memphis; and offered a health tip. Keep reading and following me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I’m doing as it happens.
I learned earlier today that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has accepted my May 13 invitation and will visit Memphis on Thursday to assess the damage to the Hernando DeSoto Bridge and the resulting disruption to commerce in the nation’s third busiest freight corridor. It is important to have the highest-ranking transportation official in the country dedicated to resolving this issue, and I welcome his visit and will do all I can, as a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to address both Memphis’ and the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. See my release on the Secretary’s visit here.
On Tuesday, as a senior member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, I spoke at a European Union – U.S. Consultation session on human rights. I expressed my concern that authoritarian governments in Hong Kong, Belarus and Ukraine, among other places, are abusing human rights. I also expressed my belief that effective protests and free speech must be restored. See my statement, including my speech to the forum, here.
On Monday night, I talked with Anderson Cooper on CNN about recent offensive comments made by a freshman Congresswoman from Georgia conflating mask mandates and other health-related restrictions with Nazi policies restricting the freedom of Jews in advance of the Holocaust. At the time of the interview, few Republicans had condemned her remarks. I attributed her uninformed commentary to ignorance and a lack of a sense of history. See that interview here.
On Wednesday, I submitted written testimony to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, asking its members to consider strengthening the Memphis VA Medical Center, end the backlog in cases, and consider my bill prioritizing local contractors for VA improvement projects. See my release on the submission here.
As a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, I continue to be deeply concerned about the former President Trump’s obstruction of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Rather than pursue justice, the Barr Justice Department acted to cover up Trump’s criminal culpability. Earlier this month, I urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to comply with a federal district court ruling that ordered the Department of Justice to release a memo attempting to explain why the Department decided not to charge then-President Trump with obstruction of justice. This week, the Department told the Judge of its intent to appeal and publicly shared a highly redacted version of the memorandum. In response, I again wrote to Attorney General Garland asking him to release the entire document so that the American people can fully understand the lengths the Barr Justice Department went to to obscure the former president’s misconduct. See my release and the letters to Garland here.
On Monday, I announced that the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) will be receiving a grant for leadership in neurodevelopmental training. On Wednesday, I announced the University of Memphis would be receiving a substantial grant for behavioral health training. See those releases here and here.
As the country opens up and we look forward to commemorating Memorial Day and the traditional beginning of summer, I continue to urge my constituents and friends to get vaccinated so we can begin to return to a state of normalcy. Sites around town are offering the free shots on a first-come, first-served basis with little or no waiting. They are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The last day to receive a vaccine at Greater Imani Church at 3824 Austin Peay Highway is Saturday, May 29. Other sites will remain open.
To find the latest information about vaccination sites or to request a vaccination appointment for a homebound individual, go to https://covid19.memphistn.gov/ or call (901) 222-SHOT (7468). I urge my constituents and friends to get the shot as soon as possible.
“I have the solemn duty yet again of ordering the flag to be lowered at half-staff, just weeks after doing so following the mass shootings at spas in and around Atlanta; in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado; at a home in Rock Hill, South Carolina; and at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. Enough. Once again, I urge Congress to take immediate action and heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America.” – Statement by President Joe Biden on the mass shooting in San Jose, California, on Wednesday.
I want to wish everyone a pleasant Memorial Day. The third game in the playoff series against the Utah Jazz is Saturday. Go Grizz!
As always, I remain.