Wishing All a Happy 4th of July
I hope all of my constituents have a joyful 4th of July on Sunday. This week has been particularly eventful with some tangible benefits for the people of the 9th Congressional District. After more than ten years on the Helsinki Commission, which helps formulate our foreign policy toward Europe, Speaker Pelosi honored me by naming me Co-Chairman this week. On Thursday, the House passed a major surface transportation bill that includes several Memphis-specific projects that I fought for as well as several national safety provisions I introduced. I also voted to create a Select Committee to investigate the cause of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol; chaired my Subcommittee at a hearing on enhancing the Voting Rights Act; introduced a bill to create independent commissions for redistricting; voted to remove statues of Confederate officials from places of prominence in the Capitol; urged the Department of Transportation to insist that airlines refund payments for canceled flights; announced major grants to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and 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.
Sunday is the 245th anniversary of the first 4th of July, and I wish all my constituents and friends a happy and safe national holiday. As I said in a statement to the press, American democracy is the envy of the world but has occasionally needed adjustments including a Civil War and major Constitutional amendments to stay on the road to a more perfect union. See that statement here. Stay safe and enjoy the fireworks.
On Wednesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that I will serve as the Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission. I am pleased to be working with Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, the other Co-Chairman. I have served on the Helsinki Commission, whose purpose is promoting freedom, democracy and respect for human rights, for ten years, meeting with foreign parliamentarians and experts on a wide array of issues. Seniority has its privileges, and my new role will give me – and Memphis – more influence on the world stage. See my release on receiving this honor here.
On Thursday, I voted for and the House passed the INVEST in America Act, a five-year surface transportation measure that includes my requests to improve Elvis Presley Boulevard in the Whitehaven community; purchase six all-electric buses for the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA); reconstruct the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Cooper Street at Overton Park; improve traffic flow for Lamar Avenue, Kimball Avenue and Pendleton Street in Orange Mound; and install pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly improvements to increase safety on Mississippi Boulevard near LeMoyne-Owen College. The bill also includes several national safety provisions I introduced and championed. See my release on the measure here.
As many of you know, I was in the House Chamber when the Trump- inspired rioters invaded the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in a failed attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. On Wednesday, I voted to create a Select Committee to investigate the cause of the deadly attack, assign responsibility and make recommendations to prevent a recurrence. See my release on the vote here.
On Tuesday, as Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, I presided over a hearing on enhancing the Voting Rights Act weakened by a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision. See my release on the hearing, including my questioning of expert witnesses, here.
On Thursday, I reintroduced the John Tanner Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act, named for my friend and former West Tennessee Congressman John Tanner, who championed independent commissions for redistricting when he was in the House. The bill would create commissions charged with creating redistricting plans that emphasize geographical contiguity and compactness of districts rather than political affiliations or the impact a district’s lines might have on incumbent representatives. See my release on the measure here.
On Tuesday, I voted to remove the statues of the author of the infamous Dred Scott decision and of Confederate officials who fought against the United States in the Civil War from their places of prominence in the U.S. Capitol. We are not erasing history with this action, as some critics will claim; we are finally ending the indignity of literally putting traitors and proponents of slavery up on pedestals.
On Wednesday, I joined my Congressional colleague Jesús G. “Chuy” García of Illinois and Senators Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut in sending a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urging the department to protect air travelers from an unfair business practice that has pervaded aviation during the coronavirus pandemic – the denial of cash refunds for canceled flights and the issuance of flight credits that will soon expire. See my release and the letter here.
On Wednesday, I announced a major grant to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospitals from the National Institutes of Health and on Thursday, I announced a National Science Foundation grant to the University of Memphis. See those releases here and here.
As we celebrate our nation’s founding this long weekend, we need to be mindful that many people we may encounter are not vaccinated. This is especially alarming given that a more transmissible form of the coronavirus is spreading in our community. Take the necessary precautions and, if you haven’t gotten vaccinated, make the patriotic gesture and get it done. Those who have been vaccinated are at virtually no risk of the disease.
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/.
“Generations of Americans made our country what it is today – farmers and teachers, engineers and laborers, entrepreneurs and elected leaders – people from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, all pulling in the same direction. And now we, the people, must make their task our own – to live up to the words of that Declaration of Independence, and secure liberty and opportunity for our own children, and for future generations.” – President Barack Obama’s 2013 Independence Day Address.
As always, I remain.
Member of Congress