Visiting the United States Military Academy in West Point
This week, I travelled to the United States Military Academy at West Point with a bipartisan group of my colleagues and members of the German Parliament to discuss European Union-American relations, congratulated Memphian Perry Alexander on his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Airforce, bowled at the White House with PBA World Champion and Memphis Native Gary Faulkner, Jr., and met with members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Keep reading to learn more about my week or follow me on Twitter and Facebook to see these updates as they happen.
Visiting the United States Military Academy in West Point
Honoring Lt. Col. Perry Alexander
Balancing Americans’ Security and Privacy
Bowling at the White House with PBA World Champion Gary Faulkner
Meeting with the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
Bringing Congress to Your Corner
U.S. Naval Academy Summer Seminar
The IRS Urges Public to Stay Alert for Scam Phone Calls
Ensuring Memphians Get the Tax Refunds They Deserve
Last weekend, I travelled to New York with a bipartisan group of my colleagues and members of the Bundestag (German Parliament) to visit the United States Military Academy in West Point and discuss German-American relations. During the trip, hosted by the German Marshall Fund, we also discussed Syrian refugees, cyber warfare, NATO, relations with Russia, trade between the United States and the European Union, and the future of the European Union.
I also met with two cadets from Memphis, Albert Joe and Chris Walker (pictured above). It was gratifying to see the cadets at West Point and their dedication to serving our country. I sat in on a class and saw why West Point is such a fine military academy. We made an additional stop at the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. As a survivor of polio, I identify with President Roosevelt. Polio survivors are generally Type-A, driven individuals, and I can relate to President Roosevelt’s tenacity to overcome his fight with polio. He went on to be elected President of the United States for four terms, ended the Great Depression, led us to victory in World War II, and was a great American hero.
On Tuesday, Memphian Perry Alexander was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the United States Air Force. I had the pleasure of congratulating Lt. Col. Alexander, his mom Beverly Alexander, and his sister Shelby Alexander in person during their trip to Washington, D.C. for the pinning ceremony. Earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, especially so soon in his career, is a significant accomplishment. Over the last fifteen years, Lt. Col. Alexander’s hard work and dedication to the Air Force has made him one of the finest officers in our military. I would like to thank Lt. Col. Alexander for representing the city of Memphis, state of Tennessee, and Whitehaven High School so well.
On Tuesday, I participated in a House Judiciary Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and representatives from Apple. At the hearing we discussed the ongoing debate about whether Apple should be required to give the FBI access to encrypted information on iPhones in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting last year. You can watch my questions with FBI Director Comey here.
Today, I had the honor of bowling at the White House with PBA World Champion Bowler and Memphis native Gary Faulkner, Jr, his mother Wanda Faulkner and his sister Alexandria Faulkner. Mr. Faulkner is only the second African American to ever win a PBA title. I was pleased to be able to offer him and his family the opportunity to bowl at the White House, and I even bowled two strikes! I wish Gary Faulkner continued success in his career.
On Tuesday, I met with State Representative Johnnie Turner and members of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority: Immediate Past President of the Shelby County Alumnae Chapter Shirley Page, Lillian St. Clair, Vanecia Kimbrow, and Memphis Alumnae Chapter President Yolaundia Cofield for their 2016 Delta Day in the Nation’s Capital. During the meeting, we discussed voting rights, affordable college education, affordable healthcare, and how Tennessee Promise takes scholarship money away from lower income, more accomplished students and gives it to higher income, less qualified students.
On Thursday, March 24 from 12:30pm-2:30pm my office will hold “Congress on your Corner” office hours at the Hickory Hill Community Center at 3910 Ridgeway Road. My staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide assistance with Social Security, Medicare, FHA, the VA or any other federal agencies.
The United States Naval Academy Summer Seminar is a fast-paced, six-day experience for high achievers who have completed their junior year in high school. Summer Seminar teaches students about life at the Naval Academy, where academics, athletics, and professional training play equally important roles in developing our nation's leaders. Students who are interested in pursuing an appointment to one of our nation's service academies and serving as an officer, are encouraged to apply for the Naval Academy's Summer Seminar at https://www.usna.edu/Admissions/index.php. The Naval Academy Summer Seminar online application closes 11:59 p.m. (EST) on March 31. The Summer Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) online application closes 11:59 p.m. (EST) on April 15.
The IRS continues to warn consumers to guard against scam phone calls from thieves intent on stealing their money or their identity. Criminals pose as the IRS to trick victims out of their money or personal information. Click here for several tips to help you avoid being a victim of these scams and what to do if believe you have been contacted by a scammer.
In December, I voted to permanently extend the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which is indexed for future increases, for low and middle income individuals and families. This provision ultimately became law.
April 15th – the deadline to file your 2015 federal tax return – is only a month away. As you prepare your return, I hope you won’t overlook the EITC if you are eligible for it. It is an important credit that can give families a financial boost. Sadly, eligible taxpayers in Memphis and Shelby County have not taken full advantage of the program. I want to encourage everyone who is eligible to consider claiming it when filing their taxes.
Memphians shouldn’t pay more than they owe, and they should receive every penny they deserve in refunds. In 2014, I helped open one of 15 new Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites that operate throughout Shelby County. The VITA sites are available to provide tax return guidance and advice free of charge to ensure that Memphians take full advantage of programs like the EITC and get the tax refund to which they are entitled. More information including a list of all VITA locations and their hours is available at the Shelby County Trustee’s website, and I encourage you to find one near you to help ensure you get every penny you are owed.
As always, I remain.
Member of Congress