New Democrat Coalition Weekly Wrap 07/24/2020
The New Democrat Coalition (NDC) mourns the loss of fearless leader, courageous civil rights icon, esteemed colleague, and friend Congressman John Lewis. The NDC extends condolences to his family, friends, team, and constituents. NDC Members remain committed to honoring Rep. Lewis' legacy by restoring the Voting Rights Act and protecting and expanding civil rights.
Over the past few weeks, the NDC and its Members have been hard at work securing New Dem priorities in the William M. Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and appropriations packages. The NDC continued advocating for critical coronavirus relief provisions, including automatic stabilizers and a coordinated national recovery strategy. NDC Leadership Members spoke with reporters to discuss the Coalition’s recent work and its priorities moving forward. Read more in McClatchy DC, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and NBC News.
More on what New Dems have been up to below.
NDC Leadership Members spoke with reporters to discuss the Coalition’s recent work and its priorities moving forward. The NDC will continue pushing to provide assistance to meet immediate needs and continue through the duration of the crisis and recovery; make the federal investment in a coordinated national recovery strategy with adequate testing, contact tracing, surveillance, and other mitigation strategies; and plan for subsequent waves of infections by implementing measures that provide support based on the lessons we have learned from the first wave. Read more in McClatchy DC, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and NBC News.
NDC Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06), New Dem Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and NDC National Security Task Force Co-Chairs Anthony Brown (MD-04), Brad Schneider (IL-10), and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) issued a statement following House passage of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2021. The NDAA passed with a strong bipartisan majority and puts the NDC’s national security principles into action and includes critical investments for the nation’s servicemembers and defense communities. The Coalition was pleased to see several New Dem Members’ provisions and amendments included in the final package.
The NDC, led by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), secured language in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) appropriations minibus to assess the impact of and fill widespread senior leadership and ambassadorship vacancies at the Department of State. This will help ensure the State Department is fully functional at home and abroad to maintain and protect America’s global leadership.
NDC Member Legislation
Reps. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) and Jason Crow (CO-06) introduced a resolution designating July 20th as “National Heroes Day” to honor the sacrifices of everyday heroes. The July 20th date is meant to commemorate the theater shooting which took place on July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. in which twelve lives were taken, seventy were wounded and hundreds suffered emotional trauma. Specifically, the resolution was inspired by four men whose lives were taken while shielding others on July 20, 2012: Jonathan Blunk (26); John Larimer (27); Matt McQuinn (27); and Alex Teves (24).
Reps. Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and Norma J. Torres (CA-35) introduced the Defend New Americans Act to prohibit the use of federal funds to establish a denaturalization office within the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ has historically used denaturalization proceedings sparingly, focusing on suspected war criminals who lied on their paperwork. Over the past three years, denaturalization case referrals have increased by 600 percent, despite there being no evidence of an equivalent uptick in fraudulent citizenship applications.
Reps. Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) and Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) announced she is leading bipartisan legislation to implement a federal PFAS study to uncover levels of exposure to PFAS and the health hazards that exposure presents. This legislation requires federal agencies with PFAS expertise to work with the National Academies of Science to conduct a two-phase study on PFAS exposure and toxicity and to develop a federal research and development plan to address PFAS.
Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) introduced the COVID-19 Data Transparency Act, which would codify standards for state, tribal, and local health departments to report statistical information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and require CDC to share that information with the public. The legislation came as the Trump Administration continued to meddle with federal government systems that report public health data during the ongoing global pandemic.
Rep. Gil Cisneros (CA-39) introduced the bipartisan Helping Child Care Providers Respond to the Coronavirus Public Health Emergency Act. The legislation would ensure childcare providers can use federal funding authorized under the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 to pay for costs associated with sanitization and other costs necessary to protect children and childcare workers from COVID-19.
Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-01) Introduces Two Bills:
- The Establishing Accreditation Grants for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) Act will authorize $10 million in funding for small and mid-sized police departments to earn or renew accreditation from state, regional, tribal or national police accreditation organizations, such as the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). This bill will help police departments update their standards and best practices to strengthen accountability, enhance community trust, and improve operational effectiveness.
- Bicameral legislation that will expand eligibility for state veterans’ cemeteries to allow for the interring of many Guard members and Reservists who are currently excluded from burial at these cemeteries.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) introduced bipartisan legislation to maintain critical telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide much-needed funding to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26) introduced Ensuring Protection in Childcare Act (EPIC), which provides childcare facilities with federal grants to purchase PPE and other supplies to ensure the safety and health of children and childcare workers.
Rep. Donna Shalala (FL-27) introduced the bipartisan Concerns Over Nations Funding University Campus Institutes in the United States Act (CONFUCIUS Act). The bill would seek to limit the influence of Confucius Institutes – cultural and language exchange programs at American universities funded by the Chinese government – by barring Department of Education funds from going to any college or university that does not comply with the provisions of the bill.
Rep. Susie Lee (NV-03) introduced the bipartisan VA Zero Suicide Demonstration Project Act of 2020. This bill would launch the Zero Suicide Initiative Pilot Program at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Zero Suicide Initiative, a concept and program founded by the Henry Ford Health Care System, is a program built on the belief that all suicides are preventable through proper care, patient safety, and systems-focused efforts.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (NY-05) introduced the bicameral Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Act to make a new investment in low-income and minority communities that have been especially hard-hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The legislation would provide eligible Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) with capital, liquidity, and operational capacity, to expand the flow of credit into underserved, minority, and historically disadvantaged communities, helping small businesses stay afloat and expand operations, while providing affordable access to credit for lower income borrowers.
Rep. Angie Craig (MN-02) introduced the Stop Coronavirus Scams Act in a bipartisan effort to crack down on the rising number of scams occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Stop Coronavirus Scams Act would double the maximum forfeiture penalty, criminal fine, and term of imprisonment for anyone who attempts to wrongfully obtain anything of value from individuals by using false COVID-19 related information.
NDC Member Action
NDC Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06) spoke on the House floor to honor the life and legacy of Rep. John Lewis, who was a staunch advocate for protecting and expanding civil rights.
NDC Vice Chair Terri A. Sewell (AL-07) penned an op-ed in USA Today honoring the legacy of Rep. John Lewis and renewing her commitment to fight for voting rights in his memory: “We must continue to call upon his unwavering optimism. As he would say: Never give up. Never give in. Never give out. Keep the faith and keep your eyes on the prize. And vote. Restore the Voting Rights Act — for John Lewis, and the country he loved so deeply."
NDC Vice Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01) launched a Mean Girls-themed social media campaign to promote mask wearing. Over fifty Members of Congress participated by posting photos of themselves in pink face coverings to social media, accompanied by the hashtag #OnWednesdaysWeWearPink, for the first day of the campaign on July 22nd.
NDC Freshman Leadership Representative Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06) led Members, including New Dem Reps. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Al Lawson Jr. (FL-05), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Susan Davis (CA-53), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), TJ Cox (CA-21), Darren Soto (FL-09), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), and Sharice Davids (KS-03) in sending a letter to Small Business Administrator (SBA) Jovita Carranza to prioritize the recruitment and retention of diverse talent in our small business ecosystem, especially within the Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs).
NDC Chair Emeritus Jim Himes (CT-04) joined Third Way to discuss digital election interference, election security, and social media. Rep. Himes also stressed the need for everyone, from the government to companies to campaigns to everyday citizens, to do more to protect American democracy.
Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28) delivered the Democratic Weekly Address highlighting the need to protect the nation’s elections and American democracy from foreign interference.
Reps. Donna Shalala (FL-27) and Charlie Crist (FL-13) led the entire Florida delegation, including New Dem Reps. Darren Soto (FL-09), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-23), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Al Lawson Jr. (FL-05), and Val B. Demings (FL-10) in sending a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar to increase the Florida’s allotment of Remdesivir – a drug that has been found to be effective in reducing the severity and duration of symptoms in patients infected with COVID-19.
Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-06) led the New Jersey delegation, including NDC Freshman Whip Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), and Tom Malinowski (NJ-07) in sending a letter urging U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to quickly extend the current public health emergency due to the Coronavirus disease pandemic.
Rep. Elaine Luria (VA-02) joined fellow New Dem Reps. Gerry Connolly (VA-11), A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) in sending a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor about concerns regarding the health and wellbeing of residents and staff in nursing homes during COVD-19.
Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06) sent a letter to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig, urging timely disbursement of Economic Impact Payments.
Rep. Raul Ruiz (CA-36) sent a letter to President Trump urging for the extension of the expanded unemployment benefits made available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In a letter to President Trump, Dr. Ruiz and over 100 other members of the House of Representatives urged an extension of these expanded benefits, which are set to expire at the end of the month.
Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) penned an op-ed in the American Independent highlighting the urgent need to extend unemployment benefits as the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) is set to expire at the end of the month. He also addresses the importance and utility of including automatic stabilizers in future relief packages: “At this point, McConnell and Senate Republicans have guaranteed at least a partial lapse in the benefits as it will take at least a few weeks for state unemployment offices to reprogram their systems. For McConnell, delay was just a negotiating tactic. He presumably would put Congressional Democrats, who are determined to protect American families, in a vise—the families are just collateral damage. They should have extended enhanced unemployed benefits months ago. In a crisis as horrible as this one, Americans deserve to know that the federal government will be there to help as long as help is needed. Failing to do the right thing in a crisis is unforgiveable.”
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