Last week, our nation lost the Conscience of the Congress, a fearless civil rights icon, and a great man: Congressman John Lewis. America is a better place because of John Lewis and his fearless dedication to freedom and justice, no matter the cost. Even in his final weeks, John Lewis joined peaceful protesters to stand up against injustice – always teaching us and showing us what good trouble truly means. It was an honor to accompany him on a civil rights pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama last year to visit landmarks including the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and to reflect on some of the most painful parts of our nation’s history. While we mourn the death of John Lewis, we celebrate and remember his life. The lessons he taught us will live on as we strive to make this a more perfect union.
With John Lewis and colleagues in Selma last year.
Protecting Americans’ Civil Rights
The unlawful tactics used by federal law enforcement in Portland, Oregon have no place in our country. We cannot stand for the violation of Americans’ civil rights. After joining my colleagues in calling for a full investigation into these abuses earlier this week, I’m glad the Justice Department announced yesterday that it has opened an investigation. I am also proud to cosponsor the Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act -- which was introduced on Wednesday and will prevent federal law enforcement from being deployed to American cities without proper consultation and consent of local leadership.
Developing and Manufacturing a COVID-19 Vaccine
On Tuesday, I participated in a virtual House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on developing a vaccine for COVID-19. Much of the attention related to vaccines has focused on the timeline to develop a safe and effective vaccine, but that’s only half the battle. We also face the daunting and unprecedented task of ramping-up production to be able to provide doses for over 320 million Americans, in a matter of months.
In order to fully reopen our economy, put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, and move onto our ‘new normal,’ the majority of Americans will need to be vaccinated for this virus. In June, I introduced the Coronavirus Vaccine Development Act to ensure that once a COVID-19 vaccine is available, the United States will be able to mass-produce and administer the vaccine quickly and efficiently.
Preparation must begin now to ensure all Americans will have equitable access to a vaccine once one is available and allow our communities to safely reopen fully. I look forward to watching the remote hearing the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will hold next Friday, July 31st with Dr. Anthony Fauci and leadership at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The virtual hearing on developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Watch here.
Ending Sexual Harassment at the VA
I joined the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Women Veterans Task Force for a joint hearing on Wednesday on preventing sexual harassment in the VA. Those who go into public service to care for our veterans deserve so much better than the status quo. I know from having served on the House Committee for Veterans’ Affairs that the VA cannot care for our veterans effectively when staff are being victimized at such a pervasive rate. Course corrections are needed as soon as possible and time is of the essence. I will work with my colleagues on the Committee to see that this gets done, but the VA must immediately enact the seven recommendations made in the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report and prioritize addressing and preventing sexual harassment.
Passing the National Defense Authorization Act
This week, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). I’m grateful to my colleagues for unanimously adopting my amendment to compel the Army Corps of Engineers to re-open the childcare facility at the Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory in Hanover. Closing this facility was irresponsible, especially during a global pandemic, and it pulled the rug out from under dozens of working parents. I was proud to support the NDAA to provide a pay raise for our men and women in uniform, prevent the United States from conducting nuclear tests, and support these child care services in New Hampshire.
Addressing Climate Change
Yesterday, I held a virtual roundtable discussion with Hubbard Brook scientists to discuss the latest research and findings on climate change. Hubbard Brook is such an asset to our region and has been instrumental in helping us understand how climate change is already having an effect right here in New Hampshire.
I appreciate the opportunity to hear from the Hubbard Brook team about the impact of ice storms on our forests, the widespread consequences of ‘winter whiplash’ on our environment and economy, the impact of carbon dioxide emissions, and the barriers facing many Granite Staters in pursuing careers in science. I look forward to sharing what I heard in this discussion with leaders in New Hampshire and my colleagues in Congress as we continue working to combat climate change and protect our environment.
The climate change discussion with the Hubbard Brook team.
Protecting the Great Outdoors and Permanently Funding LWCF
I voted in favor of the Great American Outdoors Act on Wednesday, which includes full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). As a life-long outdoor enthusiast, I am so proud to support this historic conservation bill. LWCF funds have already helped our state and communities preserve lands ranging from city parks to forest wilderness to drinking water sources. With the program fully funded for the first time, New Hampshire will receive about $4.5 million annually as we continue these conservation efforts. The bill will also help address the more than $43 million in backlogged maintenance projects that have already been identified on public lands in New Hampshire.
News You Can Use
Masks remain an extremely effective and simple step people can take to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of 2 wear a face covering in public when physical distancing is difficult. Many people with COVID-19 never show symptoms and they can unknowingly infect others who may be more vulnerable, so it is critical that we all do our part and wear a mask.
New Hampshire is now part of a program allowing SNAP recipients to purchase groceries online. This will help Granite Staters who rely on SNAP benefits to get the nourishment they need while staying safe during the COVID-19 crisis.
This week, House Democratic leaders proposed a spending bill for the Environmental Protection Agency that will direct the EPA to accelerate efforts to restrict discharges of PFAS. The bill also includes an amendment I filed with my colleagues to prohibit the Trump Administration from blocking actions designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances and set a national drinking water standard for these chemicals.
COVID-19 tests are available to all Granite Staters, and all New Hampshire residents are encouraged to get a test. To sign up for a COVID-19 test, click here.
As always, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services are the best resources to turn to during the COVID-19 public health emergency. If you are sick, stay home and call your health care provider. If you live in NH and have questions about coronavirus, dial 211 or visit CDC.gov for more information.
Enjoying the beautiful weather. Go Sox!
Lastly, today is Opening Day for the Red Sox and I’m looking forward to tuning in for the first game of the season! I hope that you have a safe, fun weekend, and don’t forget your mask when you are in public!