Protecting the Rights of All Americans
Like so many of you, my heart breaks for the death of George Floyd, his family and loved ones, and the Minneapolis community. America is crying out in pain and frustration over the profound loss of over 100,000 lives from COVID-19 and the disproportionate impact on communities of color. Black Americans face an equally deadly virus in the racism and bias of their daily lives, culminating in violence, and even murder at the hands of the police.
Our Constitution protects our First Amendment right to peaceful protest and I support the rich tradition of dialogue and dissent of the civil rights movement.
As Americans of all backgrounds come together and call for lasting change, we must also remember those agitators who instigate violence and mayhem have no part in this movement and must be restrained.
President Trump’s use of tear gas and rubber bullets on Americans who are peacefully protesting is shameful and reminiscent of some of the darkest hours in American history. The rights of all Americans to demonstrate in a non-violent way must be protected, and it is our duty to fulfill our nation’s promise of equal liberty and justice for all.
A Conversation with Community Leaders about Race and Justice
|Watch our conversation about race and justice here.|
Earlier today, I was joined by NAACP Nashua President Gloria Timmons, Senator Melanie Levesque, and Nashua Chief of Police Michael Carignan for an important discussion on race and justice. Their work in Nashua to promote a safe, inclusive community for all is an example many of our communities nationwide can follow. I look forward to our continued work together. It is up to all of us to listen, learn, and look toward a future where all Americans are treated equally.
Ensuring the U.S. is Prepared to Produce & Administer the COVID-19 Vaccine Once Available
Yesterday, I introduced legislation with Representative Hakeem Jeffries to ensure that the U.S. is prepared to produce and administer a COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available. 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. Our nation’s top doctors and vaccine experts tell us that we are still a ways away from identifying and approving a vaccine for this virus, but we must begin working now to ensure that we are prepared to administer vaccines once one is available. This legislation will help to ensure that Americans – especially communities that have been disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus – will not face unnecessary delays or obstacles to getting vaccinated.
Responding to COVID-19 in Underserved Communities
|Talking with Governors Whitmer and Polis. Watch here.|
On Wednesday, I participated in a virtual hearing with governors on state-level responses amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. I was able to question Governors Gretchen Whitmer (MI), Jared Polis (CO), and Asa Hutchinson (AR). Given the burdens that COVID-19 placed on our nation’s public health and health care system, we have a brief window in which to learn from past missteps and prepare for a second wave. Across our nation, lower-income communities and communities of color have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and remain especially vulnerable. The lessons we take away from this hearing can and must shape our actions as we continue to face the challenges of this pandemic.
Expanding Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment During the Pandemic
This week, Representative John Curtis and I led a bipartisan group of 17 Members of Congress in sending a letter to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), advocating for greater flexibilities in Substance Use Disorder (SUD) grants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our dedicated elected leaders, public health experts and community advocates are tireless in their efforts to provide the necessary resources to get people back on their feet. However, to effectively work together to develop long-term, sustainable solutions to reduce substance use disorders (SUD) in their communities, SAMHSA should continue to offer greater flexibilities in SUD grants. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the economic downturn, rising unemployment, and other challenges associated with a second public health crisis can contribute to higher incidence rates of individuals grappling with SUD and mental health disorders.
Addressing Domestic and Sexual Violence
|Discussing sexual and domestic violence during COVID-19|
I held a virtual roundtable discussion yesterday with my co-chairs of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence about addressing sexual and domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is requiring new approaches to combating abuse and sexual violence, and the timing could not be more urgent as countless lives hang in the balance.
In New Hampshire and across the country, we hear stories of new challenges. Shelters are struggling to establish social distancing protocols and remain open, educators are trying to make mechanisms available for children to safely report abuse, and advocates are trying to find affordable housing for survivors at a time when so many are suddenly housing insecure. There is so much to understand about how to address and prevent violence, and I thank our panelists for joining us and sharing their knowledge and insights on these critical issues. You can watch our discussion here.
News You Can Use
I joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Congressman Chris Pappas this week in announcing more than $1.4 million to boost New Hampshire hospitals’ readiness and response capabilities to COVID-19. The pandemic has put immense pressure on our state’s health care providers, and this funding will provide them with much-needed support and strengthen the Granite State’s overall response to this crisis and future health challenges.
One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of this virus is physical distancing. As the beautiful weather continues here in New Hampshire, you may be wondering how you and your family can stay safe while spending time outdoors. While the risk of COVID-19 transmission is much lower outside than it is indoors, it’s important to stay at least six feet away from others if you are not wearing a mask - and wear a mask when you do get closer to people. Read more here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS) are the best resources to turn to during this public health emergency.
Remember: Keep calm and wash your hands, and wear a mask when you are out in public. If you are sick, stay home and call your health care provider. If you live in NH and have questions about coronavirus, dial 2-1-1. Visit CDC.gov for more information.