This week, our nation said goodbye to Congressman John Lewis, a fearless civil rights icon and a great man who dedicated his life to ensuring all Americans have the right to vote. He made America a better place with his unyielding dedication to freedom and justice, no matter the cost. Although John himself may be gone, the work he was so passionate about goes on. We must continue our efforts to make our nation more just and provide Granite Staters and all Americans with the opportunities they need to succeed and thrive. You can read John’s final message to the American people, which appeared in the New York Times yesterday.
Rep. John Lewis lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
It was an honor and a privilege to know John Lewis, to learn from him, and to serve alongside him in Congress. Last year, I was able to accompany him on a civil rights pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama to visit landmarks including the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and to reflect on some of the most painful parts of our nation’s history. I will never forget those days and will always treasure them. This week, as John lay in state in the US Capitol Rotunda, we voted to rename H.R. 4 from the Voting Rights Advancement Act to the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. We must honor his legacy by passing this critical legislation and by being willing to “get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Speaking about the need to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. Watch here.
Improving Access to Health Care
In addition to our ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19, Congress must continue to support important health programs that maintain and promote the health and wellbeing of Americans, including School Based Health Centers. On Wednesday, the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held a hearing to consider a number of bills including the School Based Health Center Reauthorization Act of 2019, which I was proud to cosponsor to provide comprehensive care and identify at-risk students before they develop issues such as substance misuse and addiction. By protecting access to these essential health services, we can address adverse childhood experiences early on and prevent future substance use disorder and addiction.
Addressing and Preventing Sexual Violence
This week, I was joined by Representatives Jackie Speier, John Katko and Dave Joyce in leading a Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence virtual roundtable to discuss how state and local organizations are navigating the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as they work to support survivors and prevent sexual violence.
From survivors isolating at home with an abuser to those who are enduring harassment at their job and feel trapped, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for many Americans. People of color who are survivors face even greater hurdles in escaping abusive environments and getting support due to racial disparities in access to care. I want to thank the panel of experts who joined us on Wednesday to help us further take stock of this situation - their insights are critical as Congress works to help frontline advocates address this violence. I look forward to our continued work together to ensure all Granite Staters and people across the country can live in safe environments free from abuse and harassment.
The Sexual Violence Roundtable Discussion. Watch here.
The Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence also unveiled its legislative agenda this week. In the three years since we first launched the Task Force, our nation has seen a sea change of attitudes in terms of how this abhorrent behavior is addressed across every facet of our society. Despite this progress, the challenges that remain are tremendous and we have a long way to go before the elimination of sexual violence. With the agenda’s publication, we are laying the groundwork for our priorities for the remainder of this Congress and how we will look ahead to the start of a new Congress in 2021. This will be a living document that we will continue to add to as our Task Force produces effective, insightful, and creative solutions to eradicate the scourge of sexual violence in our country.
COVID-19 has devastated our nation’s child care sector, forcing centers to close and exacerbating the shortage of quality, affordable care for families in New Hampshire and nationwide. On Wednesday, we passed two bills in the House to provide relief for families and providers and support the safe reopening of our economy. Child care is an essential service, and I am proud of my colleagues for taking this step to help Americans afford the child care they need.
News You Can Use
New Hampshire businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by COVID-19 and unable to receive financial support can apply for NH GAP Fund Assistance until August 4. For more information on this program and business eligibility, click here.
This week, Governor Sununu announced that up to $8 million in additional funding would be reserved for the UNIQUE college-scholarship program for low-income students who live in New Hampshire and plan to attend an in-state public college. I was proud to help create the UNIQUE program prior to taking office, and I’m thrilled this program will be able to help more Granite State students receive the education they need to achieve their dreams.
For most Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some degree of anxiety and uncertainty, but many parents are having an especially difficult time with decisions about their children returning to school. While the pandemic makes it impossible to have a school experience that would have been considered “normal” in our pre-pandemic world, there are steps schools and families can take to make their children’s learning experience this year relatively safe while still allowing for some socializing. Read more in this New York Times piece.
On Wednesday, I joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Congressman Chris Pappas in announcing over $800,000 in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support Granite State firefighters across the state. Firefighters put their lives at risk to keep our communities safe and this funding will help ensure these brave Granite Staters have the tools and equipment they need to safely do their jobs and protect the wellbeing of our towns and cities.
There is still time to fill out your 2020 Census! Filling out the census takes just a few moments and helps to ensure that Granite State communities don’t miss out on critical funding for our schools, emergency services, and more. Visit https://2020census.gov/en.html to complete yours!
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.
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.