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June 8, 2020
Dear Friend,

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Silence and Inaction are Not an Option

Our nation is grappling with the consequences of racial inequality that many in our Black and Brown communities face every day. As a country, we can no longer ignore our history of systemic racism and how it impacts those living in our country and across the world. 

I fully support those engaging in peaceful protests and using their First Amendment rights to  free speech and the opportunity to assemble in protest to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Amhaud Arbery and the countless others that have lost their lives to an unjust system. Sadly, our country has a long history of oppression, police brutality and depriving communities of opportunities to succeed. Those protesting these last few weeks are saying, “Enough”.  We must reform our systems to ensure that everyone is truly treated equal under the law and that everyone has a right to pursue life, liberty and happiness in our nation.  But this requires action.

In Congress, we have the opportunity to reform the policies that have perpetuated these injustices.  As Congress moves to pass legislation in the coming weeks to address this national crisis, I wanted to share the bills that I have cosponsored that try to address some of these issues: 

This list is by no means exhaustive, and it is only the first step in the journey toward racial justice. Whatever we are not actively working to change, we are choosing. I am choosing to make a difference and will work to ensure that the changes that are needed are made in the weeks ahead.  It is time.

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The HOME Meals Act

Today, I was proud to introduce bipartisan legislation with Congressman Katko (R-NY) and Congresswoman McBath (D-GA) that will provide nutrition assistance to seniors in my district. The Helping Our Most Elderly (HOME) Meals Act would establish a competitive grant program to repair, replace, and customize home-based meal delivery vehicles that provide nutritious meals to seniors who are shut-in, frail, or otherwise homebound. This bill is particularly timely given the global COVID-19 pandemic, where we have seen seniors disproportionately impacted by the virus and restricted in their ability to travel to the grocery store. This grant program would significantly alleviate older Americans’ barriers to nutrition and reduce their risk of contracting the virus due to limited food access. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, of the nearly 750,000 people that live in the 34th district of Texas, over 100,000 are 65 years old or older and 19.8 percent live below the poverty level. With the country’s senior population expected to double by the year 2060, the number of seniors facing hunger and isolation is also expected to rise. This reality coupled with the recent hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic present an important opportunity to provide seniors with the health and nutrition they need. This legislation, endorsed by Meals on Wheels, will help curtail hunger and food insecurity for some of the most vulnerable in our community.   

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COVID-19 Testing Sites in South Texas

Sadly, we have lost over 110,000 American lives to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition to maintaining social distancing practices, another important component to avoid becoming ill is to get tested if you suspect you have the virus.  Below are some locations in the RGV where you can be tested.

Find a COVID-19 testing site near you. Click HERE.

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Be Counted in the 2020 Census

The results of the once-a-decade Census will determine the allocation of hundreds of billions of federal dollars.  Unfortunately, Texas’ response rate is lagging behind that of the rest of the nation.  I call on South Texans to fill out the Census so that our community does not miss out on millions of dollars to help our schools, build our highways, support hospitals and our first responders.  Our participation and response will ensure that we are not undercounted and that South Texas receives its fair share of federal funds.

Fill out the 2020 Census online today. Click HERE.

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Available Food Assistance in the RGV

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our daily lives and has negatively impacted the economy.  If you or your family need nutrition assistance during these difficult times, below are some food distribution services that are available across the 34th District of Texas. Find out more HERE.

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Sincerely,

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Filemon Vela
Member of Congress