News from Congressman Steve Cohen

February 16, 2018

This week, I deplored yet another school shooting, commended senators for recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike, reacted to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Grand Jury indictment of 13 Russian nationals, offered a “Fresh Start” to non-violent ex-offenders, welcomed new co-sponsors to my impeachment resolution, opposed the imposition of delays for compliance with the ADA, invited constituents to sign up for Telephone Town Halls, voted against a predatory lending bill, and offered a heart-healthy February health tip. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on Twitter and Facebook to see more updates as they happen. 

Deploring Yet Another School Shooting
Commending Senators for recognizing 50th Anniversary of Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike
Reacting to Mueller Grand Jury Indictment of 13 Russian Nationals
Standing with Fast Food Workers
Offering a Fresh Start to Non-Violent Ex-Offenders
Welcoming Momentum of Trump Impeachment Resolution
Opposing the Imposition of Delays for Compliance with the ADA
Inviting Constituents to Sign Up for Telephone Town Halls
Voting Against Predatory Lending Targeting Vulnerable Borrowers
2018 U.S. Capitol Historical Society Calendars Are Still Available
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week

 

Deploring Yet Another School Shooting 

I was horrified and in tears at the loss of life and the injuries to innocent high school students in Florida. That’s why I went to the well of the House for a statement Thursday. Repeated Congressional moments of silence and temporary demonstrations of earnest handwringing without action do nothing to solve the epidemic of school shootings in this country. Wednesday’s attack at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school in South Florida prompted hollow promises from across the political spectrum -- but the condolences contained nothing substantive. The FBI has released a statement that, despite having received credible information about the shooter that should have been assessed as a potential threat to life, the agency’s protocols were not followed and the information was not given to the FBI’s Miami field office. The FBI should conduct a thorough investigation of this grievous failure and determine who is responsible. 

It’s commonplace to hear after one of these episodes that it’s premature to assess blame, and I won’t. But it’s worth noting that one of Trump’s first actions as President was to roll back an Obama-era effort to help keep guns out of the hands of Social Security recipients who have been diagnosed with mental illness or ruled mentally incapable of understanding their financial obligations. In November, House Republicans also pushed to make the least restrictive state concealed-carry laws the de facto law of the land, taking the decision away from state legislatures. Worse than taking no action to curb gun violence and school shootings, House Republicans have actually worked to facilitate easy access to guns for those who shouldn’t have them—a dubious public policy goal. See my remarks on the House floor here.

Commending Senators for Recognizing 50th Anniversary of Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

On Wednesday, Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Doug Jones of Alabama introduced a bipartisan resolution recognizing the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis. Senator Alexander released a statement saying it’s important for children to learn about the Memphians’ contribution to racial justice. I commend and thank my Senate colleagues for introducing a resolution like the one I introduced January 30 and which now has 90 bipartisan co-sponsors, including the entire Tennessee delegation.


Reacting to Mueller Grand Jury Indictment of 13 Russian Nationals

On Friday, I was pleased to see Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announce further progress in the form of indictments against 13 Russian nationals in the ongoing investigation of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.

The Russians’ use of false U.S. personas and social media designed to attract U.S. audiences with divisive political and social issues was clearly intended to sway American voters, and succeeded. Russian manipulation influenced the psychology of American voters.

Evidence of Russia’s efforts to support the campaign of Donald Trump is no longer in dispute, and neither is the fact that, however uncomfortable it may be getting for the President, this investigation is no ‘hoax.’

Special Counsel Robert Mueller must be permitted to continue to follow the facts so that Americans learn the full extent of Russian involvement in both past and current election contests.


Standing with Fast Food Workers



On a related matter earlier in the week in Memphis, I was pleased to join fast food workers Monday at Clayborn Temple calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Clayborn Temple was the gathering spot for striking sanitation workers and was the perfect symbolic venue for calling attention to an extension of the fight for a living wage.

Offering a Fresh Start to Non-Violent Ex-Offenders

On Thursday, I introduced the Fresh Start Act (H.R. 5043) that would allow qualifying ex-offenders to apply to federal courts to have their convictions expunged from their records if they have not committed any other state or federal offenses and have met all the terms of their sentences. The stigma of a conviction often unfairly prevents ex-offenders from employment, housing and education opportunities. My bill seeks to open doors to productive roles in society for non-violent ex-offenders in a fair and consistent manner.

Welcoming Momentum for Trump Impeachment Resolution

This week, more members of Congress signed on to sponsor the Articles of Impeachment (H. Res. 621) I introduced in November, bringing the number to 14 with the addition of Reps. Barbara Lee of California, John Lewis of Georgia, Gwen Moore of Wisconsin and Jared Huffman of California. This growing coalition favors holding hearings to examine the President’s actions to obstruct justice as well as other impeachable offenses. I look forward to seeing more members join this effort.


Opposing the Imposition of Delays for Compliance with the ADA

The House passed a bill Thursday that would require individuals to wait months before they could bring lawsuits to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I opposed the bill, which passed 225-192. I will continue to work to protect the ADA. 


Inviting Constituents to Sign Up for Telephone Town Halls


I enjoy meeting regularly with constituents in the district, including at events like the “Congress on Your Corner,” where my staff is on hand to answer questions about dealing with federal agencies and federal benefits. The next “Congress on Your Corner,” which I plan to attend, is scheduled for next Friday, February 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Cherokee Library on Sharpe Avenue. 

If you are interested in attending one of my “Congress on Your Corner” events, you can sign up here to receive notification as soon as the next event is scheduled.

To talk to constituents while I’m in Washington, I like holding Telephone Town Halls. For those who haven’t participated in a Telephone Town Hall, it’s easy to sign up for future events by using this form.

I talked to nearly a thousand constituents during a Telephone Town Hall on February 6 and will be holding more of these events in the weeks ahead. If you would like to receive this weekly eNewsletter, you can do that with this form.


Voting Against Predatory Lending Targeting Vulnerable Borrowers

On Wednesday, I voted against H.R. 3299, the egregiously misnamed “Protecting Consumers Access to Credit Act,” which might be better named the “Usurious Payday Lender Protection Act.” The bill, which passed 245-171 would overrule state usury laws and allow predatory lenders to charge exorbitant interest rates and trap their customers in inescapable debt. Why promoting this industry and its harmful practices is an important Republican priority remains a mystery to me.


2018 U.S. Capitol Historical Society Calendars Are Still Available

My office currently has a limited number of 2018 U.S. Capitol Historical Society calendars available. If you would like to receive a calendar, please complete this form on my website. Due to the rules of the House, I am only able to mail calendars to residents of Tennessee’s 9th District. Please feel free to share this email with other residents of the 9th District who may be interested in receiving one but who do not receive my eNewsletter.


Weekly Health Tip

Each week, I share a health tip in the hopes of promoting a healthy lifestyle for residents of the 9th Congressional District. As always, it is best to check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet, exercise routine or lifestyle.

February has long been recognized as American Heart Month – think St. Valentine’s Day and the alleged health benefits of dark chocolate. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is asking people to take the #MoveWithHeart pledge – “I pledge to move more for my heart health.” The institute suggests 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of physical activity a week that gets the heart pumping and leaves you “a little breathless.” Get more tips on how to make good on the pledge here.


Quote of the Week

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (1967) 

 

As always, I remain,

Most sincerely,

  

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress

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