News from Congressman Steve Cohen

March 6, 2020

Dear Friend,

This week, I voted to provide funding for a robust response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which is a serious public health crisis. I also chaired a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Presidential clemency power and how it could be used to further criminal justice reform; was named to the United Negro College Fund’s Honor Roll; questioned expert witnesses at a hearing on the air passenger experience about the excessive and unreasonable fees charged by airlines; questioned the wisdom and rationale for Amtrak’s suspension of dining car service on some long-distance routes; introduced a bill to increase diversity in Advanced Placement and Gifted and Talented Programs; offered some guidance on getting a Real ID by the October 1 deadline; provided information on temporary U.S. Census jobs; and offered a health tip about women’s health during Women’s History Month. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to see more updates as they happen.  

Voting to Provide Robust Response to Coronavirus Outbreak 
Chairing Hearing on the Proper Use of the Presidential Clemency Power 
Being Named to the United Negro College Fund Honor Roll 
Questioning Experts on the Air Travel Experience  
Questioning Rationale for Suspension of Amtrak Dining Car Service 
Introduced a Bill to Increase Diversity in Advanced Placement, Gifted and Talented Programs  
Getting Prepared for New Real ID Tennessee Driver Licenses 
Applying for Good, Temporary U.S. Census Jobs 
Staying in Touch with My Office 
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week 


Voting to Provide Robust Response to Coronavirus Outbreak 

On Wednesday, I voted for, and the House passed, an emergency supplemental spending measure to fund a comprehensive response to the coronavirus outbreak which has become a serious public health crisis. See my release here. We must ensure all federal agencies have the support they need to develop an affordable vaccine and ensure our front-line medical personnel are properly protected as they treat what is becoming a virulent and lethal pandemic. The Trump Administration’s effort to play down the dire nature of the threat has delayed the appropriate response, and we need to catch up quickly. To that end, I sent out an email blast to my constituents earlier this week with the CDC’s guidelines for dealing with the crisis. See that guidance here

Chairing Hearing on the Proper Use of the Presidential Clemency Power 

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On Thursday, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, I presided at a hearing on the proper use of the presidential clemency.  Witnesses noted that under President Obama and his predecessors, applications for clemency went through a vigorous review by the U.S. Department of Justice. This stands in stark contrast to the current administration, which has relied heavily on the caprice of celebrity advocates. See my release on the hearing here

Being Named to the United Negro College Fund Honor Roll 

On Tuesday, during his “State of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Address,” United Negro College Fund President Michael L. Lomax named me to the Fund’s 2020 Honor Roll. I was selected in part for my vote in support of H.R. 5363, the FUTURE Act, which was signed into law in December. I am proud to have been recognized for my consistent and enthusiastic support for HBCUs and will continue to support these important institutions. 

Questioning Experts on the Air Travel Experience  

Also Tuesday, I questioned expert witnesses at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation hearing on the airline passenger experience. One witness endorsed my legislation, H.R. 5195, the Fair Fees Act, which would prohibit airlines from charging fees for cancellations, changes and baggage that are not reasonable and proportional to the cost of the services provided. See my release and my exchange with the witnesses here

Questioning Rationale for Suspension of Amtrak Dining Car Service  

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Questioning Rationale for Suspension of Amtrak Dining Car Service  

On Wednesday, as a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I attended a Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials hearing and questioned Amtrak Executive Vice President Stephen Gardner about Amtrak’s suspension of dining car service on some long-distance Amtrak routes. I have previously questioned the wisdom of ending dining car service and remain skeptical that Amtrak’s current CEO Richard Anderson had an evidence-based rationale for suspending what is an integral part of the passenger train experience. Improving the dining car service on all long-distance routes would enhance that experience and will make Amtrak more successful, strengthening and benefiting all of Amtrak and improving its reputation and bottom line, including for the trains that run through Memphis. See my release and the exchange with Gardner here

Introduced a Bill to Increase Diversity in Advanced Placement, Gifted and Talented Programs 

On Thursday, I introduced the  Diversity Advancements in Accelerated Learning Programs Act that would encourage school districts to allocate funding for the creation of district-wide equity offices in order to help develop programs, and promote the use of a Universal Screening process in order to improve diversity in the applicant pool for GT and AP courses. Additionally, once established, these equity offices would help address other inequalities when dealing with raising student academic achievement, screening processes, and determining eligibility for accelerated learning programs. 

Getting Prepared for New Real ID Tennessee Driver Licenses 

On October 1, those who don’t have a valid passport and want to take a commercial flight or enter military bases and certain other secure federal facilities will need a Real ID from the Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles. The Real ID requires proof of residential address and of a valid Social Security Number. See the types of documents you will need here. See a list of Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles locations here. I am already hearing about lines at local DMV offices so I suggest a visit sooner rather than later. 

Applying for Good, Temporary U.S. Census Jobs 

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Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau counts the number of people living in the United States for the purpose of reapportioning the U.S. House of Representatives’ 435 seats among the 50 states. That requires a huge temporary workforce. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are now available for Census field supervisors, Census takers, clerks and other positions. In Shelby County, the pay ranges between $20 and $22 per hour with reimbursement for mileage and expenses. To qualify, you must be at least 18, have a valid Social Security number, a valid email address and pass a criminal background check. To apply, go here

Staying in Touch with My Office 

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I enjoy meeting regularly with constituents in the district and helping get answers for them to questions about dealing with federal agencies. If you are interested in attending one of my “Congress on Your Corner” events, you can sign up here to receive a notification as soon as the next event is scheduled. My next “Congress on Your Corner” is Friday, March 27, at the Whitehaven Branch Library, 4120 Winchester Road, Memphis 38116, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

For those who haven’t participated in a telephone town hall, it’s easy to sign up for them by using this form.   

If you would like to receive this weekly e-Newsletter, or share it with others, you can do that with this form.   

Weekly Health Tip 

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March is National Women’s History Month so I am offering a broad array of health tips to enhance women’s health and well-being. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance here
  
Quote of the Week 

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“It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind.” -- Florence Nightingale, British social reformer and founder of modern nursing (1820 – 1910).     


As always, I remain
Most sincerely,

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Steve Cohen
Member of Congress

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