News from Congressman Steve Cohen

July 31, 2020

Dear Friend,

This week, Congress, his friends, family and the whole country bid farewell to my friend, the legendary Congressman John Lewis. I was proud to represent my constituents at both the Capitol Rotunda service on Monday and at the funeral service at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Thursday. On Tuesday, I questioned Attorney General William Barr at a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing about the attacks on peaceful protestors at Lafayette Square and in Portland, Oregon. I also asked Barr about his misleading summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and reminded him that I have introduced H. Res. 1032, which calls for a review of his actions to determine whether they are impeachable offenses. I also introduced the Civil Rights Enhancement and Law Enforcement Accountability Improvement Act, which would explicitly provide that an employer of a law enforcement officer is vicariously liable for officers’ acts or omissions committed within the scope of their employment when they deprive people of their constitutional rights; introduced the Airport Infrastructure Readiness (AIR) Act, which would provide airports more certainty as they plan upcoming infrastructure projects amid this global pandemic; introduced a bill to rename the FBI headquarters building in Washington; introduced the Citizen Participation Act, which would make it easier to dismiss frivolous lawsuits brought to intimidate individuals because of their speech; and celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In connection with Congressman John Lewis’ passing, I also led the entire Alabama Congressional delegation last Friday in a letter asking Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to name the highway leading to the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the late Civil Rights legend and, with Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell, introduced legislation to do the same. I also offered a coronavirus-related health tip. Keep reading and follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see what I am doing as it happens.

Bidding Farewell to My Friend and Colleague Congressman John Lewis
Questioning Attorney General Barr for Politicizing the Department of Justice
Introducing the Civil Rights Enhancement and Law Enforcement Accountability Improvement Act
Introducing the Airport Infrastructure Readiness Act
Introducing a Bill to Rename the FBI Headquarters in Washington
Introducing the Citizens Participation Act
Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Urging the Naming of an Alabama Highway for Congressman John R. Lewis
Remembering My Friend Steve Montgomery
Weekly Health Tip
Quote of the Week


Bidding Farewell to My Friend and Colleague Congressman John Lewis

This week, the world bid farewell to my friend and Civil Rights Movement icon John Lewis. I was proud to represent my constituents at both the Capitol Rotunda service on Monday and at the funeral service at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Thursday. John was a truly courageous and heroic man, and the four Presidents who eulogized him (including Jimmy Carter, by a letter read at the service) made clear his central role in the history of Civil Rights and the advancement of liberty in our country. As President Obama said, “he was a good and kind and gentle man.” He was the embodiment of the Beloved Community and we will never forget him. See my statement after Thursday’s service here

Questioning Attorney General Barr for Politicizing the Department of Justice

As a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, on Tuesday I questioned Attorney General William P. Barr at an oversight hearing. It was Barr’s first appearance before the Committee since his appointment more than 17 months ago. I asked Barr about the June 1 clearing of Lafayette Square of Americans peacefully protesting police brutality following the death of George Floyd. I also asked him about his misleading public summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 election. See my release on the hearing, including video of my questioning of Barr, here.

Introducing the Civil Rights Enhancement and Law Enforcement Accountability Improvement Act

As Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, on Wednesday I introduced the Civil Rights Enhancement and Law Enforcement Accountability Improvement Act. The measure would explicitly provide that an employer of law enforcement officers is vicariously liable for officers’ acts or omissions committed within the scope of their employment that deprive people of their constitutional rights. See my release on the measure here.

Introducing the Airport Infrastructure Readiness Act

As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, I was joined by a bipartisan group of Members in introducing the Airport Infrastructure Readiness (AIR) Act. The measure would provide airports with greater certainty as they plan infrastructure projects by directing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to calculate Airport Improvement Program (AIP) entitlement grants based on Fiscal Year 2018 or 2019 enplanements, rather than on Fiscal Year 2020 enplanements, which are expected to be significantly lower due to the coronavirus pandemic. See my release on the measure here.

Introducing a Bill to Rename the FBI Headquarters in Washington

As I have in previous Congresses, I introduced legislation this week to rename the FBI headquarters building. On Thursday, I joined colleagues in introducing an additional measure that would create a commission to rename the J. Edgar Hoover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headquarters building on Pennsylvania Avenue. The civil rights we enjoy today are recognized in spite of J. Edgar Hoover, not because of him. Given his well-documented abuses and prejudices, including his efforts to silence Dr. King, I believe it is past time to remove his name from this place of honor.

Introducing the Citizens Participation Act

Last Friday, I introduced the Citizen Participation Act, which would make it easier to dismiss frivolous lawsuits brought to intimidate individuals because of their speech. The Citizens Participation Act would help to stop Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) actions. In many cases, plaintiffs file SLAPP suits not to win, but to intimidate critics and drive up the cost of disliked or embarrassing speech. I have pursued anti-SLAPP legislation since I served in the Tennessee State Senate. See my release on the measure here.

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

On Sunday, I celebrated the 30th anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA opened opportunities to so many people over the last 30 years. I was a proud cosponsor of the state ADA when I was a Tennessee state senator in the ‘90s and have been a strong supporter as a Congressman. Having experienced polio as a child, I became well acquainted with disabilities and the need for accommodation from an early age. The ADA has touched and improved countless lives over the last 30 years. See my statement on the anniversary here.

Urging the Naming of an Alabama Highway for Congressman John R. Lewis

Last Friday, I led a letter to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, signed by every member of the Alabama Congressional delegation, asking her to name U.S. 80 for Congressman John R. Lewis. I also joined Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell, who represents Selma, on legislation to do the same. See my release on those efforts here.

Remembering My Friend Steve Montgomery

I learned this morning of the death of my friend, the retired pastor of Idlewild Presbyterian Church, Steve Montgomery. I’ve been dealing with the death of my friend Congressman John Lewis, and was shocked at the news of Steve’s death. There was a lot of John Lewis in the Reverend Steve Montgomery: He was courageous, he was caring, he was forgiving, he was humble, and he was smart. His life was a blessing and his death is a great loss.
 
Weekly Health Tip

Again this week, I want to call attention to the alarming spike in coronavirus cases, including in Tennessee, likely as a result of reopening prematurely and often without implementing basic precautionary measures like wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines. Please follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols and those adopted by Memphis and Shelby County for staying safe in this ongoing pandemic: Wash your hands frequently for at least 25 seconds; keep a minimum social distance of six feet from others; wear a face mask when out in public; and avoid being in crowds of more than 10. We must work together to get through this. 

Quote of the Week 

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"Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.” -- The late John Lewis in an op-ed in Thursday’s The New York Times.  

As always, I remain.
Most sincerely,

Steve Cohen
Member of Congress

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