Weekly Update: Participating in House Armed Services Committee Hearing; Leading a Bipartisan Push for U.S. & Canada to Reopen Border in Phases; Introducing Legislation to Help Rural Students
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Participating in House Armed Services Committee Hearing with General Milley and Secretary Esper, Asking Questions on Force Protection in Afghanistan
Yesterday, I participated in a House Armed Services Committee Hearing with General Milley and Secretary Esper, entitled “DOD Authorities on Civil Law Enforcement.” The Committee received an update from the Department of Defense on DoD’s authorities and roles related to Civilian Law Enforcement. In Thursday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing with General Milley and Secretary Esper, I had the opportunity to ask them about force protection for our soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. As the Representative for 10th Mountain Division soldiers, some of whom are currently deployed to Afghanistan, my first priority is their protection. I also am gravely concerned about the damage that illegal leaks to the media have done to our force protection and national security as a whole. It’s an honor to serve on the House Armed Services Committee and I will continue to ask questions important to the 10th Mountain Division and my entire district. Full video of my questioning can be found here.
Receiving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Spirit of Enterprise” Award
On Tuesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented me with their annual “Spirit of Enterprise” award through a virtual event with both the U.S. Chamber and NY-21 Chambers of Commerce. Following the presentation of the award, myself and U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark took questions from various NY-21 Chambers of Commerce and local businesses. The “Spirit of Enterprise” award is given in recognition of Members of Congress who support a pro-growth and pro-business agenda in the second session of the 116th Congress. I’m honored and grateful to once again receive the ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I grew up in a small business family and know firsthand how burdensome regulations and high taxes greatly impede growth for our local North Country small businesses. As we continue our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to support and bring forth pro-growth and pro-business policies in Congress. I will always be a fierce advocate for the expansion of our North Country economy. Read more here.
Leading a Bipartisan Push, Along with Congressman Brian Higgins, for U.S. & Canada to Develop a Framework for Phased Reopening of the Border
As Co-Chairs of the Northern Border Caucus, Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) and I are leading a push for the United States and Canada to develop guidance that prepares for reopening while the border is under its current shutdown. In the letter, we wrote, “We are asking that the United States and Canada immediately craft a comprehensive framework for phased reopening of the border based on objective metrics and accounting for the varied circumstances across border regions. Additionally, we request consideration of any interim measures that may be appropriate to bilaterally ease restrictions on family members and property owners – including those with property on U.S. soil accessible only through cross-border transit - in order to restore the social bond that unites our two nations.” On March 24 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) first imposed travel restrictions at Land Ports of Entry between the United States and Canada, limiting crossings to “essential travel” due to the ongoing pandemic. A second notice extended travel restrictions through May 20. A third agreement extended northern border restrictions through June 22, 2020. A forth binational agreement extended the border closure through July 21.
In the letter, we pointed out that the uncertainty that comes with repeated temporary border restrictions creates stress for individuals and the economy. “The continual 30-day extensions without a plan for how restrictions will be modified prolongs uncertainty for both communities and creates unnecessary tension as we approach each new expiration. States and Provinces have created frameworks for reopening that rely on monitoring public health data, the expertise of health officials, and other defined criteria to inform government decisions on how to proceed with each phase of a reopen. This process alleviates uncertainty and allows residents to understand the decision-making and anticipate next steps. Continuing to extend border restrictions at 30-day intervals is untenable for the communities that have been separated from family and unable to tend to their property for over three months. Read more here.
Introducing the Success for Rural Students and Communities Act
I introduced the Success for Rural Students and Communities Act, along with Reps. Josh Harder (CA-10), Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Filemon Vela (TX-34), and Billy Long (MO-07). This is bipartisan legislation that will improve college access and success for rural students by spurring innovation and investment in new strategies to prepare them to complete their credentials and step into high-demand jobs in their communities. A Senate companion bill was introduced earlier this year by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH). The North Country is comprised of many rural school districts that have high graduation rates and students who are eager to enter the workforce. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which seeks to close the attainment gap that is present in many of our rural communities and economies. We must support our students by providing them with early support and information for higher education, create programs that offer students training locally, and work with local stakeholders to retain a skillful workforce. I will continue to work with my colleagues on initiatives like this bill to ensure our students have access to local opportunities and the support they need to seek them out. Read more here.
Encouraging Census Participation
If you have not already, be sure to fill out your 2020 Census. The census determines how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into our communities, including NY-21, which will directly fund our police departments, firefighters, schools and more. In mid-April, the Census Bureau began mailing the paper questionnaire to homes that have not yet responded online or by phone. If you receive mail through a P.O. Box, the Census Bureau will not be able to send you a response form, as they require your physical address to count you at the place where you live. Only a complete street address will help the Bureau accurately count you in the right place. If you cannot receive mail at your home, a Census Bureau worker may deliver a questionnaire, leave information about responding, or interview you. You can complete the census online at my2020census.gov. You can also call the Census Bureau at (844)-330-2020. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to keep all of your reported information confidential. Visit my website here for more information.
Announcing that the College Transparency Act Has the Support of the Majority of the House of Representatives
Today, along with my colleagues Paul Mitchell (R-MI), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), and Josh Harder (D-CA), I announced more than half of the House of Representatives have now cosponsored the College Transparency Act (H.R. 1766). The bipartisan bill will provide students and families with the data they need to make informed choices about post-secondary education. When an issue brings Democrats and Republicans across the country and in both chambers of Congress together, it is critical to take action and move forward to do what is right for the American people. The time is now for Congress to pass the College Transparency Act and get it signed into law to ensure students can access the accurate and comprehensive information they need to make one of the most important decisions of their lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted one of many examples of how the lack of quality data hampers policymaking. When implementing the CARES Act, the Department of Education has been forced to distribute federal funding to institutions based on approximations instead of actual data that could have been provided if CTA was law. "COVID-19 exposed data gaps in higher education, and it is apparent that we can and must do much more to ensure better data is available to both federal agencies and working families. Now more than ever, as more students pursue postsecondary degrees, it is critical students and families have information to determine which institutions and programs provide them with the best return on investment. Further, as we respond to the current health and economic crisis by distributing critical federal funds to students and institutions in need, we need quality data so the federal government can ensure a fair and accurate distribution of funds, promote the wise spending of taxpayer dollars, and comprehensively assess student outcomes. Read more here.
Cosponsoring the Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act
I am an original cosponsor of the Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide flexibility to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to waive certain requirements in order to ensure that communities are not penalized in the wake of COVID-19. Drug-Free Communities (DFC) is a $101 million grant program that establishes relationships in the community to prevent youth substance abuse. The North Country is home to many Drug-Free Communities grantees, and they are in urgent need of flexibility in order to provide essential services for their surrounding area. As substance abuse has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic in many parts of New York State and throughout the country, it is crucial that we provide flexibility and support to the Drug-Free Communities program. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this legislation and look forward to working with my colleagues to support our communities as they recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
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