Weekly Update: Statement on Partisan Police Bill; Requesting NY Attorney General Investigation into Governor's Failed Nursing Home Policy; Announcing Funding for North Country Communities

June 26, 2020
E-newsletter

Weekly Update

For the most up-to-date resources and information on COVID-19, visit my website here

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Statement on House Democrats’ Partisan Anti-Police Bill, Senate Democrats Blocking Debate on JUSTICE Act 

Republicans reached out to House Democrats following the tragic murder of George Floyd to begin what we hoped would be bipartisan conversations on a police reform bill. Unfortunately, Democrats completely shut us out of the process and drafted a partisan bill with zero input from their colleagues across the aisle. I am a proud cosponsor of the JUSTICE Act, an important bill with many bipartisan provisions to improve police-community relations, increase transparency and accountability in police forces, and end police brutality. Shamefully, Senate Democrats blocked even having a debate on this legislation. Our North Country law enforcement has strong relationships with our communities and local leaders, and the House Democrats’ partisan bill will impede the ability of officers  to do their jobs effectively, deprive them of necessary surplus safety equipment, and will have extremely negative consequences for our public safety. I continue to urge House Democrats to work across the aisle and consider the JUSTICE Act – a meaningful legislative proposal filled with bipartisan provisions.

The Democrats’ partisan bill includes these provisions that inhibit law enforcement from effectively doing their jobs:

  • Eliminates qualified immunity protections for federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, which protects officers in placed in high pressure situations by criminals through no fault of their own, as long as they do not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights.
  • Lowers the standard for federal civil rights lawsuits to allow officer convictions even if the officer’s intent was to protect themselves and the suspect and not deprive a person of a federal right. 
  • Creates an overly broad registry of police misconduct, that includes complaints that would not hold up in a court of law.
  • Limits access to surplus equipment through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program that law enforcement agencies use to protect officers and serve communities in life threatening situations such as natural disasters. 

Sending Letter to NY Attorney General to Investigate Governor Cuomo’s Failed Nursing Home Policy

This week, along with Oversight and Government Reform Committee Members, I sent a letter to New York Attorney General Letitia James urging her to formally review the impact of Governor Cuomo’s “Hospital Discharges and Admissions to Nursing Homes” policy. The letter requests an analysis of any State-issued guidance, directives, advisories, or executive orders regarding hospital discharges to nursing homes or assisted living facilities which adversely affected the nursing homes’ efforts to contain or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  I have spoken with countless families who lost loved ones due to Governor Cuomo’s failed nursing home policy. Not only did he fail New Yorkers in his negligence, but he repeatedly disrespected so many families as they were grieving by referring to the crisis as a ‘shiny object.’ I will continue to lead this effort and call on state and federal officials to hold Governor Cuomo accountable for his actions and get answers for the families and seniors in the North Country who deserve them. Read more here.

Urging HHS Secretary to Extend Public Health Emergency

This week, along with Congressman Josh Harder (CA-10), I led a bipartisan letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Director Alex Azar urging him to extend his declaration of a public health emergency concerning the Coronavirus Pandemic. The emergency declaration has expanded eligibility for patients to receive routine health care through telehealth and telephonic care, allowing vulnerable and high-risk patients to avoid in-person visits to hospitals and health centers where they could be exposed to the Coronavirus. The emergency declaration is set to expire July 25, even as cases are on the rise. The extension is needed to continue care for vulnerable, high-risk populations and to prevent them from unnecessary exposure as our communities continue on the path toward safely reopening. With the public health emergency declaration set to expire one month from today, access to telehealth care is in jeopardy. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, North Country patients have had access to increased telehealth services, so that non-COVID-19 related health concerns are not ignored. This is particularly important for my district, which is one of the largest constituencies of seniors in the country – the most vulnerable population after exposure to the virus. I urge Secretary Azar to extend the public health emergency declaration in the interest of public health. Read more here.

Announcing Over $7 Million in Airport Improvement Grants for the North Country

This week, I announced that the Watertown International and Massena International Airports will be receiving over $7 million in Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants. The funding will be used to install miscellaneous navigational aids, reconstruct airfield guidance signs, reconstruct runway lighting, rehabilitate runways, and conduct or update miscellaneous studies. This funding is great news for our North Country airports who have taken a financial hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,. Improving these facilities will allow North Country residents, as well as visitors, to have enhanced travel experience at our airports. I will continue to advocate at the federal level to bring critical funding back to our communities. Read more here.

Announcing Telehealth Funding for Families First of Elizabethtown

This week, I announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has awarded $26,997 to improve telehealth for Families First in Elizabethtown. The funding is intended for laptop computers, videoconferencing equipment and software, and smartphones to use telehealth services for home and community-based services and to treat child and family behavioral health patients also diagnosed with COVID-19. This funding for the Families First facility in Elizabethtown is critical to providing care to individuals and families in the area. Improving telehealth capabilities for centers like this one will ensure patients can receive remote care and services that they need, specifically including behavioral health services and care for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. I will continue to advocate at the federal level for funding that provides essential medical services to our North Country communities. Read more here.

Announcing CARES Act Recovery Assistance Grants for the North Country

Today, I announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $400,000 to the Lake Champlain – Lake George Regional Planning Board and $150,000 to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. This CARES Act Recovery Assistance funding will be used to update economic development plans and fortify programs to assist communities in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. This CARES Act funding will be very helpful in revitalizing our communities in Lake George and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe community. I was proud to vote in favor of the CARES Act, which continues to bring much needed direct funding to our communities as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen their economies. I will continue to advocate in Congress for programs like these that provide direct assistance to our North Country communities. Read more here.

Encouraging Census Participation

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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.

Introducing the Elevating America’s Workforce Act

This week, along with Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-6), I introduced the Elevating America’s Workforce Act, legislation that will establish personal reemployment accounts (PRAs) to help displaced workers obtain the training and skills necessary for sustained employment. The economic disruption caused by COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on our nation’s workforce, leading over 40 million Americans to file for unemployment over the last few months. This bipartisan bill empowers individuals with more choice in how they access training, engages employers to expand work-based opportunities, and incentivizes success through a reemployment bonus. Specifically, this legislation will:

  • Enhance individual choice by providing more flexibility on where they can acquire new skills, including from providers that offer virtual or online training programs.
  • Increase the ability of businesses, particularly small businesses, to attract and train skilled workers by supporting work-based training programs for new employees.
  • Incentivize individuals to earn recognized postsecondary credentials and acquire in-demand skills with a bonus for completing training and reentering the workforce.
  • Encourage the use of counseling and career services through the local workforce centers.
  • Provide states the ability to target accounts to individuals most in-need of new skills and enhance the quality of labor market information tools.
  • Report on provider outcomes and include a robust evaluation to guide future investments in workforce development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused joblessness to hit certain regions and sectors particularly hard, including many in the North Country. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will provide training opportunities to workers who have been impacted by the pandemic and restore their individual ability to secure a meaningful career. As businesses across the country re-open and jobs are being created, we must support those who are seeking reemployment during a challenging time. I look forward to working with my colleagues and helping the North Country get back to work. Read more here

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County Public Health Resources 

Clinton County: (518) 565-4840
Essex County: (518) 873-3514
Franklin County: (518) 481-1709
Fulton County: (518) 736-5720
Hamilton County: (518) 648-6497
Herkimer County: (315) 867-1176
Jefferson County: (315) 785-3000
Lewis County: (315) 376-5453
Saratoga County: (518) 584-7460
St. Lawrence County: (315) 386-2325
Warren County: (518) 761-6580
Washington County: (518) 746-2500

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Introducing Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Relief for Perkins Loan Borrowers

This week, I introduced a bipartisan bill to provide temporary relief for Perkins loan borrowers along with Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45), Congresswoman Susie Lee (NV-03), Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03), and Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12). This bipartisan legislation would expand the reach of the student borrower protections included in the CARES Act. The COVID–19 Perkins Loan Relief Act would allow the nearly 2 million borrowers with Perkins loans to forgo making payments on those loans until October. In April of this year, I introduced similar legislation – the Equity in Student Loan Relief Act, a bipartisan bill to extend the temporary relief from student loan payments to Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) borrowers who have been left out of the relief provided in the CARES Act. Together, these proposals will ensure all federal student loan borrowers have equal access to the relief provide by Congress. COVID-19 presented significant challenges and uncertainty to North Country residents with student loan payments. This bipartisan legislation closes a gap in the CARES Act and allows those with Perkins loans to defer payments until October as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis. Along with the Equity in Student Loan Relief Act, this critical legislation will reduce significant financial stress for the borrowers who have been left behind, and I’m proud to be an advocate for all of our hardworking North Country students and their families. Read more here.

Leading House Letter Requesting Inclusion of Apple Farmers in USDA CFAP Funding

This week, along with Congressman Anthony Brindisi (NY-22) and Congressman Dan Newhouse (WA-4), I sent a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) requesting the inclusion of United States apple growers in USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The letter states that apple prices during the last few months declined anywhere between 6.5 percent and 24.9 percent. Apple producers have faced significant loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the supply chain disruptions that resulted from it. Our North Country apple farmers not only produce wholesome product for our communities, but also stimulate our rural economies. The COVID-19 pandemic and price declines that our farmers have faced as a result certainly qualify them for economic relief from USDA. I am working on a bipartisan basis to ensure that our apple producers are rightfully included in CFAP funding, and I will continue to advocate for programs like this that help keep our farmers running successful businesses. Read more here.

Statement on First Female Green Beret Graduating the Army’s Special Forces Q-course

The graduation of the first female U.S. Army Green Beret is an important and hard-earned milestone. This achievement is a testament to this soldier’s individual strength, courage, and commitment, and also an important institutional milestone for U.S. Special Operations Command as it embraces the cultural change that will continue to make it the most successful and elite Special Operations Force in the world. As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities – which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Special Operations Command – it is truly an honor to congratulate this newest Army Special Forces soldier for her accomplishment. I hope she is the first woman of many to wear the illustrious Green Beret. Read more here.

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