Despite having come a long way since the 19th Amendment was adopted, women continue to struggle for equal rights and equal access to opportunities. I have used my time in Congress to continue to advocate for the unique needs of women, fight for equality, and combat discrimination, violence, and sexual harassment.
Society has made great advancements in equal rights for all communities, but women continue to face obstacles and barriers to equality. Sex discrimination continues to be an unfortunate occurrence that remains prevalent in the workplace, as evidenced by the wage gap between men and women. Women make approximately 78 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn, with the pay gap for female minorities being even greater. Hispanic women earn 53 cents on the dollar and black women earn 61 cents. I have cosponsored several pieces of legislation aimed at increasing rights for women:
- H.J.Res.38, would remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
- H.J.Res.35, would amend the Constitution by declaring that women shall have equal rights in the United States and prohibits from denying these rights based on sex.
- H.R. 7, the Paycheck Fairness Act, as passed by the House, would require employers to demonstrate that pay disparities are based on legitimate, work-related factors, prohibit retaliation for wage comparison, and institute a program for negotiation and skills training.
Women have unique health care needs and are often tasked with making important health care decisions for their families. Women’s health care has increasingly come under attack as attempts to limit a women’s agency in her own reproductive health care choices has come under judicial review, even by the U.S. Supreme Court. I believe a woman has the right to act her own best interest when it comes to her personal health care decisions and will continue to protect that right in Congress. I am a avid supporter of the Title X program, which provides essential reproductive health services to women, particularly those from low-income communities. Below are just a few of the bills I have cosponsored to strengthen and protect women’s health care:
- H.R. 2975, the Women’s Health Protection Act, would prohibit states from imposing onerous restrictions on abortion.
- H.R. 1692, the EACH Woman Act, would repeal the Hyde Amendment and ensure that women who receive coverage from government sponsored plans have access to abortion.
- H.R. 1581, the Reproductive Rights are Human Rights Act of 2019, would direct the State Department to include reproductive rights in its annual reports on human rights in countries receiving U.S. aid.
Violence Against Women
The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 3 women have experienced either physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, with a majority of this violence committed by an intimate partner. I believe that every individual has the right to live free from the threat of violence which is why I have cosponsored several bills that seek to combat the epidemic of violence and harassment targeting women and girls:
- H.R. 1585, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019, as passed by the House, reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act for five years and strengthens VAWA services and programs.
- H.R. 3867, the Violence Against Women Veterans Act, would improve services at the VA for veterans who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.
- H.R. 36, the Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019, as passed by the House, would expand research in to sexual harassment in the STEM fields in efforts to prevent harassment.
More on Women
Last week, the House took several important votes to provide much needed emergency aid to those impacted by Hurricane Ida, extend federal funding through December 3 to prevent a shutdown, provide resources to assist the relocation of Afghan refugees, authorize additional funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, authorize funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) for fiscal year 2022, guarantee women’s abortion rights, and provide support to members of the foreign services experiencing Havana Syndrome.
On Monday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing reviewing U.S. policy in Afghanistan, where I questioned Secretary Blinken on the future of Afghanistan and the need for humanitarian assistance. On Tuesday, in a marathon markup, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a portion of the budget which will improve rail safety and climate sustainability.
This week, I wrote an op-ed calling for more Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. I also cosponsored several important pieces of legislation to support the resiliency of coastal ecosystems, encourage students to study STEM, remove taxes on diapers, research the effects of technology on the cognitive development of children, reduce noise pollution from airports, continue to provide expanded access to mammograms, and support veterans who were discharged due to their sexual orientation.
This week, I reintroduced the Collaborative Academic Research Efforts (CARE) for Tourette Syndrome Act to research the cause, prevention, and early detection of Tourette Syndrome. I also joined my colleagues on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in passing two vital infrastructure bills out of committee to be taken up by the full House. In addition, I cosponsored a number of bills addressing funding for abandoned oil well cleanup, urban tree planting, and a program to ensure the continuity of health insurance coverage for pregnant and postpartum women and infants.
Last week, several colleagues and I met with Vice President Harris to discuss root causes of migration from Central America. I voted in favor of the bipartisan bill to create a commission investigating the insurrection on January 6, 2021. I also voted in favor of providing additional funding to the Capitol Police to strengthen security at the Capitol Complex. I cosponsored several pieces of legislation including a federal protection for abortion access, free menstrual products for students and through Medicaid, and equal pay for women in the military.
Last week, I cosponsored numerous bills aimed at installing a green rooftop program for public schools, supporting a diverse teacher workforce, and investing clean water infrastructure. I also joined a letter supporting the Biden administration’s ending of the Title X Gag Rule. I also held a call with the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament.
This week, I signed onto legislation holding polluters financially responsible for cleanup efforts at Superfund sites, providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers, allowing marijuana-related businesses to access banking services, and incentivizing doctors to serve in rural communities. I also signed on to letters urging stronger support for breastfeeding mothers and infants, and affordable housing support in the Build Back Better infrastructure package.
Last week, the House passed the American Rescue Plan, a comprehensive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that will help hard-working Americans and reinvigorate our economy. The House also passed legislation to ensure equal rights regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. I attended a markup of the American Rescue Plan with the House Committee on the Budget and attended a markup for the House Foreign Affairs Committee on legislation to revitalize the State Department.
In the 117th Congress, I am looking forward to returning to the three committees on which I served in the 116th Congress: the House Committees on the Budget, Foreign Affairs, and Transportation and Infrastructure. I am honored to be returning as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.
Last week, I signed onto legislation to help save public education jobs, protect polar bears and their natural habitat, and develop and protect outdoor parks. I also cosponsored legislation to expand access to high quality apprenticeship programs across the country. I signed onto letters opposing the expansion of the global gag rule and urging the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reverse their guidance on eviction moratoriums.