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
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.
Last week, I signed onto legislation to make it easier for men to get screened for prostate cancer, introduced a resolution to protect supply chains in the Western Hemisphere and Sub-Saharan Africa, and signed onto a resolution to designate National Wildlife Refuge Week.
This week, the House was back in Washington, D.C., to vote on critical stimulus legislation to aid the economy and the hard-working American people during this continuing public health emergency. I also attended Committee reviews of legislation for the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
This week, the House was in session in Washington, D.C. to extend funding of the federal government. The House also voted on legislation to protect benefits for veterans, condemn the forced labor of Uyghurs in China, and reinvigorate our economy with more clean jobs and innovation. I attended hearings focused on Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, and the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
This week, I attended a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee vote on an important water infrastructure bill and submitted public comments opposing the Administration’s proposal to rewrite asylum rules. I also signed onto letters opposing the Administration’s recent attempted rule on international students, urging the Administration to extend the current public health emergency, pushing for protections for immigrant victims of domestic violence, and encouraging the Administration to keep protections in place for Medicaid beneficiaries.
Last week, I was in Jersey City to announce more CARES Act funding to assist small businesses in the area. A long-time Jersey City resident returned to the United States after being wrongly imprisoned in Egypt. I also attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing focused on the Administration’s response to reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troops.