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Washington Review, January 17, 2020

Jan 17, 2020
Washington Review

This week, the House considered legislation on age discrimination and student loans. The House Budget Committee met to discuss federal funding to local governments and the House Foreign Affairs Committee met to discuss Iran. I also chaired a Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing.

Legislation

On Wednesday, I voted for H.R. 1230, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act, which was introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). Protections for older workers were changed by the 2009 Supreme Court decision in Gross vs. FBL Financial Services, which increased the burden of proof for adverse actions. H.R. 1230 would restore the original evidentiary standard and strengthen discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. This bill passed by a vote of 261-155 and now awaits action by the Senate.

The following day, the House considered legislation I cosponsored, H.J.Res.76, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), which provides congressional disapproval for the Department of Education’s new Borrower Defense Rule. Initially implemented to protect students who have been defrauded by predatory institutions, the Borrower Defense Rule was updated in 2019 with a more restrictive process and limited availability for income relief. I believe this unfairly burdens students who have been frauded. This legislation overturns the 2019 rule and reinstates the original protections. H.J.Res.76, passed the House by a vote of 231-180 and now awaits action before the Senate.

Impeachment

This week, the House considered H.Res.798, introduced by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), a resolution appointing and authorizing the managers for the impeachment trial of President Trump. The managers for the trial will be Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), and Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). I voted in favor of the resolution which passed by a vote of 228-193, concludes the House impeachment proceedings, and now transfers the responsibility of impeachment to the Senate.

Budget

The House Budget Committee convened on Wednesday for a hearing on impact of federal investment at the state and local level. In 2018, the federal government spent $697 billion supporting Medicaid, transportation, education, and much more in state and local governments. The scale of these programs can feel intangible, but as a former mayor I know how necessary they are to the daily life of our communities. On average, federal aid represents up to a third of annual state budgets, with some states having over 40% of their revenue coming from the federal government. At the hearing, I highlighted need to protect against uncertainty and uphold our funding commitments.

Foreign Affairs

On Tuesday, I attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the United States’ policy towards Iran. In light of recent events, lawmakers need to gather as much information as possible to make the best possible decisions moving forward. Later in the week, my colleagues on the Committee joined me in condemning threats made against Pierre Espérance, a leading defender of human rights in Haiti. Efforts to silence, intimidate, harass, threaten, or cause harm to Mr. Espérance following his testimony before our committee cannot be tolerated. We call on Haitian authorities to investigate these threats fully and ensure the safety of him and his family.

On Wednesday morning, I joined Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) for a Wilson Center conversation on America’s engagement in the Western Hemisphere. I reiterated my commitment to pursuing a bipartisan strategy to help combat corruption in Central America and restore democracy in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Later that day, I chaired a Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade hearing on security and the rule of law in Mexico. We must address the root causes of violence on both sides of the border and improve the effectiveness of our foreign assistance.