Washington Review: June 12, 2020
This week, I continued to work with my colleagues addressing police brutality, the coronavirus pandemic, and other issues facing our community. Additionally, the 2020 Census is ongoing and needs your help! If you have not done so already, take 10 minutes to respond online at 2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020. During this time of social distancing, check in with your family, friends, and neighbors to make sure they have filled out their forms too! Together, we will make sure the 8th District is counted fairly and received the proper federal funding for the next decade.
Policing - I am an original cosponsor of H.R. 7120, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, introduced by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA). This legislation would reform qualified immunity so that people aren’t barred from recovering damages, give the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division subpoena power, and incentivize the creation of independent investigative structures. It would also improve transparency by creating a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent officers from changing jurisdictions to avoid accountability and mandating state and local law enforcement agencies report detailed use of force data. The bill includes provisions to improve police training and practices by ending racial and religious profiling, banning no-knock warrants in drug cases, banning chokeholds and carotid holds, raising the standard to evaluate whether use of force was justified, limiting transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement, and requiring federal, state, and local law enforcement use body cameras. In addition, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 would make lynching a federal crime, among other provisions.
Essential Workers – This week, I also cosponsored H.R. 6699, the Opportunities for Heroes Act, introduced by Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02). Essential workers have risked their lives daily in the battle against COVD-19, providing Americans with food, medical care, and emergency assistance. This bill would provide a $25,000 credit that could be applied towards student loan debt or education credits for all essential workers.
Veterans – Improvements are needed to drastically improve credit and financial counseling services for homeless and housing unstable veterans. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further exposed the barriers these men and women face in accessing capital and services. I cosponsored H.R. 6990, the Homeless Veterans Credit Repair, Enhancement, and Debt Improvement for Tomorrow (CREDIT) Act, introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), which would conduct a national study of current systems and practical assessments to move forward. These brave men and women served our country and deserve all of our effort to help them back on their feet.
Mental Health –The Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health formed last April under the direction of the Congressional Black Caucus and worked with a Working Group of experts to develop policy recommendations. I have cosponsored H.R. 5469, the Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and based on this report. Included in this legislation are grants for culturally competent mental health services in schools, increased funding for research into mental and physical health disparities and the Minority Fellowship Program, the establishment of a Commission on the Effects of Smartphone and Social Media Usage on Adolescents directed by the Department of Health and Human Services, and more.
Please know that I will continue working to get the 8th District the resources it needs. If you have questions or need assistance please call my Washington, D.C. office at (202)225-7919 and follow instructions to be connected to my staff or send an email to NJ8inquiries@mail.house.gov. Together we can get through this.