August 13, 2021 Newsletter
This week, I wanted to let you know about several letters I recently sent, including one to President Biden to appoint a federal co-chair for the SCRC and another to House Leadership to fund environmental justice initiatives.
I also wanted to shed light on the impacts of the American Rescue Plan and a bill I introduced, the Firearm Owners Responsibility & Safety Act. Lastly, I wanted to congratulate my constituents who participated in the Tokyo Olympics this summer and proudly represented Team USA.
Federal Co-Chair Needed for Economic Opportunity Commission in the Southeast Crescent
I was proud to join Senator Tim Kaine in leading a bicameral call for President Biden to nominate the first federal Co-Chair for the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC). Established in 2008, the SCRC aims to tackle systemic, persistent poverty in the southeastern United States. The SCRC works to address long-standing inequities through federal investments in underserved communities to support businesses and jobs. Unfortunately, the commission has never had a federal co-chair appointed by a President and confirmed by the Senate. Due to this, large majorities of allocated federal funding for SCRC are unable to be accessed. A co-chair is necessary for the commission to accomplish its work to improve Americans’ quality of life throughout the Southeast.
I’m pleased to announce that, after receiving our letter, President Biden nominated Dr. Jennifer Clyburn-Reed to serve as the federal Co-Chair. Dr Clyburn-Reed has an illustrious history as an educator. She taught and coordinated the Advancement Via Individual Determination – or AVID – program at a South Carolina middle school. AVID is a college prep program for students with academic potential who may be first-generation college attendees in their families.
She has also served as an education specialist, a school district literacy coach, an English Language Arts Department Chair, and mentored novice and second-career teachers. I commend President Biden for taking action to appoint the first ever federal co-chair of the SCRC.
Firearm Owners Responsibility & Safety Act
I was proud to recently introduce the Firearm Owners Responsibility and Safety Act to promote the safe storage of firearms and reduce gun-related injuries and deaths.
The Firearm Owners Responsibility and Safety Act mandates the use of secure gun storage or safety devices when a firearm is not in use. The bill also promotes the safe storage of firearms through a grant program for states who pass and enforce safe storage laws. The legislation provides victims and their families with a private right of action to seek damages and relief from individuals who improperly store their firearms. Finally, the bill repeals some prohibitions, thereby allowing civil actions to be brought against the gun industry.
There is no excuse and no reason for any individual not to safely store their firearm. Improper storage has led to too many tragic accidents and deaths. This legislation would take meaningful steps to address this problem and reduce gun tragedies by providing commonsense policies.
Congratulations to our VA-04 Olympians – They Are All Champions.
I want to congratulate the four USA Olympians – and some are medal winners! - from our congressional district – Cheta Emba, who played on the Women’s Rugby team; Townley Haas, who competed in men’s swimming events; and Michael Cherry and Grant Holloway, who both competed in Track & Field. We are proud of all of you, and you are all champions to us. Thank you for being such wonderful role models and examples of American excellence
Interested in Coding!? Participate in the Congressional App Challenge
If you are interested in coding, I encourage you to participate in our district’s Congressional App Challenge. The Congressional App Challenge is open to middle and high schoolers who live in or attend school in our congressional district. Students are tasked with developing an original app and can participate as individuals or on a team of up to four students. Students can register to participate here. The submission deadline is November 1.
I’m so excited to see the creativity of students in our congressional district. I am always amazed how our students use computers and coding to create novel programs, games, and life-enhancing activities.
More Investment in Environmental Justice Needed! - I sent a letter to leadership
Last week, I led a letter to House and Senate Leadership calling for additional investments in environmental justice initiatives to help low-income and rural communities, communities of color, and indigenous and tribal communities.
I very much appreciate that environmental justice and ensuring equitable economic opportunity are clear priorities for the Biden administration and for our Democratic Caucus. However, we need additional investments to help mitigate the impacts of long-standing inequities and ensure that no American is left behind.
We called for robust investments to:
- Ensure reliable access to quality drinking water
- Increase access to clean, renewable energy sources
- Accelerate zero emissions transportation for people and goods
- Support workforce development and pollution reduction
- Address the detrimental health impacts of the environment on these communities and support programs that mitigate those harmful impacts
All Americans deserve to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a healthy environment regardless of their zip code, race, or socioeconomic status.
American Rescue Plan Continues to Help the Commonwealth
I was proud to work with President Joe Biden and my Democratic colleagues to pass the American Rescue Plan. Thanks to this legislation, the Commonwealth has received much-needed funds that will help get Virginians back to work and support their families as we continue our recovery. These funds will also help us improve our communities.
The General Assembly, while holding back significant funds for needs as they arise, is investing in broadband, in assistance for the unemployed by providing resources for the Virginia Employment Commission, in addressing wastewater issues, ventilation for our schools, small business support, public health and many other critical needs.