July 23, 2021 Newsletter
It’s been another busy week, and I am excited to share the progress we have made and some important updates impacting you and our district. This week, the House passed several important bills. Among them, two bipartisan pieces of legislation that I was proud to cosponsor: the ALLIES Act and the PFAS Action Act. In addition, I introduce a federal resolution to combat the maternal mortality crisis and sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging for reforms to the U.S.’s guardianship system. I have some updated information regarding Child Tax Credit Payments. Finally, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to join Virginia Interfaith Power and Light for an environmental justice community town hall.
Maternal Mortality Resolution
I started the week by introducing a resolution calling for federal action on the maternal mortality crisis in America. Our country has the highest maternal morbidity rates of any developed country, and that is simply unacceptable. Tragically, the rate is even higher for Black, Latina and Native American women. This resolution is an initial step to recognize this crisis, lower maternal mortality and morbidity rates, and mitigate stark race-based disparities in maternal health outcomes.
Afghan Translators Coming to Fort Lee
This week, the Biden administration announced that 2,500 Afghan allies – over 800 interpreters and their families – would be relocated to the United States and housed at Fort Lee Military Base in our district. These brave men and women, at great risk to themselves and their families, helped aid American military operations abroad, serving as translators and interpreters. As the United States seeks to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the Biden administration is taking action to keep our promise and protect our key partners in the region, who supported our troops, and are at risk of retaliation from the Taliban. These individuals will be able to complete their Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) process under the protection of the United States.
To take further action on our promise, I was proud to cast my vote in support of the bipartisan Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act of 2021 to protect our Afghan allies. The legislation, which I cosponsored, will aid in the Biden administration’s Operation Allies Refuge by streamlining the SIVs process and allocating an additional 8,000 visas while still maintaining security and vetting procedures.
We owe these individuals a large debt of gratitude for the incredibly dangerous risks they took to assist our troops during the war. I am pleased to see that we are expediting their departure from a dangerous and life-threatening situation. If you meet any of them, please thank them for their sacrifice, as they leave their homeland to come to a strange place and offer them a helping hand and a warm welcome.
PFAS Action Act – Cleaning Up our Drinking Water
In addition to passing the ALLIES Act, I voted to support the bipartisan PFAS Action Act of 2021 to protect Virginians, clean up per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS), known as “forever chemicals,” and introduce stronger protections against future pollutants.
Research shows that exposure to PFAS chemicals can cause life-threatening illness and disease, including multiple forms of cancer, liver disease, asthmas, thyroid dysfunction, infertility and impaired child development. PFAS chemical have been found in communities across the United States, including in Virginia. A new study published last week found that, based on EPA data, an estimated 30,000 industrial sites are known or suspected of using toxic PFAS: twelve times what had been previously estimated. American servicemembers and their families are also at particular risk of exposure, as more than 400 U.S. military sites are known to have PFAS contamination.
The bill will establish a national drinking water standard for PFAS chemicals, enable the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up hazardous PFAS sites, provide $200 million to aid in wastewater management, and implement more stringent protections to protect our communities. I was so pleased to support this legislation to ensure Virginians have access to safe drinking water and clean air, accelerate the clean-up of PFAS chemicals, protect our communities and military sites like Fort Lee, and implement stricter protections against these harmful chemicals. No American should have to worry that the air they breathe or the water they drink could make them sick.
Conservatorship Reforms Letter
I sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra calling for reforms to the U.S. adult guardianship system with the adoption of supported decision-making. Britney Spears case has made it all too apparent that reforms are necessary.
Adult guardianships, or conservatorships, refer to the legal process used when an individual is deemed to be no longer capable of making personal decisions about their person or property. In these circumstances, a guardian or conservator is typically appointed by the court to make decisions regarding an individual’s personal and financial affairs, resulting in a significant loss of civil rights and the risk of financial exploitation.
In my letter, I provided recommendations to bolster supported decision-making, an agreement in which an incapacitated individual retains their decision-making capacity by choosing supporters to help them make personal and financial decisions. Unlike a guardianship, an individual using supported decision-making retains their civil rights and is thus less likely to suffer from abuse and exploitation.
Adoption of these recommendations would be a positive, critical first step toward restoring civil rights for more than a million Americans across the country and preventing further abuse and exploitation.
Virginia Interfaith Power and Light Roundtable
I was thrilled to speak at an environmental justice town hall hosted by Virginia Interfaith Power and Light (VAIPL) to discuss President Biden’s Build Back Better priorities and Justice40 Initiative. VAIPL is an organization of people of faith working together to create healthier, sustainable communities and achieve climate justice. Recovery from the pandemic, rebuilding our economy, and producing good-paying, inclusive jobs is imperative for Virginians.
As we look to Build Back Better, modernize our nation’s infrastructure system, and create new jobs, we must ensure we are prioritizing environmental justice efforts. Too often, environmental ills from toxic waste sites to contaminated water to noxious fumes, are located near low-income communities, communities of color, and tribal and indigenous communities. The Justice40 Initiative aims to improve productive collaboration between federal agencies and state and local communities while advancing President Biden’s promise to deliver at least 40 percent of the overall benefits from federal investment in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities.
I enjoyed joining VAIPL to discuss President Biden’s priorities, my efforts in Congress, and our shared values for the future. I appreciate VAIPL including me in the event and applaud their efforts to bring more attention to these critical issues
Please remember that my office is always here to help if you have a question or need assistance. You can reach us using the contact information below and we will do everything we can to connect you with the resources you need.