Last month, I led over 100 of my Democratic colleagues in introducing the reauthorization for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) which has helped an incalculable number of women, men, and children recover from crimes of violence. Congress must do all it can to ensure VAWA works for every woman, man, or child who may need its protections and that fewer families and individuals experience the trauma of domestic violence and assault.
To read more about my VAWA reauthorization legislation, please click here.
The Administration did not reunify approximately 700 children who had been separated from their families by the court-mandated deadline of July 26th. I believe that the failure to meet this deadline makes it clear that there was no plan to ever reunite these children with their parents. The Administration, in my opinion, must be held accountable for their actions, or in this case, inaction. My legislation, the Keep Families Together Act, prohibits the Department of Homeland Security from separating children from their parents and restricts the prosecution of parents who are asylum seekers so that we never repeat this tragic mistake. Congress must not rest until every child is safely back with his or her parents, and this sorry chapter in American history is finally closed.
With the August recess upon us, Members of Congress are able to spend more time home in their districts, meeting with constituents and hearing about what issues are important to them. It is also an opportunity to reflect upon the work that has been going on in Washington and how we, as Members of Congress, can do our jobs of representing our constituents better.
This has been an intense and extremely busy seven months, with a number of major issues receiving national attention. I heard from hundreds of New Yorkers who expressed some of the overwhelming public outrage over the lack of progress on addressing the epidemic of gun violence in the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Following this, I led my Democratic colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee in calling for an emergency hearing on this vitally important issue and in supporting the Assault Weapons Ban.
I introduced the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act this past April to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. In my view, the latest indictment of twelve Russian military intelligence officers, as well as the Helsinki Summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, prove the need to protect this investigation. I believe that any steps to interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation, including removing the Deputy Attorney General or threatening to undermine Special Counsel Mueller, will have to be seen as a direct attempt to aid in the attack on our democracy. We must ensure justice is protected from such threats, and I hope more of my colleagues will join the 126 Members who already support this bipartisan legislation.
In May, I joined the New York City Economic Development Corporation as the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) was reactivated as a major shipping hub. Over the next several years, these docks will eliminate thousands of semi-truck trips, reducing pollution, noise, and traffic. The opening of this terminal is an absolutely essential part of moving goods more efficiently, growing sustainable and local jobs, protecting our environment, and ensuring our port district retains its position of dominance on the eastern seaboard of the United States.
This past Father’s Day, I led a surprise visit to a detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey with six of my Congressional colleagues and spoke with five fathers whose children had been separated from them at the border. These families fled unspeakable violence, coming to this country in search of refuge and protection, only to be welcomed by the Administration’s zero tolerance policy.
Last month, President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Justice Kennedy’s retirement. In my view, this nomination would fundamentally shift the balance of our highest court, drastically moving it to the right. I believe his addition to an already conservative-leaving Court will likely cement extreme legal ideology in this country for the next quarter century, including on issues ranging from reproductive rights, LGBT rights, health and safety, criminal justice, and consumer protections.
And who can forget the marathon joint Judiciary and Oversight Committee hearing with FBI agent Peter Strzok. The hearing exposed what I believe to be the Majority's desperate efforts to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation in order to defend the president at any cost. In my view, the Judiciary Committee should be focused on real emergencies, such as election security, voting rights, the family separation crisis, the status of Dreamers, and the president’s potential violations of the Emoluments Clause.
These pressing issues facing our nation will likely continue when Members return to Washington, D.C. in September, and I am committed to doing all I can to hold the Administration accountable. I look forward to hearing from you during this recess period.