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Fighting for Equal Rights for All Americans

Washington, March 3, 2020

Fighting for Equal Rights for All Americans

Adding the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution is long overdue. The ERA, which guarantees equality under the law regardless of sex, first passed the House in 1972 and included an arbitrary deadline for ratification, which Congress extended once before it expired. In 1982, when the deadline had expired, 35 states had voted in support of ratification. In the last two years, Illinois and Nevada joined the growing number of states in support of ratification and earlier this year, Virginia’s ratification of the ERA brought us to the necessary 38 states. Yet with the deadline long passed, Congress needed to act and this February, after having passed the ERA through the House Judiciary Committee earlier this year, I was honored to manage time on the floor as the House passed H. J. Res. 79, eliminating the deadline for ratification and bringing us one step closer to making this historic amendment to the Constitution.

The ERA is not just a statement of equality but a forceful weapon in the fight against the gender wage gap, pregnancy-based workplace discrimination, absurd restrictions on abortion and reproductive health care, pervasive sexual violence, and so many other consequences of a Constitution where equal rights are not explicitly guaranteed regardless of sex. I am proud to have shepherded the fight for the ERA through the House Judiciary Committee as Chairman and could not be more pleased that we are closer than ever before to enshrining women’s equality in the Constitution.

Seeking Answers and Accountability from ICE After Brooklyn Shooting

In the aftermath of shocking reports that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent shot a Brooklyn man while attempting to serve a deportation order, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and I sent a letter expressing our deep concerns to the Acting Director of ICE, Matthew Albence, requesting clarity on the rationale behind this extreme usage of force as well as allegations that ICE agents stationed at the hospital were blocking the victim’s access to counsel.

If these reports are accurate, it is a clear violation of the man’s rights. As such, we requested an immediate briefing from ICE detailing both the circumstances that led to this shooting and a description of ICE’s de-escalatory practices. The public has already lost significant trust in ICE’s mission and ICE’s capacity to humanely and responsibly execute that mission—it is imperative that they explain the actions of their agents and establish protocols to ensure that such an incident never repeats itself.

Read our letter to ICE here.

Standing Up to President Trump’s Disastrous Budget Proposal

The President’s proposed FY2021 budget spells disaster for millions of Americans and is a rejection of American values like compassion, decency, and honesty. This budget would cut $500 billion from Medicare and $900 billion from Medicaid, despite the President explicitly promising in February's State of the Union that he would never cut either. The President’s proposal would hollow out Social Security, placing our senior citizens in financial peril, while cutting $200 billion from SNAP and hurting working families trying to put food on the table. If this budget were to become law, it would result in significant funding cuts to federal agencies like FEMA, the NIH, and the CDC and America would be worse-equipped to respond to future natural disasters or handle outbreaks of disease.

Despite promising farmers that they would never find a greater ally in the White House, the President's budget cuts almost $60 billion from the farmer safety net. And the President’s repeated insistence that he would never strip protections from Americans with pre-existing conditions is rendered all the more absurd and insulting by this budget, which does exactly that, continuing this administration’s efforts to take away health care. This isn’t a budget: it’s a roadmap to disaster for Americans and I’ll do everything I can to fight it.

Responding to Recent Helicopter Crashes in New York City

A few weeks ago, Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and I sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sharing recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on how to improve safety standards for helicopter tourism. The March 11, 2018 helicopter crash into the Hudson River—which tragically killed five young tourists—was a heartbreaking reminder that the regulations governing helicopter safety are far too lax. The devastating crash in January that took the life of Kobe Bryant, one of basketball’s most iconic figures, along with eight others, was yet another accident that could have been avoided had these serious gaps in safety regulations been closed. Between existing regulations teeming with loopholes and a lack of guidance for FAA helicopter inspectors, the current safety standards will only lead to further accidents unless decisive steps are taken.

I am encouraged by the important suggestions proposed by the NTSB, including the imposition of a moratorium on door-off helicopters that employ supplemental passenger restrain systems. But we must go further and I urge the FAA to adopt the NTSB’s safety recommendations. I look forward to working with my colleagues and FAA officials to improve helicopter safety over New York City airspace.

Read our letter to the FAA here.

Ensuring that New York City Remains Livable For All

The unprecedented court ruling for 200 Amsterdam—ordering its developers to remove stories that exceed the zoning limits—is a victory for the Upper West Side and our entire city. I, along with community advocates and other NYC elected officials, have voiced strong concerns that developers have been exploiting zoning laws to amass additional height and bulk for buildings that are out of character with their surroundings and provide no shared public benefit to our communities. I believe that projects which exploit our laws to build luxury developments undermine our ability to create affordable housing for our communities. I will continue to fight to ensure that New York City remains livable, with sufficient housing for all New Yorkers.

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