In the past month, Americans have come together to protest the brutal killing of George Floyd. And while I support everyone’s right to peaceably assemble, the “Defund the Police” movement being pushed by the left is reckless and nothing more than a partisan talking point that will divide the country. Our dedicated police officers put their lives on the line each day to protect our communities and ensure that lawlessness does not prevail in our streets and neighborhoods. The anarchy unfolding within Seattle’s “Autonomous Zone” is a perfect example of what “Defund the Police” would actually look like across America. As Congress begins discussing legislation to reform policing, I will fight to ensure our law enforcement officers are not stripped of the resources they need to effectively do their jobs.
The vast majority of law enforcement officers serve their communities with honor and distinction. But unfortunately, a select few bad actors have made it necessary to implement reforms to ensure that those who cross the line are held accountable. This week, the Judiciary Committee held a markup on the Justice in Policing Act. While this bill contained some positive reforms, I also introduced an amendment to address law enforcement collective bargaining agreements. In some states, unions have been permitted to shield bad officers from accountability by negotiating contracts that make it nearly impossible for a department to remove those who are unfit to serve. Many such agreements among police unions limit officer interrogations after alleged misconduct, mandate the destruction of disciplinary records, prevent anonymous civilian complaints, and limit the length of internal investigations. My amendment would have ensured that the Department of Justice and the Attorney General were not hindered by collective bargaining agreements when working with law enforcement to resolve patterns or practices of misconduct. Further, it would have reallocated more federal funding to states who reform their collective bargaining laws. Regretfully, my amendment was not accepted, but I will continue to work with my colleagues toward a bipartisan consensus on improving law enforcement and ending racism in our communities.
While I could not support the proposal mentioned above, I joined my colleagues this week in introducing the JUSTICE Act, which offers real solutions to increase transparency, accountability, and training within our nation’s police departments. This bill builds upon the directive in President Trump’s Executive Order to develop policies that encourage proactive police strategies to address concerns and strengthens relationships that ensure the safety and security of all communities. Specifically, this legislation would:
Improve law enforcement transparency through additional reporting including annual reporting on the use of force and reporting on no-knock warrants.
Ensure law enforcement agencies and officers are held accountable by developing accessible disciplinary records systems.
Provide $500 million for state and local law enforcement agencies to equip all officers with body cameras, improve the use of body cameras, and store and retain footage.
Ban the use of chokeholds except for when the use of deadly force is permitted under law
Improve officer training by directing the Attorney General to develop curricula related to the duty to intervene and de-escalation tactics.
Includes the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, making lynching a federal crime.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Advance
On June 15, the U.S. Small Business Administration began accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications from all qualified businesses. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Previously, the Disaster Loan application portal was only available to agricultural businesses but as of June 15, the portal is available to all eligible applicants. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to this legislative update, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying.
Operation Warp Speed
When it comes to combating the effects of the coronavirus, the Administration has taken an all-hands-on-deck approach. Most recently, a presidential task force named “Operation Warp Speed” has tasked several agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the Department of Defense, to work together on the accelerated development, manufacturing, and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
This program is expected to produce large quantities of vaccines while the clinical trials are still underway. This is to ensure that there is not a delay once those clinical trials determine safety and efficacy. Private-sector drug companies do not have the ability to produce a drug in this way due to the financial risk involved. Operation Warp Speed and the Federal Government will be assuming the risk to ensure economic confidence does not hinder the development of this life saving vaccine. Though the timeline is speeding up, rest assured science and safety will not be compromised.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.