Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Emanuel Cleaver: The successes of the 117th Congress

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

It is the privilege of a lifetime to advocate for you and the Fifth Congressional District of Missouri in the People's House. As 2022 and the 117th Congress rapidly come to a close, I truly believe that, while there are certainly still challenges that lie ahead, we are better positioned today than we were when the year began.

As we look forward to the possibilities and potential of 2023, I want to take this opportunity to underscore some of the work I’m most proud of from the past twelve months. 

Whether it was assisting constituents with government services and ensuring Missourians get the benefits to which they are entitled or passing landmark legislation and bringing federal dollars back to our congressional district, I believe the past year has been one of the most successful during my time in Congress.

However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that there is still much work to do to support Missouri families and the communities within our congressional district. Although the United States has created 10.5 million jobs, including 750,000 manufacturing jobs, since January 2021 and our economy continues to recover from the global pandemic, it is critical that the new Congress continue to pass bipartisan legislation – like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the Honoring our PACT Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act – that focuses on the needs of the American people.

As we look forward to the new year, I remain committed to passing legislation that will lower costs for Missourians, create good-paying jobs for workers, and make our communities safer from the threats of climate change and gun violence. Thank you for taking the time to read about the work I'm doing for our communities in Congress, and if you’d like to stay updated in the new year, please take a moment to sign up for my e-newsletter here.

Now, let’s get to my 2022 End of Year Report!

Passing Landmark Legislation For the People

In 2021, Congress was able to pass historic legislation, like the American Rescue Plan Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, that helped protect and vaccinate our communities from COVID-19, support our economic recovery from the global pandemic, and made critical investments in our national infrastructure. 

These bills continue to provide investments that will enable our communities to grow and thrive in the years ahead. However, we refused to get complacent—instead passing additional legislation that would meet the immediate needs of the American people. Here are a few bills I was most proud to support, including three bills I authored to combat disparities in the home appraisal industry, strengthen Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that are vital to underserved communities, and reauthorize the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area for another fifteen years—two of which were passed by the House of Representatives and one that was signed into law.

The Inflation Reduction Act

Most recently, and perhaps most importantly, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act to lower costs for American families on everything from prescription drugs to health care and energy bills and to combat the existential threat of climate change. This legislation will allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug costs for America’s seniors, cap insulin costs at $35 per month for Medicare beneficiaries, provide tax credits to improve energy efficiency in households, and more—all while reducing the federal deficit.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was the most significant gun safety legislation passed by Congress in nearly three decades, and as communities across Missouri continue to face the horrifying consequences of gun violence, I’m thrilled that Democrats and Republicans were able to come together to take this important step to protect our communities. While this is but one step toward our goal of ending the scourge of gun violence that plagues America, it is an important reminder that reforms are possible on this issue. Moving forward, I’ll keep fighting to enact universal background checks, ban assault weapons, and strengthen Red Flag laws to save lives and keep our schools and communities safe.

The Honoring Our PACT Act

The Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress and extends critical benefits to more than five million American veterans that were exposed to toxic substances while serving our nation. I was proud to cosponsor this long-overdue legislation, which ensures veterans can receive high-quality health care screenings and services related to potential toxic exposure.

The CHIPS and Science Act

This summer, I was proud to vote for the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act, a bill that makes historic investments to bring the manufacturing of semiconductors back to the United States, strengthen our supply chains, lower costs for consumers, and create good-paying jobs for American workers. This legislation will be a boon for American labor, and I will continue to prioritize bringing jobs back home rather than offshoring them so giant corporations can make a bigger profit.

The Respect for Marriage Act

Following a suggestion from the Supreme Court that they should revisit the Obergefell decision after striking down the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade ruling, I immediately joined with other lawmakers to begin working to enshrine protections for marriage equality into federal law. 

I’m happy to let you know that Congress was able to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, with President Biden signing the bill into law this month. The bill codifies protections for interracial and LGBTQ+ marriages, ensuring that these couples will not have to live in fear in the future and demonstrating to the world that the United States remains a beacon of freedom thanks to our commitment to equality and human rights.

The Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act

Last year, I introduced the Real Estate Valuation Fairness and Improvement Act to promote greater diversity in the appraisal industry, which is approximately 98% White and has acknowledged a history of bias that devalues homes for minority homeowners. My bill establishes a federal grant program to promote diversity and inclusion in the appraisal profession through scholarships, training and education, implicit bias training, and more. In July, I’m proud to say that I was successful in getting the legislation passed by the House of Representatives as an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, and I will continue working to combat disparities in the appraisal industry, ensuring every homeowner receives fair value for their most prized possession.

The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program Improvement Act

As we continue our economic recovery from a global pandemic, I believe it is critical that Congress seek to find ways we can boost support for underserved rural and urban communities. That’s why I introduced the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program Improvement Act, which would strengthen the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program, provide affordable financing for community development projects, and stimulate greater economic development in the most economically distressed communities across the country. I was proud to see the legislation passed by my colleagues in the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support, and I will continue to fight for the development of communities that have been neglected for far too long.

Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area Reauthorization Act

Just last week, as Congress wrapped up the 117th Congress, I was overjoyed to see the National Heritage Area Act make it across the finish line and signed into law. The legislation includes my bill to reauthorize the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area--one of 55 National Heritage Areas across the country--for another 15 years, something I have been pushing for since September of last year. Not only will this allow Freedom's Frontier to continue to share and preserve the history of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas, but it will also boost tourism and help stimulate local economies as travelers visit museums and historical sites throughout the region.

While I believe these bills were some of the most impactful that were passed in 2022, there are many others for which I was proud to vote, cosponsor, and advocate for through legislative letters—and many more that I will continue to fight for in the year ahead, such as the Women’s Health Protection Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Providing Assistance to Constituents in the Fifth District of Missouri

As your Representative, one of my key responsibilities and highest priority is assisting constituents who may be having difficulty with a federal agency. Whether that is obtaining a tax return that was delayed, expediting the processing of a new passport before a trip abroad, or ensuring seniors get the Medicare and Social Security benefits they need, my staff and I are focused on making government work efficiently and effectively for Missourians.

Here are just a few services we provide for constituents from the Fifth District:

Military Personnel and Veterans:Helping veterans secure appointments with their VA doctors;
Recovering benefits and pension payments;
Helping with claims, survivor benefits, and discharges;
Helping with questions regarding burials; and
Assisting active service members with transfers or pay concerns.

Social Security, Medicare, IRS, and Taxes:Facilitating communication with the IRS via the Taxpayer Advocate Service;
Obtaining status updates on late returns;
Requesting information about eligibility and clarifying matters involving Social Security and Medicare benefits; and
Helping Missourians inquire about pending benefit applications and progress of disability claims filed with Social Security.

Immigration and Naturalization:Expediting qualifying urgent cases;
Helping schedule appointments at embassies;
Working to get status updates on pending petitions; and
Helping update change of address or case information.

Government Employees, Grants, and Postal Service:Helping retired federal employees receive their pensions and other benefits;
Helping federal employees receive timely responses to their EEOC claims;
Helping local organizations with learning about the grant process and highlighting grant opportunities;
Providing letters of support for grant applications; and
Working with communities to replace broken mail boxes and fixing delivery issues.

I want my congressional office to be a resource that can help you cut through red tape and government bureaucracy—something I believe we did effectively over the past year. If you are ever in need of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office via my website or by calling my district office directly at (816)-842-4545.

Bringing Federal Dollars Back to Missouri Communities

Last, but certainly not least, one thing I’m always working to do is bring taxpayer dollars back to the communities I serve. I’m proud to let you know that over the past year, the Fifth Congressional District of Missouri has received more than $323,000,000 in federal grant funding for critical infrastructure projects, mental and public health resources, childcare and public school programs, and so much more. Much of this funding comes from legislation that I helped pass in Congress, including the American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

However, I have also been successful in obtaining tens of millions of dollars in Community Project Funding for critical projects in our congressional district over the past two years. In Fiscal Year 2022, I was able to secure more than $15,000,000 in Community Project Funding to help build a state-of-the-art substance use treatment center at Truman Medical Center; create a Health Professions Building at Missouri Valley College to strengthen their Nursing Program and Missouri’s pipeline of health care workers; construct a pedestrian bridge across Brush Creek to connect communities to MLK Park; and more.

This year, following passage of the Fiscal Year 2023 government spending bill this/last month, I was thrilled to secure nearly $40 million in Community Project Funding. This funding will go toward obtaining new electric buses and support infrastructure for KCATA; creating a new pedestrian plaza in the Historic 18th & Vine District; building a new Minority Chamber of Commerce Development Center; an Urban Neighborhood Housing Initiative to provide affordable homes to families in underserved communities; and other critical developments that will support workers and hardworking families in my congressional district.

As we move into the new. year, I will continue to support Community Project Funding and fight to bring home federal dollars that will help strengthen economic development, increase public health and safety, and support the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy here in Missouri.

What an honor it is to advocate for you in the halls of Congress, and I hope that you are as proud of our 2022 accomplishments as I am. I want to close by wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year. If you are ever in need of assistance with a federal agency, or simply want to voice your opinion on a bill or federal policy, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.


Anonymous said...

I didn't see anything he did to lower taxes, secure the border and stop illegal immigration, produce more oil to lower fuel and heating costs. Typical democrat. He did nothing to help anything but his wallet

Anonymous said...

Very well stated. I agree.

Anonymous said...

Very well stated.