Rashida Roundup: Updates from the past month in Congress

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Over this past month, my team and I have been fighting for environmental justice and housing justice while taking on corporate greed and corruption. Below are some updates about our work serving you in Congress.

Environmental justice and the right to breathe clean air

This week, the air quality in my district and in Washington, D.C. was some of the worst in the world, due to Canadian wildfires made worse by climate change. Some residents in my district still hadn’t recovered from the awful wildfire smoke earlier in June. 

This can’t become our new normal. We cannot keep allowing corporate greed and political inaction, which is making us sick and killing us. We all have a right to breathe clean air. 

That’s why this month, I voted NO on a debt limit deal that gutted key environmental protections and greenlit dirty fossil fuel projects for corporate polluters who are poisoning our communities. After President Biden struck this deal and Congress passed the bill, I joined activists protesting the sacrificing of communities for corporate profits.

The children in my district are having asthma attacks right now, because corporations are paying for access to the White House and Congress. Instead of the fossil fuel industry drafting these bills, it should be the people of the United States.

I’m calling on the Biden administration to declare a climate emergency and phase out fossil fuels on public lands. And I’m calling on Congress to pass the Green New Deal.

I also recently re-introduced the Environmental Justice in Recreation Permitting Act to expand access to public lands for communities of color, low-income communities, and Tribal and Indigenous communities on the front lines of the climate crisis. 

Addressing gun violence

When we talk about protecting our children’s health, we must also talk about gun violence.  

Firearms are now the leading cause of death for American children. Many of these tragic deaths involve the accidental discharge of a firearm, so I introduced the Safe Storage Saves Lives Act to require every firearm seller to provide a gun lock or gun safety device every single time a firearm is sold in the United States.

It’s horrifying that 4.6 million children in our country live in homes with a loaded and unlocked firearm. Gun locks have already saved countless lives and requiring their use is key to combating America’s gun violence crisis.

Unfortunately—as with so many industries profiting off our deaths—the gun lobby and the NRA have bankrolled many of my colleagues in Congress into silence and inaction on this issue.  I will not stop fighting until Congress finally takes action to end gun violence. 

Holding banks accountable

Executives pocket millions of dollars while workers and communities keep paying the price for their greed and recklessness. This is unacceptable. 

In response to recent bank failures, I joined my Democratic colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee to introduce and cosponsor a number of bills, including the Fostering Accountability in Remuneration Fund Act, or FAIR Fund Act

Time and again, we have seen executives and senior employees at large financial institutions pursue short-term profits at any cost because their compensation packages encourage excessive risk-taking. The FAIR Fund Act reverses these corrupt incentives for financial executives and senior employees, ensuring that they’re held accountable for the consequences of their actions.

Ensuring housing as a human right

We must recognize the human dignity of our neighbors and dismantle the cycles of mass incarceration and housing discrimination. So I’m joining Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley in introducing the Housing for Formerly Incarcerated Reentry and Stable Tenancy (Housing FIRST) Act.

Every human being deserves access to safe, affordable housing, including people who were formerly incarcerated. This legislation will help disrupt the prison-to-homelessness pipeline by removing unjust barriers to housing and limiting tenant screening criteria for criminal records in background checks.

Ending the auto insurance industry’s modern-day redlining

Auto insurance discrimination continues to keep people in my community and across the country in the cycle of poverty.

Someone with a perfect driving record and poor credit can pay hundreds of dollars more for auto insurance—sometimes twice as much. My neighbors in Detroit also regularly face higher auto insurance rates than folks in predominantly white zip codes.

Last month I re-introduced the Prohibit Auto Insurance Discrimination Act, or PAID Act, to stop these predatory and discriminatory practices by auto insurance companies. 

If enacted, the legislation would prevent insurance companies from using non-driving factors (such as income, credit score, education level, zip code, and homeownership status) to raise rates for drivers. 

Honoring Rosa Parks

Last month, I had the incredible honor of partnering with Rosa Parks’ family to rename the Grand River Post Office near her home in Detroit the “Rosa Louise McCauley Parks Post Office.”

After her defiant and courageous act led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, white employers in Montgomery refused to hire Rosa Parks. So the mother of the civil rights movement moved to Detroit, where she lived for the rest of her life, serving our community tirelessly. 

Her legacy reminds us that we cannot remain silent when we encounter injustice, discrimination or racism. We must take a stand and speak out, even when our voice shakes.

As Mother Parks wrote, “Freedom fighters never retire.” Our struggle against racism and white supremacy is a lifelong pursuit, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to honor Mother Parks and help keep her legacy alive.  

Holding charter schools accountable

My colleague Rep. Jamaal Bowman and I introduced the Charter Oversight, Accountability, and Transparency (COAT) Act so the same oversight and transparency standards required of public schools are applied to charters.

For-profit charter schools receive millions of taxpayer dollars each year but operate without accountability, undermining our public education system. Publicly funded but privately managed charter schools must be transparent and accountable in order to receive federal funds.

Without the necessary oversight for charter schools, our children will continue to suffer while taxpayers foot the bill for charter school fraud, waste, and abuse. Our children deserve better.

I’m going to keep fighting for all of our children, and for communities where we all can thrive. Thank you for your partnership in this ongoing work.

Always serving you,