Congressman Serrano's 2018 Year In Review
As the 116th Congress begins in earnest, I wanted to take a look back at the past year, and provide you with an update on my work in Congress on your behalf. Last year, Congress was run by a Republican majority in both chambers. Despite that, we were able to achieve significant victories on behalf of Bronxites and New Yorkers
I believe the President's policies continue to attack immigrants, people of color, and marginalized communities. It has worked to stop assistance from going to Puerto Rico, and attempted to end programs that help working families and small businesses. Thankfully, even in the minority we were able to fight back. Towards that end, here are some of the issues I worked on last year to help The Bronx, Puerto Rico, and our nation:
The Bronx – Last year, I successfully protected a number of key programs used by Bronx residents, businesses, and nonprofits. I stopped cuts to the Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) Business Center Program, so MBDA Centers across the country like one operated in the South Bronx can continue to assist minority businesses and entrepreneurs in creating and expanding businesses. I prevented the elimination of the EPA Urban Waters Federal Partnership Program- which helps clean up the Bronx and Harlem Rivers. And lastly, I shone a light on the disturbing housing crisis facing student veterans at Fordham University, Bronx Community College, and Hostos Community College.
Civil Rights – As the Ranking Democrat on the subcommittee funding the Census, I led the fight to stop the addition of a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. I called out what I believed were the Administration’s falsehoods in developing this untested question, and confronted the Secretary of Commerce about his role in this issue. The inclusion of such a question will undermine minority participation and an accurate count. The 2020 Census will be used to reapportion federal, state, and local election districts and distribute billions in federal assistance. An inaccurate count in The Bronx and elsewhere will harm the fair allocation of resources and representation in Congress.
Puerto Rico – I advocated for the needs of the residents of Puerto Rico and helped pass robust disaster supplemental package that provides over $35 billion, tens of billions of dollars more than what President Trump wanted, to the island. I also wrote to the President and several agencies letters demanding equal treatment in numerous federal programs such as public assistance, nutrition assistance, emergency aid, education, healthcare, infrastructure, disaster unemployment assistance, and housing for the people of Puerto Rico. I also introduced the COMPROMISO Act, which would provide a 100 percent cost share for FEMA Categories A (debris removal) and B (emergency protective measures) for Puerto Rico, and that was included in the most recent disaster supplemental package that passed the House. I will keep fighting for equal treatment for the 3.4 million American citizens residing in the island.
Immigration - As the top Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee funding the Department of Justice, I successfully stopped the Trump Administration from ending a key program that provides legal resources to immigrants in detention. I also fought against what I viewed as the President's immoral and misguided immigration policies by offering amendments to stop: the housing of unaccompanied minors in tent cities; the use of Department of Defense attorneys to prosecute immigration offenses; and immigration enforcement actions at sensitive locations like schools, hospitals, and churches.
As we move forward in the 116th Congress, I will continue fighting to ensure our agencies, programs and public servants have the resources that they need to have a positive impact on the lives of millions of Americans, including in The Bronx.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 26th at 10:00 am, I will be chairing the first hearing of the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations subcommittee, which I now chair, with a focus on climate change. Many of the agencies conducting key scientific research into climate change are funded in the CJS. Should you wish to watch, you can find a live stream here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMaSlF09S0fpoRshS2t_7XA.
José E. Serrano