Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Serrano Report - Volume XVI, Issue #36

Jun 12, 2018
The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC

Congressman Serrano Expresses Concern Over Commerce Agreement with Chinese Company ZTE

Congressman Serrano expressed his concerns with the Commerce Department’s agreement with ZTE easing the sanctions on the Chinese telecommunications firm. Congressman Serrano and three other Appropriations Committee members sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urging the Department to continue maintaining strong sanctions on the company amid news reports that President Trump intended to let the company do business with the United States again.

“For years, ZTE sold technology containing U.S. components to Iran and North Korea knowing it was violating American trade restrictions on two adversary countries. Accordingly, the Department of Commerce decided to impose severe penalties for this violation, including a record-high penalty of $1.19 billion and a potential 7-year ban on export privileges if the terms of the final settlement were violated. Just two months ago, the Department of Commerce fully implemented these sanctions after it was found that ZTE had violated the settlement terms, paid bonuses to executives involved in the illegal export of technology, and lied to U.S. investigators about it.  Given this history, many Americans were baffled when President Trump suddenly decided to undermine the restrictions on the company. Apparently, the President believes that protecting Chinese companies and jobs is more important than protecting our national security.

“This is not a partner we should be doing business with.  ZTE not only violated our trade restriction on Iran and North Korea, it also poses serious counterintelligence and espionage risks that have not even been properly addressed. The agreement reached by the Commerce Department will only weaken our policies against North Korea and Iran and our standing in the world. Congress is acting in a bipartisan manner through the appropriations process and elsewhere to prevent these restrictions from being rolled back. As Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee with jurisdiction over funding for the Department of Commerce, I will continue working to stop this effort by the Trump Administration to help China at the expense of our country.” Said Congressman Serrano.

Congressman Serrano Reacts to Harvard University Researchers’ Study on Hurricane Maria Death Toll in Puerto Rico

Congressman Serrano responded to the findings of a study conducted by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study estimates that 4,645 people died in Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria, thousands more than the official death toll of 64 confirmed by the Trump Administration.

“The number reached by Harvard University researchers only confirms what many long suspected - the amount of people who tragically lost their lives after Hurricane Maria’s passage through the island is much higher than the official number that has repeatedly been sanctioned by the Trump Administration. Many of these deaths could have easily been prevented had the Trump Administration chosen to recognize the magnitude of the crisis and taken more forceful action to help the people of Puerto Rico immediately after the hurricane. Instead, it continues to downplay the impact that Hurricane Maria had on the island and its people. Almost a year later, and just days away from a new hurricane season, millions continue to live in horrible conditions and the island remains vulnerable to future natural disasters. This number shows, not only that the federal government needs to do more to help Puerto Rico recover, it needs to help ensure local medical services are adequately prepared to serve the people of Puerto Rico in the event of another catastrophe in the near future. The millions of American citizens who live on the island can’t go through another Hurricane Maria.” Said Congressman Serrano.

Congressman Serrano also joined colleagues from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for a press conference in front of the Capitol to demand an independent commission to examine the death toll in Puerto Rico and FEMA’s response after Hurricane Maria.

(6.6.18) Rep. Velazquez, Rep. Meng, Rep. Espaillat, Rep. Serrano, Rep. Gallego, Rep. Soto at the Puerto Rico press confidence demanding for an independent commission on Hurricane Maria death toll.

Congressman Serrano Joins Colleagues to Blast Secretary DeVos, Department of Education, for Continuing to Fail Higher Ed. in Puerto Rico

Congressman Serrano, Rep. Velázquez, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand led 38 Members of Congress in writing to the U.S. Department of Education arguing that the agency’s process for distributing disaster relief funds is unfair and overly burdensome for institutions of higher education in Puerto Rico.

On April 6th, the lawmakers sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, laying out their concerns over a process that has failed to deliver adequate relief to higher education institutions on the Island. After receiving a dismissive response from the agency, the lawmakers chose to write again today to Secretary DeVos, probing her department a second time for answers.

“We also have serious concerns that this application process will re-direct disaster relief funding away from where it is needed most,” wrote the lawmakers. “By moving forward with this unfair and unduly burdensome process after hearing broad public outcry in opposition, the Department shows a deliberate and callous disregard for the calamity the people of Puerto Rico have dealt with since the storms, and accordingly, the Department must reverse course immediately.”

Despite the devastation inflicted on Puerto Rico from Maria, just $8.9 million of the $41 million in federal education disaster aid has gone to higher education institutes on the Island. In 2018, Congress granted Secretary DeVos the authority to distribute the Department’s disaster relief funds. However, DeVos adopted an application process that lawmakers argue fails to consider the practical reality of an Island still plagued by structural damage, power loss and other challenges. Furthermore, DeVos’ process breaks with the federal response to the similar-scale disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

In this week’s letter, the lawmakers pressed DeVos to explain why institutions like Liberty University and Grand Canyon University, two institutions with reportedly close ties to the Trump Administration, have received federal disaster funding, yet have failed to provide data on the number of displaced students they have enrolled due to Maria.

For a PDF, including all signatories, click here.

Ranking Member Congressman Serrano, Rep. Meng Introduce Amendment to Restrict Funding for Inclusion of Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

Congressman Serrano, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Subcommittee, which funds the U.S. Census Bureau, and Representative Meng, a member of the Subcommittee introduced an amendment during the full committee markup of the FY2019 CJS bill restricting funding for the inclusion of a question about citizenship status in the 2020 Census:

“The purpose of the Census is to serve as a nonpartisan instrument to gain an accurate count and understanding of American society every ten years. As we have said before, the inclusion of a citizenship question is unnecessary, unsupported, and a clear attack on the immigrant community. Its inclusion will make people afraid to fill out the form, undermine the count, raise costs, and have a detrimental effect on the distribution of formula funding. As a result, states will receive less funding for education, infrastructure and other important services. This question has no place in the Census and no taxpayer money should be used for a question that will ultimately hinder localities from accessing the resources that they need to serve the American people. The amendment we introduced today is one of many bipartisan efforts to prevent it from being ultimately included in the final form,” said Congressman Serrano.

In the Bronx

Congressman Serrano Announces Nearly $15 Million in Funding for Key Bronx Health Centers

Congressman Serrano announced nearly $15 million in federal funding for three community health care centers in the South Bronx. Awarded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration, the funding has been distributed as follows: $6,141,027 for United Health Care Inc.; $6,284,689 for Morris Heights Health Center; and $2,804,674 for Bronx-Lebanon Integrated Services System.

“The services provided by health centers are vital in underserved communities like the Bronx. With health care expenses expected to go up in New York, thanks to the Trump Administration’s efforts to destroy the Affordable Care Act, their work will only be more important in coming years.” said Congressman Serrano. “The funding announced today will allow three key centers in the South Bronx to continue offering excellent health care services as they face growing demand. No one should have to worry about not being able to access basic health services simply because it is too expensive. This funding will help countless families access the care they need and maintain the Bronx’s community health.” Said Congressman Serrano

The Health Center Program provides critical funding for community-based health clinics that provide a full range of integrated care services- from medical and dental care to case management and transportation services- for low-income individuals, regardless of their ability to pay. More than 24 million Americans across the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the territories rely on health centers to access and receive medical treatment.

Congressman Serrano Attends 2018 Bronx Ball

Congressman Serrano joined in the Bronx Week celebrations by attending the annual Bronx Ball which brought together some of the best things that the Bronx has to offer under one roof as well as Bronx elected officials. 

(5.19.18) Congressman Engel, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and Congressman Serrano pictured at the Bronx Ball

Congressman Serrano Meets with DreamYard Preparatory High School Students

Congressman Serrano had the opportunity to speak to senior students and their teacher Mr. Spratley from DreamYard Preparatory High School, who are part of an AP Government class, to discuss his role as a Congressman as well as pressing issues that affect them and their communities.