Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Serrano Report - Volume XVI, Issue #39

Sep 19, 2018
The Serrano Report

In Washington, DC

Ros-Lehtinen, Serrano, and Menendez Issue Joint Statement in Response to UCLA Smithsonian Latino Inclusion Report

Congressman Serrano, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Senator Robert Menendez responded to the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative report entitled Invisible No Morewhich highlights the Smithsonian Institution’s systemic underrepresentation of Latino arts and culture and failure to implement its own recommendations to improve Latino representation within the Institution.

“The findings in the Invisible No More report are quite alarming, but come as no surprise to many of us. In the 24 years since the initial report was released, the Smithsonian Institution has ignored many of its own recommendations to improve Latino inclusion and representation at all levels of the Institution. The continued failure to make any progress on these key goals underscores the Institution’s lack of commitment to the Latino community.”

"American Latinos are the largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. The U.S. Census estimates that by 2060 this population will reach nearly 119 million, or 30 percent of the U.S. population. The contributions this community has made to American culture and our way of life since our nation was founded are immeasurable. Yet, Latinos remain vastly underrepresented in nearly every facet of American life.

"We urge our colleagues in Congress to join us in supporting The National Museum of the American Latino Act to quickly pass and begin the process of establishing a new museum on the National Mall dedicated to highlighting and sharing the American Latino experience with the world. The rich history and experience of millions of American Latinos that have helped shape our society deserves to be told. The time to act is now,” said the lawmakers. 

In 1994, the Smithsonian Institution issued Willful Neglecta report that acknowledged a severe lack of Latino representation within the Institution. It issued 10 recommendations to improve Latino inclusion. The UCLA LPPI report is the first attempt to measure the Institution’s progress in implementing its own goals in 24 years. The report found that the Institution failed to make progress on 7 of its 10 overall recommendations. In addition, the report found that the continued decrease in federal funding for the Smithsonian Latino Center and a pervasive dearth of leadership roles held by Latinos remain ongoing barriers to full Latino inclusion and representation.

The National Museum of the American Latino Act (H.R. 2911/S. 1364) is bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will establish the creation of the National Museum of the American Latino within the Smithsonian Institution to share and celebrate the history, culture, arts, and contributions made by Latinos in the United States. Its primary sponsors are Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The legislation currently enjoys the support of 47 members of the House of Representatives (14 Republicans and 32 Democrats) and 13 Senators (5 Republicans and 8 Democrats). More information about the legislation can be found here.

Congressman Serrano Attends CHCI's Leadership Conference to Speak on 2020 Census

Last week Congressman Serrano attended CHCI's Annual Leadership Conference to speak at the The Importance Of The 2020 Census Panel. The panel was hosted by Fernando Pizarro, Washington Affiliates Correspondent for the Univision Television Group, and the panel included Angela M. Manso, NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected Officials) Educational Fund’s Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, María Teresa Kumar, founding President and CEO of Voto Latino, Dr. Ron S. Jarmin, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, and Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Congressman Serrano has been vital in securing funding for the upcoming 2020 Census as well as an early advocate for the exclusion of an immigration status question in the upcoming census. 

Congressman Serrano Leads Bipartisan Letter To Extend FEMA Cost Share Waivers in Puerto Rico post Hurricane Maria

Congressman Serrano, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, led a letter to the House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Nita Lowey asking the Appropriations Committee to include language in an upcoming Continuing Resolution to extend cost share waivers for FEMA categories A and B in Puerto Rico to ensure that the federal government continues to cover the cost of all emergency activities in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.  In 2007, similar language was incorporated into Public Law 110-28 to extend local cost share waivers for the Gulf Coast states in the aftermath of with Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, Dennis and Rita. In addition to Representative Serrano, the letter was signed by Representatives González-Colón, Velázquez, Gutiérrez, and Soto.

On August 15, 2018, FEMA announced that it would not continue covering the full cost of these expenses, which will now be an added burden on the local government and hinder recovery efforts.  For Category A, the decision was effective that same day. For category B the decision will go into effect on September 15, 2018.  While the Governor of Puerto Rico has appealed the decision, it is not apparent that FEMA intends to reverse it.

“Significant work remains on the island of Puerto Rico.  According to the government on the island, more than 4 million cubic yards of debris must still be cleaned up. The Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program still has more than 60,000 work orders to complete, which is more than 50 percent of the total number of work orders. Numerous critical health and safety facilities on the island still rely on generator power to ensure safety and continuity. The current fiscal situation in Puerto Rico, together with these ongoing issues, means that the withdrawal of full federal support for recovery efforts will significantly hinder the ability of Puerto Ricans to rebuild their homes, businesses, and infrastructure,” the members wrote.

Click here for the full text of the letter. 

Congressman Serrano Meets with Puerto Rican Executives

Last week Congressman Serrano met with Carlos R. Mercader, Executive Director -Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration and Omar Marrero, Executive Director – Puerto Rico Public Private Partnerships Authority and Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, to discuss ongoing issues in Puerto Rico, specially on the reconstruction efforts of the island post Hurricane Maria. 

Congressman Serrano Urges U.S. Education Secretary DeVos to Reject Proposal to Arm Teachers

Last week Congressman Serrano joined 173 of his Democratic colleagues to urge U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to reject a proposal that would allow funding to arm teachers. 

“The amount of schools shootings that our nation has endured this past year is saddening, we must do more to protect our children but more guns is not the answer. The last thing we need are more guns on campus. Instead, let’s fix crumbling schools, provide better student services, and pay teachers more.” Said Congressman Serrano.

To read the full letter click here.

In the Bronx

Congressman Serrano Announces Over $200,000 in NSF Funding for Hostos Community College

Congressman Serrano announced that CUNY Hostos Community College was awarded $207,452 in funding for their project “Collaborative Research: RUI: Examining linkages between Agulhas Leakage and ocean overturning in the last glacial cycle and through the mid-Pleistocene transition.” The grant comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Division of Ocean Sciences, which supports efforts to better understand global oceans and ocean basins. The project aims to examine past ocean systems to better understand our current climate, and will allow a diverse research team to receive mentoring and engage in international collaboration.  To read more on the project click here. Congressman Serrano oversees NSF funding as the Ranking Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee.

“It is exciting to see Hostos Community College participate in and lead international research on our ocean systems. This grant will continue to encourage college students to get involved and pursue careers in the STEM fields while helping the scientific community better understand changes in our global ocean ecosystems. I look forward to seeing the results of this project in the near future,” said Congressman Serrano. 

Congressman Serrano Announces $1 Million in NSF Funding for Fordham University

Congressman Serrano announced that Fordham University was awarded $1 million in funding for their project "Achievement in STEM through a Program of Immersive Research Experiences and Support. The grant comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program, which supports the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need. The project will provide students from low-income and minority communities with $10,000 in financial assistance as well as a pre-enrollment summer academic and career-focused orientation program; a year-long Introduction to Research course and a full-time summer research internship.

“This grant will help Fordham University foster some of our most vulnerable students in STEM majors. It will create a community for students of disadvantaged backgrounds that continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields. For America to continue to lead in the sciences, we must continue to foster the talent of all our communities through grants such as this one.  As the Ranking Democrat overseeing NSF funding, I thank the Foundation for investing in the Bronx,” said Congressman Serrano.

Congressman Serrano Announces Nearly $5 Million in NSF Funding to Help STEM Students at BCC and Lehman College

Congressman Serrano announced that Bronx Community College (BCC) was awarded $4,999,921 in funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their “Developing a Growth Mindset Model to Build Resiliency in STEM Students” project. The grant comes from The NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program, which supports the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students in STEM fields with demonstrated financial need.  The project will be administered by Bronx Community College and will also serve Lehman College, both Hispanic-Serving Institutions in the City University of New York system. It will fund 575 scholarships for 10 groups of students who are pursuing associate degrees at Bronx Community College and baccalaureate degrees at Lehman College across STEM fields. The scholarship will provide students with the necessary support to foster a successful educational journey in fields that are typically not sought after by individuals of low-income backgrounds.

“With this federal grant we are investing in the future of our communities. This grant will provide students in the Bronx with the tools and access to successfully attain an education in various STEM fields. As the Ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NSF and this initiative, I have focused on expanding STEM opportunities to groups that are traditionally underrepresented in these career paths. Minorities continue to make up a small percentage of the STEM workforce in our country, which is a lost opportunity for employers, students, and our nation.  We need to support the best and the brightest from all communities and this grant will help bridge the gap,” said Congressman Serrano.