The Serrano Report - Volume XVI, Issue #41
In Washington, D.C.
Congressman Serrano Responds to Reports that President Trump is Calling for Termination of Federal Relief Funding for Puerto Rico
Congressman Serrano responded to reports that President Trump is calling on Congress to cut off federal relief funding for Puerto Rico for its recovery after Hurricane Maria.
“President Trump’s calls to further limit the resources available to Puerto Rico in the aftermath Hurricane Maria are completely tone deaf. This is just the latest example of how little the Trump Administration knows and cares about the situation on the island, its successful recovery and ultimately, its people. President Trump has hit a new low asking the federal government to cut all aid while thousands still lack access to reliable electricity, secure shelter, and good health care. The President’s characterization of the local government’s use of federal funds is not only inaccurate, it omits the fact that Puerto Rico, as a colony, is forced to undergo several layers of additional scrutiny in terms of its plans and use of disaster funding. Puerto Rico is still in the midst of an economic crisis, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria local economic activity has taken a hard hit. This is funding the island desperately needs. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I intend to work with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to prevent this horrifying attempt to starve the local government from taking place. Puerto Rico needs more help, not less. Our federal government, particularly the Appropriations Committee on both sides of the aisle, knows that cutting relief funding for the island will create more local economic instability and prevent the islands successful recovery. At this point, we shouldn’t be surprised by the President’s lack of compassion, but his ignorance will not go unanswered,” said Congressman Serrano.
Serrano Leads NY Delegation Letter Urging Dept. of Veteran Affairs to Address Student Veteran GI Bill Benefit Delays
Congressman Serrano led a letter from 19 members of the New York Congressional Delegation calling on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to immediately address the unnecessary delays that student veterans at Fordham University and other universities across New York State are facing in receiving educational benefits promised to them under the Forever GI Bill.
With last year’s passage of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, more commonly known as the Forever GI Bill, Congress ordered changes to enhance and expand veterans educational benefits. These changes required the VA Office of Information and Technology (OIT) to update IT systems by August 1, 2018. Nearly three months after this deadline, and two months into the academic school year, these updates remain incomplete and have led to long delays in processing benefits. Without book stipends and monthly housing allowances, student veterans cannot continue their studies properly and, worse, face the risk of eviction and homelessness.
“We call on you to address these issues immediately by using whatever means possible to efficiently and accurately process claims, and ensure benefits quickly make their way to the student veterans they serve. We urge the VA to provide better communication with student veterans and their families, as well as schools and universities, to keep them informed of the progress or delays made in processing their claims. The VA must also work to prevent any student veterans from incurring any late fees or any other fines due to a delay in receiving their benefits. While we understand the VA continues to face many significant challenges, no student veteran should bear any financial burden at the hands of the VA,” the members wrote.
To read the full letter click here.
Congressman Serrano Opposes President Trump's Plan to End Birthright Citizenship with Executive Order
Congressman Serrano responded to President Trump’s claims during an Axios interview that he can get rid of birthright citizenship on his own through Executive Action:
“Once again, President Trump is distorting facts and misleading the public by claiming he has discovered he can end birthright citizenship through Executive Action. Birthright Citizenship is protected by the U.S. Constitution, which means that the President cannot end it on his own. This is the President’s latest effort to fuel anti-immigrant attitudes and stoke racial divisions. We witnessed this past weekend what hate speech and hate violence leads to. Instead of proposing empty policy ideas that only further divide the American people, he should be talking about the issues all Americans care about," said Congressman Serrano.
Congressman Serrano on Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting
Last month, Congressman Serrano joined Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to show support for the Jewish Community and to denounce all hate in all of its forms. They were joined by religious leaders from all areas of The Bronx as well as elected officials.
“It is beyond distressing that eleven people were killed simply for practicing their faith. This act of senseless hatred and violence has no place in America. My thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their loved ones,” said Congressman José E. Serrano. “As we mourn their loss, we need to rededicate ourselves to action in order to stamp out hatred and bigotry in our nation. We must have serious conversations about the normalization of hate speech over the past two years, and finally vote in Congress to keep dangerous weapons out of dangerous hands. No one of any religion, race, or creed should fear for their lives simply because of who they are,” said Congressman Serrano.
In the Bronx
Congressman Serrano Advocates for Food Security
This week Congressman Serrano joined the Food Bank for NYC for their legislative breakfast to discuss how public charge regulations affect our community. Congressman Serrano has been a long time advocate of food security measures through his continued support of robust funding for SNAP,WIC, and other programs that aim to prevent hunger in our nation. Later that day Congressman Serrano joined other elected officials at the La Central Thanksgiving Luncheon and food voucher raffle.
Congressman Serrano Speaking at the Food Bank for NYC Legislative Breakfast. (11/19/18)
New York State Senator Luis Sepulveda. 3rd Avenue BID Executive Director Michael Brady and Congressman Serrano at La Central Thanksgiving Luncheon. (11/19/18)
Congressman Serrano Announces Nearly $1 Million in DOJ Funding for Opioid Abuse Treatment
Congressman Serrano announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has awarded the Bronx’s District Attorney office a total of $900,000 in funding. Awarded through the DOJ’s Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-Based Program, this funding will ensure the Bronx DA can expand comprehensive opioid abuse treatment through the Overdose Avoidance Recovery (OAR) program, which allows low-level, non-violent offenders to access treatment instead of facing jail time.
“Opioid use and abuse has been a long term problem in the Bronx, and more resources are desperately needed. This funding allows our borough to invest in treatment and recovery instead of jails by expanding local initiatives to reduce opioid use through prevention and addiction treatment services. I’m glad this important program initiated by Bronx DA Darcel Clark will be able to do more good work with this federal funding. This is an investment in our communities and ultimately our public safety,” said Congressman Serrano.
This program is a newly created part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was the first major substance abuse treatment and recovery legislation in 40 years.
The funding will be distributed by as follows:
$900,000 for the Overdose Avoidance Recovery (OAR) program awarded through the DOJ’sComprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) program.
Congressman Serrano, Postal Union Workers and Other Elected Officials Lead Effort to Reinitiate Postal Banking Services in the Bronx
Bronx Representatives Serrano, Engel, Crowley, and Espaillat sent a letter to the United States Postmaster General, Megan J. Brennan, to encourage the U.S. Postal Office (USPS) to renew the offering of affordable banking services inside postal banks. According to the USPS Office of Inspector General, under existing regulatory authority, post offices can still provide these services.
The effort was unveiled by Rep. Serrano, Crowley, postal union workers and community advocates at the Hunts Point Post Office in the Bronx, where participants called for the immediate reinstatement of banking services and explained why this is a win-win proposal for all stakeholders: the U.S. Postal Service and the government, consumers, and postal workers.
Currently, 21.8% of households in the Bronx have no bank account, and 30.5% use cheaper alternative financial institutions even though they have a bank account. This unbanked and underbanked population (52.3% of the Bronx population) would benefit from having access to affordable banking services in postal stations. Meanwhile, providing banking services would help increase postal offices' and the U.S. Postal Service's revenue as there is increasing demand for their services. With over 40 post offices in the South Bronx, this is a proposal that would significantly expand access to affordable banking services in the Bronx.
"Postal banking is good for the community and the Postal Service. A majority of working families in the Bronx are either unbanked or underbanked, and providing a postal banking option will help them avoid high-cost alternatives like checks cashier and pay-day lenders. It also allows the Postal Service to engage in new revenue raising activities. I thank my colleagues in joining me in this important effort to help Bronxite, and I thank the New York Metro Area Postal Union for leading this effort" Said Congressman Serrano.
|Representatives Serrano; Representative Crowley; Jonathan Smith, President of the New York Metro Area Postal Union; and Vincent Alvarez, President of NYC Central Labor Council stand at the Hunts Point Post Office and call on the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to offer affordable banking services inside postal stations again. (10/16/18)|
Congressman Serrano Announces $300,000 in Funding to Help Parents Attend College in the Bronx
Congressman Serrano announced that the U.S. Department of Education awarded $348,911 to Bronx Community College through the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Program. The CCAMPIS Program provides funding for child care on campus so low-income students with children do not have to miss class and can successfully complete their schooling.
“College students who are parents shouldn’t have to choose between getting a college education and having child care. Far too often, students, in particular low-income students, with children end up opting to drop out of school because they don’t have access to affordable, reliable child care while they go to school. This funding will help Bronx Community College provide child care on campus so low-income students with children can continue studying and obtain the credentials that they need to start a career and provide for their children. This is an investment in the future of our children and our college students,” More than half of all BCC students work while attending classes, and 55% have children under the age of 5,” said BCC president Thomas Isekenegbe. “Their ability to access high-quality child care gives them peace of mind and the support they need to pursue their studies.” said Congressman Serrano.
Congressman Serrano Meets with J Street
Congressman Serrano also met with representatives from J Street, in his Bronx office. They discussed a joint support for a two state solution, continued aid for Palestinians and Israel’s security.
Congressman Serrano Meets with Bronx Museum Executives
Last month Congressman Serrano met with Deborah Cullen, New Executive Director of the Bronx Museum and Shirley Solomon, Director of Government and Institutional Giving. He welcomed the new director and discussed his involvement with the museum throughout the years and reiterated his continued support.