Investing in our Community
Whether it's affordable housing, improvements to school buildings, or reliable transportation throughout the Triad, how we choose to improve and develop our communities reflects our values. Increased public transportation, safe school buildings, and affordable housing are key components to making economic prosperity a possibility for everyone. Throughout our country and in the Triad, our infrastructure is becoming increasingly strained and rising housing prices are pushing the American Dream out of reach for too many people.
While there is no one solution to addressing the needs of our communities, one thing is abundantly clear: we must invest in our infrastructure. That means a sustained commitment to repairing and replacing our existing roads and bridges, expanding the reach of our transit systems, and increasing our efforts to develop affordable housing. This also means increasing access to broadband and wifi, investing in our public schools, bolstering childcare options, and leveraging the growing green economy to create jobs and opportunities in our communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted several challenges facing our communities. The American Rescue Plan, signed into law March of 2021, constitutes a down payment on investing in our communities, but there is more work to do. As Congress considers future infrastructure packages, I will continue to advocate for forward thinking policies and investments that build on the successes of our communities and invest in our future.
Commonsense Gun Safety
Gun violence has shattered too many lives. No one should be unsafe in their home, schools, or places of worship, and laws ensuring that firearms are sold and used responsibly are an essential part of improving public safety.
There are a number of common sense measures that we can implement to address gun violence and keep our communities safe. I have cosponsored legislation to strengthen background checks, ban bump stocks and assault style weapons, and increase protections for victims of domestic violence, among other efforts. Most basically, Congress must authorize research on gun violence so we can better understand the impact of this epidemic on our country.
I cosponsored and voted in favor of passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which would ban chokeholds and no knock warrants, create a national police database, and establish national standards for policing. I believe we should re-evaluate the process police officers use to perform vehicle stops for minor infractions and I support annual evaluation and training for officers. I also support increased access to health care, including mental healthcare, to help police officers process the stress of their daily jobs.
Although the number of American families experiencing food insecurity had been falling before the pandemic, the past year has been a stark reminder that too many of our neighbors are going hungry, are unsure where their next meal will come from, or are lacking essential nutrition.
As a member of the Education and Labor Committee, I am particularly concerned with the impact of hunger on children. Ensuring children have access to healthy meals, especially for those children still learning remotely and unable to visit the school cafeteria, is essential to their health and well-being. College students also face hunger, with many students juggling work and classes.
I was proud to support the American Rescue Plan which invests over $12 billion in nutrition assistance. It extends the 15 percent SNAP benefit through late September, extends the program to help families purchase food during summer break, and invests in the WIC program. These investments will help Americans not only access healthy food, but will address health care needs as well since nutrition is directly linked to physical well-being.
As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I also believe in the value of foreign aid, both as a diplomatic tool to build up our relationships around the globe and as a tool to combat hunger in parts of the world experiencing famine, draught, and violent conflict. Addressing fundamental human needs, like food and access to clean water, are critical components of peace and stability worldwide.