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Congressman thanks senator for help with bill

By Congressman A. Donald McEachin

Although August is typically a recess month for Congress, my staff and I have been and continue to be busy. My staff, following the recommendations of Governor [Ralph] Northam, is still working remotely. Though the district offices are closed, assistance is just an email or phone call away. Please, if you are having an issue with a federal agency, such as a delayed passport or missed benefits or a lost tax return, go to my website, mceachin.house.gov, and fill out the appropriate form. I assure you someone in my office will get back to you expeditiously, prepared to learn about your problem and work with you and the appropriate agency to address it.

If you want to register your opinion about an issue or invite me or a member of my staff to a virtual or live event, please go the website, mceachin.house.gov, fill out the appropriate form and you will hear from us. Please know, also, that your opinions on issues are very important to me. As we continue to work on legislation, and my colleagues and I discuss critical issues, I want to be serving you, meeting your needs, making life better and easier for you and your family.

Recently, I have heard from many constituents that they are having difficulties receiving unemployment checks from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). While this is a state agency and not a federal one, I have written a letter to the VEC expressing my serious concerns and reiterating the importance of people getting their much-needed unemployment check. I hope this will help to break the logjam and that Virginians will receive the funds owed to them.

This has been a busy month in the House of Representatives as we waited (and waited) for the Senate to take up the much needed and overdue latest COVID relief bill. However, among the work we did accomplish, I am particularly pleased that the Great American Outdoors Act passed, and I want to thank my Senate colleague, Mark Warner for his work and dedication to this bill.

This legislation will fund $9.5 billion over five years to help pay for the National Park Service’s extensive backlog for maintenance from dilapidated facilities to broken sinks and toilets. Here in Virginia, we have more than $1 billion worth in deferred maintenance at our national parks. Particularly during his pandemic, many Americans have visited our national parks for an outdoors vacation. The passage of this legislation will mean we can begin to fix those issues to make our national parks even a better family getaway. Moreover, with this funding, we can create good-paying outdoors jobs so those in need of work can be employed to make repairs in national parks.

The bill will also provide permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund which supports natural areas and recreation activities at $900 million per year. Here in the United States, we have unique public lands we must protect and preserve for our children and grandchildren. The Land and Water Conservation Fund ensures that the federal government can continue to purchase open spaces that the public can then enjoy. Land, adjacent to a national park, with beautiful vistas or special land features can be purchased to be added to the park that belongs to all Americans. Permanent resources for the Land and Water Conservation Fund ensures American’s ability to augment and protect our unique places.

I was pleased to see the bipartisan support for this significant conservation legislation and I eagerly await the President’s signature on the bill.

I was very proud last month to also vote in favor of the Child Care is Essential Act, which will provide $50 billion in grants to childcare providers to ensure they are able to keep functioning securely so parents and work and know their child is safe. Reliable, safe and available childcare is essential for working parents. However, during this pandemic, childcare providers have been faced with decreased revenue and, at the same time, increased expenses to implement necessary safety measures such as distancing, masks and more cleanings. Almost 3/4 of providers have had to layoff, furlough or reduce the hours for staff. At the same time, 13% of working parents have had to cut their work hours or leave their jobs because of lack of childcare. I will continue to look out for and support measures to help folks get back to work safely and take care of their families.

Donald McEachin represents Virginia’s 4th Congressional District. Contact him at McEachin.Press@house.gov.