One hundred days into Congress

Published 6:04 am Thursday, May 13, 2021

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We’re 100 days, and by the time you read this, a few more, into the 117th Congress. I wanted to give you a report on my work and that of my three offices in Washington, D.C., Richmond and Suffolk.  

Almost a quarter of a million dollars ($239,838) has been recovered for constituents in the first 100 days of this year. In the same interval, 183 new constituent service cases, in which we seek help for constituents from federal agencies, were opened and 333 were closed, bringing those to a conclusion for satisfied constituents.

During this short three-months-plus span, I took almost 500 meetings, attended/organized 29 events, and introduced or led on 18 bills and letters. Moreover, we responded to more than 3,000 letters while issuing an additional 121 letters of congratulations or condolence. Serving you, my constituents, is among the most important and, frankly, rewarding parts of my job.

This past week, I also hosted a webinar with prominent experts to help people receive grants and funding to address environmental justice concerns. Environmental justice hazards include everything from toxic waste sites and fume-spewing factories to lack of potable water and homes with dangerous lead paint, all located in the vicinity of minority, rural and/or low-income communities. Working together, we can remedy these ills and save our earth!

This month, the House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, of which I was proud to be an original co-sponsor. In the United States, women still earn only 82 cents on the dollar for every dollar earned by a man. Black women, Native American women and Pacific Islander women make even less compared to white men at 63 cents on the dollar.

This persistent pay inequity impacts not only these women, but their families and households. Women are the sole or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American families with children. If pay equity were finally instituted, the poverty rate for all working women would be cut in half, and for working single mothers, cut almost in half.

The legislation is long overdue — for the sake of hard-working women putting in the same effort and hours as men, for the sake of their families, for the sake of innocent children — for all those people who shouldn’t worry about shelter, or food insecurity, or choosing between medical needs and other basic requirements of life, we need to pass this legislation.

I was particularly excited to be able to preside over the House during the debate over this important issue. I will continue to work hard to make sure this is the year we finally succeed in passing this bill and get women equity in pay!

Lastly, I wanted to make sure to let you know that if you paid for funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020, for an individual whose death may have been caused by or was likely the result of COVID-19, you may be able to receive financial assistance. You can apply for up to $9,000 per funeral through FEMA’s dedicated call center at 844-684-6333; TTY 800-462-7585, Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Online applications will not be accepted. You may apply for assistance for multiple funerals.

Every life lost to this pandemic is a tragedy, and the loss of a loved one leaves a void that will never be filled. I can only hope that these available resources, thanks to COVID relief monies, will help ease the financial strain.

Congressman A. Donald McEachin represents Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.