Cicilline in 2020: Fighting For the People

Dec 31, 2020

To: Rhode Island Editors, Editorial Writers, Reporters
From: The Office of Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01)
Re: 2020 End of Year Report
Date: December 31, 2020

Overview

In 2020, U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) once again delivered on his promises to fight For The People of Rhode Island. Most notably, as a member of House Leadership during an unprecedented public health crisis, he played a key role in ensuring that Rhode Island state and local officials received the federal resources they needed to take on the pandemic.

COVID Relief for Rhode Island Families

From the moment COVID-19 swept through the country and began wreaking havoc, I started working with my colleagues to ensure we addressed Rhode Islanders’ urgent needs:

  • Keeping your family healthy
    • Since we first learned that the pandemic had hit our shores, I fought for a national testing strategy. The HEROES Act would have supported testing, tracing and treatment, by providing $75 billion in funding for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and isolation measures, ensuring every American can access free coronavirus treatment, and supporting hospitals and providers, as well as making improvements to our testing infrastructure. The House passed the HEROES Act on May 15, 2020, but the bill never became law because Senator Mitch McConnell refused to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
    • The CARES Act, passed into law in March, requires that private insurance plans cover COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, and provided $1.3 billion in emergency funding for Community Health Centers, which are responsible for providing health care services for approximately 28 million Americans.
    • On March 18, 2020, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which mandates free coronavirus testing for everyone who needs a test. This law also included $82 million to the Department of Defense TRICARE health program to carry out detection of COVID-19 and testing related visits; $64 million for the Indian Health Services for COVID-19 diagnosis and testing related visits; $1 billion for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. Given the lack of a national testing strategy, the House has done everything we can to ensure that every American is able to get tested for COVID-19 and receive treatment.
  • Helping your family weather the economic crisis
    • When the pandemic forced the American economy to shut down, I fought to make sure Congress sent $1,200 direct cash payments to adults and $500 for children in the CARES Act.
    • And as the economy felt the impact of the virus, the CARES Act expanded unemployment insurance so more Rhode Islanders could access benefits. The bill made available an additional $600 a week and extended benefits for 13 weeks.
    • The CARES Act also made available $454 billion in life-saving loans for businesses, states, and cities. This included $1.25 billion for the State of Rhode Island through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. Rhode Islanders have also been able to secure 17,941 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, totaling $1,906,190,125 and 10,679 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for $565,362,000. And I have been fighting for additional funding for cities throughout the pandemic, striving to ensure that Rhode Island cities and towns are able to continue to grow.
    • On December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was signed into law. This bill will send an additional $600 in direct cash payments to adults and $600 for children. While these payments are a step in the right direction, I know Americans need significant survival checks. This past week, I voted for H.R. 9051 - CASH Act, which would raise these payments to $2,000 per adult.
    • Democrats fought hard to include expanded unemployment insurance benefits in this package. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 makes available an additional $300 a week and extended benefits for 10 weeks.
    • The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 also makes available an additional $284 billion in Payroll Protection Program forgivable loans. These loans have served as a lifeline for hard-hit small businesses.
  • Keeping Rhode Islanders in their homes
    • Housing is always essential, but especially at a time when staying in our homes protects us from a deadly disease, housing is even more important. To keep Rhode Islanders safely housed, I supported a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures in the CARES Act.
    • I also supported $11.5 billion to combat homelessness and $100 billion for short term rental assistance in the HEROES Act.

Delivering for Rhode Island

One of my highest priorities is to ensure that Rhode Islanders have the resources we need to stay healthy, safe, and maintain good jobs. Over the past year, that includes securing:

  • $1.8 million for Rhode Island fire departments, including $209,809 for critical firefighter breathing apparatus for the Central Falls Fire Department.
  • $34 million in regular Community Development Block Grants and CARES Act Community Development Block Grants funds for the State of Rhode Island and first congressional district entitlement communities. Some of these funds were utilized by the state to establish a Microenterprise Stabilization Grant Program, designed to help microbusinesses largely left out of federal relief programs.
  • Millions of dollars to the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency. This included $209,979 for crisis counseling and $3,342,540 this year in Emergency Management Performance Grants, which assist state and local governments in enhancing and sustaining all-hazards emergency management capabilities. And through FEMA’s Public Assistance program, Rhode Island has been reimbursed over $94 million to date for life-saving emergency protective measures in response to COVID-19.
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID relief funding through the CARES Act for educators, students, fisheries, and so much more. This included $8,704,245 through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, $46,350,444 through the School Emergency Relief Fund, and $3,293,234 through the Fishery Disaster Assistance Program.
  • Over $90 million through critical BUILD and INFRA grants to support needed infrastructure investments. This included over $65 million to RIDOT to make improvements, increase safety, and reduce congestion along Route 146.
  • Over $7 million to the state through the Economic Development Administration, including $230,000 for the Cities of Pawtucket and Central Falls to develop a joint economic development action plan for the Conant Thread District, which overlaps the two municipalities.
  • Over $6 million to the Rhode Island Department of Education to support high quality afternoon school programs through 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
  • $3.4 million in federal funds coming to Rhode Island for the arts, humanities, museums, and libraries. This includes $184,576 for the Preservation Society of Newport County to complete a digitization initiative of 13 high-priority special collections.

Fighting for Racial Justice

In April 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visited Rhode Island and said, “I haven’t lost faith in the future, but I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism or racial inequality.”

More than 50 years later we are still fighting the madness of racial inequality. We can build a better, more just country. Since my time as Mayor of Providence I have fought to end racial profiling, end militarism in policing and practices like the chokehold. This is a time for Americans of all races to come together and fight racism and inequality and I have been proud to advocate for that on the floor of Congress.

  • I cosponsored and voted for H.R.7120 - the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would implement sweeping police reform policies to our country by establishing a national standard for the operation of police departments, banning dangerous choke holds, ending qualified immunity for police, prohibiting racial and religious profiling, and mandating data collection on police encounters among other reforms.
  • I cosponsored and voted for S.2163/H.R. 1636, the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act, which establishes the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys within the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to make a systematic study of the conditions affecting black men and boys. This bill became law on August 14, 2020.
  • I cosponsored and voted for H.Res. 908, Condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19, which calls on all public officials to condemn and denounce anti-Asian sentiment, racism, discrimination, and religious intolerance related to COVID-19.
  • Voted for H.R. 2574, the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act (EIEA), which reestablishes the ability for students who have been wronged to seek justice and dismantle discriminatory policies and practices that unjustly punish them.
  • Cosponsored and voted for passage of H.R. 221 4, the NO BAN Act, which rescinds all versions of the Muslim Ban and prohibits religion-based discrimination in our immigration system.
  • Cosponsored and voted for passage of H.R. 2639, the Strength in Diversity Act, which seeks to address segregation in America’s schools by providing federal funding to support voluntary local efforts to increase diversity in schools.

Standing up for Rhode Island Values

Taking on Big Tech Monopolies

Over the past year and a half, I am proud to have led Congress’ biggest investigation into the four largest technology companies and whether they have stifled competition. I am fighting to make sure that the digital economy works for all Rhode Islanders and all Americans, and that it’s not a vehicle to make the rich richer at the expense of the rest of us.

  • Our investigation involved seven congressional hearings, the production of nearly 1.3 million internal documents and communications, submissions from 38 antitrust experts, and interviews with more than 240 market participants, former employees of the investigated platforms, and other individuals.
  • This top to bottom review of the state of competition in the digital economy confirms that the digital economy has become highly concentrated and prone to monopolization.
  • Congress must consider a menu of reforms that will achieve three key priorities:
    1. Restoring competition in the digital economy, including Structural separations and prohibitions of certain dominant platforms from operating in adjacent lines of business.
    2. Strengthening existing antitrust laws.
    3. Reviving antitrust enforcement including Civil penalties for “unfair methods of competition” rules.

Investing in the Blue Economy

Rhode Island's blue economy, the economic sectors with a direct or indirect link to Rhode Island's coasts and ocean — defense, marine trades, tourism and recreation, fisheries, aquaculture, ports and shipping, and offshore renewable energy — is bustling, and has room for growth.

  • I have worked hard to grow the blue economy in Rhode Island and the Northeast through the introduction of the Southern New England Regional Commission Act, which would help integrate cross-border assets and information to help the region sustainably utilize its ocean resources for economic growth.
  • I support the Offshore Wind Incentives for New Development Act, which would extend tax credits for offshore wind development through 2026 – a burgeoning industry in the Northeast.
  • I have continued to work to bring investment in Rhode Island’s ports, fought to safeguard our fisheries, and worked to promote the state's ocean-based tourism.
  • At the same time, I recognize the threat that climate change poses to Rhode Island’s natural resources and have pushed for a shift away from our nation's heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

Serving You

Over the past year, my staff in both Pawtucket and Washington have worked relentlessly to serve the people of our great state. In 2020, we:

  • Provided casework assistance for more than 1,800 Rhode Islanders who requested help with Social Security, Medicare and Veterans benefits, COVID relief programs, IRS tax refunds, and other federal agencies.
  • Hosted and participated in more than 120 constituent meetings and community events, including 18 Town Hall meetings, community conversations, and roundtable discussions on COVID-19 response and recovery, small business assistance, resources for seniors, health care and prescription drug costs, immigration, and more.
  • Responded to 3,058 calls, letters, and emails from constituents.
  • Provided 29 internship opportunities for young people to learn more about the federal government.
  • Provided more than 105 books to three public libraries in the district through the Library of Congress Surplus Book Program.