Legislative Priorities for the 7th District

I work in Congress to address the issues of greatest concern to Maryland’s 7th District.  Below is a list of some of my major legislative initiatives in the current 116th Congress.  This list does not include every piece of legislation that I have authored or support.

For a comprehensive list of my legislative activity, please click here.

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COMBATTING THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 2019

Congressman Cummings is leading the effort to combat the opioid crisis and ensure that the millions of Americans suffering from substance use disorder have access to effective treatment. Click here to watch a video on the CARE Act.

I joined with Senator Elizabeth Warren to introduce the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 2019 to begin treating the devastating opioid epidemic like the public health emergency that it is. 

This legislation, which is modeled on the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act, would address the opioid crisis by providing stable and sustained funding for states and local communities to expand access to evidence-based treatment.  It would also help eliminate barriers that impede access to evidence-based care.

The CARE Act would provide $10 billion per year over ten years to fight this crisis, including:

  • $4 billion to states, territories, and tribal governments, including $2 billion to states with the highest levels of overdoses, $1.6 billion through competitive grants, and $400 million for tribal grants; 
  • $2.7 billion to the hardest hit counties and cities, including $1.43 billion to counties and cities with the highest levels of overdoses, $1 billion through competitive grants, and $270 million for tribal grants;  
  • $1.7 billion for public health surveillance, biomedical research, and improved training for health professionals, including $700 million for the National Institutes of Health, $500 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and regional tribal epidemiology centers, and $500 million to train and provide technical assistance to professionals treating substance use disorders;
  • $1.1 billion to support expanded and innovative service delivery, including $500 million for public and nonprofit entities, $500 million for projects of national significance that provide treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services, $50 million to help workers with substance use disorder maintain and gain employment, and $50 million to expand treatment provider capacity; and
  • $500 million to expand access to overdose reversal drugs (Naloxone) and provide this life-saving medicine to states to distribute to first responders, public health departments, and the public.

Under the CARE Act, Maryland would receive an estimated $52 million per year in state formula grants to fight substance use disorder and the opioid epidemic, while Baltimore City could receive as much as $14.7 million per year in funding.  Both the State of Maryland and Baltimore City would also be eligible to apply for additional funding from competitive grants.

The CARE Act has been endorsed by more than 200 organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the March of Dimes, the AFL-CIO, the National Association of Counties, and the National Indian Health Board.  Click here to see the full list of endorsing organizations. 

The Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on June 19, 2019, with leading medical experts to discuss the federal response to the opioid epidemic and the urgent need for enactment of the CARE Act.

Senator Warren and I held an event in Baltimore on July 27, 2018, to discuss how the CARE Act could improve substance use disorder treatment in Baltimore. 

For more information on H.R. 2569, click here.

To read a section-by-section summary of the CARE Act or access additional materials, please click here.

 

 

FIGHTING THE SKYROCKETING PRICES OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

One of my highest priorities is lowering the prices of prescription drugs.  I have introduced two pieces of legislation and, as Chairman of the Oversight Committee, convened three hearings to examine the causes and devastating consequences of skyrocketing drug prices.  

Rising drug prices are threatening the health and financial stability of millions of Americans.  In recent years, drug companies have raised prices to levels that make lifesaving medications unaffordable to many people.  Individuals from across Maryland—and the United States—have shared stories with me about how the high cost of prescription drugs is hurting them and their families.

As Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I launched an investigation earlier this year into the prescription drug industry’s pricing practices.  In January 2019, I convened my first hearing as Chairman to hear from expert witnesses who explained the tactics that drug companies use to make billions of dollars in profits.  The Committee has been working to understand more about these tactics, and how companies are reaping great rewards out of the pockets of ordinary Americans. 

In May 2019, we convened a hearing to examine how one company, Gilead Sciences, has maintained exorbitant prices for PrEP, a treatment that can prevent the transmission of HIV.  Gilead charges U.S. customers thousands of dollars a month for this treatment, even though it is available for as little as $6 a day overseas.  This treatment was discovered because of a significant investment from the federal government, but it has been used by Gilead to fuel their profits and reward their shareholders and executives with billions of dollars. 

In the Committee’s last hearing before the 2019 August District Work Period, we heard from patients and family members who told us about how the high cost of prescription drugs has affected their lives.

Sa’ra Skipper, who has diabetes, told us how she has struggled to pay for the insulin that she needs to live, and how her sister, who is also diabetic, almost died from rationing insulin.

Pam Holt, a cancer patient, told us how she was forced to refinance her house because of the cost of Revlimid, a drug made by Celgene that she needs to stay alive.

Ashley Krege, who suffers from a debilitating form of psoriasis, told us how she made the heartbreaking choice to stop using a drug that made her life bearable because the cost was simply too high.

In addition, I issued a Committee Staff Report examining the prices of diabetes drugs for seniors and the uninsured in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District.  The report found that the 50 most popular brand-name diabetes medications cost the Medicare program and beneficiaries in the district nearly $21 million in 2016.  The report also found that uninsured patients in the District pay 23 times as much as patients in Australia, 16 times as much as patients in the United Kingdom, and 14 times as much as patients in Canada for a one-month supply of a popular brand of insulin.

I have also introduced two bills this Congress to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

I remain committed to determining the causes of rising drug prices and identifying solutions to reduce costs for American families. 

 

 

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

I am committed to fighting to reform the criminal justice system.  Below are overviews of three pieces of legislation I have authored to help formerly incarcerated individuals.

 

Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment (REDEEM) Act

Tragically, in today’s world, a criminal record has become a life sentence that all too often limits one’s access to employment, housing, credit, child support, and so many other opportunities and services.  We know that sentences issued by our criminal justice system disproportionately affect Americans of color.

On April 20, 2019, I worked with my colleagues, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and Karen Bass (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, to reintroduce the Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment (REDEEM) Act.

This legislation would ease barriers to reentry for formerly incarcerated individuals by expunging or sealing offenses that are committed by youths and providing a way for adults to seal non-violent criminal records. Providing formerly incarcerated individuals with the tools to effectively reintegrate into society is essential to preventing recidivism.  One in three American adults currently has a criminal record. Unfortunately, over two-thirds of formerly-incarcerated people are rearrested within three years. Removing collateral consequences—including barriers to employment, education, and benefits—is critical to address this troubling trend and to enable returning citizens to support themselves and their families.

For more information on H.R. 2410, The REDEEM Act, click here

 

“BAN THE BOX”

This Congress, working with both Democrats and Republicans, I reintroduced the Fair Chance Act, H.R. 1076, which would “ban the box” in federal hiring by restricting federal agencies and contractors from asking about the criminal histories of job applicants until a conditional offer of employment is made.  This legislation would give formerly incarcerated people a fair chance at a job and a piece of the American dream.

Across the nation, 34 states, including Maryland, and more than 150 cities have already adopted policies that “ban the box.”  The time is now to adopt the same policy at the federal level—and expand opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals.

I introduced this legislation with Congressman Doug Collins, Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, and this legislation has support on both sides of the aisle.

In July 2019, the House approved a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 with identical language to the Fair Chance Act

For more information on H.R. 1076, the Fair Chance Act, click here.

 

Promoting Reentry Through Education in Prisons (PREP) Act of 2019

One in three American adults currently has a criminal record.  However, incarcerated individuals who participated in educational programs were 43 percent less likely to reenter the prison system than those who did not.

That’s why I’m proud to have introduced the Promoting Reentry Through Education in Prisons (PREP) Act, H.R. 2635.  This bill would ease the barriers to reentry by ensuring incarcerated individuals receive the educational opportunities they need to successfully reenter their communities upon release from federal prison. This legislation would provide the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) with the tools and guidance needed to provide incarcerated individuals with educational opportunities to change their lives for the better.

Educational programs are proven to reduce recidivism, and it is imperative that every incarcerated individual is provided with the opportunity to better themselves and leave prison ready to fully contribute to their communities.

For more information on H.R. 2635, the Promoting Reentry Through Education in Prisons Act of 2019, click here.

 

 

HONORING MARYLANDERS THROUGH LEGISLATION

Harriet Tubman Tribute Act

 

A sample design featuring Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

I have been leading the effort to place Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.  On February 7, 2019, I partnered with Congressman John Katko to reintroduce the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act. I had previously introduced the bill in 2015 and 2017.  This bill, which has bipartisan support, would require the Department of the Treasury to ensure that each $20 federal reserve note printed after December 31, 2020, bears the likeness of Harriet Tubman.

In May of 2019, I was incredibly disappointed when the Administration announced they would delay the redesign until 2028. In June 2019, I sent a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department asking them to provide specific information regarding security considerations that have delayed the reveal of updated portraits on redesigned notes.

Placing Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill is a fitting tribute to a woman who fought her entire life to make the values enshrined in our Constitution a reality for all Americans.  Called the Moses of her people, after she escaped slavery, Harriet Tubman repeatedly risked her own life to make 19 trips to the South to free more than 300 enslaved African Americans.  Her courage, conviction, and commitment to equality represent the best of America and it is long past time we recognize her extraordinary contributions to our nation.

For more information on H.R. 1083, the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act of 2019, click here.

 

Parren Mitchell Minority Business Education and Empowerment Act

As Parren Mitchell did when he represented Maryland’s 7th District, Congressman Cummings is working to ensure that minority-owned businesses have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.

As a proud Howard University graduate and a member of Morgan State University’s Board of Regents, I know the vital role Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) play in preparing young people to become leaders in their communities.  Additionally, small businesses power the American economy while creating jobs and opportunities within communities. 

That’s why I introduced the Parren Mitchell Minority Business Education and Empowerment Act, H.R. 2981.  This bill would help improve the links between the Small Business Administration (SBA) and our nation’s HBCUs by requiring the SBA to distribute grants to a group of HBCUs of differing sizes to enable them to establish Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) on their campuses to provide technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.

This legislation would also require that the SBA submit an annual report to Congress detailing how these Centers are assisting small businesses and expanding opportunities.

This legislation is named for Parren J. Mitchell, a graduate of Morgan State University, who represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971 until 1987.  During his time in Congress, Congressman Mitchell chaired the House Committee on Small Business and helped to open business opportunities to those who had previously been excluded. 

For more information on H.R. 2981, click here

 

Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act of 2019

Congressman Cummings is working to honor the legacy of Henrietta Lacks and expand access to clinical trials for underrepresented minorities.

During Women’s History Month, I introduced the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act, H.R. 1966, which would honor the extraordinary life and legacy of Henrietta Lacks. 

The bill would direct the Government Accountability Office to study and publish a report on the barriers to participation faced by those traditionally underrepresented in federally funded clinical trials.

Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman, died of cervical cancer in 1951.  During her cancer treatment, doctors took samples of her tumor, and from these samples, the HeLa cell line was created.  These extraordinary cells, which are able to live and reproduce outside the body, have been used extensively in medical research and helped lead to some of medicine’s most important breakthroughs, including the polio vaccine, along with treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS, leukemia and Parkinson’s disease.  However, these cells were harvested and used without the knowledge or consent of Ms. Lacks or her family.

Despite the progress that Ms. Lacks’ cells helped to achieve, many communities still face glaring health disparities.  For example, while cancer incidence rates are highest among Non-Hispanic White females, Non-Hispanic African American females have the highest death rates.  Clinical trials are a key component to advancing cancer research and treatment.  Currently, about 20 percent of cancer clinical trials fail because of lack of patient enrollment, with racial and ethnic minorities, and older, rural, and lower-income Americans generally underrepresented in such trials.

For more information on H.R. 1966, click here.