My new bill, the Marijuana Justice Act, doesn’t just end the federal prohibition on marijuana, it seeks to undo damage from the failed War on Drugs including establishing a community reinvestment fund for areas most hard-hit by drug war.
The National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol is intended to celebrate ‘illustrious’ Americans ‘worthy of… national commemoration.’ It should be a place of honor for patriots – those who have served, sacrificed, or made tremendous contributions to our nation. Individuals who were treasonous to the United States, who took up arms against their own country, and inflicted catastrophic death and suffering among US citizens, are not patriots and should not be afforded such a rare honor in this sacred space. The Capitol is a place for all Americans to come and feel welcomed, encouraged, and inspired. Confederate statues do not do this. They do the opposite. They are, unequivocally, not only statues of treasonous, unpatriotic Americans, they are also symbolic to some who seek to revise history and advance hate and division. To millions of Americans, they are painful, injurious symbols of bigotry and hate, celebrating individuals who sought to break our nation asunder and preserve the vile institution of slavery and white supremacy. It is imperative that these figures are properly contextualized and are moved to more appropriate institutions such as museums. If we as a nation are to truly heal from our past, we must unflinchingly and courageously confront the truth of our history. This process involves realizing that we cannot afford to sanitize the bigotry, hatred, and racism in our history or water down the vicious brutality and terrorism that ran rampant in our past. We truly honor America when we tell our whole truth. We truly magnify our strength as a nation when we recognize how grave the injustice and challenges were and identify the incredible courage, sacrifice and struggle that existed on the part of those American’s who came together so that we could overcome those challenges and advance forward. Our commitment to the ideals of liberty, justice, and equality is the reason our nation, time and time again, endured and overcame crisis and challenge. And this commitment is what is needed now as we address our present urgent issues of injustice and challenge. We have one collective destiny; we will rise or fall together. We must hold to the truth that we need each other, all of us, for all of us have value, worth, dignity and urgently needed contributions to make to our nation. This ideal is essential to ensuring that our nation becomes an ever-brighter light of hope and promise to all Americans and humanity. These statues must be moved not just because of who they were in the past, but because of who we are now as a nation and who we must be to ensure an even better and brighter future. E pluribus unum -- out of many, one.
The three largest banks in America collected over $5 billion in overdraft fees last year. These fees, which disproportionately fall on those least able to afford them, have become an increasingly important revenue stream for banks. A former bank CEO even named his yacht “Overdraft” in a crude and even craven celebration of the banking practice. Last month I sent a letter to the top 13 banks seeking more information on their overdraft fee practices—how they’re collected, how bank employees are incentivized to enroll customers in overdraft programs, how much banks depend on these fees for their bottom line, and more. Americans deserve answers to these questions. And should exploitative practices be revealed we must demand change and justice.
Once again, Trump leaves me outraged and disgusted. He betrays the office and the people he has sworn to serve. Disgracefully, today Trump was not the Commander-in-Chief but the Alt-Right-Apologist-in-chief. Trump showed himself to be more of an ally of the Alt-right and white supremacists than our country and our most cherished common values. There is no question who he is. The critical moral question is: who are we? We cannot surrender America to Trump. We must fight.
"The genius of the current caste system, and what most distinguishes it from its predecessors, is that it appears voluntary. People choose to commit crimes, and that's why they are locked up or locked out, we are told. This feature makes the politics of responsibility particularly tempting, as it appears the system can be avoided with good behavior. But herein lies the trap. All people make mistakes. All of us are sinners. All of us are criminals. All of us violate the law at some point in our lives. In fact, if the worst thing you have ever done is speed ten miles over the speed limit on the freeway, you have put yourself and others at more risk of harm than someone smoking marijuana in the privacy of his or her living room. Yet there are people in the United States serving life sentences for first-time drug offenses, something virtually unheard of anywhere else in the world." Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
The evil of hatred isn’t just the overt torch-bearing bigots in Virginia. The evil of hate is also the ignorance that breeds it, the apathy that sustains it and the Trump-like rhetoric that gives it license to flourish. When speaking about so called “radical Islamic terrorists” last year, President Trump said, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country.” On Saturday, President Trump demonstrated a hateful hypocrisy in failing to name the Neo-Nazi, white supremacist, Alt-Right hate for what it is: not only the cause of the horrific violence in Virginia, but the evil enemy of our Nation’s hope and promise. President Trump’s words in his statement -- “hatred, bigotry and violence that's on many sides” -- not only fuels a misleading account of what actually happened but shamefully puts the counter-protestors on the same moral level and as those carrying Nazi flags and chanting vile racist rants. I mourn today’s loss of life. I celebrate the peaceful activists who would not be silent in the face of hate. And for those of us watching these events unfold, simply condemning the violence and hate of today is not enough. Martin Luther King, Jr., aptly said, “It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people.” It is up to us to do more than just look upon the violence and hate on display in Virginia with disapproval. There is serious work to do in our nation from addressing the growing hate and hate crimes in the United States to dealing with persistent systemic injustices in our criminal justice system. Condemnation is expected. Anger is understood. But only action, work, sacrifice and struggle will yield progress. The focus should not just be about what “they” did in Virginia, but what we will do where we are to advance our nation toward greater justice. I believe in love. I believe that love can indeed conquer hate. But love is not passive. Love doesn’t just sit back and hope that things will change. Love demands us confronting our own ignorance or complicity in injustice or our own biases and humbly working to change ourselves and our community. Love is courageous and relentless and it is indeed what our nation needs now. I believe in love. I believe in us. May we all rise to meet the urgent demands of our moment in history.
Superfund sites are dangerously contaminated and toxic areas that threaten the health and public safety of nearby communities—and roughly 10 percent of Americans live within three miles of one. With more than 1,300 Superfund sites across our country, we should be investing more into this program to ensure the safety of our communities—instead, the Trump Administration has proposed cutting the budget by 30% making it hard to understand how the EPA is going to adequately clean up these areas.
Our goal with the Marijuana Justice Act is restorative justice—finding ways to take communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the failed War on Drugs and helping them to heal, helping them to recover from what has been an unjust application of the law. The bill doesn’t just end the federal prohibition on marijuana; it goes much further to help undo a lot of the damage done by a drug war gone horribly wrong.
President Trump’s reckless policy to ban transgender Americans from the military undermines our values and threatens our national security. These brave Americans make tremendous sacrifices on behalf of our nation and deserve to be treated as the heroes they are. I've joined with many of my colleagues to work on legislation that will protect transgender service members and uphold the Transgender Service Member Policy.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have already legalized marijuana. Even more states are taking up measures to follow suit. Yet the federal government continues to drag its feet and continues to go backward, not forward on drug policy. It’s time to catch up to the progress made by state legislatures and end these broken drug laws once and for all. That’s why I've introduced the Marijuana Justice Act. It won’t be easy, but as Frederick Douglass once said, “power concedes nothing without a demand.” I hope you will join me in support of this bill. #MarijuanaJustice
For 40 years, the War on Drugs has really been a war on people—on poor people, minorities, the addicted, the mentally ill, and even our veterans. The federal government should do the right thing and not only end the prohibition of marijuana, but also invest in our communities so we make them stronger, more economically vibrant, more fair and more just.
As part of the War on Drugs, marijuana was often labeled a "gateway drug." But there's mounting evidence that suggests marijuana could be useful as an "off ramp drug" that might help people addicted to drugs like opioids. With the opioid epidemic devastating communities across our country, ending the prohibition on marijuana could actually help Americans during this crisis.
I don't believe that any administration under investigation itself should be able to unilaterally remove of the lead counsel assigned in that investigation. There must be checks and balances. With President Trump’s veiled threats directed at Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation into potential Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, Senator Lindsay Graham and I have introduced a bipartisan bill to help protect special counsels now and in the future from political interference and unjustified termination by the executive branch.
We all need to speak up against any attempt by the Trump Administration to undermine the Affordable Care Act and disrupt health insurance markets. President Trump has already publicly stated he wants the ACA to fail, and will seemingly do everything in his power to make sure it happens. Think about that: the President of the United States wants the health insurance market to collapse, hurting millions of Americans, in order to score political points. While the ACA is imperfect, it’s the law of the land. As health care debates continue, I look forward to working on bipartisan solutions to improve access and affordability of health care for all Americans. Healthcare is a human right. Everyone deserves affordable coverage -- and deserves better than a President and an administration working to undermine it.
In the United States today, black people are almost four times more likely than their white counterparts to be arrested for marijuana use or possession. This practice of over-criminalizing and under-serving our communities, grounded in the misguided War on Drugs prevents hardworking people from getting Pell Grants, getting jobs, and having access to basic necessities like food stamps. Just because of one reckless decision, countless people caught in this unjust system have a less viable long-term economic potential. That’s not what we’re about. #MarijuanaJustice
A special counsel's duty is to follow the facts and the law wherever that leads. They should never be subjected to interference or intimidation because of where an investigation takes them. I've introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Graham that would subject any decision to fire a special counsel to a review by a panel of federal judges, ensuring any removal is for legitimate reasons instead of political motivations.
"Although legalization doesn’t have much political traction in Washington, it’s backed by a majority of Americans." That's why it's going to take all of us to continue putting pressure on elected officials to end this devastating federal prohibition on marijuana that isn't making us safer. Our existing marijuana laws continue to divert critical resources from fighting violent crimes, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color, and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year. Please call your senator and tell them to support the Marijuana Justice Act: (202) 224-3121