This past Monday, thousands of families, friends, colleagues, and loved ones from every corner of the country gathered at the U.S. Capitol for the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service to honor the 394 officers who gave their lives in service to their communities. Their names will forever be etched in hearts and on the walls of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial along with the over 21,000 that came before them.
Tacoma police officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez, who was shot and killed in the line of duty while responding to a domestic dispute call late last year was one of the names added to the wall this week.
National Police Week reminds us that the safety of our families and neighborhoods must not be taken for granted. The 394 additions to the wall are painful affirmations that our security comes at a tremendous cost.
It was heartwarming to see the overwhelming support for law enforcement from my colleagues in Congress over these past few days. Members from both sides of the aisle joined me during an hour-long Special Order on the House floor in recognition of Police Week, the President honored my request to light the White House blue, and Members shared my OpEd I wrote urging the country not to take our law enforcement for granted.
This week, I also wrapped up my #15ReasonsforMay15 campaign – my effort to highlight good deeds of officers across the country. To see the full #15ReasonforMay15 campaign, click HERE.
Going from Surviving to Thriving
I had the opportunity to meet Federal Way resident Jameela Roland. Jameela testified before the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee during a hearing focused on helping the 5.5 million 16 to 24 year olds across the nation who are neither in school or working find success through work-based learning experiences.
For seven years Jameela worked minimum wage jobs and bounced from one community college to the next. She thought college was her only path to success, but continued to struggle to make it work. At the age of 24, Jameela, her mother, and her dog were homeless. At that point in her life she was just trying to survive. But today, Jameela is thriving thanks to a program called Year Up, which is an intensive one-year training program for low income young adults that develops their skills, connects them with corporate internships, and provides college credit eligible coursework. Thanks to her hard work and the training and support she received through Year Up, Jameela now works full time for Microsoft, earns four times what she was before, and is on a career path with growth opportunities. Her powerful story of overcoming homelessness to become a successful young lady is an inspiration and reminder that we must support innovative, evidence-based, and results-oriented programs that successfully move our youth out of poverty.
Winning the Fight Against ALS
I was honored to receive the Jacob K. Javits Public Service Award from The ALS Association. ALS is a devastating diagnosis for both the patients living with the disease and their family and friends. There is currently no cure and limited treatments available. I know the pain of losing someone close to you to ALS and I am committed doing all I can to keep others from experiencing that loss. I continue to fight for strong federal investments in life-saving medical research through both the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense ALS Research Program so that we can improve the care available to patients and one day find a cure.
Pro-Growth Tax Reform
We need tax reform to grow our economy, to allow our job creators to create more jobs, and to increase the paychecks of hard-working Americans. Most importantly, I want American workers to be able to keep more of their hard-earned money and provide for their families.
On Thursday, the Ways and Means Committee held a hearing to discuss our pro-growth ideas for reforming the tax code so it works better for you and your family.
Probation Officer Protection Act
I am extremely proud that my bill, the Probation Officer Protection Act passed the House yesterday with bipartisan support.
When a probation officer goes to an offender’s home they do not know who will be there or what type of welcome they will receive, Third parties, like a friend or neighbor may assault the officer or forcibly prevent them from doing their critical job of making sure the offender is on the right path. Now officers are left with no choice but to retreat and call local law enforcement for support, which in some cases could take 30 minutes to an hour given the severe officer shortages we have across the country. The Probation Officer Protection Act will address this issue by giving our probation officers the right to protect themselves, protect probationers, and safely carry out their official duties under the law.
I hope my colleagues in the Senate will follow our lead and pass this important bill soon.
In May of 2015, President Obama signed into law another bill I was proud to sponsor, the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act which established a national alert system to disseminate critical, time-sensitive information about suspected criminals who have committed or threatened an attack on law enforcement. After a long wait, I’m pleased to say that yesterday the Department of Justice announced the nationwide rollout of the National Blue Alert Network.
The successful implementation of a National Blue Alert Network not only shows our law enforcement that we care about their sacrifices but that we are doing our part to help keep them safe. With an almost 40 percent increase in law enforcement deaths so far this year, we have to do more to bring people who attack our officers to justice. Blue alert will help protect our families, neighbors, and officers by quickly disseminating information we need to catch suspects and keep our communities safe.
Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll talk to you next time!