(House of Representatives - May 01, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 74 (Monday, May 1, 2017)]
[Pages H2995-H3001]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands (Ms. Plaskett) 
is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, it is with great honor that I rise today 
to coanchor this CBC Special Order hour with my esteemed colleague from 
Texas (Mr. Veasey). For the next 60 minutes, we have a chance to speak 
directly to the American people on issues of great importance to the 
Congressional Black Caucus, Congress, the constituents we represent, 
and all Americans.
  This evening, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, the 
gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Richmond), my friend and colleague, I 
first thank him for his continued leadership of the caucus and on 
issues impacting Black America and other minority communities across 
this great Nation.
  I would also like to thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Veasey), my 
colleague, for joining me in chairing this evening's Special Order 
hour, and my other CBC colleagues who are joining us to speak on 
important issues.
  Mr. Speaker, we are here tonight to address the first 100 days of the 
Trump Presidency and its impact on minority communities like the 
district I represent and those of my fellow CBC colleagues. 
Specifically, we will highlight 100 actions taken by this 
administration in the last 100 days with less than positive impact to 
the communities we represent.
  The President hails his first 100 days as the most successful in the 
history of the United States. These actions, however, do not spell 
success for low income and minority communities. Actions that, in turn, 
roll back Department of Justice protections designed to ensure police 
accountability; actions that threaten to further restrict voting rights 
and undermine the public education system; actions that threaten

[[Page H2996]]

access to quality affordable health care for millions of Americans, 
including children, seniors, and those with preexisting medical 
conditions; actions that propose gutting programs, HUD, and others that 
provide housing assistance for extremely low-income families and the 
homeless; mean-spirited actions that break up families and make 
immigrant communities less safe; and actions that roll back important 
environmental protections which serve to, among other things, ensure 
safe air and drinking waters in communities like Flint, Michigan, and 
mitigating the effects of climate change in vulnerable coastal 
communities like my home district of the United States Virgin Islands.
  Mr. Speaker, the Congressional Black Caucus has reached out to 
President Trump and is willing to work with his administration to 
continue to build upon the greatness of this country--and not just for 
the privileged few but for all.
  As representatives of a congressional district that is home to the 
only HBCU outside the continental United States, I take exception to 
the administration's Education Secretary viewing HBCUs as pioneers for 
school choice, even though these institutions were founded because 
White colleges and universities refused to admit Black students.
  This statement illustrates a lack of understanding of the history of 
the African Americans and the Black community. President Trump's 
proposed budget for the Department of Education plans to eliminate 
afterschool and teacher-support programs, as well as slashing funding 
for Federal supplemental education opportunity grants, Pell grants, and 
instead divert Federal funds to private school vouchers. This plan 
would be devastating to communities like my home district where almost 
one-third of the children live below the poverty line and where public 
schools are already struggling to make the best with limited funds and 

                              {time}  2015

  President Trump's budget proposal would also cut the Department of 
Health and Human Services' budget by $12.6 billion, a 16 percent cut. 
In my home district of the United States Virgin Islands, HHS funds 
critical early childhood education; and nutrition programs provide 
assistance to seniors, low-income families, and funding for mental 
health programs.
  Mr. Speaker, these and other actions that my colleagues will speak 
about are not to criticize the President, but more to highlight the 
importance of funding of these programs and, more importantly, 
highlighting how important these programs and government functions are 
to American families and to the safety and progress of our communities. 
America, stay woke. There are still more than 1,300 days to go.
  I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Veasey).
  Mr. VEASEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from the Virgin 
Islands for all of her hard work on this Special Order hour. I enjoy 
coanchoring with the gentlewoman because of her commitment and wanting 
to get out these important messages.
  I think the message we want to talk about today is the first 100 
days. I don't know about you all, but I am disappointed in these first 
100 days.
  There were a lot of things that we were told were going to happen, 
and many of those things just hadn't happened. There has been a lot of 
flip-flopping. I know that you have seen that. We saw it on Syria. We 
saw it on NATO. We saw it on many other things that there was a whole 
lot of talk that happened in 2016, but there ain't a whole lot of 
walking that has happened in 2017 as far as follow-up is concerned. 
That is the sort of thing that all Americans should be worried about in 
these first 100 days that ended on Saturday.
  Many of us hoped that the rhetoric, that the foolishness, the 
tweeting, that those types of things would stop. That hasn't stopped.
  A lot of us actually hoped that--hey, if you want to talk about 
bringing some jobs back to somebody, I am for bringing jobs back. I am 
more committed to jobs and having jobs here in this country, and he 
hasn't done anything when it comes to jobs.
  There has been absolutely no follow-up whatsoever when it comes to 
helping the American man and woman reopen factories, when it comes to 
helping the American man and woman help pay for their child care. When 
it comes to things like Davis-Bacon and putting more money on the table 
at the end of the night and in the bank accounts, absolutely nothing 
has been done, and that is what we should be concerned about.
  The President promised on the campaign trail that he was going to 
help these hardworking Americans that I talked about earlier. One of 
the things that he talked about was the Buy American, Hire American. 
Ain't nothing happening on that. We know that not only did Trump fail 
to deliver on these promises, but that he has actually worked against 
the best interests of American workers.
  He has also gone on to contradict himself on his commitment to job 
training. Instead of investing in job training and these crucial 
programs, the Trump administration has proposed $2.5 billion in cuts 
for the Department of Labor. We have, by many estimates, about a half a 
million or more jobs in this country that are high-skilled 
manufacturing jobs that we can't fill. These are jobs that could fill 
factories back up in the Rust Belt. These are jobs that could fill 
factories back up in Texas. These are jobs that could be filled up in 
other parts of the country.
  You want to cut back on job training when we need to be training 
people for these new jobs? These are new manufacturing jobs that deal 
with robots, deal with programmers and different areas like that where 
the young people don't necessarily have the skills that they need to be 
  You hear about these companies that have come to America, they locate 
here--foreign car manufacturers, for instance--and they have to work 
with the local community colleges to get the kids on par to work these 
new manufacturing jobs. Now is not the time to cut back on job 
training. So that is what bothers me in these first 100 days.
  The administration has rolled back worker protections that keep 
Americans safe while on the job. Last month, President Trump changed 
the law so that employers now only have 6 months to report workplace 
injuries and illnesses instead of the previously required 5-year 
reporting window. Scaling back the requirement does not allow the 
Department of Labor to get a full picture of a given workplace. It 
makes it more difficult to spot a trend of endangering employees.
  Trump also gutted another worker protection that would have made it 
harder for companies to secure Federal contracts if they have a history 
of labor law violations. That protection is now gone. It is gone. It 
has disappeared.
  Above all else, President Trump has still not put forward a single, 
concrete, job-creating bill like he pledged. He betrayed his promise to 
make rebuilding America's infrastructure a top priority of this 
administration. He has failed to mention a word about protecting the 
Davis-Bacon Act which, as you know, would ensure that workers are paid 
fairly should an infrastructure bill come together.
  Again, when you are talking about money, I mean that is a very 
serious topic. Money decides whether or not you can pay your bills, 
whether or not you can put food on the table, whether or not you can 
buy your kids clothes, whether or not you can make the car payment.
  The Davis-Bacon Act is a basic fundamental. If you cannot protect 
that, those prevailing wages that give people the opportunity to earn a 
good income, again, then you are just talking and you ain't walking. 
That is what I am worried about in these first 100 days.
  You are going to hear a lot from the Congressional Black Caucus 
tonight about how the President has failed to deliver on so many of his 
campaign promises, how he is trying to take away health care from 24 
million Americans. High-risk pools are absolutely terrible.
  One of the things the Obama administration did was it gave people who 
have preexisting conditions the chance to have affordable healthcare 
insurance. Thinking about taking insurance away from 24 million people, 
thinking about taking those protections from individual families that 
have those preexisting conditions, I think, is absolutely terrible.

[[Page H2997]]

  There are just so many policies that actually directly affect the 
American family. Remember, the very first day--and there have been so 
many bad things that have happened in these 100 days that we don't even 
have enough time to cover all of them tonight, but you probably 
remember the very first day, the first-time home-buyer program was 
  There is nothing that exemplifies what it means to be American as it 
means to own a home. That is the first day, the first action, the most 
antiworker, most antifamily action that anyone could take--got rid of 
the first-time home-buyer program. He got rid of the first-time home-
buyer program that helped individuals have a piece of the American 
Dream: homeownership.
  We have seen the statistics about what homeownership means to the 
American family, what that means for the stability of American 
families, kids being able to have that backyard to play in, being able 
to go to that neighborhood school, to have that home to call your own 
to raise your family. It is so much more than just a home. It is really 
the foundation of who we are as Americans.
  Getting rid of the first-time home-buyer program, that is not doing 
anything to help American families. That is not doing anything to help 
American workers.
  I am glad that we have so many great voices here tonight within the 
CBC that are going to talk about these first 100 days and about the 
failings of these first 100 days and about how the people that were 
there, the people that thought that there were going to be some real 
changes, how they have been misled. They have been misled.
  They have been taken down this road, and it is not a road of 
prosperity. It is a road of less prosperity. It is a road of dismay, 
despair, less money, more expensive insurance, no insurance, and it is 
going to hurt the American worker and the American family.
  So I just really appreciate everything that the gentlewoman from the 
Virgin Islands (Ms. Plaskett) is doing today and hope that we can 
continue to get the media and the newspapers and the cable TV news 
people out here to really focus in and hone in on some of these 
problems that we are seeing coming out of the White House at 1600 
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I think the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Veasey) is correct about staying focused and, in the lexicon of the 
young people, to stay woke about what is happening.
  The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Veasey) gave some great examples about 
some of the things that happened in this first 100 days that should 
make us aware how this is, in some ways, an assault on distressed 
communities, on minority communities. The gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Veasey) spoke to some of them.
  One of the things I wanted to highlight is a booklet that the 
Congressional Black Caucus has put out about 100 actions that have 
taken place in these 100 days:
  President Trump's proposed budget would eliminate the Economic 
Development Administration at the Department of Commerce. In 2015, EDA 
invested 38 percent of its funds in highly distressed areas, including 
communities with high minority populations, such as the gentleman from 
Texas' and mine.
  President Trump's proposed budget would eliminate the Community 
Development Financial Institutions Fund. People ask, What is that? This 
is an organization which channels investments into communities in need 
of capital for housing, small businesses, and community facilities. 
That is its sole function.
  President Trump said that the private sector already did a good job 
making investments in these communities, which demonstrates how out of 
touch and ill-informed he and his administration are. His 
administration needs to tell him and give him the facts about what is 
going on in minority and underdeveloped communities.
  As we will hear from our colleagues, there are areas in which 
environmental protection and climate change, social justice for 
environmental justice needs to take place. President Trump's proposed 
budget would cut environmental protection agencies, environmental 
justice programs that work to ensure the fair treatment and meaningful 
involvement of all people regardless of race, color, and national 
origin or income with the respect to the development, implementation, 
and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. It 
would simply cut it out of place.
  The proposed budget would cut the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration's coastal programs, which would affect populations, 
including minorities living along the Gulf Coast and other coastal 
  At this time, we have other members of the Congressional Black Caucus 
that are here to talk about environmental justice.
  This freshman Member has really stepped in and just taken a hold of 
actions and demonstrating a love for his constituents in coming here 
this evening and wanting to address environmental justice areas.
  I yield to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. McEachin).
  Mr. McEACHIN. Mr. Speaker, every Monday, Representatives Plaskett and 
Veasey lead our Caucus' discussion on issues of great importance to the 
American people, and I am glad to be joining them this evening to 
discuss a critical priority that is often overlooked: environmental 
  Our country is built upon ideals like liberty, justice, equal 
protection for all Americans, yet we still fall short on those goals in 
important ways. While I believe we are making progress, this is a 
critical moment.
  Over the last 100 days, we have seen how eager the new administration 
is to undo our recent achievements, from selecting EPA Administrator 
Scott Pruitt, a man who does not believe in climate change, to 
overturning critical antipollution protections.

  The Trump administration has shown a dangerous contempt for proven 
science. The administration has even favorably discussed pulling the 
United States from a global climate change prevention pact, a move that 
could have disastrous, unknowable consequences for every generation to 
  Mr. Speaker, the list goes on and on and on; but at this point, Mr. 
Speaker, before I continue, I want to bring forward my good friend--he 
has got a fabulous first name like I do--Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. 
He is from the 10th Congressional District of New Jersey. He is a 
fierce advocate for environmental justice in his hometown of Newark. I 
thank the Congressman. His voice and advocacy will help us move toward 
sounder policies and more just outcomes, and I look forward to working 
with the gentleman.
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey 
(Mr. Payne).
  Mr. PAYNE. Mr. Speaker, let me first thank the gentleman from the 
Commonwealth of Virginia (Mr. McEachin). It is the birthplace of my 
mother: Dinwiddie County, Virginia. My grandfather was a small-time 
tobacco farmer, and I learned to cut tobacco at 8 years old.
  I am from Newark, New Jersey, the Garden State. We didn't raise much 
tobacco there in the Garden State, but my friends used think I was 
going on vacation when I would leave. I said I wasn't going on 
vacation; I was going to work. That is what we did for the summer. It 
was a great experience, and I always have great, great memories of the 
Commonwealth of Virginia.

                              {time}  2030

  Mr. Speaker, last month, as part of a partnership with the National 
Newspaper Publishers Association, I wrote an op-ed on environmental 
justice issues. I will repeat what I wrote then, which is that 
environmental justice should be a national priority, not a problem 
confined to minority communities.
  African-American communities are disproportionately burdened with 
pollutants. Across the Nation, communities of color suffer from higher 
rates of exposure to air pollution, higher rates of lead poisoning, and 
higher rates of water pollution.
  Every single day, children in my home city of Newark, New Jersey, are 
exposed to harmful levels of pollution from the port and other sources 
that rob them of their health, just because of where they live.
  One in four Newark children has asthma. The hospitalization rate for 
Newark children is 30 times the rate of

[[Page H2998]]

the national average. Asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism in 
school-age children in the city of Newark, New Jersey.
  Yet, too often, environmental justice is an afterthought, or often it 
is missing entirely in the discussion of the challenges facing African 
  The Trump administration threatens to make the problem even worse. 
President Trump has prioritized rolling back environmental regulations, 
from emissions rules for power plants to the mandate that Federal 
decisionmaking must be taken into consideration on climate change 
  President Trump proposed slashing the EPA's budget by 31 percent, 
cutting enforcement of the Agency's clean air laws by $129 million.
  With threats of excessive cuts to the EPA, air quality across the 
Nation may even be worse than expected. In the American Lung 
Association's ``State of the Air'' report, my district and many other 
metropolitan areas ranked as having the most polluted air in the 
country. However, only one-third of counties have ozone or particulate 
pollution air monitors. We must fight to ensure that funding for air 
monitors are for all our communities.
  So what can we do to protect our communities from environmental 
  The Newark City Council has been a leader in that area and has passed 
a first-in-the-nation ordinance requiring developers to request 
environmental permits to inform the city of any environmental impacts. 
As a result, decisionmakers and the public will be able to make 
informed decisions about sustainable development. Other municipalities 
would be smart to follow Newark's lead.
  Last November, I joined Amy Goldsmith and Kim Gaddy of the Clean 
Water Action and the Coalition for Healthy Ports for an environmental 
justice tour of the Port of New York and New Jersey. We were also 
joined by Congressman Frank Pallone from New Jersey. Organizations like 
theirs are doing excellent work in the fight against health-threatening 
pollution. Expanding partnerships on the environmental justice 
initiatives must be a central part of our strategy to secure 
environmental protections.
  To those listening at home: I encourage you to make it clear to your 
elected officials that you will hold them accountable for any efforts 
to dismantle environmental protections and any failures to fight for 
environmental justice.
  And to my colleague from Virginia, it is really noteworthy that you 
have taken the lead on this issue. As I stated in my presentation, 
Newark, New Jersey, is 30 times greater propensity for asthma in 
children than the national average. I mean, that is almost criminal.
  And we as a home, myself, not just have heard about it, but have 
lived it. My middle son--I am the father of triplets. My middle son has 
grown up with asthma; the days we had to keep him inside. He has been 
fortunate to have not--knock on wood--have many instances throughout 
his childhood of asthma attacks, but the one that I did see really 
brought me to tears.
  To know that there are numbers of children throughout this country 
who don't have the opportunity to go to the doctor, who rush to the 
hospital with asthma attacks, and who, God forbid, sometimes don't make 
it to the doctor is just--to think that that could be my boy brings 
tears to my heart.
  So I am willing to make this fight not for just my son, but for the 
hundreds of thousands of children throughout this country who suffer 
from this disease, and make sure that the EPA stays intact to fight 
these dreaded diseases, especially in minority communities, in our 
young people, and throughout the country.
  I will close with the drinking water issue in Flint. The 
Congressional Black Caucus went out to Flint when the issue first came 
up. Ms. Pelosi was there as well, and we talked to the people of Flint 
and heard firsthand their heartbreak and not being able to think they 
could trust anyone. Their government had let them down, had lied to 
them, had given them poison to drink and said it is okay. It looked 
like rusty water, but they told them that it was fine to use it for 
baths or whatever.
  So I am sitting there on that stage listening to all this and I am 
thinking in the back of my head: I am from Newark, New Jersey, the 
third oldest city in this country's history. So Flint, Michigan, can't 
be that old because Lewis and Clark went West.
  So the third oldest city, what were my pipes like? What was the 
condition of my water system?
  And I went back and I saw several mayors from my district, and I 
said: I suggest you start looking at your water systems.
  And that was on a Friday. That Tuesday we got a report from the 
Newark school system. They found lead in the drinking water in 44 
schools in Newark that next--not even a week.
  So we know how important these issues are, and we will continue to 
fight for what is right in our communities. I appreciate the 
opportunity and your leadership on this issue.
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania 
(Mr. Evans), from the great city of Philadelphia.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my great colleague from the Virgin 
Islands for the great introduction. I really appreciate her leadership, 
and my colleague from Texas' leadership.
  This discussion that we have been having is relating to the 
President's 100 days. And I think it is 102 at this particular point.
  The question that I and members of the Congressional Black Caucus 
have constantly been raising is: What do we have to lose with President 
Trump's cuts to the EPA?
  As I always said: What don't we have to lose?
  We have a lot to lose.
  In the time that I met with the organization in my community--a 
number of organizations--called Mothers for Clean Air, they were 
extremely concerned about the cuts to the EPA. The President's budget 
cuts $2.6 billion from the EPA budget. They were concerned about the 
impact that that would have. As a matter of fact, I talked to a mother 
who talked about her twins and what kind of effect that would have.
  The President wants to cut programs like Pollution Prevention 
Programs, Lead Risk Reduction Programs--which has been a problem in the 
case of the city of Philadelphia, a problem that we thought we dealt 
with, but with a cut on the lead reduction program, that would just 
reinforce the program--the Water Quality Research Programs, and the 
Environmental Education Programs.
  Who do you want to help when you cut 31 percent of the EPA budget?
  No one. The cuts would be horrendous and have a dangerous negative 
impact on not only our communities of color, but everyone nationwide.
  Two weeks ago I sent a letter to EPA Administrator Pruitt outlining 
how the plan to cut fundamental EPA programs would have a negative 
impact on our children and most vulnerable in Philadelphia, all across 
the State and the Nation.
  Last week marks 3 weeks--3 years, I should say, since the city of 
Flint, Michigan, decided to switch their water supply from the Detroit 
area water system to the Flint River water system, which resulted in 
lead contamination within the city. It is 3 years later and, sadly, not 
much has changed for the communities in Flint. Three days is too long 
to go without clean drinking water. Three years is simply 
  Mr. President, we have seen how various communities across the U.S. 
are at greater risk of health problems due to overexposure to unsafe 
drinking water. Now is no time to cut funding for Americans in need.
  As Questlove says: ``Without science, we are truly operating 
  The cuts to the EPA would have an increasingly harmful impact, 
especially for communities of color and hardworking families who do not 
have the means nor the resources to fight back against their local 
governments about the safety of the water they drink or question old 
paint in their house.
  According to the State Department of Health, in 2014, more than 10 
percent of the children from Philadelphia had elevated levels of lead 
in their blood because they were exposed to lead-based paint. Exposure 
to lead-based paint is a chronic problem that goes undiscussed too 
  No level is safe for our children to be exposed to, just as no level 
of lead is safe for our children to drink.

[[Page H2999]]

  Yet, the President says rather boldly that things are moving in the 
right direction. I would like to know what community he is talking 
about. He clearly couldn't be talking about the community that I am 
  Now, more than ever, we need to keep the resistance alive, speak up 
and speak out for our communities at risk. I will not stand silent 
while the vital EPA programs that protect and enhance the lives of all 
Americans are at risk of being cut. Together, we are the voice of the 
people, so there is no way we will be silent. We will continue this 
  Ms. PLASKETT. I thank the gentleman, Congressman Evans, for keeping 
us focused and giving us the information we need to understand what 
real communities are going through and the environmental justice that 
we need to be fighting for in this administration. I appreciate that so 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. McEachin), 
who has been the person who was at the forefront of this evening, 
bringing issues of environmental justice to our minds and exposing and 
explaining to the American people the assault on environmental justice 
that is taking place right now, and appealing to President Trump to be 
mindful of those communities who are going to be affected by the cuts 
and by other interest groups that are going after the basic needs that 
Americans have to stay healthy and stay alive.

                              {time}  2045

  Mr. McEACHIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the Congresswoman.
  As has been demonstrated tonight, on nearly every facet of 
environmental policy, we are in danger of backsliding irreparably. I 
want to talk about an area where that danger is especially great and 
where stakes are especially high. Today, and for much of our history, 
certain communities have been the victims of profound environmental 
injustice. Lower income, rural, tribal, and especially minority 
communities are at an increased risk of exposure to the negative 
impacts of pollution and climate change.
  For far too long, communities of color have been on the front lines 
of environmental and economic injustice, shouldering the health burdens 
of living in areas with higher rates of dangerous fossil fuel pollution 
and lower rates of income and employment.
  Mr. Speaker, an African-American child born in the United States has 
twice the chance of developing asthma than a White child and is four 
times more likely to die from an asthma attack. This is not a 
coincidental statistic ginned up for shock and awe but the day-to-day 
reality that African-American families across the United States have 
been dealing with for decades.
  Rooted in America's legacy of segregation and redlining communities 
of color while simultaneously restricting their government services, 
employment opportunities, and environmental protections, African-
American families have historically borne the brunt of the worst health 
impacts of polluting industries and have received dwindling economic 
opportunities due to systemic racism. This is why we see coal plants, 
oil refineries, and natural gas plants, which spew some of the most 
toxic substances around into the air and contaminate water supplies, 
are frequently located in communities of color--communities that have 
little political or economic power to protect themselves.
  These disparities, Mr. Speaker, are unacceptable, and they did not 
arise in a vacuum. In many cases, they have been the avoidable results 
of government action or inaction. For example, according to the FY 2015 
Annual Environmental Justice Progress Report, ``Many low-income, 
minority, and tribal communities are disproportionately impacted by air 
pollution and are not able to participate in environmental decisions 
due to barriers preventing them from meaningfully engaging in the 
political process.''
  These voices deserve to be heard. Their silence--particularly their 
enforced silence--is unacceptable, and it is incompatible with our, 
small D, democratic values. The practical consequences of that silence 
are dire: poorer public health, diminished economic opportunity, and 
decreased quality of life.
  To address these grave human and civil rights issues, the 
environmental justice movement was born--a movement grounded in the 
belief that all citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity, or 
socioeconomic class, should share fairly in the benefits of 
environmental resources and the burdens of environmental hazards.
  As policymakers, Mr. Speaker, we have a responsibility to embrace 
that vision--to correct and prevent environmental injustice. We can and 
we must do better. It is not enough to avoid repeating past mistakes. 
True equity requires a recognition that some communities have been hurt 
much more and, as a result, need more resources and targeted 
assistance. If we succeed--if we achieve equitable policies that 
promote environmental justice--our world will become a more fair, more 
liveable, and more sustainable place. But if we fail, public health 
will suffer. People will lead shorter and harder lives. None of us 
should be willing to accept that outcome.
  Mr. Speaker, I think it is worth noting that the environmental 
justice movement began in 1982, when North Carolina established a toxic 
waste landfill in Warren County--a poor, rural, majority African-
American locality--over the objections of the residents. In the more 
than 20 years since, many environmental justice organizations have 
formed. During the Clinton administration, the pursuit of environmental 
justice became a Federal priority.
  Sadly, though, these improvements have not been enough to fix 
longstanding problems, and, again, the progress we have made is under 
grave threat. Left unchecked, this administration would devastate 
communities of color and many other vulnerable groups as well.
  Today, the Trump administration is rolling back budgets, cutting 
offices, obscuring scientific information, and attacking legislation 
aimed at curbing environmental justice. That is why, on March 7, we 
witnessed the resignation of Mr. Mustafa Ali from his post as leader of 
the Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Justice Program. 
For more than two decades, Mr. Ali helped lead our Nation's efforts to 
secure justice and positive change for vulnerable communities that have 
seen their public health threatened and the quality of their air, 
water, and land degraded.
  In his letter, Mr. Ali said: ``Communities of color, low-income 
communities, and indigenous populations are still struggling to receive 
equal protections before the law.
  ``These communities, both rural and urban, often live in areas with 
toxic levels of air pollution, crumbling or nonexistent water and sewer 
infrastructure, lead in the drinking water, brownfields from vacant 
former industrial and commercial sites, Superfund and other hazardous 
waste sites, as well as other sources of exposure to pollutants.
  ``Despite the many challenges we face regarding the impacts of 
pollution and a changing climate, we have just as many effective tools 
and programs with long track records of assisting vulnerable 
communities in meeting their goals of improving public health and 
enhancing the environmental quality of their local communities.''
  Mr. Speaker, I know my Democratic colleagues are eager to use these 
tools to secure just outcomes and better lives for the people we 
represent. Mr. Speaker, I urge my friends in the majority to join with 
  Mr. Speaker, in concluding, I would like to thank my colleagues for 
joining me this evening to discuss environmental justice.
  Together, we have amplified a simple truth: regardless of the color 
of your skin, how much money you make, or where you live, every 
American is entitled to clean air, clean water, and access to our 
public lands. Again, when we fail to achieve those goals, public health 
suffers, quality of life suffers, and people lead shorter and harder 
  We know that climate change is real. We know that it is being caused 
by human activity. If we fail to act, we know that there are going to 
be terrible consequences for the entire human community. We also know 
that vulnerable populations and marginalized communities are poised to 
suffer the most--just as they have in the past. That kind of 

[[Page H3000]]

injustice has a long history, and it must stop.
  That is why, this past week, I announced the creation of the United 
for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force alongside my 
colleagues, Congresswoman Jayapal from Washington State and 
Congresswoman Barragan from California. We are going to fight every day 
to prevent climate change and to mitigate its worst effects. We are 
going to advocate for policies that correct and prevent environmental 
injustice. We are going to defend every American's right to clean air, 
safe water, and healthy communities. I think I can speak for all three 
of us when I say that we look forward to working with you all.
  Millions of working families are counting on us, Mr. Speaker, as 
their Representatives in the House and the Senate to serve them and to 
make wise decisions to improve their lives. We must confront 
environmental and economic injustices through fierce participation in 
the planning processes in at-risk areas moving forward. That means 
demanding more stringent environmental compliance and enforcement that 
protect communities of color from fossil fuel pollution and demanding 
greater investments in clean energy deployment in historically African-
American communities that will create union and family-wage jobs with 
upward mobility.
  I know my colleagues on this side of the aisle are committed to 
making this change, and I challenge our friends in the majority to join 
us. I urge them to support greater transparency, objectivity, and 
outreach in environmental policymaking. I urge them to support 
processes that improve two-way communication between decisionmakers and 
the people their decisions affect. I urge them to help ensure that the 
decisionmakers are confronting the full effects of their choices--
including how consequences are distributed and by whom they are borne.
  Protecting the environment, Mr. Speaker--creation care--is my 
passion. I commit to you that I will continue fighting each and every 
day to address climate change and sea level rise, push for renewable 
energy and green technologies, and do everything I can to leave this 
planet a better place for future generations.
  Mr. Speaker, I am an Eagle Scout, and I know that we are supposed to 
leave the campground better than the way we found it. The time is now 
to continue fighting for perhaps the most important issue of the 21st 
century--the environment.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands (Ms. 
Plaskett) for her indulgence.
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. McEachin for his passion and 
for his commitment to these issues of environmental justice.
  Particularly in the Virgin Islands, we know that climate change is 
real. We feel it, and we see it in how we operate and how our 
environment is changing, whether it be mosquitoes and Zika, before that 
chikungunya and dengue. We know that the effects of climate change are 
impacting our health and impacting the livelihoods of our environment.
  The Congressional Black Caucus supports policies that ensure that all 
Americans also have access to a clean and healthy environment. Studies 
have long shown an unsettling correlation between race and the location 
of hazardous waste facilities. For example, a 1983 Government 
Accountability Office study found that 75 percent of hazardous waste 
landfills in eight southeastern States were located in predominantly 
poor and minority communities.
  The places where minorities live, work, and learn are significantly 
compromised by air, water, land, soil, noise, and light pollutants. 
Black Americans and other minorities are predisposed to health issues 
directly linked to environmental and toxic waste. We cannot take away 
funding to support the eradication of these health hazards. We must 
continue to push for that.
  We are not here as the Congressional Black Caucus simply to disparage 
our President. We are not here to point out his fallacies. But we would 
be doing a grave disservice to the people that we represent, not just 
minorities but all Americans, if we do not stand up and discuss the 
issues that are of grave concern to us, to ask for support and funding, 
to ask that there not be a rollback on many of the gains that we have 
had that have supported and helped our community.
  At the beginning of the 115th Congress, the Congressional Black 
Caucus launched: ``What Did Trump Do?'' It was a rapid-response 
messaging document we used to inform our external stakeholders. This 
``What Did Trump Do?'' is a special #staywoke edition. We are listing 
100 actions President Trump and his administration have taken over the 
last 100 days. It was developed by 78 million Americans that the CBC 
collectively represent, including 17 million African Americans, as well 
as millions of Americans we do not represent.
  We want this information to be before the American people to show 
that work must still be done. We talked about environmental areas. I am 
going to list some of the things that have happened in the 100 days 
that we need to be cognizant of, that we need to make sure that these 
things do not take place, and that they not become embedded in this 
great America in which we live.
  On February 28, Attorney General Sessions said that the DOJ would 
pull back from using its legal authority to monitor police departments 
responsible for repeated instances of police misconduct and abuses by 
backing away from legal commitment first enacted into law by 
Representative John Conyers as part of the 1994 crime reform 
legislation. Sessions sent a signal to the African-American community 
that the police misconduct laws will not be equally and fully enforced. 
On that same day, the President signed a bill that rolled back a 
regulation restricting gun purchases by the mentally ill through a use 
of background checks.

  Attorney General Sessions rescinded the Obama-era order to reduce the 
use of privately operated prisons. The use of privately operated 
prisons creates a financial incentive to lock people up using African 
Americans, Latinos, and poor people. In addition, in comparison to the 
government-operated prisons, privately operated prisons are less safe 
and secure for both staff and inmates, don't provide the same level of 
rehabilitative services like educational programs and job trainings 
which increase the likelihood that those who are released from prison 
will return to a life of crime.
  Finally, although privately operated prisons are said to be more cost 
effective than government prisons, they are not because those that are 
in those prisons will continue to, in many instances, come back causing 
a burden not just on the American people and taxpayers but on the 
families and the communities in which those individuals reside.
  Other things that have happened in these first 100 days: President 
Trump appointed Candace E. Jackson as Acting Assistant Secretary for 
civil rights at the Department of Education. Ms. Jackson once said that 
affirmative action promotes racial discrimination and claims she was 
discriminated against for being White. Secretary DeVos hired Robert 
Eitel, an official with deep ties to the for-profit college industry, 
to be a Special Assistant to the Department of Education. This hire 
presents a serious conflict of interest and raises questions about 
whether Eitel can put students' needs above the interest of his former 
  President Trump's proposed budget for the Department of Education 
hurts low-income students from pre-K through college by undermining 
public education through the elimination of afterschool and teacher-
support programs and diverting Federal funds to private school 
vouchers, eliminating support for college students, gutting Federal 
workstudy, and slashing critical funding for Federal Supplemental 
Educational Opportunity Grants and Pell grants.
  All of these cuts would have severe consequences for our Nation's 
students--not just African Americans but Latinos and students in large 
urban areas. No afterschool programs, no support for teachers--what 
will our children do?

                              {time}  2100

  What will those families do that need those children and that 

[[Page H3001]]

  On March 9, EPA Administrator Pruitt said that he did not think that 
carbon dioxide was the primary driver of global warming even though 
that is the public position of EPA, NOAA, and NASA.
  We can go on and on. We have a document with over 100 actions that 
have been taken in the last 100 days.
  In housing and homeownership, President Trump's proposed budget would 
cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development by $6 billion. HUD 
is responsible for providing housing assistance to extremely low-income 
families and the homeless and reinvesting in American cities and 
  Those same proposed budgets would end the Low Income Home Energy 
Assistance Program, which assists families with energy costs, including 
home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and energy-related 
home repair.
  These are some of the many examples of what has happened. We give 
these examples not merely to degrade what has happened with this 
administration, but to show that work must still be done and that we, 
as Americans, must stay woke to what is happening in this country. We 
must keep our eyes vigilant and on the prize and ensure that Americans 
will see what is really happening and not be moved by the media, by the 
tweets, but see actual facts.
  We are working in real facts here to let you know what needs to be 
done and that we, the Congressional Black Caucus, as Members of 
Congress, are asking our colleagues across the aisle and in the 
Democratic Caucus to support us and to support the issues that are 
relevant not just to African Americans, but to all Americans this day.

                             General Leave

  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and 
include any extraneous material on the subject of this Special Order.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Lewis of Minnesota). Is there objection 
to the request of the gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. PLASKETT. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise to expose the 
cavalier disregard of environmental justice by our President during his 
first 100 days in office. In a short period of time, President Donald 
J. Trump made clear his agenda--anti-climate, anti-science, and anti-
fact. The current administration has already taken significant steps, 
in lock-step with Congressional Republicans, to roll back and erase the 
progress made by the Obama Administration to protect our health, our 
public lands, and our precious environment.
  Since taking office, President Trump has signed a number of executive 
orders reversing many of President Obama's environmental protections--
promoting cleaner air, cleaner water, and more sustainable energy 
production. The current White House is on a fast-track to derail 
decades of progress and set our nation back in the effort to combat 
climate change. The Clean Power Plan, which established comprehensive 
carbon emission standards and put the United States at the forefront of 
global environmental stewardship, was one of Trump's first targets. 
Instead of investing in technological and scientific innovation to make 
America a leader in greener, cleaner, sustainable energy production and 
consumption, President Trump has used his office to support the 
interests of corporations and interests in big oil and dirty coal on 
the backs of hardworking Americans.
  Furthermore, the current administration has promulgated efforts to 
expand environmentally detrimental offshore drilling, allow the dumping 
of mining waste, and potentially force an exit from the 2015 Paris 
Agreement which brought the world's powers together in agreement to 
curb our collective carbon emissions.
  The proposed budget goes even further in rejecting evidenced-based 
policy-making. From proposals to cripple the Environmental Protection 
Agency and zero-out critical programs at the Department of Energy like 
ARPA-E, this administration has abandoned our nation's effort to 
protect our planet and be a global leader.
  Our administration's blatant disregard toward the health, economic, 
and national security risks associated with global climate change is 
shortsighted and will only further endanger Americans' health, 
security, and economic stability. While we will all suffer from the 
consequences of short-sighted federal policy, the heaviest burden is 
bound to fall on those already marginalized.
  Minorities and working class families are already struggling to make 
ends meet, but study after study shows that they are the most 
vulnerable to environmental injustices. Subject to downwind and 
downstream pollution, children and families who are economically 
disadvantaged often lack the political voice to keep industries from 
polluting their communities and frequently bear the brunt of 
deregulatory regimes. Take Flint, Michigan for example, where young 
children have been exposed to toxic levels of lead from their drinking 
water. That is wrong and should be unheard of in the world's most 
powerful nation.
  I urge my colleagues to consider the kind of country we want our 
children to live in. Where is the freedom in living in a community 
where there is no access to clean drinking water, or a city where 
children are forced to stay inside because the air is so polluted? We 
can and must do better, Mr. Speaker. The actions the President has set 
forth thus far do nothing to Make America Great Again; rather, his 
first one hundred days has only made America more polluted, less safe, 
and less secure.
  In closing, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues on both sides of the 
aisle to stand firm in their resolve to hold this and future 
administrations accountable to keeping our air clean, our water safe, 
and our environment sustainable for future generations. We have far too 
much to lose, Mr. Speaker, and future generations deserve our better