Congressional Roundup: Juneteenth, Women’s Health, Retirement for Caregivers, Cyber attacks

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It’s June 18, 2021. Here’s a roundup of what’s been going on lately with New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation

Delegation praises Juneteenth news

This week, Juneteenth, a holiday celebrated in the African American community regarding the end of slavery, became a national holiday.

The news was received with praise from New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation.

“This is a long overdue and historic day,” said U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “It is past time that our nation established Juneteenth as a federal holiday to signify the end of slavery in the United States. I supported legislation in the Senate to recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday because it is incumbent on all of us to never forget the painful legacy of slavery, the brave souls who fought and died to abolish it and the urgent need to finish the work to dismantle systemic racism that persists today. Juneteenth provides us the opportunity to highlight the lives, experiences and contributions of African-American individuals who have been shamefully excluded from our nation’s history. We must right that wrong. This holiday not only reminds us of our past but drives us to build a more equal, just and inclusive future.”

“Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in our country, celebrating the strides that we have made toward greater freedom, while also recognizing the work ahead of us. This is an important day to engage with our fellow citizens and celebrate the history and contributions of Black Americans,” said U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan. “This week, I was proud to join with my colleagues and declare Juneteenth a federal holiday. This is a step forward in acknowledging the stain of racism in America, but our work as a country continues. Over the last year, I was heartened to see people of all races, ages, and backgrounds gather peacefully to speak and unite against the systemic racism that has persisted in this country for generations. The road to greater equality is not without significant challenges, but I am confident that Granite Staters will refuse to accept inequality and injustice, and work to make real change.”

“I was proud to cast my vote today to establish Juneteenth as a federal holiday to recognize and commemorate the end of slavery in the United States,” said Congressman Chris Pappas.  “While creating a federal Juneteenth holiday is a momentous step, it is by no means sufficient to fully address the racism, bias, and injustice still faced by Black Americans to this day as a result of slavery’s long and insidious shadow. I urge all Americans to use this day to reflect on the role we can all play in creating a more perfect union for all of our people.”

Shaheen and Hassan introduce Women’s Health Protection Act

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). The legislation would guarantee a pregnant person’s right to access an abortion—and the right of an abortion provider to deliver these abortion services—free from medically unnecessary restrictions that interfere with a patient’s individual choice or the provider-patient relationship.

Introduction of the Women’s Health Protection Act follows the Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments in a case that directly threatens fifty years of precedent protecting access to abortion.

“Roe v. Wade established the fundamental principle that women’s health decisions belong to them and them alone. But since then, lawmakers at every level of government across the country have unleashed an onslaught of legislation to undermine and eliminate women’s constitutionally-protected right to an abortion. To make matters worse, the Supreme Court is now set to hear a direct challenge to Roe, putting women’s right to safe and legal abortions in grave risk,” said Shaheen. “The Women’s Health Protection Act is urgently-needed legislation that would protect fifty years of precedent and ensure all American women can continue to make their own health care choices free from unnecessary restrictions. I always will defend a woman’s right to choose against these outrageous attempts to strip women of their constitutional rights.”

“Across the country, a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions is under constant attack. And now, with the precedent set by Roe v. Wade in serious jeopardy, Congress must act to ensure that the government cannot interfere in a woman’s most personal, difficult, and complicated health care decisions,” Hassan said. “This legislation would protect a woman’s freedom to decide how and when she wants to start a family, without fear that this constitutional right would be undermined in the courts or by state lawmakers. I urge my colleagues to join us in standing up for women’s ability to make their own health care decisions and control their own destiny.”

The text of the legislation is available here.

Pappas, Walorski Introduce Bill to Help Caregivers Save for Retirement

U.S. Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH-01) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02) introduced H.R. 3644, the Expanding Access to Retirement Savings for Caregivers Act. The bill would allow individuals that took at least one year out of the workforce without receiving an earned income, for the purposes of caring for a family member, to make catch-up contributions in years prior to age 50 to their 401(k) plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and other eligible retirement accounts.

“Those who leave the workforce to provide care for a loved one should not be short-changed on their retirement and forced to do more with less later in life,” said Pappas. “This bipartisan legislation will help level the playing field so caregivers can begin making catch-up payments to their 401Ks, IRAs, and other accounts sooner and not lose out on valuable retirement savings as a result of the time they took to help a family member in need.”

Hassan asks questions on recent cyber attack

Last week during a U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) pressed Colonial Pipeline President and CEO Joseph A. Blount, Jr. on the recent cyberattack it experienced and its decision to pay hackers a ransom payment. When Senator Hassan asked Mr. Blount if the company had a cybersecurity plan prior to the attack that included guidance about paying a ransom, he said, “Senator specifically, no, no discussion about ransom and action to ransom.”

“It is a stunning admission that Colonial Pipeline did not have a plan in place if hackers requested a ransom payment. I’ve talked with small school districts in my state of New Hampshire that are better prepared for cyberattacks than Colonial Pipeline was,” said Shaheen. “Colonial Pipeline operates critical infrastructure that families and our economy rely on. It is unacceptable that it was so unprepared for a cyberattack, and it is a wakeup call that more must be done to secure our critical infrastructure.”

The line of questioning can be seen in full here.