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The Guest Column: Term In Review

 

Dear Friend,

At the end of each legislative week, I post on my Facebook page a short "Week in Review" video to discuss the major news from the week in Washington. As the 116th Congress comes to a close, I will wrap up my first term with a "Term in Review" exclusively for my newsletter subscribers. I'll review the major policy wins I fought for in my first term in Congress for a quick review of the last two years. One of my primary focuses in my first term was on supporting our law enforcement. As a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, I prioritized our law enforcement community and worked to advance legislation in support of our men and women who serve as the thin blue line to protect our communities from violence and crime.

H.R. 1590, Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise of 2019

This bill promotes the identification and determent of terrorist travel and enhances the United States government’s ability to respond to terrorism by instructing the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and conduct a preparedness exercise related to the detection and prevention of terrorist and foreign fighter travel. I am proud to have delivered for Mississippi’s Third Congressional District by becoming the first Republican new Member to pass a piece of legislation through the House of Representatives in the current Congress. President Trump signed the Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel Exercise Act into law on October 9, 2019.

This legislation will help equip our law enforcement agents with the information and training they need to respond to terrorist activity. As a former prosecutor, I worked closely with members of our law enforcement agencies. When apprehending dangerous suspects, law enforcement agents rely on proper training and access to pertinent and reliable information to protect themselves, their fellow officers, and innocent civilian lives. I expect that law enforcement agents will be better prepared to prevent and respond to terrorist activity in our country thanks to this legislation.

H.R. 3990, Operation Stonegarden Authorization Act included in Republican DHS Authorization Bill

The Operation Stonegarden Authorization Act would provide statutory authorization for a grant program within the Department of Homeland Security for law enforcement agencies in states bordering Mexico or Canada or a maritime border. This legislation was included in the Republican Department of Homeland Security authorization bill introduced in September 2020.

I fought for this bill because I believe it would support the law enforcement community, could help curb the transportation of illegal drugs across the southern border, and could benefit Mississippi. As a nation, it’s imperative that we provide the men and women of law enforcement with the proper equipment to perform their duties, including those working to stop the flow of drugs into our communities. Operation Stonegarden would help in this fight by providing necessary resources to agencies tasked with protecting the borders of the United States. In 2017, 91 percent of heroin, 93 percent of the cocaine, and up to 97 percent of methamphetamine were manufactured in South American countries. I believe this legislation could help keep these illicit narcotics out of our communities by providing additional resources for border law enforcement agencies to find and stop the transportation of drugs manufactured in foreign countries across our borders.

H. Res 1002, Strongly Condemning the Recent Acts of Violence, Riots, and Looting in the United States

This year, we saw violence erupt across the nation following the death of George Floyd. His passing was a terrible event that could have been prevented, but the riots that followed were a counterproductive and destructive response to the events. For this reason, I wrote and introduced legislation that would strongly condemn the violence, riots, and looting in the United States in the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd. The legislation urged peace and order be restored, condemned the use legitimate protests as cover to sow chaos by violent opportunists, recognized that the actions of those bent on violence do not diminish the rights of other Americans to peacefully protest, and called for those responsible for violent acts to be held criminally responsible for their actions.

H. Res 383, Expressing support for recognizing the week of May 13 through May 19, 2019 as “National Police Week”

This resolution expressed support for members of law enforcement and the mission of law enforcement agencies through legislation that would have the U.S. House of Representatives recognize National Police Week in 2019. Our law enforcement officers play a vital role in creating safe communities to live, worship, and raise a family. Each day, law enforcement officers across our nation risk their own lives to protect the American public from disaster. Unfortunately, this risk is associated with a cost – the loss of life in the line of duty. Through this resolution, my colleagues and I commemorated National Police Week to honor the ultimate sacrifice our officers have paid in the line of duty, to support the mission of law enforcement agencies, and to celebrate those officers who have made positive differences in our communities.

Staff Highlight

Sharon Johnson has worked for Mississippi’s Third Congressional District since starting with Sonny Montgomery in 1988 as a Legislative Assistant. As a matter of fact, when Congressman Montgomery decided to retire, he told Sharon of his decision before he let his good friend, former-President George H.W. Bush, know. When President Bush called Sharon asking what Sonny’s big announcement was, she did her best to keep the secret. Sharon has a wealth of institutional knowledge and has experience in every Congressional office position. She is the glue that holds the office together, and she takes each new staffer under her wing and gives them advice on how an office should offer great constituent services. She also manages my office’s budget to ensure that the taxpayers’ dollars are being spent efficiently towards services and activities that help the people of Mississippi. Sharon graduated from Jackson State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. She is married to Bobby and says her son Tre’ is her miracle sent by God.

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COVID-19 Testing Sites and Resources

Individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who have had a known exposure to someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus can receive an appointment for free COVID-19 testing by completing the online questionnaire found at https://covidschedule.umc.edu/ or by contacting the UMMC Center for Telehealth at (601) 496-7200 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Anyone determined to need testing will be given an appointment date and time at the testing site most convenient. The testing site in Jackson is located at the West Street Farmers Market on Woodrow Wilson Avenue. You can find information on local testing near you by visiting the Mississippi Department of Health’s website.

I have compiled a list of resources on my website for your convenience. By visiting my Coronavirus Relief page, you can find helpful information on managing this crisis. We will continue to update the page as more information becomes available, so be sure to check back every few days and subscribe to my newsletter to receive updates.

Latest Statistics

As of Wednesday, December 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 13,626,022 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States. In the last seven days, we’ve seen 1,127,287 additional cases. The total number of individuals who have passed away as a result of infection in the U.S. from the virus is now 269,763.

As reported yesterday, an additional 2,457 Mississippians have contracted the coronavirus, and 15 more Mississippians passed away from the virus. In total, 1,366,833 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the state, and 128,746 COVID-19 cases are presumed to have recovered. See below for graphs and infographics from the Mississippi State Department of Health on the number of cases in Mississippi.

 

 

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Dear Friend,

Today, I announced that I cosponsored the Integrity of Our Elections Act, which would ensure that only U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote receive a mail ballot for a federal election. The foundation of any democracy is the trust that the people place in the process of the election. Since our country’s founding, most voting has taken place at the polls. However, the 2020 election introduced America to an entirely new election process that relied on mail-in voting, a process that presents many potential pitfalls that we don’t yet fully understand. We must set up provisions that protect our elections from natural human error, from the unknown risks of a new style of voting, and, most importantly, from those who desire to intentionally undermine our elections. This bill is a strong first step towards addressing those concerns.

At the end of each legislative week, I post on my Facebook page a short "Week in Review" video to discuss the major news from the week in Washington. As the 116th Congress comes to a close, I will wrap up my first term with a "Term in Review" exclusively for my newsletter subscribers. I'll review the major policy wins I fought for in my first term in Congress for a quick review of the last two years. This week, I'm including some information on my efforts to support our small businesses and rural hospitals. One of the highlights of my first term was joining Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson to host a bipartisan Rural Healthcare Summit in Jackson in August 2019. The purpose of this event was to discuss rural healthcare needs in our state and highlight Mississippi's innovations to ensure patients have access to care. We look forward to continuing to champion these issues through Congressional action.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and PPP Loan Forgiveness Relief

From the early stages of the pandemic, I have prioritized our small businesses in Mississippi. The PPP, created through the CARES Act, was able to help thousands of small businesses across our state and more than 5 million small businesses throughout the nation while also offering support to many of our hospitals as front-line healthcare workers battled the coronavirus. This program was vital to sustaining jobs, supporting our economy, and ensuring an effective recovery by providing loans to American businesses that allowed them to retain employees as shutdown measures went into effect. The loans were eligible for forgiveness if businesses met certain criteria, including retaining a high level of their staff compared to pre-COVID employment levels.

Following the enactment of this crucial program, I pushed for the U.S. Treasury to provide clear loan forgiveness guidance and, subsequently, simplified loan forgiveness application processes. In a time of financial hardship, this was vitally important to provide businesses with relevant information to make informed decisions about the loans offered by the PPP.

PPP Access for Rural Hospitals Act

Mississippi's hospitals have experienced financial burdens during the COVID-19 pandemic. While certain smaller hospitals were eligible for the PPP, small, rural hospitals that are part of larger health systems were not eligible for the PPP and could not receive the payroll assistance it offered. I joined Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama to introduce the bipartisan PPP Access for Rural Hospitals Act in the House of Representatives. This legislation allowed smaller hospitals that are part of a larger health system to waive affiliation requirements to be eligible for the PPP. The language was narrowly tailored to ensure rural hospitals or those in most need are able to participate in the PPP.

During a Congress locked in partisanship, I was pleased to join my colleagues across the aisle to introduce the important legislation. This legislation gained momentum through the support of all four of Mississippi's House Members, as well as a companion bill introduced by Senator Wicker and cosponsored by Senator Hyde-Smith.

The Insulin Affordability Data Collection Act

This legislation, which I helped lead in the House, was included in the conference agreement of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to study insulin affordability issues and the effect of insulin affordability on prescription adherence, health outcomes, and Federal healthcare spending, among other factors. This legislation will be important to determining opportunities to address the high costs of insulin to the benefit of Mississippians.

Bank Enterprise Award (BEA) program

I am pleased to have amendments to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bills approved by the full House of Representatives in both 2019 and 2020. These amendments would increase the BEA by $1 million. The BEA program provides critical funding for loans and other assistance to consumers and small businesses in Mississippi.. These loans support economic growth in local communities that can lift individuals, families, and communities out of poverty. I am proud to support our Mississippi banks and businesses through this important program.

Staff Highlight

Elizabeth Joseph serves as the Policy Director in my office and handles a portfolio that includes banking/finance, energy and the environment, health care, and telecommunications. Previously, she served as Health Policy Advisor for Congressman Gregg Harper and worked for the Committee on House Administration that he chaired. Elizabeth also worked for former U.S. Senator Thad Cochran as Health Policy Fellow on assignment from the UMMC Center for Telehealth. She began her work in public service with former Governor Haley Barbour. Elizabeth is from Clinton, MS. She received her undergraduate degree from The University of Mississippi and her Master’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin. Elizabeth is a member of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and is involved in the Junior League of Washington. She enjoys watching and talking about football, walking on the National Mall, playing golf, and cooking.

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COVID-19 Testing Sites and Resources

Individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who have had a known exposure to someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus can receive an appointment for free COVID-19 testing by completing the online questionnaire found at https://covidschedule.umc.edu/ or by contacting the UMMC Center for Telehealth at (601) 496-7200 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Anyone determined to need testing will be given an appointment date and time at the testing site most convenient. The testing site in Jackson is located at the West Street Farmers Market on Woodrow Wilson Avenue. You can find information on local testing near you by visiting the Mississippi Department of Health’s website.

I have compiled a list of resources on my website for your convenience. By visiting my Coronavirus Relief page, you can find helpful information on managing this crisis. We will continue to update the page as more information becomes available, so be sure to check back every few days and subscribe to my newsletter to receive updates.

Latest Statistics

As of Wednesday, December 9, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 15,040,175 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States. In the last seven days, we’ve seen 1,414,240 additional cases. The total number of individuals who have passed away as a result of infection in the U.S. from the virus is now 285,351.

As reported yesterday, an additional 2,746 Mississippians have contracted the coronavirus, and 24 more Mississippians passed away from the virus. In total, 1,490,817 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the state, and 136,627 COVID-19 cases are presumed to have recovered. See below for graphs and infographics from the Mississippi State Department of Health on the number of cases in Mississippi.

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Sincerely,

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Michael Guest
Member of Congress

 

 

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