Weekly Democratic Address
July 10, 2020
Hello, I am Congressman Donald McEachin, and I have the honor of representing Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District.
Americans today are recognizing that we must do more to address two critical and intertwined issues in our nation: the unfinished work of racial justice and the need for environmental justice to protect our communities.
People across our country are still protesting in the streets because they believe in a better America, an America where equal justice under the law is more than an empty platitude.
Our communities are tired of watching African Americans maimed or killed with no accountability from our justice system. Americans tire of the endless hashtags and of shouldering the compounding weight of our collective grief, pain and rage. They deserve for their Congress to rise to meet this moment in our nation’s history, to make clear once and for all that no one should be above the law because they wear a badge.
I urge the Senate to join House Democrats in hearing the loud, unyielding call for justice and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to end the pervasive bias in policing and demand accountability from officers to the communities they serve.
Unlike the Senate Republicans’ proposal, the American people deserve serious legislation that combats the epidemic of racial injustice and police brutality. They deserve a bill that contains meaningful and mandatory measures to end this country’s persistent pattern of police misconduct.
This crisis is not new, but this moment has to be different. We cannot go back to business as usual until America shows with action that Black Lives Matter. The present moment has laid bare what we have known all along: the real and urgent discussions happening today about racism in this country are long overdue.
Never have the deadly and insidious effects of systemic racism been clearer than the past few months as we have all weathered a pandemic that has disproportionately assailed and killed Black and brown people. The COVID-19 crisis proves that evidence of systemic racism is not always as graphic as cellphone footage of police encounters gone wrong, but its effects are just as destructive.
Addressing racism and justice for all certainly means that one’s own community, one’s home must not be a health risk. It is no secret that the same racist economic and political forces that previously redlined Black and brown neighborhoods into environmentally hazardous areas still exist today.
To begin to address this reality, I worked alongside Representative Raúl Grijalva, Chair of the Natural Resources Committee and with environmental justice communities across the country to introduce the Environmental Justice for All Act, legislation crafted by the people, for the people to give them a voice and a means to fight back against the pollution that threatens their children and their families.
We spent the last year and a half listening and learning from the stories of these communities, stories that should never happen in America.
Stories of Black and brown communities located adjacent to toxic waste sites and factories spewing noxious air, grappling with the alarming rates of asthma, and cancer and even death.
For too long, we have denied those communities a voice and a means to fight back against the pollution that threatens their children and families.
But this Congress, in the House Democrats’ Climate Action Plan drafted by the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, we make clear our commitment to these communities to work collaboratively to right these wrongs.
We make clear that the concerns of communities most affected by pollution and health disparities must be centered in our policymaking and ensure that environmental justice is our future. And we make clear to the polluters that are poisoning the air and waterways in environmental justice communities that enough is enough.
House Democrats know that the clean, sustainable future we are fighting for cannot exist without a democracy that truly provides equity and justice for all. And while President Trump eliminates basic and necessary environmental regulations, we are working hard to ensure Americans, no matter their zip code or race or income level, are protected from environmental devastation at a time when they need our support the most.
Communities that have disproportionately suffered from environmental injustice and are now hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis need the government to treat them as a strong partner in the decisions that will affect their neighborhoods and their well-being, not regulate them to an afterthought.
Together, we’ll work to protect our environmental laws, to research and address the cumulative impacts of pollution on overburdened communities and to prioritize frontline communities in new federal spending to deploy clean energy and infrastructure.
And together, we can ensure a better, brighter, more sustainable future for Americans across our country, while delivering justice to communities that have long been denied.