I write today as we all are watching war unfold in Ukraine, spurred by Russia’s unwarranted, unjustified attack on the country.
As I keep the Ukrainian people in my thoughts and prayers, I am working with my colleagues to make certain the President has all the authorities he needs to ensure that the United States imposes severe and unprecedented sanctions that will cripple Russia and impose costs that Putin and his cronies have never faced before.
Ukrainian sovereignty must be respected, and the Ukrainian people have a right to decide their own political future – they’ve chosen democracy. To protect this burgeoning democracy, and the Ukrainian people, we must do all we can to help them defend their freedoms and their borders.
I was absolutely sickened by the image of a swastika waving in the streets of Providence, outside of a community library. Hate groups like neo-Nazis and white supremacists have no place in our city. Groups like these and the hatred they spew have too often led to terrible violence. The rise of neo-Nazis, white supremacy, and antisemitism in our country is not something we can afford to ignore. This hatred and Monday night’s attack are a scourge on our community, and we must all condemn it in the strongest terms.
I’m proud to report that earlier this week, President Biden signed a bill into law naming the U.S. postal facility located at 42 Main Street in Slatersville, Rhode Island as the “Specialist Matthew R. Turcotte Post Office.”
Turcotte was just 20 years old when he was tragically killed during a training accident on August 23, 2017. During his time in the military, he deployed overseas once, to Kosovo. Spc. Turcotte earned numerous awards and medals for his service, including: the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, and NATO Medal.
Now that the bill has been signed into law, I am working with Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse, Congressman Langevin, the Postal Service, Slatersville officials, and the Turcotte family to schedule a special ceremony and plaque dedication this spring.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s demonstrated commitment to justice, dedication to the Constitution, and knowledge of the rule of law make her highly qualified to serve as our nation’s next Supreme Court Justice. Her previous experience on the U.S. Sentencing Commission and as a federal public defender would be a welcome addition to the Court. Her historic nomination as the nation’s first Black woman to serve on the Court is long overdue and I look forward to her swift confirmation.
This week, I joined with my 34 of my colleagues in writing to Secretary Blinken, expressing our concerns for the wellbeing of the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine and urging him to take steps to protect these individuals and other marginalized groups in Ukraine.
As we wrote in our letter, “[a]s a Russian invasion begins, we are particularly concerned for the wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Ukrainians and other marginalized groups in Ukraine. There is an impending humanitarian emergency in Ukraine and Ukraine’s partners – including the U.S. – must take action to protect Ukrainian lives, with a particular focus on minority communities. LGBTQ Ukrainians as well as Ukrainians with disabilities, the elderly, and other marginalized groups face greater hurdles in seeking safety as a Russian incursion into Ukraine begins. We must safeguard the rights of marginalized people in Ukraine and ensure they are protected as this crisis unfolds.”
You can read the full letter here.
Earlier this week, I was joined by Representatives Barbara Lee, Anna Eshoo, Sean Patrick Maloney and 142 of our colleagues in urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to end the blanket three-month blood donation deferral period for men who have sex with men (MSM) and instead, transition to an individual risk assessment to determine donor eligibility.
As we stated in our letter, “[t]he existence of any deferral period tied to MSM further stigmatizes HIV/AIDS as a ‘gay disease’ and members of the LGBTQI+ community as ‘unclean.’ Sexual contact between two men is not listed as a risk factor for HIV/AIDS by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization, yet the FDA directs any male donors with a ‘history in the past three months of sex with another man’ to defer donation for three months. This policy uses sexual contact between two men as a proxy for unsafe sex that is likely to contaminate the blood supply. This inaccurate association contributes to homophobia, not a safe blood supply.”
You can read the full letter here.
Today marks one year since House passage of H.R. 5, the Equality Act. That’s another year LGBTQ+ Americans were denied basic protections against discrimination.
Just yesterday, the Florida House passed its “Don’t Say Gay” bill and earlier this week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared that gender affirming care for children is child abuse.
As we continue to witness a horrific wave of state legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community, including children, we need to act now. I’m calling on the Senate to immediately pass the Equality Act and get this vital legislation to the President’s desk.
The IRS began accepting and processing 2021 taxes on January 24, 2022, with a filing deadline of April 18, 2022.
Before preparing and e-filing your tax return, please make sure you have all the information you need to do so – this year, that includes the amounts of any Child Tax Credit payments or Economic Impact Payments (American Rescue Plan stimulus checks) that you may have received in 2021. You can check these amounts on IRS.gov, and the IRS is also mailing letters to recipients.
Many Rhode Islanders are eligible for the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. These savings could put thousands of dollars back into your pockets – if they haven’t already.
Additionally, some Rhode Islanders may also qualify for free tax return preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, so be sure to call United Way 2-1-1 for more information.
As more Rhode Islanders and people around the world get vaccinated and boosted, we are seeing an increase in both domestic and international travel. With travel resuming, many folks are looking to renew passports and this uptick in requests has led to a backlog at the State Department. Turnaround time for expedited processing is now at 5-7 weeks and regular processing is taking 8-11 weeks from submission to receipt.
Before booking international travel, please remember to check the expiration date on your passport and plan accordingly. Passports last for 5 or 10 years depending on what age you were when you were issued your first passport. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip. Some airlines will not allow you to board if this requirement is not met.
You can learn more from the State Department here.
As always, I am here to serve you. If there is anything I can do, please call my office at 729-5600 or send me an email at David.Cicilline@mail.house.gov