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Donald McEachin

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Rep. McEachin Announces $2.2M+ Grant for Virginia Department of Health

WASHINGTON – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) announcedthat the Virginia Department of Health was awarded a $2,285,039.00 Maternal and Child Health Services Grant (MCH) by the Health Resources and Services Administration, to fund access to quality care for women and children in Virginia.

“I am pleased to see this funding awarded to the women and children of Virginia,” said Congressman Donald McEachin (VA-04). “This grant will provide access to high-quality, affordable care for some women and children who might otherwise have lacked the care they need. This funding will help create a healthier, happier, safer Commonwealth.”

The MCH grant is a Title V block grant that runs through September 2019. The funds are typically allocated to improve access to prenatal and postnatal care, reduce infant mortality, and increase health assessments and preventative care for children.

Congressman McEachin has made the health and well-being of women and children a priority. Rep. McEachin is an original co-sponsor of the Healthy MOM Act (H.R. 2745), recognizing the immediate need, cost-reducing benefits, and lifesaving nature of being able to enroll in a healthcare plan from the moment pregnancy beings. He is also a co-sponsor of the Child Care for Working Families Act (H.R. 3773), which promotes child care and early learning.

McEachin, Costello, Evans, Ryan Introduce Bipartisan Bill to End Food Deserts

The “Healthy Food Access for all Americans Act” would incentivize food providers to expand access to healthy foods in underserved communities 

WASHINGTON – Congressmen A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Ryan Costello (PA-06), Dwight Evans (PA-02) and Tim Ryan (OH-13) co-introduced the bipartisan Healthy Food Access for all Americans Act (HFAAA) to increase access to fresh produce available in low-income and rural areas of America.

“Every person, regardless of where he or she lives, deserves access to nutritious, affordable food, yet thousands of families in my congressional district live in areas where food access is a problem. I am committed to addressing hunger and food insecurity, which is why I introduced the Healthy Food Access for all Americans Act with my colleagues,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “By creating incentives for food providers to establish themselves in communities without access to fresh foods, this commonsense bill will help my constituents secure healthier food options for themselves and their families. We must do everything we can to eliminate food deserts.”

The bicameral, bipartisan HFAAA would create a system of tax credits and grants for businesses and nonprofits who serve low-income and low-access urban and rural areas. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), an estimated 37 million Americans live in a food desert. (*See chart below for data on food deserts in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District.)

"Access to nutritious food should be an important aspect of every life” said Congressman Costello. “Under this legislation, grocery stores, farmers markets, and food banks that provide fresh, healthy foods would be encouraged to open, offer a permanent presence, or make renovations to their stores in underserved areas. Nutritious foods are linked to positive health outcomes, and this legislation is a step forward in making sure families can access the nutrients and food they need to be successful.”

“I truly believe when we change the narrative as it relates to healthy food options and provide greater access to nutritious food choices we can move the needle in terms of getting rid of food deserts, something I’ve focused a great deal of my time on throughout my entire career.  This bill is an example of a way to use the tax code to incentivize food merchants to help close the grocery store gap and change behaviors. We know diet-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and others, have a direct correlation to the foods we eat and to critical nutrients missing from our diets. Today, I am proud to stand with my colleagues to introduce the Healthy Food Access for All Americans (HFAAA) Act. HFAAA is one of the tools in our toolbox that we can use to build healthier neighborhoods, block by block,” said Congressman Evans.

“Our food system is broken and ineffective. In a country where obesity and diabetes rates are skyrocketing, and where 37 million people live in food deserts, we cannot allow the status quo to continue. We must find new ways for all Americans to have access to fresh, healthy food. This legislation takes a big step in the right direction towards accomplishing that goal, and I’m proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers of Congress to get this done. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it makes economic sense to tackle a food system that is at the root of so much of our sky-high healthcare costs,” said Congressman Ryan.

USDA defines a food desert as an area where a grocery store is not available within a mile in urban communities or 10 miles in rural areas; and defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. This bill expands on that definition by adding U.S. census tracts with a poverty rate of 20% (or higher) or a median family income of less than 80% of the median for the state or metro area. The legislation also defines a grocery market as a retail sales store with at least 35% of its selection (or forecasted selection) dedicated to selling fresh produce, poultry, dairy, and deli items.

Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced a similar version of the HFAAA in August; Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) signed as a co-sponsor since the bill was introduced.

Full bill text is available here and bill summary is available here. For a map of areas in the United States that would qualify to be served as food deserts under this bill, click here.  

NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS WHO LIVE IN FOOD DESERTS, AS DEFINED BY USDA

(The listed localities are included in the 4th Congressional District)

 

Virginia Locality

# of Residents

Chesapeake

12,198

Chesterfield

14,188

Colonial Heights

2,629

Dinwiddie

5,720

Henrico

37,342

Hopewell

12,120

Petersburg

15,759

Prince George

8,543

Richmond City

60,545

Southampton

7,958

Suffolk

4,795

Sussex

6,377

 

*The population of Virginians who live in food deserts as defined in this bill.

McEachin Announced 2017 Congressional App Challenge

RICHMOND –Congressman A. Donald McEachin is accepting applications for the 2017 Congressional App Challenge until November 1, 2017.

“This annual competition provides students of all ages with a fantastic opportunity to use their STEM-related education to develop the potentially next best app,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “I encourage every qualified student to use their creativity to develop a groundbreaking app that will represent the best congressional district in America.”

The winner’s app will be on display in the U.S. Capitol Building along with other honorees from across the country.

All students who live or attend school in the 4th Congressional District qualify to participate in this year’s competition. Students of all experience levels are encouraged to compete. There is no minimum age for participation. Any students interested in entering the competition should visit: http://www.congressionalappchallenge.us/.

Students, teachers, and parents with questions about the competition can contact Congressman McEachin’s Central Virginia office at (804) 486–1840.

Congressman McEachin to visit Emporia

RICHMOND – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) will host two Coffee with Your Congressman events to meet with constituents, hear their concerns, chat about issues, and inform them about what federal and local services are available through his office.

Emporia Coffee with Your Congressman

When: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 from 4:30p.m. to 6:00p.m.

Where:Cafe Cuisine

321 Halifax Street

Emporia, Virginia 23847

Hopewell / Prince George Coffee with Your Congressman

When: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 from 5:00p.m. to 6:30p.m.

Where:The Beacon Theatre

401 North Main Street

Hopewell, Virginia 23860

Brat, McEachin highlight importance of bipartisanship

By Coleman Jennings, VCU Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Though they come from different sides of the aisle, two Virginia congressmen came together for a moderated discussion on entrepreneurship and economic growth. U.S. Reps. Dave Brat, a Republican from Glen Allen, and A. Donald McEachin, a Democrat from Richmond, highlighted the importance of bipartisan cooperation in moving Virginia and the nation forward.

While Brat and McEachin disagreed over issues such as health care, they found common ground in supporting broadband service in rural areas and deregulation that will stimulate business growth.

“If you don’t have internet, you can forget about bringing jobs in,” McEachin, who was elected last fall, told the approximately 80 people who attended Thursday’s forum, which was sponsored by the Urban League of Greater Richmond Young Professionals.

Brat, a tea party stalwart who advocates for limited government, agreed that expanding infrastructure is important for business growth. “I’m trying to be as pro-business as I can on every policy I’m for,” he said at the event, held at the Richmond Times-Dispatch building.

Although the officeholders were cordial and friendly to each other, such sentiments were not shared by some members of the audience. About a dozenmembers of the audience jeered at Brat, frequently interrupting his answers with scoffs. A small group in attendance continually raised red index cards every time Brat said something they didn’t like.

The topics for discussion were prepared beforehand and presented by the moderator T. Otey Smith, a principal of RLJ Equity Partners in Bethesda, Md. Each congressman was given about three minutes to give his take on the given question.

The two men may not often see eye to eye on certain issues. But on Thursday night, they frequently agreed on certain aspects of the discussion and exchanged encouraging words on topics where they shared similarities.

The discussion was not without its disagreements. One that stood out was health care. McEachin supported former President Barrack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare didn’t do everything right, but all the problems in the health-care system were not created by Obamacare either,” McEachin said.

He criticized President Donald Trump and other Republican officials for their vow to repeal and replace Obamacare. “They don’t have a lot of places to go to fix our health-care system and make it look different from Obamacare.”

Brat started off by calling Obamacare “in the ditch,” saying it “focused on coverage up front and paid no attention to price – prices have gone up 105 percent under Obamacare.” Brat is in favor in delegating health-care coverage to the states rather than having the federal government issue mandates.

“Politicians are not good at running things. Let’s bring that power down to the state level,” he said.

Brat represents Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, which stretches from Chesterfield County to Culpeper. As an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, he won the seat in 2014 by upsetting House Minority Leader Eric Cantor.

McEachin represents the 4th Congressional District, which includes Richmond, Petersburg and parts of Chesterfield and Henrico counties. An attorney, he previously served 17 years in the Virginia General Assembly.

After the hourlong discussion, both men shook hands and stayed around to talk to constituents. Some attendees said the respect Brat and McEachin showed for each other provided a model for other members of Congress.

“I think bipartisanship is key, especially in a time like this,” said Mark Stafford, a resident of Brat’s district. “I don’t want to watch my country waste away.”

VA MEMBERS URGE CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP TO TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT MINERS BEFORE HEALTHCARE BENEFITS EXPIRE

~ An estimated 10,000 retired coal miners in Virginia are at risk of losing health and retirement benefits in the coming years ~

WASHINGTON – In a letter today, Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Gerry Connolly, A. Donald McEachin, and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (all D-VA) urged Congressional leaders to take action to protect retired coal miners who risk losing their healthcare benefits as part of negotiations to keep the government funded before the end of the week. Last year, Congress reached a deal to extend government funding and retired miners’ health care benefits until April 28th. In March, retired coal miners and their families began receiving letters notifying them of the impending termination of their health care coverage. 

“This nation was built on the backs of our workers. Let us not forsake them. We implore you to immediately pass a permanent health care fix for the miners and commit to working with us to finding and passing a solution for the imperiled 1974 Pension Fund,” the members wrote.

Retired miners are facing uncertainty because the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) 1974 Pension Plan is severely underfunded, still reeling from the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and a series of bankruptcies in the coal industry.

The Virginia Congressional members pressed for the inclusion in negotiations of the Miners Protection Act, bipartisan legislation which would transfer federal funds to shore up the underfunded health insurance and pension plan.

“Anything less is merely an extension of the ongoing uncertainty and agony that these men and women have been carrying for years. Anything less is an unacceptable and tragic failure of this body to keep its word to the men and women who powered our nation to prosperity at the risk of their own health and lives,” the members added.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.

April 25, 2017

The Honorable Mitch McConnell                              
Senate Majority Leader                                               
The Capitol S-230                                                       
Washington, DC 20510                                              

The Honorable Chuck Schumer

Senate Minority Leader
The Capitol S-221
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan                                          
Speaker of the House of Representatives                   
The Capitol H-232                                                      
Washington, DC 20515                                              

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi  
House Minority Leader
The Capitol H-204
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Leader Pelosi,

As you know, at the expiration of the current continuing resolution, 22,600 of our nation’s retired coal miners will lose their healthcare benefits.  In March, these miners received letters notifying them of this impending termination and, sadly, it is not the first such letter they have received.  

Virginia is home to nearly 10,000 UMWA beneficiaries whose benefits are at risk in the coming years, many of whom will soon suffer the anguish and fear that comes with the loss of these life-saving benefits. 

While the continuing resolution included a four-month extension of benefits, it did so using remaining funds in the existing Voluntary Employee’s Beneficiary Association (VEBA) plans.  The “extension” was essentially a transfer of funds already belonging to these miners.  In fact, it shortened the timeline for 6,500 of these miners who would have otherwise received healthcare benefits through July.  Additionally, the pension fund that these miners and their widows rely on for life’s basic necessities will reach the point of no return this year if Congress does not act to shore it up.

This bill is simple – it is the continuation of a longstanding commitment by our government to lifetime health and retirement benefits for our miners.  The Krug-Lewis Agreement was signed in 1946 at the White House in front of President Truman by UMWA president John L. Lewis and Secretary of the Interior Julius Krug.  While the agreement itself was not drafted in perpetuity, Congress essentially codified the promises made in that agreement by subsequently passing the Coal Act. 

The Coal Act and its 2006 amendments re-committed the government to the health and retirement security of our nation’s miners and their families.  In fact, prior to passage of the 1992 Coal Act, the Dole Commission (appointed by President George H.W. Bush) issued a report stating that, “The UMWA Health and Retirement Funds is as much a creature of government as it is of collective bargaining. There is a line running from the original Boone Report to the present system. In a way, the original Krug-Lewis agreement predisposed, if not predetermined, the system that evolved.” 

The Miners Protection Act is a responsible, bipartisan solution to an immediate problem that is fully offset and has gone through regular order.  As Congress considers a continuing resolution to keep the government running, we fully expect that such a vehicle will include the permanent health care fix for our nation’s retired miners as promised at the end of 2016 and proposed in the Miner’s Protection Act.

Anything less is merely an extension of the ongoing uncertainty and agony that these men and women have been carrying for years.  Anything less is an unacceptable and tragic failure of this body to keep its word to the men and women who powered our nation to prosperity at the risk of their own health and lives. 

This nation was built on the backs of our workers.  Let us not forsake them.  We implore you to immediately pass a permanent health care fix for the miners and commit to working with us to finding and passing a solution for the imperiled 1974 Pension Fund.

Sincerely,                                                                                                                  

Mark R. Warner                                                        
United States Senator            

Tim Kaine
United States Senator

Gerry Connolly
United States Representative

A. Donald McEachin  
United States Representative

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
United States Representative 

Platt Urges Democrats to get behind McEachin K-12 Education Bill

“63 years after we outlawed unequal facilities, the average Virginia child is going to an obsolete K-12 facility according to national standards. This isn’t the equality we should be looking for!”

Great Falls, Virginia -- Democrat Susan Platt, a candidate for Lt. Governor in the June 13 primary, called on fellow Democrats “to get behind the potentially game-changing K-12 facility legislation being championed by Democratic Congressman Don McEachin.” The measure, H.R. 922 (a bill introduced in the House of Representatives last February), almost certainly “is the best hope in Virginia history to enable localities to afford modernizing their oldest, undated facilities, a pre-requisite to the equal educational opportunity that Dr. King wanted for our children, that Democrats have long promised the working families of Virginia” said Platt.

In 2013, then Governor Robert McDonnell order the state’s first-ever K-12 facility review. He found the results shocking. Besides obsolete nature of the average facility, upwards of 40% of Virginia’s K-12 buildings were sufficiently aged to be considered as “historic” structures under federal and state law.

McEachin’s legislation addresses an unintended anti-education bias in federal law. In 1986, Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker “Tip” O’Neill created the “federal rehabilitation tax credit.” It incentivized modernization of buildings sufficiently aged to qualify as historic under the law. But the IRS code contained unappreciated legalese buried in arcane bureaucratese.

Platt said the Trump Hotel project in Washington provides an easily understood explanation. The Trump Organization modernized a government owned building – the old DC Post Office – into a new Hotel use pursuant to a long-term lease. This enabled the project to take advantage of beneficial “federal rehabilitation tax credit” financing. However, because a local K-12 facility modernization project aims to keep the same use – a local school – it runs afoul of the so-called “prior use” rule. The “prior use” rule says this financing is barred when the post-modernization usage remains the same.

“This seeming little rule has a huge anti-education impact” said Platt. “Based on current law, it can drive up local school modernization costs by upwards of 33% or possibly even more here in Virginia depending on the particular circumstances of a project.”

From academia to Main Street, the 40,000 federal rehabilitation tax credit financed projects around the country have been widely praised.

“Every dollar saved in local construction costs is a dollar available to improve local instruction without raising local taxes or incurring more local debt.”

Platt pointed out that the Congressional Black Caucus presented Don’s bill to President Trump at their meeting last month.” “Dean Rozell of the George Mason School of Public Policy wrote an article on it, I recommend it to everyone.”

Platt applauded Congressman McEachin for his efforts.

“Education is the great equalizer, that’s what Dr. King said and he was so right,” pointed out Platt.

“Democratic leaders, and thus who want to be Democratic leaders, need to publicly support and get behind Don.”

The Brown decision was in 1954. After 63 years, “I think the children of Virginia have waited long enough” declared Platt.

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