COVID-19 relief, Middle East, women’s suffrage marks milestone

By Morgan Griffith

Coronavirus Relief

morgan griffithThe coronavirus pandemic continues to affect our country and Virginia’s Ninth District. Its impacts on the health and livelihood of our citizens are still being felt.

Congress has passed and President Trump has signed several relief measures. Negotiations about a new round of legislation, however, have stalled, primarily due to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) unreasonable demands on items unrelated to the coronavirus.

She wants to use the crisis to force actions that otherwise would have no chance of becoming law. Her agenda items, such as the Green New Deal and voting issues, are wrongheaded at any time. To prioritize them at a time when many Americans are hurting rubs salt into the wounds the coronavirus has inflicted.

Real issues should be addressed in a new round of legislation. For example, I believe children should go back to school if local conditions and science permit them. The schools that reopen may need federal help, and we should provide it. As long as Speaker Pelosi continues to hold up negotiations, they will get no support.

Seeing little progress, President Trump issued several executive actions to provide relief. I believe he acted within the authority given by Congress to the executive branch. My preference is to take back authority from the executive branch and restore it to Congress, but I cannot fault the President for using authority the legislative branch previously gave him, even if that original decision by Congress to delegate its power was unwise.

As I write this column, Speaker Pelosi has called back the House to vote – on legislation related to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

I support USPS and believe postal reform is necessary. Further, I am happy to return to Washington to vote. But we should address outstanding coronavirus relief before the longstanding financial challenges of the Post Office. Speaker Pelosi has held the speaker’s gavel for over a year and a half, but only recently has USPS become her top priority.

We have urgent matters to address – reopening schools with federal assistance, another round of direct payments, etc. – and I am ready to address them. Once that is done, if the Speaker wants to keep us in D.C. to work on postal issues, it would be understandable.

Middle East

On August 13, President Trump announced a deal brokered by his administration between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), two American allies in the Middle East. The two countries will normalize relations, with ambassadors to be exchanged and the door to cooperation opened on many issues.

This agreement is historic. Before the UAE entered this agreement, no major Arab state has recognized Israel since the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty of 1994.

Better ties between Israel and the Arab countries of the Middle East ensure Israel’s security, promote economic and political partnerships in the region, and isolate those nearby countries, such as Iran, that threaten the interests of our country and our allies.

When Israel was established in 1948, neighboring countries attacked it within hours. Unfortunately, this set a pattern for events in the decades to come.

Now that the UAE becomes the third Arab state and the first Gulf Arab state to recognize Israel, more countries may follow suit, and a more enduring peace may be built. The statesmanship of the Israeli and UAE diplomats and the Trump Administration officials who negotiated the deal should be commended.

Women’s Suffrage

This August marks 100 years since women were guaranteed the right to vote nationwide.

On June 4, 1919, Congress passed a proposed amendment to the Constitution stating, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

On August 18, 1920, the Tennessee House of Representatives met to consider the amendment. Thirty-five states had ratified it by that point, so only one more state out of the 48 at the time was needed for the amendment to go into effect. The state Senate had already passed it.

The House had been evenly divided, but an East Tennessee representative named Harry Burn, who had opposed the amendment, changed his stance after receiving a note from his mother Phoebe beginning, “Hurrah, and vote for suffrage!”

His mother’s direction shifted Burn to support for the amendment. With Tennessee, the required three-fourths of the states ratified the amendment. On August 26, 1920, it was certified by the U.S. Secretary of State, and the right to vote would not be denied to women any longer. It was a great and important advance for our country.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at

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