Meng Secures Provisions Critical to Protecting and Empowering Seniors
Sep 4, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced today that she secured provisions critical to protecting and empowering seniors. The measures were included in key fiscal year 2020 spending bills that recently passed the House of Representatives. They consist of the following items:
Ensuring the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection Branch redoubles its efforts to deter, investigate, and prosecute individuals and entities responsible for elder fraud and elder abuse by securing increased and robust funding, and related language to support these efforts. Common types of elder fraud occur through telemarketing, mass-mailings, and tech-support schemes.
$11 million for the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program, an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) initiative that offers free tax assistance to those aged 60 and older.
Meng was also proud to have supported federal spending investments in other seniors-focused programs including:
$464 million for the Senior Community Service Employment Program, a community service work-based job training program for low-income, unemployed older Americans. The amount is $64 million above the 2019 enacted level. The President’s budget request proposed eliminating the program.
$222 million for Senior Corps, the national service program for Americans aged 55 years and older. The funding is an increase of $13 million over the 2019 enacted level.
$803 million for Housing for the Elderly, $125 million above the 2019 enacted level and $159 million above the President’s budget request. The program is a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) initiative that helps finance the development of housing for elderly individuals.
$1.375 billion for assistance with affordable rental housing for low-income families and the elderly in rural communities.
In addition to the above items, Meng passed legislation into law last year that seeks to combat a widespread telephone scam that has adversely affected seniors. The bill, known as the Anti-Spoofing Act, cracks down on those who engage in spoofing, a scheme in which criminals disguise their caller ID to make it appear that they’re from a financial institution, police department or government agency. These crooks have falsely claimed that they are with one of these official entities, and then they steal money from unsuspecting victims by convincing them to wire cash or provide bank account or personal information. Thieves posing as IRS agents who demand immediate payment for unpaid taxes – and disguise their telephone numbers to make it appear that the call is originating from IRS – has been among the more prevalent scams.
Meng also cosponsored and voted two months ago for the Stop Bad Robocalls Act which aims to stop the onslaught of robocalls. The bill requires every call to be verified, allows for the blocking of spam calls, and empowers the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to better protect Americans.
Furthermore, the Congresswoman introduced the Keep Mail Safe Act in July, a bill which would require the U.S. Postmaster General to study the possibility of retrofitting all blue mail collection boxes in the U.S. with narrow mail slots, in order to combat the mail theft crime known as mail fishing. Seniors are often victims of mail fishing, which occurs when lawbreakers place string connected to a sticky material into collection boxes. The sticky substance attaches to the mail and these criminals “fish” out the envelopes. They then open the letters and steal people’s personal information such as bank, credit card, and Social Security numbers. Retrofitting collection boxes with narrower slots would make it more difficult for thieves to steal the mail that is inside. Meng convinced the Postal Service last year to retrofit all collection boxes in her home borough of Queens, New York and many have already been completed.
Meng has also taken part in local events to help safeguard older Americans and she regularly visits senior centers in her district.
“We must do everything possible to protect and empower our seniors, and ensure that they have the resources they require,” said Meng. “I am proud to have championed several elder justice initiatives and look forward to these measures benefiting older Americans for years to come. Standing-up for seniors has always been among my top priorities and I will continue to fight tirelessly on their behalf.”
The provisions Meng secured and supported were included in several different appropriations bills including: Commerce, Justice, Science; Financial Services and General Government; Labor, Health and Human Services and Education; and the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.