Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Photo by Shealah Craighead)
*originally posted 2/11/2020, updated 12/2021*
I have been hesitant to post this note, although I started writing it last year. It seems that a slew of vitriol and sideeyes are given to any Black person who shows a mustard seed of support of President Donald Trump. However, I felt it was necessary, as I have the tendency to be mindful of the legislation a President enacts, rather than what media tells me I should believe to be true about them.
In honor of President Trump’s acquittal of his impeachment charges, I decided to create a short note of the legislation he has signed off on since being in office that has been of great benefit to the American people.
Within this sentence, you can find links to different articles I referenced while creating this note. They detail the different bills as well as executive orders the President has signed into law. Below, I take the time to notate a select group of categories, and the bills relevant to them, as far as they relate to me and things I discuss on this blog. I would also like to point out that much of the legislation signed into law by President Trump was created and spearheaded by members of the Democratic Party.
So, here goes!
CATEGORY I: VETS
WHISTLEBLOWER ACT 2017
If you recall the VA Scandal of 2014 , you know that much information came to light regarding the gross negligence of Veterans Affairs regarding the management of their patients. Apparently, it was quite difficult to fire incompetent or otherwise ineffective employees of the department. The Whistleblower Act of 2017 now makes it easier to fire or demote employees with low performance in the department, but it also allows for protection of employees who blow the whistle on corrupt practices, such as the ones who shared information during the 2014 scandal.
THE VALOR ACT
Increases employment and entrepreneurship opportunities among veterans, securing funding for such, especially minority veterans.
VETERANS’ COMPENSATION COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENT ACT OF 2017
Increases the monthly stipend earned by veterans for food, clothing and shelter; makes adjustments for an increase in the monthly payment collected by surviving spouses and children to be increased at the same percentage rate as SSI survivors benefits.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS EXPIRING AUTHORITIES ACT OF 2017
President Trump signed legislation extending the authority of certain VA programs that covered veterans housing and healthcare needs, including services to homeless veterans, and most interestingly, veterans reintegrating into society who also have children.
HARRY W. COLMERY VETERAN EDUCATIONAL ASSISTANCE ACT OF 2017
This bill does a great job of extending educational benefits to certain veterans who were often times restricted due to their designation, such as reservists and guardsmen. These benefits have now been extended to their wives and dependents (survivors too!), and some hindering time restrictions for claiming such benefits have been lifted. Special priority is given to military personnel who are seeking careers in the STEM fields, and funding is even being provided to train people who are charged with overseeing claims for processing. This bill is actually a pretty awesome and extensive bill, therefore, I have inserted a link for further reading here.
AMENDMENT TO THE VETERANS ACCESS, CHOICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 2014
A piece of legislation created in response to the VA Scandal of 2014. The act allows for veterans to seek healthcare through entities not under the umbrella of the VA, while using funding authorized through the Department. Although it was originally introduced during the Obama administration, the Veterans Choice Program was amended during President Trump’s administration to eliminate the sunset date of August 2017. Now, the fund will remain accessible to all veterans until the money within the fund runs out. Also, the amended legislation addresses the privacy of veterans who seek healthcare services from providers outside of the VA network.
The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act
An act requiring the Department of Treasury to honor the 100th anniversary of the American Legion by minting gold, silver, and half dollar commemorative coins.
Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017
Legislation passed to encourage the national display of the U.S. flag in honor of Vietnam War Veterans Day, which is March 29.
Enhancing Veteran Care Act
Under this act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has the authority to hire contracted non-profit organizations to investigate any center providing medical care to veterans.
VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017
This bill is another enhancement to the Veterans Choice Program. It designates additional funding and details how the funding is to be appropriated, including pay increases for medical staff, funding for training to private sector providers (with an emphasis on rural areas), and the establishment of programs that seek out post military vets for employment positions within the VA. This bill is extended for the 2027 FY.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Authorization to establish grant for Veteran’s Legacy Program
This is an interesting bill, the purpose of which was not immediately clear to me when I first read it. Apparently, the Veteran’s Legacy Program was created to increase community engagement for citizens’ understanding of how much impact veterans have had on their local community. One way this is done is through visitation to local cemeteries where fallen and deceased soldiers have been interred. This act permits the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to administer grants to educational, or otherwise relevant institutions, to basically conduct research about where soldiers are buried in their local community, and then create educational brochures or programming about the soldiers that encourages engagement among the community.
Fallen Warrior Battlefield Cross Memorial Act
President Trump recently signed into law an act that sets a new standard that interred soldiers across the nation who die in battle be honored with a badge on their gravesite signifying them as a fallen soldier.
CATEGORY II: BLACK AMERICANS
400 Years of African-American History Commission Act
This one may be the most familiar on this list, as it got some clout in mainstream media, as well as independent media including the conscious community. This act was signed by President Trump and spearheaded by Senator Robert C. Scott (VA). This establishes a commission tasked to commemorate 400 years since the arrival of the first African slaves in Virginia. This is to be done through the planning of activities and programs that “recognize or highlight the resilience and contributions of African Americans since 1619.” I think this is really important for people to read, so I inserted a link to the bill here.
African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017
This is a bill requiring the Department of Interior to create a U.S. Civil Rights Network within the National Park Service. Confused as to how African American civil rights related to national parks, I did some digging to get a better understanding. Honestly, I’m still a little confused, but a visit to their website gave me the assumption that NPS was tagged because of their work to help establish the local history of communities, especially when the history is related to getting outdoors and visiting an historic site. The primary purpose of this bill is to focus on the significance of the civil rights movement in American history and the effect it had on local communities across the nation. The basis of this is a study titled: “Civil Rights in America: A Framework for Identifying Significant Sites,” an interesting summation of not only the civil rights movement, but also of other minority groups within that timeframe, such as the American Indian. Sponsored by Rep. William Lacy Clay.
Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act
An act that establishes a committee charged with overseeing activities to honor the life of Frederick Douglass carried out by government entities. Sponsored by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Emancipation National Historic Trail Study Act
This interesting bill designates the study of a trail said to be travelled by newly freed slaves through Texas, for the purpose of declaration as a national scenic trail. Perhaps NPS will have a hand in this?? Sponsored by Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee.
FIRST STEP ACT
Passed by Congress on December 20, 2018 and signed into law by President Trump the very next day, the First Step Act is lauded by supporters as the first piece of major legislation to address mass incarceration and criminal justice reform. As you may already know Dear Reader, mass incarceration has disproportionately affected the Black community for several decades. But, the induction of this law will bring a reduction of mass incarceration through programs that promote home-based sentencing for low-risk offenders, restrictions on enhanced sentencing for prior offenders, as well as more focus on reentry initiatives. Yall’s favorite president could never. This bill had major support on both sides of the house. You can read more about FIRST STEP here.
Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2019
This is a bill sponsored by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, and while it is not designated solely for the benefit of Black Americans, it could very possibly affect the way we worship. The Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2019 was drafted in response to infamous shootings occurring in places of worship, such as the one that happened in Charleston, South Carolina back in 2015. It is established as part of the amended Homeland Security Act of 2002 named, “Nonprofit Security Grant Program’ to assist 501(c)(3) exempt organizations with certain preventative security measures, such as metal detectors and cybersecurity. $75 million dollars has been allocated to pay for this funding every year through 2024, the majority of which is earmarked for high-risk urban areas.
CATEGORY III: WOMEN
No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act
This bill requires the Department of Transportation to permanently revoke the Driver’s License of anyone convicted as a felon for human trafficking. Human trafficking is a sick, demented and demoralizing way of making money, so I can’t ‘round of applause’ this enough!
Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act
Directs the Department of Transportation to appoint someone to a position that focuses on unifying the coordination of federal agencies’ efforts to combat human trafficking. This person will also be required to understand the challenges of uncovering human trafficking that occurs in different modes of transportation, particularly across state lines.
SAFER Act of 2017
This wonderful piece of legislation was amended to be extended through 2023. The SAFER ACT was created to help eliminate the backlog of sexual assault kits in forensic crime labs through an increase of funding. President Trump signed an amendment that allows for priority sampling of all: women, children and elderly victims.
Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2019
Another important bill that introduced funding in support of eliminating backlog of DNA rape test kits, and includes training for law enforcement personnel.
Breast Cancer Patient Equity Act
Provision of Medicare coverage for custom made prosthetic breasts for cancer patients who have had a vasectomy. Previously, only implants and prosthetic bras were covered.
Rapid DNA Act of 2017
Allows for on-site testing of DNA samples. Yikes. While this sounds like a great idea, I am concerned because this law allows for the handling of DNA outside of a forensic lab, and the results will be entered into CODIS.
Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017
To sum it up, this bill just seems to be a legislative way for Congress to increase the visibility and overall acknowledgement of women in the political arena, or NGOs that (allegedly) aren’t political. The bill was sponsored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen, but it smells like it has Nancy Pelosi written all over it. You can read all the dets here.
Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act
The authorized promotion and funding of women entrepreneurs, especially in STEM fields. Need I say more?
Okay, so obviously this was not as short as I projected it to be, but it was definitely worth a read, right? Regardless of your sentiments for Donald Trump, I think we all can agree that a president’s legacy is a summation of the legislation he supports. My hope is that the next time you mention him, you consider what you’ve read here and be mindful to put a little ‘respeck’ on his name.