On Tuesday, the House passed the first notable bipartisan piece of legislation of the year, and I was proud to be a part of it. Together, my colleagues, Congresswoman Young Kim, Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux, the Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez, and I negotiated a bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program beyond its current expiration date of March 31. Under the bill, which we are cautiously optimistic will be passed by the Senate soon, PPP will be extended 60 days to give every small business that needs it enough time to have their application processed before the program winds down for good.
While we negotiated the bill and debated it on the floor, it was not lost on me that three of the four members were women. These women have diverse backgrounds and life experiences that they utilize every day to represent their communities in Congress. I believe if you asked them, they would all say the one thing they have in common is that they’re standing on the shoulders of the countless women throughout history who made our country what it is today: the greatest nation in the world.
Every March, we celebrate Women’s History Month and the countless contributions women have made to our country. As a husband, father of two daughters, and grandfather of two granddaughters, I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by the most gifted and remarkable women in the world – admittedly, I may be a little biased but I believe it with every piece of my heart. And I am extremely grateful that we live in a country that allows every person, regardless of gender, to peruse and reach their full potential. While that was not always the case, generations of brave women, many here in Missouri, have made it possible for this generation.
In the Missouri State Capitol Hall of Famous Missourians, you can find a statue of Virginia Minor who was a leader in the national women’s suffrage movement and started the first women’s suffrage organization in our state. Born in Virginia in 1824, she moved to St. Louis in her twenties where she found her love for public service. She joined the Ladies’ Union Aid Society, a volunteer organization that provided supplies and medical care during the Civil War. When the war was over, she and many of the women she volunteered with were ready for the next step in their public service and turned their attention to women’s rights. She was denied the right to register to vote in 1872 and ultimately took her case for women’s suffrage all the way to the Supreme Court. While the Court did not rule in her favor, Virginia Minor was a pioneer for women’s rights here in Missouri and her leadership of the women’s suffrage movement helped to spread the word across our state.
Another famous woman who left a lasting mark on our state was Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne who was born in France but called the Third District home for the last decade of her life. She was a nun who came to the United States as a missionary and in 1818, opened the first Sacred Heart school in America and the first free school west of the Mississippi. This was also the first Catholic school in what would later be known as the St. Louis Archdiocese. One of the first American women to rise to sainthood, Pope John Paul II canonized Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne in 1988. If you’re ever looking for a place to attend mass in St. Charles, you might find yourself at her beautiful memorial church, the Shrine of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne.
This year, it is especially fitting that we also celebrate the women who have made history by helping get Missouri through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. The doctors and nurses who worked around the clock to keep Missourians healthy. The scientists who helped develop a vaccine at a record pace to help life get back to normal. The first responders and law enforcement officers who continued to risk their lives under increased uncertainty and unforeseen circumstances. The teachers who went to extraordinary lengths to make sure their students didn’t fall behind while distance learning. And the small business owners who fought to save our favorite local institutions and ensure their employees could receive a paycheck. These women have all made history, and our state is extremely fortunate that these exceptional people call Missouri home.
From the earliest settlers dating back to 1600s to the leaders of today, Missouri has a lot to be proud of – much of it accomplished by women. This month is a good reminder of those achievements and an appropriate celebration how much they’ve improved all of our lives.
CONTACT US: As always, for those of you with Internet access, I encourage you to visit my official website. For those without access to the Internet, I encourage you to call my offices in Jefferson City (573-635-7232) Washington, Mo. (636-239-2276), or Wentzville (636-327-7055) with your questions and concerns. If you want even greater access to what I am working on, please visit my YouTube site, Facebook page, and keep up-to-date with Twitter and Instagram.