Anna's Weekly Report
December 9, 2022
The consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision this summer overturning Roe extend beyond destroying the right to reproductive health care. Every right based on the Due Process Clause was put at risk, including marriage equality.
Congress took action this week to ensure that same-sex and interracial marriages are protected, proactively preserving these fundamental rights before the Supreme Court may overturn them. As the Speaker wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post, this vote is “the latest step forward in House Democrats’ longtime fight for full equality, waged alongside generations of fearless activists.” You can read Speaker Pelosi’s opinion piece on the Respect for Marriage Act HERE.
H.R. 8404, the Respect for Marriage Act, repeals the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned federal recognition of same-sex marriage. I’m proud to have voted against the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act when it passed in 1996, and I’m proud to vote this week to repeal this policy once and for all. The Respect for Marriage Act now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.
Major Votes in the House This Week
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
I voted for the National Defense Authorization Act, bipartisan legislation that strengthens America’s security and meets the needs of our servicemembers. Specifically, the bill includes a 4.6% pay raise for members of the military; increases funding for groundbreaking science and technology research at the Defense Department (DoD); establishes a commission to prevent innocent civilian casualties and harm resulting from U.S.-led military operations; invests in clean energy at DoD; and promotes diversity and inclusion within the military by establishing a fellowship program for individuals from underrepresented communities, increasing defense-related research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and enlisting independent investigators to root out sexual harassment.
Veteran Service Recognition Act
Today there are approximately 45,000 immigrants actively serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Despite serving in uniform, these individuals are vulnerable to deportation both during and after their military service. Unfortunately, thousands of noncitizen veterans who risked their lives for our country have been deported, separating them from their families and preventing them from accessing the Veteran Affairs benefits they’re eligible for.
I voted for the Veteran Service Recognition Act which recognizes the service of our noncitizen veterans by making it easier for servicemembers to apply for naturalization while in the armed forces. The bill establishes a review process for noncitizen veterans, active service members, and their families who are in removal proceedings and provides an opportunity for noncitizen veterans who have been removed or ordered removed and who have not been convicted of serious crimes to obtain legal permanent resident status.
Letters Anna Sent This Week
Combatting Rising Antisemitism
Over the past several years, there’s been a shocking surge of antisemitism in our country. According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were more than 2,700 reported antisemitic incidents in the U.S. in 2021, a 34 percent increase over 2020, the highest number ever recorded. This disturbing trend has manifested in horrific acts of violence, including the 2018 killing of eleven worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh – the deadliest antisemitic attack in our nation’s history – as well as more recent tragedies in Poway, California; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Colleyville, Texas. All this has a chilling effect on expressions of Jewish identity, and it challenges our fundamental values as a free and tolerant society.
This week I called on President Biden urging him to develop a comprehensive whole-of-government strategy to monitor and combat rising antisemitism with many colleagues. Our letter calls for the creation of an interagency task force with representatives from the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Education, and State. You can read our letter HERE.
Equal Rights Amendment
This week I signed a letter urging Senate leadership to consider legislation to affirm the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In March 2021, the House overwhelmingly passed H.J.Res. 17 to remove the arbitrary time limit for the ERA’s ratification. Now it’s time for the Senate to schedule a vote on this Resolution. A constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal status for women and men is a critical next step to end much of the sexism and unfair treatment that women still experience. Women helped build this country into what it is today and making their status equal before the law is the most appropriate way to acknowledge this truth.
President Biden Signs Anna’s Bill into Law
I’m proud to announce that this week the President signed into law my legislation, the Safe Connections Act. Survivors of domestic violence face overwhelming barriers when trying to leave their abusers, including becoming stuck in shared phone plans that abusers can use to monitor, harass, and control them. This new law ensures all survivors can remove themselves from shared phone plans without prohibitive costs and requirements, and enroll in the Lifeline Program or the Affordable Connectivity Program to obtain new phones or phone services at discounted prices.
Milken Institute Fireside Chat on ARPA-H
This week I participated in a fireside chat at the Milken Institute’s Future of Health Summit. The summit brought together top leaders in public health, biomedical research, and policy, including FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and Senators Cory Booker and Bill Cassidy to discuss how to tackle major public health challenges.
In my conversation with Esther Krofah, Executive Vice President of Health at the Milken Institute, I discussed my legislation to improve diversity in clinical trials and my work to establish the Advanced Research Project Agency for Health, ARPA-H. This new health agency has a mighty mission: to cure and treat the world’s deadliest diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
You can watch a recording of my conversation about ARPA-H HERE.
Release of Brittney Griner
I, like so many Americans, felt joy and relief when President Biden announced early Thursday morning that Brittney Griner was safe and on a plane home to America. For nearly ten months, the WNBA star was held under intolerable circumstances by the Russian government. Thanks to the committed leadership of President Biden and Secretary Blinken, Brittney Griner is now on her way home to her wife, Cherelle Griner, and her family in time for the holidays. I stand by the Biden Administration in condemning Russia's human rights abuses and remain resolved to securing the release of all wrongfully detained Americans including Paul Whelan.
Real ID Deadline Extended
The U.S. Homeland Security Department (DHS) announced this week that Americans will now have until May 2025 to acquire REAL IDs in order to board flights or enter certain federal government facilities. Beginning in May 2025, as required by the REAL ID Act which passed Congress in 2005, federal agencies, including the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), will be prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses and other identification cards that do not meet new federal standards.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, an estimated 83 million Americans, roughly 34 percent, are still without an enhanced form of ID that would be accepted to travel domestically or abroad, which includes a U.S. passport or passport card, U.S. military ID, or DHS trusted traveler cards. If you haven’t acquired a REAL ID, I suggest you apply now. No one welcomes the news that they cannot board their flight, whether domestic or international, because of a lack of this heightened security measure.
For more information on REAL ID, visit www.dhs.gov/real-id.
Covid-19 and Flu Vaccines
Good news! On Thursday, the FDA authorized the bivalent Covid-19 vaccine for children as young as 6 months of age. Eligibility for the vaccine depends on when the child last received a Covid-19 vaccine and whether they received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Speak to your pediatrician about your child getting the updated bivalent vaccine. This vaccine targets the highly contagious Omicron variant of Covid-19, as well as the original strain of Covid-19.
As a reminder, all people who are 5 years and older who had a Covid booster at least two months ago are eligible for the bivalent vaccine. You can sign up immediately for a free appointment at your county’s website below, and it’s very easy to do.
Flu season is upon us! The flu and Covid-19 vaccines are safe to receive together, and most vaccination centers will have both available. Learn where you can get your flu vaccine here: www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines
In the Words of My Constituents
Every week hundreds of constituents call and write to me to express their concerns, share their passions, and ask questions regarding legislation and policies. Over 126,586 constituents have contacted me this year. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response to their specific questions and comments from me. This week, 2,325 constituents contacted me about issues including:
- 113 messages against energy permitting reform that weakens environmental regulations
- 83 messages in support of seating the Cherokee Nation's first Delegate to Congress
- 56 messages in support of the SSI Penalty Savings Act
- Congress awards gold medals to police who defended Capitol on Jan. 6 – Washington Post
- Renewable energy: First ocean areas to be leased off California for floating wind turbines – Santa Cruz Sentinel
- The crisis of student mental health is much vaster than we realize—Washington Post
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I close with this thought. Always know how deeply grateful I am for the trust you’ve placed in me to represent you. I work daily to live up to it.
Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress