Congress resumed its session on September 5th after the August recess to a busy week in Washington that included raising the debt ceiling, funding the government and providing the resources for the devastating damage of Hurricane Harvey.
HERE’S WHAT CONGRESS DID THIS WEEK
Voted on H. Res. 502 - Making Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief
The House took an important first step this week in providing assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. The bill allocated $7.85 billion for relief funding which passed the House with near unanimous support. The Senate quickly voted on this bill and nearly doubled the relief funds, totaling $15.25 billion for victims of the hurricane. The legislation also extends the National Flood Insurance Program authority through December.
Hurricane Harvey has wreaked devastation but I’m inspired by the courage of Americans and our first responders, including the 129th Rescue Wing and the Menlo Park Fire Department from our Congressional District, who swiftly came to the aid of these families and communities.
Voted on Legislation to Fund the Government and Raise the Debt Ceiling
Included in the final bill to provide emergency relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey, I voted for and the House passed a short-term extension to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. The federal government’s funding expires October 1st, so this is essential legislation that prevents a government shutdown or a default on our nation’s debt. Democratic Leader Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer offered this approach to the President and he accepted it.
Voted on H.R. 3388 – the SELF DRIVE Act
This week the House unanimously passed legislation which will establish a regulatory framework for autonomous vehicles. The legislation creates a clear path for the safe testing, development and deployment of autonomous vehicles in the U.S. and focuses on four key areas: consumer protection, fostering innovation, increasing mobility and promoting research and development.
The SELF DRIVE Act also included my language to require a study of the environmental impacts of autonomous vehicles as well as the intersection between autonomous and electric vehicles. The AV revolution is happening on top of the ongoing electrification revolution, and our Congressional District is leading the nation in this effort. We have to double-down in our support of the growing AV fleets with electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
LEGISLATION ANNA INTRODUCED AND CO-SPONSORED THIS WEEK
H.R. 3440, the DREAM Act
I was an original supporter of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act which provided undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children who graduate from U.S. high schools, are of good moral character, have no criminal record and have been in the country continuously for four years, with the opportunity to work toward legal status. During that time, the student must pursue higher education, serve in the military, or work lawfully for at least three years. Students who have met these conditions, have been granted permanent residency and will have the ability to one day become U.S. citizens.
The DREAM Act passed the House in 2010 but failed to pass in the Senate. In 2012, President Obama established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which gave the undocumented immigrants who would be eligible for citizenship under the DREAM Act relief from deportation.
It was heartbreaking when President Trump terminated DACA this week, putting the lives of 800,000 DREAMers in jeopardy. My hope is that the Speaker of the House will allow this legislation to be brought to the floor for a vote where it would pass today on a bipartisan basis. These young people have already distinguished themselves as contributors to our society and our economy by serving in the military, graduating with honors and loving the only country they know.
Bipartisan Resolution Recognizing September as Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month
With nearly one in four Americans currently suffering from rheumatic diseases, I joined my Arthritis Caucus co-chair Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) in introducing a bipartisan resolution recognizing September as National Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month in hopes of bringing increased national attention to a growing and costly healthcare crisis. Rheumatic diseases include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, gout, Sjögren’s, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and hundreds of lesser-known conditions. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that by 2040, nearly 80 million Americans will be affected by these life-altering conditions.
H.R. 846, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act
I’m proud to cosponsor the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act¸ legislation that will eliminate the ‘Widow’s Tax,’ which is the current policy that requires the surviving spouses of members killed in the line of duty or from a service-connected cause to forfeit the Survivor Benefit Pension annuity. The Survivor Benefit Pension annuity depends on the military retiree’s pay at the time of death and the amount of coverage they selected. Current policy allows for up to $1,000 per month to be off-set from a surviving spouse’s pay—a substantial burden for many military families, representing up to a $12,000 annual reduction of deserved benefits. This will make an enormous difference in the lives of military families.
POLICY LETTERS ANNA COSIGNED THIS WEEK
Letter to President Trump Urging him to reconsider his Ban on Transgender Individuals Serving in our Country’s Military
I joined with over 120 of my colleagues in a letter to President Trump, urging him to reconsider his baseless transgender ban in our nation’s military. Enforcing this ban could mean discharging thousands of active duty soldiers, sailors, Marines and members of the Air Force who are serving honorably. It also bars other patriotic Americans from serving in the future. Both actions are detrimental to our national security, ill-advised and contrary to our nation’s values. There is no place for discrimination in our Armed Forces or anywhere else in our country.
Eshoo Statement on President Trump’s Decision to End DACA (September 5th, 2017)
“When President Obama established DACA in 2012, the program created a ray of hope for those who were brought to the United States as young children. They are Americans in every way except on paper. President Trump’s decision today to terminate this program diminishes that hope for the bright young DREAMers who now call America home.” To read the full press release, CLICK HERE.
On September 6th, one day after the President terminated DACA and threatened the future of 800,000 DREAMers in the United States, I stood with my House and Senate colleagues to demand a vote on the DREAM Act. These young people placed their faith in our government when they chose to come out of the shadows to enroll in DACA. I will fight with all I have to ensure Congress passes legislation to overrule the President’s irresponsible action, ensuring that these children can remain in the only country they’ve known and love.
IN MY CONSTITUENTS’ WORDS
Every week hundreds of my constituents call and write to me to express their concerns, share their passions and ask questions regarding legislation and policies. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response to their specific questions and comments.
Here are some of the issues constituents wrote and called me about this week:
· 876 constituents expressed their opposition to the President ending DACA
· 292 constituents support disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Harvey
· 219 constituents want Congress to take action on climate change.
Here are some of the issues constituents wrote and called me about during the month of August:
· 708 constituents expressed opposition to the reauthorization of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which governs the surveillance of foreigners who are abroad and has allegedly been used to collect the communications of Americans
· 644 constituents support net neutrality and oppose the Federal Communications Commission’s attempts to dismantle it
· 361 constituents expressed opposition to the Trump Administration’s review and possible rolling back of recently created National Monuments.
ANNA IN THE NEWS
San Mateo Daily Journal- “DACA move not liked by local leaders”
“An array of Bay Area elected officials and leaders denounced President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to end a program allowing young undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.”
“U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, also called on Congress to step in to enact the program into law.
“Eshoo said more than 787,000 individuals have received relief from deportation under the DACA program, allowing them to obtain work permits, pursue higher education, obtain driver’s licenses, and contribute their talents to our nation.” To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
San Francisco Chronicle- “Congress gets hot potato as Trump ends ‘Dreamers’ program”
“President Trump was quick to toss away the hottest of political issues Tuesday, telling Congress it’s now up to lawmakers to decide the fate of the nearly 800,000 young people who could face deportation with the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“I welcome the chance to put this into statute,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto. “But it’s up to the speaker to let these (immigration) bills come to the floor, which he hasn’t done before. And we need at least 25 Republicans to vote with the Democrats on this.” To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
You can find more press releases, commentary and information on issues at my website, eshoo.house.gov. And please visit YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for more ways to stay informed.
Anna G. Eshoo