Anna's Weekly Update
HIGHLIGHTS OF WHAT CONGRESS DID THIS WEEK
Voted on the Republican Budget
This week, House and Senate Republicans passed their FY18 Budget Resolution.
The budget includes massive spending cuts to imperative programs that Americans rely on. It cuts funding for education, health care, research and infrastructure. It also cuts nearly $1.3 trillion from Medicaid and nearly $500 billion from Medicare. These are programs that provide health care to seniors, children, individuals with disabilities and struggling families.
The approval of this budget allows Republicans to bring their irresponsible $1.5 trillion tax plan to the floor in just a matter of weeks, rushing legislation that impacts nearly every American family before they even have a chance to understand what’s in it.
Rule overturn disallowing average people to sue the financial industry
Senate Republicans, with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence, voted on Tuesday to strike down a sweeping new rule that would have allowed millions of Americans to band together in class-action lawsuits against financial institutions. For decades, credit card companies and banks have inserted arbitration clauses into their financial contracts to circumvent the courts and bar people from pooling their resources in class-action lawsuits.
The new rule written by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau during the Obama Administration was set to take effect in 2019 and would have restored the right of individuals to sue in court. In light of the recent scandals at Wells Fargo and Equifax, it’s more important than ever that consumers have this vital tool at their disposal. The repeal of this rule represents the Republicans selling out of the middle class in favor of big corporations.
LEGISLATION ANNA CO-SPONSORED THIS WEEK
H.R. 3274, the President John F. Kennedy Commemorative Coin Act
This week I cosponsored legislation that orders the Secretary of the Treasury to issue a President John F. Kennedy commemorative silver $1.00 coin by 2020. Whether it was asking what we can do for our country or challenging NASA and our nation to reach the moon, President Kennedy’s legacy deserves to be etched in history. This coin would recognize his many accomplishments and distinguished service to our country.
H.R. 4052, the Keep Americans Safe Act
One month ago we bore witness to the largest mass shooting in our country’s history in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing over 50 innocent Americans and injuring hundreds. I continue to pray for the families who lost their loved ones, but we need more than thoughts and prayers to honor those lost. We need sensible national legislation to make our communities safer.
Toward that goal, I have once again joined as a cosponsor of the Keep Americans Safe Act, which bans the sale or possession of gun magazines containing more than 10 rounds of ammunition. High-capacity magazines have been used in nearly every mass shooting over the last 30 years, and they were banned under the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which was allowed to expire in 2004. California is one of eight states that already prohibits the manufacture and sale of high-capacity magazines.
H.R. 2862, Wildfire Disaster Funding Act
In the wake of the devastating wildfires across our state, I’m once again a cosponsor of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. This legislation would change how the federal government budgets for wildfire response to ensure that funds are not transferred from forest conservation and prevention measures to fighting fires.
Last year, the U.S. Forest Service was forced to spend 56 percent of its budget on active firefighting, up from 16 percent in 1995. When the agency is forced to spend so much on fighting active fires, it must use money from forest management and prevention measures to cover its costs. This in turn causes larger and more frequent wildfires because the agency is unable to thin forests of their fuel. This bill would allow emergency wildfire suppression to be funded outside of ordinary appropriations, similar to how disaster funding already operates for floods and hurricanes.
POLICY LETTERS ANNA WROTE AND COSIGNED THIS WEEK
Letter to House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees Opposing Changes to SALT Deduction
I’m very concerned about the Republican proposal to eliminate the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT) from our federal taxable income. The SALT deduction was written into the federal tax code since the inception of the income tax in 1913.
Eliminating this deduction represents a significant tax increase for the middle class and I am 100% opposed to it.
I’m a signator to a letter to the Committee Chairmen of House Ways and Means, and the Senate Finance Committees to express my concerns about eliminating this benefit for the American people. In 2015, over 6.1 million California households claimed the SALT deduction with an average value of $18,438. The vast majority of these filers are homeowners, many of whom count on the deductibility of state and local taxes when determining the affordability of their homes. Repealing SALT would endanger the majority of Californians’ financial security and make homes less affordable for current homeowners and prospective buyers.
Letter to the Trump Administration Regarding Birth Control Rule
Three weeks ago, the Trump Administration announced they would be rolling back the requirement that employer sponsored insurance plans cover contraceptives, giving employers a license to discriminate against female employees and restricting women’s access to contraceptives. This week, every member of the Pro-Choice Caucus sent a letter to the Trump Administration urging a reversal of this decision.
Birth control is health care, plain and simple. It is vital to both the nation’s public health and women’s health in particular. Birth control helps prevent poor birth outcomes and poor health conditions for women. According to the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, the rate of unintended pregnancies decreased 18 percent between 2008 and 2011, with larger declines (44 percent) occurring among young women aged 14 to 17. The evidence clearly demonstrates that birth control is a public health success story.
Letter to the House Armed Services Committee Supporting Congressionally-Directed Medical Research Program
I’m a signator to a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees expressing strong support for the Congressionally-Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) at the U.S. Department of Defense, which provides research dollars to study diseases and conditions that do not receive federal funding elsewhere. In the fiscal year 2018 Senate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), provisions were included that would significantly weaken the CDMRP, jeopardizing heath care for warfighters, veterans and their families both now and in the future.
Since 1992, the CDMRP has strengthened and transformed healthcare for service members and the American public through innovative and impactful biomedical research. It has resulted in important medical breakthroughs that have improved and enhanced the quality of life for our service members, including groundbreaking technological advancements in prosthetics and transplantations for combat-wounded veterans. CDMRP has always had significant bipartisan support, and our letter specifically requests that the NDAA Conference Committee reject the provisions that would undermine this program.
The Energy and Commerce Committee met this week to hold a hearing on opioid abuse, a crisis that claims 142 lives every day and has killed more people than the Vietnam War. I questioned the expert witnesses as to what steps need to be taken to ensure that novel and safer treatments for pain and addiction are developed.
Over 2 million people have a prescription opioid addiction, 591,000 have a heroin addiction, and overdose deaths have tripled in the last 13 years.
This week my Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing with the Chairman and the Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission. I asked Chairman Pai why it took him six days to respond to the President’s reckless comments suggesting the broadcast license of NBC be challenged and revoked, a direct attack on the First Amendment to our Constitution. I wrote to Chairman Pai last week on this issue, demanding he speak out against these attacks and to live up to the oath we take to protect and defend the Constitution.
I also questioned the Chairman on whether the FCC’s sponsorship identification and public file ownership disclosure requirements should apply to state-sponsored media like RT (formerly Russia Today). RT has a history of meddling in elections dating back to 2012 when it pushed anti-U.S. messaging to undermine trust in our democracy. The U.S. intelligence community concluded that RT influenced the 2016 elections by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences. The Chairman to date has resisted taking any action on this critical issue.
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:
- 456 constituents expressed their opposition to the Republican’s tax reform plan
- 189 constituents wrote to me to express their support for H.R. 3771, legislation that prevents President Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller
- 214 constituentswrote in opposition to the Trump Administration’s proposed plans to shrink or rescind national monuments
ANNA’S RECOMMENDED READING
Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
The New York Times- “Full Transcript: Jeff Flake’s Speech on the Senate Floor”
On Tuesday, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona announced he would not seek reelection in 2018 and why. He delivered a searing rebuke of the President and blasted members of his own party for failing to speak out against the President. His words are deeply profound and will hopefully reawaken the conscience of our country.
Anna G. Eshoo