Anna's Weekly Update
Highlights of What Congress Did This Week
Continuing Negotiations on the Budget
Leaders of both parties continued negotiations this week to keep the government open before funding runs out on January 19th. The Majority leaders in the House have yet to bring a single long-term funding bill to the Floor, necessitating the passage of multiple Continuing Resolutions that provide funding for the government for short periods of time, and avoiding a shut down. Not a good way to run a country!
Democrats have made clear that any long-term spending bill that comes to the Floor for a vote before January 19th must include permanent funding and solutions for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Community Health Centers, emergency disaster funding for all hurricane and wildfire-impacted communities in California, and a permanent solution for our DREAMers.
Voted NO on the Reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
This week the House voted on a very important bill-- the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 for six years. Section 702 of the law governs the electronic surveillance of foreigners outside the country. Through widely leaked documents there have been indications that the National Security Agency (NSA) has used the law to collect the communications of Americans, including Americans within the U.S., even though the law requires the NSA to minimize this collection. These warrantless searches of American communications raise serious concerns about the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches. Congress has an obligation not only to provide our intelligence community with the tools they need to protect our nation, but also to uphold the Constitution and civil liberties of all Americans.
Regrettably, the bill passed by the House includes no meaningful reforms to Section 702 and allows the government to continue warrantless searches of Americans’ data in most situations. I voted for an amendment that would have replaced the bill with the USA Rights Act which prohibits the collection of communications known to be entirely domestic, strengthens transparency and oversight requirements, and prohibits the use of information collected from Americans except for national security purposes. I’m very disappointed that this amendment failed because it strengthened the underlying legislation which I would have voted for. Minus the reforms, I voted ‘no.’
Legislation Anna Introduced and Co-Sponsored This Week
H.Con.Res.3, supporting efforts to enact a bold jobs and infrastructure package that benefits all Americans
Building and rebuilding American infrastructure is a key job creator in communities across our country. As the Trump Administration prepares to unveil their infrastructure package, I cosponsored a Resolution in the House this week that includes priorities for infrastructure legislation. Any infrastructure package that comes to the House Floor for a vote should create millions of jobs and support clean energy infrastructure, protect worker’s rights, and build resilient infrastructure that can withstand natural disasters and cyberattacks.
Infrastructure and Transportation bills have always been overwhelmingly bipartisan and this should continue so that a comprehensive plan can ‘win the day’ by creating millions of jobs and rebuilding America. Our roads, highways, bridges, schools and airports have been neglected for decades and a comprehensive bill is sorely needed.
H.R. 389, the Credit Union Small Business Jobs Creation Act
This week I cosponsored the Credit Union Small Business Job Creation Act, which increases the lending cap for qualified credit unions from 12.25% to 27.5%. Under this bill, to qualify for the higher cap a credit union must be well capitalized, have a history of member business lending experience, be operating near its current cap for at least one year, and receive approval by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
Current regulations arbitrarily cap the ability of our nation’s credit unions to lend to small businesses. Main Street businesses looking to expand and hire more workers have suffered as a result. This legislation removes this obstacle to lending and ensures that qualified credit unions are better able to support those who need loans to start, sustain, or grow their businesses.
Policy Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned This Week
Letter to Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke Opposing new Offshore Drilling Plan
Last week the Trump Administration announced their plans to completely dismantle a decades-old ban on oil and gas drilling on shorelines across the nation. I am 100% opposed to this plan. For over forty years I’ve opposed drilling off the California coast, understanding the risks of drilling and knowing we had to move to a new energy future for our country. We simply cannot drill our way to energy independence.
I joined colleagues in a letter to Interior Department Secretary Zinke highlighting the risk of oil spills and the economic dangers they pose to coastal communities. Industries such as fishing, tourism and recreation generate $56 billion annually in economic activity and support over 500,000 jobs on the West Coast alone, which includes the coasts of California, Washington and Oregon. The Administration’s plan also turns a deaf ear to the valid concerns from governors of both parties from ten costal states, 150 municipalities, 41,000 businesses and the Department of Defense.
Letter to President Trump Urging him to consider Climate Change a National Security Issue
This week I joined colleagues in writing to the President to express our concerns about his recent National Security Strategy which fails to recognize climate change as a threat to the United States.
The Pentagon’s top military and civilian officials have stated publicly that climate change is a direct threat to U.S. national security and to global security. Secretary of Defense Mattis has stated: “the effects of a changing climate…will impact our security situation.” Congress affirmed this in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that the President signed into law in December. Failing to recognize this in the President’s strategy is a significant step backward and discredits those who deal with scientific fact.
Wonderful to meet with FWD.us and several DACA recipients from California to hear their stories about why a permanent solution for #Dreamers is so critical. Hopefully, the negotiations between the Majority and Minority leaders will produce a positive and long-awaited solution.
This week in Washington I met with representatives of the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital to discuss the importance of reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which Congress allowed to expire over 100 days ago. More than 13,000 children in our Congressional District receive coverage through CHIP and their health care is too important to be ignored.
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’s a snapshot of the issues constituents wrote and called me about this week:
- 795 constitutions wrote to me to express their support for net neutrality.
- 312 constituents wrote to me in opposition to drilling off the California Coast
- 255 constituents wrote to me expressing their support for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program which helps small organic farms pay the costs associated with getting USDA organic certified.
Anna’s Recommended Reading
Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
New York Times- “Mr. Zinke’s Risky Venture into Deep Water”
This Editorial from the New York Times provides good background information on why Secretary Zinke’s proposal to open up vast areas of our country’s offshore waters to oil drilling while simultaneously rolling back safety regulations for offshore drilling is so dangerous. The Editorial states that this is an attack on “common sense,” where “Thinking about the recklessness of expanding the possibilities for disaster while simultaneously weakening defenses against it dizzies the mind.”
New York Times- “Republicans in Congress are Failing America’s Children”
Congress left town last month after passing a massive tax package, but failed to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which benefits nearly 9 million children in our country. This Editorial from the New York Times explains the history of CHIP while warning that if Congress does not act on CHIP, state governments will be forced to freeze enrollment, cut benefits, end their programs or come up with another source of money.