Anna's Weekly Update
This is a short week in Congress, as the last one was, because the Democratic Conference holds its Annual Retreat for the remainder of the week, as the Republicans did the previous week.
Highlights of What Congress Did This Week
Passed H.R. 4924, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act
I’m very proud to have voted for legislation this week that overhauls the process of sexual harassment claims in Congress. The House passed the Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) of 1995 Reform Act, requiring that all Members of Congress reimburse taxpayers for any settlements they pay out for sexual harassment or other complaints against them within 90 days or face the amount of settlement claims being withheld from their salary until the settlement is paid off.
The passage of this legislation is a great step forward for the Congressional workplace because it doesn’t place all the burdens on victims; it elevates the standard of decorum in the workplace; and it ensures that taxpayers will no longer pick up the tab for the misconduct of Members of Congress.
Voted NO on H.R. 772, Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act
This week the House passed the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, legislation that decreases consumer access to important nutritional information by preempting a state’s ability to impose more stringent nutrition labeling requirements.
The Affordable Care Act required the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to draft the regulation mandating menu labeling to help consumers determine the nutritional value of prepared food. Former First Lady Michelle Obama championed the cause of healthier eating during her eight years in the White House. The regulations help to inform the American people about the nutrition of the food they eat.
The so-called Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act undermines these regulations and instead leaves it to convenience stores, restaurants and fast-food operations to decide how to disclose the nutritional contents of menu items. At a time when the obesity rate in our country has skyrocketed, consumers should have access to the information they need to make the healthiest decisions for themselves and their families.
Telephone Town Hall Meetings
This week I held two Telephone Town Hall Meetings with constituents from communities in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties to discuss issues they care most about. Approximately 2,000 constituents listened in to each Telephone Town Hall Meeting and the questions ranged from the tax bill to offshore drilling, to the Nunes memo, to protecting the 800,000 DREAMers who face deportation in the coming weeks, and always the issue of bipartisanship. My constituents have consistently told me how valuable they think these meetings are, and I draw a great deal from each one as well.
Meeting with Taxpayer Advocate Service
This week I met with a representative from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS devoted to ensuring all taxpayers are treated fairly. We discussed the negative impact of budget cuts to the IRS and the toll it has taken on the agency’s mission to serve American taxpayers. I also raised the issue of how many complaints I’ve received from constituents who call the IRS and are put on ‘hold’ for up to an hour to have their questions answered.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service also shared helpful data about our Congressional District, providing an overview of tax returns filed by my constituents. In 2015, over 356,000 tax returns were filed in our District. Of that number, 187,660 tax returns claimed a total of over $16.8 billion in itemized deductions. It’s also worth noting that 187,779 tax returns deducted a total of $8,467,300,469 in state and local taxes. If you need assistance with your taxes, you can reach the San Jose Taxpayer Advocate office by calling (408) 283-1500.
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:
- 299 constituents wrote to me to express their support for net neutrality.
- 134 constituents wrote to me in support of protecting Special Counsel Mueller.
- 111 constituents wrote to me in support of finding a permanent solution for the 800,000 DREAMers who face deportation in the coming weeks.
Anna’s Recommended Reading
Frequently, I read articles or see videos that I think my constituents would benefit from.
Washington Post- “Speak up, Paul Ryan”
This Editorial from the Washington Post calls on Speaker Ryan to defend our country against future interference from the Russians by calling on the President to approve the release of the Democratic response to the Nunes Memo.
Washington Post- “The Cowardice Among Republicans is Staggering”
The most frequently asked question I receive during my Town Hall Meetings is the issue of bipartisanship. This column from the Washington Post is worth the read.